Alpine Arc Expedition: Lyon to Ljubljana

Alpine Arc
  • Length 23 days
  • From USD$11595
  • Style/Level Expedition 4.5
  • Countries France
  • Begin/End Lyon/Ljubljana

This west to east traverse of Europe’s Alpine chain carries you from the Roman settlement of Lyon, on the Rhône river in France to Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia and once a Roman military garrison. You’ll begin your ride pedaling into the pre-alps of Savoy east of Lyon along the up and coming bike route “Via Rhôna.” Your route then takes you through vineyards and river valleys on the way to Lake Geneva and into the heart of Switzerland. You’ll follow the Rhône River valley through Canton Valais before taking a train through the Simplon Tunnel into Italy. The Italian portion of your ride highlights the picturesque Lake District including Lakes Maggiore, Como, Lugano and Garda. Near Lake Garda you cross Italy’s spectacular Dolomite Mountains with their unique limestone spires and towers. Glaciated valleys throughout the Alps play host to productive farmland, and vineyards as well as smooth bikeways developed over the last several decades to promote bicycle tourism on this, the “Sunny side“ of the Alps. You leave Italy near the Austrian border with Tarvisio and finish the expedition in Ljubljana after spending an evening near tiny, idyllic Lake Bled.


  • Lyon

  • Lake Geneva

  • Canton Valais in Switzerland

  • Como, Italy

  • Italy’s Lake District including Lakes Maggiore, Como, Lugano and Garda

  • Italy’s Dolomites

  • Trento

  • Madonna del Ghisallo

  • Slovenia’s Lake Bled

  • Ljubljana


Keep in mind

We work hard to maintain consistency across all of our tours, but some trips have unique differences. Here are some things to keep in mind about this tour.

  • Expeditions require that you be prepared for anything and a sense of adventure will be your most valuable asset! Learn more about what to expect, and what is included on Expedition tours at the Expedition Tour Style page.
  • Van support may be limited during the day. 
  • There is limited air conditioning in hotels as it is usually not needed. 

Date Price Private room fee Note
Jul 6-28, 2025 USD$11595 USD$1200 Book now and save $200 per person! No Recycle Credit spaces available.
DateJul 6-28, 2025
Private room feeUSD$1200
NoteBook now and save $200 per person! No Recycle Credit spaces available.

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  • Total distance 1473km (915 miles)
  • Average daily distance 77 km (47 miles)
  • Tour style Expedition
  • Tour level 4.5

Highlights: Lyon, Test Ride

Welcome to Lyon, one of France’s most intriguing cities. Cosmopolitan and modern, Lyon’s history remains visible as you can check out the Roman Fourvière (ancient theater) and Renaissance Vieux Lyon quarters. These and other sites have put Lyon on the UNESCO World Heritage list, so there is plenty to see and do if you arrive a few days early. 

Meals : Dinner
Lodging : Sofitel Lyon Bellecour Hotel

Highlights: Cremieu, Morestel, Via Rhôna

We leave Lyon along the banks of the Rhône, following the “Via Rhona,” a signed bicycle route that follows the river from its source in Switzerland to the Mediterranean. We’ll crisscross the route several times today as we pass through medieval Crémieu, whose market has remained unaltered in structure and purpose for more than 500 years, and Morestel, considered the “city of painters.” We stay tonight at the foot of the Jura mountains of eastern France in Champagneux.

Meals : Breakfast
Lodging : Hotel Bergeronnettes

Highlights: Via Rhona, The Alps, Abbaye d’Hautecombe, Lac du Bourget

We continue pedaling the Via Rhona today until Lake of Lit au Roi and on to the port village of Chanaz, where we begin climbing Mont du Chat amidst Vin de Savoy vineyards. We’ll bypass the col through the bicycle-friendly Tunnel of the Cat (Tunnel du Chat), exiting amid panoramic views over Lac du Bourget, France’s deepest lake. Tonight we sleep in picturesque Aix-les-Bains, where you can take a cruise to the secluded Abbaye d’Hautecombe, founded by a religious community 1101. We’ll experience some of the Savoy’s most famous culinary specialties this evening: fondue, raclette, or tartiflette!

Meals : Breakfast, Dinner
Lodging : Hotel Golden Tulip

Highlights: Pont de l’Abîme, Loop ride of Lac d’Annecy, Annecy

The ride today takes you through forests, hills, and across the “Pont de l’Abime,” a stunning suspension bridge constructed in the 1800’s. Reach Annecy’s gorgeous historic center, grab picnic supplies and pedal around its namesake lake. The views are worth the effort. To extend your ride today you can loop around the lake. Or, if you prefer a shorter day, leave your bike behind and lounge on the beach of the lake’s crystal-clear water, rent a paddle boat, or amble through Annecy and discover why it’s commonly referred to as “Venice of the Alps” with its whimsical canals and ancient architecture nestled below snow-capped peaks. Some of France’s best ice cream is in Annecy, so don’t depart without getting yourself a “glace artisanal.”

