Charm & Beauty of Lake Garda by First Class Rail
Prices from £1,049 per person
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Enjoy the best of stunning, sparkling, serene Lake Garda and take the opportunity to visit nearby Milan and the Dolomites. 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.
Relax and unwind or soak up some of Italy’s most wonderful history, culture, scenery and gastronomy on this fantastic 6 night / 7 day holiday by First Class rail on daytime trains throughout, staying overnight Zurich and Montreux (featured itinerary), and including 4 nights staying in a double room at the Villa Rosa Hotel or at the Park Hotel from £1,149 per person.
Upgrade to a superior double room at the Villa Rosa Hotel from £12 per person per night or to a superior lake view double room at the Park Hotel from £12 per person per night or to an executive lake view double room at the Park Hotel from £16 per peron per night or to a junior suite with full lake view at the Villa Rosa Hotel from £40 per person per night (based on 2 people travelling together). Prices from £1,049 per person based on your outward and return journeys via Turin and Milan.
Day 1 – By rail to Switzerland
Your holiday begins as you stroll into beautifully restored London St. Pancras station. Take your time to appreciate the splendour of magnificent glass roof, then sit back, relax and watch the countryside swish past as you travel by Eurostar to Paris at speeds of up to 186mph. Enjoy the light meal and drinks served on board in Standard Premier Class (formerly 1st class). On arrival at the Gare du Nord your private taxi transfers you to the Gare de Lyon to continue your journey by TGV through France into Switzerland.
You travel through the undulating Swiss countryside to attractive lakeside city of Zurich. It is a short walk (800 yards) to your overnight hotel, the comfortable and welcoming Hotel Wellenberg (4 star).
Day 2 – Through Switzerland to Milan and onwards to Lake Garda
This morning you have time for a short stroll around the attractive lakeside town of Zurich. Then make your own way back to Zurich station, for the scenic journey along the impressive Gotthard route through the Swiss Alps. The line transports you through picturesque scenery, climbing to the foot of the snow-capped Alps and through the Gotthard Base Tunnel, the world’s longest tunnel and a marvellous feat of engineering, which opened fully in December 2016. You soon emerge and continue across the Swiss border and through the outstanding Italian Lakes before arriving in Milan.
On arrival at Milan’s imposing art-deco station change trains and join the Eurostar City service to Desenzano on the south-western shores of Lake Garda, arriving in the evening for a four-night stay at the friendly, relaxing and stylish Villa Rosa Hotel (4 star), ideally located in the centre of Desenzano, overlooking the lake and a short transfer from the station.
Day 3 – Lake Garda Cruise (payable locally)
The ideal way to enjoy Lake Garda at its best is on a relaxing lake cruise. The Lake Garda ferry departs just a short ride from your hotel. We can include a ferry ticket which allows you to choose where to go on the lake whether to Limone, Riva del Garda or Malcesine in the north or Torri del Benaco,Lazise or Sirmione in the south and east. We can help you plan a journey which allows you to travel along virtually the entire length of the lake, 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. In the north we recommend Malcesine (pictured below), arguably the most attractive town on the lake, with its medieval castle, maze of cobbled streets and backdrop of Monte Baldo towering above. Enjoy the opportunity to stroll around this pretty town before heading south.
In the south we recommend Sirmione, situated on a narrow promontory in the southern waters of the lake. Here you can explore Sirmione’s narrow, medieval streets and perhaps visit the 13th century Rocca Scaligera Castle or the Grotte di Catullo, the impressive remains of the largest Roman villa in Italy. Return to Desenzano in time for dinner at one of its many attractive restaurants or allow us to organise a special restaurant for you.
Day 4 – Venice (payable locally)
One of the attractions of Desenzano is its accessibility to the Italian rail network. We can organise a First Class return rail ticket to allow you to experience the magic of Venice for a day. As an individual traveller you can choose how much time you wish to spend in this unique city. As you arrive and walk out of Venezia Santa Lucia station enter immediately into a different world, greeted by the sights and sounds of the Grand Canal and this unique floating city.
We can include ferry tickets which would allow you to hop straight onto a boat and start your adventure in this incomparable city. We can organise a trip on a Gondola or a private boat tour for you at competitive prices so you can enjoy the city and peace of mind. If you would like to discover Venice on foot we can also offer walking tours for example one that takes in some of Venice’s many highlights, including St. Mark’s Square, the Basilica of St. Mark’s and the Bridge of Sighs. The beauty of your rail ticket is that you can stay on in Venice until early evening, when many of the crowds have gone home, allowing you plenty of free time to discover the delights of this magical city for yourself before you return to Lake Garda.
Days 5 – Verona, Milan, the Dolomites or relaxing on the lake
Allow yourself to unwind and soak up the unique atmosphere of Lake Garda and the pretty town of Desenzano. If you time it right you will be able to visit the old town on market day with its colourful stalls and locally produced food and crafts. Wend your way along the narrow streets and picturesque waterfront or hop on a ferry to discover more of Italy’s largest lake.
Whilst on Lake Garda there are plenty more options available to you. Just 30 minutes away by train is Verona (pictured below), a charming walled city of Roman origin and the setting for Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’. During your visit be sure to wander on foot through the city’s narrow streets, which are lined with beautiful medieval buildings and Roman monuments. Highlights include the magnificent Roman Amphitheatre.
Take the train to stylish Milan and explore Italy’s fashion capital. There are many sights to enjoy in Italy’s largest city including the magnificent Duomo, the world-renowned opera house ‘Teatro alla Scala’ and the incredible 19th century glass-roofed shopping arcade, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuel. You may even have the opportunity to visit the famous church and cloister of Santa Maria della Grazie, where Leonardo da Vinci’s painting ‘The Last Supper’ can be seen.
You could travel northwards to the Tyrolean region of Italy, travelling through the heart of the Dolomites to Bolzano. Visit this lovely mountain town with its distinct Austrian flavour or take the Renon Historical Railway for a spectacular trip across the Renon Plateau and view the ‘Erdpyramids’ – a unique rock formation in the Dolomites.
Day 6 – Desenzano through the Alps to Lake Geneva
Today you leave Italy behind and board the Eurostar City service for the First Class journey to Milan. From here join the comfortable Euro City service as it snakes its way into the Alps for the spectacular journey through the Simplon Pass and onto pretty lakeside town of Montreux on the shores of Lake Geneva. On arrival in Montreux your hotel for the night is the belle époque Grand Hotel Suisse Majestic (4 star) 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.
Day 7 – Free time in Montreux – Montreux to London – Homeward bound
Stretch your legs this morning or board the trolley bus for the short journey to the stunning medieval Château de Chillon (payable locally). As you marvel at the spectacular setting, twixt sparkling lake and breathtaking mountains, spare a thought for the prisoners of this 13th century castle, considered to be one of the best-preserved in Europe.
Then walk across to the station and continue to Lausanne to board 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 transfer takes you to the Gare du Nord before the last part of your journey. 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.