Italian Lakes Cycle Challenge Picture 1
Italian Lakes Cycle Challenge Picture 1

Next departure:  Please Call for Details

Best Time of Year: March - October

Max alt:  450m

Dist:  340km

Min age:  18

Duration:  5

The Italian Lakes Cycle Challenge

Bike Adventure

Welcome to the Italian Lakes challenge. We have 3 and a half days to explore the incredible lakes of Varese, Como, Maggiore and Lugano and the beautiful surrounding mountains. From our base in Varese itself, we are perfectly positioned to enjoy everything that this area has to offer. Have your tyres pumped, chain oiled and camera charged - you are in for a beautiful ride!

Basing ourselves in Varese we are ideally suited to visit a different iconic lake each day. Aiming for early arrivals into Milan Malpenesa airport, we'll transfer from there to our base in Varese, assemble bikes, get into our cycle kit and head out for a short leg loosener around Lake Varese; with the obligatory gelato stop, of course!! 

Arrivals Day 1 - Shake-down ride: a gentle lakeside loop of 35k around Lake Varese - with a stop in Gavirate, at 22km for ice-creams

Ride Day 2 - Our first full day's ride (112km as standard)* takes us along the shores of Lake Maggiore, via some pretty back lanes from Varese via the villages of Cocquio and Cittiglio.   A short ferry ride over the lake (please have a few euros in your back pocket for this) and then we ride down the impeccable western shores of Maggiore, enjoying stunning view as we ride, before heading back to our accommodation via the smaller Lake of Monate and then Varese. There is a challenging little climb back up to Varese at the end of today!

Distance: 112km, elevation gain approx. 1000m* 

Coffee 1: Laveno, at 28km

Lunch: Stresa, at 52km

Coffee 2: Monate, at 92km

Ride Day 3: On our second day, we will venture eastwards out of Varese, and to more famous Lake Como. The standard ride route is 117km - or there's a shorter ride option to return back via the eastern shore of the western leg of Como down via Nesso and Torno.  We will take a brief coffee stop in the town of Como itself, after which we shall ride the south shore up towards Bellagio, for our lunch not far from the lake shore. Following refreshments, we will again have options*; either to cross the lake on a small ferry and return on the North Shore - or to return back down the South shore. Both options will return through Como for a second time, and stop for an afternoon coffee before the last 25km. It's a final beautiful meander through the back lanes. 

Distance: 117km, elevation gain approx. 1700m* 

Coffee 1: Como, at 28km

Lunch: Bellagio, at 58km / or possibly Casate @ 52km

Coffee 2: Como, at 91km

Ride Day 4: Our final day on the bikes (a shorter ride at 75km) (option to extend)* will see us heading North East towards lake Lugano, and briefly leaving Italy and crossing the border into Switzerland! Before crossing the Swiss border we shall find ourselves riding along a glorious lakeside route. We shall cross the border into the Swiss town of Lugano, and then continue rounding the shore of the lake to Melide for lunch. After lunch - the road continues beside another leg of the lake all the way down to Riva san Vitale for our final stop of the day! . The final leg is somewhat undulating - but brings us beneath pretty mountains to get back for the last time into Varese. It's then time to pack the bikes in readiness for our return home! One night to celebrate an amazing three days of riding! 

Distance: 75km, elevation gain approx. 800m *

Coffee 1: Lavena Ponte Tresa, at 21km

Lunch: Melide, at 45km

Coffee 2: Riva san Vitale, at 53km

Departures Day 5 - breakfast, and then transfer to Milan Malpensa Airport at time as agreed, the transfer will leave at one agreed departure time.

*All distances quoted offer possibility of route being shortened to accommodate one longer ride and one shorter route option each day.



Day 1 - Early arrivals into Milan Malpenesa Airport - Transfer to Varese - assemble bikes ready for a gentle leg-warmer ride around Lake Varese. This will give us time to check bikes and ensure everything is working properly. our team will assist if you have any problems.

Day 2 - Lake Maggiore Ride - return to Varese.

Day 3 - Lake Como Ride - return to Varese.

Day 4 - Lake Lugano Ride - return to Varese. 

Day 5 Transfer back to Milan Malpenesa for flights 


Route Map


We will base ourselves at a good quality hotel in the center of Varese. Rooms are on a twin share basis - and we have breakfast included at the hotel.




What is a Level 3.5 Cycling Challenge Like?

These challenge rides are either longer, with more ascent, or span several days. In the case of single day events, you can expect up to 10 hours cycling. In the case of a multi day ride, you can expect lower daily durations - but of course - the effort is sustained over a longer period. You need to be a keen cyclist for these events, and to enjoy training, and to ride regularly. If the ride is outside the EU, it is likely to be easier in terms of the physical riding, however, you will need to be more resilient - due to more basic living conditions (in the case of Asia / Africa especially)


How Fit Do I need to be to join a Level 3.5 ‘Bike Ride’?

