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Venice to Mantua Bike & Boat Adventure  The Natural Adventure Company

Venice to Mantua Bike & Boat Adventure


A great combination of nature, culture and fine cuisine, this leisurely bike and boat tour along the waterways of the River Po offers more than just a glimpse of Northern Italy. It explores celebrated cities of art, one of Europe’s prime Nature Reserves and a wealth of tucked-away rural hamlets along the route, rewarding your daily rides with authentic regional dishes back on board. From the glory of Venice, the lagoon leads you to colourful Chioggia, from where you will explore the natural wonders of the Po Delta, famed for its birdlife. You will visit Adria, once a key Roman port, and Ferrara and Mantua – once major city-states crowned by the Italian Renaissance.

This tour allows you to choose between pedalling on your own or with the whole group, following a tour leader. When booking the tour, you need to specify which option you prefer. If you want to cycle independently, you can do it by following our instructions and App, included in the package. In case of an emergency, you can contact the tour leader over the phone. If you change your mind during the week and want to join the guided tour, you just need to inform the tour leader the evening before. If you choose the guided option, the tour leader will always be present during breakfast and dinner and cycle daily with you.

The programme 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 local authorities’ organisational reasons, weather conditions, or provisions, the itinerary may be subject to some changes before and/or during the holiday. Issues with high and low water and 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 require a bus transfer. These decisions are only taken by the barge’s captain.

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Note that, depending on the start date, the itinerary can also be in reverse. For additional info, please click the Dates & Prices button.

Day 1: Venice

Upon arrival, you are welcomed aboard your home for the following week, from 4.30 p.m. 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, we can savour Venice at night, now free of the crowds and at her most romantic: Benvenuti a Venezia.

Day 2: Venice

After breakfast, you all meet up with your Venetian guide for a tour through the historic centre. 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. The guided tour will start from Piazza San Marco with a brief description of the monuments around it; then the walk continues towards the biggest “sestiere” of the city, Castello, up to Campo dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo with its imposing gothic church and the Scuola Grande di San Marco (today city hospital). The guided tour ends at the Rialto Bridge, you have the afternoon free to enjoy the city at your own pace.

Day 3: Venice – Pellestrina Island | 25 km

Leaving Venice behind after a short cruise starting in front of St Mark’s square, your first stop will be on Murano island, where you will visit a historic glass factory, with a glassblowing demonstration by a master artisan. Then your cycling adventure starts on the Lido, the first of two islands you traverse 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 by ferry takes you into another world: Pellestrina, where you ride past the picturesque cottages and boats of this humble fishing backwater. You rejoin your barge just in front of Chioggia – a bustling and colourful fishing hub known as “Little Venice”.

Day 4: Pellestrina Iisland – Po Delta Nature Reserve – Adria | 40 km

You begin the day with a stroll through Chioggia, followed perhaps by a visit up the millennial clock tower 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 savoury 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 is 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 highly recommended.

Day 5: Adria – Ferrara – Zelo | 35 km by bike + 35 km by bus

After a short cruise, you get on 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 with a bike 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: Zelo – Mantua | 50 km

This morning you head for the village of Bergantino, home of the distinctive Museum of Fairground Rides and its collection of street organs, all perfectly restored. But first things first: you are in the capital of Grana Padano – the arch-rival of Parmesan – and after visiting the local cheese factory, you enjoy a degustation of sharp and seasoned Grana, washed down with a glass of Valpolicella. After a picnic lunch, you leave Bergantino and follow the river to Ostiglia, famed for its medieval fortress and the fierce fighting that took place there in 1945, when the Allies and partisans drove the Axis’ forces back. You ride on and rejoin your 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: Mantua round tour | 35 km

A day dedicated to the discovery of this cultural gem, its three picturesque “lakes” formed by the river Mincio and the surrounding countryside. In the afternoon you meet your Mantuan guide for a walking tour across the historic centre: starting from Piazza Sordello with its magnificent cathedral and Palazzo Ducale, you will walk through the city centre up to Piazza delle Erbe. Here you will admire the Clock Tower, the Rotonda di S. Lorenzo (the oldest church in town) and the Cathedral of St. Andrew, a jewel of Renaissance art and architecture. We will learn why Mantua, once a City State ruled by the Gonzaga family, is now considered by many as Italy’s “Sleeping Beauty”.

Day 8: Departure

End of services after breakfast.

What to Expect


We offer the tour in two boat options (Ave Maria and Vita Pugna) depending on the departure date.

