Italy's Lake District route-map

Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: $5295  
Length: 9 days
Arrive: Varenna, Italy
Depart: Milan, Italy
Lodging: 8 nights charming hotels
Meals: All meals included except 1 dinner
Activity: Hiking / Trekking, Cultural Adventures
Trip Level: A mix of moderate walks and hikes, 2-5 hours a day, van support


  • Undiscovered Varenna, magnificent Bellagio
  • Orta San Giulio, with its cobbled streets and lakeside views
  • Romantic villas with elaborate classical gardens
  • The delights of northern Italian cuisine, including trailside picnics in idyllic locations

The trip far exceeded my expectations. Very well run, with great ‘special’ access venues.Robert S.—Randolph, NJ

Choosing the Right Trip

We work hard to help you choose the right trip for you, paying attention to your individual interests, abilities, and needs. If you have questions about the level of comfort or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please contact us.


We are proud to have an exceptionally high rate of repeat travelers. For more information, we would be happy to put you in touch with a client who has traveled with us.

One of Italy’s most exquisite landscapes is the enchanting Lake District, beloved by poets, writers, and artists since the days of the Roman Empire. Our journey in this unimaginably scenic setting brings us to verdant mountains sheltering gleaming deep blue lakes, captivating towns like Varenna spilling down the hillsides, and to Bellagio’s opulent villas and gardens with rose-laden promenades. We explore four of these magical lakes—Como, Lugano, Maggiore, and serene Orta—as we hike age-old paths to hidden stone villages with tiny chapels, boat to Isola Bella, an island with a magnificent palatial villa, and hike high above the lakes for unforgettable top-of-the-world views of the Alps—é perfezione!

Itinerary at a Glance

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

Days 1-2, September 21 - 22, 2016
Varenna / Bellagio

In Varenna, a beguiling town of pastel-colored houses hugging the shores of Lake Como, we explore the medieval Castle of Vezio, once a Roman fortress, and the lovely gardens of the Villa Monastero, a spiritual retreat for Cistercian nuns. The next day, we hike up Monte San Primo (5,528') to a mountain rifugio for spectacular lake views and a lunch of local delicacies that often include miascia, a cake made with fresh mint and walnuts.

Days 3-4, September 23 - 24, 2016
Bellagio / Villa Balbianello / Lago di Piano

Ferrying across Lake Como, we visit Bellagio, a storybook town of gracious villas and terraced gardens. After lunch and a wine tasting in San Giovanni, we explore the Villa Balbianello, with its exquisite gardens, views, and fascinating collections. At Lago di Piano, we walk in a natural reserve abounding with birds, plants, and animals including roe deer and chamois.

Days 5-6, September 25 - 26, 2016
San Salvatore / Luino

Our hike on San Salvatore reveals fantastic views of the Swiss and Savoy Alps. From Luino, on Lake Maggiore, we enjoy a hike to the tiny medieval walled village of Carmine Superiore.

Days 7-9, September 27 - 29, 2016
Isola Bella and Isola dei Pescatori / Orta San Giulio

We visit the splendid Villa Borromeo on Isola Bella, and walk the cobbled alleys and seaside promenade of Isola dei Pescatori. A hike atop the Mottarone Mountains grants us stunning balcony views of the Alps, including Monte Rosa and all seven lakes of the Lake District. From Orta San Giulio, a jewel of a town set on tranquil Lake Orta, we hike on an ancient footpath through hill villages on the slopes of Monte Alto, passing farmhouses, a 13th century tower, and the impressive Villa Broglio, with a picnic lunch in the gardens of the 17th century convent of Monte Mesma. Depart on Day 9.

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

What the Trip is Like

This trip is Level 3, Moderate. We enjoy day walks and hikes of 2-5 hours over variable hill and mountain trails, with occasional short, steep sections. We will carry just a daypack. Sturdy, well broken-in hiking boots are necessary for the rural trails of this area. The meals included in the itinerary will be taken at the hotels where we are staying or at restaurants in the towns. For dinners “on your own,” the Trip Leader will be happy to advise you on, or accompany you, to local restaurants and trattorias. Please note that in Europe, the dinner hour is considerably later than what it is in the US. We do our best to secure early reservations for our groups, but most often the evening meal will be at 7:30 pm.

For maximum enjoyment of the trip (and the wonderful scenery, food, wine, art, and history that are a part of it), you must be in fit shape and ready to walk. We strongly urge you to train for the trip with regular hiking, especially over hills or rough terrain, running, swimming, bicycling or other sports exercise.

After continental breakfast in our hotel, we’re generally off on the day’s walk by 9 am. Each day is a bit different. Some days encompass a full five hours of country walking; others involve a half day or more exploring, for example, one of the lake towns on foot. On many days, we drive to a starting point for our walk, and get picked up at the end of the walk and driven to our night’s lodging. Some days will combine a half-day of sightseeing in a town with a half-day walk.

Lunches on our hiking days will be either in local trattorias or picnic-style repasts of local cheeses, breads, cold meats, assorted salads, fresh vegetables, fruits of the season, famous regional wines, and mineral water. Those not up to the afternoon’s walk can often continue with the van back to our hotel. Tap water throughout Italy will be safe to drink, but avoid drinking from streams in the hills.

We travel by ferry boat across several lakes in the region. If you have a tendency to motion sickness, bring anti-seasickness medications such as Bonine or Dramamine. Accupressure-based wrist bands are also effective for some people.

