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Trails of Italian Lakes: Como and Lugano 1

Italian Lakes Explorer: Como and Lugano

Overview

The Italian lakes of Como and Lugano will enchant you with the beauty of an entrancing landscape of water and mountains fused together in perfect harmony. This walking holiday in Lombardy will take you away from the crowded holiday centres on trails going through forested valleys, mountain tops and traditional villages, still preserving their unique character.

During the six days of walking, you will explore the highlights of the Monti Lariani and the Ticino mountains with a choice of walks of varying length and difficulty. During the trip, you will also have the opportunity to visit some of the beautiful local villas and enjoy the authentic cuisine, fully experiencing the beauty of Lombardy.

Highlights

  • Exploring the mountain trails high above the Lakes of Como and Lugano
  • Experience the rich culture and art of the Lombardy region know for its lavish villas and beautiful gardens
  • Spend 5 overnights in Menaggio, a beautiful town with fabulous views of Lake Como
  • The ancient Roman road “Antica Strada Regina
  • Lake Lugano and the village of Porlezza

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Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Menaggio

Arrival at your hotel in Menaggio on your own. Once you settle, you can spend the rest of the day enjoying the views of the rugged mountains across the lake.

Day 2: Varenna to Dervio | 12.4 km

After breakfast, a boat takes you across the lake to Varenna, where you get on the “Sentiero del Viandante” (the Wayfarer’s path), exploring the rich and ancient cultural landscape with traditional architecture and outstanding views of Lake Como and its surrounding mountains. Once above Varenna, we recommend you take a detour to the castle in Vezio. Return to Menaggio by boat.

  • Walking for the day: 12.4 km, 5 hrs, ↑­­­­637 m ↓624 m
  • Accommodation: 3-star hotel in Menaggio (Hotel Bellavista or similar)

Day 3-5: Walks around Lake Como | 9-14-15.5 km

During the following three days you can choose among several optional routes around the lake:

Option A: From Menaggio through the Val Sanagra Nature Reserve
A loop walk starting in Menaggio takes you to the historically rich area of Val Sanagra. You then head to Loveno, an aristocratic village with many Villas and then to Pianuro, walking through a scenic pastoral landscape. The trail continues along the Sanagra stream passing through Barna, an area covered with lovely hamlets where time seems to have stopped.

  • Walking for the day: 15.5 km, 5 hrs, ↑­­­­696 m ↓695 m
  • Accommodation: 3-star hotel in Menaggio (Hotel Bellavista or similar)

Option B: From Breglia to Monte Grona and Monte Bregagnino
You get on a local bus taking you to the small village of Breglia, where your walk starts. The path takes you through the two most scenic peaks of the western side of the Lake: Monte Grona and Monte Bregagnino. From the top of Monte Grona (1736 m), you have one of the best views of the Alps’ foothills, the three lakes (Como, Lugano and Piano) and the peaks of Monte Bregagno, Legnone, Pizzo di Gino, Grigne. On clear days you can see the Alps from Monviso to Bernina. There are three different ways to get to the top of the Monte Grona from the Rifugio Menaggio, including an alpine ascent on a “Via Ferrata”.

  • Walking for the day: 14 km, 6-7 hrs, ↑­­­­1000 m ↓1000 m
  • Accommodation: 3-star hotel in Menaggio (Hotel Bellavista or similar)

Option C: From Menaggio to Rezzonico on the Antica Strada Regina
The Antica Strada Regina leading along the west coast of Lake Como was built by the Romans and was an important road connection between Como and the alpine passes. The old trail was used until the end of the 18th century when the current lake road was built. This walk starts at Menaggio and runs along cobblestoned paths to the village of Rezzonico. From the top of the hill, there are great views of the lake and the surrounding mountains. After the walk, you return to Menaggio by local bus.

  • Walking for the day: 9 km, 3 hrs, ↑­­­­330 m ↓350 m
  • Accommodation: 3-star hotel in Menaggio (Hotel Bellavista or similar)

Day 6: Cavargna to Porlezza | 16.5 km

A private transfer in the morning takes you to the hilltop village of Cavargna, from where a scenic climb takes you to the Church of Saint Lucio, right on the border between Italy and Switzerland. A great panoramic footpath leads you through woods and meadows 1550 m down to Porlezza, situated at the northeast end of Lake Lugano and very close to the border. This rural farmland and forest walk with imposing views are one of the area’s highlights. After the walk, you have the option to continue to your hotel in Porlezza by bus (check the timetable in advance).

