Crossing the Alps on a mountain bike might sound intense, but due to well-built infrastructure and beautiful trails, it might actually be easier than you think — at least for your first crossing. In fact, the ancient Romans are to thank for this, discovering a beautiful and easily traversable trail that goes from Augsburg to Lake Garda. This trail, the Via Claudia Augusta, is still there today, and it serves as the basis of this Collection. On it, you'll climb over 13,000 feet (4,000 meters) in elevation while you ride mostly well-asphalted paths through the mountains — making this Alp crossing the perfect one for beginners.
Now, while 13,000 feet (4,000 meters) of elevation might sound like a lot, the altitude is spread out over the duration of the ride. Just bear in mind that what comes up must come down — so you'll have a ton of awesome descents to enjoy while you ride. Be ready for sore fingers from all the braking, and sore calves from all the pedaling. But it'll be worth it in the end.
So, what are you waiting for? A whole lot of fun, a well-deserved ice cream and some of the best Italian food you've ever eaten is waiting for you in the mountains.
The city of Füssen in the Allgäu itself is a highlight. Beautifully located on Forgensee and on the banks of the Lech River, the first great views of the Alps are offered. It is best to arrive a day earlier, enjoy the atmosphere and start your Transalp relaxed the morning after the day of arrival.From Füssen you follow the Lech upstream. Shortly after you have left the Lechfall behind you, you are already in the Austrian state of Tyrol. In Reutte you leave the Lech Valley. The first longer climb awaits you. You will conquer around 350 meters in altitude over a distance of around 14 kilometers. The Via Claudia Augusta cycle route runs off the main road through Heiterwang and Bichlbach into the Ehrwald Basin, where you have an impressive view of the Zugspitze and the craggy limestone cliffs of the Mieminger chain. The striking summit, which is reminiscent of a sugar loaf, is called the Sonnenspitze. Not far from Heiterwang is the Heiterwang Lake, a popular bathing lake and a great opportunity for a break.With the Zugspitze at your back, you leave the Ehrwald Basin in the direction of the Fernpass. The second long ascent of the day awaits you with around 320 meters of altitude over ten kilometers. Fortunately, you will hardly notice anything of the busy Fernpass road, which is known for traffic jams. A gravel road leads with a beautiful view to a vantage point above the top of the pass. From here you roll briefly downhill before you crank another 50 meters to the Fernpass, where you get to the other side of the pass through a tunnel. From here, the enjoyment of the descent begins on the Römerweg to Nassereith, the first stage destination.
From Nassereith, your second stage begins with a relaxed descent into the Inn Valley. The Via Claudia Augusta leads through wonderfully fragrant coniferous forests and follows the course of the Gurglbach to the Imst district of Brennbichl, where the stream flows into the Inn. From now on, the Inn Cycle Path and Via Claudia Augusta will largely follow the same paths. The Upper Inn Valley between Landeck and Imst is bounded here by the Lechtal Alps in the north and the Venet in the south. Following the slope of the river, it goes steadily uphill to Pfunds, the second stage destination.From Landeck the Inn valley narrows to a deep gorge with numerous rapids. As soon as you have crossed the steel Pontlatzbrücke near Prutz, the valley opens up again. The Kaunertal, which is known for the glacier road and the ski area, branches off to the east. On the opposite side is the Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis region on the sunny slopes of the Upper Inn Valley.In Pfunds you will find numerous options for staying overnight. The Via Claudia campsite is located just three kilometers behind the village, directly on the route.
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On the third day of your Transalp you will cross the main Alpine ridge and arrive in the (mostly) sunny and warm South Tyrolean Adige Valley.From Pfunds you first follow the Inn, on the banks of which the border between Switzerland and Austria is located for a few kilometers. Between the Kajetansbrücke and the Swiss border town of Martina, the wonderfully blue Inn is squeezed between steep, narrow rock faces. Until the late 19th century, the Altfinstermünz customs fortress, which you will visit on the way, was the only way to cross the Inn.Here it becomes clear: not only the alpine passes were great obstacles in antiquity and in the Middle Ages, but above all river crossings or steep gorges, as the example of Altfinstermünz impressively shows. When the tide is high, the Inn, which gushes excitedly at low tide, turns into a raging white water in the gorge.With Martina you leave Switzerland again after a short interlude. Eleven serpentines and 400 vertical meters await you on the way to Norbertshöhe near Nauders. The road is rarely busy. You have a great view of the Lower Engadine. For the last time you will see the Inn, the source of which is at the end of the valley near the Maloja Pass. From the Norbertshöhe you only roll down a few minutes and you reach Nauders, the last village in Tyrol before the border to Italy.Only a short time and 180 meters later you are standing on the Reschen Pass: at 1,507 meters the highest point of the Via Claudia Augusta cycle route. From now on you are in South Tyrol. At Reschensee you have a great panorama. With good visibility you have a clear view of the Ortler, at 3,905 meters the highest peak in South Tyrol. A great descent takes you through small typical South Tyrolean villages to your stage destination Glurns, a medieval-looking gem with completely preserved city walls and the smallest town in Italy.
