Cycling the Italian and Swiss Lakes Trip Notes

Ways to Travel:
Guided Group
Destinations:
Italy, Switzerland
Programmes:
Cycling
Trip Code:
MEL
Activity Rating - Moderate
Moderate

You are moderately fit and possess a spirit of adventure. Some previous experience is required for most activity based trips.

8 Days Flight Inclusive
8 Days Land only
Min age: 16

Trip Overview

The Italian lakes of Como and Maggiore are famed for both their spectacular scenery and their well-heeled residents. The rich and famous clearly have good taste as the scenery here is simply wonderful with forested hills and medieval properties overlooking the glistening blue waters. This is a fascinating place to discover on two wheels with excellent roads that closely follow the winding shores. Amongst others, we visit the Hermitage of Santa Caterina del Sasso, a striking overhanging abbey built by a rich merchant. The Villa del Balbianello with its ornate Italian gardens may look familiar to film buffs, having featured in international movies such as Bond’s Casino Royale and Star Wars: Attack of the clones. There will be opportunities to taste plenty of delicious local produce en route, including cheese, cold meats, honey, wines and ice cream, before riding across the border to Lugano in Switzerland for a chocolate tasting. The excellent cycle rides will hopefully help you build up an appetite!

At a Glance

  • 7 nights hotels all en suite
  • 5 days cycling with baggage transfers and full vehicle support
  • Group normally 6 to 16, plus leaders. Min age 16 years
  • 95% tarmac roads with some climbs
  • Countries visited: Italy, Switzerland

Trip Highlights

  • Cycle around four lakes in two countries
  • Enjoy an incredibly varied local gastronomy
  • Visit Como and Villa del Balbianello

Is This Trip for You?

This trip is classified Road: Level 3 Moderate

Please see the introductory pages of the cycling holidays brochure or our website for more important information on classification and grading. 

Average daily distance: 45km (28 miles) with 5 days cycling

Terrain and route: 95% tarmac roads

We aim to use mainly quiet roads and cycle paths where possible, but at times we need to cross busy road sections in order to reach the quieter routes on the other side. There are no technical difficulties but at times there will be some climbs therefore a reasonable level of fitness is required, along with some cycling experience.

Please note that occasionally it may not be possible to follow the itinerary exactly as planned. Leaders will always look for alternate routes/solutions whenever required.

Following a review of all our trips we have categorised this trip as generally not suitable for persons of reduced mobility. However if you are a regular traveller on such trips, please contact customer services to discuss the trip and your personal condition.

Group

There is a local cycling leader riding with the group at all times and a full vehicle support is provided.  As there is only one leader on this tour they may ask some clients to act as a ‘back marker’ in busier towns to help the group move easily through these sections, though this will only be for short sections.

Adult min age:
16
Min group size:
6
Max group size:
16

Itinerary

Land Only Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Start Armeno

    Our trip starts in Armeno, a small villageon the eastern hills of Lake Orta. Optional stroll through the alleys of Orta San Giulio, a stunning town listed among the "Most beautiful towns of Italy". Our accommodation on the first night is in a green park near Lake Orta, at the foot of Mount Mottarone. It is part of a complex who also organise spiritual retreats, making it a relaxing place to start the trip.

    Meals included:
    Dinner
  • Day 2

    Ride south to Lake Maggiore through Lagoni di Mercurago Natural Park, Grappa tasting

    On our way to Lake Maggiore we ride south along Lake Orta through the amazing Lagoni di Mercurago Natural Park; home to a huge variety of different environments, from swamps to pastures, horses stables to archaeological sites. We continue to the medieval town of Angera, where, as a perfect ending we taste Grappa; one of the most renowned Italian spirits from a local and historical distillery. In Angera, where we overnight, there will be the opportunity to swim and relax on the lake beaches.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch
    Distance covered: 51 km / 32 miles
    Altitude gain (m):
    550
    Altitude loss (m):
    800
  • Day 3

    Cycle along Lake Maggiore to Porto Valtravaglia through Santa Caterina del Sasso Hermitage, cheese tasting.

    Cycling along the shores of Lake Maggiore we make our way to the Hermitage of Santa Caterina del Sasso; directly overlooking the water it is one most charming sights of the lake. We take some time to visit this incredible abbey and then we stop in a traditional “locanda” (cosy typical restaurant) to enjoy a tasting of local cheese, cold meats and honey. After the tasting we continue through the picturesque village of Laveno to Porto Valtravaglia, where we spend the next two nights. When the weather allows there will be time to explore the local beaches.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
    Distance covered: 37 km / 23 miles
    Altitude gain (m):
    350
    Altitude loss (m):
    350
  • Day 4

    Free day to relax on Lake Maggiore, or take a ferry to the famous Borromeo Islands.