  • Walking for the day: 16.5 km, 5 hrs, ↑­­­­600 m ↓1300 m
  • Accommodation: 3-star hotel in Porlezza (Hotel Europa or similar)

Day 7: Porlezza to San Mamete | 11.3 km

Today’s walk takes you to the mountains above Lake Lugano – an area of forest, waterfalls and tiny villages. The start is quite challenging since you are climbing up the steep side of the mountain, but once you make it to the mountain hut Alpe Vecchio you can relax and admire the landscape. The way down to the village of San Mamete is through forest and paths. Here you take the public bus back to Porlezza.

  • Walking for the day: 11,3 km, 5 hrs, ↑­­­­1100 m ↓1100 m
  • Accommodation: 3-star hotel in Porlezza (Hotel Europa or similar)

Day 8: Departure

Departure on your own or extension of the tour upon request.

What to Expect

Accommodation

In Menaggio: 3* hotel located on the lakeside. In Porlezza: 3* family-run hotel with great panoramic views. All places have been carefully hand-picked by us, and their quality is regularly monitored. We have tried to choose accommodations that offer friendly service, clean and comfortable rooms and local flavour.

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*Hotels are subject to availability. In case a particular hotel is fully booked for your desired dates, we will replace it with a hotel of equal value and quality level. We will provide exact accommodation details to you upon booking confirmation.

Meals

Breakfast is included on all days. When no restaurant is available on the route, lunches and snacks can either be bought from local shops, or packed lunches can be pre-ordered from your hotel the night before. Dinner is available either from the restaurant in your accommodation or in the town where you stay overnight.

Difficulty & terrain

This is a self guided walk with average daily walking stages taking between 3-5 hours as you can usually choose the specific route for the day according to your abilities. The walks are along well-trodden footpaths; forest trails are not always well marked. There are many uphill/downhill sections you would expect in a mountainous region, and bringing walking poles is recommendable. You will also walk along cobbled paths, and small sections of the route are also on small country lanes. A good level of fitness is required for enjoying the walks to the maximum (read more about difficulty grades). We strongly advise you to follow only marked trails and never try to shorten the path through the unknown and unmarked terrain. We will provide you with detailed road notes and maps, and you can call our 24/7 local assistance phone number anytime. More detailed info on route navigation will be included in your holiday information pack.

When to go

You can start your holiday every day between 1 April and 25 October. The best times to visit Como & Lugano are spring and early summer, particularly from mid-April to mid-June. September is also a good month. However, you have to take into account some rainy days in both periods. In summer, temperatures can be hot, although many days are acceptable, especially in June. The average daily temperatures vary between 26°C – 29°C in the summer months. Still, the heat is less intense because of the lakes breeze. You must take into account, in summer and in May, afternoon or evening thunderstorms.

Getting there

FCO up-to-date travel advice

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By plane

Our recommended arrival airports for this holiday are Milan Malpensa and Milan Linate, Lugano and Bergamo.

By train or bus

Arrival – From Milan airport take the local bus or train to the central railway station and then get on some of the trains to Milano Centrale from where you take a local train to Como San Giovanni (lasting between 30 min and 1 hour). From Como San Giovanni take bus Line C10 of the “ASF Autolinee” Bus Company to arrive in Menaggio. Another option is taking a local train from Milano Centrale to Varenna and then get on a boat to Menaggio.

Departure – From Porlezza you can take a bus to Lugano and then a train to the airport (Milano, Bergamo or Lugano). You can also take a bus to Menaggio and then a train to Como from where you can easily take a train to your airport.

Inclusions

Included

  • 7 nights in 3-star hotels
  • 7 breakfasts
  • Private transfer from Menaggio to Cavargna on Day 6
  • Luggage transfer to Porlezza on Day 6
  • Holiday information pack including GPS-checked and regularly updated route notes and maps (digital copy sent by email and a hard copy delivered at the first hotel)
  • 24/7 phone support by our local office/representative

Excluded

  • Airfare, connecting land transfers and other local transport
  • Lunches and dinners, drinks and snacks
  • Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
  • Local tourist tax & entry fees (payable on the spot)
  • Personal expenses
  • Any items not specifically mentioned as ‘Included’ in the programme

Options and Extras

  • Supplement applies to members of a group who require a single room / single use of a double room
  • This holiday is available for solo travellers; a supplement will be charged as accommodation and luggage transfer costs are not shared (we never mix and match – solo travellers will be accommodated in single rooms)
  • Private transfers, where public buses are used, can be arranged upon request
  • Extra nights
  • Lake view hotel upgrade in Menaggio (for five nights) – only for double/twin rooms. Single rooms with a lake view are not available.
  • Parking is possible at hotel Bellavista – should be booked in advance due to limited space. Payment is only on the spot – 10 EUR/day.

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