Highlights of this tour

Italian countryside by bike and barge

Bike in green woods & next to azure seas

Historical cities like Mantua & Venice

Barges with max. 21 passengers

  • Fully-guided: A tour leader will guide you during the cycling days
  • Semi-guided: Daily briefing by the tour leader, independent cycling but tour leader available ICE.
  • Independent: No tour leader, the ships’ crew does daily briefing, independent cycling
guidance Fully-guided
  • Level 1: easy tours, very flat terrain
  • Level 2: quite easy tours, mostly flat terrain
  • Level 3: requires a higher level of exertion, medium hilly terrain
  • Level 4: for experienced cyclists, hilly terrain with climbs
Difficulty level 1 Difficulty level 1
Duration of the tour.
tijd2 Created with Sketch. 8 days

Boat Bike Tours Italy: Venice, Po river + Mantua | Vita Pugna & Ave Maria

This 8-day and 7-night bike and barge tour winds its way along the Mincio and Po rivers through rural Italian countryside for a holiday experience so far from the beaten tourist track, you’ll feel like you’re living a daydream!

This remarkable territory has been reclaimed by man from the marshes many centuries ago and is framed by emerald pinewood trees, which offer protection and homes for countless species of bird and animal life.

Man and nature work hand-in-hand in this captivating landscape where reclaimed land alternates with natural canals and fisherman’s huts lie camouflaged in the thick reeds. Before your unforgettable journey ends with the warm embrace of the Venetian lagoon, you’ll experience the history of Mantua, the beauty of Venice and the rural charm of the fishing villages of Chioggia. If you’re looking for a holiday to get away from it all, reconnect with nature, and live life the way it was meant to be lived, this is the tour for you.

Day to day program from Mantua to Venice

Parts that are printed in italics parts will be covered by the ship.

All distances are “approximate distances” of recommended bike tours.
The tour details are barring changes, a.o. as a result of nautical, technical or meteorological reasons.

Day 1 (Saturday): Embarkation: Mantova

Your adventure begins with check-in  aboard your new floating hotel from 4:30pm – 6:30pm at which time there will be an introductory briefing with your skipper, tour leader and crew as well as a refreshing “aperitivo”. After dinner we’ll stroll into town to savour the historic centre on a moonlit walk.

Day 2 (Sunday): Mantova (round tour approx. 35 km/21 mi.)

The entire day on Sunday is dedicated to exploring the little-known cultural gem of Mantova and the three picturesque lakes formed by the Mincio river and its surrounding countryside. Formerly a City State ruled by the Gonzaga family, this region is widely considered as the “Sleeping Beauty” of Italy. In the afternoon, we’ll meet up with our Mantuan guide who will take us on a walking tour of the historic centre, after which you can enjoy the evening in the town at your leisure.


Day 3 (Monday): Mantova – Governolo | Governolo – Ostiglia – Bergantino – Zelo (Approx. 50 km/30 mi.)

After a delicious breakfast, we’ll set sail from Mantua on a course to the lush wetlands leading up to Governolo Lock where the Mincio river flows into the Po. You’ll hop aboard your bike to follow the levee en route to Ostiglia, renowned for its ancient medieval fortress and the fierce battle that took place here in 1945 as the Allies drove Hitler’s forces back into Germany. Bergantino is next with its Museum of Fairground Rides (yes, you read that right!) and expertly restored street organs. This village is in the heartland of Grana Padano, Parmesan’s arch rival! Or course we’ll stop by the local cheese factory to sample some delicious Grana. We re-join the barge in Zelo, a sleepy village on the Canal Bianco, where we’ll dock for the night.

Day 4 (Tuesday): Zelo – Ferrara (Approx. 50 km/30 mi.) | Ferrara – Adria (60 km by bus)

It’s only fitting that our cycle tour should make its way to Ferrara, the “cycling capital of Italy”, a journey that zigzags through a colourful patchwork of farmland, hamlets and orchards. Under the Este family, this city state drew in the best architects, artists and scholars for hundreds of years. This legacy lives on through Ferrara University, which ranks amongst the best in Italy. You’ll return to the barge in Adria via private bus. This ancient Roman port is famous for its Etruscan and Greek heritage and forms a perfect backdrop for an after dinner stroll into town for a well-earned gelato (or grappa, depending on your preference!)

Day 5 (Wednesday): Adria – Po Delta Nature Reserve  – Chioggia/Pellestrina (Approx. 40 km/24 mi.)

