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Italian Lakes

A trio of the best Italian Lakes by First Class rail

5/5

Discover the beautiful Lakes of Italy

1st class rail & 3/4 Star Accommodation throughout

14 nights / 15 days
Inc. Lake Como, Lake Maggiore & Lake Garda

Lake Maggiore Express available from an additional £40 per person

First Class Rail Travel Visiting the Italian Lakes

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Italian Lakes

Holiday Highlights

Set in the foothills of the Italian Alps, Lake Como is one of Italy’s most romantic and picturesque holiday destinations.

Charming villages and towns are dotted all along the wishbone-shaped lake, surrounded by soaring mountains, exotic flowers and classical villas. The stunning views from all over Lake Como, combined with its tranquil beauty, have inspired generations of composers, artists and poets, such as Verdi, Shelley and Byron.

Enjoy the best of stunning, sparkling, serene Lake Garda and take the opportunity to visit nearby Verona. Lake Garda embraces diverse scenery, from towering cliffs to tiny harbours and palm tree lined promenades, from hilltop castles to lemon orchards and olive groves. Italy’s largest lake boasts spectacular scenery and vista from Sirmione’s peninsula in the south to the Monte Baldo, towering over 2,000 metres above Malcesine in the north.

Majestic Lake Maggiore provides a stunning holiday setting with its sparkling waters and stunning Alpine scenery. Enjoy the abundance of exotic flowers and plants, fascinating contrasts between northern Italy and southern Switzerland, and the enchanting Borromean Islands. From the lovely town of Stresa journey north aboard the Centovalli railway to Locarno or south to magnificent Milan. You can relax and unwind or embrace some of Italy’s most wonderful history, culture, scenery and gastronomy.

This marvellous 14 night / 15 day itinerary by First Class rail also includes time in the fantastic Swiss destinations of Zurich and Montreux, and is available from £2,995 per person (based on two people travelling together).

Price includes lake views at all hotels in Italy (subject to availability and prices).

Your Italian Lakes Itinerary

Day 1 – By rail to Switzerland

Your holiday to the Italian Lakes begins at London St Pancras International.

Admire the impressive architecture of this lovingly restored station, including the curved glass roof, before you board the Eurostar to Paris.

Sit back, relax and watch the countryside glide past as you reach speeds of up to 186mph.

Savour the light meal and drinks served at your seat in Standard Premier Class (Eurostar’s First Class for leisure travellers) as you continue towards Paris.

On arrival in the French capital, you are transferred across the city by private taxi to the Gare de Lyon, where you connect with the high-speed TGV service to Switzerland.

You travel through the undulating Swiss countryside to the attractive lakeside city of Zurich. On arrival, make your way to your hotel for tonight, the popular Hotel Helmhaus (4 star).

After settling in, why not take a whistle-stop tour of the city? Most of the main sights lie within the compact area on either side of the River Limmat, between the main station and Lake Zurich.

The churches and burgher houses of the Old Town are clustered here, as are the elegant shops along Bahnhofstrasse.

The baroque Rathaus (Town Hall), Zurich’s most impressive churches – the Grossmünster, Fraumünster – and the city’s oldest, St Peterskirche (its clock face is the largest in Europe), all lie within a short distance of the River Limmat, near the point where it opens onto the lake.

lake-geneva-from-montreux

Day 2 – Through Switzerland to Lake Como

After a leisurely breakfast in the hotel, make your way back to Zurich station.

Here you join the comfortable Euro City service to travel along the spectacular Gotthard route for the fabulous journey through picturesque scenery, past soaring mountain peaks and through the Gotthard Tunnel into Italy.

On arrival at Como station this afternoon, you can either take a taxi or enjoy a picturesque ferry journey (both payable locally) along the lake to Lenno.

In this charming small town, you spend four nights at the highly-rated Hotel Albergo Lenno (4 star), ideally situated with glorious views over Lake Como. 

Days 3 to 5 – Exploring Lake Como

You have three full days to enjoy relaxing at your hotel or strolling around Lenno, You may decide to take a ferry to nearby Bellagio with its narrow cobbled streets, breath-taking views and glorious villas.

