The Alps are beautiful, virtually everywhere you look. High alpine mountains and deep valleys. Ice blue lakes and rivers and green hillsides, not to mention glaciers! Many areas offer excellent mountain biking too. During our planning, our aim was to find an area where we could ride for at least a week on trails or tracks offering varied and good mountain biking – and new trails every day!
Our guide Anderl who has vast experience of the local conditions did not hesitate: We must go to Northern Italy!
Consequently, our tour starts in Mals, which is 1,000 m above sea level and in the far north of Italy! Mals is situated in a beautiful, mild valley (Val Vinosta) right on the Austrian border. Oranges and apples are grown in the valley, which is also home to the highest wine producer in Europe. We will visit the winery when we return to Mals after a week of biking in the North Italian and Swiss alps.
Incidentally, something else that starts in Mals is the side valley of Val Mustair, the native valley of well-known Italian skier Dario Cologna.
About the biking tour
The seven biking days involves doing a circuit through several small, charming alpine villages – Pontresina, Livigno, Bormio and St. Catarina– before the final leg takes us back to Mals.
Although the amount of climbing and kilometres does not sound insane (234 km, 8,731 vertical metres (vm) up and 12,660 vm down), it translates into a lot of hours and more than enough to work up an appetite and improve your fitness! It’s possible to reduce the number of biking days (and km) since on two occasions we will spend two nights in the same placed. You have the option of doing something other than mountain biking on day 3 and/or 5. We will spend these days in Livigno and Bormio respectively, both of which are exceptionally wonderful alpine villages.
It’s difficult to calculate the number of hours of biking each day because many there are many different factors to consider. However, roughly speaking, the shortest day will be minimum four hours and the longest day maximum eight hours.
How to get to Mals
We recommend flying into Innsbruck. We will arrange a private bus transfer from here to Mals. Alternatively, you can fly into Milano, Munchen or Zürich and make your own way to Mals.
The private bus transfer to Mals will depart from Innsbruck at 18:00 (6 p.m.) on 16th July.
We will return to Innsbruck from Mals on 24th July at 06:00 (6 a.m.). This journey takes roughly two hours so plan your flight home accordingly (e.g. by booking a flight departing from Innsbruck at 10:25).
We recommend bringing your own bike. Remember to book this when you book your flight. A good tip is to get a travel agent to arrange this as you can get an extra piece of luggage included at no extra cost. It’s also possible to rent a bike in Mals.
Accommodation and meals
All accommodation (8 nights) is included. We stay as cosy family-run hotels in the various places. We spend two nights in Livigno, Bormio and Mals. Breakfast is included every morning. Participants buy their own lunch along the way. Two dinners are included: in St. Catarina and the final night in Mals.
Shuttle buses, trains and lifts
We use gondolas, shuttle buses and trains on some of the days. These services are all included in the tour price.
Each morning you deliver your personal bag containing the possessions you won’t require during the day. Your bag will be transported to the next hotel and will be available when you arrive. This service is included in the tour price.
If you have your own bike, you can leave the bike bag at Hotel Tyrol in Mals.
Visit to winery
Italy is renowned for good wine. We have included a tour to a winery, including wine tasting, on the final afternoon in Mals in South Tyrol. This valley (Vinschgau) is known for its mild climate, which is ideal for growing good grapes.
Return to Mals on Wednesday evening
We arrive back in Mals in the afternoon on day eight, which is a Wednesday. A farewell group dinner is planned for this evening and hotel accommodation is included. We recommend planning your return journey for the following day.
The main guide is Anderl Hartman. Anderl is German and a former professional mountain biker. As well as knowing the local area extremely well, he is more than happy to provide advice if you wish to improve your technical mountain biking abilities.
Anderl is currently the national coach of the German mountaineering team and spends much of his time in the Alps either on his skis, his bike or attached to a rope.
