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Chapel at the summit of the Madonna del Ghisallo

Great Italian Lakes Cycle Challenge 6 days Italy


About the Challenge

This exciting and beautiful route is so much more than a journey between two iconic Italian cities – on the way it takes three of the great Italian lakes: Garda, Como and Iseo, as well as the Romeo and Juliet city of Verona.

With a route that takes you from Venice on the Adriatic Coast, though flat plains and forested hills to the famous lakes-and-mountains scenery of Lombardy, there’s enough variety to please any cyclist. Each day offers a great climb to test your legs, but with our highest point at 754m – the famous Madonna del Ghisallo with its cyclists’ chapel – these aren’t the high cols, and it’s an achievable ride for anyone willing to train.

Add in small terracotta-roofed villages, overnight stops in picturesque lakeside towns, good roads, and plenty of opportunities for recharging on Italian coffee and gelato – this is the ultimate Italian cycle challenge!

Dates & Prices

Paul - October 2022

I cannot fault this trip. The route was spectacular and the scenery out of this world. The DA crew could not do enough for us and felt very much part of the group and it was an amazing life experience. I would recommend this to anyone to try once!

Read Testimonials


Great Italian Lakes Cycle Challenge

  • Venice is renowned for its beautiful waterways and buildings, such as St Mark’s Square and Basilica, the Doge’s Palace and Bridge of Sighs, and the Rialto Bridge. Dependent on flight times, you can enjoy some free time exploring the sights of this wonderful city. We meet up at our mainland hotel in the evening, and ensure our kit and bikes are fully prepared for the start of our challenge tomorrow. Night hotel.

    (Lunch not included)

  • Leaving Venice behind, we start cycling! We head south through fertile fields, crossing many small canals and rivers which drain into the Venetian Lagoon, still only a few miles to the east. Our terrain today is predominantly flat, allowing us to ease ourselves in relatively gently: it is, however, a long day in the saddle! We avoid the larger towns, but pass through several small towns and villages, all with a distinctive Italian flavour. Our halfway mark is celebrated with the only real climb of the day, as we cross a verdant region of hills dotted with thermal spas; continuing east on flat roads again, we cross the wide River Adige, Italy’s second-longest river, and head to Verona. This beautiful city, setting of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, offers plenty of sights if you have the legs for an evening wander. Night hotel.

    Cycle approx 146km (91 miles)

    Route Profile

    Venice to Verona Route Profile.png

  • Our terrain becomes more rolling as we ride on back-roads towards the lakes of Lombardy. After only a few miles in the saddle, we reach spectacular Lake Garda, the largest lake in Italy. As we ride around its southern shore, we can enjoy views of the steep green slopes plunging down to the lake’s edge. Today’s big climb crosses the forested hills between Lake Garda and Lake Iseo – probably the toughest 10 miles of the route for many of us. It twists and turns up into the wooded hills, passing small communities with striking churches and open pastures. Surrounded by magnificent views of the verdant peaks, the scenery inspires us to keep going. After a fabulous descent, our road levels out to a relatively flat run-in to Lake Iseo. We pass through the medieval town of Iseo and ride north around the lake on a beautiful, lake-side traffic-free cycle path – a wonderful end to the day. Lovere is often touted as one of the most beautiful towns in Italy; we are close to the mountains here and the buildings have more of a Swiss influence. Night hotel.

    Cycle approx 154km (96 miles)

    Route Profile

    Verona to Lovere Route Profile.png

  • Our main climb comes earlier today, as we leave the beautiful shores of Lake Iseo and head up on a quiet road that twists through trees and areas of open pasture, with great views back down over the lake and surrounding green hills. The well-earned descent is longer than the climb, and brings us out of the hills through a string of river-side towns and villages as we ride along the valley towards Bergamo. From here it’s more rolling terrain, with a couple of sharper climbs, as we head towards the southeast arm of the inverted ‘Y’ that is Lake Como. The region to the south of the lake is dotted with smaller lakes and towns and makes for varied cycling; one last short climb and descent brings us to Como, on the southwest arm of the lake. An historic town with plenty to see, an evening wander is a good way to soak up the atmosphere. Night hotel.

    Cycle approx 115km (72 miles)

    Route Profile

    Lovere to Como Route Profile.png

  • Our last day features one of the most spectacular stretches of road, our highest point, and for any keen cyclists, the most famous climb!  We set off from Como and ride the undulating road along the magnificent lake shore to Bellagio, the northernmost point on the triangular southern shore. Here we head away from the lake and onto the famous climb of the Madonna del Ghisallo, where the chapel on the summit (our highest point at 754m) has become a shrine to cyclists. Made famous by the Tour of Lombardy and Giro d’Italia, it’s a challenging ascent, but our legs should feel great by now, and we will be spurred on by the chance to visit the chapel, packed with cycling memorabilia, and where an eternal flame burns in the memory of cyclists who have died. We then freewheel almost all the way on quiet roads right to the outskirts of Milan, our descent taking us through beautiful scenery east of Milan. Once at sea level, we join a lovely flat canal-side cycle path, leading us into the city centre and our finish! We celebrate the end of our incredible challenge in one of Italy’s most iconic cities. Night hotel.

    Cycle approx. 104km (64 miles)

    Route Profile

    Como to Milan Route Profile.png

  • After a leisurely breakfast, we have time to relax on the canal or wander the cultured streets until it’s time to transfer to the airport.

    (Lunch not included)

Dates & Prices

Prices may vary depending on date.


