Bike Trips in the Dolomites

“Italy’s Pale Mountains”
The Dolomites
(Italy), our Family-Friendly Departure


On this page, you will find...Tandem riders

Or, look here for a general discussion of our “Family-Friendly” trips.

Everyone loves Italy, even if we sometimes wish that, er, well, the trains would run on time.  So, welcome to an Italy where the metaphorical trains run on time (the real ones do pretty well, too)! 

Our Dolomite route explores Italy’s most ethereal mountain scapes.  Legend has it that dwarves sewed nets of moon rays to color the mountains so that the princess of the moon, in love with a local prince, might feel at home.  At sunset the off-white turns to bright red in a better-n’-TV nature show:  one of the high peaks even carries the name “Rose Garden” in German (Rosengarten). 

This is also one of Italy’s most culturally unusual corners, combining latin flavors and sensitivities, with neighboring Austria’s efficiency and environmental care.  The result is one of Europe’s most attractive and prosperous corners.  Special self-governance statutes even insulate the region from some of the fiscal and political craziness further south.

Lest the word “mountain,” combined with the notion of “bicycle,” seem ambitious for the little ones:  our routes follow a remarkable cycle path network that traces the valleys cut by the Adige, the Drava, the Rienza, the Eisack...  Hills are gentle, the scenery all around you is spectacular, and cohabitation with cars is kept to a minimum.  The Alto Adige / Südtirol is our home for the most part, with forays into the neighboring Italian province of Trentino. 

And the cuisine is perfectly suited to palates adventurous... and less so.  Who can't find a pizza or a pasta to enjoy, epecially after a day of excercise?  And what child doesn’t love squid grilled in it’s own ink?

Too much to enjoy in a scenically spectacular, dramatic yet comfortable, gastronomic paradise!


This trip lends itself well to a post-ride city visit:  Munich, Milan, Venice, Florence and Rome are all within 4 - 5 hours by train.  Or combine it with our Italian Lakes ride.

Dolomites mountains


These trips all follow our Dolomite itinerary:

group at a café table
Giro d’Italia (3 weeks)
Visits two other Italian regions:  Tuscany, Umbria, and / or the Italian Lake District, in addition to the Dolomites — not offered in 2017.

Alpine Italy (2 weeks)
Visits the Italian Lake District and the Dolomites — not offered in 2017.

France & Italy (2 weeks)
Visits the Dolomites and one French region

Kaiser Kapers (2 weeks)
Visits the Austrian Danube Valley, and the Dolomites

Italy’s Pale Mountains
follows this itinerary exclusively
Departure dates and prices are in the “Facts & Figures” table, below.

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Other Trips We Offer

 

Day-by-Day Itinerary:   “Italy’s Pale Mountains,” Family-Friendly Departure

Day of the Week
Description
Typical distances, in km
Sunday
The BRENNER PASS and the UPPER EISACH
Our trip meets at the top of the Brenner pass, the main north-south pass across the Alps between eastern Italy and Germany, at midday.  See our Access Package for hints on getting there.

A glorious warm-up ride brings us down from the pass, and to a side valley that leads towards the Austrian border, and was part of an ancient Venetian trade route.  Stop in Sterzing, where you can also visit Reifenstein Castle, one of the region’s best preserved.  Admire your dramatic surroundings, teach the kids how to shift (and to brake!), try (and fail) to capture Franzensfeste fortress (a ridiculously elaborate fortification that never saw battle), settle for a drink on the lovely terrace of the station caffè. 

Nightfall finds us in the heart of the Val Pusteira, our home for two days of exploration.
45 k
Monday &
Tuesday

VAL PUSTERIA
Up the valley one day, down the next.

Stroll the pedestrian streets around San Candido’s lovely market square.  Admire the onion- domed churches, reminders of the Ottoman influence in this part of the world.  Swim in the, er, “refreshing” mountain river, or at least put your toes in to watch them turn blue.

Pretty villages, quiet lakes, high mountains.   The bike path is idyllic, wandering in and out of the village centers, through forests and along the banks of the river.  Visit an active cheese dairy, Italy's northernmost winery, or make a short detour to Europe’s most important sheep’s wool museum (we only assume that our superlative is accurate, we have not actually studied this).

Brunico (Bruneck in the locally-favored German), is the biggest town in the valley, and our home base:  the 14th century walls are still intact, and some houses date from that period.  But most of the town is an unusually harmonious ensemble, built after a fire in the early 18th century.  Tuesday we board a train for a new part of our adventure, in the Adige valley.  Destination:  the spa town of Merano.

As much or as little as you please on Monday.

Target for Tuesday is 35 k, but more are on offer if you want them.

Wednesday & Thursday
MERANO and the UPPER ADIGE VALLEY
Merano is home to one of Italy’s most famous spas, and our home for two full days and three nights.  One of our days here is reserved for the town and its surroundings, though there are longer bike rides on offer if that is your preference. 

The Merano spa offers 15 swimming pools, indoor and outdoor (kids get a particular kick out of the whirlpool), as well as a host of spa-things:  massages, steam treatements, mud baths...  all in a spectacular decor..  One of our regular riders, a well-known architect, described it as the most remarkable spa ensemble he had ever seen, and that certainly tallies with our experience.

