Bicycling Italy's Lakes District
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 5 days.***View Day-by-Day ItineraryHide Day-by-Day Itinerary
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 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 Lugano
Highlights: Ferry across Lago Maggiore, Lugano Switzerland, Rail to Trail Bike Path to Ponte Tresa, Swiss chocolate factory and tasting
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 we 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. We'll tour the facility and learn more about the history and intricacies of chocolate and immediately use our new knowledge to confirm the quality of production with free samples. Once we are sated we'll continue our ride along Lake Lugano for more great views on the Suisse Alps before arriving in the bustling city of Lugano, our destination for today. Distance: 57 km (35 miles); extra ride to Porto Valtravaglia for those who wish.
Lodging: Hotel International Au Lac
Day 3: Bicycle Lugano, Switzerland to Bellagio, Italy on Lake Como
Highlights: Lake Lugano morning ride, ferry on Lugano Lake back to Italy, Menaggio, Bellagio
This morning you have plenty of options: go for a short ride along the shores of Lake Lugano; 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. We'll take a ferry early this afternoon and cross Lake Lugano back into Italy and then ride to Menaggio on the shores of Lake Como. Unlike Lake Maggiore and Lake Lugano, which are shared between Italy and Switzerland, Lake Como is strictly Italian. Lake Como (also called Lario) 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. From Menaggio we take a second ferry to Bellagio where we'll spend the next two nights. Dinner is together tonight. Distance: 23 to 50 km (15-31 miles).
Lodging: Hotel Excelsior Splendide
Day 4: Rest day on Lake Como
Highlights: Bellagio, Villa Melzi, Villa Serbelloni, Madonna del Ghisallo Bicycle Museum
This is a "rest day" in the delightful village of Bellagio perched on the shore cliffs of Lake Como. There are plenty of opportunities to explore today: the lakeside gardens of Villas Melzi and Serbelloni; or ferry to Varenna and visit the gardens of Villa Cipressi and Villa Monastero. Serious cyclists can pedal to the Madonna del Ghisallo chapel and bicycle museum at the top of the pass near Magréglio, not far from Bellagio. Dinner is on your own tonight. Distance: 20-40 km, or more (13-25 miles).
Lodging: Hotel Excelsior Splendide
Day 5: Ride to Lecco
Highlights: Views of Lago di Lecco, the Brianza region, Lecco
Our ride today takes us along the Lecco arm of Lake Como where we'll do a climb popular with local cyclist to the town of Asso. From here we head downhill and around Lago del Segrino on a beautiful bike path popular with locals, it's the perfect spot to people watch and enjoy a mid-morning snack. We enter the Brianza region of Lombardy which was once an important center for the production of silk from mulberry trees. Our destination is Lecco at the southern-most end of Lake Como. Dinner is together tonight. Distance: 50 km (31 miles). Lodging: Hotel Pontevecchio Lecco
Day 6: 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 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'll cross the river on the "ferry of Leonardo da Vinci," which uses the current of the river for locomotion to propel it from one bank to the other. Our ride into Bergamo takes us straight into the magnificent medieval City of Bergamo Alta. We have a special dinner planned for tonight. Dinner is together tonight. Distance: 60 km (37 miles).
Lodging: Hotel Gombit
Day 7: Tour Ends in Bergamo
Highlights: Guided tour of Bergamo
Join us this morning for a guided tour of Bergamo before you head off on your own. Bergamo is certainly worth another day, or perhaps you are off to Verona or Milan. Buon viaggio!***If this sounds great but you prefer a longer tour. Join us for the Bicycling Italy's Lakes District Plus! which extends this itinerary 5 days.***
HighlightsItaly's Lake District, Chocolate Tasting, Lake Como, Lake Maggiore, Lake Garda, Bellaggio, Switzerland's Lake LuganoKeep 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.
Includes7 days, 6 nights accommodation; ferry transfers; 4 dinners with wine, all breakfasts; guided tour of Bergamo; van support; 2 to 3 bilingual tour leaders plus "The Usual""The Usual" (Included with every ExperiencePlus! tour)
Begin/EndIntra Verbania / Bergamo
Arrive/DepartIn and out of Milan Malpensa Airport (MXP)
Total Distance217-267 kms (134-165 miles)
Daily DistanceAverage per day 36-44 kms (22-27 miles)
Rating201 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.
TermsTerms & Conditions
Dates Price Private Room Charge Notes
* 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.
Italy Trip Planner
Read up on country customs, transportation information, culinary specialites, and more!
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.
Tour Report: Bicycling the Italian Lakes
Staffer Julie Horton makes a pilgrimage trip to the chapel of the Madonna del Ghisallo - the Patron Saint of Cyclists
Authentic Italian Food
Lonely Planet writes about expectations on meals in Italy: it may be different than you make at home, but you will be impressed nevertheless!
Celebration Taveler - Lakes District
A traveler from our 2012 Lake's District cycling tour recounts the experience.
Pasta for Dinner
A simple and tasty pasta for an Italian-themed meal as you plan your trip to ride bikes in Italy.
- Italy Trip Planner
I think ExperiencePlus!does a terrific job hiring tour leaders and providing excellent itineraries. I can''t imagine biking without the arrows.Susan M., Beverly Hills, MI