Meals : Breakfast
Lodging : Hotel Le Pelican

Highlights: Lake Geneve, Yvoire

You’ll cross the Swiss border several times today as you pedal north to Yvoire, a romantic medieval settlement on the shores of Lake Geneva. Explore Yvoire’s cobblestone streets — where seemingly every balcony and windowsill is lined with blooming flower baskets.

Meals : Breakfast, Dinner
Lodging : Hotel Le Jules Verne

Highlights: Lake Geneva, Yvoire, Nyon

Take a day off the bike and relax along the southern shores of Lake Geneva, Europe’s largest alpine lake. If you’re in the mood to explore, take a short boat ride across the lake for a visit of Nyon, Switzerland. Choose from Yvoire’s many excellent restaurants this evening for dinner on your own. 

Meals : Breakfast
Lodging : Hotel Le Jules Verne

Highlights: Lake Geneva, Thonon-les-Bains, Entering Switzerland

We continue along the French shore of Lake Geneva and enter Valais canton of Switzerland to follow the Rhône River to Saint Maurice, located at the base of a pass leading to the upper Rhône valley. Saint Maurice controlled access to the lower valley beginning in the 15th century. The founding of the stalwart Abbey of Saint Maurice centuries before helped put the village on the map.

Meals : Breakfast, Dinner
Lodging : Hotellerie Franciscaine

Highlights: Canton Valley, Furka Pass, Brig

Cycle the upper Rhône Valley on a gentle steady climb as views open over the endless terraced vineyards that frame the valley. Known as the ‘breadbasket’ of Switzerland, the Valais Canton is blessed with the perfect climate for growing grapes and wheat. We’ll cycle past some of Switzerland’s most famous wineries on our way to Brig, not far from impressive Furka Pass, where the Rhône River begins and scenes from “Goldfinger” were shot in 1964

Meals : Breakfast
Lodging : Hotel Stockalperhof

Highlights: Simplon Tunnel, entering Italy, Lake Maggiore, Verbania

Today we’ll train through the alps via the Simplon Tunnel for our entrance into Italy before pedaling the Ossola Valley to the shores of Lake Maggiore, perhaps the most celebrated lake in Italy’s Lake District, and the town of Verbania. Surrounded by 7,000- foot alpine peaks, Lake Maggiore enjoys a warm microclimate that has attracted vacationers since the Milanese aristocracy began building villas here in the 17th Century. You’ll have time to take a ferry to visit the Borromean Islands, including Isola Bella and Isola dei Pescatori (of the “fishermen”).

Meals : Breakfast, Dinner
Lodging : Hotel Intra

Highlights: Italy’s Lakes District, Lake Maggiore, riding along lake Ghirla, entering Switzerland on Lake Lugano, Lake Como

Enjoy the views across Lake Maggiore and into the high Alps as we ferry across to Laveno, the only natural harbor on the east side of the lake. From here you’ll pedal over a small pass into Val Ganna where you join a rails-to-trails bike path along Ghirla Lake. Cross the border into Switzerland one more time along Lake Lugano before arriving in the bustling city of Como. Lake Maggiore and Lake Lugano are shared between Italy and Switzerland whereas Lake Ghirla and Lake Como are strictly Italian. Lake Como (also called Lario) is one of the most beautiful of the Italian lakes, famous for its villas, including Villa d’Este in Cernobbio and Villa Carlotta in Tremezzo.

Meals : Breakfast
Lodging : Albergo Firenze

Highlights: Lake Como, Climb Madonna del Ghisallo, Bellagio, Tremezzo

Leave Como to start the climb to the internationally known Madonna del Ghisallo chapel and bicycle museum at the top of the pass near Magréglio. Don’t miss the views on the downhill to Bellagio where the lake splits into two branches. Spend some time in Bellagio visiting villa Melzi or Villa Serbelloni before taking a ferry to west to Cadenabbia and pedaling north along the shores of the lake to Tremezzo.

Meals : Breakfast, Dinner
Lodging : Hotel Garni Corona

Highlights: Upper Lake Como, Varenna, Menaggio, Bellagio

Take the day off the bike for exploring the many enchanted lakeside gardens that flourish in the area’s Mediterranean microclimate. Ferry back to Bellagio and visit Villas Melzi and Serbelloni or ferry east across the lake and visit Villa Cipressi and Villa Monastero in Varenna. If your legs prefer to keep cycling, consider a loop ride back up to the Madonna del Ghisallo chapel or pedal west to Lake Porlezza on the shores of Lake Lugano.

Meals : Breakfast
Lodging : Hotel Garni Corona

Highlights: Upper Lake Como, Sondrio, Valtellina

Pedal along the shore of Lake Como to its northern reaches before turning east into Lombardy’s beautiful Val Tellina, famous for its cheeses and Bresaola, a very lean and tender cut made with meat from the eye of the round cut of the cow. This glacier-carved granite valley is also home to one of Italy’s smallest and least known wine producing regions with views that invoke comparisons to the terraces of Germany’s Mosel, Portugal’s Douro and Italy’s Alto Adige regions.

