Italy's Lakes District has always been a transition zone between peninsular Italy and Alpine Europe. This series of lakes created by the melt-water of Alpine glaciers enjoys a unique micro-climate that harbors olive and citrus groves, exotic botanic gardens, villas, and extraordinary vistas. Long an attraction for writers and artists, the Lake District provides an incomparable bicycle experience. We pedal from Lago Maggiore to Lake Lugano and Lake Como on this tour.
***If this sounds great but you prefer a longer tour. Join us for the Bicycling Italy's Lakes District Plus! which extends this itinerary 4 days.***
Day 1: Tour Begins on Lake Maggiore North of Milan
Highlights: Italy's most famous Alpine lake, Stresa, the Borromean IslandsMeet this afternoon in Verbania, on Lake Maggiore, the most famous lake in Italy's lake district. Surrounded by 7,000 foot Alpine peaks Lake Maggiore enjoys a warm micro-climate that has attracted vacationers since the Milanese aristocracy began building villas here in the 17th century. Come early and visit the Borromean Islands, including Isola Bella and Isola dei Pescatori (of the "fishermen"), the villas of Stresa, and the botanic gardens of Pallanza. We fit bicycles this afternoon and will suggest a warm up ride for you on a bike path along the lake. Welcome dinner together. Distance: 5-10km (3-6 miles).
Lodging: Hotel Intra
Day 2: Ferry to Laveno, Bicycle to Luino
Highlights: Ferry across Lago Maggiore, Laveno, bike Path to Luino, Medieval center of LuinoEnjoy the views across Lake Maggiore into the high Alps as we ferry across the lake to Laveno, the only natural harbor on the east side of the lake. From here we pedal an easy route into the Cuvia Valley and on to Luino. Villages along the way enjoy mixed economies of farming, tourism, and small manufacturing. Luino has been a major market center since 1541. Dinner is together tonight. Distance: 32km (20 miles); extra ride to Porto Valtravaglia for those who wish.
Lodging: Camin Hotel Colmegna
Day 3: Bicycle from Luino to Lugano, Switzerland
Highlights: Easy ride along the Tresa River, Swiss Chocolate factory and tasting, Lake Lugano, Lugano, SwitzerlandWe pedal along the Tresa River to Switzerland this morning. The Tresa drains out of Switzerland's Lake Lugano and into Lago Maggiore so it is an easy ride from one lake to the next. Just over the border in Switzerland we'll stop at a chocolate factory and small museum before stopping for a picnic on you own on Lake Lugano. We'll be in Lugano Switzerland after lunch today. Dinner is on your own tonight. Distance: 37km (23 miles).
Lodging: Hotel International Au Lac
Day 4: Bicycle Lugano to Lake Como
Highlights: Lugano, Cernobbio and Lake ComoUnlike Lake Maggiore and Lake Lugano, which are shared between Italy and Switzerland, Lake Como is strictly Italian. Lake Como (also called Lario and Lago di Lecco) is one of the most beautiful of the Italian lakes. It is famous for its villas, including Villa d'Este in Cernobbio and Villa Carlotta in Tremezzo. Our route takes us through Cernobbio and along the west shore of Lake Como where we catch a ferry to Varenna, our home for the next two nights. Dinner is together tonight. Distance: 60km (37 miles).
Lodging: Royal Hotel Victoria Varenna
Day 5: Rest day on Lake Como
Highlights: Bellagio, Varenna, Villa Melzi, Villa Serbelloni, Madonna del Ghisallo Bicycle MuseumThis is a rest day on Lake Como for those who wish or an opportunity for an extra ride along the lake. There are plenty of opportunities to explore, including visits to the lakeside gardens of Villas Melzi and Serbelloni near Bellagio. Serious cyclists who want to explore can pedal to the Madonna del Ghisallo chapel and bicycle museum at the top of the pass near Magréglio, not far from Bellagio. Alternatively, a stroll in the delightful village of Varenna is another possibility. Dinner is on your own tonight. Optional ride: 2-30 km (13-18 miles).
Lodging: Royal Hotel Victoria Varenna
Day 6: Bicycle Lake Como to Lecco
Highlights: Views of Lago di Lecco, the Brianza region, LeccoOur ride today takes us along the Lecco arm of Lake Como and up a short climb to Asso. From here we head downhill and around Lago del Segrino on a bike path closed to automobile traffic. We enter the Brianza region of Lombardy, here, once an important center for the production of silk from mulberry trees. Our destination is Lecco at the southern-most end of Lake Como and Lecco. Dinner is together tonight. Distance: 47 km (30 miles).
Day 7: Bicycle from Lecco to Bergamo
Highlights: Bike Trail along the Adda River, Leonardo da Vinci Ferry, Bergamo Alta (Medieval Bergamo)Our route today follows the multi-use path along the Adda River through a deep gorge carved by the melting of the glaciers that formed Lake Como. Beginning in the 12th century the Adda became part of a dense network of canals that the residents of Milan created from the various rivers flowing out of the Alps. We cross the Adda River in the park created to protect it. Our ferry is the "ferry of Leonardo da Vinci," which utilizes the current of the river for locomotion to propel the ferry from one bank to the other. Our ride into Bergamo takes us straight into the Medieval City of Bergamo Alta. We have a special dinner planned for tonight. Distance: 46 km (28 miles).
Day 8: Tour ends in Bergamo
Highlights: Buon viaggio!We hope you've enjoyed bicycling Italy's Lake District. Bergamo is worth an extra day to explore if you have time. Otherwise, Verona, Brescia and Milan are short train rides away. Buon viaggio!
HighlightsItaly's Lake District, Chocolate Tasting, Lake Como, Lake Maggiore, Lake Garda, Bellaggio, Sirmione, Mantua, Switzerland's Lake Lugano
Includes8 days, 7 nights' accommodation; ferry transfers indicated; 5 dinners with wine, all breakfasts
Begin/EndLake Maggiore / Bergamo
Arrive/DepartIn and out of Milan Malpensa Airport (MXP)
Total Distance257 to 307 km (160 to 191 miles) plus extra for those who wish
Daily Distance0 - 60 km (0 to 37 miles)
What to ExpectLong an attraction for writers and artists, the Lake District provides an incomparable bicycle experience.
Perfect for riders looking for shorter mileage distances and relatively gentle terrain most days. There are several short steep climbs and a 5-mile climb above Lake Como. Shuttles are available.