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Five-star Lake Garda, Venice & Verona

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20242025
10 days From £3,495 per person
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Enjoy a luxurious holiday in our exquisite Five-Star former palace hotel on Lake Garda’s shimmering shore, featuring unforgettable excursions to Venice and a family-run winery.

2024 Tour code: FSL24

About the tour

Indulge in Five-Star luxury in our spectacular lakefront spa hotel, a former 17th-century palace near Padenghe sul Garda, and experience the very best of laid-back Lake Garda and surrounding areas.

Savour a tasting of five delectable wines perfectly paired with a homemade dinner of local delicacies at a characterful, family-run winery in a 15th-century farmhouse surrounded by olive trees and vineyards.

Discover why enchanting Venice is called 'La Serenissima' on a fascinating sightseeing tour, before enjoying a delicious Bellini cocktail in the iconic Harry's Bar and embarking on a memorable private gondola ride through the beautiful canals.

Cruise to the verdant Isola del Garda to enjoy an aperitif overlooking the fragrant gardens of a private neo-Gothic villa owned by the Cavazza family for generations, while visits to ancient Verona and striking Sirmione showcase the history and beauty of the region around Lake Garda.

Unforgettable Experiences

Unwind at a glorious Five-Star hotel in a former 17th-century palace
Unwind at a glorious Five-Star hotel in a former 17th-century palace
Spend seven nights in distinguished palatial surroundings, basking in exceptional views of Lake Garda from a luxurious lakefront base, and relaxing amid the manicured gardens and tree-lined avenues of this stately hotel.
Delight in a wine-tasting and dinner at a rural vineyard
Delight in a wine-tasting and dinner at a rural vineyard
Enjoy a tasting of five elegant local wines at a family-run winery ideally complemented by a dinner of regional specialities in a stunning 15th-century farmhouse.
Experience the iconic grandeur of serene Venice
Experience the iconic grandeur of serene Venice
Uncover the best of the unique ‘floating city’ on a guided tour of its main sights, sampling a cocktail at the world-famous Harry’s Bar and sailing through the dreamlike waterways on a glorious gondola ride.
Explore the Shakespearean city of Verona
Explore the Shakespearean city of Verona
Discover the colourful buildings and shaded streets of this historic city on a sightseeing tour, visiting Juliet’s balcony, ancient squares and the jaw-dropping Roman amphitheatre which dominates a grand piazza.
Cruise to picturesque Isola del Garda’s stunning villa
Cruise to picturesque Isola del Garda’s stunning villa
Board an exclusive, private boat and sail out to the lake’s largest island, owned by the Cavazzas for generations. We tour the striking villa and its verdant gardens, before sitting down to enjoy an aperitif with a member of the Cavazza family.
Sail to Sirmione, the ‘Pearl of the Lake’
Sail to Sirmione, the ‘Pearl of the Lake’
Spend free time in the beautiful fortress town set on a captivating peninsula on the southern edge of the lake. Enjoy strolling through the historic streets with glistening lake views emerging around every corner.

What’s included

Itinerary

Day 1 – London to lakeside Lausanne

Our exquisite Lake Garda holiday begins today as we leave London St Pancras on the Eurostar to Paris, enjoying a light meal in our seats in Standard Premier Class. In the French capital, we switch to the First Class service direct to Lausanne. This elegant Swiss city lies on the shore of glistening Lake Geneva, looking out towards hazy French Alps at the heart of the glamorous Swiss Riviera. With a colourful Old Town boasting grand Belle Époque buildings, Lausanne is renowned for its art and culture, as well as its enviable lakefront position. Our refined 4-Star city centre hotel is situated on a hill, overlooking a small park and the azure waters of the lake.

This evening we gather for our first meal together, a three-course dinner, as we get to know one another better and look forward to our sparkling adventure on Italy's Lake Garda.

Includes
  • Dinner
  • Eurostar Light Meal
Day 2 – From Lake Geneva to our Five-Star Lake Garda hotel in a former 17th-century palace

We continue our journey this afternoon after a free morning to stroll Lausanne's historic streets. Enroute, we can observe the wonderful Swiss scenery from our First Class seats. The shimmering waters of Lake Geneva guide us to the Rhône Valley as vineyards blanket the slopes of increasingly tall mountains. We enter Italy through the Simplon tunnel, the route of the evocative Orient Express, as we make our way onwards to Milan, skirting the shores of Lake Maggiore.

