Tailormade tour Venice and the Veneto through the Alps by rail tour Italy

9 nights /10 days

Munich • Venice • near Verona in the Veneto • Zurich

This rail holiday to Venice and the Veneto not only presents you with a fascinating region that lies between the Alps and the Adriatic Sea, possessing a wealth of cultural, historic, literary and artistic treasures within the great cities of this region and in the smaller towns, but also with a scenic route through the Alps in both directions, covering the Brenner southbound and the Gotthard northbound. Two nights in Munich, three nights in Venice, three nights in the Veneto and a night in Zurich.
Holiday price guide

Available year-round subject to the opening period of the hotels, from about £2,850 per person.

Luxury rail tailormade holiday to Venice and the Veneto through the Austrian and Swiss Alps

Highlights

Munich • Venice • Visit the islands of Murano and Burano • Visit the Guggenheim • Veneto • Visit Verona • Visit the Valpolicella vineyards • Visit Palladian villas near Vicenza

Day by day

Your rail holiday to Venice and the Veneto starts with a mid-morning Eurostar from St Pancras. From the Gare du Nord, you can walk to the Gare de l’Est where you take the high-speed TGV train to Munich, arriving there at about 21.30 hrs that evening. You stay in Munich for two nights.

Munich, the capital of Bavaria, is situated within sight of the Alps. Munich is an elegant and beautiful, affluent German city with well-preserved historic buildings, palaces, gardens, imposing monuments and churches. At the heart of the city is the Marienplatz, home to the Old and New Town Halls (watch the famous Glockenspiel). Nearby is the Viktualienmarkt and the Frauenkirche as well as the Michaelskirche, which is the largest Renaissance church north of the Alps. From the centre the city fans out into boulevards, parks, gardens and imposing museums, including the famous Alte Pinakothek and Neue Pinakothek. The Residenz palace is a feast of architectural styles combining Renaissance, Baroque, Roccoco and Classicism. There are 130 rooms filled with rich furniture, paintings and tapestries. The English Garden is one of the largest urban gardens in the world and it offers restaurants, teahouse and beer gardens. Further afield you find Baroque palaces such as Nymphenburg, BMW headquarters and the Olympic Park from 1972.

You leave Munich late morning on the Eurocity train. It heads southwards into Austria, passing through Innsbruck and the Alps including the scenic Brenner Pass before it descends into the northern Italian plain. This is a direct service and you arrive into Venice in the early evening. At Santa Lucia station you are met and taken by private water taxi to your hotel.

You have two full days in Venice. More than a city, Venice “La Serenissima” is an enchantress. Take the time to discover her winding streets, canals, quiet squares and lively waterfronts. To make the most of your time in Venice, it’s worth dividing the city into areas or themes. The obvious place to start is at St Mark’s Square, best appreciated whilst sipping a Venetian coffee at Florian’s. St Mark’s Basilica, the Doge’s Palace and the Campanile can all be visited. The magnificent churches of Venice are worth seeking out: Santa Maria della Salute, Ss Giovanni e Paolo, and Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari (with works by Titian), Santa Maria dei Miracoli and the Gesuiti. The Jewish quarter can be found just off the Strada Nova to the north of the city and gives you a rare insight into the history of the Jewish community in Venice. There is a clutch of art galleries to be enjoyed including the Ca’ Pesaro, the Ca’ d’Oro, the Galleria dell’Accademia, the Scuola di San Rocco and for modern art, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. The streets of Venice also contain a treasure trove of tiny artisan shops selling glassware, masks, lace and silk, and shoes. To absorb the magic of Venice from the water, treat yourself to a ride in a gondola. Across the lagoon, and reached by vaporetto, are the islands of Burano, home to lace-making and fishermen, and Murano, where master craftsmen offer demonstrations of glass-making before you enter their shops.

This morning there is time to do some last-minute sightseeing or shopping in Venice before your private water taxi takes you back to Venice Santa Lucia station for your train to Verona. The journey time by train to Verona is only about an hour. In Verona you collect your hire-car and drive the eight kilometres to your hotel in the countryside, surrounded by Valpolicella vines, where you will be based for three nights.