  • All food except where specified, and accommodation on a twin share basis
  • Discover Adventure leaders / mechanics / drivers
  • Full vehicle support throughout the trip
  • Maps and route information


  • Any meals specified 'not included' in the itinerary
  • Flights and transport to/from start/finish point of ride
  • Travel insurance
  • Bicycle
  • Cycle helmet (compulsory) and water bottles
  • Personal spending money, souvenirs and drinks
  • Fees for any optional sites, attractions or activities
  • Any applicable surcharges as per Terms and Conditions

Detailed Information

  • Your trip will be led by experienced Discover Adventure leaders and support crew, including mechanics. Our leaders are selected for their knowledge and experience, friendliness and approachability, sense of humour and ability to safely and effectively deal with any situation that arises; they are also trained in first aid. The crew will have mobile phones and/or radios where appropriate, medical kit and other safety apparatus where necessary.

    The number of crew and support vehicles looking after you will depend on the final size of your group, but the team will be looking after every aspect of your trip whether that’s transporting your luggage, ensuring your route is well-marked, making you lunch and sorting out any mechanical problems. Support vehicles are with the group all of the time, and carry all luggage and spares.

  • Your safety, and that of the rest of the group, is our highest priority. Our trips are designed and planned with safety in mind. Your crew will be equipped with communication devices (eg phones, radios and/or emergency satellite phones), medical kit and other safety apparatus appropriate to the destination. Our leaders always have access to our 24-hour emergency UK back-up. They are responsible for safety on the trip, and will make any changes to the itinerary they deem necessary, should local conditions dictate. Pre-trip administration - such as medical questionnaires and travel insurance as appropriate - is all done with your safety in mind.

  • Accommodation is usually on a twin-share basis in hotels convenient to our route. Please tell us if you know somebody else on the trip that you would like to share with and we will try our best to accommodate your request. If you don't know anyone else in the group don't worry, we always pair you up with someone of the same gender, and a similar age where possible. We do not charge a single supplement if you are a solo traveller in a shared room.

    There may be a limited number of single rooms subject to request, on a first-come first-served basis, after you have booked. Extra charges will apply.

  • Your booking is part of a group challenge and the tour costs and fundraising targets listed on our website are based on a minimum number of participants which is shown on the challenge  Our typical groups run with approximately 35-40 participants however you may find your group is smaller or larger than this.

    We will confirm at least 12 weeks prior to departure that your challenge is guaranteed to run however occasionally it may be possible to still to run the challenge with less than the minimum numbers, subject to a small group supplement.  If we think a small group supplement may be necessary, we will discuss this with you as soon as possible, usually 5 months before your departure date. 

    Minimum numbers and groups sizes may vary on Bespoke Charity challenges.  If you are booked onto a bespoke challenge please contact your charity for full details.

  • We like to support local businesses and will source food locally. Lunches will be in restaurants along the route and dinners are usually eaten at the hotel. Do make sure you eat enough to give you the energy for your exertions. Being vegetarian or having other dietary requirements is not usually a problem provided you let us know well in advance. If you know there are plenty of foods you cannot eat you may wish to bring extra snacks from home so you can top up your energy supply.
  • In the unfortunate circumstance that you need to cancel your booking, we would ask that you notify us in writing either by post or email.  Your cancellation will be considered effective from the date the notice is received. Registration fees, amendment fees and insurance premiums are non refundable and, depending on your payment option and how close it is to your challenge departure date, you may be liable for a cancellation charge.

    Full details of all cancellation charges may be found in the Terms and Conditions of booking.

Preparing for the Challenge

  • This is designed to be a challenge, and it is vital that you train sufficiently for it. We will supply you with a thorough training guide once you have registered. We expect all participants to train hard in advance, but we respect everyone’s limits and do not expect everyone to maintain the same pace. Inadequate training is likely to have an impact not just on your chances of completing the challenge, but enjoying it too - and we want you to have the time of your life!

    Our challenges attract people of all levels of experience, fitness and ability as well as all ages and backgrounds. We design our challenges so that everyone can go at their own pace: this is not a race. If you have concerns about your fitness or if you have reduced mobility please do contact us for a confidential chat about whether this challenge is appropriate for you.

    For logistical and safety reasons we sometimes need to re-group, so the front-runners may find themselves waiting for the slower ones. Please relax, and remember that this is a team effort that enables people to achieve their personal goals and earn sponsorship.

  • Entry requirements vary depending on your destination and nationality. It is your responsibility to ensure your passport is valid, and any visas are obtained in good time. Check the FCO’s advice on entry requirements for your destination to be sure. To find out if you need a visa you can check your requirements using our partner, Visa Machine, website here; please ensure you allow plenty of time.

    Your routine UK schedule of vaccinations should be up-to-date (especially tetanus). We recommend you check Fit For Travel for further details. You should always check with a GP or travel clinic for up-to-date travel health advice as it does change.

  • We plan our trips around the optimal weather conditions, but could still be exposed to bad weather at any time. It is vital you are prepared for all conditions. We provide you with a detailed packing kit-list on registration, as well as details on useful discounts you are entitled to as a Discover Adventure customer. We are always available if you need advice.

    If you are still to buy some kit don’t forget that Cotswold Outdoor, Snow and Rock, Cycle Surgery and Runners Need offer all Discover Adventure participants 10% off any purchases you make with them. Please ask us for the code if you do not have this already.

  • Travel Insurance is compulsory on our challenges; we strongly suggest that you arrange insurance cover as soon as your booking with us is confirmed or at least 8 months prior to travel. Should you need to cancel on medical grounds, you will need insurance to cover the costs involved (registration fee and any trip costs depending on cancellation date). 

    You should also ensure that you have adequate cover for the type of challenge you are taking part in as well as medical emergencies, evacuation and repatriation.

    Once your travel insurance is arranged, just remember to let us know the policy number and 24hr medical emergency phone number which is provided by your insurers!

    For more information about travel insurance, please click here.