As if that were not enough, the town hosts a castle, a botanical garden, a labyrinth...  The Trautmannsdorf Castle gardens, favored by Empress Sissi of Austro-Hungarian fame, offer botanical splendor inhabited by unusual birds and animals, including something called a Hungarian Racka Sheep, which looks like a sheep with upright handlebars (as opposed to the “ram’s horn” bars found on racing bikes).   The castle itself is now a “Museum of Tourism.”   Pander alert!

We use the other day to journey to the very sources of the Adige River, at the point where Switzerland, Austria and Italy meet:  up by train, home by bicycle.  You need go no farther than you wish, as you return to your starting point by nightfall, via the Adige Valley bike path.  Detour into the medieval walled town of Glorenza (Glurns, in German), whose imposing 14th century fortifications are entirely intact. 
Variable, but limited k for the “local exploration” day.

Target for the Adige Valley day is anything up to 60 k
You decide your distance before you set out:  back-ups are ubiquitous if you take on too much.
Friday
DOWN the ADIGE VALLEY to BOLZANO
An easy day, designed to be compatible with a visit of our destination (or, alternatively, more time at the spa before you set out).  

Bolzano will be our home for the last two nights of the trip, is the only real Dolomite city.   It is also the self-proclaimed Città delle Biciclette (city of bicycles).   Having spent some time here, we reserve judgement on that, but the intent is clear, and laudable.   And the city is full of charm.  Note especially the beautiful Italian market.  And try to find time for a cablecar ride to the top of one of the local hills...

30 k
Saturday
STRADA del VINO / WEINSTRAßE (the Wine Road)
A fittingly spectacular final ride closes a week of spectacular rides.  This one is about the vineyards.  Vineyards, wine towns, taverns, and a truly lovely lake.  Trade the bike for a pedal boat, play on the beach, take a funicular up to the top of the local mountain, or content yourself with the treetops:  an Adventure Park offers 15+ rope courses.

The parents should impose a stop in Tramin, who loaned her prestigious name to a vast family of Mitteleuropa grapes (gewurtztraminer is the most famous), and whose signature winery is an archtectural gem.  The tasting room is fun, too. 

Then down to the valley floor for a fast, flat ride back to the metropolis, in time for a dinner designed to show off the wines made in the vineyards through which you just cycled.  Longer and shorter versions of the loop are on offer.
45 - 70 k
Sunday
TRAVEL ONWARDS
If your trip ends here, the “Access Package” includes train tickets to a local airport city: Munich, Milan, Venice, Rome....  See the page on leaving your trip from Bolzano for details.



Italy’s Pale Mountains
Facts & Figures, Family-Friendly Departure
(but all are welcome!)
2017 Dates
Baggage Services Offered**
(optional)
Difficulty of the Ride
July 2 - 9

$2,095 US
$2,725 C
1,695 €
Daily
Easy to Moderate

You are surrounded by mountains, and may go up them if you wish, but our “base” routes follow the valleys. Distances can be adjusted to taste.  This is our most bike-friendly Italian route:  we spend at least 50% of the ride on dedicated bike paths, and most of the rest on tiny lanes.

* Prices in $ and € do not include precisely the same things.  Click here for details.

Family Pricing / Child Discounts
Age of Child
Desired Lodging
Under 2
2 - 5
6 - 11
12 - 19
Sharing Parents’ Room**
Price* =
$350 US / $460 C / 330€
Price* =
$598 US / $820 C / 560€
40% discount on the trip price
20% discount on the trip price
Not in Parents’ Room
40% reduction on trip price***
20% reduction on trip price***
Conditions

* Prices for children 0 - 5 do not include rental bike equipment. 
If you do not wish to supply your own, child seats, trailers, and tagalong bikes are available at additional cost.

** With separate bed (crib or travel bed for children 2 and under).

***The trip’s Private Single Room charge will apply if a child requires a single room, but single rooms for children are discounted by 25% (they may be small rooms, or independent rooms in a suite with the parent’s room).
Children 5 and under occupying their own room are garanteed to be in a suite with their parents, or in an adjacent room, ideally with a communicating door.
Children 6 - 11 are garanteed to be in a room on the same floor of the hotel as the parents’ room, and every effort is made to keep the two rooms in close proximity.

________________________________________

  • Triple rooms used by 3 children may be twin rooms with an extra bed.

  • Quad parent-and-child “family” rooms cannot be guaranteed, as not all hotels have them, and certainly not in sufficient quantity for multiple families.  When available, they will typically be rooms with one double bed and two single beds.  If you are two parents travelling with two children over 2 years old, you may request such a room when you sign up for the trip.  But you must be willing to accept the alternate (and less discounted) solution of two separate-but-proximate rooms.  If a quad can be assigned at some stops and not others, the additional discount will be pro-rated.  Available quads will be assigned in order of trip sign-up.

  • Child discounts are not cumulable with any other commercial discount, such as “student” or “group” discounts, or discounts accorded to the Founders of Guest-Initiated Trips.  In all cases, the larger discount will be used.


Prices of Optional Extras (links lead to explanations)
Currency
$ prices include the bike.
See here for information on bringing your own.
$US
$192
$360
$C
$248
$485
€uros
176€
330€
198€

 

 

 

 


*Single roomsfor children are discounted by 25% (they may be small rooms, or independent rooms in a suite with a parent's room).


Reaching & Leaving Your Trip:  General Information on Access Packages
Specific information on reaching your trip’s start in... Brenner / Brennero
Specific information on departing from your trip’s end... Bolzano / Bozen