From your base in the Valpolicella vineyards just outside Verona, there are numerous excursion possibilities for the two days you have here. An obvious choice is to go into Verona and explore this small but beautiful city, packed full of places of historic and cultural worth, particularly dating from Roman and mediaeval times. There are not only iconic sights such as the Arena and the house said to be Juliet’s, but other Roman remains such as the Roman theatre, the Ponte di Pietra and Porta Borsari, and mediaeval masterpieces such as the Basilica of San Zeno Maggiore, the Basilica of San Lorenzo and the church of Santa Maria Antica, as well as the Piazza delle Erebe. Within and near the city are several notable gardens worth a visit, including the Giardino Giusti. From your hotel, in the other direction is Lake Garda and the Valpolicella vineyards, or if you want to venture further afield, you can visit Vicenza, renowned for its Palladian architecture. If you do not want to have the use of a hire-car, we can arrange a transfer by car for you to the hotel but you will be restricted in what you can visit. As an alternative, we can offer you accommodation in Verona instead.

You drive back into Verona and return your hire-car before taking a mid-morning train to Milan where you change and continue your north through the Swiss Alps and Gotthard Pass to Zurich. You reach Zurich by late afternoon or early evening, but in good time to stroll the Bahnhofstrasse for window shopping, visit the lake promenade and find a restaurant serving Swiss specialities for supper.

You leave Zurich late morning and travel back to Paris on the high-speed TGV train. Change between stations in Paris from the Gare de Lyon to the Gare du Nord by taxi and end your rail holiday by taking the Eurostar from Paris to London where you arrive mid-evening.

Holiday price guide Price from £2,850 per person based on two people sharing a double room including second class rail travel. Supplement about £300 per person for first class rail travel.

Holiday Code ITBR06

Luxury rail tailormade holiday to Venice and the Veneto through the Austrian and Swiss Alps

Holiday price guide Price from £2,850 per person based on two people sharing a double room including second class rail travel. Supplement about £300 per person for first class rail travel.

Holiday Code ITBR06

Our prices include ● Second-class travel on all trains, with standard class on Eurostar (first and standard premier can be booked at a supplement)
● Private return water taxi transfers from Venice Santa Lucia station to the hotel
● Hire of a group B car for 3 days from Verona back to Verona
● 2 nights’ bed and breakfast Standard room at the Hotel Torbrau in Munich
● 3 nights’ bed and breakfast Classic room at the Ca’Sagredo in Venice
● 3 nights’ bed and breakfast Standard room at the Villa del Quar in Pedemonte
● 1 night’s bed and breakfast in a Classic room at the Hotel St Gotthard, Zurich
● Concierge service and Expressions Holidays regional helpful hints

Our prices do not include ● Early check-in or late check-out at any hotels (although we can arrange this on request at additional cost)
● Any other services not mentioned above, such as transfers and meals except breakfast at hotels
● Personal holiday insurance. This is essential and cover should be in place from when you book the holiday.
● Local tourist tax, usually between Euros 1 and 3 per person per night, and payable locally to the hotel
● Transfers in Paris, Munich and Zurich

Luxury rail tailormade holiday to Venice and the Veneto through the Austrian and Swiss Alps

Expressions Holidays includes these hotels in this touring holiday as suggestions, but they can be substituted by others in the same region, if you have a preference to stay elsewhere.
Hotels included in this tour
Munich
Hotel Torbrau 4-star hotel

Hotel Torbräu is a good-quality, comfortable four-star hotel in an excellent location. Modern, chic interiors and a choice of excellent dining facilities make it an ideal spot to recuperate after enjoying the delights of Munich.

Standard double

The Charles Hotel 5-star hotel

The Charles Hotel is a spacious and contemporary 5-star property in an excellent location near Königsplatz. An excellent range of facilities, including an indulgent spa and gourmet dining choices make this an excellent haven after enjoying the delights of Munich.

Classic double

Venice
Ca'Sagredo 5-star hotel

Ca'Sagredo is a grand 5-star palazzo hotel overlooking Venice's Grand Canal. The delicious cuisine, art gallery and museum afford guests a unique city stay that reflects the culture of the surrounding city.