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  • Ave Maria Boat

All cabins enjoy sizeable windows (the ones in the Superior cabins can also be partially opened), comfortable low beds, en-suite facilities, air conditioning and safety box. Bed/bunk size is 2,00 x 0,80 m. Most of the double beds can be separated into two single beds. Under the bed, there is a 40 cm high empty space, where you can store your luggage. The air-conditioned living area measures 11 x 7,5 m and is divided into two parts: the Restaurant (up to 33 seats) and the Lounge (up to 28 seats).

  • 2 sundecks
  • Free hot drinks machine (including Italian ground coffee)
  • Free wi-fi in the common areas
  • Large 55” screen in the lounge for video
  • Dedicated bike storage (for approx. 40 hanging bikes)
  • Hair dryers (limited number) available on request
  • Complimentary courtesy kit
  • Vita Pugna Boat

All cabins are air-conditioned and are equipped with comfortable low twin beds and en-suite facilities, and safety box. They also offer the convenience of attractive, traditional portholes, which can be opened for fresh air. Bed size is 1,90/2 m x 0,75/0,80 m. In each cabin, at least under one of the two/three beds, there is an empty space (about 40 cm heigh), where you can store your luggage. There is a spacious air-conditioned lounge/restaurant with 5 tables, accommodating up to 23 guests.

  • 1 sundeck
  • Free hot drinks machine (including Italian ground coffee)
  • Free wi-fi in the common areas
  • Large 42” screen in the lounge for video
  • Dedicated bike storage
  • Hair dryers (limited number) available on request
  • Complimentary courtesy kit


The package price includes a full board meal plan: breakfast and dinner (all served on board) and a self-made takeaway packed lunch.

Difficulty & terrain

The cycling routes go mostly along the flats of the Po plains, and the daily stages vary from 25 to 55 km – mostly on tarmac cycle paths along rivers and canals, or quiet country roads. The boat is moored at night and typically sets sail after breakfast, meeting up with the bikes in the afternoon. Some parts of the itinerary are undertaken by barge, to allow easier access onto cycling paths or simply to enjoy the cruise (read more about difficulty grades).

When to go

This trip is available from April until October (for the exact available departure dates, click the Dates & Prices button above).

Getting there

FCO up-to-date travel advice

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By plane

The most convenient airports for the tour are the ones at Venice, Verona, Treviso, Bergamo and Milano.

By train or bus



  • 7 overnights
  • Breakfast
  • Self-made packed lunch
  • 6 dinners
  • Welcome drink
  • Coffee and tea and other hot drinks on board
  • Sheets and towels
  • Courtesy kit
  • Mid-week cabin cleaning service and towel change
  • Bike helmet (to book in advance)
  • App including maps, roadbook, points of interest and GPS tracks
  • Digital tour information
  • English speaking tour leader within an international group
  • Second tour leader with a minimum of 22 people (only aboard Ave Maria)
  • Guided visit in Mantua
  • Visit of a cheese factory with tasting of typical Grana Padano
  • Visit of Carousel and Street Entertainment Museum
  • Visit of a historic glass factory on Murano island
  • Some short walking tours
  • Harbour charges
  • Bus transfer Ferrara-Zelo / Ferrara-Adria


  • Airport transfers
  • Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
  • Beverages onboard
  • Dinner on day 6
  • Tips, museum fees, and extras in general
  • Ticket for public transportation in Venice and lagoon (we suggest the ACTV 48h-ticket, 30 €)
  • Venice Municipality Access Fee: it is expected to enter into force on January 1st, 2023 (approx. 18-30 € to be paid on site)
  • Anything not listed as ‘Included’

Options, extras & supplements

  • A supplement applies to travellers who require a single cabin – available for the Ave Maria Barge departures only
  • Special diet meal plan (gluten-free, lactose-free and vegan diets)
  • Bike rental (standard or e-bike)
  • Extra nights in Venice or Mantua available upon request

Bike rental

We offer standard unisex bikes (27-gear Shimano Deore), and e-bikes (9-gear Shimano), equipped with:

  • 1 cycle computer  
  • 1 Ortlieb one-sided saddlebag
  • 1 combination bike lock
  • 1 helmet suitable for head circumferences from 54 to 61 cm

For those who would like to go self-guided, included are also: 1 front bar bag, and 1 repair kit per cabin (1 spare inner tube, glue, patch, a pump, 2 allen keys and tyre levers). To cycle smoothly following our App, we suggest that you bring with you a holder for your mobile phone to be fixed on the handlebar, as well as a power bank.

We recommend that you bring your own reusable water bottle with you. All bikes have an aluminium frame, mudguard, rear rack, comfort gel saddle, anti-puncture Schwalbe tyres, ergonomic bicycle grips, and a Speed Lifter system.