Great route, superb holiday.
Made infamous by the Giro d’Italia, the Dolomites is one of the world’s greatest places to ride a bike, every road leading to another exquisite climb, each with their own character. This road cycling holiday showcases the region perfectly, offering epic climbs, breathtaking scenery, delicious Italian food, and excellent support from 2 Marmot guides and vehicles.
We have designed the Classic Route so that, taken steadily, it is manageable and enjoyable for healthy cyclists regardless of experience in the mountains. However, this holiday also offers a fantastic challenge to those wanting to push themselves further: each day there are ‘optional extras’ increasing the possible daily ascent to between 3000 and 4200m on the Challenge Route.
It is important to us that you book the holiday that’s right for you, so do download and read the Trip Notes for all you need on how this holiday works, food, accommodation & travel …
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Departure Dates & Prices
Day 0: Travel Out
We offer included airport transfers (a journey of 1hr 45 mins) at scheduled times during the day from from Venice Marco Polo Airport to our start hotel in the lush green meadows of the lower slopes of the famous Passo Falzarego, just above the vibrant town of Cortina.
Full travel advice (essential reading before booking your flights) and airport transfer timings can be found in our Trip Notes.
Once we’ve checked in, we’ll assemble our bikes and share a hearty Italian cyclist’s meal in preparation for the adventure ahead!
Day 1: Tour of Monte Cristallo
We start today with a gentle descent of the lower slopes of the Falzarego (we’ll be coming back up here later, don’t worry!), and down to and around the historic town of Cortina. We keep left here and head out onto the gently-sloped forested roads that encircle the towering peaks of the majestic Monte Cristallo, summiting the comparatively diminutive Passo di Cimabanche (1530m) as we go. A brief descent and a right-turn sees us climbing up to Lago di Misurina, popularised by the Victorians for ice skating. In summer the lake is a great spot for sitting in a lounger, ice cream in hand, people watching.
The horizon is dominated by the iconic mountain of the Tre Cime di Lavaredo, which may or may not lure you in if you fancy cycling up the really rather steep road to the Rifugio Aronzo (2362m). An exhilarating descent brings us back down to the junction above the lake and onto the gentle gradients of the Eastern side of the Passo Tre Croci (1802m).
To round off the ride we descend back down to and through Cortina d’Ampezzo before ticking off the first 5km of the aforementioned Passo Falzarego, back up to our hotel for the evening.
Cortina is an attractive cosmopolitan town known as host to the 1956 winter Olympics. It is THE place to holiday for Italians and worth a wander around.
Should you wish to push yourself further, there is always the option of continuing on past the hotel and up to the summit of Passo Falzarego (2105m). You’ve already done the first 5km, so why not!
Classic Route: Passo di Cimabanche + Passo Tre Croci (50km, 1050m ascent)
Challenge Route: Passo di Cimabanche + Rifugio Aronzo + Passo Tre Croci + Passo Falzarego (87km, 2310m ascent)
Day 2: The Classic duo - Passo di Giau & Passo de Campolongo
Today epitomises all that is beautiful about the Dolomites: towering peaks, lush meadows and big views. You conquer the mighty Passo di Giau (2237m) from the North today, one of THE classic climbs that the Dolomites has to offer. Apart from a (very) short section of downhill half way up, it is relatively gruelling!
From the top you descend to the hamlet of Caprile from where you have the option(!) of deviating onto a testing yet rewarding loop that takes in the somewhat savage gradients of the Passo Fedaia (2057m) from the East, and then on to the somewhat kinder Passo Pordoi (2239m) with its 27, yes, 27 switchbacks!
A slightly less testing option would be to keep right and meander uphill against the flow of the river on the Classic route up to and over the Passo de Campolongo (1873m) from the South. Regardless of your choice, La Villa is a great place to enjoy the atmosphere of the Dolomites and we stay here for two nights.
Classic Route: Giau + Campolongo (66km, 2000m ascent)
Challenge Route: Giau + Fedaia + Pordoi + Campolongo (92km, 3050m ascent)
Day 3: Maratona Routes from La Villa
The Maratona dles Dolomiti is one of the world’s greatest cyclosportives and happens to start in La Villa. Given the scenery, the number of legendary climbs and the quality of the roads, it is not surprising that it is so popular (it sells out in hours). Today you get to take part in the Marmot Tours version of this great event – the roads may not be closed but without thousands of other cyclists about we should be able to appreciate the scenery. Stopping off in cafes / restaurants is positively encouraged – you are on holiday after all!
