Cycling along the Venetian lagoon
Mantua to Venice blending nature, culture and fine cuisine, this leisurely bike and barge tour along the waterways of the River Po offers more than just a taster of Northern Italy.
The lightest cycling holiday, covering largely flat terrain, suitable for everyone and people of all ages; with distances to 45 kilometers. You spend about 4 hours on your bicycle.
Mantua to Venice blending nature, culture and fine cuisine, this leisurely bike and barge tour along the waterways of the River Po offers more than just a taster of Northern Italy.
This bike and barge tour explores celebrated cities of art, one of Europe’s prime Nature Reserves and a wealth of tucked-away rural hamlets along the route, rewarding our daily rides with authentic regional dishes back on board. From the glory of Venice, the lagoon leads us to colourful Chioggia. Next up, the natural wonders of the Po Delta, famed for its bird life. Then Adria. Once a key Roman port, and onwards to Ferrara and Mantua – once major city states crowned by the Italian Renaissance.
We welcome you aboard your new home-from-home from 4.30 p.m. onwards, and then regroup for the introductory briefing – at 6.30 – with your tour leader, skipper and crew, along with a first refreshing aperitivo. After dinner we can stroll into town and savour the historic centre at its most evocative: Benvenuti a Mantova!
A day dedicated to the discovery of this cultural gem, its three picturesque “lakes” formed by the river Mincio and the surrounding countryside. This afternoon we meet our Mantuan guide for a walking tour across the historic centre: starting from Piazza Sordello with its magnificent cathedral and Palazzo Ducale, we will walk through the city centre up to Piazza delle Erbe. Here we will admire the Clock Tower, the Rotonda di S. Lorenzo (the oldest church in town) and the Cathedral of St. Andrew, a jewel of Renaissance art and architecture. We will learn why Mantua, once a City State ruled by the Gonzaga family, is now considered by many as Italy’s “Sleeping Beauty”. (The programme may be subject to changes)
After breakfast, we set sail from the "lakes" of Mantua and cruise through the lush wetlands that lead to Governolo Lock, where Mantua's River Mincio flows into the Po. Here, we saddle up and follow the broad sweeps of the levee towards Ostiglia, renowned for its medieval fortress and fierce fighting in 1945, as the Allies drove Hitler's forces back.
Next: Bergantino, home of the distinctive Museum of Fairground Rides and its collection of street organs, all expertly restored (and thunderous!). This village is also in the heartland of Grana Padano – the arch-rival of Parmesan – and a visit to the local cheese factory, sampling some well seasoned Grana, is de rigueur. We catch up with our barge in Zelo, a sleepy village on the Canal Bianco, the waterway which runs parallel to the Po.
This morning we cross the Po and ride southwards through a patchwork of farmland, orchards and hamlets, as far as Ferrara. Under its ruling family, the Este, this city state attracted architects, artists and scholars for centuries, pioneering town planning principles that have been emulated worldwide ever since. To this day, Ferrara University ranks among the best, and the town is dubbed the ''Cycling Capital of Italy". A private bus and trailer then take us back to our floating hotel in Adria, an ancient Roman port once washed by the sea which bears its name. Adria is also renowned for its Etruscan and Greek heritage. An after-dinner passeggiata into town for a well-earned grappa or gelato is in order.
After a short cruise, we cycle into the Po Delta Nature Reserve, the delta of the life-giving Po. This unique wetland is the prime reserve in Europe for herons and home to a sizeable colony of flamingos. Weather permitting, as we continue towards Chioggia, we can also enjoy a break at a fine-sand beach nearby for a dip in the Adriatic – not forgetting a hot savoury piadina! Chioggia is also known as “Little Venice”, a colourful fishing hub. The overnight takes place on the Island Pellestrina, just in front of Chioggia.
Venice beckons, but first another world altogether: Pellestrina, the first of two islands we traverse today – a humble and tranquil fishing backwater, picturesque as ever with its cottages, boats and nets. A short island-hop by ferry lands us on the Lido. Fashionable in high society ever since the Belle Époque, the Lido di Venezia is now home to the International Venice Film Festival and its galaxy of stars. We will also visit a historic glass factory on Murano island, with a glassblowing demonstration by a master artisan. After rejoining our barge, an unrushed cruise in front of St Mark’s square takes us to our final destination. After dinner we can savour Venice at night, now free of the crowds and at her most romantic: Benvenuti a Venezia! In 2023: No dinner on board, but you are free to have dinner in one of the many restaurants in Venice.