A coach transfer takes us across to our hotel on Lake Garda, our base for seven nights. Located between Desenzano and Padenghe sul Garda on the south-western edge of the lake, our wonderful 5-Star spa hotel nestles beside the serene waters. Formerly a 17th-century palace, the hotel retains some original architectural features while the luxurious modern facilities are ideally designed with comfort and relaxation in mind. This evening, we gather for a four-course dinner in the hotel.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 3 – Lake cruise to beautiful Isola del Garda

We have a leisurely morning today to unwind, maybe taking a dip in the outdoor pool or enjoying a relaxing stroll along the lakefront. This afternoon we cruise across Lake Garda from nearby Desenzano, heading to the wondrous Isola del Garda, the largest island on the lake and only accessible by boat.

This paradisical, tree-covered island has been owned by the Cavazza family for generations and brims with pines, cypresses, magnolias and agaves. On the eastern end, fragrant acacia and lemon trees frame an extraordinary neo-Gothic style villa, which we explore along with the manicured gardens on a guided tour before relaxing with a drink, joined by a member of the Cavazza family. We return to Desenzano by boat and have a free evening to dine independently.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 4 – Guided tour of Shakespeare’s Verona

Today we travel by coach to historic Verona, a UNESCO-listed city that may be best-known as the setting for Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. On a guided tour we're introduced to the city's ancient history as we wander among Roman ruins and medieval buildings, seeing Juliet's balcony and the incredible Roman Arena, which is older than Rome's Colosseum and is now an open-air opera house.

With free time over lunch, you could stroll into the heart of this romantic and charming city to the Piazza delle Erbe, Verona's oldest square, which was originally a Roman forum and now buzzes with cafés and is lined with beautiful buildings. Or maybe wander down the main shopping street, where Italy's great fashion houses are represented. Another popular attraction in Verona is an 84-metre watchtower, Torre dei Lamberti, which has fantastic panoramic views across the city to the mountains on the horizon, while the ancient Castelvecchio bridge with its crenelations and arches looks resplendent as it crosses the Adige river. We return to our hotel in the late afternoon, where we sit down for a four-course dinner this evening.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 5 – A full day to discover dazzling Lake Garda

A full free day provides the perfect opportunity to get to know our surroundings better. The nearest town of Padenghe sul Garda has a small, picturesque harbour and an old, cobblestone centre overlooked by the remains of a 13th-century castle. Nearby Desenzano is often referred to as the 'Capital of Lake Garda' and its bustling main square, Piazza Malvezzi, can be found behind the beautiful Venetian port and below the castle. At the water's edge there's a pretty marina with an ancient harbour wall and a small lighthouse. The Cesare Battisti promenade offers a relaxing walk along the lakefront.

With a boat jetty near our hotel, exploring the lake from the water is another appealing option. On the other side of the lake, pretty Bardolino is a great choice. Known for its production of olive oil and red wine, the town hosts a wine festival every autumn. This tranquil lakefront town has a relaxed ambience, and its atmospheric historic centre has bars, restaurants and shops where you can purchase local produce. Another place to explore by boat is the UNESCO-listed Roman city of Peschiera, or beautiful Riva del Garda, surrounded by mountains on the northern shore. Shopping and dining continues into the evening in these attractive lakeside towns.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 6 – Private gondola ride and a Bellini at Harry’s Bar in enchanting Venice

Today we travel by First Class rail from Desenzano to glorious Venice - a highlight of our holiday as we experience the very best that this unique city has to offer. Known as 'La Serenissima' since Byzantine times, spellbinding Venice occupies a historic location in a shimmering lagoon, with its series of islands linked by beautiful bridges and famed canals. On arrival we are transferred by gondola through ancient waterways, passing dreamlike scenes on our way to St Mark's Square, the heart and soul of magical Venice for centuries. Here we're surrounded by the impressive landmarks of St Mark's Basilica, the ornate exterior of the pink-hued Doge's Palace, and historic cafés. On a compelling guided tour we meander through characterful backstreets, crossing tranquil canals and seeing the house where composer Vivaldi was born, the distinctive Greek Orthodox Cathedral of St George, and the Bridge of Sighs - which links the city's prison with the Doge's Palace. Our guide shares interesting stories and fascinating details of the sights along our route, which finishes back in St Mark's Square, where we see the Clock Tower and the oldest coffee house in the world, Caffè Florian.

An unforgettable experience awaits after our tour as we savour a drink that has become synonymous with Venice since its invention by Giuseppe Cipriani, owner of the famous Harry's Bar. It is at this renowned bar that we enjoy an elegant Bellini, a cocktail mixing prosecco and peach, in surroundings frequented by the likes of Ernest Hemingway, Katherine Hepburn, Orson Welles and countless others. To maintain the luxury and refinement, we then embark on a gondola ride around the canals before a private boat transfer takes us back to the station. We return to Desenzano by rail and dine at our lakeside hotel this evening.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 7 – Enjoying Lake Garda’s laid-back lifestyle

By now you'll have embraced the relaxing Italian pace of life, and you have the luxury of a full day to spend as you wish. You might choose to unwind beside the pool at our wonderful hotel or take to the water to uncover the delights of Lake Garda.