During your stay make the most of the opportunity to visit some of the nearby attractions. Nearly opposite Bellagio is Villa Carlotta, a perfect combination of luxurious interiors (beautiful stuccos, lovely ceiling frescoes and a great art collection, including an Eros and Psyche by Antonio Canova) and luxuriant exteriors (over 500 species of plants, trees and shrubs from all over the world).

You can travel by ferry to the lovely town of Como (pictured) where you can visit the fascinating Duomo (cathedral), which reflects changing architectural styles, and wander through the historic centre of the walled town.

Another popular option is Varenna, one of the most picturesque towns on the lake; its steep winding alleys are lined with charming houses, flowering balconies and lace-curtained windows.

Just above the town is the ancient castle and close by the famed Villa Cipressi, with terraced gardens cascading right down to the shores, and Villa Monastero.

To experience a different view take the cog train to the mountain village of Monte Bre and enjoy fabulous views of Lake Lugano or board the funicular and ride up the mountain to Brunate, this quaint town where the views of Lake Como and the distant Alps are breath-taking.

You might be tempted to visit medieval Bergamo, a classic Italian mix of architectural styles from Romanesque to Medieval, Renaissance to Neoclassical epitomised by the Piazza Vecchia.

Castle Sirmione - Lake Garda

Day 6 – Lake Como to Lake Garda

Bid farewell to charming Lenno as you make your way back down the lake to Como station (payable locally).

Here you join the train for the brief journey south to Milan. On arrival at Milan’s art-deco Centrale station you change trains and continue on the Eurostar Italia service to Desenzano on the shores of Lake Garda.

Here your private taxi transfer takes you to your hotel for the next four nights, the stylish Park Hotel (4 star), ideally located overlooking the lake and set in the heart of the town.

Days 7 to 9 – Exploring Lake Garda

Enjoy three full days to explore Lake Garda and its surrounding attractions.

A great way to see Lake Garda at its best is on a relaxing lake cruise (payable locally), marvelling at the cliffs that rise almost vertically from the lake shore and admiring the fabulous views of the picturesque villages nestled between the mountains and lakeside.

The Lake Garda ferry departs just a short ride from your hotel.

Destinations accessible from the ferry include Limone, Riva del Garda or Malcesine in the north or Torri del Benaco, Lazise or Sirmione (pictured) in the south and east. Sirmione in particular is well worth a visit, with its narrow, medieval streets and 13th century castle.

You may wish to relax in Desenzano and admire this attractive little town, which is a delight to explore.

The inter-connected squares of the compact centre are home to an array of shops, ice cream parlours, restaurants and pretty pavement cafés.

Other highlights include the medieval castle and the ruins of a Roman villa.

Alternatively, you could take advantage of the local rail network to explore further afield.

Timeless Venice, the charming walled city of Verona and Bolzano in the heart of the Dolomites are all easily accessible by train.

Day 10 - Lake Garda to Lake Maggiore

Today you leave Lake Garda behind as your private taxi transfer returns you to the station. Here you join the Eurostar Italia service to Milan, where you connect with the Euro City service northwards to Stresa, nestled on the shores of Lake Maggiore.

On arrival in Stresa, it is a short distance to your hotel for the next four nights, the charming Hotel La Luna Nel Porto (3 star).

Day 11 – The Lake Maggiore Express (supplements apply)

Today you may wish to discover more of the beautiful scenery around Lake Maggiore on the Lake Maggiore Express.

You begin by taking a ferry to the Swiss part of the lake, arriving in the pretty town of Locarno.

You have some time to discover the town’s attractive centre with its mix of Swiss and Italian cultures, before you join the Centovalli Railway service to Domodossola.

The line takes you on a wonderfully scenic route, across viaducts and bridges through a hundred undulating valleys, past deep ravines and thundering waterfalls, through forests and vineyards as you travel back into Italy.

In Domodossola you connect with the regular rail service back to Stresa, marking the end of a varied and stunning day.

Days 12 and 13 – Stresa and Lake Maggiore

Allow yourself to unwind and soak up the unique atmosphere of Lake Maggiore and the pretty town of Stresa with a further two days to explore.

You might fancy a visit to the old town to wend your way along the narrow streets and picturesque waterfront or hop on a ferry to discover more of sparkling Lake Maggiore.

You can visit its stunning islands, including Isola Bella, on a relaxing lake cruise (payable locally). A highlight of Isola Bella is the gorgeous Borromeo Palace with its lovely Italian gardens, though each of the islands in this spectacular lake has its own charms.