Have a look at the Maratona website for full details of the event, history, maps, profiles etc. However these are the routes (and stats) for you to choose from:
Selaronda Course: (55km with 1780m ascent)
Middle Course: (106km with 3130m ascent)
Passo di Campolongo (1875m) from the North, Passo Pordoi (2239m) from the East, Passo di Sella (2244m) from the South and the Passo di Gardena (2121m) from the West, back up the North side of the Passo di Campolongo (1875m) and finishing off with the South side of the Passo di Valparola (2192m).
Maratona Course: (138km with 4230m ascent)
Passo di Campolongo (1875m) from the North, Passo Pordoi (2239m) from the East, Passo di Sella (2244m) from the South and the Passo di Gardena (2121m) from the West, back up the North side of the Passo di Campolongo (1875m). From here you take on the Western face of the Passo Giau (2237m) and finish off with the Passo di Valparola (2192m) from the East!
Day 4: Transfer to Prato del Stelvio and ride to Bormio
Take advantage of the 3hr transfer today to recover a little from yesterday! Before you know it you will be back on the bike and counting off all 48 hairpins of the infamous Passo Dello Stelvio (2758m) from the East.
Starting steeply, it continues steeply, ending in the iconic switchbacks up to the pass. Celebrate your climb with a photograph, a hot dog, a tacky gift and the equally rewarding descent all the way to our hotel in Valdisotto, just outside Bormio.
En-route to the hotel you have the choice of ticking off a less well-known but equally impressive and hairpin-littered local favourite of a climb, the Torri di Fraele (1941m), Torri being Italian for towers, built here in 1391.
To continue the historic theme, Hotel Cepina, our destination for the evening, is built on the foundations of an ancient fourteenth century tannery.
Classic Route: Stelvio – East (54km, 1875m ascent)
Challenge Route: Stelvio – East + Torri di Fraele (79km, 2550m ascent)
Day 5: Day ride from Bormio including Gavia and Stelvio
Passo Gavia (2621m) has been stirring things up in the Giro d’Italia since it was first introduced in 1960. With a summit breaking through the clouds at a lofty 2621m and with an overall elevation gain from Bormio of over 1400m you are sure to be rewarded with epic views over the glaciers of the Stelvio National Park as you twist and turn your way up this narrow mountain road – you’d be forgiven for thinking time had stood still.
Upon descending back down to Bormio, if you feel as though your appetite for altitude is yet to be satisfied, there is the option of ticking the Passo Dello Stelvio (2758m) box once and for all by taking on this infamous climb once more, this time from the South side. Having descended this road the previous day, you’ll be well aware of the challenge ahead, but rest assured you’ll be rewarded with an entirely different perspective as your voyage to the top is likely to be somewhat slower than yesterday’s descent!
Classic Route: Gavia (62km, 1500m ascent)
Challenge Route: Gavia + Stelvio – South (104km, 3050m ascent)
Day 6: Livigno & Mortirolo finale!
The western approach to the Passo di Mortirolo (1851m) was described by Lance Armstrong as the ‘hardest climb he had ever ridden’. It does however seem a fitting end to our week in this amazing part of the world and is certainly another one ticked off your list of ‘really tough climbs’. As always there are options.
With the Passo Foscagno (2288m) and Passo Eira (2208m) under your belt, you take a brief excursion into Switzerland and enjoy a near 30km descent down the Poschiavo Valley before crossing back into Italy again, emerging at the base of the infamous Passo del Mortirolo (1852m). The Classic route continues on up the valley and past the base of the Mortirolo along to our final destination of Grossio.
For those with something left in the legs, you turn a sharp right just before Mazzo di Valterrina to begin your assault on altitude! With an average gradient of 10.5% over its 12km length and a maximum kick of 18%, the Mortirolo should serve to satisfy even the freshest of legs, not that there will be too many of these at this point!
Whatever you do, tonight a celebration is in order – what an amazing week of cycling!!!
Classic Route: Foscagno + Eira (106km, 2200m ascent)
Challenge Route: Foscagno + Eira + Mortirolo (129km, 3500m ascent)
Shorter Route: Mortirolo (53km, 1350m ascent)
Day 7: Transfer Back
We offer included transfers (3.5hrs) from Grossio to Milan Malpensa Airport only. As there are several ‘Milanese’ Airports, please ensure you are booking flights from MALPENSA (MXP).
Full travel advice (essential reading before booking your flights) can be found in our Trip Notes.