Trip Report: Cycling Holiday in Venice, Italy

By Sarah Dean
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In May 2018, I took a girls’ cycling trip with four friends. With varying commitments, we wanted a short break trip to an easy to get to destination, leisurely rides, great scenery, good weather (hopefully!) and importantly, wonderful cuisine. The four-night Venetian Delights tour fitted the bill perfectly!

With a flight time of a little over two hours from Gatwick to Venice Marco Polo and a short 6 mile (10km) taxi ride, we were in our hotel in Mestre on the Venice mainland. We made it in good time for an evening of relaxation and excitedly planned our Italian adventure and our first cycle ride the next morning.

Here are a few pictures and memories of my trip, which I hope show why I loved this tour and am such a fan of Italy.

Setting Off From Mestre

My bike, ready to set off from Mestre

I was very pleasantly surprised by Mestre, the closest mainland town to Venice island. Known as a base for visitors to the famous island, I hadn’t expected Mestre to have such a buzzing, pretty centre and main square, the start and ending point of our adventure. Considerably more economical as a base, it is easy to get to the main island by taxi, tram or regular bus service which runs in to the night. It is also worth bearing in mind that cycling on Venice Island is prohibited – so Mestre makes the perfect start point for a cycling holiday.


Our Route

With three ferries on our first day and a 37 mile (60km) ride from Chioggia to Padova on the second, our days were full, but the cycle terrain was genuinely easy going. Our first day’s ride was a memorable introduction, our little team cycling in convoy along the shores of the beautiful Venetian lagoon, lunching beach-side at the glamorous Venice Lido and ferry-hopping our way to the pretty harbour town of Chioggia.

The beautiful waterfront of Giudecca

The rides from Chioggia to Padova and then on to Mestre the next day gave us a change of scenery, with long stretches on flat, riverside and canalside cycle paths, stopping along the way to admire beautiful Venetian villas as we pedalled our way through the countryside and little towns.

One of the riverside cycle paths that we rode on

A pretty Venetian villa

A few sections of this tour were on busier roads, notably on day three leaving Chioggia, but the roads are wide and we found the Italian motorists along the whole route to be extremely respectful of cyclists.
 
The short ferry rides were a welcome and very enjoyable chance to sit back, even for 15 minutes, and soak up the beautiful scenery and sea air. It is worth getting a day ticket for the ferry, which covered all three of our trips.

Our Bikes

Our trusty bikes and smiling faces

The benefits of padded shorts can never be underestimated, but with 27-gears, gel saddles and a spacious pannier, our smart and very trusty bikes served us beautifully. Three of us also had handlebar bags and the other two had map-holders, so it was easy to share out (or bicker over!) the navigating responsibilities. We can also email you GPS tracks in advance for this tour.


The Accommodation

One of the stylish hotels that we stayed in

We stayed in a mix of 3* and 4* hotels, all very comfortable and well placed for the cycling. Arriving in to Chioggia was a real treat, with our hotel in a pretty harbourside square, just steps from the ferry docking point.


When in Italy

The finer things in life, in abundance in Italy!

In my view, few things can be more eagerly anticipated and enjoyable after a day in the saddle than a well-earned glass of something chilled and a plate or two of delicious, wholesome and totally satisfying local cuisine. And the Italians do it splendidly! Delicious antipasti platters, generous bowls of garlicky spaghetti, rustic stone-cooked pizzas, classic tiramisu, cooling gelato, world-famous Veneto wines and, of course, the coffee – integral to Italian culture – we had it all and enjoyed every bit!


My Top Tips For This Tour

One of Venice's famous gondolas

St Mark's Square, Venice

Allow time to visit Venice Island – yes, it can be busy and the centre is touristy, but it is a beautiful, iconic city and easy to get to from Mestre. Step away from the main sights to explore the back and side streets, where you are far more likely to find traditional Venetian cafes and restaurants with lower prices than those around St Mark’s Square and the Rialto Bridge. For me, a trip to Venice is also not complete without a visit to the T Fondaco Dei Tedeschi department store for some of the best rooftop views of the city.

My friends, kitted up and ready to go!

Take a picnic on your daily rides - so that you can park up at your chosen beauty spot for an al fresco lunch, without having to think about finding a café or working round Italian siesta time. Some places will close for the traditional “riposo", especially in smaller towns.

Would I take this holiday again? Absolutely! Some of my friends didn’t previously know each other well, and we had varying experience of a cycling holiday – including no experience at all! However, we all agreed this was the perfect way to share time together, enjoying fresh air, exercise, laughs and, of course, wonderful Italian hospitality. We are already planning our next cycling adventure!

If you'd like to see more photos from our trip, watch my photo diary video below:


If you would like to know more about this cycling holiday, please visit the tour page.

To discover more about our Italy cycling tours, make an enquiry online or speak to one of our team by telephone on +44 (0)1273 224066 (office hours (UK time): Monday to Friday: 9am - 5.30pm)

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