The fourth day of your Transalp will be very relaxed, even if there are almost 80 kilometers in the road book. You cross the river slope downhill through the Vinschgau through huge apple orchards and picturesque, inviting South Tyrolean villages. The Adige River has always been the region's lifeline. You follow this to Meran and on to just before the gates of Bolzano.On the way there are numerous opportunities to take relaxed breaks, visit museums or take a look at the beautiful city center of Merano. The kilometers fly by today. From Merano onwards, it doesn't roll quite as hard. There you are only about 275 meters. Just a reminder: The Reschenpass is at 1,507 meters and your start in the morning in Glurns at around 900 meters.After the whitewater section between Töll and Forst, the Etsch calms down and flows quickly in its artificially created river bed without any excitement. Many other types of fruit now join the row of apple trees. Even kiwis are not uncommon. The wine connoisseurs and wine lovers are sure to be prudish now. At Merano you leave the Via Claudia Augusta for a short detour on the South Tyrolean Wine Route. The quiet and secluded side route leads you to the stage town of Nals, which you have probably read on the label of a bottle of wine at home. The small, contemplative place offers a nice contrast to the excited Merano and is wonderfully situated on the sunny side of the Adige Valley.There are only a handful of accommodations in Nals. If you can't find what you are looking for there, there are other nice alternatives in Andrian, the next town on the Wine Route.
The mighty flanks of the valley rise up to 1,800 meters above the river Etsch. A dreamlike backdrop accompanies you on the fifth day of your Transalp. Favored by the Mediterranean climate, some of the best wines in Italy, probably even in the world, grow here. Idyllic lakes invite you to swim and the hospitable villages attract with beautiful cafes, taverns and inns.With so many attractions it would be a shame to just follow the unexcited course of the Via Claudia Augusta along the Adige. You should therefore leave the route near Bolzano and take a look at the wonderful wine-growing area around Eppan, Kaltern and Tramin along the South Tyrolean Wine Road. A cycle path on an abandoned old railway line connects the places perfectly. At Auer you finally get back to the Via Claudia Augusta.Only a few kilometers later you cross the border between South Tyrol and Trentino between Salurn and Mezzocorona. This also represents the language border. From here you can unpack your knowledge of Italian and will no longer be looked at questioningly by South Tyroleans (whose mother tongue is German) if you want to amaze them with your proudly presented Italian vocabulary repertoire.The last 45 kilometers after Lake Kaltern to the stage destination Trento are almost completely flat. This is great for enjoying the area and collecting kilometers. Trento is a lively city with a rich history. As one of the largest cities within the Alps, it has considerable economic importance as an industrial and commercial center. Accordingly, there is a lot going on in their area.The city center offers a calm contrast with the historical buildings, the cathedral, the Domplatz with the Neptune Fountain and many winding streets. If you are already in transit, Trento is definitely worth a visit.
Today is the grand finale of your Transalp. So that you can celebrate and enjoy the arrival extensively, you are only on the road for about three hours on the last stage of the day. You can only expect a notable ascent of about 150 meters in altitude over almost ten kilometers. At Rovereto you leave the Adige Valley and the Via Claudia Augusta.If the ancient Romans had got a vacation on the return journey from their arduous Alpine crossing, they would have done it like you did. Because only this one ascent via Mori past the nature reserve from Loppio to Passo San Giovanni near Nago separates you from the wonderfully blue Lake Garda , the Holy Grail for Alpine crossers on two wheels.During the descent from Nago to Torbole you have a perfect view of Lake Garda at the level of the old Forte Nago. The side street has hardly any through traffic and is mainly used by cyclists. In Torbole you reach the shore of the lake. Now you can decide whether you want to jump straight into the cool, clear waters or continue to Riva del Garda. On the way along the promenade you will find numerous beautiful places to swim and to celebrate your arrival in style.