    On this leisurely day you have some time to enjoy the peaceful atmosphere of Lake Maggiore or to take a ferry to the famous Borromeo Islands. The archipelago is formed by four Islands. The main one is the monumental Isola Bella, with its 17th-Century Palazzo Borromeo, surrounded by flam boiled gardens. Then we have the picturesque Isola dei Pescatori (Fishermen’s Island), Isola Madre, noted for its botanical garden, the little Island of San Giovanni, and the Rock of Marghera. 

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 5

    Cycle to Lugano, enjoy a chocolate tasting in a historic cafe` and visit the town of Menaggio.

    Today is quite exciting as we cycle into the second country of our trip: Switzerland. We will reach the enchanting city of Lugano, lied down on the shore of iconic Lake Lugano. We take some time to stroll and explore the city independently and after our lunch at leisure we will get the chance to enjoy a delicious chocolate tasting at the historical Caffé Vanini, situated in a picturesque square in the city centre. The day ends in the charming town of Menaggio, on the shores of Lake Como, where we will stay for the next three nights.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
    Distance covered: 60 km / 37 miles
    Altitude gain (m):
    350
    Altitude loss (m):
    310
  • Day 6

    Ride to Balbianello Villa, visit to a traditional gelateria and gelato tasting.

    On our final ride we head to the beautiful Villa del Balbianello, riding south along Lake Como. Built for a prominent Italian family during the 19th century it has been recently chosen as setting of international movies such as 007: Casino Royale and Star Wars. After lunch, on our way to the city of Como we enjoy a relaxing break at a traditional gelateria, to try to learn the secrets of real Italian gelato. In Como you will have time to discover the city's main sights, such as the remarkable Renaissance Cathedral, at your own pace, before returning to Menaggio by ferry boat.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
    Distance covered: 36 km / 22 miles
    Altitude gain (m):
    270
    Altitude loss (m):
    310
  • Day 7

    Circular ride to Colico, wine tasting.

    Today we take a circular ride around the Northern side of Lake Como to Colico. En route we stop at a local wine cellar to taste some of the excellent wines of the area and to enjoy a light lunch with local products. Once at Colico, you can visit the Cistercian Santa Maria di Piona Abbey, masterpiece of the Lombard architecture. Built in the 12th century, it represents the first source attesting a monastic community present in the territory. After the visit we return to Menaggio by ferry, another great chance to admire the beautiful views that the lake is offering.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch
    Distance covered: 51 km / 32 miles
    Altitude gain (m):
    480
    Altitude loss (m):
    550
  • Day 8

    End Menaggio

    Our trip ends in Menaggio.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast

All ascents, descents and distances listed above have been measured by our local partners or tour leaders. Please note that different GPS measuring devices can give differing results dependent on the barometric pressures at the time. Measurements stated throughout these trips notes are given to help you understand the types of terrain and distances you will encounter.

Accommodation

Hotels

You will spend 7 nights in 2 and 3 star hotels. All hotels have been carefully selected for their welcoming atmosphere, location and services offered. All rooms provided are en suite.

We can arrange single rooms throughout the trip (subject to availability). Please check with your sales consultant for availability and prices.

Where a single supplement is available, paying for a single only guarantees a room for single use. It does not always mean a twin or double room will be provided for sole occupancy.

Single supplement from $232.50 USD

Food & Transport

Eating & Drinking

All breakfast, 2 lunches and 1 dinner included

All breakfasts are Continental in style, consisting of coffee or tea, bread, jam and/or honey.

 

For lunch and dinner, when not included, our leader will be on hand to recommend his favourite restaurants based on your budget and preferences. The standard of food and drink throughout the tour is extremely high and the Chocolate Museum visit in Switzerland will be an added value to the experience. 

The cuisine of that lakes region encompasses traditional recipes with new ingredients where the main characteristic is the usage of local products. Typical dishes are: minestrone, fish and polenta, risotto, roasted meats (rabbit, kid), stewed, polenta with Bologna sausage or braised meat and many other delicious proposals.

Transportation

Transfers to and from the airport will be by private vehicle (normally minibus). The support vehicle will carry all your luggage and personal belongings. The vehicle will follow the riders all of the time, allowing you to cycle as much or as little as you like.