Meals : Breakfast, Dinner
Lodging : Grand Hotel della Posta

Highlights: Aprica pass, Val Camonica, Ponte di Legno

After leaving Sondrio this morning, you will pedal through the largest terraced wine region in Italy and imagine the difficulty of cultivating grapes amid the steeply terraced retaining walls, or ‘muretti,’ some dating back to the Middle Ages. Leave the Val Tellina at Tresenda and start the climb to Aprica Pass, theatre of the Giro d’Italia multiple times. After a short descent into Val Camonica another moderate climb brings you to Ponte di Legno.

Meals : Breakfast
Lodging : Hotel Bezzi

Highlights: Tonale Pass, Val di Sole, Campo Carlo Magno Pass, Stunning Brenta Dolomites.

Leave Ponte di Legno to start the climb over Tonale Pass, a popular ski area. Glide down in Val di Sole for several miles before starting to climb today’s second pass. As you pedal up, the impressive Brenta Dolomites come into view. Pinzolo, our destination, is a fun downhill away. If you feel like riding more, you can explore Val di Genova, an impressive Alpine glacier Valley more than 20 km long with jaw-dropping views and multiple waterfalls.

Meals : Breakfast
Lodging : Garni Costa Verde

Highlights: Val Rendena, Sarca gorge, Cavedine Lake, Garda Lake, Trento

Today’s ride is mostly downhill as we leave the Brenta Dolomites and arrive at the north shore of Lake Garda. Cycle a stunning bike path that uses a former road dug into the cliffs overhanging the valley below. Traditionally a holiday “playground” for Germans and Austrians, Garda is the largest of Italy’s alpine lakes and formed part of the border between Lombardy and the Venetian Republic from 1549 until 1797. Enjoy a drink on the shore of Lake Garda, before continuing on to Trento.

Meals : Breakfast
Lodging : Hotel America

Highlights: Valsugana and its Lakes, Primolano WWI fortresses, Feltre

You’ll climb up to the Val Sugana with its gemlike lakes along the “Via Claudia Augusta,” an ancient Roman road that spanned 550 km to cross the Alps linking Northern Italy to Germany. Climb up a second short pass with views over the ruins of a WWI fortress on the way to Feltre.

Meals : Breakfast, Dinner
Lodging : Hotel La Casona

Highlights: Belluno, Pieve di Cadore, Extra ride to Cortina

A gentle steady climb following the Piave River from Feltre all the way to Pieve di Cadore is our ride for the day. Great views over the surrounding mountains will prepare you for the Dolomites.

Meals : Breakfast, Dinner
Lodging : Locanda ai Dogi

Highlights: Cortina, Lake Misurina, and the Dolomites

You can take a rest day today or decide to take one of the most scenic bike rides in the area, pedaling to the chic Cortina. Enjoy a coffee with a view over the Dolomites in Cortina before heading back to Pieve. Alternatively, if you would like add 30 more km and 900m of gain, you can climb the scenic mountain pass Vetta tre Croci, surrounded by towering peaks and breathtaking vistas. A little further up, Misurina Lake will offer you panoramic views over the stunning alpine lake framed by the rugged peaks of the Dolomites.

Meals : Breakfast
Lodging : Locanda ai Dogi

Highlights: Carnia Alps

Another day of great views over the rocky peaks of the Carnic Alps and green, lush meadows as we enter the Friuli Venezia Giulia region. We’ll follow the turquoise waters of the Tagliamento River to our hotel in Tolmezzo.

Meals : Breakfast, Dinner
Lodging : Hotel al Benvenuto

Highlights: Rail to Trail bikepath, Entering Slovenia, Lake Bled

From Tolmezzo we start the ride on a rail-to-trail bike path toward Tarvisio and the border with Slovenia. Beautiful views open over the Trilav Massif as we continue to Lake Bled, Slovenia’s picture-perfect mountain resort. After you freshen up, hike to the castle, take a traditional “pletna” boat to the island, or just go for a refreshing swim in the lake.

Meals : Breakfast
Lodging : Bled Rose Hotel

Highlights: Kranj, Ljubljana

On this last day of riding you’ll explore quiet roads on your way to Kranj, a town filled with monuments, galleries, museums, and a network of tunnels built during WWII. The Korka River has formed a (30 meter) gorge which you can view from town. Your final miles approach Slovenia’s dazzling capital, Ljubljana. With a population of 300,000, this charming city full of artists, museums, and galleries, is one Europe’s smallest capital cities, making it easy to explore. Enjoy people watching from a riverside café before our final celebratory dinner together.

Meals : Breakfast, Dinner
Lodging : Hotel Slon

Highlights: Bon Voyage!

Your tour ends after breakfast. Enjoy a few more days in Ljubljana or continue your travels!

Meals : Breakfast

Visit our Tour Level page to learn more about terrain levels and how we determine day and tour levels.

Pre-trip planning checklist

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