You need to have good endurance for these events. You must be used to doing long rides in the countryside - 6 hours + . You should be doing regular exercise - with some serious cycle training. Your typical comfortable cycling speed will be at least 22-24 km/hr, and you should be able to cycle at high speed for up to 1 hour or 25 km. You may also be concentrating on other types of exercise - but for longer periods of time (ie sessions in excess of 1.5 hrs.) - however cycling is the best preparation (obviously!)


Special Notes

Your itinerary has dinners and lunches included as a part of this package.


Included In Trip


Cycle Guides

Support Vehicles

Meals (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Transfer from Milan Malpensa Airport to Varese (at specified time on Day 1)

Transfer from Varese back to Milan Malpensa (at specified time on Day 5)


Excluded From Trip

Flights to and from Milan Malpenesa airport

Ferry crossings (small number of Euros required) - 2 crossings.

Pre / Post event accommodation ( if required) 




Equipment Required

Kit lists specific to your trip dates and location will be issued upon enquiry...below is our guide advice to give an idea of what you should bring on a multi--day ride in Europe

Bike Items
Road Bike / Hybrid Bike (with puncture resistant tyres) - please call us for guidance on type of bike on a trip by trip basis
2 X Water Bottles (bladder system/cycle water bottles)
Cycling Gloves, Bike Lock, Neck Scarf, Inner Tubes*, Multi-Tool (with allen keys)*
Day Bag for support vehicle, Small Holdall (for overnight gear)
Bike Lights (front and rear, head torch can be worn)
Saddle Bag (recommended - can be used to carry asterisk* items)
Puncture Repair Kit*, Spare parts for your bike (specialist parts and spokes), Pump (suitable for your valve type)

Helmet (compulsory)
Personal Medikit  Suncream, Plasters, Vaseline, Painkillers, Sunbloc, Insect Repellant


Warm Clothing Medium Weight Softshell, Long sleeve Jersey / insulating layer Lightweight Gloves.

Cycle  Clothing
Padded Lycra Cycling Shorts, Cotton Shorts, or Long Cycling Trousers (Tights/Tracksuit Bottoms)
Short Sleeve Cycling T-Shirts (wicking type material) or Cycle Top with rear pockets
Cycling Shoes (approach shoes or sturdy traners suitable), 

Spare Shoes/Sandals for after ride

Casual Evening Wear - tracksuits, jeans, T shirts, fleece ...

Waterproof Clothing
1 Outer Fully Waterproof Jacket (gore-tex, e-vent) - comfortable to cycle in

Travel Documents, EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) Credit Cards, Cash, Local Currency, Mobile Phone, chargers, EU plug adaptor, Sunglasses
Snacks for Cycling Days (dried fruits, nuts, flapjacks, cereal bars etc)
Travel insurance (not included), Passport

Make sure you do not ‘over pack’ - bring only what is essential for the trip. It is advisable to check that your travel insurance covers the value of any expensive items of kit that you chose to bring along with you. 

A final kit list will be provided in your ‘Final Joining Instructions’ pre-departure



During the summer months we can expect dry and warm to Hot conditions. However being in the foothills of the Alps the weather can change beyond the seasonal norms. It is advisable to bring a waterproof and pair of arm warmers and leggings just in case we have unseasonal weather.


Optional Extras

Bike collection and return from UK location to Varese - this may be available subject to numbers.

Bike Hire



Notes on Cycling Events

This is our standard range of Cycling Challenges in the UK, Europe and further afield. However, we offer completely tailormade itineraries to your specification. Call us to discuss! Please note that for overseas point to point cycling challenges we can transport soft cases for bike transport - but not hard cases, due to space limitations on board our support vehicles. On all our cycling events, please pack sensibly and bring a reasonably sized soft holdall type bag. To participate in an overseas Adventure Cafe challenge - you must carry Travel Insurance (to be for the activity you are participating in, and to include repatriation to the UK). Please also note that you should have a good level of cycling experience and be competent to handle your bike. We ride on roads shared with other vehicles - and you need to be able to deal with this safely.


Adventure Cafe Booking Terms and Conditions

By booking an event with Adventure Cafe, you agree to these standard terms of booking. Please ensure that you read the appropriate document for your type of event carefully.

Adventure Cafe Terms & Conditions - For all types of event

To Reserve Your Space on this Challenge

You should fill in the Google Form - linked here below, and then please call us on 01823 444 246 to advise of your payment method. We can accept card payments over the phone, or Bank Transfer. Please note that your space is not confirmed until you have received your booking receipt.

CLICK HERE: Adventure Cafe Challenge Booking Form - For Challenge Events



Guide price

£Price on enquiry



This Challenge is for exclusive group departures – please call us for more information

Event Location

Italian Lakes Cycle Challenge Picture 2
Italian Lakes Cycle Challenge Picture 2

Italian Lakes Cycle Challenge Picture 3
Italian Lakes Cycle Challenge Picture 3