Visit the truly dazzling Lake Como
On this spectacular tour we visit dazzling Lake Como, enjoy boat excursions to Varenna and Bellagio, take a stunning scenic journey on the iconic Bernina Express, and visit the UNESCO World Heritage site of Bellinzona. In Milan, we visit the city's best sights, including its most famous mural: Leonardo da Vinci's 'Last Supper.'
Our journey begins today at London St Pancras International, where we meet your group and Tour Manager at Great Rail Journeys' dedicated Departure Office. We depart by Eurostar, enjoying a light meal and drinks on board, before boarding the high-speed TGV in Paris to the French town of Strasbourg, where we overnight. Later, we enjoy our first dinner together.
After breakfast today, we continue our journey to Lake Como. Travelling in First Class, we take the train to Lugano, via Basel. Here, we transfer by coach to Moltrasio, a picturesque little town on the western shore of Lake Como. We check into the 4-Star Grand Hotel Imperiale, where we stay for the next seven nights. This Art Nouveau-style villa dates back to the 1920s, but has been restored to provide modern comforts alongside an historic atmosphere.
Today is spent as you wish, enjoying a day at leisure by Lake Como. Moltrasio is a pretty resort in its own right, perfect for you to enjoy a stroll through the charming streets. From the harbour, you can appreciate excellent views over glittering Lake Como with ice cream or coffee from a local café or gelateria.
After a short coach journey to Tremezzo, we set out by boat this morning and cruise to Varenna, a quaint village on the opposite side of the lake. The cobbled streets and narrow alleyways give Varenna a truly medieval feel. It has remained unspoiled by tourism and has often been referred to as the 'Pearl of Lake Como.'
As you approach across the lake, Varenna looks like a colourful painting, with brightly painted houses and charming buildings lining the shore and green mountains rising behind. You have some free time to relax and arrange lunch before we head by boat to the Villa del Balbianello, a sumptuous mansion built for Cardinal Angelo Maria Durini at the end of the 18th century.
We enjoy a tour of the villa, which includes an interesting collection of Chinese and African art, as well as English and French furniture from the 18th century, before returning to Moltrasio by boat.
Today we visit the 'fashion capital of the world', Milan. Known for its famous fashion houses and as the home of the Italian Stock Exchange, Milan is a fast-paced city with a vibrant feel.
We begin our time here with a guided tour, by coach and on foot, including a visit to the incredible Duomo - the largest Gothic cathedral in the world. We visit the world's most famous opera house, the Teatro alla Scala, and the beautiful 19th century glassroofed shopping arcade, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele. Later, we visit the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, where we see the exquisite 'Last Supper' by Leonardo da Vinci. Nestled into an adjoining wall between the refectory and the Basilica di Santa Maria, Milan's most famous mural dates back to the 15th century, yet maintains its popularity to the present day.
Over the years, 'The Last Supper' has suffered no small amount of wear and tear; most notably, Jesus lost his feet, along with a lower portion of the fresco, after building works in 1652. However, thanks to restoration, the stunning piece remains astonishing.
The most recent fixes were completed in 1999, after more than 22 years of work, allowing viewers to appreciate da Vinci's iconic masterpiece for years to come.
Today we travel to the striking Swiss town of Bellinzona. Known for its three magnificent medieval castles, which have achieved UNESCO World Heritage status, Bellinzona's beauty served as an inspiration for the painter William Turner. Nestled at the foot of the Alps, Bellinzona benefi ts from stunning views and charming architecture, dating between the 14th and 19th centuries. Afterwards, we visit the lakeside town of Lugano. With its Italianate piazzas and wide promenades lined with palm trees, Lugano is the perfect blend of Swiss efficiency and Italian flair. We enjoy some free time here to explore the area; you may like to take the funicular railway up into the mountain village of Monte Bré, to enjoy the stunning views of the Alps and the lake.
We take a fabulous excursion today on the Bernina Express. Travelling by coach, we leave Lake Como and journey to Tirano, where we board the Bernina Express. Travelling in panoramic carriages, we make our way along the superb Bernina Express line, climbing the Bernina Pass to more than 7,000 feet (2,134m). The superb Bernina Line passes mighty glaciers, rushing mountain streams and flower-filled Alpine meadows, as we make our way to chic St Moritz. This incredible UNESCO World Heritage railway line is over 100 years old and is recognised for the fantastic feat of civil engineering that was required to create the line, as well as for the stunning scenery through which it travels.
On arrival in St Moritz, you have free time to explore at your own pace. We make the return journey by coach.
Today we take a wonderful boat excursion to historic Villa Carlotta. Built in the early 18th century for a Milanese Count, this stunning building also belonged to the Prussian Monarchy. Villa Carlotta boasts magnificent gardens and some superb artworks, including sculptures by Canova.
This afternoon we sail to picturesque Bellagio, a delightful resort located at the tip of the peninsula dividing the two 'legs' of the lake.The delightful oldworld streets wind away from the main square, the Piazza San Giacomo, a bustling hive of activity and location of the Basilica di San Giacomo, the town's historic Romanesque church. We have some free time for lunch in one of the many cafés and trattorias, before our return journey.
Today we leave Moltrasio and the stunning shores of Lake Como. Travelling by coach, we make our way to Milan, where we connect with our train to Turin. We spend our final night in Turin, where we enjoy a final dinner together.
Today we journey home, bidding a fond farewell to our adventure. Leaving Turin, we travel to Paris, where we connect with the Eurostar back to London. On arrival, our tour concludes.
Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with our dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We write to all booked customers approximately 10 weeks prior to the start of their tour to advise the exact departure and return time for their particular group.
An escorted experience and all travel arrangements
Comfortable accommodation in your destination
Delicious meals included
Exciting excursions and free time to explore
Enhancing your tour experience
Visit the truly dazzling Lake Como