In 2022: After breakfast – and perhaps following a wander off the beaten track with your tour leader – we all meet up with our Venetian guide for a tour through the historic centre. Christened La Serenissima ("The Most Serene"), the Venetian Republic held sway over much of the Mediterranean (and beyond) for centuries – both as a military power and a beacon of culture, her explorers reaching as far as China and Newfoundland. The guided tour will start from Piazza San Marco with a brief description of the monuments around it; then the walk continues towards the biggest “sestiere” of the city, Castello, up to Campo dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo with its imposing gothic church and the Scuola Grande di San Marco (today city hospital). The guided tours ends at the Rialto Bridge; you have the afternoon free to enjoy the city at your own pace. (The programme may be subject to changes).
In 2023: Following a wander off the beaten track with your tour leader you have the day free to enjoy the city at your own pace. Christened La Serenissima ("The Most Serene"), the Venetian Republic held sway over much of the Mediterranean (and beyond) for centuries – both as a military power and a beacon of culture.
Departure after breakfast.
Cycling from Mantua to Venice
Cycling from Venice to Mantua
Total length: 190/205 km
Total vertical up: 20 m
Terrain: 95% tarmac, 5% unpaved
Summary: this cycling tour is largely along the flats of the Po plains, and the daily stages vary from 25 to 55 km – mostly on tarmac cycle paths along rivers and canals, or quiet country roads. The barge is moored at night and typically sets sail after breakfast, meeting up with the bikes in the afternoon. Some parts of the itinerary are undertaken by barge, to allow easier access onto cycling paths or simply to enjoy the cruise.
Leisure cycling in mostly flat areas, with only a few short ups and downs. Little effort required, suitable for everyone.
Tour programme variations: The programme has been planned to feature navigation along the Fissero/ Bianco canal, which runs parallel to the Po river and connects Mantua to the Adriatic Sea. Due to organisational reasons, weather conditions or provisions issued by local authorities, the itinerary may be subject to some changes before and/or during the holiday. Issues with high and low water, as well as logistic obstacles such as officially ordered – previously not announced – repair work on locks or bridges can modify some of the daily stretches or overnight stays and may even request a transfer by bus. These decisions are only taken by the barge's captain.
Reservation costs € 20,- per booking
Contribution Dutch Guarantee Fund € 5,- per person (Insolvency Protection)
March 25 - April 8 in 2023 / April 6 in 2024
Below deck: bunk bed cabin € 930,- / € 1.000,-
Below deck: bunk bed single use € 1.480,- / € 1.550,-
Below deck: twin cabin € 1.130,- / € 1.200,-
Below deck: twin cabin single use € 2.090,- / € 2.200,-
Upper deck: Superior twin cabin € 1.330,- / € 1.450,-
April 22 & July 1 to August 12 in 2023 / April 20 & June 29 to August 10 in 2024
Below deck: bunk bed cabin € 1.440,- / € 1.550,-
Below deck: bunk bed single use € 1.990,- / € 2.100,-
Below deck: twin cabin € 1.640,- / € 1.750,-
Below deck: twin cabin single use € 2.600,- / € 2.750,-
Upper deck: Superior twin cabin € 1.840,- / € 2.000,-
May 6 to June 17 & October 21 in 2023 / May 4 to June 15 & October 19 in 2024
Below deck: bunk bed cabin € 1.560,- / € 1.700,-
Below deck: bunk bed single use € 2.110,- / € 2.250,-
Below deck: twin cabin € 1.760,- / € 1.900,-
Below deck: twin cabin single use € 2.720,- / € 2.900,-
Upper deck: Superior twin cabin € 1.960,- / € 2.150,-
August 26 to October 7 in 2023 / August 24 to October 5 in 2024
Below deck: bunk bed cabin € 1.680,- / € 1.850,-
Below deck: bunk bed single use € 2.230,- / € 2.400,-
Below deck: twin cabin € 1.880,- / € 2.050,-
Below deck: twin cabin single use € 2.840,- / € 3.050,-
Upper deck: Superior twin cabin € 2.080,- / € 2.300,-
April 1 to April 15 in 2023 / April 13 in 2024
Below deck: twin cabin € 1.030,- / € 1.050,-
Below deck: cabin single use € 1.900,- / € 1.950,-
April 29 & July 8 to August 19 in 2023 / April 27 & July 6 to August 17 in 2024
Below deck: twin cabin € 1.350,- / € 1.400,-
Below deck: cabin single use € 2.220,- / € 2.300,-
May 13 to June 24 in 2023 / May 11 to June 22 in 2024
Below deck: twin cabin € 1.400,- / € 1.500,-
Below deck: cabin single use € 2.270,- / € 2.400,-
September 2 to October 14 in 2023 / August 31 to October 12 in 2024
Below deck: twin cabin € 1.470,- / € 1.600,-
Below deck: cabin single use € 2.340,- / € 2.500,-
Rental touring bike per week € 100,- in 2023 / € 110,- in 2024 (bike insurance incl.)
