I’d love to hop on a bike, circle St. Mark’s Square, ride over the Rialto Bridge past the markets, cycle through the city’s narrow calle and bump down its many short staircases. But if you’ve been to Venice, you already know that unless you’re getting a ride from Mary Poppins or E.T., the center of Venice isn’t going to work on a bike.
However there is a fantastic easy bike ride I recommend. Look at the map of Venice (below) and find the main fish-shaped set of islands you recognize, then look a little south. You’ll see two very long and skinny islands: the Lido and the island of Pellestrina. Both islands have paved routes and are completely flat, making them ideal for an easy cycle with amazing views of both the sea and of Venice. Bring lots of water and a swim suit and towel if it’s warm, because you’ll cycle by many sandy beaches. You can do this ride from bottom to top, starting in Chioggia, or the reverse.
Rent bikes in Chioggia at Top Bike Di Fontolan Sebastiano, via Cristoforo Colombo 162, Chioggia, VE 30015, tel.: 39 0415544447. A mile or so down the road you’ll hit the ferry terminal for boats to Pellestrina, which is about a 30 minute ride. Tip: get there 30 minutes or so before the ferry leaves, because the ferry driver decides how many bikes to allow on board. You want to be near the front of the line or you may be told to get the next ferry.
Cycle heading north up the length of Pellestrina, which is just 5 miles (about 8 km) long. Stay to the right, and when you reach the end of the island take the 10-minute ferry across to Lido island, which is longer than Pellestrina but not by much. Tip: When you get off the ferry at Lido, stay to the left, and cycle along Via Alberoni. When you pass the Istituto Carlo Steeb, take the tiny road on your right that crosses the island. You’ll see a set of steps that lead up to the Lido walls where you can cycle (photo below). Continue to the end of the Lido island along the island’s east side and for the return consider cycling back down the west side of the island, through the various fishing villages.
Timing: If you do both Lido and Pellestrina, it’s 15 miles (24 km) one-way. So in addition to 40 minutes of ferry rides, expect about 90 minutes of very easy cycling to get from one end to the other. Then do the whole thing in reverse. So factor in a total of about 80 minutes on the ferry and 3 hours of cycling, plus leeway, and time for lunch or a swim.
Alternatively, if you can’t get to Chioggia, you can get to Lido easily from Venice and rent bikes there.
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