Tail guide: Ida Grubben
Check-in at Hotel Tyrol, Mals
Assemble our bikes
09:00 Depart from Mals
Uphill right up until lunchtime (tough day). We can use shuttlebuses on some sections, if desirable.
After an afternoon of downhill riding, we arrive down in the Engadin Valley in Switzerland. We take the train further up the up the Engadin Valley, but bike the final km into Pontresina.
35 km, 1,400 vm up, 1,400 vm down
09:00 Depart from Pontresina
Lunch along the way
50 km, 1 510 vm up, 1 476 vm down
10:00 Ride around Livigno
Lunch along the way
For those who wish: A relaxing day in Livigno
Stay overnight in Livigno
30 km, 800 vm up, 800 vm down
09:00 Depart from Livigno
Lunch along the way
Arrive in Bormio
54 km, 1 627 vm up, 2 230 vm down
09:00 Depart from Bormio
Gondola up to Bormio 3000 (m.a.s.l.), included
Lunch along the way
Return to Bormio, stay overnight
30 km, 327 vm up, 1 585 vm down
09:00 Shuttle past St. Caterina up in the valley
Lunch along the way
For those who wish: A relaxing day in Bormio
Stay overnight in St. Caterina
16 km, 944 vm up, 944 vm down
07:30 Depart from St. Catarina
Shuttle up to the Stelvio Pass (2,757 m.a.s.l.), included
Lunch along the way
Arrival/check-in in Mals
Buffet dinner (included)
33 km, 1 610 vm up, 3 315 vm down
The price is NOK 21,800 per person sharing a double room.
The tour price includes return transfers between Innsbruck Airport and Mals, hotel accommodation (8 nights), breakfast (8), dinner (2), baggage transport between the hotels, chair lift, shuttle bus and train as per description in the itinerary.
Participants must arrange any additional nights at hotels and/or bike rental (if required) at their own expense. We will gladly offer advice.
Single room supplement NOK 2,950
16 – 24 July
There is space for 12 participants on the tour.
Bike day 1:
The tour – and the day – starts with a long climb, actually the major climb of our whole week, as we head out for Switzerland. It’s 1200m up to Sesvennahütte, an alpine hut on the Italian/Swiss border. The climb starts with a nicely rolling sealed road until we enter a gravel road that leads flat into a valley and steepens up at the end. Sesvennahütte is not only the highest point of the day, it’s also our well-deserved lunch stop.
It’s really spectacular here! After crossing the border to Switzerland, we ride all the way down to the Engadin Valley. After the pass, we enter the infamous Uina Canyon – an alpine biking experience you will never forget. The canyon is followed by some forest trails above a river called Inn. After a few flat kilometres, we will arrive in the small Swiss town of Scoul. We ride through the town to the train station, hop on the train and take the easy way through the Engadin Valley. Our destination today is Pontresina, close to St. Moritz. We jump off the train and bike the last few kilometres to Pontresina.
St. Moritz is possibly one of the poshest places to visit during the wintertime, and Pontresina is also kind of posh, but in a nicer and friendlier way. In the summer, the small high alpine town is a quiet and very bike friendly place. Like Livigno, the base of the valley is at an altitude of 1,800 m. Pontresina and St. Moritz both offer great trails, dreamy larch forests and stunning views of the Piz Palü and Piz Bernina glaciers.
Bike day 2:
We leave Pontresina and start the climb up to the Bernina Pass. It’s flat into the valley until we reach a place called Morteratsch, where we turn right into the Morteratsch Valley. After a few kilometres, we reach the ice of the glaciers. It’s fascinating to see how fast the glaciers have receded over the past century. As the Morteratsch Valley is a dead-end road, we turn around and head back down to the Bernina Pass. We enter the upper parts of the pass with a good mix of smooth trails leading up to the final pass of the whole trip.
Time for lunch at the top of the Bernina Pass! After a short climb, it’s time to hit the final single tracks all the way down to Livigno.