Weather & Seasonality

When to go

The visited areas have a good all year round climate, with plenty of sunshine and warm temperatures from the spring through to autumn. Summer departures will usually have hot weather, with temperatures reaching the low to mid 30s centigrade. April-June and September-November departures are likely to be cooler with a slightly higher chance of rain. In late summer there is the possibility of heavy thunderstorms (generally in the afternoons), but these are usually short-lived.

Weather Information

The visited areas have a good all year round climate, with plenty of sunshine and warm temperatures from the spring through to autumn. Summer departures will usually have hot weather, with temperatures reaching the low to mid 30s centigrade. April-June and September-November departures are likely to be cooler with a slightly higher chance of rain. In late summer there is the possibility of heavy thunderstorms (generally in the afternoons), but these are usually short-lived.

Joining Instructions

Travelling flight inclusive from London: 8 days

The group flight from London is a daytime flight departing on Day 1 of the itinerary.

Flights from London

We normally use the scheduled services of Easyjet (depending on availability). As flight timings and schedules change regularly we recommend you call one of our specialist sales staff or your agent to confirm up‐to‐date timings.
Please note timings may change at a later date and cannot be confirmed until approximately two weeks before departure.

Travelling land only: 8 days starting in Armeno and ending in Menaggio

Your trip normally starts at our accommodation in Armeno in the afternoon of Day 1 of the itinerary. Details of how to reach the start point are provided in the Final Joining Instructions ‐ sent approximately two weeks before departure.

Regional Flights

The Flight Inclusive price is based on a London departure, but we are happy to tailor this to your local or regional airport. Please ask about flights from local or regional airports.

If booking regional flights other than with Exodus, you must allow a minimum connecting time (in addition to the international check-in time) of 1 hour at Gatwick, and 1.5 hours at Heathrow; this is longer than the official minimum, but baggage handling is known to be subject to delays.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers will be sent to you as part of our Final Joining Instructions. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

Transfers Details

Airport transfers are included for those on the group flights.
Please note that transfers are not included for clients arriving on any other flight, even if Exodus has booked it.

If you require airport transfers, you may (by prior arrangement only) be able to join the group transfer. Transfers are arranged to coincide with the arrival time of the group flight ‐ please check the group flight details 2 weeks before departure. If you do not take this transfer, or miss it, you must make your own way to the joining point at your own expense.

Location start:
Armeno
Location end:
Menaggio

What to Take

Essential Equipment

Cycling helmet (Compulsory on this trip)
Padded shorts and gloves
Sunglasses/eye protection
Stiff-soled shoes suitable for cycling
Waterproof jacket and long cycling trousers; warm top
Sunscreen

Optional Equipment

Beach towel and swimwear.

Equipment Hire

Local Bike Details: 21 speed hybrid bikes with pannier bag. 

Discount for bringing your own bike: £90.

A quality local hire bike is now included in the overall price of our cycling holidays. At the time of booking we will take your height in order to reserve equipment. There may on occasions be insufficient bikes available in the correct size; we will endeavour to find suitable alternative equipment but this cannot be guaranteed. We will tell you before you book whether suitably sized bikes are available.

Conditions

1. The equipment remains the property of the supplier and you may not sell, hire out or part possession with the equipment.

2. You must not misuse the equipment and must return it in the same condition as when received (ordinary wear and tear excepted). The supplier is entitled to charge for any damage caused to the equipment during the period of hire.

3. You must ensure that the equipment is adequately secured when not in use. In the event of the equipment being lost or stolen, you may be liable for the replacement value of the equipment

4. You must not use the equipment whilst under the influence of drink or drugs and should immediately notify the Supplier in the event of breakdown or loss.

Bringing Your Own Bike

If you prefer the familiarity of your own bike, you may of course bring it along. Please advise us at the time of booking and you will receive a discount off the price of the holiday, as specified above. You will be responsible for any extra baggage charges, please speak to our Sales team for individual airline fees. Any clients bringing their own bike should ensure they have adequate cover for loss, damage or theft under their travel, home contents or a specialist insurance policy. If Exodus is confident that we have taken all reasonable care to ensure the safety of your bike, in the rare event of loss, damage or theft you will need to claim under your own insurance policy.

Extra Bike Bits

You may like to bring your own pedals and saddle (excluding the seat post) or gel saddle cover to fit to the hire bikes. We encourage this, if it is your preference. However, please note that you are responsible for your own equipment, and removing your saddle/pedals at the end of the trip. We cannot guarantee the return of any bike parts left behind.

