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3
moderate
Activities
  • self guided walk
Accommodation
  • hotel
Meals
  • 2 Dinners
  • 1 Lunch
  • 7 Breakfasts

8 Days£1310GBP

Overview

Trip Code: JVS

Via Spluga to Lake Como Trip highlights


  • Discover Swiss & Italian mountain trails along the Via Spluga
  • Experience art, rich culture & gastronomy of the Italian Alps
  • Chiavenna: a beautiful town with fabulous views of the Alpine peaks
  • Ancient, well-maintained mule track paths
  • The natural monument of the Acquafraggia Waterfalls
  • Varenna: a beautiful town with fabulous views of Lake Como
  • The “orrido di Bellano” natural gorge
  • Lake Como's famous villas and beautiful gardens

The Via Spluga crosses the Splugen Pass between the Swiss and Italian Alps, to then make its way down to the very interesting mountain town of Chiavenna, just north from Lake Como. The trail represents a classic cultural hiking route. Located in the central Alps, throughout the centuries it has linked the towns of Thusis (Switzerland) and Chiavenna (Italy), hence incorporating the Grigionese people, the Rhaeto-Romansch, Walser and the population of Lombardia. Its proximity to Lake Como means that you can experience some of the best scenery and towns of Italy on this weeklong itinerary.

The walks will take you along the shores of Lake Como and along old mule-tracks which have either maintained their original attributes or have at least been restored to something like their natural state. It has a great combination of genuine history and you'll be experiencing this first-hand when staying in some hotels that have been used by drovers on the Via Spluga for centuries.

Countries:

Italy

Starting Point:

Splugen

Finishing Point:

Colico


This gem of a settlement is undeniably a beauty encompassing elegant chalets typical of the Graubünden Canton. It is named after two brothers who signed a peace treaty in the region. A few decades later in the 1290s, the Germanic Walser peoples waltzed into the area with their cattle. There is still a traditional part of the village that reflects their building style. It lies west from the historic centre with its typical network of cobbled alleys known as "Bsetzi". Splügen flourished with the important pass trade and the gaining of a market license in the 1400s. It is worth visiting the Rheinwalder Heimat Museum exhibiting the history of centuries of transit through the valley. Accommodation: In Splügen our 3* hotel is a traditional structure with a lot of exposed beams and stonework. Parts of the building date back to 1375 when it was a packhorse hostel. Most of it was rebuilt in 1716 after a town fire and was converted into a hotel 1998-2001. Numerous doors, windows and panelling from the early 18th century have been preserved in the rooms. The former open driveway for the pack animals now serves as the entrance area. The hotel has a garden, bar, restaurant and a lovely terrace area. Several rooms have mountain views. Continental breakfast. *Optional extra day in Splügen: Bus to Andeer and walk to Splügen - 14.5 km, 7 hours: In the morning, take a bus from Splügen to Andeer. You will then undertake a magnificent walk to the Roffla Waterfalls then climb along a path which cuts across the bends of the old road; taking you beyond a motorway which introduces you the the calm of spruce woodland with huge trunks guiding you through alternating up and down paths.

Meals:  Nil

Make sure to spend some time exploring the village of Splügen before you head off, the village's conservation is definitely impressive. Today's walk will take you through Alpine pastures with breath-taking panorama of the surrounding peaks. Avalanche barrier tunnels and well-maintained, cobbled/paved mule-tracks are all set to feature along this high-altitude and expansive walk. The hike is enhanced by the heady fragrance of blooms as we move up from the village on the northern slope of the pass prior to the descent on the southside into Italy and on to the village of Montespluga. Breathe in the atmosphere of times past. A packed lunch is provided for today. Accommodation: our normal 2* town hotel has been used as a refuge for travellers since 1496. It is a homely place, only having 8 rooms and is just 50 metres away from Lake Montespluga. There are very many traditional features in the hotel including furniture.

