Tailormade tour Lake Como by train holiday Italy

9 nights /10 days

Overnight train Paris to Milan return • Eurostar London to Paris return • Lake Como

This rail holiday to Lake Como allows you a leisurely holiday exploring the dramatic beauty of Lake Como, with its sophisticated lakeside villages, historic villas and delightful gardens. You travel to Milan and back by sleeper train from Paris and then there is a private car transfer to take you to your lakeside hotel. An option is to spend a night in Zurich in either direction or add in additional nights at other places in Switzerland.
Holiday price guide

Available year-round subject to the opening period of the hotels, from about £2,100 per person.

Luxury rail tailormade holiday to Lake Como

This 9-night rail holiday to Lake Como takes you quickly from London to Italy, maximising your time at your holiday destination on Lake Como, where you are based for seven nights. You take the Eurostar from London to Paris and then the overnight Thello sleeper train from Paris to Milan. At Milan, you are met by a car and driver who will transfer you to your hotel on Lake Como. Lake Como is a stunningly attractive Italian lake with pretty villages, ports and villas in exotic gardens. Bellagio occupies a stunning location on a promontory that divides Lake Lecco from the southern side of Lake Como. With its lakeside cafes, ancient chapels, winding lanes and peerless Renaissance gardens such as those at Villa Melzi, Bellagio is a gem on the lake. From Bellagio, you can even take kayak tours of the lake to gain spectacular views of the cliff-hugging villages, as well as the mountains crowning the water. All around the lake, neoclassical villas, belle époque houses and erstwhile fishing villages tumble right down to the water’s edge, with Varenna, Cernobbio and Tremezzo in particular worth as much time as you can spare. As for its towns, the 2,000-year old walled city of Como is often overlooked, but has a superb mediaeval centre dominated by a magnificent Gothic cathedral. Best of all, car ferries and vaporetti criss-cross the lake throughout summer, so just getting around the lake itself becomes an enjoyable panoramic pleasure cruise. Instead of travelling by sleeper train to Milan, you can take a morning Eurostar to Paris and then an early afternoon high speed train to Zurich in Switzerland. You reach Zurich early evening for the night. The next day you can leave Zurich at about 13.00 (or 15.00 hrs) and it’s about a three-hour train journey to Como San Giovanni, direct, via the Gotthard and Lugano. You arrive just after 16.00 (or 18.00 hrs) and a car and driver will take you to your hotel. The overnight stop in Zurich can also be done in the other direction, or both directions!

Highlights

Overnight train Paris to Milan return • Eurostar London to Paris return • Lake Como • Visit the gardens of Villa Monastero • Visit the gardens of Villa Carlotta at Tremezzo • Visit Villa Melzi d’Eril at Bellagio • Visit the resort of Cadenabbia

Day by day

You begin your rail touring holiday to Lake Como by travelling out on an afternoon Eurostar service from London St Pancras to Paris Gare du Nord. Following a change of station in Paris continue by Thello sleeper train overnight to Milan. We recommend the two bed sleeper compartments on the Thello train. There is a washbasin in the compartments and shared toilets in each carriage.

The sleeper train arrives in Milan about 06.00 hrs. You are met by a car and driver who will take you to your hotel on Lake Como where you spend seven nights. If you would like us to arrange an early check-in, we can do so for you, but there is usually a charge for it if you want it to be guaranteed. Spend the rest of the day acclimatising to your hotel and its location.