E-bike per week € 250,- in 2023 / € 270,- in 2024 (limited availability; bike insurance incl.)
Special diet (gluten free; lactose free; vegan): € 50,- per diet
Saturday is the day of arrival on board and you will start cycling the following day. On the day of arrival you can leave the luggage on board anytime during the day but cabins will be available from 4.30 p.m. At 6.30 p.m. a meeting with the tour guide and the crew is scheduled. The departing harbour in Mantua is located in Porto Catena.
Mantua is connected with the following airports: Verona: 45 km, Venice: 120 km, Treviso: 130 km, Bergamo: 150 km, Milan: 180 km. VERONA VILLAFRANCA CATULLO (VRN) - www.aeroportoverona.it
Connection shuttle bus + train: from airport to Verona train station: every day the Aerobus shuttle service leaves MILANO MALPENSA (MXP) - www.milanomalpensa-airport.com
Connection by shuttle bus/train + train: - from airport to Milano Centrale train station: the Malpensa Express train leaves every 30 minutes from 5:43 a.m. to 09:43 p.m. and at 10:43 p.m. (transfer: ca. 50
min; ticket: 13 €). There is also the Malpensa shuttle bus, which leaves from the airport about every 20 minutes, from 5 a.m. to 1.20 a.m. (transfer: ca. 60/70 minutes; ticket: 10 €); - from Milano Centrale train station to Mantua: direct connections or with change in Verona Porta Nuova (transfer approx. 120/150 min, ticket about 11-35 € depending on the type of train).
For further information on timetables and prices you can consult the following website: www.trenitalia.com.
The city of Mantua is located near the Brennero highway A22. You can park your car in Mantua in several parkings. From these parkings you can walk to the harbour (about 20 min. from the farthest parking) or you can take a taxi.
You have to leave the boat after breakfast, no later than 9.00 a.m. At the check-out you must return the keys of the cabin to the crew and pay the extra drinks (cash or by credit card). Please remember also to return the books and/or brochures you used for consultation. At the end of the tour if you need to return to Mantua, the easiest and cheapest way is to take the train.The towns of Mantua and Venice/Mestre are well connected by train, there are about 15 trains per day between 6:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. There are no directconnections, you always have to change in Verona Porta Nuova or Monselice.The transfer takes approx. 2.5/3.5 hours and costs about 20-35 € per person depending on the type of train. For further information on times and costs please consult the website www.trenitalia.com.Private transfer: it must be requested and paid at the booking time (quotations on request).
On this tour the following barges are scheduled
This barge has been completely designed by a renowned architectural Italian firm in order to meet the highest client’s’ requests. Its shapes, colours and materials have been chosen carefully in order to create a warm, sober and yet sophisticated atmosphere. Read more....
On board the Vita Pugna the friendly crew creates a cozy atmosphere. The typical wooden cabin area and the comfortable air-conditioned living room will welcome the customers for a well-deserved rest after a day on the bike. Read more....
