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Alpe Adria Cycle Route: from Salzburg to Grado by bicycle

The Alpe Adria cycle path is an itinerary between Austria and Italy and it connects Salzburg, in the Alps, to Grado on Adriatic sea.We had the occasion of traveling many kilometers along the Alpe Adria cycleway during our trip by bike among Trentino, Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia and we discovered many beautiful villages, ancient cities, old railways and wild nature. The Alpe Adria cycle route is perfect for those wanting to get to know these territories, from art cities to the medieval villages, from the mountains to the sea, in a slow way, with no stress.

Map

Alpe Adria radweg cycling itinerary 

As we said, the Alpe Adria Radweg cycleway connects Salzburg and Grado and is an itinerary which is possible to cycle in one week in complete tranquility. It’s preferable to leave from Austria to go down to the sea but nobody forbids to travel the cycle way also backwards. This route in mainly on cycle paths even if some stretches are still to be realized and at the moment secondary mixed roads are used, usually with low traffic. 

Which could be the stages of the itinerary?

Leaving from the city of Mozart, Salzburg - not before having visited this romantic town and its castle – you head south following the stream of the river Salzach passing through the old Celtic city of Hallein. This place is today known especially as tourist attraction due to the salt mines of Dürrnberg. Having crossed the Salzachöfen (a river gorge in the Tennengebirge Mountains, you meet the Hohenwerfen Castle, one of the most fabulous in Austria, and then reach the village of Bishofhofen where it’s possible to spend the night.

Continuing again to the south, the Alpe Adria cycle way a andons the stream of the river Salzach to go up to the resort of Klammstein entering the Gastein Valley where you have to pass through a tunnel on the railway. The cycle way crosses wild landscapes enclosed by the Austrian peaks which exceed 2000 meters. You pass through the thermal center of Bad Hofgastein and then continue till the last meters of ascent to reach Bad Gastein, at an altitude of about 1000 m in the National Park of the High Tauern.
alpe adria radweg

Toward Italy by bicycle

The first one hundred kilometers of the cycle way are behind you among caves, thermal baths and castles and the landscapes on the High Tauern become moving. You’re obliged to go back to the railway to cross with another tunnel the High Tauern and going into Carinthia following for some time the stream of the river Möll. The Falkenstein Castle is surely a destination not to miss before reaching, along the itinerary which is a part of the Eurovelo 7, Spittal on the Drava where you start to follow the well-known Drava Cycle Path (Drauradweg) connecting Dobbiaco and Maribor in Slovenia along the stream of the river in Carinthia. Spittal has a particularity: it boasts the biggest private collection of miniature trains... weird isn’t’ it?

salita alpe adria

From Spittal you can visit the nearby Millstätter See and then continue to the south-east till the center of Villach without great difficulty, following again the stream of the river Drava.

Having traveled a little more than two hundred kilometers, you approach the Italian border and the Alpe Adria Cycle Way here deviates abruptly to the south-west starting a slight climb that from the village of Arnoldstein will lead to Coccau (the first Italian village) and therefore, already on the layout of the former  railway, till Tarvisio, at the mouth of the Canale Valley. From this point to Moggio Udinese the Alpe Adria cycleway (in Friuli identified with the FVG1 route) mostly follows the route of the Pontebbana railway, dismantled and readapted to cycling track. Unluckily, as it often happens, Italy is still out of the loop from a cycle-tourism point of view and for some connection stretches you’re obliged to travel the state road (the connection works of the cycling routes should be over in a few years). The itinerary is mostly downhill and you reach the beautiful village of Venzone, the place of lavender which has been completely rebuilt after having been razed to the ground by the earthquake of 1976.

venzone

We were lucky to travel this stretch of cycleway on the secondary road flanking the Tagliamento and we advise you a deviation to Lake Cavazzo, in Gemona del Friuli or to the nature reserve of Lake Cornino to spot griffons.

The Alpe Adria Radweg bicycle route continues instead to the south to reach, without efforts, Udine.

What to see in Udine

Udine, provincial capital inhabited since the Neolithic age, is worth a visit more in depth if you have at disposal a few hours or a whole day for touring across Udine by bike looking around in the most picturesque corners and the most interesting monuments. The via Mercatovecchio is the beating heart of the city and lies a few steps away from the most characteristic places of Udine. Behind this street indeed, in a position dominating the rest of the city, lies the castle hill reshaped after a violent earthquake in the XVI century. Today maybe it looks more like a Renaissance residence but inside supervises with jealousy one of the most ancient halls of the Parliament dating to the XII century. At the feet of the hill, besides the Mercatovecchio there is the Loggia del Lionello, in Venetian Gothic style, and the loggia and the small temple of San Giovanni with its picturesque clock tower. If you still have time wander by bike in Udine to discover its most hidden secrets, noble palaces and religious buildings.
fvg1 ciclovia alpe adria

On the Alpe Adria radweg to the see

Now the sea is not far away and the last fifty kilometers are easy from an altimetry point of view, passing through Palmanova, called “the star like city” because of one-of-a-kind its city plan and the ancient roman city of Aquileia. Easy but also uncomfortable because you find yourself to cycle along local drivability layouts and not on a cycle path, but for some stretches among which the Cervignano-Grado dismantled former  railway.
The Alpe Adria cycleway is definitely ideal for those wanting to approach cycling tourism for the first time: perfect for families or anyone wanting to enjoy a slow holiday discovering the naturalistic beauties of Austria and the historic-cultural beauties of Friuli Venezia-Giulia.
To follow the Alpe Adria radweg on the italian part you can download the roadbook from Friuli-Venezia Giulia region, it's for free!
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Leonardo

Cicloviaggiatore lento con il pallino per la scrittura e la fotografia. Se non è in viaggio ama perdersi lungo i mille sentieri che solcano le splendide montagne del suo Trentino e dei dintorni del lago d'Iseo dove abita, sia a piedi che in mountain bike. Eterno Peter Pan che ama realizzare i propri sogni senza lasciarli per troppo tempo nel cassetto, ha dedicato gran parte della vita al cicloturismo viaggiando in Nuova Zelanda, Balcani, Norvegia e molti altri paesi. Ultimamente ha trascorso dieci mesi in bici nel Sud est asiatico e ha attraversato le Ande in bici.

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