There are few sights in the world that can match the delta of the life-giving Po river. We’ll cycle to this lush wetland on day five, home to countless herons and an impressive colony of flamingos. If the weather permits (which, in summer, it usually does!), we’ll take a dip in the Adriatic as we make our way to Chioggia, a charming fishing hub known as “Little Venice”. We overnight on the Island Pellestrina, just in front of Chioggia to toast an invigorating day’s cycling.

Day 6 (Thursday): Chioggia/Pellestrina | Island Pellestrina – Lido Island (ferry) | Lido Island – Venice (Bike Tour Approx. 30 km/18 mi.)

Before we make our way to Venice, we head to another world altogether, the island of Pellestrina, the first of two we’ll visit today. Pellestrina is a tranquil fishing backwater, overflowing with picturesque cottages and fishing boats. From there we island-hop via ferry to the Lido di Venezia, home to the international Venice Film Festival and with its accompanying galaxy of stars. After hopping back on our barge, a leisurely meander past St mark’s square brings us to the splendour of our final destination. After dinner you are free to savour Venice at night, free of the crowds and at her most sultry and romantic: Benvenuti a Venezia!

Day 7 (Friday): Venice

After breakfast you’ll meet up with our Venetian guide for a tour through the marvels of the historic city centre of Venice. The Venetian Republic held sway over much of the Mediterranean (and beyond) for hundreds of years, both from a military perspective and as a beacon of culture. After the tour you have the afternoon and evening free to enjoy sunset in the city however you choose.

Day 8 (Saturday): Disembarkation: Venice

After breakfast and fond farewells you’ll have free time to carry on enjoying the magic of Venice before returning home feeling refreshed, invigorated and recharged!

Good to know

Parts that are printed in italics parts will be covered by the ship.

All distances are “approximate distances” of recommended bike tours.
The tour details are barring changes, a.o. as a result of nautical, technical or meteorological reasons.

Route profile:
Total length: 190/205 km
Total vertical up: 20 m

Terrain: 95% tarmac, 5% unpaved

Summary: This cycling tour is largely along the flats of the Po plains, and the daily stages vary from 25 km to 55 km (15 to 33 miles) – mostly on tarmac cycle paths along rivers and canals, or quiet country roads. The boat is moored at night and normally cruises of after breakfast, meeting up with the cyclists in the afternoon. Some parts of the itinerary are undertaken by boat, to allow easier access onto cycling paths  or simply to enjoy the cruise.

Activity level
Easy: easy cycling in mostly flat areas, with only few short climbs and descents. Little effort required, suitable for most people.
The tour is also suitable for children. If the child one day does not want to cycle, he/she can stay on the boat with one of the parents.

Tour program variations
The program has been planned to feature navigation along the Fissero/Bianco canal, which runs parallel to the Po river and connects Mantua to the Adriatic Sea. Due to organizational reasons, weather conditions or provisions issued by local authorities, the itinerary may be subject to some changes before and/or during the holiday. Issues with high and low water, as well as logistic obstacles such as officially ordered – previously not announced – repair work on locks or bridges can modify some of the daily stretches or overnight stays and may even request a transfer by bus. These decisions are only taken by the boat’s captain.

Tour leader:
Our tour leaders are carefully selected and rigorously trained. They are all multi-lingual, and speak at least English and German. Smart, entertaining, caring and endlessly enthusiastic, they have a true passion for sharing their love of the outdoors, people, culture and local food. Thanks to a deep knowledge of the territory, they can give you useful hints and help you appreciate the place you are visiting. Of course they love cycling and will be happy to give you some advice about how to correctly use the bicycle gears and whenever necessary they can fix your flat tire. As we like to say, our tour leaders are CDO (Controlled Designation of Origin), a real traveler’s ticket to discover the land with ease and to live an unforgettable active travel experience.

Day to day program from Venice to Mantua

Parts that are printed in italics parts will be covered by the ship.

All distances are “approximate distances” of recommended bike tours.
The tour details are barring changes, a.o. as a result of nautical, technical or meteorological reasons.

Parts that are printed in italics parts will be covered by the ship.

All distances are “approximate distances” of recommended bike tours.
The tour details are barring changes, a.o. as a result of nautical, technical or meteorological reasons.

Day 1 (Sat): Embarkation: Venice

We welcome you aboard your new home-from-home from 4.30 pm onwards, and then regroup for the introductory briefing – at 6.30 pm – with your tour leader, skipper and crew, along with a first refreshing “aperitivo”. After dinner you can savor Venice at night, now free of the crowds and at her most romantic: Benvenuti a Venezia!