All rented adult bikes are equipped with:
By this tour you can rent the following bikes:
A low entry unisex frame, ideal for an upright but relaxed riding position.
Unisex low-entry frame. Bosch motor. Range: approx 90 km (flat terrain, average speed).
Imagine a floating hotel sailing to the next stage, while you are calmly pedalling along. No lugging of luggage: that is exactly what Bike & Barge is all about! In the pleasant atmosphere on board you can have a chat, go through the day with the others, and enjoy the meals prepared specially for cyclists. In the evenings you can enjoy a drink in the salon or admire the setting sun on deck. Do not expect a cruise ship with its passive luxury. The Bike & Barge Holidays are for people who really enjoy the physical activity of cycling and who value sociability more than wholesale luxury.
Free WiFi is (limited) available in lounge and on deck.
Most cabins are 2-person cabins (twin or double), but some barges also have single and triple cabins. All cabins have airconditioning; central heating and a porthole or window; they are provided with running water (hot and cold), private shower/toilet and 220 voltage. Hair-dryers are available on request. The cabins on the Ave Maria also have a safety deposit box. There is limited storage space in the cabins. We recommend 1 suitcase per person. You can slide the suitcase under the bed.
The captain/skipper, the chef and your tour guide all welcome you warmly. They are prepared specifically for these trips and will provide good and safe passage, good meals, and a friendly, pleasant atmosphere. They will, of course, also give you a great deal of interesting information during and after the cycling and sailing. The skipper is responsible for the smooth running of things on board; the cook is in charge of the catering. The tour leaders are experienced enthusiastic travelers who have a true passion for sharing their love of the outdoors, peoples, cultures and local food. Thanks to their knowledge of the territory, they can give you useful hints and help you appreciate the place you are visiting. Of course they love cycling and will be happy to give you some advice on how to correctly use the bicycle gears and whenever necessary they can fix a flat tyre. They are all multi-lingual, and speak at least English and German.
Your chef is used to cook delicious meals for hungry cyclists. Besides an extensive breakfast, you will also be offered a packed lunch for on the road. It consists of different types of bread and sandwich fillings, juice, a snack and a piece of fruit. Lunch package needs to be prepared by yourself after breakfast. Dinner is different every day. There is a first course, main course and dessert The meals on board are included in the price, as are coffee and tea. Soft drinks and alcoholic drinks can be obtained at a reasonable charge. When you return on board after the day’s cycling, a cup of tea or coffee with a biscuit will be waiting for you.
If you have special meal requirements we ask you to mention this when booking, but at the latest until 21 days before arrival. Diets which need a special preparation or special ingredients can only be offered in limited form. We will do our best to meet your needs, but we also ask for your understanding as due to limited logistic possibilities on a barge we are not able to prepare complete specialized menus.
In case of Celiac; gluten free, lactose free and vegan diets there is an additional charge of € 50,- per week.
One of the most attractive aspects of the Bike & Barge holidays is that you encounter an international company on board. It’s a great opportunity for you to get to know various cultures at the same time! We have people of all ages, solo travelers, couples and also families with children (during the school holidays).
Before your arrival, you will receive an email from us with the digital information material. It contains:
1. Link to download the App including maps, points of interest and GPS tracks (you can use the App offline, too)
2. Link to download the tour information material in Pdf:
No, the barge doesn’t take the same route that the cyclists do. Sometimes the route may be altered because of weather conditions or repairs to bridges or locks and then the guests and the guide can arrange with the skipper to be met at a different place. Naturally you can always stay on board for one or more days.
The size of the group depends on the barge scheduled on the tour. The capacity of the barges varies between 10 and 170 participants. A guided cycling group consists of no more than 26 people.
Most of the participants then wear rainwear. When the weather is so bad that cycling becomes really impossible (and that is almost never the case!), The guide organizes an alternative program with, for example, cultural excursions and city tours.
The ages vary between 35 and 75, but of course we have younger (even babies and kids) and older guests. In particular it is quite possible during the school holidays that children might be booked on your tour.
The main countries represented by our cycling guests are: United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia and France. The common language on board is English.