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Stresa and Lake Maggiore

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10 days From £2,295 per person
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Enjoy the enchanting views and elegant ambience of Italy’s Lake Maggiore

Mobility Rating 2

2024 Tour code: STL24

About the tour

Step into a bygone era of glamorous travel on a brand-new holiday, based in a Belle Epoque hotel in stylish Stresa, overlooking beautiful Lake Maggiore. This exceptional holiday includes a boat cruise to the delightful Borromean Islands - with a guided tour of the Borromeo Palace and time to explore the picturesque fishing village of Isola Dei Pescatori - a tasting and pairing of wines at Fontechiara winery, a boat trip to small but serene Lake Orta, and a journey into Switzerland on the picturesque Centovalli Railway.

Unforgettable Experiences

Cruise to the beautiful Borromean Islands
Cruise to the beautiful Borromean Islands
Take a boat trip to Isola Bella, for a guided tour of the flamboyant Borromeo Palace and its elaborate Italianate gardens, built by Italian nobility in the 17th century, continuing by boat to the romantic fishing village of Isola dei Pescatori.
Journey into Switzerland on the Centovalli Railway
Journey into Switzerland on the Centovalli Railway
As the railway’s name ‘One Hundred Valleys’ suggests, this stunning route travels through many valleys, crossing high bridges, passing waterfalls, wildflower meadows and chestnut forests - a memorably magical route.
Stay in the sophisticated lakeside town of Stresa
Stay in the sophisticated lakeside town of Stresa
Situated on the glorious shores of Lake Maggiore, this elegant town has a Belle-Epoque heritage, and has been a retreat for artists, poets and writers for over 200 hundred years.
A boat trip on charming Lake Orta
A boat trip on charming Lake Orta
This smaller island may not be quite as well-known as it’s more famous cousins, but that is part of its charm. The atmosphere here is serene, relaxed and authentically Italian.

What’s included

Itinerary

Day 1 – London and Colmar

We meet at London St Pancras and take the Eurostar to Paris, travelling in Standard Premier Class with a light meal served at our seats. In Paris we continue to charming Colmar where we spend the night. Colmar, in the Alsace, is a picturesque town of colourful, half-timbered houses, cobbled lanes and flower-lined canals. Our hotel is right outside the railway station and, as we arrive in the afternoon, there's time to look around and soak up the atmosphere before dinner at a local French restaurant.

**Please note: The departure on 23/09/2024 will be staying in Strasbourg (not Colmar).

Includes
  • Dinner
  • Eurostar Light Meal
Day 2 – Arrival into Stresa

We continue our journey, travelling through the Swiss Alps to Stresa. Proudly situated on the shores of Lake Maggiore, the town has a sophisticated heritage and overlooks the lake's renowned Borromean Islands, tiny oases built up with exquisite palaces and ornamental gardens. We check into our luxurious Art Nouveau hotel, perfectly positioned overlooking the lake, with lush gardens and a delightful outdoor swimming pool. This evening we dine at our hotel, either inside the elegant dining room or on the terrace overlooking the lake.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 3 - Exploring the beautiful Borromean Islands

After a leisurely breakfast, we join a boat cruise from the nearby pier and set out on Lake Maggiore to discover the captivating Borromean Islands. We first sail a short distance to Isola Bella, a tiny island which is dominated by the Baroque Borromeo Palace. Built for Italian nobility in the 17th century, a local guide introduces us to the extravagant palace and its impressive Italianate gardens, which we are then free to discover at our own pace.

From this opulent island setting we continue our cruise to the enchanting fishing village of Isola Dei Pescatori, another small island. The island's beauty has transformed it into a popular tourist spot, and the fishing industry now supplies local restaurants. Here you have time to explore independently, and there are some fine cafés and ristorantes in which to find a bite for lunch, with menus that showcase the island's fishing heritage. After a relaxing afternoon we re-join our boat and cruise back to our hotel. Your evening is free back in Stresa.

When exploring the town centre, a useful landmark is Piazza Cadorna. From here, the elegant streets radiate out in all directions, each offering an array of shops, cafés and restaurants, with Belle Epoque buildings creating a stately ambience. This evening you will find plenty of enticing places to eat in the town, or may choose to dine at the hotel.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 4 - Discovering the island gems of Lake Orta

This morning we set off for Lake Orta, Lake Maggiore's smaller but no less endearing neighbour. After a coach transfer to the lakeside we take a boat cruise to Isola San Giulio, an enchanting island village, towered over by an ancient monastery. We have free time over lunch and into the afternoon to discover this delightful island for ourselves. Isola San Giulio has an intriguing history and the inside of the basilica is well worth a visit, for its pastel frescoes and the crypt of the 4th century Greek evangelist, after whom the island was named.

