From the Dolomites to Lake Garda by bike
Ride your bike through the landscapes of the Dolomites, to the soothing waters of the lake
If you want to go cycling somewhere you’ll never get bored, hop on your bike and try out the Do-Ga (Dolomites-Garda) Alpine Cycling Route, the greenest and most relaxing way to visit the valleys of western Trentino. The Do-Ga begins in Malé, in Val di Sole, and takes you all the way to the lakefront at Riva del Garda.
Do-Ga is a cycling route that even less experienced cyclists can enjoy, because it offers two different itineraries so you can choose between the complete route or the “Dolce vita”, which cuts out a couple of climbs like the Daone Pass. And if you really don’t feel you’re up to it, you can always tackle the ride on an e-bike, to enjoy your trip with much less stress. Let’s see where our journey begins…
#1 - The itinerary
The clear skies and cool valleys of the Val di Sole mark our starting point: ideal for those of you who love the mountains. We recommend setting off from Malé, where apple orchards and the Cevedale and Presanella mountain groups produce a delightful clash of colours as the backdrop to your travels.
You’ll make a quick stop in Val Meledrio, the gateway to the Brenta Dolomites, where the tour’s first ascent awaits. It peaks at Prato Carlo Magno, the highest point of the entire cycling route. From here, a long descent stretches out before you, from Madonna di Campiglio to Tione. On your left are the imposing yellowish-grey dolomitic rock walls of the Brenta mountains; on your right, the dense woods of the Adamello-Presanella valleys. The extraordinary surroundings will even take your mind off the effort it took to make it to the top, at an altitude of 1,600 m.
Travelling by bike means you can stop wherever you like and take all the time you want to breathe in the reinvigorating air of the Vallesinella Falls or soak up the sun in the meadows of Val Brenta, with just a slight detour from your route. Once you get to Pinzolo, don’t miss the Nardis Waterfall in Val di Genova, before carrying on towards Villa Rendena and Tione. After Tione the countryside changes once again, from the steep valleys of Val Rendena to the greener, gentler slopes of Val Lomasone.
You’re almost at your destination now, and it’s all downhill the rest of the way. From the Ballino Pass you’ll begin to feel the breeze from the lakes, first Tenno and then Garda. The landscape opens up to reveal the little town of Riva del Garda, where Alpine and Mediterranean flora come together.
You’ve climbed a total of 2,260 m and descended 2,920 m across 3 passes and 4 valleys: now, it’s time to take a well-earned break on the shores of Lake Garda. While you’re here, why not stay an extra day so you can try out windsurfing or sailing too? Dolomites-Garda Alpine Cycling Route: a 110 km bike ride to relive and to share!
#2 - A cycling adventure for all
You can tackle the entire Do-Ga cycling route in a single day, or you can split it into stages over multiple days, so you can stop and visit villages, valleys and the Adamello-Brenta park. There are three Alpine passes to cross: you can climb them on foot, or take an e-bike for an easier ascent. If it all sounds too much for you, the alternative “Dolce vita” route cuts out the Daone Pass between Pinzolo and Preore, making the journey easier for you.
The bike shuttle between Dimaro and Campiglio gives you the option of skipping the first climb and setting off directly from Madonna di Campiglio, leaving you with an almost entirely downhill route.
#3 - 8 places and 4 valleys to visit
The Do-Ga Cycling Route is worth taking a few days to explore. By including accommodation for bikers in your travel plans, you can spend longer visiting such interesting locations as Malé in Val di Sole, with its apple orchards, and Monclassico with its famous sundials.
After the Carlo Magno Pass and Madonna di Campiglio, in Val Rendena, a slight detour is all you need to spend some time at the Vallesinella Falls or in Val Brenta, an area of huge natural interest.
At Pinzolo, the Nardis Waterfall in Val di Genova is situated in the granite area of the Adamello group, a strong contrast with the dolomitic rock of the nearby Brenta mountains.
In the Valli Giudicarie, be sure not to miss Stenico Castle as well as the Rio Bianco Falls, the Bosco Arte and the Limarò canyon before reaching Ponte Arche and entering Val Lomasone, where you’ll find two Slow Food specialities: Bleggiana walnuts and Ciuiga del Banale sausages, for a top-quality culinary experience.
Not far now: Lake Tenno, ideal as a place to rest and maybe even take a dip, is the last stop before arriving at Riva del Garda, a landmark for outdoor activities and the perfect full stop to all the kilometres you’ve covered.
#4 - The Adamello-Brenta Park
For over half its length, the Do-Ga offers you a view of the natural beauty of the Adamello-Brenta Geopark. In fact, the cycling path crosses the fault line that marks the boundary between two very different types of rock. One one side, the granite (tonalite) of the Adamello group reaches a height of 3,556 m at the Presanella peak; while on the other side the sedimentary rock of the Brenta mountains, known as Dolomitic rock, towers to an altitude of over 3,150 m.
The symbol of the park is the bear, and you can learn more about this massive beast in the visitor centres and even meet one in person at Carisolo.
#5 - Fall in love with Falls
Water is a key feature in the four valleys crossed by the Do-Ga. If you’re fascinated by waterfalls, this trip will give you the opportunity to visit plenty of them. The Vallesinella Falls, reached from Campiglio, are one of the park’s hidden gems. In Val di Genova, a short detour will bring you to the Nardis Waterfall, which is over 100 m high. The same valley is also home to the Pedruc, Casol, Lares and Folgorida waterfalls, as well as the glaciers from which the Sarca River springs.
The Rio Bianco Falls are fed from the Brenta. After Lake Tenno, with Riva del Garda just within reach, you can visit the waterfall at the Grotta Cascate Varone park.
#6 - A dip in Lake Tenno
You’ve come about 95 kilometres from Malé, and it’s time now to rest and enjoy a refreshing dip. In summer, there’s nothing better than a cool swim in Lake Tenno. The turquoise-coloured lake is surrounded by Mediterranean scrub, and its clear, temperate waters are an oasis of tranquillity. Not too far away is the perfectly preserved medieval village of Canale, whose cobbled streets attract visits from artists from all over Europe.
If you’re in Canale in August, you can take part in the “Rustico Medioevo” festival which brings scenes from everyday life in the village of long ago back to life. Don’t miss a visit to Frapporta, which offers you a glimpse of your final destination: Lake Garda.
#7 - The castles
This is an unmissable part of the journey. Once the summer residence of the Bishop of Trento, the fortress-like Stenico Castle looms over the valley of Terme di Comano. Over the course of the centuries, it gave princes the means to dominate the Valli Giudicarie. Today, the castle — which dates back to 1163 — is part of the Buonconsiglio Castle Museum.
There are two castles that you can visit in Val di Sole too: in Caldes, a little further on from Malé, where legend has it that the Thun princess was imprisoned; and San Michele Castle in Ossana, built on a spur of rock to control the goods entering Val di Sole from the Tonale Pass.