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Beside Lake Como

(Tour code: COL17)Explore the alluring Lake Como

Alluring Lake Como has been attracting visitors to its beautiful shores for more than 200 years. On our spectacular tour based around the lake, we take in pretty Italian towns, lake steamers, mountain scenery and historic mansions. We also enjoy an enthralling journey into Switzerland on the Bernina Express, a stunning railway line with UNESCO protection.


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Tour Highlights
  • Excursion to Villa Monastero and Bellagio
  • Scenic journey on the Bernina Express
  • Excursion to Bergamo, with a guided tour and wine tasting
  • Varenna, ‘The Pearl of Lake Como’
  • Guided tour of Villa Balbianello
  • Excursion to Lake Lugano
What’s Included (Full details)
  • Standard Class Rail
    Heritage Rail Excursion
  • 3-4* Accommodation
    Breakfast Every Day
    Selected Evening Meals
  • Optional Bag Concierge

Itinerary & Map

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Departure Times

All departures on this tour depart on Eurostar after 12pm, allowing morning travel into London from most of the UK. 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.

Lake Como
Days 1-2

Days 1-2

We meet our group and Tour Manager at Great Rail Journeys' dedicated Departure Office in London St Pancras International, where our Italian adventure begins. We then board the Eurostar to Paris, where we spend the night. On Day 2 we continue by high-speed rail to Zurich where we change trains for Chiasso. We cross Switzerland travelling through the Gotthard Tunnel and through the mighty Alps. Shortly after travelling over the Italian border, we pass Lake Lugano before arriving into Chiasso station. We then transfer by coach to the town of Colico, located on the shore of Lake Como. On arrival, we check in to the 4-Star Seven Park Hotel, our base for the next seven nights.

  • Day 2 - Breakfast, Dinner
Day 3

Villa Carlotta and Bellagio

Villa del Balbianello, a sumptuous mansion built by Cardinal Angelo Maria Durini at the end of the 18th century. Famous for its role in the 2006 James Bond film, Casino Royale, this glorious villa was also used as a backdrop in Star Wars Episode II, owing to its reputation as one of the most dramatic locations on Lake Como. We enjoy a tour of the villa and its sculpted gardens before continuing by boat to Bellagio, where we can enjoy some free time. Situated on the edge of a peninsula that juts into the lake, Bellagio has magnificent views across the crystal blue waters, and is one of the oldest tourist towns in Italy. We return to Colico by boat and bus in time for dinner at the hotel.

  • Breakfast, Dinner
Lake Como
Day 4

At leisure

Today is at leisure for you to explore around Colico and beyond. Surrounded by picturesque, almost fjord-like, scenery - where towering mountains fall steeply to the water's edge - Lake Como is a wonderful place for a scenic stroll.

  • Breakfast
  • Free Day
Day 5


Today 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 Bergamo from the 15th to the 18th century. On arrival we visit the 'Città Alta', or 'upper town', for a guided tour. Filled with glorious Renaissance buildings, the upper town is encircled by 17th century walls. Of particular interest here is the Piazza Vecchia, which contains one of the most appealing architectural ensembles in the region. Highlights of this delightful square include the Palazzo Nuovo, Palazzo del Podestà, Palazzo della Ragione and the Torre del Campanone. Afterwards, we head to a local estate for a traditional meal, a tour of the cellars and a tasting of the wines of Lombardy and Franciacorta. Best known for the production of Italy's most refined sparkling wine, usually blending Chardonnay and Pinot Noir or Pinot Blanc grapes, our wine tour is an especial treat for the tastebuds.

  • Breakfast, Lunch
Bernina Express
Day 6

The Bernina Express

We take a spectacular journey aboard the Bernina Express today, climbing the Bernina Pass to more than 7,000ft. The superb Bernina Line is over 100 years old and has been awarded with UNESCO World Heritage status for its incredible engineering as well as for the breathtaking scenery it passes through. You have free time in St Moritz for lunch before returning by coach to Lake Como. Although famed for its winter sports, St Moritz has a wonderful culinary tradition, influenced heavily by the nearby Italian border. Perhaps enjoy lunch with a view, at one of the many mountainside restaurants. Local cuisine is hearty, and often followed by traditional Engadine nut torte, which is made with honey and walnuts.

  • Breakfast, Dinner
Days 7-8

Varenna and Villa Monastero

We travel to Varenna this morning, a quaint village, often referred to as the 'Pearl of Lake Como. Dotted with pastel-coloured houses, this beautiful village is abundant with greenery and gardens, making it a perfect postcard resort.

Varenna also boasts one of the best-preserved medieval centres in the region, with winding cobblestone streets, charming porticos and historic churches dating as far back as the 10th century. To best experience Varenna's historic heart, simply stroll from the pier across the delightful 'Lover's Walk', an enchanting waterfront route, named for its romantic feel. Lined with hanging willows and cypress trees, this pretty promenade is considered one of Varenna's principal attractions, and provides a wonderful introduction to the town. You have some free time to relax and arrange lunch here; perhaps enjoy traditional Italian cuisine at one of the many delicious lakefront restaurants lining the harbour. Later we continue to the unusual Villa Monastero, a Nordic style property just outside of Varenna that is home to a large botanical garden boasting a number of rare species. We also explore the house, whose 14 rooms are furnished as they once were throughout the decades, dating right back to when the Villa was appropriated as a private residence in the 16th century. Tonight we enjoy dinner at a local restaurant on Colico.

On Day 8 we take a coach to Lake Lugano, in the Italian speaking region of Switzerland, for a full-day excursion. Lugano offers a taste of Switzerland with a distinctly laid-back Italian vibe, with its lush vegetation, scenic hiking routes and fantastic boutique shopping. Bordered by promenades and parks, the lakeside town of Lugano is picturesque and tranquil. For the best views of the Lake's crystal clear glacial waters, you may like to take the funicular railway up to Monte Bré (payable locally). Providing breathtaking panoramic views of Lake Lugano, the Monte Generoso and the Italian enclave of Campione d'Italia, the café at the summit is a perfect place to soak in the stunning Alpine vistas. On our return to Lake Como, we enjoy our final dinner together.

  • Days 7-8 - Breakfast, Dinner
Days 9-10

Return to London

This morning we take the train to Strasbourg for the night, travelling via Basel. On Day 10 we continue by high-speed rail to Paris for the Eurostar back to London.

  • Day 9 - Breakfast, Dinner
  • Day 10 - Breakfast

Please note

Please note that while every departure of this tour will feature the same excursions, the order may differ from that shown above.


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