Cycling along the Po-delta and Ferrara
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.
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 cycling 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 birdlife. 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 savour Venice at night, now free of the crowds and at her most romantic: Benvenuti a Venezia
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. After your guided tour, you have the afternoon free to enjoy the city at your own pace.
Leaving Venice behind after a gentle cruise in front of St Mark’s square, our first stop will be on Murano island, where we will visit a historic glass factory, with a glassblowing demonstration by a master artisan. Then our cycling adventure starts on the Lido, the first of two islands we traverse today. Fashionable in high society ever since the Belle Époque, the Lido di Venezia is now home to the International Venice Film Festival. A short island-hop by ferry takes us into another world: Pellestrina, where we ride past the picturesque cottages and boats of this humble fishing backwater. We rejoin our barge just in front of Chioggia – a bustling and colourful fishing hub known as “Little Venice”.
We open the day with a stroll through Chioggia, followed perhaps by a visit up the millennial clock tower – the oldest in the world – for some breathtaking views. Weather permitting, we can also bask in the sun at a fine-sand beach nearby: a dip in the Adriatic, a hot savoury piadina – and you are well and truly local! Then onwards into the delta of the life-giving Po. This unique wetland is the prime reserve in Europe for herons and home to a colony of flamingos. We moor for the night in Adria, a key Roman port, once washed by the waters of the sea which bears its name. An after-dinner passeggiata into town for a well-earned grappa or gelato is in order.
After a short cruise we saddle our bikes and, following the Po through farmland and hamlets, we reach 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 take us back to our floating hotel in Zelo, a sleepy village on the Canal Bianco, the waterway which runs parallel to the Po.
This morning we head for the village of Bergantino, home of the distinctive Museum of Fairground Rides and its collection of street organs, all expertly restored (and thunderous!). But first things first: we are in the heartland of Grana Padano and after visiting the local cheese factory, we enjoy a degustazione of sharp and seasoned Grana, washed down with a glass of Valpolicella. After our customary picnic lunch, we leave Bergantino and follow the river to Ostiglia, famed for its medieval fortress and the fierce fighting that took place here in 1945, as the Allies and partisans drove Hitler's forces back. We ride on and rejoin our barge at Governolo Lock, where Mantua's River Mincio flows into the Po. Veering north, we cruise through the lush wetlands that finally emerge into the glorious "lakes" of Mantua. In 2023: No dinner on board, but you are free to have dinner in Mantua.
A day dedicated to the discovery of this little visited cultural gem, its three picturesque “lakes” formed by the Mincio, and its surrounding countryside – once a City State ruled by the Gonzaga family and now considered by many as Italy’s “Sleeping Beauty”. This afternoon we meet our Mantuan guide for a walking tour of the historic centre, and enjoy the rest of the day in town, at our own leisure.
Departure after breakfast
Cycling from Venice to Mantua
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 boat’s captain.
Reservation costs € 20,- per booking
Contribution Dutch Guarantee Fund € 5,- per person (Insolvency Protection)
April 1 - April 15 in 2023 / April 13 in 2024
Below deck: bunk bed cabin € 930,- / € 1.000,-
Below deck: bunk bed cabin 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 29 & July 8 - August 19 in 2023 / April 27 & July 6 - August 17 in 2024
Below deck: bunk bed cabin € 1.440,- / € 1.550,-
Below deck: bunk bed cabin 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 13 - June 24 in 2023 / May 11 - June 22 in 2024
Below deck: bunk bed cabin € 1.560,- / € 1.700,-
Below deck: bunk bed cabin 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,-
September 2 - October 14 in 2023 / August 31 - October 12 in 2024
Below deck: bunk bed cabin € 1.680,- / € 1.850,-
Below deck: bunk bed cabin 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 8 in 2023
Below deck: twin cabin € 1.030,-
Below deck: cabin single use € 1.900,-
April 22 & July 1 - August 12 in 2023 / April 20 & June 29 - August 10 in 2024
Below deck: twin cabin € 1.350,- / € 1.400,-
Below deck: cabin single use € 2.220,- / € 2.300,-
May 6 - June 17 & October 21 in 2023 / May 4 - June 15 & October 19 in 2024
Below deck: twin cabin € 1.400,- / € 1.500,-
Below deck: cabin single use € 2.270,- / € 2.400,-
August 26 - October 7 in 2023 / August 24 - October 5 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 start cycling on the 3rd day. On the day of arrival you can leave the luggage on board anytime during the day but the cabins will be available from 4.30 PM to 7.00 PM (dinner time). Just before dinner, a meeting with the tour guide and the crew is scheduled. The mooring place of the barge is located in Giudecca Island - Fondamenta S.Giacomo 212/C.
VENEZIA MARCO POLO (VCE) -
Connection Alilaguna water bus:
from the airport of Venice you can reach the boarding point by sea with Alilaguna lines. Red Line Alilaguna (www.alilaguna.it) with stop on Giudecca island (stop “Zitelle”). This line works from 9.40 a.m. to 18.40 p.m. (transfer approx. 80 minutes, ticket 15 €). Blue Line Alilaguna: if you arrive later, you can take the Blue Line that works until 00.30 a.m. (transfer approx. 100 minutes, ticket 15 €). Stop: “Zattere”. From here you have to take the vaporetto Line 2, and get off at “Redentore”.
Connection shuttle bus:
from the airport you can reach Venice (piazzale Roma) by bus: the Fly Bus ATVO shuttle service leaves about every 20 minutes from 5:20 a.m. to 00:50 a.m.(transfer: 20 min; ticket: 8 €; www.atvo.it).
For further information on timetables and prices you can consult the following website: www.trenitalia.com.
Venice is easy to find coming from the highway A4 Milano- Trieste. You can park your car in Venice in several parkings. You can also park your car in Mestre and reach Venice by public transport. Average of € 18,- per day. Detailed information will be included in your travel documents.
You have to leave the boat after breakfast, not 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. How to go back At the end of the tour if you need to return to Venice, 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 direct connections, you always have to change in Verona Porta Nuova or Monselice. The transfer takes approx. 2.5 hours and costs about 13-30 € 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:
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.
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.
Yes, this must be notified when booking, but at least 14 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 gluten free diet; lactose free diet or vegan meals there is an additional charge of € 75,- per week.
The main countries represented by our cycling guests are: United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia and France. The common language on board is English.
Specialised cycle clothing may be handy but not strictly necessary. What you do need (among other things) is the following:
• shorts/ long trousers/ track suit/ legging
• shirts/ sweater/ rain clothing
• gloves (in case you travel in April or October. It can be chilly in the morning)
• good solid shoes/ sneakers
• sunglasses/ cap/ swimming costume
• personal care and beauty items
• hair dryer (220V; available on the barges Zwaan, Sailing Home and Provence)
• insect repellent
Your travel documents include the final packing list we suggest for your booked tour.