Exodus Policy on Cycling Helmets

Wearing a helmet is mandatory for anyone taking part in any guided Exodus cycling holiday. Group members must bring their own helmets, as they are not available for hire, even if they are hiring a bike from Exodus.

For self-guided cycling holidays wearing a helmet is highly recommended. Customers who choose to ignore our advice do so entirely at their own risk and on the understanding that it may affect the validity of their travel insurance. It should also be noted that in some countries we travel to wearing a helmet is already a legal requirement.

Cycling of all kinds has its dangers and accidents can happen from time to time. Please ensure that you are properly prepared for the riding you are going to undertake.

Recommended Cycling Clothing

Padded cycling shorts (with loose 'over-shorts' where recommended), breathable clothing, and a lightweight waterproof/windproof top. Shoes with relatively stiff soles are better for biking, but are not essential unless you are cycling long distances. Most people want to carry certain items with them during the day while cycling, for this we recommend a large bum-bag or small close-fitting daysack.

Practical Information

Passport

Italy

All nationalities require a full passport that must be valid beyond the intended length of stay. It is your responsibility to have the correct personal documents and to obtain your own visa, if one is necessary, in accordance with the regulations of the country you are to visit. The information offered below is to help you with that process. We are not responsible for the actions of local immigration and customs officials, whether at points of entry or otherwise, and any subsequent effects.

Switzerland

Most nationalities, including British, require a full passport that must be valid beyond the intended length of stay. It is your responsibility to have the correct personal documents and to obtain your own visa, if one is necessary, in accordance with the regulations of the country you are to visit. The information below is primarily for UK passport holders, and other nationalities should check with their travel agent or the relevant embassies. We are not responsible for the actions of local immigration and customs officials, whether at points of entry or otherwise, and any subsequent effects.

Certain European nationalities may be able to travel within Europe on their national identity card. Check carefully with the relevant authorities if you intend to do this.

Visa

Italy

Switzerland

No visa required for British passport holders.

Visa regulations can change without notice: please check the current regulations in good time to obtain a visa if one is required.

There are no specific health risks on this trip.

Vaccination

Italy

There are no specific health risks.

Switzerland

There are no specific health risks.

Travel health can often be something people forget about before going away, but a little preparation and knowledge can go a long way to help you stay fit and healthy while abroad.

The above information can change at short notice; as we are not qualified to answer all your questions about travel health we strongly recommend you contact your Medical Professional or a Travel Health Clinic at least 8 weeks prior to departure for up-to-date information. Please note: vaccinations that are routinely recommended to residents of the UK, North America or Australasia are not considered to form part of the travel health advice, and you should ensure these are kept up to date where necessary.

For additional information please visit: https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/countries

Insurance - are you adequately covered?

It is a condition of joining any of our holidays that you must be fully insured against medical and personal accident risks (to include repatriation costs and air ambulance or helicopter rescue services where appropriate). On arrival in destination for your trip, you will be asked to present details to your leader or local representative of your policy.

If you are resident in the UK we strongly recommend the Exodus travel insurance policy, this is specifically designed to cover all activities on your trip. If arranging your own policy please ensure that you are covered for all activities that are part of the trip, optional activities that you intend to take part in and/or on high altitude itineraries, that you are covered up to the maximum altitude of the trip.

If you are a UK citizen and travelling in Europe you should obtain the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) from your Post Office. This gives you medical care at a reduced cost, and some cases for free, in many European countries, but should not be considered a substitute for adequate insurance.

Local Time

Italy's Timezone:
Europe/Rome CEST (GMT +02:00)
Switzerland's Timezone:
Europe/Zurich CEST (GMT +02:00)

Electricity

Italy's Electricity:

European plug ‐ 2 round pins.

Switzerland's Electricity:

European plug ‐ 2 round pins. 230 Volts AC. Switzerland also has a 3 round pin plug, which includes a grounding pin (type J). 

Money

Italy's Currency

The national currency of Italy is the Euro (EUR), with an exchange rate at the time of publication of approximately 1.2 to the UK£ and 0.9 to the US$.

Exchange rates are correct at the time of publication.

 

Switzerland's Currency

The national currency of Switzerland is the Swiss Franc (CHF), with an exchange rate at the time of publication (June 2017) of approximately 1.2 to the GBP,  0.96 to the USD, 0.74 to the CAD, 1.1 to the EUR, 0.73 to the AUD and 0.69 to the NZD.