Bike day 3:
A full day in Livigno. If you need a rest day, you can enjoy nice cafés and shopping life. The rest of us will join the guide exploring the trails of Livigno.
Bike day 4:
One more cappuccino in Livigno and we’re set to go! We ride out of this lovely Italian high alpine town following the path down to Lake Livigno. We continue riding on the flat path along the shores of the lake until we reach the main climb of the day, 600 vertical metres up to Passo Alpisella. It’s a nice rolling gradient at the start and a bit steeper towards the top. After the main climb, the reward is priceless – stunning views over to the glaciers of the Stelvio National Park. From here, it’s downhill: Initially a gravel road and then a flowy single track that brings us to the bottom of a high valley. From here, we cross the border to Switzerland and start climbing up a single track through a valley called “Val Mora”. The trail has a nice gradient and flows quite well even when climbing on it. We stop for lunch at Döss Radond.
After lunch, we roll back down the Val Mora trail again and reach another lake, Lago di San Giacomo. From there, it’s flat along the shores of lake until we start the final descent down to Bormio. We spend the night in Bormio and enjoy some of the delicious local specialities.
Bike day 5:
After some intense days of riding, we will spend another day and night in Bormio. You can either take a day of, or you can join in on a huge climb up to 3000 m. No worries here, we use the Bormio 3000 lift to get to the top. From here on it’s basically downhill all day. We follow a single track that covers all kinds of terrain – from the high alpine and rocky section on top, it gets smoother in the lower parts, followed by a loamy and flowy trail as soon as we reach the tree line again. We return to Bormio by following fire roads through the forest.
Bike day 6:
We leave the old town of Bormio by taking a shuttle up a sealed road so it’s an easy morning. We then unload the bikes and hit the trails. Straight from the cark park we start the first of two major climbs: 500 m of elevation up to Rifugio Pernici and from there down on a single track. The next climb is steep to begin with, but you will be rewarded with amazing views of glaciers and snow-covered mountain peaks. We stop for lunch at Rifugio Branca. After a fine Italian lunch, we complete the final part up to the glacier, a smooth single track followed by some hiking sections towards the end. You could jump over onto the glacier from here – a very inviting opportunity on a hot summer’s day. After crossing the Tibetan Bridges and climbing up on a few more huge, slick rocks, we reach the start of the “Tibet Trail”. You will fully understand the name when you’re standing there. Back at the trailhead, we can either roll down the sealed road, have a cappuccino stop at the Rifugio Stella Alpina or hit another short climb and descend on a gravel and single track down to the small town of Santa Caterina.
Santa Caterina is in the Valfurva valley and is the starting point for one of the most famous road climbs in the world, the Passo Gavia, while the area around Santa Caterina also offers virtually endless opportunities for mountain biking. So, if you did not get enough biking today, we can go out and hit some more trails until the sun goes down. We spend the night in Santa Caterina.
Bike day 7:
Our last biking day! We leave Santa Caterina, hop on a shuttle again and head up the famous Passo Stelvio. When we reach the top of Passo dello Stelvio, we unload the bikes and start off with a little climb. It’s almost 3,000 m above sea level here and you’ll definitely feel the altitude a bit. From here, it’s pretty much downhill all day but, before entering the famous “Goldsee Trail”, we need to take a moment to enjoy the scenery. On the other side of the valley is Ortler (3,905 m), which is the highest peak in this area. The trail flows along the mountain for many kilometres, mostly nicely rolling with a few technical, rocky features to spice things up a bit.
When we enter the German-speaking part of Italy, South Tyrol, it’s time for lunch and some rest until a bit of up and down on an alpine plateau. Soon it’s time to enter the final trail down to the Vinschgau valley and, after a few kilometres spinning the legs in the base of the valley, the day is done and dusted. We will stay in the town of Mals in the Vinschgau Valley just a few kilometres away from the Austrian and Swiss borders.
In the afternoon, we visit the highest winery in Europe and taste some of their delicious wines. Afterwards, we enjoy our last dinner together.