The Pustertal Cycle Path
The Pusterbike, or Val Pusteria bicycle path, runs beneath the Dolomites and is among the most beautiful bicycle paths in Italy.
Starting in San Candido, the last Italian bastion before Austria, the Pusterbike winds its way along the course of the Rienza River until it reaches Fortezza, near Bressanone, gliding through scenic wonders such as Lake Olang and famous South Tyrolean places like Brunico and Villabassa.
The colors that change with the seasons but are always flamboyant, the majesty of the Dolomites, the Castles that inevitably catch the eye of the bicycle tourist, and the charm and flavors of the villages nestled harmoniously in the valley are among the reasons that make the route unmissable.
It is a family-friendly route on trails reserved for cycling, pedaling mostly on a moderate downhill. It also connects to a wider network of bicycle routes, such as the one that follows the course of the Drava River from Toblach to Lienz.
Starting in San Candido, the first 5 km are among the very few stretches to be climbed, however slight, to Toblach, ‘gateway’ to the Dolomites and the highest point in the valley. It is here that we first encounter the Rienza River, which will be a pleasant companion for much of the route.
An underpass makes it possible to cross the railway and then plunge by bicycle into a dense fir forest. The view quickly opens up again, with deep green South Tyrolean meadows, as we begin to catch sight of the bell tower of St. Stephen’s Church, in Villabassa, with its classic onion shape.
Leaving the village, another pleasant stretch through the forest allows for refreshment among the vegetation, while sudden glimpses of the majestic mountains surrounding the valley parade by. It proceeds skirting Monguelfo and then on the fantastic stretch leading to Lake Valdaora (km 19): meadows and woods alternate until you reach the shores of this artificial lake, set with perfection in the surrounding nature and its colors.
A gentle climb begins as the road becomes unpaved near Percha and leads to Bruneck (km 34), the heart of the valley, with a historic center that has retained its medieval forms, above which stands Bruneck Castle, part of the Messner Mountain Museum.
From Brunico we leave by skirting the Rienza River again, abandoned only for a moment after San Lorenzo di Sebato, to climb briefly and descend a hill again, arriving in Casteldarne, a small town that proudly displays its castle.
Small villages and great landscapes keep flowing until Vandoies, immediately followed by Rio Pusteria, where the perfectly preserved lock of the same name towers above the bike path with its walls and fortress.
That leaves the last 10 km, with a couple of slight ups and downs, to the finishing point, Fortezza, where a bike path runs inside the Austro-Hungarian fort that characterizes the village on the Isarco River.
The Pustertal Cycle Path