Lake Garda provides some of the most stunning views anywhere in Italy, and so it’s no surprise that it’s a popular destination for cyclists from all over Europe and beyond.
As the largest lake in Italy, it has a little bit of everything: towns, villages, historical sites, beaches, mountains and much more. Add in Italy’s passion for cycling as a sport and you’ve got a part of the world that is heaven for riders of all abilities. This guide highlights everything you can enjoy when cycling around Lake Garda, and some of the best routes to try – whether you take your bike with you, or hire one when you get there.
Why is cycling around Lake Garda such a great experience?
The topography of the Lake Garda area makes it an excellent destination for cycling. Head north and you’ve got the challenging mountain terrain of Alpine foothills; venture south and you’ll take on rolling hills and greener scenery. There are also plenty of flatter sections if you want a gentler touring ride rather than a more energetic blast.
Of course, being in Italy means there’s so much to enjoy off the bike, too. Excellent hospitality and superb food and drink can help make a trip to Lake Garda one to remember: what better way to round off a day in the saddle than with a fresh pizza and a glass of wine? With so many vineyards in the area, you stand an excellent chance of riding past one during the day, then drinking its product that evening.
Unlike many other idyllic destinations, which require a bit of a trek to get there, the transport links for the Lake Garda area are excellent. The southern shore of the lake is only a few miles from the main A4 motorway, which easily connects you to a number of major towns and airports, including Milan, Bergamo, Verona and Venice. This makes it easy to combine your cycling trip with some outings to other sites of interest around northern Italy.
Which are the best routes to cycle around Lake Garda?
The shoreline of Lake Garda measures around 93 miles in total, so unless you’re a fit and experienced cyclist (or want to break the loop into multiple days!) you may not be able to go all the way round. Nonetheless, there are many different trails and routes that incorporate sections of the lake, and some of the surrounding countryside, too. Here are a few of our favourites:
Lazise to Punta San Vigilio
If you just want a gentle ride away from traffic and with some superb views along the way, then this short six-mile run is an excellent place to start. The cycling trail is shared with pedestrians, which naturally keeps the pace down to a sedate level, and the destination is definitely something to savour. Punta San Vigilio is a picture-postcard harbour village that looks quintessentially Italian and is the perfect place to get some refreshment at the end of your ride.
If you’re worried that the northern end of Lake Garda will be too mountainous for you to explore, then relax: the Ponale Road gives you all the mountain views you want without the grinding, long climbs. It leads out of the town of Riva del Garda and runs towards the Ledro Valley, staying close to the shoreline of the lake throughout. It’s only five miles long, but it’s a route where you’ll want to stop, take in the vista and snap a few photographs plenty of times along the way.
This 30-mile trail is hilly enough that a certain level of fitness will be required, but it’s worth it for some of the sights you’ll get to see along the way. As well as the elevated views of the lake and the mountains, you’ll also pass a number of castles and vineyards that will match your expectations of typically beautiful Italian countryside. The circular route starts and finishes in Cunettone, just outside Salo.
If you want a real mountain challenge, then look no further. The ride up Monte Baldo will take you to more than 2000 metres above sea level and is so challenging that the professional Giro d’Italia ran the climb as a time trial stage in 2013. It’s 17 miles in total, starting from Tratto Spino, so take your time (and bring plenty of water with you!). This mountain frequently gets snow cover on its higher slopes during the winter, so it’s advisable not to try and ride it before May.
How will cycling around Lake Garda develop in the future?
If you thought that Lake Garda was an attractive destination for cycling now, then the near future will only add to its appeal.
At the time of writing, the ‘Garda by Bike’ project is well underway. Due to be completed in 2026, it will be a 90-mile long cycling trail that loops around the entire lake, dedicated to bikes and fully separated from traffic. A particularly eye-catching section already open to the public is the 2km-long elevated trail near Limone sul Garda, which hugs the cliff edge and runs above the water itself for unrivalled views.
The route is being designed without any steep climbs or rugged terrain, so that it’s suitable for all ages (including families), all abilities and all types of bike. It will also connect with Eurovelo routes 7 and 8, as part of Italy’s commitment to promote more sustainable forms of transport in the future.
Get cycling travel insurance with SportsCover Direct
Every good cycling trip starts with detailed research before you go, including taking out comprehensive insurance cover, so that you can’t be hit in the pocket if something goes wrong.
SportsCover Direct’s cycling insurance can give you peace of mind when you head out to Lake Garda, or any other cycling travel destination. Our policies include medical expenses, travel disruption compensation, help if your bike or baggage gets damaged, stolen or lost, and much more.
Our cover starts at just a few pounds a month and can be paid for through flexible payment plans – find out more on our cycling insurance here.