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Home Italy Kayaking Tours Kayaking the Italian Lake District

Kayaking the Italian Lake District

June and September
9 Days
Milan (MXP)


Discover The Lake District

The exquisite landscape of Italian Lake District spans the provinces of Lombardy and Piedmont as well the Italian Swiss Canton of Ticino. The lakes have enchanted visitors since the days of the Roman Empire. Stunning scenery, a mild climate and rich history contribute to the locale’s reputation as one of the world’s most romantic destinations.
As seen in the Washington Post


Lago Como Near Bellagio

Unmatched Scenery

Mirror-smooth lakes surrounded by soaring, snowcapped peaks provide a setting reminiscent of the Norwegian Fjords, yet with a distinctly Mediterranean culture. Charming medieval villages are laced with narrow cobbled walkways that open out to small sun-splashed plazas. Along the lakeshores, opulent villas with lush, manicured gardens invoke the luxury of ages past. Throughout history, the beauty of the lakes has inspired musicians, artists, and writers including Wagner, Verdi, Da Vinci, Cristo, Hemmingway and Virgil.
Kayaking to Varenna, Lago Como

Kayaking Paradise

Paddling the pristine, protected waters of the Italian Lake district is an unforgettable experience. The paddler enjoys a unique perspective on the Lakes’ powerful blend of dramatic scenery, fairytale villages and opulent lakeside villas. Conditions are ideal with typically mild weather and swimmable, warm water. A lively culture of small boats in many of the towns gives the air of small fishing villages. The paddling routes on this trip are remarkably diverse, combining richly forested mountainside, rugged cliffs, and remote islands with the rich Mediterranean heritage and way of life.
Kayakers and Swan, Village of Gandria, Lago Lugano

Cuisine of the Lakes

The combination of Mediterranean foods infused with the pastoral specialties of the Alps makes for some of the best food in all of Italy. We’ll sample the best that the region has to offer, from grilled lake fish served with spicy, fruity local white wine, to rich risotto dishes accompanied by full-bodied regional reds. The temperate climate of region produces a sumptuous array of produce that we buy from only the best local producers.
Villa Dining, Bellagio, Lago Como

Guest Experience

"For me this kayaking tour was a beautiful blend of paddling, current culture, history and gastronomic surprises all in the setting of natural inspiring beauty.
Many, many thanks for creating a very special and unforgettable time. I absolutely loved it all."

— Meryl Redisch, Portland OR
     Kayaking the Italian Lake District, Sept 2018
View from Vezio Castle, Verenna, Lago Como


Day 1

Arrival in Milan

Your guides will meet you in the lobby of our hotel near Malpensa airport (MXP) northwest of Milan city center. After introductions and brief orientation we will head to a local restaurant for some fine Milanese food and a further discussion of the trip details.
Overnight: Holiday Inn Malpensa Airport
Meals: Dinner
Day 2

Lago Como - Nesso and Bellagio

Avoiding Milan’s notoriously bad traffic we will head directly to the first of the three lakes on this trip, Lago Como. Skirting the city of Como that is world famous for it’s silks we will continue up the western shore of the lake to our launch place at the village of Laglio, home to the lake’s most currently famous resident, George Clooney. A crossing of less than a mile takes us to the steeply wooded eastern shore and the village of Nesso know for its cascading waterfall and the elegant Roman bridge that straddles the outflowing creek mouth. After a stop at the village we’ll paddle north and across the lake to the town of Brienno and then paddle the “villa-rich” west side of the lake back to Laglio. After taking out the kayaks we’ll go by van to Cadenabbia and the ferry crossing to Bellagio the, “pearl of Lago Como”. After a good first days paddle and introduction to the Lake District there will be time to relax before heading out to a private dinner at a local villa.
Overnight: Hotel La Locanda della Maria
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Day 3

Lago Como - Varenna and Vezio Castle

Today we will cross one of “legs” of Lago Como to the romantic medieval village of Varenna and its Vezio Castle, that was originally a Roman fortress. We’ll walk the narrow lanes of the village, cross the Flumelatte (River of Milk), Italy’s shortest river, and hike up to the castle for a sweeping view of the three branches of Lago Como. After lunch we’ll paddle along the cliff s north of town before setting course back along the eastern shore past the village of Lierna. We once again cross the and approach Bellagio from the east. Before dinner in Bellagio there will be time to explore the town and browse its many posh shops.
Overnight: Hotel La Locanda della Maria
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Day 4

Lago Como - Villa del Balbianello

By special arrangement with Fondo Ambiente Italiano (FIA), the Italian Cultural Trust, we are able to land by kayak at Villa del Balbianello. Set on a headland on the western shore of the Lake, the villa is iconically beautiful and has appeared in at least two major films. A private tour will take us into the villa that was donated to the FIA by explorer Guido Monzino, and still houses a collection of artifacts from his expeditions. Rejoining the kayaks we’ll visit the towns of Lenno and Tremezzina before the paddle back to Bellagio. In the evening we’ll have a special dinner in town.
Overnight: Hotel La Locanda della Maria
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Day 5

