From our stunning location overlooking beautiful Lake Maggiore in the picturesque town of Stresa, we explore this magnificent region of Italy. We cross Lake Maggiore to explore the Borromean Islands, taste the wines of the Monferrato region, visit enchanting Lake Orta and travel into Switzerland on the scenic Centovalli Railway.
We meet our group and Tour Manager at the exclusive Departure Office in St Pancras International before boarding the Eurostar for Paris, travelling in Standard Premier Class. We arrive into Paris where we spend the night. Your evening is free to explore the wonderful French capital city and to dine out in one of the many restaurants close to the hotel.
Leaving Paris, we travel in First Class on the high-speed TGV service to Switzerland. Our route takes us along the verdant Rhône Valley and through the famous Simplon Pass, before heading across the border into Italy. After continuing across the beautiful Italian countryside, we arrive in the pretty lakeside town of Stresa. We stay here for seven nights at the elegant Hotel Regina Palace, where we enjoy a welcome drink on the terrace, a superb location to admire the wonderful views of sparkling Lake Maggiore.
Today you have the chance to explore Stresa at your own pace. An ideal way to get your bearings is to enjoy a walk along the attractive, flower-filled promenade, lined with impressive villas and neatly terraced gardens. You may wish to take a boat to the colourful botanical gardens of Villa Taranto and the Sanctuary of Santa Caterina del Sasso, nestled in a rocky overhang on the lake. Alternatively, perhaps travel by cable car from Stresa up Mount Mottarone - the journey offers an amazing panorama, and on a clear day, your views from the snow-dusted peak include seven lakes as well as the Italian and Swiss Alps.
Today we discover two of the beautiful Borromean Islands, set in the shimmering waters of Lake Maggiore. We leave Stresa by boat and cruise to the Isola Bella for a guided visit to the sumptuous Borromeo Palace. The magnificent Baroque structure dominates the island, and after a tour of its lavish rooms we explore the alluring Italian-style gardens.
The spectacular gardens are on ten terraces and include an open-air theatre with geometrically designed hedging, water-lilies and citrus trees, the Azalea Garden and the 'Piano della Canfora', which is named for the 150-year-old laurel tree growing there. In the English garden, there are lotus flowers, whilst at the highest point of the garden there is a great unicorn, the symbol of the Borromeo family.
Our next stop is the tiny Isola dei Pescatori, a permanently-inhabited island - by fewer than a hundred people - of narrow cobbled alleyways and pretty buildings. It boasts a fine selection of restaurants in which to enjoy lunch, with many menus loyal to the island's rich fishing heritage. We enjoy an afternoon exploring the charming island before cruising back to Stresa.
You have another opportunity to explore Stresa at your leisure. Today the town is transformed for Market Day, and the bustling, colourful stalls are well worth a visit. Should you wish to venture further afield, why not visit vibrant Milan, the capital of northern Italy? Perhaps visit the incredible Duomo - the largest Gothic cathedral in the world, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, a 19th century glass-roofed shopping arcade, or Teatro alla Scala, the beautiful opera house.
The stunning 2,800-seat opera theatre welcomed its premier performance in August 1778, with Antonio Salieri's Europa Riconosciuta, having been built to replace another theatre on the site, which was lost to a fire. Designed by Giuseppe Piermarini, the Teatro alla Scala is known for its sumptuous gilt and crimson interiors, as well as a rich history as the home of opera and ballet in Milan. For those feeling less energetic, you can make use of the excellent facilities at the hotel for a thoroughly relaxing day.
Our full-day excursion by coach takes us into the rolling countryside of the Monferrato wine region, famous for its vineyards stretching over hills interspersed with unspoilt villages. Monferrato is particularly important in the sparkling wine industry, and our day begins with a visit to a local wine producer where we have a tour of the vineyards, followed by a tasting of grappa, a regional grape brandy. We continue to an 'agriturismo' farm and enjoy a four-course farmhouse lunch of local specialities and a chance to sample some of the delicious locally produced wine.
Today's full-day excursion takes us on one of Europe's most scenic railways, the narrow-gauge Centovalli Railway, on an excursion to Locarno in Switzerland. The line threads its way across 'a hundred valleys' that give the railway its name, all the while passing through outstanding scenery of idyllic landscapes. We pass over deep ravines and gushing waterfalls, and alongside thick forests and through sleepy villages during the journey.
On arrival in Locarno, you are free to have lunch and explore at your leisure. As well as a picturesque Old Town, Locarno has beautiful subtropical gardens filled with palm trees and exotic flowers, lakeside promenades and great shopping under the arcades of the Piazza Grande. Later we cruise back down Lake Maggiore to Stresa - a splendid way to take in your surroundings on the homeward journey.
After a leisurely morning, we set off for Lake Orta, Lake Maggiore's smaller but no less enchanting neighbour. We enjoy a private boat cruise to the stunning Isola San Giulio, a tiny island dominated by its impressive basilica, before returning to explore the delightful Orta San Giulio, the atmospheric town known as the 'Jewel of the Lake'.
Situated on a tiny promontory against the dramatic backdrop of the Alps, this lovely town is truly a gem, with cobbled streets and a piazza overlooking the lake's sparkling waters. We return in good time for our dinner this evening.
We depart Stresa in the morning by train, travelling through the Simplon Tunnel and beautiful Alpine scenery over the border into Switzerland.
Skirting the shores of Lake Thun, we change trains at Basel and continue on into France and our overnight stop. We reach the pretty, half-timbered town of Colmar, where we overnight. Tonight we enjoy our final dinner together in the hotel.
Please note: Departure STL1907 will overnight in Basel at the Schweizerhof.