Classic room

Baglioni Hotel Luna 5-star hotel

Baglioni Hotel Luna is an award-winning, 5-star boutique hotel in an outstandingly convenient yet charming location. The award-winning restaurant and opulent Venetian style afford guests a luxurious retreat after a day soaking up the cultural and historical delights of Venice.

Classic room

Hotel Bisanzio 4-star hotel

Hotel Bisanzio is an elegant 4-star hotel, which exudes historical charm, in an excellent position for exploring the main sights of Venice.

Standard double room

Pedemonte in Valpolicella
Villa del Quar

Villa del Quar is an intimate 5-star property in a beautiful location. The hotel's beautiful grounds, set in a 7-acre estate of vineyards and meadows, gourmet cuisine and excellent accommodation, it offers an idyllic retreat, not too far from Verona.

Standard room

Zurich
Hotel St Gotthard 4-star hotel

Hotel St Gotthard is a sophisticated 4-star hotel in an excellent central location. Haute cuisine and stylish, comfortable accommodation make this an excellent spot to recuperate after enjoying the cultural delights of Zurich.

Classic room

Romantik Hotel Europe 4-star hotel

The Romantik Hotel Europe in Zurich is a charming, boutique, family-run hotel with 39 rooms just two minutes’ walk from the shores of Lake Zurich and by the Opera House.

Classic room

Hotel Storchen 5-star hotel

Hotel Storchen is an elegant and refined 5-star boutique hotel in a beautiful waterfront location. Delicious cuisine and luxurious accommodation make this an excellent spot to recuperate after enjoying the cultural and historical delights of Zurich.

Classic room

Holiday price guide Price from £2,850 per person based on two people sharing a double room including second class rail travel. Supplement about £300 per person for first class rail travel.

Holiday Code ITBR06

Luxury rail tailormade holiday to Venice and the Veneto through the Austrian and Swiss Alps

Highlights of Germany

Berlin’s world-class museums, bustling bars, galleries and monuments; Rugen Island, with its rugged chalk cliffs, windswept beaches, Romantic-era spa architecture and tree-lined country roads; Dresden, with its baroque beauty on the banks of the majestic Elbe; Cologne’s magnificent cathedral; the UNESCO World Heritage city of Bamberg; the sandy dunes of Sylt, a North Sea island with fabulous beaches and surf; the beer halls of Munich, ideally in September during the Oktoberfest; Lubeck, a Hanseatic gem; Muritz National Park, where you can go paddling and camping in a paradise teeming with birds; Bremen, a metropolis in miniature, with lovely red-brick and Art Nouveau architecture; the Alpine resorts of Bavaria, including Berchtesgaden, with dramatic peaks, dreamy lakes and superb walking trails; drive or cruise along the Rhine or Mosel, visiting castles, medieval villages and superb vineyards along the way; the walled medieval towns of Rothenburg and Trier, both with wonderful Christmas markets; the Christmas market at Nuremberg, oldest – and still most picturesque – in the world.

Facts in brief

Capital Berlin
Airport Several airports are served from the UK, including Berlin, Bremen, Cologne-Bonn, Dortmund, Dresden, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Hannover, Stuttgart and Munich.
Size 137,000 sq. miles
Population 82 million

Luxury rail tailormade holiday to Venice and the Veneto through the Austrian and Swiss Alps