Our overnights are in picturesque inns and hotels full of Italian charm and ambience and are chosen for their local history and central location. Since some are historic buildings, the rooms may not conform to the international standards you may be accustomed to in more cosmopolitan areas. Our leaders try their best to assign rooms in a fair way so that all participants experience an equal advantage throughout the trip as a whole. We hope that you will be able to enjoy them for their charm and local color. Single rooms can be requested, but are not always available, due to the limited space in some of our hotels. If you require a single room, please make the request as early as possible. European single rooms are often smaller than US singles.

Explanation of Trip Levels


Departures & Leaders

Sep 21-29, 2016

Trip Cost

Prices are for 2016
$5295 (11-15 members)
$5795 (6-10 members)
Single supplement: $720
Forced single supplement: $520
more on pricing

Trip Payment Schedule

At time of reservation: $600
90 days prior to departure: Balance

Cancellation and Transfer Fee Schedule

Up to 91 days prior to departure: No charge!
61-90 days prior to departure: 25% of trip cost
46-60 days prior to departure: 50% of trip cost
45 days or less: 100% of trip cost

Trip Cost Includes:

  • Expert leadership of a Wilderness Travel Trip Leader
  • Accommodations in comfortable 3- and 4-star hotels
  • All meals included except 1 dinner
  • A glass of wine or beer with dinner
  • Entrances to all sites, museums, and ferries
  • Transfers to Milan-Malpensa airport at designated times at the end of the trip

Trip Cost Does Not Include:

International airfare, any meals not specified after each itinerary day in the Full Trip Brochure, arrival transportation to Varenna, airport departure taxes, optional tipping or gratuities to leaders or staff, additional hotel nights that may be necessary due to airline schedule changes or other factors; pre-trip expense of medical immunizations (if any), travel insurance or passports, and other expenses of a personal nature (alcoholic beverages, laundry, etc.).

Arrival & Departure Information

You are responsible for your own transportation to the arrival and from the departure cities listed below. For more detailed information, including transfers, please download the Detailed Itinerary.

Please do not purchase your tickets until you are confirmed on the trip. Once your tickets have been purchased, please send us a copy of your airline schedule.

2016 Departures

Meeting Place:
Varenna, Italy
Date: Day 1

Suggested Airport for Arrival:
Milan Malpensa (airport code: MXP)
Suggested arrival time: 8:00 am, or anytime the day before
Milan, Italy
Date: Day 9

Suggested Airport for Departure:

Milan Malpensa (airport code: MXP)
Suggested departure time: 1:00 pm

Hotel Royal Victoria

Hotel Royal Victoria

Days 1 to 2 (2 nights), Varenna, Italy

Set right at the edge of Lake Como on the traffic-free main square of Varenna, the 43-room Hotel Royal Victoria offers 19th century old world charm ...
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Hotel Parco San Marco

Hotel Parco San Marco

Days 3 to 4 (2 nights), Porlezza, Italy

This lovely hotel, on the eastern point of Lake Lugano, is set on a seven-acre garden estate with breathtaking views of the lake and mountains. ...
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Camin Hotel Colmegna

Camin Hotel Colmegna

Days 5 to 6 (2 nights), Luino, Italy

Set on the shores of Lake Maggiore, the family-run Camin Hotel Colmegna is a late eighteenth-century villa originally built as a hunting lodge. With ...
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Hotel San Rocco

Hotel San Rocco

Days 7 to 8 (2 nights), Orta San Giulio, Italy

The Hotel San Rocco, superbly set right on the edge of magical Lake Orta, is within walking distance of just about everything in this picturesque ...
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Note: Listed above are our signature accommodations for this trip. Although it is highly unlikely, we may make substitutions when necessary.

Our Trip Leaders

Here are the Trip Leaders scheduled for this journey (please note that leader assignments are subject to change).

Giuseppe Aruta

Departure Dates: September 21-29, 2016

With an extensive background in geology and deep roots in his Italian heritage, Giuseppe Aruta leads guests through the Medieval Hilltowns, the Dolomites and Italy’s Lake District, paying special attention to how people travel through their sense of taste, experiencing the wondrous world of ...
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Amy Barnes

Departure Dates: September 21-29, 2016

Amy Barnes was raised in France, Germany, and Turkey until the age of seven. While working on a Liberal Arts major at the University of South Florida she traveled to Italy in 1978. Visiting a friend in Florence she met the fellow next door, an Italian documentary film maker. The encounter was ...
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Gianluca Canalicchio

Gianluca Canalicchio was born and raised in Rome, where his parents moved in 1960 from Umbria, when they left their life of hard work on their farm in search of new opportunities. He has a degree in accounting, speaks four languages (Italian, Spanish, French, and English), and loves dancing, ...
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Client Comments

The trip far exceeded my expectations. Very well run, with great ‘special’ access venues. Robert S., Randolph, NJ Great trip and itinerary. All of the hotels and food were very good. The hikes and things to see were great. Lou L., Alamo, CA I was delighted in the quality. The guide was great and the itinerary was fabulous! Nancy K., Saint Louis, MO This was a great vacation. Just what the doctor ordered. Technically it was a hiking vacation but it really was an eating vacation—fantastic! Mary R., New York, NY
Hands down the best trip I’ve ever taken. The three Trip Leaders are real assets to Wilderness Travel! Teri C., Laguna Beach, CA Magical, magnificent, a must-do. Nancy S., San Diego CA I loved the trip. It was everything I wanted and then some! Janna S., San Diego, CA