We leave Colmar by TGV for the journey to Paris. Here we cross the city by coach, then connect with Eurostar to London, where our tour concludes.
Please note that while every departure of this tour will feature the same excursions, the order may differ from that shown above.
All prices are per person and assume full occupancy of the room.
Please always refer to the website for up-to-date prices and availability.
The Centovalli Railway was originally planned to connect Locarno in the Italian-speaking region of Switzerland with Domodossola in the very north of Italy. The line's opening was delayed considerably owing to the First World War, but construction was resumed almost immediately afterwards and the first services began in 1923.
The high speed Eurostar trains link St Pancras International in London with Paris and Lille in France as well as Brussels in Belgium.
Eurostar's Standard Class coaches feature two seats on either side of the central aisle, most of which is arranged in an 'airline' seating configuration with drop down tray tables. There are two tables for four per carriage. Passengers travelling in Eurostar Standard Class coaches can take advantage of the Bar-Buffet which sells a range of snacks, meals, hot and cold drinks - including Champagne!
The highest class of Eurostar travel available for leisure customers is Standard Premier Class. In your dedicated Standard Premier carriage you'll find a less dense seat configuration, meaning the seats are larger and you have ample space to relax and stretch out. As part of the service you'll enjoy complimentary drinks and refreshments, served at your seat by friendly, helpful waiting staff.
For the class of travel used on your chosen tour, please refer to the 'What's Included' section of the tour page.
Introduced in 1981, France's TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse) was the original European high-speed train. Linking Paris with Lyon, the new service revolutionised train travel and meant that travelling by air over medium and short distances was no longer seen as the best option, even for business travel.
The network has expanded rapidly and today these sleek, stylish trains offer links to over 60 destinations throughout France. Operated by SNCF, the French national rail operator, TGV trains travel over specially-constructed high speed lines. The trains can achieve speeds of up to 186mph (300km/h) on most long distance routes and 200mph (320km/h) on the new TGV Est line, which links Paris with Strasbourg, Luxembourg and Basel. With the exception of shorter journeys, TGVs almost always have an on-board buffet car, serving a selection of drinks and light refreshments.
One of the finest hotels in Stresa, the 4-Star Hotel Regina Palace was built in the Belle Epoque era. The hotel occupies a commanding position on the lakeside, yet is just a few minutes' walk from the narrow streets of the town, and from the beach that lines Lake Maggiore.
Beautifully appointed throughout, its public areas are stylish, none more so than the elegant restaurant, and antique furniture and historic chandeliers add to a grand ambience. The grounds add to the sumptuous atmosphere, featuring a tennis court and a large pool set in extensive gardens.
Guests may choose to eat outdoors in summer, with on-site restaurants offering sophisticated Italian cuisine. Other facilities include a wellness area, a Turkish bath, an indoor pool and a sauna (treatments payable locally). All rooms have a television, a safe and a minibar. Many rooms offer a lake view.
An escorted experience and all travel arrangements
Comfortable accommodation in your destination
Delicious meals included
We offer a selection of upgrades and 'add-ons' designed to help you make the most of your holiday - and make it even easier!
Upgrade your room at the Hotel Regina Palace in Stresa to a room with a lake view:
From £255pp per week (twin occupancy only)
Many of our holidays include a final stopover in Paris en route to London. Why not extend your holiday by enjoying an extra night or two in the French capital, returning to London in your own time?
Mercure Paris Terminus Nord, Paris
This 3-Star hotel is full of character, in an exceptional location facing the Gare du Nord station. Bedrooms are well equipped with en suite bathroom, safe, hairdryer, satellite and pay TV as well as direct dial telephone. Decorated in typical Parisian style, the public rooms, including the bar, reflect the hotel's high standard.
Spending a night in London before your tour can make such a
difference to the first day of your holiday - you can arrive in the
capital in good time, relaxed and ready to join your Tour Manager
the next morning. You may even want to take in a show on the West
End, or dine in one of London's famous restaurants. Perhaps on your
return to London, you would like to break your journey with an
overnight stay before continuing home.
We are able to book a wide range of hotels in central London or, for our holidays beginning with a flight, at Heathrow, Gatwick or Manchester Airport for the night before or after your holiday. The hotels listed below are some of the more popular hotels our customers book in Central London, others are available on request.
|Hotel||Room Rate From Price|
|The Ambassador Hotel||From £65 per person|
|Pullman London St Pancras||From £110 per person|
|Studios2Let, Cartright Gardens||From £55 per person|
Above prices are approximate, subject
to availability, and per room per night based on two people
sharing. If you require a quote for single occupancy at any of the
hotels please contact us on 01904 734 805.
Buying tickets for UK train services can be a tricky business - there are so many fares to choose from, each with different rules and restrictions. As you are connecting with an international departure, we strongly recommend that you book a fully flexible ticket to ensure that should the departure times for your holiday change, your rail ticket can allow for these changes.
We can book fully-flexible UK rail tickets from your local station to join your holiday whether this be a European holiday from St Pancras or a UK holiday. The prices are competitive and tickets are not restricted to a particular train or time of day, and in most cases offer you a free choice of routes.
For an up to date quote from your local station, please ask one of our Tour Advisors.
Whether as an added luxury, or essential to your enjoyment of the tour, door-to-door luggage collection and delivery services can really enhance your holiday experience. Travelling across Europe by train is so much more relaxing without the burden of your suitcase, and we can help arrange for your case to be collected from home prior to the holiday and for it to be waiting for you at your first main hotel in Europe.
We are pleased to provide the services of the GRJ Luggage Concierge Service - supported by our partner The Baggage Man, offering luggage transport from as little as £100 for one suitcase and £200 for two suitcases.
Please contact us for details of this service.