Lago Lugano - Gandria and Caprino

After loading luggage into the support van we will set off to Lago Lugano in the Italian region of Switzerland. Paddling out of Lugano we’ll navigate a shoreline of fine villas and lavish gardens before reaching a set of shear cliffs and finally the ancient village of Gandria. Reminiscent of the Cinque Terre on the Italian Riviera Gandria is perched on the steep slope of a fjord-like arm of Lago with dramatic views of snowcapped peaks. We’ll explore the village before crossing to lake the wooded south shore. After lunch in the hamlet of Caprino there will be time to relax on the lakeshore and have a swim before we paddle back to town. Tonight we’ll dine al fresco at one of the best Grottos in Lugano and discover the rustic charm of this regional institution.
Overnight: ibis Lugano Paradiso Hotel
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Day 6

Lago Lugano – Casoro, Morcote and Melide

After breakfast we’ll board the van for a short drive overland to anther arm of Lago Lugano and our launch point at the village of Casoro. Our destination is the picture-perfect village of Morcote. We’ll explore the shaded arcades and flower lined alleyways of this village that dates back to the 10th century. After lunch at a lakefront restaurant we’ll walk up to the gardens of the 13th century church of Santa Maria dal Sasso that was rebuilt in the style of the Renaissance in the 15th century and then re-built in the in baroque style in the 18th. Boarding the kayaks we’ll continue along the glacially carved shores of the lake to or take out at the town of Melide. We’ll have time to relax and enjoy some of charms of Swiss – Mediterranean Lugano before our final dinner out in Switzerland.
Overnight: ibis Lugano Paradiso Hotel
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Day 7

Lago Maggiore – Laveno and Hermitage of Santa Caterina

Packing the van we drive back into Italy and the shores of majestic Lago Maggiore, the second biggest lake in the country and the setting for Ernest Hemmingway’s, ”Farewell to Arms”. After checking into our hotel in the charming town of Laveno we’ll set off by kayak along a shore lined with impressive villas that gives way to steeply wooded cliffs and finally the Hermitage of Santa Caterina del Sasso which seems to cling to the cliff face. Founded be a wealthy merchant whose life was spared after he prayed to Saint Catherine when his boat capsized in a storm, the hermitage was first built in the 13th century. Kayaks offer us a unique view of the structure but the landing is precarious so we’ll paddle on to the village of Arolo where we’ll meet the van and drive back to descend the hermitage from above and enjoy a picnic in it’s gardens overlooking the lake. No visit to the lakes is complete without a ride to high country so from Laveno we’ll ride the Funviva del Sasso del Ferro and enjoy the stunning vistas and late afternoon sun.
Overnight: Locanda Pozzetto, Laveno
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Day 8

Lago Maggiore – Islands of the Borromeo Gulf

We set out across Lago Maggiore passing as we do from the province of Lombardy into Piedmont. Our first destination is Isola Madre, the largest island in the Borromeo Gulf and the site of a spectacular Palazzo and extensive gardens. We ‘ll land, have an espresso and take some time too tour the palace and grounds before continuing to Isola dei Pescatori. Arriving on the island of the fishermen we’ll thread our way the narrow cobbled walkways of the village to a waterfront restaurant for lunch. The will be time to enjoy idyllic atmosphere of the island before we paddle towards the remarkable Isola Bella. Circling the island we’ll have wonderful view of yet another Borromean palace and terraced gardens after which we’ll head to the town of Stressa where we’ll have some refreshment before boarding the waiting van for drive and ferry ride back to Laveno. Tonight we’ll have a special dinner at a local restaurant to celebrate our journey of discover through the Lake District.
Overnight: Locanda Pozzetto, Laveno
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner
Day 9

Lago Maggiore to Milan Malpensa

After breakfast we’ll board the van for the drive to Milan Malpensa with an expect arrival late morning. The airport offers easy connections to Milan Centrale and flights home. Arrivaderci
Meals: Breakfast


Holiday Inn Express Malpensa Airport

Visit the hotel website 

Bellagio Hotel La Locanda della Maria

Visit the hotel website 

ibis Lugano Paradiso Hotel

Visit the hotel website

Locanda Pozzetto, Laveno

Visit the hotel website

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At this time we do not offer any extensions for this trip but please feel free to call us about added travel options at 1-800-677-0877. We have spent a lot of time in and around the destinations we offer and are more than happy to share our experience.

Dates & Availability

Trip Length
6/14/23 - 6/22/23
6/14/23 6/22/23 9 days
9/2/23 - 9/10/23
9/2/23 9/10/23 9 days
6/12/24 - 6/20/24
6/12/24 6/20/24 9 days
2024 Departure
8/31/24 - 9/8/24
8/31/24 9/8/24 9 days
2024 Departure
NOTE: Trips showing as 'Available' have at least 4 places open. All prices are $USD unless otherwise stated.

What Is Included

  • All accommodations as specified in Itinerary
  • All meals as specified in Itinerary
  • Airport transfers on the last day of scheduled itinerary
  • Ground transportation and attraction entry fees
  • Expedition sea kayaks and equipment including PFDs
  • Safety equipment including medical kit, radios, and cell phones
  • Luggage transfers

What Is Not Included

  • Airfares
  • Meals other than specified in the trip itinerary
  • Alcoholic beverages and items of a personal nature
  • Tipping of guides
  • Single Supplement - $850 US
  • Insurance of any kind (we strongly suggest that you purchase travel insurance)
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Total Deposit: $ 75000 USD
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