5 Reasons to Choose Italy for Your Cycling Holiday

Have you considered heading to Italy for your next cycling holiday? Here are 5 reasons why our beautiful country should be on the radar of all cyclotourists!

Between April 5th and 7th, the yearly Fiera del Cicloturismo was held in Bologna, attracting more than 15,000 attendees.

The three-day event included a packed calendar with experiential workshops covering different aspects of cycling tourism, from how to pack to how to combine train and bike for the perfect sustainable holiday, talks about cycling destinations from all over the world, and even bike excursions around Bologna free for everyone to attend.

The Fiera was aimed both at the general public and industry attendees. Bike enthusiasts were able to visit stands by more than 100 between destinations and cycling brands, and get inspiration between talks and conferences. Tourism professionals had the opportunity to learn about cycling tourism in Italy – a fast-growing market, no longer an emerging phenomenon but a well-established segment of the Italian tourism industry.

If you wish to know more, take a look at the 4th edition of the report on cycling tourism in Italy, jointly produced by ISNART (the national tourism research institute) and Legambiente.

As cyclists ourselves, we couldn’t be happier that cycling is becoming more and more popular. A few months ago, we published a post about the 5 best cycling destinations in 2024, including Italy (with a focus on Sicily).

By the way, we won’t reveal what the other 4 destinations are, go check out the article if you want to know! 🙂

Let’s have a look at why you should choose Italy for your next cycling holiday, and 5 suggestions on where to go!

1) Numbers Are Growing

You won’t have to worry about crowds on a cycling holiday in Italy!

In 2023, over 56 million cycling tourists visited Italy, approximately 6.7% of those who visited the country. It’s one of the few segments that actually surpassed pre-pandemic numbers – in 2019, the estimated presences of cycling tourists totalled 54 million.

Numbers are set to increase further over the next few years. Investment in new cycling itineraries and services dedicated to cyclists are on the rise, with new routes set to open over the next decade – the cycle path around Lake Garda and VenTo (Venice-Turin) are just two examples.

If you are getting worried that increased numbers means overtourism, fear not. One of the benefits of cycling tourism is that it takes people away from the crowded historic cities, where cycling is a nightmare, to lesser-visited regions that desperately need extra visitors.

2) Services for Cyclists

ciclovia del sole fixing tire
Fixing a tire along the Ciclovia del Sole

Higher numbers also mean there is increased attention to the needs of cyclists, with hotels, cafes and restaurants catering to cyclists.

For example, you’ll find bike hotels in well-established cycling destinations like the Adriatic Coast and Lake Garda, with services that usually include bike storage, a workshop for washing and repairs, charging points for e-bikes, bike rental and bike guides.

Along popular routes there are also cafés and restaurants for hungry cyclists – an example are ‘Bicigrill’ in Trentino all along the region’s cycle paths, a play on words on the ‘Autogrill’ located all along the country’s motorways.

3) Diverse Landscapes

dovadola strade bici
Cycling through Italian villages

Do you want to tackle legendary Alpine climbs like Stelvio and Mortirolo? Or do you prefer a ‘mangia e bevi’ kind of ride along the hills? Or would you like to ride along a flat, easy path along the coast?

This is one of the benefits of choosing Italy for your next cycling holiday – you can do all three!

For example, in the coastal region of Liguria you can ride the scenic Riviera dei Fiori cycle path, 24 km between Sanremo and Imperia, or head inland to the hills to brave the Milano-Sanremo climbs like Turchino, Cipressa, and the famous Poggio.

4) Great Food

Cycling makes you hungry, right? But hey, you’re in Italy, you’ll be eating well everywhere you go! It’s the perfect excuse to indulge in all the pasta and pizza, because you need all those carbs for energy!

If you wish to combine cycling and gastronomy, plan a visit to the Food Valley, the region between Parma and the Po River, where some iconic Italian specialties (like parmigiano and Parma ham) come from. There’s a cycling itinerary you can follow visiting some producers and other places where you can try these specialties – visit the Food Valley Bike website to know more and download the itinerary!

5) Ride the Roads of the Giro (and Tour!)

montemaggio tour de france 2024
Climbing Montemaggio, included on Stage 1 of the Tour de France 2024

This needs no introduction – if you love cycling, you’ll be well familiar with the Giro d’Italia! Italy’s very own Grand Tour takes place every year in May, and the route changes every year, always featuring some monster Alpine climbs, flat and hilly stages, and time trial challenges.

Some Giro stages have become truly legendary – like the snowy Gavia climb in the 1988 Giro, or Froome conquering Colle delle Finestre in 2018. Coming to Italy for your cycling holiday will give you the chance to ride along these iconic roads, following the footsteps of your cycling heroes.

The 2024 Tour de France will start in Italy, with three challenging and diverse stages stretching from Florence to Turin, via the hills of Romagna and the famous San Luca climb in Bologna. Check out our guide to the 2024 Grand Depart to know more about the stages – and plan your visit!

5 Ideas for Your Italy Cycling Holiday

Ok, so we convinced you! Great! So, where exactly in Italy should you go cycling? Here are 5 great destinations to get started!

  • Lake Como: escape the crowded lakeside to discover the peaks surrounding Italy’s most beautiful lake. Start with the iconic climb from Bellagio to Ghisallo, along the roads of Il Lombardia.
  • Venice: bicycles are forbidden in the historic centre, but are a great way to discover smaller islands and roads around the lagoon. Here’s our Venice cycling guide to know more!
  • Emilia-Romagna: the region was one of the first to invest in cyclotourism and now there are many itineraries to explore. Two good ones are Ciclovia del Sole and Ciclovia di San Vicinio, the latter following the footsteps of a saint in the hills of Romagna.
  • Abruzzo: another great option to combine cycling in the mountains and along the seaside, on the stunning Costa dei Trabocchi.
  • Sicily: unleash your inner Nibali as you climb Etna on two wheels, or use your bike to discover offbeat villages in the island’s interior.