Day 2 (Sun):  Venice

After breakfast – and perhaps following a wander off the beaten track with your tour leader – you all meet up with our Venetian guide for a tour through the historic center. Christened La Serenissima (“The Most Serene”), the Venetian Republic held sway over much of the Mediterranean (and beyond) for centuries – both as a military power and a beacon of culture, her explorers reaching as far as China and Newfoundland. After your guided tour, you have the afternoon free to enjoy the city at your own pace.

Day 3 (Mon): Venice – Island Pellestrina/Chioggia (Approx. 30 km/18 mi.)

Leaving Venice behind after a gentle cruise in front of St Mark’s square, our cycling adventure starts on the Lido, the first of the two islands you explore today. Fashionable in high society ever since the Belle Époque, the Lido di Venezia is now home to the International Venice Film Festival and its galaxy of stars. A short island-hop takes you into another world: Pellestrina, where you ride past the picturesque cottages and boats of this humble fishing backwater. You rejoin the barge and sail to Chioggia – a bustling and colorful fishing harbor known as “Little Venice”.

Day 4 (Tue): Chioggia– Po Delta Nature Reserve –Adria (Approx. 40 km/24 mi.)

You open the day with a stroll through Chioggia, followed perhaps by a visit up the millennial clock tower – the oldest in the world – for some breathtaking views. Weather permitting, you can also bask in the sun at a fine-sand beach nearby: a dip in the Adriatic, a hot savory piadina – and you are well and truly local! Then onwards into the delta of the life-giving Po. This unique wetland is the prime reserve in Europe for herons and home to a colony of flamingos. You moor for the night in Adria, a key Roman port, once washed by the waters of the sea which bears its name. Adria is also renowned for its Etruscan and Greek heritage. An after-dinner passeggiata into town for a well-earned grappa or gelato is in order.

Day 5 (Wed): Adria – Ferrara – Zelo (Approx. 35 km/21 mi. + 35 km by bus)

After a short cruise you saddle your bikes and, following the Po through farmland and hamlets, you reach Ferrara. Under its ruling family, the Este, this City State attracted architects, artists and scholars for centuries, pioneering town planning principles that have been emulated worldwide ever since. To this day, Ferrara University ranks among the best, and the town is dubbed the ”Cycling Capital of Italy”.  A private bus and trailer takes you back to your floating hotel in Zelo, a sleepy village on the Canal Bianco, the waterway which runs parallel to the Po.

Day 6 (Thu): Zelo – Bergantino – Ostiglia – Mantua (Approx. 50 km/30 mi.)

This morning you head for the village of Bergantino, home of the distinctive Museum of Fairground Rides and its collection of street organs, all expertly restored (and thunderous!). But first things first: you are in the heartland of Grana Padano – the arch-rival of Parmesan – and after visiting the local cheese factory, you enjoy a degustazione of sharp and seasoned Grana, washed down with a glass of Valpolicella. After your customary picnic lunch, you leave Bergantino and follow the river to Ostiglia, famed for its medieval fortress and the fierce fighting that took place here in 1945, as the Allies and partisans drove Hitler’s forces back. You ride on and rejoin our barge at Governolo Lock, where Mantua’s River Mincio flows into the Po. Veering north, you cruise through the lush wetlands that finally emerge into the glorious “lakes” of Mantua.

Day 7 (Fri): Mantua (round tour approx. 35 km/21 mi.)

A day dedicated to the discovery of this little visited cultural gem, its three picturesque “lakes” formed by the Mincio, and its surrounding countryside – once a City State ruled by the Gonzaga family and now considered by many as Italy’s “Sleeping Beauty”. This afternoon we meet our Mantuan guide for a walking tour of the historic center, and enjoy the rest of the day in town, at our own leisure.

Day 8 (Sat): Mantua

Departure after breakfast.

Prices & information

Request a quote

The price of a charter depends on many things. The beauty of the tours that we offer is that they are fully customizable. We can add extra services such as special bikes, extra meals or we can organize visits to the highlights of the region where you cycle that are not included in the program. That all affects the price. You can request a quote here for a trip of your choice. Our team of specialists will assist you to choose the right ship and itinerary or design a customized program for you.

