Mountains, lakes, some 5,000 miles of Mediterranean coastline and an abundance of beautiful rolling countryside – plus extraordinarily rich history, culture and superb food – makes Italy one of the world’s top walking and cycling destinations.
Exploring the country at walking or cycling pace you’ll see the smaller details and there’s such a wide range of trips available that you’ll be able to find one which suits your your level of ability.
Most organised walking holidays in Italy will involve self-guided rambles between small, family-run hotels or inns, with your luggage transported by road. Most of the walks are undemanding, covering short distances and lasting for five to eight days – but there are a few longer, more challenging itineraries on offer.
Well established areas for walkers include the spectacular Alps, Dolomites and northern lakes. Then there is Tuscany with its lovely landscapes and medieval hilltop towns, and the stunning Ligurian coastline around the Cinque Terre national park.
Road cyclists can choose anything from gentle leisure rides up to epic climbs in the Dolomites which the professionals tackle each year in the Giro d’Italia.
And there’s such a diversity to the landscapes too, from dizzying clifftop views on the Amalfi Coast at the southern tip of Italy through to the sheer scale and beauty of Italy’s Alpine lakes, another region famed in cycling folklore.
For both walkers and cyclists, most holidays operate between April and October, with fewer on offer in July and August when the heat can be stifling. In the south the season extends into March and November, while in the Alps it runs from May to September. Across most regions, April-May (wildflowers, verdant countryside) and mid-September-late October (harvest festivals, golden light, leaf colour) are perfect, although in the north and interior March and October tend to be chilly – and, of course, temperatures are lower in mountain areas throughout the year.
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The Dolomites remains a hidden gem for mountain bikers, writes locally-based activity tour operator Daniel Sherlock.
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