ATM Availability

ATMs are available in most towns. Payment by credit card is normally fine, but they are not quite as widely accepted in restaurants as in the UK.

Extra Expenses & Spending Money

You will need sufficient funds to buy the lunches and dinners that are not included. We suggest allowing €8‐€12 for lunch and €15‐€25 for dinner (excluding drinks).

Tipping

Although optional, a tip for the leaders at the end of the trip is greatly appreciated. As a guideline we recommend a contribution of between €15 to €20 per client per leader. 

Responsible Tourism

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Exodus Community

Join the Exodus online community

Don't forget to visit the Community area on our website. You can view the range of Exodus videos and podcasts, read trip write-ups which have featured in the national media and take advantage of some special deals on travel gear and equipment.

In the Community Travel Forum you'll find the Departure Lounge where you can discuss your trip with fellow travellers before you depart. When you get back from your holiday remember to upload your images to the relevant trip page on our website. This helps other people see what our holidays are really like and you'll be entered automatically into our monthly photo competition.

To make full use of the Community you'll need to join My Exodus. It's free, registration is simple and easy, so what are you waiting for?

Important Information

On all guided trips

Although our leaders are well trained to deal with different capabilities, if they have any concerns about someone’s ability to safely partake in an activity, or their impact on other people’s enjoyment, we authorise them to take necessary action which, in some circumstances, may involve asking someone to miss that activity.

Although rarely enforced, by booking this trip you agree to section 14 of our Booking Conditions which clearly states that our leaders have the authority to do this. In these circumstances we will ensure anyone sitting out is safely provided for and offered alternative options where possible. Refunds will not be provided for activities missed and customers may be liable for additional costs incurred.

On all trips

In booking this trip you should be confident in your ability to participate in all activities described in these Trip Notes. If you have any doubt about your suitability you should call the Exodus office and ask to speak to one of the experts on this itinerary.

In an emergency, please contact our 24 hour out of hours service on +44 (0) 844 326 7041.

Every time that you travel abroad you should take the time to read the warnings in the essential information in the brochure.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers, and details of how to reach the start point, will be sent to you approximately 2 to 3 weeks prior to departure. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

The information in these Trip Notes is given in good faith. Where differences exist between the Trip Notes and our current brochure or website, the Trip Notes supersede the brochure and website. All holidays can be subject to unexpected changes; in order to enjoy them you should be prepared to be flexible where necessary. Occasionally, as stated in our brochure, it may not be possible to follow the itinerary as planned. This may be for a variety of reasons - climatic, political, physical or other. In these circumstances we will make the best possible alternative arrangements that maintain the integrity of the original itinerary.

As fuel prices, airport taxes and exchange rates fluctuate, and airlines manage their rates to match demand, it is proving harder than ever to guarantee our Flight Inclusive prices. Although we endeavour to keep our website as accurate as possible, daily fluctuations mean that our Flight Inclusive price may be out of date. For accurate prices we recommend that you contact one of our Travel Experts, or your Travel Agent.

TRAVEL AWARE –STAY SAFE & HEALTHY ABROAD

 

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the NHS have up-to-date advice on staying safe and healthy abroad. For more on security, local laws, plus passport and visa information, see https://travelaware.campaign.gov.uk/

Keep informed of current travel health news by visiting https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/

Advice can change so check regularly for updates.

For all latest travel information about your holiday, please visit our Travel Safety Advice page.

How to Book

1. Check availability

Go online to check availability, or contact us by phone or email.

2. Secure your place

You can provisionally hold a place on this trip, usually for between three and seven days.

3. Complete your booking and payment

When you're ready to book, go to www.exodus.co.uk for online booking, book over the phone or you can complete a booking form (available online or on request by calling us). We accept all major credit and debit cards, or you can pay be cheque. Book with confidence: Exodus is fully licensed and bonded as a tour operator. We hold Air Traffic Organisers Licence (ATOL) number 2582 issued and bonded with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are also bonded to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and we are members of the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) and ABTA ‐ The Travel Association. This means you can book your Exodus holiday with confidence, as all monies paid to us for your trip are fully protected.

TRIP NOTE VALIDITY

These Trip Notes are valid from the "Current as" date on page one. They will occasionally be updated post booking and pre-departure; if there are any updates that significantly impact the inclusions or itinerary bookers will be written to separately. All customers will also receive a link to the most up-to-date version of the Trip Notes with their Final Joining Instructions pre-travel.