What to expect
Travelling by bike and boat, follow the longest river in Italy as it winds its way across northern Italy through Piedmont, Lombardy and Veneto before reaching the Adriatic near Venice. Pass through rural regions dotted with palaces and ride alongside riverbanks and canals towards Renaissance cityscapes. Ideal for families, expect easy rides with frequent stops to refuel with gelato and espressos.
You’ll take in fascinating places such as the medieval fortress at Ostiglia, the walled city of Ferrara and the ancient port of Adria. Cycling into Venice, one of Europe's most enchanting cities, is a special experience and you’ll have plenty of time to explore the islands and waterways or relax with a bowl of fresh pasta and a glass of rich Italian wine.
This tour runs in reverse on alternate weeks from Venice to Mantua.
At a glance
- Mantua's Renaissance architecture, Venice's islands and artwork
- Easy waterside cycling with plenty of gelato and coffee stops
- Medieval fortresses, ancient walls and historic ports
- Fragrant pines, green marshes, sandy stretches and blue lagoons
Day 1 (Sat):
Arrive in Mantua
Make your way to Mantua in northern Italy and meet the boat at Porto Catena, just a short walk from the city centre. Check in from 4.30pm and have dinner with your crew and guide at 6.30 pm. After dinner, take a walk through the historical centre of town.
Day 2 (Sun):
16 miles (25 km)
Spend a full day in Mantua, a city that was shaped and dominated by the Gonzaga family, including an afternoon guided tour through the highlights of the town. Visit the Palazzo Ducale, Cathedral of San Pietro and Basilica di Sant'Andrea. Take a boat through waterways rich in birdlife and flora. Relax in one of Mantua’s beautiful squares and taste the city’s speciality risottos, amoretti biscuits and pumpkin pasta.
Day 3 (Mon):
Mantua - Zelo
31 miles (50 km)
Cruise to Governolo and and then follow the River Po through Ostiglia village and the ruins of a medieval fortress. Visit the Carousel and Folk museum in Bergantino and join a tasting session at a cheese factory. Continue on to Zelo village, beside the Canal Bianco.
Day 4 (Tue):
Zelo - Ferrara - Adria
31 miles (50 km)
Ride towards Ferrara, a historic town, surrounded by ancient walls. Take a private group bus transfer to Adria, an ancient Greek port famous for trading amber from the Baltic.
Day 5 (Wed):
Adria - Chioggia/Pellestrina
25 miles (40 km)
Drop anchor in Porto Viro and ride into the Po delta’s maze of marshes and lagoons. Follow waterways which link the river to the Venetian lagoon and spend the night in Chioggia, known as 'Little Venice'.
Day 6 (Thu):
Chioggia/Pellestrina - Venice
19 miles (30 km)
Cruise to the nature reserve of Ca’ Roman, a sandy islet surrounded by pines on the island of Pellestrina. Continue by ferry for the short crossing to Lido Island, fashionable with the artists of the Belle Epoque and home to the International Venice Film Festival. Sail on to the marina in Venice, not far from the famous St Mark’s square.
Day 7 (Fri):
Take a morning tour with a local guide, discovering the sights of this wonderful city, before spending time relaxing and exploring Venice at your own pace, sampling fresh pasta in waterside restaurants and enjoying excellent Italian wines.
Day 8 (Sat):
Depart from Venice
Check out and disembark after breakfast by 9am to commence your journey home or continue your adventure in Italy.
There is an optional 3 night self-guided pre-tour extension from Bolzano to Mantua that includes a ferry across Lake Garda.
The superior barge Ave Maria was designed specifically for cycling tours along the Po river and is therefore perfect for the job. Her 17 spacious and comfortable cabins accommodate up to 40 guests and are finished to a high standard with en-suite shower/wc and air conditioning. There are 4 superior cabins above deck, 2 of which can take 3 to 4 people with the addition of bunk beds, and 13 twin or bunk cabins below deck, 3 of which can accommodate a 3rd person. All double cabins can be converted to separate twin beds. Hairdryers are available on request. The sophisticated salon is the ideal place to enjoy meals or relax whilst watching the scenery drift by. On deck there are 2 sundecks for sunbathing and al fresco dining. Other facilities include a large screen in the lounge, free wi-fi, free hot drinks machine and bike storage.
