Cycling Italy's Lakes District Plus!

Cycling Italy's Lakes District Plus!

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, where you will enjoy a sampling of fine Franciacorta sparkling wine and learn more about its history from a local vintner.

***If this sounds great but you'd prefer a shorter tour, check out our Cycling Italy's Lakes District tour.***

Tour Dates & Prices

Date
Price
Private Room Fee
Note
Jun 24-Jul 4, 2022
USD$5395
USD$650
Book by September 15th and save $200 per person!
Sep 9-19, 2022
USD$5395
USD$650
Book by September 15th and save $200 per person!

* 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.

Tour Style: Classic Book This Trip Now Hold-A-Space/Questions Request Custom Date Download Itinerary Tour Map
  • Trip At-A-Glance
  • Tour Summary
  • Daily Itinerary
  • Travel Information
  • Map
  • Reviews
  • Similar Tours
Trip At-A-Glance

Trip At-A-Glance

  • Length / 11 Days
  • Total Distance / 410 km (253 miles)
  • Avg. Distance / 51 km (32 miles) per riding day
  • Tour Level & Tour Style / 3.0 Classic
  • Countries / Italy
  • Begin/End / Verbania / Salò
  • Price / From USD$5395
More Photos
Tour Summary

Tour Summary

  • Highlights
    Lake Maggiore, Stresa, Lake Lugano, Lugano, Switzerland, Campione d'Italia, Lake Como, Madonna del Ghisallo Bicycle Museum, Four 2-night stays, Bergamo Alta - Guided tour, Monte Isola, Franciacorta sparkling wine tasting, Lake Garda

    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.

    The currencies on tour will be Euros in Italy and Swiss Francs in Switzerland, though Euros will be accepted in Switzerland as well. Please note that it is not possible to withdraw Euros from ATMs in Switzerland with US-American credit cards.
  • Includes
    11 days, 10 nights' accommodation; meals as noted in itinerary, 1 wine tastings; Bergamo Alta; ferry crossings; and the usual (see below).

    Learn more about what is included and what to expect on your Classic tour at the Classic Tour Style page.
  • Arrive / Depart
    Milan Malpensa Airport (MXP)
  • Overall Tour Level
    3.0 difficulty level 3.0

    This is a hilly/mountainous area so be prepared for some steep climbs and descents most every day.

  • Daily Ride Summary

    Day

    Distance/Gain
    mi/ftkm/m

    Terrain

    Day Level

    Notes

    1
    Test ride
    2
    58km / 887m
    Hilly
    difficulty level 3.5
    3
    24km / 556m
    Very hilly
    difficulty level 3.0
    Today's ride is an optional loop ride
    4
    63km / 979m
    Mountainous
    difficulty level 4.0
    5
    37km / 962m
    Very hilly
    difficulty level 3.5
    Today's ride is an optional loop ride
    6
    47km / 793m
    Very hilly
    difficulty level 3.5
    7
    Rest day
    8
    41km / 386m
    Rolling hills
    difficulty level 1.5
    Today's ride is an optional loop ride
    9
    73km / 589m
    Rolling hills
    difficulty level 2.5
    10
    46km / 676m
    Hilly
    difficulty level 3.0
    11
    Last day

Terrain Legend

Gentle Gentle

Rolling hills Rolling hills

Hilly Hilly

Very hilly Very hilly

Mountainous Mountainous

Daily Itinerary
Download 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 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.

The September 11 departure will be at the Hotel Ancora.

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. Your ride continues along Lake Lugano for more great views on the Swiss Alps before arriving in the bustling city of Lugano, your destination for today.

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.

DAY 4: Bicycle Lugano to Menaggio, Lake Como

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

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. There is a shorter (15 km - 10 miles) and easier ride option available. We'll spend the next two nights on the shores of Lake Como.

DAY 5: Menaggio on Lake Como

Highlights: 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.

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 on a bike path closed to automobile traffic. Our destination is the town of Como at the southern-most end of Lake Como.

  • Distance: 47km (29mi)
  • Gain: 793m (2601ft)
  • Terrain: Very hilly
  • Day Level: difficulty level 3.5
  • Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
  • Lodging:

DAY 7: Rest Day

Highlights: Bergamo Alta, Lago d'Iseo

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.

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. We'll visit a local winery and sample this delicious sparkling wine before dinner together.

DAY 9: Lake Garda

Highlights: Brescia, Salò

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: 73km (46mi)
  • Gain: 589m (1932ft)
  • Terrain: Rolling hills
  • Day Level: difficulty level 2.5
  • Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
  • Lodging:

DAY 10: Loop ride from Salò

Highlights: Vineyards and olive groves, relax by the lake

Pedal through the Lugana wine region where olive groves and vineyards abound. You'll make your way through an intricate network of roads, following valleys and ridges offering views over the Lake Garda and the Alps. Choose a beach and take a dip. If you prefer you can take the day off the bike and explore Salò or take a ferry for a cruise on the lake. This evening we'll enjoy a celebratory dinner together.

  • Distance: 46km (29mi)
  • Gain: 676m (2217ft)
  • Terrain: Hilly
  • Day Level: difficulty level 3.0
  • Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
  • Lodging:

DAY 11: Buon viaggio!

