Cycling Italy's Lakes District Plus!

  • Itinerary Summary

    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. You'll cycle from Lago Maggiore to Lake Lugano in Switzerland onward to Lake Como, Lago d'Iseo and the finale on the shores of Lake Garda. Along the way you'll have a guided tour of Bergamo Alta - one of our favorite cities in Italy! ...enjoy a sampling of fine Franciacorta sparkling wine and learn more about its history from a local vintner... and end your journey in Romeo and Juliet's Verona.

    ***If this sounds great but you'd prefer a shorter tour, check out our Cycling Italy's Lakes District tour.***
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    1. Day 1: Tour Begins on Lake Maggiore North of Milan

      Highlights: Italy's most famous Alpine lake, Stresa, the Borromean Islands

      Meet this afternoon in Verbania, on the shores of Lake Maggiore, perhaps the most celebrated 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: 5-10 km (3-6 miles). Meals: D

      Lodging: Hotel Ancora

    2. Day 2: Ferry to Laveno, Bicycle to Lugano

      Highlights: Ferry across Lake Maggiore, Lugano Switzerland, Rail to Trail Bike Path to Ponte Tresa, Swiss chocolate

      Enjoy the views across Lake Maggiore and into the high Alps as we ferry across Lake Maggiore to Laveno, the only natural harbor on the east side of the lake. From here you'll pedal into the Cuvia Valley and over a small pass into Val Ganna where we join a rails to trails bike path to Ponte Tresa, where we will cross the border into Switzerland. Our first stop in Switzerland is appropriately at a chocolate factory which also features a small museum. Continue your ride along Lake Lugano for more great views on the Swiss Alps before arriving in the bustling city of Lugano, your destination for today.

      Distance: 51 km (32 miles). Meals: B, D

      Lodging: Hotel International au Lac.

    3. Day 3: Rest Day on the shores of Lake Lugano

      Highlights: Explore the bustling city of Lugano, loop ride

      This morning you have plenty of options: take a little more time to explore this vibrant city's shopping and museum opportunities; or take the funicular to the top of Monte Bre' for a spectacular view over the lake. For those who want to ride there is the chance to go for a ride along the shores and hills of Lake Lugano your climbing efforts will be rewarded with great views of the lake and surrounding mountains.

      Distance: 35 km (22 miles). Meals: B

      Lodging: Hotel International au Lac

    4. Day 4: Bicycle Lugano, Switzerland to Bellagio, Italy on Lake Como

      Highlights: Ride from Lake Lugano towards the Swiss/Italian border, or ferry on Lugano Lake back to Italy, Menaggio

      Today’s ride is both extremely challenging and very scenic. You’ll start by riding south along the shores of Lake Lugano. In Melano the climb begins as you head towards the Swiss/Italian border. The landscape is once again magnificent with beautiful views of the lake below. You have the opportunity to take an extra ride to the top of “the Sighignola Mountain” also known as “The Balcony of Italy” with a great view of the peaks that surrounds the lake. After that, a demanding descent takes you to Porlezza and a bike path takes you to Menaggio on the shore of Lake Como. Whew -- What a ride!

      If you prefer a relaxing morning instead you can continue your exploration of the city, taking the ferry back to Italy in the early afternoon. You'll disembark in Porlezza and ride to Menaggio. Also called Lario, Lake Como 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.

      Distance: 51 km (32 miles). Meals: B, D

      Lodging: Hotel Garni Corona. The September 8th departure will be at: Hotel Belvedere Bellagio

    5. Day 5: Lake Como

      Highlights: Bellagio, Villa Melzi, Villa Serbelloni, Madonna del Ghisallo Bicycle Museum

      There are plenty of opportunities to explore today: Visit the lakeside gardens of Villas Melzi and Serbelloni; ferry to Varenna and visit the gardens of Villa Cipressi and Villa Monastero. If you are looking for a cycling challenge you can pedal to the internationally known Madonna del Ghisallo chapel and bicycle museum at the top of the pass near Magréglio, not far from Bellagio.

      Distance: 26 km (16 miles). Meals: B

      Lodging: Hotel Garni Corona. The September 8th departure will be at: Hotel Belvedere Bellagio

    6. Day 6: Ride to Como

      Highlights: Como, bike path

      Our 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. Our destination is the town of Como at the southern-most end of Lake Como.

      Distance: 46 km (29 miles). Meals: B, D

      Lodging: Albergo Terminus

    7. Day 7: Rest Day

      Highlights: Bergamo Alta, Lago d'Iseo, Wine Tasting

      You'll shuttle to the striking medieval city of Bergamo Alta ("High Bergamo) for a visit of the center of town and its imposing 16th century Venetian walls. Bergamo is one of the few Italian cities to escape destruction during the World Wars, so its architectural history is well preserved. A stroll through the Piazza Vecchia, the heart of the town, as well as a visit to one of the Palazzi or the Basilica or Duomo, are well worth it before you enjoy lunch. Another shuttle takes you to our destination for the night, Lago d'Iseo, a smaller version of the larger alpine lakes we've seen so far. Bordering the lake to the south is the densely cultivated Franciacorta region, famous for its sparkling white wines. The dense network of vineyards, church-topped hills and scattering of cypress trees here remind some people of Tuscany. We'll visit a local winery and sample this delicious sparkling wine before dinner together.

