Lake Como – Jewel of the Italian Lakes by First Class Rail
Prices starting from £1,195 per person
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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.
6 night / 7 day holiday by First Class rail including an overnight stay B&B in a double room at the Hotel Helmhaus (4 star) in Zurich, 4 nights’ B&B in a double room at the Hotel Metropole (3 star) in Bellagio and an overnight stay B&B in a double room at the Grand Hotel Suisse Majestic (4 star) in Montreux from £1,195 per person in low season, and from £1,295 per person in high season (each based on 2 people travelling together).
Day 1 – By rail to Switzerland
Immerse yourself in the buzz of central London this morning before stylishly escaping into the English countryside for the start of your holiday on board the Eurostar service to Paris. Recline with a drink and light meal in the comfort of your Standard Premier Class seat before arriving into the imposing Gare du Nord with its 19th century façade. Make your way to the end of the platform where you will be greeted by your taxi transfer, which will whisk you across Paris for your connecting TGV service at the Gare de Lyon station. As the train gathers speed, watch as Paris’ urban skyline gives way to lush green pastures, before you reach the foothills of the Swiss Alps and arrive into the charming lakeside city of Zurich. Upon arrival at Zurich main station take the tram or stroll to the Hotel Helmhaus (4 star), your hotel for the night.
Day 2 – Free time in Zurich – Through the Swiss Alps to Como
This morning after breakfast you might like to take a stroll along the banks of the River Limmat to explore some of Zurich’s main attractions. The Old Town is an ideal starting point, where you can explore churches and burgher houses and onto the elegant Bahnhofstrasse for some window shopping. The Grossmünster, Fraumünster, and St Peterskirche are three of Zurich’s most impressive Churches and well worth a visit. If time permits, follow the river further and find yourself on the shores of Lake Zurich, where on a clear day you can see the Alps to the south. For idyllic views over the city, make your way up to Lindenhof, a pretty little peaceful square on a hill in the city centre.
You then return 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 into Italy before reaching Como.
On arrival at Como station you can either take the picturesque ferry journey on Lake Como or a taxi (both payable locally) to the delightful small town of Bellagio, considered by some to be the most beautiful town in the whole of Europe. Your hotel for the next four nights is the friendly and comfortable Hotel Metropole (3 star), perfectly placed in a peaceful setting with glorious views over Lake Como.
Days 3, 4 and 5 – Bellagio, Como, Villa Carlotta, Varenna, Montre Bre, Brunate & Bergamo
Enjoy relaxing at your hotel or strolling around Bellagio, described as la perla del lago (the pearl of the lake) and perfectly situated where the arms of the lake come together. Its narrow cobbled streets, breath-taking views and glorious villas make it an enchanting place to stay. During your time on the jewel of the Italian lakes make the most of the opportunity to visit some of the nearby attractions. You can travel by ferry to the lovely town of Como where you can visit the fascinating Duomo (cathedral), which reflects changing architectural styles, and wander through the historic centre of the walled town. Nearly opposite Bellagio is Villa Carlotta, a perfect combination of luxurious interiors (beautiful stuccos, lovely ceilinged frescoes and a great art collection, including an Eros and Psyche by Antonio Canova) and lush exteriors (over 500 species of plants, trees and shrubs from all over the world).
Travel north-east to Varenna (pictured), one of the most picturesque towns on the lake, with its steep winding alleys 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 railway 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, a 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.
Day 6 – Lake Como to Lake Geneva
You bid farewell to charming Bellagio as you head south by ferry or taxi to Como where you board the Euro City service for the short journey south-west to Milan. As you arrive into Milan’s impressive Centrale Station change trains for your onward Euro City service for the stunning journey along Simplon Pass through valleys and across mountain peaks before your arrival at the elegant lakeside town of Montreux, on the banks of Lake Geneva. Your hotel in Montreux, the Grand Hotel Suisse Majestic (4 star) is ideally located opposite the station, offering wonderful panoramic views across the lake and surrounding mountains.
Make the most of your evening in Montreux with a gentle stroll along the flower-lined promenade which borders the shores of Lake Geneva, a haven of exotic plants and palm trees. Venture further along the promenade or take the short trolley bus service to Switzerland’s iconic medieval Château de Chillon (payable locally). This castle complex consists of 25 buildings and stands proudly on a rock on the banks of Lake Geneva. It houses treasures such as 14th-century paintings, subterranean vaults, parade halls and original rooms dating back to the time of Bernese rule.
Day 7 – Montreux to London
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast this morning before you return to Montreux station for the onward journey by Inter Regio service to Lausanne for your connecting super-fast TGV service through France and back to Paris. Enjoy the comfort of your 1st Class journey and reminisce about some of the highlights you have enjoyed on your holiday. As you arrive into Paris you are met by your taxi transfer which will swiftly transport you through Paris’ bustling city centre back to the Gare du Nord for your connecting Eurostar service to London. Gaze out across passing French and English countryside, whilst enjoying a light meal and drinks from the comfort of your seat, before the train all too soon reaches your final destination, London St. Pancras International.