If you would prefer to go a little further afield, you could travel west to Lake Orta, lesser known yet utterly charming and picturesque.

Alternatively relax in the comfortable surroundings of your hotel with its lovely views of the lake.

Day 14 – Stresa to Montreux on Lake Geneva

Today you return to Stresa station, where you board the comfortable Euro City service and bid farewell to Italy as your train snakes its way through the spectacular scenery of the Swiss Alps into Switzerland.

From here you continue to the pretty lakeside town of Montreux on the shores of Lake Geneva for your overnight stay at the belle époque Grand Hotel Suisse Majestic (4 star superior) located right next to the station.

Take a stroll alongside Lake Geneva and visit this elegant lakeside town which is home to the famous jazz festival. If time permits, take the trolleybus to the nearby Château de Chillon, one of the best-preserved castles in Europe.

lake-geneva-night italy by train
Montreux luxury holidays by planet rail

Day 15 – Homeward bound

After breakfast and time for some last-minute sightseeing in Montreux, you begin your journey home as you join the Inter Regio train to Lausanne, then connect with the TGV to whisk you back to Paris.

Watch the rolling hills flash past or reminisce on the wonders of the past few days.

Your private taxi transfer takes you to the Gare du Nord and the last leg of your journey.

Here you board the Eurostar and let the train take the strain as you stretch out and savour the light meal and drinks included in your Standard Premier service.

At 186mph the landscape is a blur at times, though memories abide as you return to London St. Pancras International and the final leg of your journey home.

Further information

Your recommended hotels

ZURICH

The stylish and intimate Hotel Helmhaus Zurich (4 star), located in the Old Town dates from the 14th century, and is a minute’s walk from both the Helmhaus Art Museum and tram stop. The air-conditioned, individually decorated rooms have minimalist modern furnishings and oak wood parquet floors, plus free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs and minibars; tea and coffeemaking facilities are available on request. A complimentary hot and cold breakfast buffet is offered daily in an artsy dining room. Other amenities include loaner iPads and seasonal welcome drinks.

LENNO, LAKE COMO

The Albergo Lenno (4 star) is set in an elegant building right on the shores of Lake Como, in the fantastic Gulf of Venus.  During your stay at this highly-rated hotel you can spend relaxing moments on the lake view terrace or by the swimming pool. All of the comfortable en-suite rooms feature a flat screen TV, air conditioning, and a minibar. There is also a sauna and free wi-fi. The smart hotel benefits from a bar with terrace and its own restaurant serving typical Italian dishes and prestigious wines, where you can enjoy an enchanting view on the lake. Some rooms offer a lake view, other rooms are spacious attics.

DESENZANO, LAKE GARDA

The Park Hotel (4-star) enjoys an outstanding location right on the promenade of Lake Garda in Desenzano, next to the town’s historic centre. This modern, yet elegant hotel provides exceptional service in an exclusive setting designed to promote relaxation, comfort and well-being. All 56 en-suite rooms are stylishly furnished and fully-equipped. The hotel benefits from a restaurant, café and charming garden with outdoor seating and views to the lake. Guests can also benefit from a wonderful rooftop swimming pool with sundeck and whirlpool.

STRESA, LAKE MAGGIORE

The highly rated, welcoming lakefront apartment Hotel La Luna Nel Porto (3 star) is a short walk from both Stresa railway station and the boat landing for the Borromean Islands. The 12 elegant, airy suites offer free Wi-Fi, satellite TV, kitchenettes and living rooms with sofas. They also feature private gardens and terraces or balconies with panoramic views. Amenities include a common area, a lake-view terrace, a garden and an arcade.

MONTREUX

The Grand Hotel Suisse Majestic (4-star superior) is a traditional Belle-Époque hotel, originally built in 1870 and located right in the centre of Montreux, just a few steps from the railway station. The hotel has 140 rooms and benefits from fabulous views of Lake Geneva and the Alps from its summer terrace. All the comfortable en-suite rooms in this stylish hotel feature air conditioning, TV, minibar, radio and telephone.

Departure dates

Throughout the year and tailor-made to suit your holiday needs

Holiday duration is 15 days

For information and booking Tel: 01347 825292 or email info@planetrail.co.uk

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