Included in this tour

Boat & Bike tour with the Vita Pugna/Ave Maria, 8 days/7 nights; accommodation on board in the booked category

Full board (breakfast and dinner on board, a self-made packed lunch during bike tours); Tea, coffee and other hot drinks on board

Use of bed linen and towels; daily short cleaning and mid-week cabin cleaning service and towel change

Courtesy kit

English speaking tour leader (within an international group) on board and during bike tours

Second tour leader with a minimum of 25 people (only aboard Ave Maria)

Travel guide, maps and roadbook

Bike helmet

Bus transfer Ferrara – Zelo/Ferrara-Adria

Guided tour in Venice and Mantova

Visit of a cheese factory with tasting of the typical Grana Pardano

Visit of Carousel and Street Entertainment Museum


Insolvenzabsicherung: Stichting Garantiefonds Reisgelden (SGR) und (nur für Endverbraucher aus Deutschland) Sicherungsschein über tourVERS

Reiseveranstalter sind nach geltendem Europäischen Recht dazu verpflichtet, erhaltene Kundengelder für den Fall eigener Zahlungsunfähigkeit oder Insolvenz abzusichern. Boat Bike Tours (Handelsregisternummer 3714 7084) ist ein in den Niederlanden unter Nummer 3734 registrierter Teilnehmer von SGR (Stichting Garantiefonds Reisgelden). Diese Registrierung ist auf www.sgr.nl überprüfbar. Die teilnehmenden Reiseveranstalter unterliegen dem in den Niederlanden gesetzlich vorgeschriebenen Garantieschutz des SGR Insolvenz-Garantiesystems. Gemäß der Garantieleistung von SGR werden dem Endverbraucher die im Voraus bezahlten Reisesummen erstattet, wenn der Reiseveranstalter finanziell nicht in der Lage ist, seine vertraglichen Verpflichtungen zu erfüllen. Sofern die Vereinbarung Transport beinhaltet und das Ziel bereits erreicht ist, wird die Rückreise arrangiert. Boat Bike Tours hat die vom Gesetzgeber vorgeschriebene Insolvenzversicherung für Endverbraucher, deren Wohnsitz in Deutschland ist, über die tourVERS, eines in Deutschland führenden Anbieters, abgeschlossen. Über 1.200 Veranstalter aller Größenordnungen und touristischen Bereiche sind über tourVERS versichert. Auf der Internetseite der tourVERS finden Sie alle Informationen zur Insolvenzabsicherung. Endverbraucher, die in Deutschland bewohnhaftet sind, erhalten bei Buchung bei Boat Bike Tours mit der Buchungsbestätigung auch den Sicherungsschein von tourVERS.

Hinweis: Die o.g. deutsche Übersetzung des Abschnitts über SGR ist keine offizielle SGR-Übersetzung. SGR kommuniziert nur auf Niederländisch und Englisch. Der niederländische Text zum SGR-Garantiesystem ist allgemeinverbindlich.

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Excluded in this tour

Transfers to/from docking places

Rental bicycle or E-Bike (optional)

Other transfers and Ticket for public transportation in Venice

Parking fees

Entrance fees & excursions

Ticket for public transportation in Venice and lagoon (we suggest the ACTV 72 hour-ticket, price 40 €)

Drinks on board

Personal (travel) insurances

Gratuities (at your discretion)


Italy: Venice, Po river + Mantua Rated 8.9 out of 10 based on 7 reviews
3 stars

Sept party

– not quite as described as there was more highway biking I would prefer and didn’t get the feeling we were in Italy … could have been anywhere – too scheduled, without downtime

4 stars

Keith & Dawn Parker

Very good food and very nice staff. Enjoyed all tours included on rides. Many guests (our group of 28) complained of hard, uncomfortable bed mattresses. Some rides were not as presented… 2 out of 5 were stressful with lots of traffic and precarious road/bridge conditions. We did Germany (Main River) June 2016 on the Iris; and would recommend it over…

5 stars

Barrett Boulton and Lisa Koster

Excellent boat crew and tour leaders. Great experience. Would love to do another trip in the future. Thank you.

5 stars

Kevin Eugene Blanchette and Danielle Ladouceur

Absolutely incredible trip. Food, staff, accom, everything was top shelf!

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Available ships for this tour

Ship Vita Pugna Italy
max. 21 passengers
10 cabins
1 tours available with this ship
Ship Ave Maria Italy
max. 40 passengers
17 cabins
1 tours available with this ship

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Italy: Venice, Po river + Mantua

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