Meals:  B,L,D

From Montespluga the route follows a reservoir in order to reach one of two dams. From this viewpoint you can appreciate some spectacular views over the Cardinello Gorge, guaranteed to linger long in the memory. The gorge walking route was carved from the rock taking considerable exertion over the years. There are imposing rock faces to the left and up above and there is the steep gorge plunging away to the right where the torrent itself courses. The descent requires a certain amount of caution but it’s not demanding and leads you gently towards the typical wooden mountain dwellings (baite) of Sosta, Mottaletta and finally to Isola di Chiavenna. Accommodation: In the hamlet of Isola, our small Albergo has been operating more or less since 1722, for travellers who pass on the Via Spluga. It has a lovely little Trattoria (restaurant) with meals available typical of the region. Rooms are beautifully constructed with much wood panelling giving a very cosy outlook with free wifi.

Meals:  B,D

A hiking section which is mostly downhill in nature, following the route of the Liro torrent and introducing the you to the joys of the Val San Giacomo. You will be wandering along pathways between well-tended dry-stone wall, meadow and through chestnut groves. Take in places of considerable historical and religious interest today. From the small town of Campodolcino take the local bus to Chiavenna where you'll spend two nights. Full of corners, narrow lanes and aging stone walls, Chiavenna is a beguiling spot, no matter how many times you meander through its charming historical centre. Be sure to cross the ancient bridge over the Mera River and enjoy the storybook views of the town. Accommodation: Stay in a clean looking 3* modern hotel for two nights. Rooms are air-conditioned and come with a TV, free wifi and tiled floors. The bathroom is complete with a hairdryer and free toiletries. Some rooms have a balcony or mountain view. Breakfast is served in the bar room. The restaurant serving local Italian cuisine is open every day. Special menu for vegetarians is available on request.

Meals:  B

Today you have a relaxed day in Chiavenna. We have prepared a circular walk for you to the imposing Acquafraggia waterfalls located in Piuro. The site of these dramatic falls left Leonardo da Vinci mesmerised during his visit to Valtellina. Visible from the roadside, these are considered the area’s most important natural monument and an undisputed symbol of Valchiavenna. In addition to the waterfalls, Piuro is also famous for its archaeological treasures and is dubbed ‘the Pompeii of the Alps’; in 1618 the village suffered one of the worst landsides in recorded history. It destroyed the entire village and 1000-2500 lives were lost.

Meals:  B

A short transfer will take you to Dervio or Dorio, right on Lake Como for another unique hike along the coast to the charming lake town of Colico. From Dervio, the path climbs up the mountain on a steep cobblestone stairway and then descends gradually towards Colico. You'll be following the East side of the lake along the “Sentiero del Viandante” (the Wayfarer’s path). Experience breath-taking views of the lake and the snowy peaks of the Alps appearing in front of you. In Colico you have the chance to go for a refreshing swim at the beach in the middle of the town. Accommodation: For two nights we stay at a 3* hotel directly on the north shore of Lake Como. It is a 19th century building, but with modern furnishings and with air conditioning. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner and serves classic Italian cuisine. In the morning you can enjoy a varied continental breakfast. For the day that you leave, the bus and train station is just 500 metres away. *You might like to take a extra day in Colico to experience the panoramic Bernina red train, which departs from Tirano (aprx. 1 hour train ride from Colico). This route was declared a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2008.

Meals:  B

Start the day with a short train ride to Bellano. It's worth visiting the “Orrido di Bellano”. This is a natural gorge created by the Pioverna River, over the centuries the river cut out gigantic potholes and fascinating caverns. Its dark ravines and the hollow rumble of gushing water have inspired many authors and made this one of the most popular spots on Lake Como. Your hike then follows a well-beaten mule track to Varenna; a jewel full of history and unique character. In Varenna you have some time to relax and enjoy the town. Perhaps you want to hike to the castle in Vezio village from where you can enjoy a 180-degree view of Lake Como and the surrounding mountains. The Vezio Castle has stood for more than a thousand years. Or you can opt to take the ferry to Bellagio, known for its cobbled streets, elegant buildings and the Villa Serbelloni Park; an 18th-century terraced garden overlooking the lake. In the afternoon, take the local train back to Colico.

