Between Alto Adige and Eastern Tyrol there is a land that truly represents a paradise for biking enthusiasts. This is Val Pusteria, which gives those who choose to cross it the chance to enjoy extraordinary landscapes and towns characterized by forts and castles.
Val Pusteria is about 100 km long, and includes nature parks, rivers, and breath-taking scenery.
So here are two cycle paths perfect to discover the area.
THE DRAVA CYCLE PATH
It is a real jewel to discover slowly but fully, in order not to miss anything.
Following the course of the River Drava, travellers will pedal for 48 km from Dobbiaco to Lienz, crossing the border between Italy and Austria and travelling along roads that are suitable even for children.
Actually the full trail extends for 366 km, from Val Pusteria to Maribor, in Slovenia. The itinerary proposed here is the initial part of the trail, which goes downhill and is well marked.
Among the towns along the trail is Dobbiaco - the “gateway to the Dolomites”, in the Sesto Dolomites Nature Park - and natural wonders like the Galitzenklamm gorge, a stunning natural site featuring a network of paths and bridges that afford incredible view of the waterfalls. Then there is also the small town of Heinfels with its castle and the Church of San Candido, the most important Romanesque monument in Tyrol and in the Eastern Alps, with extraordinary works of art and an important fresco cycle.
The trail stops at Lienz, main city in the Eastern Tyrol and popular tourist destination from which depart a number of itineraries perfect to discover the High Tauern National Park or the Assling Nature Park.
The Pusterbike is among the most evocative cycle paths in Italy: it departs from San Candido and, following the course of the River Rienza, arrives in Fortezza, near Bressanone. In more or less four hours it is possible to travel its 71 km, visiting popular attractions like Brunico, Villabassa, and the Lake Valdaora.
This trail is perfect in any season of the year thanks to the majesty of the Dolomites and the imposing castles. It is also connected to a wide network of cycle paths (like the Drava Cycle Path) and is suitable even for families with children. The only slightly uphill climb is at the very beginning: 5 km from San Candido to Dobbiaco, the highest part of the Val Pusteria.
Once the trail has gone over the railroad, it enters a fir forest and goes across green fields before reaching Villabassa, a very popular tourist destination in Val Pusteria especially by those looking for a place to relax.
The large Kupkark park includes an exclusive Kneipp hydrotherapy centre while the onion-shaped bell tower of the late-Baroque Church of Santo Stefano is the symbol of the town. Once the trail leaves Villabassa it coasts Monguelfo and reaches Lake Valdaora, an evocative artificial water basin that was built in 1958 to use the water of the River Rienza to produce electricity.
From here the trail goes on to Brunico, famous for its castle (Kühbergl) built on a hill. This, built in 1251 on the orders of the Prince Bishop of Bressanone, Bruno von Kirchberg, can be reached on foot, for a pleasant walk. Moreover, one of its wings has been housing the Messner Mountain Museum since 2011.
From Brunico the trail goes on to Casteldarne and, crossing small towns and beautiful landscapes, goes towards the Rio Pusteria stream.
The last 10 km lead to Fortezza, the largest historic complex in Alto Adige. Located 750 m above sea level, the Hapsburg fort was built on orders of Austrian Emperor Francis I, to stop invading enemy armies. In truth, it was never attacked: a military depot until 1991, since 2005 it has been the venue of social and cultural events, and exhibitions.