On the western coast of the lake is Gardone Riviera, a hidden gem and one of Italy's most beautiful small towns. Surrounded by mountains, the town features the André Heller Botanic Garden, with unusual plants from all over the world - as well as Japanese gardens, water features and grottoes decorated with contemporary art sculptures.

Near the northern edge of the lake is the gorgeous medieval hamlet of Malcesine which has a striking castle and palace overlooking the fjordlike lake and facing the dramatic mountains of Lake Garda's imposing western shores. You could visit the impressive 14th-century castle which dominates the town, or there are plenty of restaurants, cafés and stalls selling regional produce to choose from in this relaxed and friendly lakeside town. Making your way back to our hotel by boat, you can admire the diverse scenery of Lake Garda as steep alpine slopes become gentler the closer you get to Padenghe.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 8 – Sirmione, the ‘Pearl of the Lake’, and a wine tasting in a stunning 15th-century farmhouse

This morning we take a short cruise to Sirmione, one of Lake Garda's most delightful towns. Set on a narrow peninsula which stretches into the lake, this fascinating fortress town is a pleasure to explore on foot. You are free to discover Sirmione independently over lunchtime and into the afternoon. Among the old town's medieval streets and colourful piazzas, you'll find beautifully restored buildings, including a 14th-century church, as well as inviting trattorias and pavement cafés. For lunch, local specialities include fresh fish and seafood, pizza and delicious homemade pasta, including pumpkin ravioli and tortellini.

A short walk from the Old Town is the striking medieval Scaligero Castle, which guards the entrance to the peninsula of Sirmione. From the top of its fortified walls, it's possible to enjoy great views across the lake towards the mountains. Another ancient site to explore is the extraordinary Grottoes of Catullus, the preserved remains of one of the largest Roman villas in Italy, set on a small hill at the tip of the peninsula, with a museum and wonderful views from the top.

We leave Sirmione this evening and head to a nearby winery for a highlight of our holiday. This family-run estate uses native grape varieties including Groppello and Tuchì to produce excellent local wines. At the winery's restaurant in a stunning 15th-century farmhouse, set amid evocative olive groves and vineyards, we taste five wonderful wines beautifully paired with a delicious homemade dinner. Enjoying our penultimate dinner of local specialities in stunning surroundings encapsulates the magic of this utterly charming region that we have experienced throughout the past week.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 9 – Lake Garda to Geneva

After a leisurely morning, we leave the blissful surroundings of Lake Garda to transfer by coach to Milan, from where we continue via Basel to Geneva. Passing shimmering lakes and rushing rivers, we are surrounded enroute by incredible mountain vistas as we traverse the gorgeous Swiss Alps.

Nestled at the end of the lake which shares its name, our destination of Geneva is a cosmopolitan city surrounded by picturesque peaks, very close to the border with France. Our hotel for the night is near the station and a short walk along quintessentially French streets takes you to the lake. After checking in this evening, we gather in the hotel restaurant to enjoy our final group dinner together.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 10 – Homeward bound

This morning we make our way to Geneva train station to board the direct train to Paris, enjoying the gentle French scenery from our First Class seats. As the rustic villages and rolling fields of France pass by our windows, we can begin to look back on this fantastic holiday to Lake Garda and the unforgettable experiences we have enjoyed. From the exquisite day we spent in Venice, to the charming towns of laid-back Lake Garda and the wonderful wine-tasting and meal, we have immersed ourselves in all that this beautiful part of the world has become renowned for.

In Paris, we change to the Eurostar, enjoying a light meal in our seats in Standard Premier Class. On arrival back at London St Pancras, we say farewell to our fellow travelling companions, with whom we have shared these fantastic memories.

Includes
  • Breakfast
  • Eurostar Light Meal

Additional information

Departure times

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.

Mobility information

Due to the nature of our tours they are generally unsuitable for those with restricted mobility. If you’d like to discuss any particular holiday with us in this respect, then please don’t hesitate to call us.

Hotel

Hotel Splendido Bay, Padenghe sul Garda

Hotel Splendido Bay, Padenghe sul Garda

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Europe by Rail 2024

Europe by Rail 2024

Our definitive guide to our 2024 summer rail holidays to a wide range of destinations in Europe.

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