Bike & Boat: Mantua to Venice

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Discover the Venetian lands by bike and by boat

This trip offers a unique opportunity to experience the north of Italy by bike and by boat. With a maximum capacity of 40 guests, the Ave Maria is your boutique 'floating hotel' and offers you the flexibility to choose to cycle or enjoy a relaxed day as you cruise along the river. Starting in the Renaissance town of Mantua you follow the course of the Po; Italy's longest river, through sleepy hamlets and historic ports. Discover the wetland park of the Po delta; the prime reserve in Europe for herons and home to several colonies of flamingos. Pass the bustling fish market of Chioggia and be welcomed into iconic Venice, a town that continues to enchant visitors as it has for centuries past. Each night you return to the 4-star Ave Maria; which accompanies you along your journey and provides a comfortable and relaxing place to end each day, complete with a warm welcome and delicious local cuisine.


  • Leisurely riding along the course of the Po River
  • Discover sleepy villages and ancient ports
  • Enjoy a guided tour of timeless Venice

Key information

  • 7 nights accommodation on board the Ave Maria, all cabins en suite
  • 5 days cycling 97% paved, 3% gravel tracks
  • Mainly quiet roads and cycle paths
  • Reverse route available
  • E-bikes available on request

What's included

  • All breakfasts, self-made packed lunches and dinners included
  • All accommodation (see accommodation section)
  • All luggage transfers
  • Route notes and maps
  • Local bike hire

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (available on request) Please enquire for prices
  • Visas or vaccinations
  • Arrival & departure transfers (available on request)
Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.


Days of Cycling

Our routes follow mainly cycle paths and quiet roads. The cycling is generally along the riverbank but there is the occasional climb to reach riverside towns. 97% paved, 3% gravel tracks

Day by day breakdown
Day 240.0km/24.0miles
Day 350.0km/31.0miles
Day 450.0km/31.0miles
Day 540.0km/24.0miles
Day 630.0km/18.0miles

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 


  • Day 1

    Start Mantua

    The tour either starts in Mantua or Venice depending on your departure date. Please see the Exodus website or speak to your sales consultant to confirm which route your chosen departure will take. The following itinerary describes the Mantua - Venice route, the alternate journey is identical, but in reverse. Cabins are available from 4.30pm, and the meeting with the ship manager and crew is scheduled at dinner time; 7pm.

    Meals included: Dinner
  • Day 2

    Enjoy a loop dedicated to the little visited cultural gem of Mantua, and its three picturesque 'lakes' formed by the Mincio

    Today is dedicated to allow discovery of this little visited cultural gem, its three picturesque 'lakes' formed by the Mincio, and the surrounding countryside -once a city state ruled by the Gonzaga family, and now considered by many as Italy's 'Sleeping Beauty'. In the late afternoon, a local guide will lead you through the highlights of Mantua.

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 3

    After a short cruise to Governolo, ride along the river Po through Ostiglia and Bergantino before reaching the sleepy village of Zelo

    A short cruise along the lush banks on the Mincio takes us to Governolo, where the river flows into the Po and forms the largest inland basin in Italy. At Governolo Lock, once a vital staging post for local navigation, mount your bike and follow the Po through Ostiglia (famed for its mediaeval fortress and floating mill) and on to the village of Bergantino. Here there is an option to visit the charming Carousel and Street Entertainment Museum, before finally reaching Zelo, a sleepy village on the Canal Bianco; the waterway which runs parallel to the Po.

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 4

    Pedal towards Ferrera and discover the centre surrounded by original city walls. Afternoon coach transfer to the ancient Greek port of Adria

    After breakfast you continue your bike and boat adventure cycling towards Ferrara, another key City State of ancient Italy. You will visit this historic town and discover its little touched centre, still surrounded by the original city walls. From Ferrara, a short transfer by private coach will take you to Adria. Once close to the shores of the sea which bears its name, Adria was an ancient Greek port, famous for trading Baltic amber. Its remarkable museum also bears witness to its Etruscan, Roman and Venetian heritage.

    N.B. There will be a 60km transfer today by bus.

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 5

    From Porto Viro, cycle through the unique wetland park of the Po delta; home to herons and several colonies of flamingos

    An exhilarating day of discovery by bike and boat starts with a short cruise to your drop-off point at Porto Viro and the exploration of the Po's delta. This unique wetland park is the prime reserve in Europe for herons, and home to several colonies of flamingos. At the mouth of the River Adige, which flows fast and cool from the Dolomites, we then follow the Po-Brondolo waterway and reach the Venetian lagoon. Our overnight stop is the bustling and colourful fishing port of Chioggia, known as 'Little Venice'.

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 6

    Take an optional visit to the fish market before enjoying some island hopping by bike and boat in the Venetian lagoon

    A morning visit to the fish market is highly recommended and, time allowing, there is also the opportunity to climb up Chioggia's millennial clock tower - the oldest in the world - for some breathtaking views. Afterwards, enjoy some island hopping in the lagoon itself by bike and boat, starting with a drop-off on Pellestrina (home to the Ca'Roman nature reserve) and continuing by public ferry for the short crossing to the Lido island. Celebrated by Thomas Mann (Death in Venice) and particularly fashionable with the artists and aristocracy of the Belle Epoque, the Lido di Venezia is now home to the International Venice Film Festival and its galaxy of stars. Finally, your floating hotel takes you to the marina in Venice, for the culmination of your bike and boat holiday.