Highlights of Zurich

The capital of the German-speaking canton of Zurich is the internationally-renowned historic city of Zurich. The perfect place to acclimatise to the Swiss way of life, there is much cultural discovery to be done. Perhaps begin with the waters of Lake Zurich and the River Limmat, taking a scenic boat cruise, or hiring a dingy for a more hands-on approach. Pedal boats offer a happy medium, and the lakefront Badi-Bars are beautifully situated for an evening drink afterwards. To witness the beauty of the city from above, climb to the top of the Karlsturm, one of the Grossmunster Church's two iconic towers. On the banks of the River Limmat is Schipfe, Zurich's oldest district. It was once the headquarters of the silk industry, and home to many tranquil bathhouses and the workshops of boat-builders; now, however, it has a very serene atmosphere that attracts artisans as well as visitors looking for peaceful strolls down quaint streets. The Lindenhof District was the site of a Roman fort in the 4th century, and Charlemagne's grandson's palace in the 9th century. Today, it is a popular meeting place for Zurich's residents. For a sweeping view of Zurich's Old Town, walk along the promenade in the Niederdorf District. Here, shops are hidden down narrow alleyways, old-fashioned grocery stores sell the local produce, and the views of grand stone buildings are topped off by the Grossmunster's towers. Everywhere in Zurich, however, there are pockets of outstanding beauty, be it beside the 1,200 fountains of drinkable water, on the historic Little Red Train, or Polybahn, that takes you up to the Polyterrasse, or on the world's most luxurious shopping mile, the Bahnhofstrasse.

Cultural highlights of Zurich

Informative cultural experiences can be had at a number of locations around the city. The Kunsthaus Art Museum exhibits a range of permanent and temporary displays by artists of international and local acclaim. The Museum Rietberg exhibits a range of non-European artistic and cult objects. The Arthouse Cinemas are known throughout Europe for the rare opportunity they provide to view independent films in a cinema setting. For innovative modern art, visit the Migros Museum or the Kunsthalle at Lauenbrau-Areal. More unique artistic ventures can be found at the Bruno Weber Park and Cabaret Voltaire, the birthplace of Dadaism. The so-called ‘Home Mountain,' or Uetliberg, is beautifully quilted in rich, dense forest and looks out across the city rooftops below and the blue waters of Lake Zurich. The Uetliberg Railway takes you up to the top of the mountain in no time at all, or it is possible to walk to the summit in less than two hours. Venturing outside the city, you may want to spend a day enjoying the natural scenery. At Rapperswil on Lake Zurich you can step out to the lake's centre to take in the 360 degree panoramic views. Also only a short distance away by rail is the majestic Rhine Falls, the largest plain waterfall in Europe. Stretching 150m across, the sight of the tumbling, crashing water is fantastic and well-worth the train ride. Kyburg Castle, once the home of the Counts of Kyburg and then the Habsburgs, is a magnificent and eerie insight into medieval life, torture, food, and the illustrious heritage of the area. An unseal, irregular pentagon, the castle fits perfectly onto the small hill on which it sits, cradling a picturesque courtyard. At night, the stone walls and square-pyramidal roofs are atmospherically lit from the ground with golden light. The museum housed within introduces visitors to everything medieval, from military fashion to the produce of the authentic vegetable garden. The city of Winterthur, though considerably smaller than Zurich, will be a highlight of your trip. Besides its 17 museums, including the Oskar Reinhart ‘Am Romerholz’ collection of 14th to 20th century art, Winterthur has the largest pedestrianised Old Town in Switzerland. Mansions line the petite squares, and the City Church with its red-topped towers and the Fisher Maiden's Fountain give it exceptional character. The Town Hall Passage remains a famous and popular attraction. Winterthur is also home to a prestigious Centre for Photography, a Casino Theatre, and the Swiss Science Centre Technorama. To end your day in Winterthur, or your stay in the Zurich Region, locate your favourite of the garden city's parks to sit back and enjoy the late afternoon sun.

Festivals in Zurich

In Zurich, the festivals and cultural events generally celebrate modern, artistic accomplishments, spotlighting international, not just local, stars. The Zurich Film Festival, for example, runs from the 22 September to the 2 October, and the Zurcher Theater Spektakel runs from August 13 to September 4. Winterthur plays host to the International Short Film Festival, the Winterthurer Musikfestwochen, and the Afro-Pfingsten. One alternative festival is the Dorflifascht in the Niededorf District at the end of August, when music, markets, food stalls, and shows take over the streets and squares. The Food Zurich festival will be held annually at the end of September, as of 2016, featuring fine, gourmet food sold at stalls by local restaurants and producers. Each year, the Manifesta takes on popular cultural and political issues, and deals with them through art over a period of up to 100 days.