We continue our cruise to the pretty town of Orta San Giulio, known as the 'Jewel of the Lake'. Situated on a tiny promontory against a dramatic backdrop of the Alps, the town features cobbled streets and a piazza overlooking the lake. You have some time to look around this beautiful medieval town, maybe enjoy a coffee or a seafood lunch in a piazza or wander along the lakefront, dotted with colourful fishing boats. With its peaceful atmosphere, well-preserved buildings and scenic surroundings, Orta San Giulio has been popular with writers since the 19th century, including Lord Byron and Robert Browning.

We sail back to the pier and are transferred back to our hotel in the afternoon. There's plenty of time to relax and possibly enjoy the pool, spa or terrace of our hotel, before a three course dinner in the dining room this evening.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 5 - A full day to enjoy Stresa on market day or continue exploring

After a few days of exploring, you have a full day stretching out to enjoy as you wish. Friday is market day in Stresa, and the town comes to life - with residents, day visitors, and the stalls of local vendors who offer an array of fresh produce, clothing and gifts. You could take a walk along the lakeside promenade, for wonderful views of the dazzling lake and its glorious islands, following in the footsteps of historic guests, such as Ernest Hemingway and Princess Margaret.

There are other interesting villas along the lakeshore and islands of Lake Maggiore which you might like to visit by boat. It is possible to join a ferry from the pier, or maybe take a tourist boat from the Villa Pallavicino, in Stresa, which has an abundant English garden and a zoological park. On a sightseeing cruise you could visit the nearest town of Baveno, west of Stresa, noted for its pale pink granite buildings. Further along the gulf is Pallanzo, which has several palaces and monuments, including the stunning Villa Taranto with world-renowned terraced gardens, overflowing with colourful plants and flowers from many parts of the world. Another island you might like to visit is Isola Madre, the largest of the Borromeo archipelago which rises from the lake like a dazzling green gem - a magical haven of exotic plants and birdlife.

This evening you are also free to dine independently, maybe starting with a drink on the hotel's sun terrace, soaking up spectacular views.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 6 - Lake Maggiore Express and Centovalli railway

Today is one of the highlights of our tour - a trip on one of Europe's most scenic railways, the Centovalli Railway. We walk the short distance to the station to take the train to Domodossola, where we join the wonderful Centovalli Railway. This picturesque route is a Swiss favourite, the name 'a hundred valleys' is an apt description, and the railway has been running since the 1920s. Winding our way to Locarno in Switzerland, we travel through a 'hundred valleys' across wildflower meadows, over high bridges, passing wide gorges and rushing waterfalls. In Locarno, you're free to explore the Old Town - with its exotic gardens and lakeside promenades - and maybe enjoy some lunch or shopping along its Piazza Grande. At the end of the afternoon we return to Stresa by boat, gliding back along the length of the shimmering lake, passing the Borromean Islands. This evening we enjoy a three-course dinner at our hotel.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 7 - Free day

Today is another opportunity to discover new places, around Stresa, on Lake Maggiore or possibly further afield. One option, is to take a day trip by rail to elegant Milan, the fashion capital of Italy. Besides the city's many designer shops, Milan is worth visiting to see the superb Teatro alla Scala and its stupendous Duomo. The trains to Milan vary in length so we suggest you check before travelling to find the most convenient journey times.

From Milan, it is also possible to continue by rail to Lake Como - a longer journey of around two hours, but with another beautiful lake to explore on arrival. Of course, you may be perfectly happy to spend the day relaxing in the fabulous surroundings of our hotel. This evening you are free to dine independently, wherever your day takes you.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 8 - Wine tasting at Fontechiara

Today's excursion is another highlight of our tour, and a perfect way to spend the last day of our Italian Lakes holiday. We are taken by coach to the delightful winery of Fontechiara, for a wine tasting with a light lunch of carefully paired dishes. After a welcome tour of the winery and cellar by the owner, we settle down to sampling three different wines with homemade delicacies, local charcuterie and cheeses, selected to complement the flavours and aromas of each wine. Our delicious lunch is followed by coffee and a grappa produced on the premises.

We return to our hotel in the afternoon, with time to relax, or revisit your favourite parts of Stresa before enjoying our final three-course dinner in Italy at our hotel.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 9 – From Lake Maggiore to overnight in Dijon, France

This morning we say goodbye to Stresa as we take a First Class rail journey to Lausanne, Switzerland - where we change trains and continue in First Class to Dijon, France. We arrive into Dijon in the late afternoon, checking in for an overnight stay, before our last three-course dinner with our group of fellow travellers at a local hotel.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 10 – Dijon to London

After breakfast we say farewell to Dijon and continue by First Class rail to Paris. As we travel homewards, our comfortable train journey provides time to reflect on the special moments and unforgettable experiences of our holiday on Lake Maggiore. In Paris, we join the Eurostar service to London St Pancras, travelling in style in spacious Standard Premier class with drinks and a light meal served at our seats.

Includes
  • Breakfast
  • Eurostar Light Meal

Additional information

Please note

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

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

The Regina Palace Hotel, Stresa

The Regina Palace Hotel, Stresa

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Trains

Centovalli Railway
Eurostar
TGV

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