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 7

    Discover the ancient 'Serenissima Republic of Venice' and enjoy some free time to soak up the timeless beauty of the city and its islands

    In the morning follow a local guide as you discover the capital of the ancient 'Serenissima Republic of Venice', which held sway over much of the Mediterranean (and beyond) for centuries. After that there is plenty of free time to soak up the timeless beauty of the city, or explore one of its many islands.

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 8

    End Venice

    After breakfast you are free to disembark, with the possibility of arranging extra nights in Venice (to be booked in advance).

    Please be aware: The programme above has been planned to feature navigation along the Fissero/ Bianco canal, which runs parallel to the Po and connects Mantua to the Adriatic Sea. Due to organisational 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.

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info



No visa required for British passport holders.
Please note in Italy it is compulsory to carry ID with you at all times.



There are no specific health risks.

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts, packed lunches (self-made) and dinners are included on board the Ave Maria.

This area of Italy offers some fantastic cuisine and the dishes available on board are a fantastic reflection of the excellent local produce available. Breakfast will be a buffet affair, with hot and cold food available served with a selection of drinks. Lunches will be self-made; passengers will be encouraged to put together sandwiches, and take fruit and cakes from the breakfast selection. Dinners will generally be 3 courses and you will have a choice of options each evening. Typical dishes include various types of pasta, fresh fish (cod, seabass, salmon etc.) or meat (guinea-hen, veal, etc.) and an assortment of meats, cheeses and accompaniments. Of course, the meal will end with a typical Italian dessert, such as tiramisu or semifreddo.


In Veneto and the surrounding areas the temperatures are cool/mild in spring and autumn and warm/humid in summer, with potential summer storms. You can find more information on the weather in Veneto on

Is this trip for you?

Cycling conditions
This is a self-guided cycling trip for those who like to cycle independently, but with back up to take out the hard work and planning. We provide you with a map and route notes so that you can cycle at your own pace, while your bags stay on your floating hotel that you return to each evening.
Activity Level: 1 (Leisurely) 
Please see the introductory pages of the cycling holidays brochure or our website for more important information on classification and grading.
Av. daily ride: 42km (25miles).
No. of days cycling: 5.
Terrain & route: Our routes follow mainly cycle paths and quiet roads. The cycling is generally along the riverbank but there is the occasional climb to reach riverside towns.
Vehicle Support: There is no vehicle support for this trip. A representative will be there to meet you, make sure the bikes are all set up and will be on call throughout the trip should you need.

It is important that you are happy reading maps and following route notes, we make these as accurate as possible and they are regularly checked. Where possible we stick to cycle tracks and quiet roads to make the journeys as pleasant as possible, however, on occasion we have to use busier routes.

Self-guided cycling holidays are a perfect option for families as they offer the freedom for you to take your holiday at your own pace. You can stop as and when you want and need, at the cafes and restaurants that suit your family and the sites that interest you. As a guide we have suggested that 12 years is the minimum age for this trip, but as it is self-guided and you will be leading your own family we will ultimately leave this decision up to you. The daily distances are all published in the trip notes along with a description of each days cycling so you have a good idea of what to expect. Please do be aware that on some occassions on this trip the cycling can be along busier roads so any children must be comfortable cycling alongside traffic. If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact one of our experts. The principle idea is that these holidays can be as flexible as you like, with logistical support but no group or leader to dictate the daily activities.

Deposit conditions
To secure your place on the barge, in addition to the standard deposit, as per section 2, paragraph 2 in our booking conditions, a further non-transferable and non-refundable deposit of £330 is payable on this trip.

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.


Ave Maria

7 nights on board the Ave Maria. This modern and highly appointed river barge was launched in 2011 and has a maximum capacity of 40 guests. It features a restaurant, lounge and 2 sundecks. All cabins enjoy sizeable windows, comfortable low beds, en suite facilities and air conditioning. There is free wi fi and a free hot drinks machine (including Italian ground coffee) on board.

There are a very limited number of single cabins available on this ship. On a request basis, it may also be possible to share with another passenger of the same gender, but if a travel companion is not found (either by the passenger themselves or the ship's operator) then a sucharge is payable which is equivalent another passenger place on the ship. It may also be possible to upgrade your cabin type to a superior cabin type, Please speak to your sales consultant for more details.

Additional Accommdation

Extra accommodation is bookable in Mantua or Venice, or there is the possibility to add on an extension from Bolzano (see extension section for more details).

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

Embracing a healthy lifestyle can be a challenge, but if you’re going to keep it up there’s got to be more to it than

  • Reviewed August 2017
    Marianne Stanton

    Bike & Boat in Italy...Andiamo!

    What a wonderful way to do a point to point cycling trip without the hassle of having to pack and unpack each day. The trip ran seamlessly and was completely stress free. Beautiful, scenic cycling in the morning, followed by relaxing cruises down the river in the afternoon with a spritz...perfect! The crew on the boat were outstanding and really made the trip what it is! Their enthusiasm and the delicious food they prepared each day (some of the best I have ever had) really took the experience to the next level. I would highly recommend this trip to anyone!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I really enjoyed exploring each place we visited. Mantova, Ferrara and of course Venice were particular highlights, and you get a good amount of time in each place to explore and soak up the Italian culture!

Dates & Prices

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.


What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.


2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.


3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.


 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 


Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

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Call us on 020 8772 3936