Gastronomy in Zurich

The cuisine in Zurich is very typically Swiss, meaning that trying the chocolate, particularly by Lindt, Laderach, and Vollenweider is a must, along with the Luxemburgerli macaroons. A key dish in Zurich is the Zurcher Geschnetzeltes, a veal and mushroom ragout with kidney and sweetbreads that originated in the city. Rosti, fondue, and raclette remain popular this far northeast, as does the traditional Stubli. For a very traditional Swiss meal, head out to Rapperswil one evening. On your travels through Zurich, however, you will also come across a number of innovative restaurants serving creative cuisine, such as classic Swiss dishes using meat substitutes such as Tofu, or in unusual locations, such as the interior of an old mill.

Luxury rail tailormade holiday to Venice and the Veneto through the Austrian and Swiss Alps

Highlights of Veneto

Veneto has a wealth of culture and interest to immerse yourself in, including: Venice carnival, an extravagant pageant making the city even more impossibly beautiful than normal; the islands of the lagoon, including Murano, famous for its glass-makers, whose workshops you can visit, and Burano, with its wonderfully colourful facades; Treviso, a scaled down Venice, great escaping the high-season crowds; Soave, a fairy-tale castle town famous for its wines; Albano, a classic 19th century thermal town; Lake Garda, flanked by lemon and olive groves, with the Dolomites reflected in its lakes, and 7,227ft Monte Baldo behind it, which you can reach by cable car; tiny village of Marostica, which stages a human chess game with ‘pieces' dressed in Renaissance costumes; Valpollicella, a lush valley strewn with family wineries; Padua and its Giotto frescoes; the Romanesque abbey of San Pietro di Foletto in Follina; numerous Palladian villas, including Bararao, Villa Emo, La Rotonda, Villa Godi and Villa Valmarana; Cima's masterpiece of an altarpiece in Conegliano cathedral; the August Palio in Feltre, with medieval games, horse racing and celebrations; Treviso's festival of dance, poetry and music in August; birdwatching on the Venice lagoon and Po delta; local cuisine, including Spaghetti alle Vongole and Prosecco from Conegliano; the fishing port of Chioggia.

Luxury rail tailormade holiday to Venice and the Veneto through the Austrian and Swiss Alps

Cultural highlights of Venice

St Mark’s Square, Doge’s Palace, Bridge of Sighs, The Grand Canal, Accademia, Museo Correr, Rialto Bridge, La Fenice theatre, The Church of the Redentore, The Church of Santa Maria della Salute.

Festivals in Venice

Venice’s most famous festival is the Carnevale in February, the actual dates of Carnevale vary from year to year, but it generally spans three to four weeks ending on Shrove Tuesday. Costumed and masked people parade around the streets of Venice and there are numerous private parties and dances, but the atmosphere on the final night of Carnevale itself is electric. Alternatively, there is the Regata Storica on the first Sunday in September, when boats and gondolas race against each other along the Grand Canal, or the Feast of the Redentore in mid-July to celebrate the end of the plague in the 16th century. A makeshift bridge is constructed to link the Giudecca island with the Dorsodouro island and there is a huge firework display.

Gastronomy in Venice

Venetian food is naturally fish and sea food orientated and popular dishes include the sweet and sour ‘sardee in saor’ or sardine salad, cuttlefish risotto with its black ink and ‘caparossoi a scota deo’, which are large clams cooked with lemon and pepper. Liver is also popular as are several sweet fried delicacies or ‘fritole’, popular particularly around festival time. This area is famous for its Prosecco and is the home of the ‘Bellini’ cocktail.

Travel around Venice

Gondola rides are always popular, but are expensive. The vaporetto and motoscafo services are good and will take you from A to B and are essential to reach the islands of Murano, Burano and Torcello in the lagoon unless you hire a private water taxi. The services can be disrupted at high tide or ‘Aqua Alta’, which usually occurs in the autumn, or if the lagoon is particularly choppy. To cross the Grand Canal the precarious ‘traghetti’ are like large Gondolas, but you are expected to stand up in order for the maximum number of passengers to board, so it is an art, as well as an experience to remember!

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