You’ll be mesmerised by the shimmering waters against the dramatic backdrop of the Italian Alps
The three Borromean islands, the beautiful gardens of Villa Balbianello & Villa Carlotta
A wide variety of loop hikes with panoramic views
Lake Orta: San Giulio island and the 21 chapels of the Sacro Monte
The romantic atmosphere and panoramic trails on lake Como
Self-drive walking holiday on the Italian lakes
Easy reachable from Milan, this delightful walking holiday explores Northern Italy’s most captivating lakes, nestled in the breath-taking foothills of the Italian Alps. With your rental car you’ll discover the charm of the small Lake Orta, the splendour of Lake Maggiore and its Borromean Islands, and finally Lake Como; the pearl of the Italian lakes. Their shores are decorated with sumptuous villas, azaleas, camellias and hydrangeas, medieval villages, chapels, romantic villas and mouthwatering restaurants, all surrounded by majestic snow-capped Alpine peaks.
The region offers a fantastic network of trails and ancient mule tracks, leading from pretty villages to spectacular villas and gardens. Each lake has its own unique atmosphere. If Lake Como is for the rich and famous and Lake Maggiore for the garden lovers, then Lake Orta is for travelers who like to be the first to discover hidden gems. This region has been the playground of the aristrocracy since Roman times, although Hollywood aristocrat George Clooney most recently put it on the map! The never too hot never too cold climate, the mix of the alpine & riviera atmosphere, hikes along the lakes and surrounding summits, combined with fine Italian food & wine make this just the place to be!
|8 DAYS / 7 NIGHTS||From €630 per person sharing*
*A high season supplement of €20 pp. will apply during peak summer periods
||Very comfortable hotels with en-suite facilities on a bed and breakfast basis.|
|AVAILABILITY||You can start on any day of the week, subject to availability, between April and October.|
Day 1: Arrival at Lake Orta
Arrive in Orta San Giulio and check into your hotel for 2 nights. Depending on your time of arrival, visit this charming village.
Overnight in Orta
Car Parking: The hotel has a private parking. 10€ / day to be booked ahead and paid directly at the hotel.
Day 2: Orta San Giulio – Pella
Distance: 7 km | Ascent: 500 m | Descent: 500 m | 3½ hrs approx.
Transfer by boat to the medieval village of Pella on the western shore of the lake, before hiking along a ridge overlooking the lake. Return by boat, via San Guilio Island, to Orta and discover the Sacro Monte; a set of 21 chapels nestled in a huge ancient forest, with frescoes and statues testifying to the life of St. Francis of Assisi.
Overnight in Orta
Day 3: Gignese – Mottarone – Cannero Riviera
Walk Gignese > Giardino Alpino > Mottarone > Gignese
Distance: 20 km | 5h30 to 6h | Ascent/Descent + 800m / – 800m
Self-drive (20/30 mins) to the picturesque village of Gignese. On the way you can stop at a local farm where you will be able to buy fresh picnic supplies of vegetables, cheese, yoghurts and cold meats: all produced by the farm, while the children play outside and meet the farm animals.
Your walk begins with a climb through the forests and pastures to Mottarone. From the peak at 1492m you will have a 360 ° breath-taking panorama of the Po Valley and the summit of Monte Rosa. Return to Gignese by foot, then drive to Lake Maggiore and the charming village of Cannero Riviera (40-minute drive) and settle in your hotel for the next 2 nights.
Located a few kilometres from the Swiss border, Cannero is one of the most pleasant cities on the lakeshore. South of the village, you can enjoy a peaceful swim at the public beach.
Overnight in Cannero
Car Parking: The hotel has a FREE private parking (subject to availability)
Day 4: Cannero to Cannobio and return boat trip
Walk Cannero > Carmine > Molineggi > Cannobio
Distance: 8 km | Ascent: 400 m | Descent: 400 m | 3 hrs approx.
You set off along on an old mule trail to the medieval village of Carmine, with great views over Lake Maggiore. You can visit the San Gottardo church before continuing towards the village of Molineggi. You then descend to Cannobio where the walk ends with a very pleasant lakeside stroll. Enjoy the charming medieval village of Cannobio, and take a refreshing swim by the Lido!
Boat transfer back to Cannero (30 mins)
Overnight in Cannero
Day 5: Borromees islands – Stresa – Lake Como
Self-drive from Cannero to Stresa (45-minute drive)
From Stresa, departure by boat to the Borromeo Islands that have made Lake Maggiore famous. A public boat first takes you to the Isola Madre, the largest of the 3 islands, covered with a beautiful botanical garden with olive trees, magnolias, giant bamboos and with a 16th century villa at its centre. Continue to Isola dei Pescatori, with its narrow streets and traditional houses converted into restaurants. Finally you end with the prestigious Isola Bella and discover its amazing palace with basements in Rococo caves, terraces espaliers … everything here evokes the splendour of the Borromeo family. Return by boat to Stresa then drive to Lake Como (about 2h).
Overnight at Lake Como, in Lenno or Cadenabbia (depending on availability)
Car Parking: Next to the hotel, there is a free public car park
Days 6 & 7: Choice of walks around Lake Como
You discover the shores of Lake Como which remains a popular holiday resort. Protected from the northern winds by the Swiss Alps, temperatures are mild in winter, which allows a Mediterranean vegetation (olive, laurel, lemon …) and subtropical to develop, especially in the gardens of the many fabulous villas. An amazing contrast with the alpine vegetation of the mountainous slopes. Thus, since antiquity, the beauty of the site and the mild climate attract on the banks of the lake artists and aristocracy. During these two days, you have the freedom to choose between 5 walks of easy or moderate difficulty. If you wish to book extra nights to enjoy all of the walks then just let us know!
- Lenno / Villa Carlotta: 5 km | 3 hrs | + 200m / – 300m
- Lenno / San benedetto / Lenno: 9 km | 3 hrs | + 600m / – 600m
- Loop walk from Bellagio: 8 km | 4 hrs | + 250m / – 250m
- Bellano / Varenna: 7 km | 3½ hrs | + 250m / – 250m
- Pigra / Colonno / Lenno: 3½ hrs | + 200m / – 700m
Overnight in Lenno/Cadenabbia