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Travel Story from the Alpe-Adria Cycle Path

Team Member on Tour from Salzburg to the Sea
Cyclist on the coast in Grado

Having been organizing our Alpe-Adria Cycle Path tour from Salzburg to Grado for several months now, selecting my "Team Member on Tour" travel was a straightforward decision. I didn't want to miss out on this journey from inland to the sea. It was also a clear choice for me to embark on my first cycling tour with my partner. The favorable weather forecast added to our anticipation for our very first cycling vacation together on the Alpe-Adria Cycle Path.

Cyclist on the coast in Grado

From the city of Mozart to the Hohe Tauern

After a brief 20-minute drive to Salzburg, we start our tour on a beautiful Saturday morning. We pick up our rental bikes at the hotel and head straight to the Old Town, where a photo of the Marco Feingold footbridge with Hohensalzburg Fortress in the background is a must. With this picture oppurtunity checked-off the list, we set off along the Tauern cycle path towards the Celtic town of Hallein. Riding along the Salzach, we enjoy a gentle incline with wonderful views of the mountain landscape. After a short break at Hallein's main square, we continue to Golling, where we savor two delicious wild mushroom dishes at the restaurant Hauslwirt. Refreshed, we face our first climb. Full of energy, we tackle the more challenging Lueg Pass. Thanks to our e-bikes, this ascent is quickly conquered, and we enjoy the journey through the Salzach Valley to our stage destination of St. Johann. After this summery day, the pool at our booked hotel, Brückenwirt, is a welcome sight.

The Queen stage through the Gastein Valley into the Möll Valley

After a hearty breakfast, we embark under the warm morning sun from St. Johann on our next leg into the Gastein Valley. Following the Tauern cycle path, we enjoy a leisurely and flat ride to Schwarzach before ascending towards the Brandstatt reservoir amidst alpine landscapes dotted with farms and pastures. Our route takes us through the Klammtunnel, marking the gateway to the Gastein Valley. Once there, we make a stop at Klammstein Castle, the valley's oldest structure originally serving as a defensive and customs outpost. Today, the restored castle houses a restaurant and a small museum in its tower, offering stunning views over the Gastein Valley. After a brief break at the castle café, we pedal onward towards Bad Gastein. The energetic climb to the town center rewards us with views of historic buildings and the majestic waterfall, creating a unique backdrop. Continuing our journey, we travel by train through the Tauernschleuse to Mallnitz. From there, a rapid descent brings us to Mölltal, our second stage destination. We cap off the warm summer evening with a delightful meal.

Eurobike rental bike in Bad Gastein

In the sunny south of Austria

Along the Möll River and on beautiful side roads, we continue our journey further where the southern charm becomes increasingly palpable. During the ride, one thing was clear to us: a detour to Barbarossa Gorge in Mühldorf would be the perfect complement to our cycling tour. After a short, sharp uphill ride, we reach our destination. From there, we proceed on foot through the gorge, accompanied by local legends, strolling through the impressive ravine. The stunning waterfall provides the perfect refreshment on this hot summer day. Our next destination lies a few kilometers ahead. The cycle path leads us through fields and meadows, following the Drau River repeatedly from Spittal to Villach. A leisurely evening stroll through the charming old town of Villach is the perfect conclusion to our longest stage.

River Möll

Italy, here we come!

Today's the day – we're heading to Italy. We start our journey by train, covering the initial kilometers to Tarvisio. Upon arrival, we're captivated. I've often heard that this segment of the Alpe-Adria Cycle Path is among the most stunning. The well-maintained paved path follows the gentle descent of the old railway line as it winds through the Canal Valley, leading us steadily southward. We're continually amazed by the scenery. Along the way, the 22 tunnels provide refreshing shade on this warm day.

We pass by a picturesque waterfall and cross magnificent railway bridges. One of the journey's highlights is the restored railway bridge just before Chiusaforte. We encounter numerous old railway stations, some abandoned and others transformed into cozy cafes which are perfect for a refreshment break. After a brief pit-stop, we continue cycling to Venzone, where it's almost unbelievable that nearly 50 years ago, not a single stone remained atop another. Upon reaching the hotel, we indulge in the evening with superb Italian cuisine at the hotel's own restaurant.

Through the rain and onwards to Udine

Starting from Venzone under overcast skies, we pedal along tranquil side roads and gravel paths through fields and forests all the way to Udine. A worthwhile detour to Osoppo Fortress adds a touch of adventure to our journey. Following a brief lunch break prompted by rain, we resume our route towards Udine. Passing through stunning fields of sunflowers and vineyards, we finally reach our destination for the day. The charm of Udine's old town immediately captivates us. We wander through its picturesque streets, soaking in the Italian atmosphere. After indulging in a well-deserved pizza, we explore the impressive Piazza Giacomo Matteotti. The evening concludes perfectly with delicious gelato and vibrant Italian music.

View of the mountains near Forte di Oppo

To the sea we go – our destination is not far now!

Our final stage leads us to Grado. Passing through corn and grain fields, we reach the first highlight of this journey - Palmanova. Built in the late 16th century as a military fortress town, Palmanova is still accessed through three town gates today. A short break in the spacious main square of Palmanova marks a perfect pause for today's ride. The town's distinctive feature is its star-shaped layout, designed to allow soldiers quick access to the city walls from the center. Inspired by this unique architecture, we continue along the superb cycle path, passing through scenic meadows and fields towards Cervignano del Friuli. Our journey continues to Aquileia, where Roman excavations line the path. The cool sea breeze hints that our destination is close. Crossing the lagoon to Grado fills us with pride. After nearly 400 kilometers, we arrive at our destination on the northern Adriatic coast by bicycle.

City gate in the direction of Grad near Palmanova
View of Salzburg's old town

My verdict

One thing is certain – this won't be our last cycling vacation. Both Austria and Italy have showcased such diverse facets on this journey: from landscapes to culture, cuisine to sights, there's something for everyone. What I cherish most about this journey is immersing myself in nature with all senses and reaching places inaccessible by car. My Alpe-Adria Cycle Path adventure has left a lasting impression, and I'll always cherish memories of our inaugural cycling vacation. I'm especially delighted to have persuaded my partner to join me on this tour, allowing us to share a wonderful cycling experience together along the Alpe-Adria Cycle Path.

My favorite place

I was especially captivated by the legendary Barbarossa Gorge in Mölltal. Footbridges and bridges span the waterfalls of the mountain stream. For those inclined, you can refresh yourself in the ice-cold mountain water and enjoy an outdoor shower. It's a true hidden gem for hot days on the bike! 

Hiking trail in the Barbarossa Gorge
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