Visit the truly spectacular Lake Como
On this spectacular tour we stay on the shores of 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.
Your journey begins today at London St Pancras International, where you 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 as a group, dining in a local restaurant in Strasbourg.
Today, we complete our journey to Cadenabbia on Lake Como. Travelling in First Class, we take the train to Basel. Here, we change trains and continue on to Lugano, where we transfer to our hotel, the 4-Star Grand Hotel Cadenabbia. We stay here for the next seven nights. With a history dating back as far as the 1800s, the Grand Hotel Cadenabbia enjoys a spectacular location in Cadenabbia di Griante, overlooking the western shores of the sparkling lake and close to the beautiful gardens of Villa Carlotta. After some time to settle into our surroundings, we enjoy dinner together at the hotel's restaurant this evening.
This morning, we set sail to the picturesque village of Bellagio, a charming resort located at the tip of the peninsula dividing the two 'legs' of the lake. The pretty old-world streets wind away from the main square, Piazza San Giacomo, a bustling hive of activity and the location of Basilica di San Giacomo, the town's historic Romanesque church. You have some free time for lunch in one of Bellagio's many delightful cafés and trattorias before our return journey across the lake.
This afternoon, we visit historic Villa Carlotta, where our entry is included. Built in the early 18th century for a Milanese Count, this stunning building also once belonged to the Prussian Monarchy. Villa Carlotta boasts magnificent gardens and some superb artworks, including sculptures by Canova.
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 benefits 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.
Today we embark upon a fabulous excursion on the Bernina Express. Travelling by coach, we leave Lake Como and journey to Tirano, where we board the Bernina Express. Journeying in panoramic carriages, we make our way along the superb Bernina Express line, climbing the Bernina Pass to more than 7,000 feet.
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. Pretty St Moritz is synonymous with glamour, attracting many wealthy holidaymakers from all over the world, and is a delight to discover. We make the return journey by coach.
Enjoy a day at leisure today. Cadenabbia di Griante is one town, split into two parts, with Cadenabbia sitting right on the lakeside, and Griante located 50 metres above in the hills overlooking Cadenabbia. Take some time to explore this beautiful destination; perhaps enjoy a stroll along the lakeside, where you can marvel at the breathtaking views across the waters, or catch a boat for a scenic trip across the lake. Alternatively, spend a day relaxing on the sun terrace or by the wonderful outdoor swimming pool in the elegant surroundings of your hotel.
On Day 7, we board a coach to Bergamo. Located in the foothills of the Alps, the town owes much of its artistic inspiration and architectural splendour to the influence of Venice, which ruled the town from the 15th to the 18th century. On arrival, we visit the 'Città Alta', or 'upper town', for a guided tour. Highlights of this delightful area include the Palazzo Nuovo, Palazzo del Podestà, Palazzo della Ragione and the Torre del Campanone. This afternoon, we continue to Valcalepio, where we visit a local wine estate. Here, we are treated to a traditional lunch, a tour of the cellars and a tasting of the wines of Lombardy and Franciacorta.
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 we 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. After some free time in Varenna, we continue to our next destination, Menaggio. A stunning little town that epitomises the charms of Italy, Menaggio is one of the most visited towns on Lake Como.
Wander along the pretty lakeside promenade, perhaps enjoying some ice cream from a local gelateria, or spend some time in the quaint town square where you can relax with a coffee in a café and indulge in a spot of people watching. This evening back in Cadenabbia, we enjoy a final farewell meal together at our hotel.
Today we bid farewell to Cadenabbia and the sparkling shores of Lake Como. Travelling by coach, we make our way to Milan. Here we connect with our train to Turin, where we spend the final night in a local hotel.
On Day 10 we journey home. Leaving Turin, we travel to Paris, where we connect with the Eurostar back to London. On arrival, our tour concludes.
For this tour, we recommend arriving to, and departing from, London Gatwick or London Heathrow airport (LGW or LHR). London Gatwick is approximately 30 miles from your start and end point, and London Heathrow is approximately 19 miles from your start and end point.
It is your responsibility to check and fulfil the passport, visa, health and immigration requirements applicable to your itinerary. We do not accept any responsibility if you cannot travel, or incur any other loss because you have not complied with any passport, visa, immigration requirements or health formalities. You agree to reimburse us in relation to any fines or other losses which we incur as a result of your failure to comply with any passport, visa, immigration requirements or health formalities.
You may check in at the first hotel on your itinerary anytime after 14:00; you will meet your tour manager and group at dinner at approx 19:00.
An escorted experience and travel during your tour
Comfortable accommodation in your destination
Delicious meals included
Exciting excursions and free time to explore
Visit the truly spectacular Lake Como