The standard barge Vita Pugna, meaning ”Life is a battle“, is a 36 metre long, 5.4 metre wide converted Dutch barge. She can accommodate up to 21 guests in 10 cabins, 9 of which are twins and 1 can take a 3rd bed. All cabins have individual beds and own shower and wc and AC. There is a lounge and restaurant and a spacious outside deck for relaxation. Other facilities include free wi-fi, free hot drinks machine and bike storage.
Dates & Prices
Please choose your boat, then click on a departure date for price options at a glance - 2020 dates on sale
- 7 nights accommodation: superior 'Ave Maria' or standard 'Vita Pugna'
- Board basis: Full board including breakfast, a self-made packed lunch and three-course dinner
- Tea, coffee & hot chocolate drinks on board
- Bus transfer Ferrara - Adria
- Maps and route information (GPS tracks available on request)
- English speaking tour guide on board and on bike (second tour leader on the Ave Maria if at least 25 guests have booked)
- Mid week cabin cleaning and towel change
- Harbour charges
- Guided tours in Mantua and Venice
- Cheese tasting at Grana Padano cheese factory
- Visit to Carousel & Street Entertainment Museum
- Boat excursion inthe Mincio Park Nature Reserve
- Flights and transfers
- Bike hire
- Cycle helmets
- Ticket for public transport in Venice
- Tips and drinks on board
- Special dietary requests
Child reductions (Only for the Ave Maria)
- Reduction for child (0-2yrs) sharing with 2 adults (100%)
- Reduction for child (3-6yrs) sharing with 2 adults (50%)
- Reduction for child (7-10yrs) sharing with 2 adults (30%)
*2019 itinerary may be subject to change
Pannier, handlebar bag or map holder and lock all included at no extra cost when you hire a bike. The bikes are also equipped with puncture-resistant Schwalbe tyres. One repair kit per room is provided and includes a spare inner tube, glue, patch, pump, allen keys and tyre levers.
Helmets can also be provided at no additional charge - please advise at time of booking if required.
Hybrid bike with 27 gears
News, Reviews & FAQs
Simply click on a question to reveal the answers
Will the itinerary ever change?
For Boat & Bike tours the boat will generally keep to the advertised itinerary, however the captain may have to adapt the itinerary due to the river or sea conditions.
How much space will I have in my cabin?
There is limited space in the cabins, so pack light and take a soft suitcase.
What's the etiquette with crew tips?
Tips are at your own discretion, an envelope is always left in the cabins on the last day.
Can I stay on the boat during the day and not cycle?
Yes, you can relax on the boat or explore when you arrive at each destination instead of cycling.
Can the boat cater for special dietary requirements?
Please advise us of any special requirements at time of booking and we will notify the boat operator in advance. Understandably, kitchen galley space is limited and it may not be possible to provide specialist products (eg. Gluten free). We suggest you bring a few items with you and, in some cases, these can be provided at a supplement.
Do I have to cycle as part of a group?
This tour is guided and self-guided, so you have the option to cycle with your guide or independently with the maps and route notes provided.
Can I book by myself?
Absolutely! Boat & Bike tours are very sociable and a good choice for single travellers wishing to mix with other guests and share your common interest of cycling.
What other customers have said
Been on this tour? Add your review!
A lovely holiday with easy cycling, a beautiful boat (Ave Maria) and amazing Italian food onboard! Sailing into Venice while on the top deck with an aperitivo in hand was an incredible highlight and the guides and crew were all exceptionally helpful, patient and kind.Cressida Harding, UK, September 2018
Fantastic week in an extremely hot Italy 41/42c on a daily basis! Lovely good quality bikes covered a varied terrain which took us to some wonderful beautiful places! Excellent accommodation aboard the Ave Maria. The food we ate each day was amazing - all freshly prepared onboard using fresh local ingredients to a very high standard, plus a very friendly welcoming crew. Lots of fun laughter and memories made!Helen Esuilant, UK, August 2018