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Your first transalp – Via Claudia Augusta

tetrodoxin (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Your first transalp – Via Claudia Augusta

Mountain Biking Collection by Holger S.

5-9

days

3-5 h

/ day

239 mi

10,375 ft

12,800 ft

Crossing the Alps on a mountain bike might sound intense at first, but it’s not as wild as you might think. Year after year, thousands of cyclists ride across the Alps, despite not having the legs of Jan Ullrich or Marco Pantani. One of the most popular routes was already known and used by the Romans 2,000 years ago. Although history doesn’t suggest they crossed on two-wheeled vehicles, there are numerous traces of this ancient trade route. You discover some of them on your Transalp, such as wagon tracks carved into the rocks.

The Via Claudia Augusta once connected trade centres in northern Italy with Augsburg and Donauwörth to the north of the Alps in Germany. Today, a transnational cycle path runs along this historical route, which is the central theme of the adventure. I recommend starting in the city of Füssen in the Allgäu. The destination, Lake Garda, deviates from the original Roman road. After all, you are on holiday and not travelling for trade.

From Allgäu, you ride over the Fernpass to Tyrol in Austria and the Inn Valley. You follow the Inn River into the Lower Engadine. After a short detour into the Swiss canton of Graubünden, you reach Nauders and then, shortly after, the Reschenpass, the highest point of your Transalp at 1,507 metres (4,944 feet). This is the crossing point on the main Alpine ridge and the border crossing to Italy. From here, you ride (almost) always downhill. With a view over the wonderful blue Reschensee lake backdropped by the fascinating Ortler massif glaciers, you roll into the sunny Vinschgau Valley. You trace the Etsch Cycle Path as it leads through apple orchards that merge into vineyards.

In the coming days, you follow the course of the River Etsch, framed by imposing mountains. As you ride through South Tyrol and Trentino, you trace the river as it gradually grows into mighty waters. On the way, you visit the great Italian cities of Merano, Bolzano and Trento. Don’t miss the South Tyrolean Wine Road and Lake Kaltern too. This region is well known by wine connoisseurs and I suggest a small detour from the Via Claudia Augusta. At Rovereto, you finally leave the Roman route and ride via Passo San Giovanni to the beautiful Lake Garda.

With just under 3,200 metres (10,500 feet) of climbing over a distance of 385 kilometres (239 miles), this alpine cross is perfect for beginners or those looking for a relaxed cycling trip. You cycle no more than six hours per each of the six stages (depending on your fitness level), leaving plenty of time to enjoy the nature, magnificent panoramas and hospitality en route. You mostly ride along designated bike paths and side roads, with well-maintained forest roads and gravel paths making up about a quarter of the route. Single trails are the exception here. You can easily ride the route in both directions. A mountain bike, touring bike, or gravel bike is best for this adventure.

The tourist infrastructure is well developed along the route. You can find all types of accommodation, from excellent campsites to five-star hotels. Most accommodation here is geared towards cyclists. If you like to find lonely places to sleep under the stars, you’ll find what you’re looking for here too. If you venture off a little from the main route, you’ll find numerous places for a bivvy if you’re creative.

I recommend travelling to Füssen by train. The journey from Munich to Füssen takes two hours by regional train. This also allows you to return home more flexibly.

From your destination on Lake Garda, first take a bus or bike shuttle to the train station in Rovereto. The Eurocity (EC Verona - Munich) heads to Innsbruck and Munich main station. You have to make a mandatory seat and bike reservation or you won’t be allowed on the train. In summer, bike spaces are snapped up fast. Alternatively, you can travel home by transferring several times. The most comfortable way to return to Füssen or another station that is convenient for your journey home is to take one of the numerous bus or shuttle companies that specialise in return transfers for Transalp cyclists.

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Via Claudia Augusta – Deine erste Transalp

237 mi

10,550 ft

12,950 ft

Last updated: November 11, 2021

Plan your own version of this adventure in the multi-day planner based on the stages suggested in this Collection.

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Tours & Highlights

  • Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

    Etappe 1: Von Füssen nach Nassereith – Transalp Via Claudia Augusta

    Difficult
    05:23
    35.6 mi
    6.6 mph
    2,900 ft
    2,775 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary.

    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.

    

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  • Difficult
    05:10
    41.1 mi
    8.0 mph
    2,125 ft
    1,725 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Suitable for all skill levels.

    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

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  • Intermediate
    04:21
    32.3 mi
    7.4 mph
    2,675 ft
    2,800 ft
    Intermediate mountain bike ride. Good fitness required. Suitable for all skill levels.

    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

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  • Intermediate
    04:50
    49.4 mi
    10.2 mph
    750 ft
    2,775 ft
    Intermediate mountain bike ride. Good fitness required. Suitable for all skill levels.

    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

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  • Difficult
    05:06
    49.7 mi
    9.7 mph
    1,250 ft
    1,625 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary.

    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

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  • Intermediate
    03:11
    30.9 mi
    9.7 mph
    675 ft
    1,100 ft
    Intermediate mountain bike ride. Good fitness required. Suitable for all skill levels.

    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

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    6
  • Distance
    239 mi
  • Duration
    28:01 h
  • Elevation
    10,375 ft12,800 ft

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