Highlights: Tour ends with a shuttle To Brescia train station

We'll shuttle you to the nearby city of Brescia for trains to Milan, Venice or Rome

  • Meals: Breakfast
Travel Information

Travel Information

Day 1: Arrival Information

Tour Begins on Lake Maggiore North of Milan

Meeting time 2 p.m. - on Day 1, meet your fellow cyclists and Tour Leaders at the Day 1 Hotel specified on the itinerary.

Note:

As you are planning, remember that the hotels listed in our itineraries are our primary hotels and are - in rare cases - subject to change. Before you make arrangements, check with us if your tour departure is guaranteed. If your tour departure is out further than 6 months, please also check with us as there might be slight changes to the itinerary.

The below information will help you plan your arrival. For more tips or other routes, you might like Rome2Rio. The fare and timing information listed below is approximate.

We recommend flying into the Milano Malpensa Airport (MXP). If you arrive from within Europe, you will likely arrive at the Milano Linate Airport (LIN).

Arriving at Milano Malpensa and continuing to Intra-Verbania:

  1. Airport Shuttle from the Malpensa terminal to Verbania Pallanza (stop is called Piazza Antonio Gramsci) ( reservations required but payment in cash only on board) (1.5 hours/EUR 15)
  2. Taxi from the bus stop to the hotel (15 min/EUR 15 – 20 ). Note: If you are on the September 11 departure, you can walk from the Imbarcardero Vecchio stop to the hotel. Follow the main road with the water on your left side. The hotel is on the right in 150 meters.
  • Or: Taxi from the Malpensa Airport to the Day Hotel (1 hour/EUR 135-150)

Look up Italian train schedules at Trenitalia.com or Trainline.eu. Questions? See our information on taking trains in Europe here or ask us.

Day 11: Departure Information

Buon viaggio!

Your trip ends on the final day with a complimentary shuttle drop-off at the Desenzano train station, arriving at around 11:00 a.m. (your spot on the shuttle is already reserved). From Desenzano you will have frequent connections to Verona, Milan, Florence and Venice.

The below information will help you plan your departure. For more tips or other routes, you might like Rome2Rio

We recommend flying out of Verona (VRN) or Milan (MXP)

Flying out of Verona:

  1. Train from Desenzano Del Garda-Sirmione to Verona Porta Nuova (20-30 min/fares vary)
  2. Airport Shuttle from Verona Porta Nuova to Verona Airport (15 min/EUR 6)

Flying out of Milano Malpensa:

  1. Train from Desenzano Del Garda-Sirmione to Malpensa Aeroporto (change at Milano Centrale) (2 hours to to 2 hours and 40 min/fares vary)
  • Or taxi from ending hotel to the Malpensa Airport (2 hours 10 min/EUR 200-250)

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.

The currencies on tour will be Euros in Italy and Swiss Francs in Switzerland, though Euros will be accepted in Switzerland as well. Please note that it is not possible to withdraw Euros from ATMs in Switzerland with US-American credit cards.

Pre-Trip Planning Checklist

To Do Today!

3–6 Months Prior to Departure

  • Reserve your flights after you know you have a confirmed tour departure. Please check with our office if you do not know if your trip is confirmed. As you make your plans refer to the Getting To and Away sent to you in your booking confirmation email it provides meeting times and the starting and ending hotels and shuttle information when applicable.
  • Book your pre and post-tour hotel nights. Please refer to the Getting To and Away sheet you received in your Reservation Confirmation Email.
  • 12 weeks before your tour begin your training program www.experienceplus.com/training.
  • Final payment is due 90 days prior to the tour start. Please refer to your Deposit Payment Invoice and the Final Payment Reminder e-mail you have received for detailed instructions.

6 Weeks–2 Weeks Prior to Departure

Day of Your Flight

Get as much sleep on the plane as you can. Pack your Getting To and Away information and one day of cycling gear in your carry-on. See you soon!

What to Expect on Tour

Classic Tour Style

Learn more about what is included and what to expect on your Classic tour at the Classic page.

Map

Map

Reviews

Reviews

  • This was our 5th trip with you and all have been outstanding. We really liked staying in the same hotel for 2 nights several times on this trip as compared to other trips. It gave the more time to see the areas we stayed in. More time to really absorb the local culture.

    Ric O., Portland, OR - Sept 2019
  • A wonderful bike tour that samples the beautiful lakes, countryside and cuisine of northern Italy and southern Switzerland. We loved Menaggio on Lake Como and Sulzano on Lake Iseo; beautiful settings - two nights in each did not seem enough!

    Dennis D., Calgary, ALB, Canada - August 2018
  • Keep up the good work. I''m a fan.

    Gary A., Camperdown, Australia - September 2018
  • Overall it was an amazing and memorable experience, thanks!

    Chris A., Calgary, Alberta, Canada
  • This was a great trip.

    Chas B., Mississauga, Ontario - September 2017
  • Loved this trip, and love Italy. Amazing cycling, challenging and beautiful country. Accommodations and food were outstanding. Tour leaders were informed and attentive. And coffee at every juncture!!!

    Margi M., Longmont, CO - September 2017
  • We had a great time with good friends, biking around the lake district. This is the first time I used an e-bike, which made the hills much more manageable. The area of Italy was gorgeous...delicious food, beautiful roads. What a fabulous vacation!

    Anne V., Edgartown, MA - September 2017
  • Beautiful scenery! Fantastic food :) Interesting rides!

    Lou G., Fort Collins, CO - June 2017
  • 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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