Situated on the coastline of northeastern Italy in the province of Veneto, Venice is one of the world’s most famous tourist destinations.
Each year, between 22 and 30 million tourists visit the city to take in the sights. In 2017 alone, Venice counted 60,000 tourists in the metropolis each day.
While seeing the iconic canals and various architectural landmarks is a must when visiting the floating city, it also pays off to get out of the city center and head out to explore the surroundings.
Within only a few hours, you will find a completely different world of outdoor adventure from bicycling the flat plains north of the city to skiing and climbing in the Dolomites.
Regardless of whether you are traveling for business or pleasure, take a day or weekend to explore the various outdoor adventures waiting right nearby.
Situated just two hours northwest of Venice, nestled into the Sarca Valley among the foothills of the Italian Alps, Arco is a veritable paradise for rock climbers.
The small town is renowned both for the quality of the various limestone climbs as well as the stunning views, both into the Dolomites and out over the stunning Lake Garda.
First-time rock climbers and seasoned experts will both be completely at home on the rock faces here, with climbing opportunities ranging from the 130 sport climbing routes on Massone to making a 1.200-meter ascent of Monte Casale, and everything in between.
Getting there: if you rent a car, it’s a two-hour drive from Venice following the A4 and A22 is incredibly scenic. Taking public transport is equally scenic, but a bit more of a hassle. Regardless of the route, you’ll have to combine train and bus travel, generally beginning from the main Stazione di Venezia Santa Lucia. Check with your guide to figure out which route will work best for you.
Read more about the best spots for rock climbing in Arco.
The landscape around Lake Garda was carved by retreating glaciers after the end of the second ice age. The result of this testament to the might of nature: a plethora of canyons, each unique in its own way.
Naturally, heading out to explore these geological landmarks is the logical thing to do. Combine hiking, scrambling, swimming, jumping and rock climbing into one unforgettable experience.
From the cool and refreshing waters of Vione Canyon, just north of the lake, to the hidden spots and beautiful waterfalls of Vaio dell’Ors, just to the east of the lake, there are plenty of places to explore.
Whether you have only a half-day or an entire week to spend exploring the area, you are bound to find plenty of excellent adventures out here.
Many canyoning trips begin in Arco as well, so getting here isn’t so bad. Just follow the directions from the previous trip and you’ll be running, jumping, swimming and climbing in no time!
Located just north of the city, sitting between the Adriatic Sea and Venetian lagoons, lies a large and flat plain that is practically begging to be explored on a bicycle.
Known as Quarto d’Altino, this place is in the perfect setting for a day of cycling, with plenty of mountain views and lots of lovely little towns to rest in along the way.
A popular option is to follow the Via Claudia Augusta through Sile National Park. Along the way, you will get stunning mountain views, pass through an age-old vineyard and even cycle along a seaside path.
Stop off in towns, such as Treviso, to enjoy some local food and wine as well as learn a bit about the storied history and culture of this region.
Getting there: by car, it is only a 45-minute drive up the SR11 and A4. You can also take the REG or RV trains from the Stazione di Venezia Santa Lucia and be there in the same amount of time.
Just a couple hours north of Venice sit the iconic Dolomites. This limestone subrange of the Alps is home to some of Italy’s top freeride skiing spots.
Among the best and most easy to reach are Arabba and Marmolada. Arabba is the starting point for various freeride adventures, such as for trips in the stunning Sella Group Massif. Here skiers can enjoy single day adventures or longer ones.
Marmolada is also an excellent destination. Located in the neighboring valley to Arabba, the 3.343-meter high peak is the tallest in the Dolomites and offers a 1.490-meter long run down its northern face.
Getting there: by car, the drive is only a 2.5-hour drive up the A27 and SS52. During the peak season, shuttle buses are also easily available directly from the Marco Polo International Airport in Venice.
Read more about the best spots for ski touring & freeriding in the Dolomites.
Sitting two hours due north of Venice, in the heart of the Dolomite subrange, Cortina d’Ampezzo is home to some of the best via ferrata routes in the entire country.
In a landscape dominated by vertical limestone walls, huge towers, and stark pinnacles, this picturesque part of the country is the perfect location for climbing the ‘iron path’.
One of the many perks of climbing via ferrata – aside from the unbeatable views and the overwhelming sense of adventure – is that there really is something for everyone. No technical ability is required to climb the rails and you can learn everything necessary to do so on the day of the trip.
The Ferrata degli alpini in Col dei Bos is ideal for beginners and families. It is only a 400-meter climb with a rewarding view at the end.
For climbers looking for a challenge, then via ferrata Punta Anna, which takes you up to the incredibly scenic 2.731-meter high pillar in the Tofane mountain group, is ideal for you.
Keep reading about the best via ferratas in the Dolomites!
Venice sits only a couple of hours away from the Slovenian border, making it completely feasible to spend a day or two exploring the various outdoor adventures available in the small Balkan state.
Among the many outdoor activities available in Slovenia, canyoning is perhaps the best for adventurers staying in Venice.
Just 2.5 hours northwest of the city in Bovec, the Soča River winds through the surrounding mountains and has carved out the Soča Canyon. This spot is quite popular for its extreme canyoning.
Jumping, swimming, rappelling, and scrambling will envelop your day in this beautiful spot. Cap off this wild adventure with a quick ascent of the 15-meter high Kozjak waterfall. Canyoning here is the perfect activity for a quick and adventurous getaway from Venice.
Getting there: by car, you can follow the A4 to Udine then turn off on the SR56 and wind your way to the border. This takes only 2.5 hours. Public transport is a bit trickier. No buses or trains are available directly to Bovec, unfortunately, and you would first need to head to the Slovenian capital, Ljubljana, before making your way to Bovec.
However, there is much more to Italy than just seeing Venice. If you do manage to make it to this lovely country be sure to check out all of the other excellent outdoor options!
Stay up-to-date on the best adventures!