Crossing the Alps by bike – everything you need to know

For many athletes, crossing the Alps by bike is a dream come true. The biggest highlight are the landscapes that you can visit on a mountain bike or e-bike. Almost every enthusiastic cyclist thinks about crossing the Alps at least once, but the time-consuming planning often puts you off at first. However, with the help of technical gadgets and the internet, it’s not really difficult to plan a great tour yourself.

A cycle tour in the Alps

A tour of the Alps on your own bike sounds very challenging at first, but there are various routes that are suitable for different cyclists. There are also one or two routes that are particularly suitable for beginners. If you want to cross the Alps by bike, you can plan a route yourself or use pre-designed routes. You can find lots of inspiration for a possible Transalp route online, as well as tips on what to look out for.

Preparation for crossing the Alps by bike

Most athletes will be aware that not all bikes are the same, because on the first long tour at the latest, you can tell which model is better for you. You should be familiar with the bike and be able to handle it well. A comfortable saddle is also an advantage, with a mountain bike you enjoy the greatest flexibility in terms of tour design, but in the long term this can be uncomfortable. Traveling on a road bike allows you to make fast progress, but you have to limit yourself to paved roads; in contrast, the touring bike is more suitable, even if it is heavier. Once you have chosen the perfect bike for your project, you can start with the general planning.

Planning the exact route

Various Transalp routes are suitable for crossing the Alps and can be viewed online in advance. During the trip, we recommend navigating using interactive maps on a tracking device or your own smartphone. There are 5 routes that are particularly popular with trekking bikers:

Transalp Rhone Cycle Route

This long-distance cycle route leads past many mountains in the foothills of the Alps and finally ends after 350 kilometers in the city of Geneva. Along the way, you can enjoy the scenery and well-maintained routes.

Munich-Venezia cycle route

The starting point of this trip is the Bavarian capital of Munich, the route extends as far as Venice. After the start, you cycle along the Isar for a while and then end up in Italy before continuing into the Dolomites. Finally, the 600-kilometer route ends in Venice, Italy. This route across the Alps is particularly popular with beginners, as it is considered easy and offers many beautiful views .

Ciclovia Alpe-Adria cycle path

This cycle route from Salzburg to Grado is the best known when it comes to crossing the Alps by bike . It starts in the Mozart city of Salzburg, each individual stage is well signposted and consists of cycle-friendly paths. Cyclists have few climbs to worry about and can focus entirely on their destination, the lagoon city on the Adriatic.

Via Claudia Augusta

This route starts along the Danube in Bavaria and stretches all the way to Altino near Venice in Italy. Among other things, this route leads past Augsburg in Bavaria and continues through the Tyrolean mountains to the Reschen Pass, then travels to Lake Reschen in South Tyrol until the tour ends shortly afterwards. At around 717 kilometers, the cycle path is one of the longer ones and is particularly suitable for advanced cyclists. Good stamina is essential for the Via Claudia Augusta, as the journey covers around twelve stages.

Crossing the Alps by e-bike

Along the Inn cycle path

At around 500 kilometers, the Inn Cycle Path leads from St. Moritz to Passau, offering beautiful downhill stretches. In addition, this route allows many detours to visit even more sights, as the connection to regional cycle path networks is particularly convenient.

Packing list for a Transalp tour

The following applies to the packing list: as much as necessary and as little as possible. Comfortable and functional clothing such as cycling shorts, a functional shirt and comfortable shoes are essential for trekking bikers. The same applies to food, a small first-aid kit and sun protection. In contrast to a tour with a guide, on a self-planned trip you have to take care of your own luggage transportation . A roof over your head is also important on the stages, so don’t take on too much and plan sufficient breaks and overnight stays. As such an Alpine Crossing tour is a cross-border trip, the necessary documents must not be missing, preferably in digital form and also in printed form.

Equipment for crossing the Alps by bike

The first step for every touring cyclist is the planning that guides you on your journey. There are many digital aids that support a bike tour. Smartphones are now very important, as they also function as navigation systems. Thanks to GPS tracks and interactive maps , orientation on unfamiliar routes is no longer a problem.

A good addition for such a trip is a GPS tracker, which can fulfill several functions at once. On the one hand, the device records each route in detail, giving the cyclist a good overview of all the kilometers covered, the individual breaks and the times ridden. Afterwards, you have the opportunity to view the entire route or experience particularly beautiful places such as Lake Garda, Lake Como or the Western Alps in review.

Across the Alps by e-bike

A GPS tracker also offers protection when traveling, as it allows you to share your location, which is particularly helpful if you are traveling alone. Theft protection for mountain bikes and luggage is also increased when the tracker is attached. As soon as someone tampers with it without authorization, the user receives a message in the app and can act immediately.

Training and preparation

A trip like this needs to be prepared, not only does good equipment play a role, you also need to train your own condition and fitness in advance. Training for at least three months is the best way to prepare for a trip on a touring bike . It’s not just the kilometers you have to cover by bike on this trip, but also the inclines that many people find difficult. What’s more, depending on the route you choose, you can expect to climb several thousand meters in altitude .

Would you prefer a guided tour or to travel alone?

Crossing the Alps by bike is one of the dream tours of many athletes. If you don’t want to ride alone, you can also opt for a tour with a guide. A trip like this is particularly suitable for beginners, there is no need for time-consuming planning and the tour guide shows you many sights along the route. Cyclists also benefit from good planning and don’t have to worry about transporting their own luggage.


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