      Distance: Rest Day. Meals: B, D.

      Lodging: Riva Lago. The September 8th departure: Relais Francia Corta

    8. Day 8: Loop ride and visit Franciacorta, optional Monte Isola loop

      Highlights: Wine country, views of Monte Isola, Lake Iseo

      Enjoy more lake views today as you cycle north along the shore of the lake before taking the ferry to Monte Isola, literally Mount Island, a massive mountain that emerges 1200 feet from the lake surface. On Monte Isola, you'll enjoy car-free cycling around the island and stunning views of the surrounding mainland. Be sure to take time to stop at the old fisherman villages for a unique perspective into local life. Back on the mainland we'll take a short ferry ride, and bicycle back to our hotel.

      Distance: 67 km (42 miles). Meals: B

      Lodging: Riva Lago. The September 8th departure: Relais Francia Corta

    9. Day 9: Lake Garda

      Highlights: Bike ride to eastern side of Lake Garda

      Leave the Franciacorta wine region today to pedal east toward the last famous lake of the Italian Lakes region: Lake Garda. 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. With a micro-climate that once allowed cultivation of lemons and still produces olives for oil Lake Garda's economy is diverse and healthy. You'll be on the eastern shores of Lake Garda tonight, on the Lombard side.

      Distance: 85 km (53 miles). Meals: B, D

      Lodging: Hotel Bellerive

    10. Day 10: Bardolino and/or Valpolicella

      Highlights: Cross lake and bike ride along Bardolino and/or Valpolicella hills

      A short ride takes you to the port where you'll ferry across Lake Garda and enter the Veneto region. You'll soon be pedaling through the Bardolino wine region where olive groves and vineyards abound. You'll make your way through an intricate network of roads to the ridge that separates the lake from the Adige River, one of Italy's longest rivers. Across the river is another of Italy's famous wine regions, the Valpolicella area, renowned throughout the world for its strong red Amarone wine. Enjoy a wine tasting this evening before a celebratory dinner together.

      Distance: 50 km (31 miles). Meals: B, D

      Lodging: Hotel Villa Quaranta

    11. Day 11: Bon Voyage!

      Highlights: Tour ends with a shuttle into Verona

      We'll shuttle you to the nearby city of Verona for a guided walk of town before saying goodbye. Plan on a few extra days in this romantic city and catch an opera at the amazing outdoor theater.

      Meals: B

    • Highlights

      Lake Maggiore, Stresa, Lake Lugano, Lugano, Switzerland, Campione d'Italia, Lake Como, Madonna del Ghisallo Bicycle Museum, Two 2-night stays, Begamo Alta - Guided tour, Monte Isola, Franciacorta sparkling wine tasting and wine tasting in Valpolicella, Lake Garda, Guided tour of Verona
    • Includes

      Use of a quality 27-30 speed bicycle; 11 days, 10 nights' accommodation; van support; 2 to 3 bilingual tour leaders; all breakfasts, 7 dinners with wine, 2 wine tastings; guided visits of chocolate factory, Bergamo Alta, Verona; ferry crossings plus "The Usual"
    • Countries

    • Begin/End

      Verbania / Verona
    • Arrive/Depart

      Milan Malpensa Airport (MXP)
    • Total Distance

      410 km (253 miles)
    • Daily Distance

      Average per riding day 51 km (32 miles)
    • Rating

      301 This is a hilly area so expect some climbing every day.
    • Terms

      Terms & Conditions
  • Dates Price Private Room Charge Notes
    Sep 8-18, 2017 USD$5245 USD$650 Sold Out! Book it
    Sep 15-25, 2017 USD$4995 USD$650 Guaranteed to Go! Book it

    * We are happy to match solo travelers who would like to share a room with someone of the same gender. If no match exists, due to hotel pricing, we will charge 50% of the private room charge. This charge will be collected at the time of the final payment. If a roommate assignment is available it will be refunded at the conclusion of the tour.

  • Stories

    • Meals on Your Bicycle Tour

      Information on how meals work on ExperiencePlus! Bicycle tours

    • Per la Cena or What's for Dinner?

      Bea Tassinari coordinates meals for our tours in Italy and shares her secrets for ordering a great meal.

    • Recipe: Manzo All'Olio Di Rovata

      Our recipe this month, Manzo all'olio (literally "beef in oil"), comes from the city of Rovato, by way of the family kitchen of Michele Boglioni and Monica Price.

    • The Italian Lakes and Wordsworth

      And, Como! Thou, a treasure whom the earth keeps to herself,… thy chestnut woods and garden plots” as William Wordsworth wrote, seemingly breathlessly as he attempted to render his impressions of the marvelous Italian Lakes District into verse.

    • Walk on Water with Christo

      This summer, from June 18 to July 3, 2016, internationally-renowned environmental artist Christo will premier his latest monumental work, "The Floating Piers", directly upon the waters of Lake Iseo in Northern Italy.

    • Pedaling on Pasta Power

      University of Oregon's Alumni Magazine highlights Rick and Paola's Story

    • Challenging climbs, with less challenging days, unbelievably gorgeous scenery, excellent food, including local lake fish, high end wine tastings, interesting city tours with knowledgeable local guides, and tour guides who went out of their way to make the experience special.

      Jeff B., Philadelphia, PA

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