Meals:  B

Your walking holiday on the Via Spluga and Lake Como ends after breakfast. Bid farewell to the beautiful lakes as you depart for the airport with public transport, unless you have pre-booked a private transfer with us.

Meals:  B


Map

Elevation

The map and elevation chart are for illustrative purposes only and meant to provide general guidelines.
On self guided trips, actual route information provided before departure will be more detailed.


Inclusions

  • 7 Breakfasts
  • 7 Nights accommodation in historic 2-3* hotels - twin share basis with ensuite facilities
  • Luggage transfers
  • Digital Information Kit & App
  • Emergency hotline
  • 1 Packed lunch
  • Private transfer on Day 6

  • Dinners, lunches & beverages
  • Bus and train journeys at the beginning and end of the tour
  • During the tour, transfers by bus, train or cable car
  • Travel insurance
  • Personal expenses such as laundry and phone calls
  • Unscheduled transfers required during the trip
  • City tax - locally payable to the accommodations
  • A supplement will apply if you are travelling solo or book a single room
  • Guide - this is a self guided holiday

Accommodation


Suitability

moderate

3

This trip in the Italian Alps and Lake Como is classed as a Moderate (grade 3) tour. There are easy to moderate mountain walks on well-marked paths. Basic experience in mountain walking is recommended as well as an active, healthy general level of fitness and stamina. The paths are well maintained, though sometimes stony or steep.


Departure dates

Daily from 1 June to 30 September

Priceper person from

£1310GBP

Options & Supplements*
  • Single SupplementGBP£280
  • Solo Traveller SupplementGBP£590
*Prices listed are per person

Frequently Asked Questions

We can recommend an extra day in Splügen to take the bus to Andeer and walk back to Splügen. It is a magnificent walk that includes the Roffla Waterfalls and spruce woodland, 14.5 km, 7 hours. We can also recommend an extra day in Colico to experience the famous red Bernina Express with it's panoramic windows.

Lake Como is affected by frontal and mountain weather which can mean periods of stability, but also rainy days and occasional strong wind gusts across the lake. There can be convectional storms during the summer and hence although the hours of sunshine are pretty high over the summer month , it is a lot wetter then than during the winter or spring. June is the wettest month of the year. Average summer temperatures around 22 degrees C, reaching a high average of 26C. Obviously temperatures vary with altitude and here have also been days of unseasonally high temperatures in recent years due to climate change.

The weather tends to be less front affected than the western alps and rainfall levels are comparatively quite low as there is more of a Mediterranean influence . Although summer is wetter than the winter period, there is a high average level of sunshine through out the period. In June in East Alps, the average air temperature ranges from 20-24 °C during the day to 9-16 °C at night .

Hiking poles are very useful on the steep descents and for loose scree sections when you're walking in the Italian Alps.

Reasonably straightforward. it is probably best to fly into Zurich, take the train to Thusis taking around 2 hours and change onto local hourly bus to Splugen which takes around 30 minutes. Buses run quite late.

Leaving Como it is best to fly out of the Milan airports. Trains take around an hour, and then transfer by bus or train to airport.


Via Spluga to Lake Como Trip reviews


Why travel with us

Personal Experience

We've been walking and cycling the planet for over four decades and are passionate about delivering exceptional service. Combined, we’ve travelled to virtually every corner of Europe, and are eager to share the many benefits of travelling on foot or by bike.

Great Value & Quality

Our well priced trips offer great value for money. Included in your package are comprehensive route notes, maps & guide books along with bag transfers and locally run accommodation. We take the stress out of organising your holiday.

Self-Guided Specialists

We have been operating active self guided holidays since 1973. We handle all the necessary logistics so that you can relax and explore your destination at your own pace. Many of our tours depart daily, giving you even greater flexibility.