Your trip begins at your hotel in Mestre (the mainland of Venice). At around 6pm a representative will deliver the hire bikes to the hotel and go through the details of the trip. It is important to attend this as it will be your opportunity to check the bikes are all set up correctly and also to go over any questions you have about the route.If you haven't already received your documents before departure you will find a welcome pack at your first hotel. At this point it is important to just check through all your documents and ask the representatives if you have any questions. If you cannot make this briefing, you will find your welcome pack at reception and your bike in the garage. If you have arrived early enough, it is very easy to catch the bus to Venice (approx. 15min). Venice, also known as the 'floating city', needs little introduction. If you have time, make sure you visit the Basilica of San Marco and Doge's palace. We can help you book pre or post-tour accommodation should you wish to take more time to explore this wonderful city; if you can take the time this is something we would strongly recommend either before or after your trip.
Today is the first full day of cycling. Ride across the Ponte della Liberta, the bridge which connects Venice to the mainland and arrive at the ferry port which will take you to Punta Sabbioni to start the main part of today's ride. The ferry passes in front of the Piazza San Marco and gives a great view of Venice from the water - have your camera ready. From Punta Sabbioni you cycle towards Caorle. The first section of the ride is through pretty wetland, following canals which will then lead you back to the Adriatic Coast. On this last section of the ride there are many opportunities stop off for a dip in the sea. Caorle is a beautiful town with a historic centre made up of little houses painted in various colours and a cathedral with a curious cyclindrical bell tower. In high season the hotels get very busy so we have alternative hotel options for this evening: please check your hotel list to make sure you follow the instructions to the correct hotel. In some instances you may be staying in Jesolo, which will make your total distance 45km today (and will add the remainder to your journey tomorrow morning). In this area we use hotels on the coast and also in the town itself; if you are staying on the coast you will be able to take advantage of the beaches and you will cycle through Caorle town tomorrow morning so you will not miss out visiting this pretty town.
Leaving Jesolo/Caorle the route heads north away from the Adriatic coast, following cycleways and quiet roads. You will pass numerous Valli da Pesca, which are stretches of lagoon that are enclosed by dykes for the use of fish farming. Along these lagoons you can also spot the famous Casoni constructions that are unique to this area. Made from cane these structures used to house families during the war but today are a favourite spot for fishermen. Your stop for this evening is in the impressive town of Portogruaro, a once dominant feature of the Serenissima republic of Venice. It is a lovely town, full of character with a leaning bell tower and watermills along the river which runs right through the town centre. The ride today is quite flat so you may find that you get through the distance quite quickly, if so you can then enjoy a relaxing drink in the town square or next to the river.
Most of the journey today is spent in the midst of the plains of the eastern border between the region of Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia. This area is particularly recognised for its abundant waterways, canals, rivers and ancient Roman towns. Depending on availability, your stop for the night will either be in Aquileia or Palmanova. Each of the towns are as fascinating as the other, and if you are staying in Aquileia then the route gives you the option to extend your journey and visit Palmanova so you don't miss out. Alternatively, you can shorten the ride and not visit Palmanova: the notes give directions for both options. Again the riding is flat so you have plenty of time to fit in the longer route without rushing around. Aquileia famed for its many Roman excavations and has a beautiful church at its centre with an incredibly well preserved mosaic covering the floor. Palmanova is aptly named the 'starry city' due to the shape of the city resembling a 9-pointed star from the air. It is a remarkable structure and the town Piazza is a wonderful place to enjoy a drink in the sun. If you are staying in Palmanova, your cycling distance will be shorter today, but you will cover the distance to Aquileia in the morning, which will also give you the opportunity to look in the church.
Today's ride begins with a highly recommended option to visit the lagoon port of Grado, reached by a long causeway. Beyond Grado another option is to visit the Valle Cavanata nature reserve, where the cycleway is right next to the sea. You then cross the river Isonzo, which holds huge historical significance as it was the setting for the infamous '12 battles of Isonzo' during the First World War. From here you head towards the sea once again, and on to the Gulf of Trieste. Before reaching Trieste itself there are numerous places to visit on the way such as Duino with its two castles, Sistiana with its fantastic bay and Miramare with its famous castle, built according to the wishes of the Hapsburg Emperor Maxmillian. Trieste itself is a vibrant city and has many impressive buildings and piazzas which date from when it was the only port of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Be sure to visit the Piazza Unita d'Italia, said to be the largest waterside square in the world.
After seeing more of Trieste in the morning you soon reach your first border, taking you into Slovenia. The cycling today is fantastic, there are some hills but also long stretches right next to the sea. The cycle path is often on the track of the old Parenzana railway which ran from Trieste to Pula. The route takes you through several popular resorts, one of which is Piran. Often described as an 'open-air museum', Piran's mediaeval architecture, rich cultural heritage and narrow streets gives this town its own special charm. It is worth planning some time to stop here so you can have a look around and enjoy its atmosphere. From here you will cycle just a few more kilometres on to Portoroz, which is famous for its spa and bathing facilities, the perfect antidote to a long day's ride. If your accommodation tonight is in Piran you will cycle through Portoroz tomorrow.
With the Istrian Coast just around the corner, you now head towards Croatia. Before you arrive at the border you will pass the fascinating town of Secovlje. Once a thriving sea salt producing town, Secovlje now relies on tourism as its main source of income as the area of the salt lagoons has now become a nature park, attracting an array of migratory birds. Crossing the border into Croatia you have a climb to the attractivre old town of Buje and then coast down to Novigrad in time for coffee or lunch and to enjoy the holiday atmosphere of this pretty fishing town. The route then crosses a lagoon and climbs a little to Tar before a final downhill to Porec. It is worth aiming to arrive into Porec by early afternoon if you are catching the ferry in the morning as this will give you the chance to wander the narrow streets of the town and visit the UNESCO Euphrasian Basilica with its superb mosaics. Cycle approx. 55km
End Porec; optional ferry back to Venice
* 7 nights comfortable hotels with an option to upgrade to a higher standard * 6 days cycling with luggage transfers * 92% paved roads, 8% unpaved * Gentle undulations throughout * Self-guided holiday. Min age 14yrs
The price includes 7 breakfasts, which are taken in the hotels. Self-guided routes are perfect for making up picnics and then finding a lovely spot to enjoy your lunch. However, on this trip you will also find lots of cafes in the towns you pass through to enjoy a local lunch. As you are in Italy for much of the ride you will be able to stop for really good coffee in the morning to give you a boost. If you are going to buy things to make your own lunch, be aware that shops often close 12 - 3pm so don't get caught out. This tour passes through different regions and three different states, so you will find a wide variety of dishes. However, fish will feature highly on many of the menus due to your proximity to the sea. On the coast you will find Italian 'sardine in saor' (sardines cooked in onions), and several dishes with mussels and clams. In Slovenia and Croatia there are the famous cevapcici (small spicy meatballs) and 'buzara' prawns. Do not miss the famous zaeti (cornmeal biscuits with raisins) and in Croatia the palacinche (sweet crepes). All served with good wines such as Prosecco or Teroldego.
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