Spend six days at leisure on Lake Como. Lake Como is outstandingly beautiful, narrow and long, with luxuriant vegetation of olives, figs, mulberries, walnuts and oleanders, and is lined with cheerful resorts, splendid villas and mountainous backdrops. The architecture is quite rustic and alpine in feel, yet a sophisticated aura radiates throughout the area. Often called the prettiest town in Europe, Bellagio sits on a promontory dividing the subsidiary Lake Lecco from the southern part of Lake Como. The enchanting village is full of quaint cafes and boutiques, which line its little streets and alleyways ascending from the main square. In Bellagio visit Villa Melzi d’Eril, once a favourite picnic spot of the great composer, Franz Liszt, the gardens of this aristocratic villa are unsurpassable in their beauty and location. Although the 19th century villa is not open to the public, you can access the opulent Empire-style family chapel. Across a narrow finger of the lake from Bellagio, is the town of Varenna, bursting with gardens and cypresses. Its main attraction is the gardens of Villa Monastero. At Tremezzo another famous villa, well worth visiting, is that of Villa Carlotta. This villa was built by the extravagant marquis Giorgio Clerici between 1690 and 1743. The magnificent interior houses an enviable collection of Antonio Canova sculptures including Cupid and Psyche. The gardens are the real highlight though: 14 acres of rhododendrons, azaleas, palms, banana trees orchids, camellias and even a sequoia blossom and flourish amongst many other species, totalling 500 in all! A pretty resort on the lake and the starting point for many excellent walks up into the hills behind the lake is Cadenabbia, as is its neighbour, Menaggio. The largest town on the lake, and one that is often overlooked, is Como. Como is an attractive cathedral town, made up of cobbled streets and chic cafes of the old town and the newer industrial area famous for its fine silk production. You can visit silk producers and their shops. The cathedral was completed during the Renaissance period, and now boasts a striking façade and interior of both the Gothic and Renaissance styles. The façade includes statues of two of Como’s most famous residents, Pliny the Elder and Pliny the Younger, whose writings played a key role in the development of antique thought and philosophy. You don’t need the use of a hire-car when you are on Lake Como, but we can arrange one for you.

You have most of the day free, although you would need to check-out of the hotel late morning (ask us to request a late check-out for you), until your return car transfer to Milan for the sleeper service that leaves for Paris about 23.00 hrs.

You arrive into Paris Lyon at about 9.30am, and after changing stations you then take the Eurostar back to London where you arrive at lunchtime.

Holiday price guide From £2,100 per person based on two people sharing a double room at the Grand Hotel Imperiale and including for second class rail travel. First class supplement about £100 per person. From £3,270 per person based on two people sharing a double room at the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni and including for second class rail travel. First class supplement about £100 per person.

Holiday Code ITBR03

Luxury rail tailormade holiday to Lake Como

You begin your rail touring holiday to Lake Como by travelling out on an afternoon Eurostar service from London St Pancras to Paris Gare du Nord. Following a change of station in Paris continue by Thello sleeper train overnight to Milan. We recommend the two bed sleeper compartments on the Thello train. There is a washbasin in the compartments and shared toilets in each carriage.

The sleeper train arrives in Milan about 06.00 hrs. You are met by a car and driver who will take you to your hotel on Lake Como where you spend seven nights. If you would like us to arrange an early check-in, we can do so for you, but there is usually a charge for it if you want it to be guaranteed. Spend the rest of the day acclimatising to your hotel and its location.

Spend six days at leisure on Lake Como. Lake Como is outstandingly beautiful, narrow and long, with luxuriant vegetation of olives, figs, mulberries, walnuts and oleanders, and is lined with cheerful resorts, splendid villas and mountainous backdrops. The architecture is quite rustic and alpine in feel, yet a sophisticated aura radiates throughout the area. Often called the prettiest town in Europe, Bellagio sits on a promontory dividing the subsidiary Lake Lecco from the southern part of Lake Como. The enchanting village is full of quaint cafes and boutiques, which line its little streets and alleyways ascending from the main square. In Bellagio visit Villa Melzi d’Eril, once a favourite picnic spot of the great composer, Franz Liszt, the gardens of this aristocratic villa are unsurpassable in their beauty and location. Although the 19th century villa is not open to the public, you can access the opulent Empire-style family chapel. Across a narrow finger of the lake from Bellagio, is the town of Varenna, bursting with gardens and cypresses. Its main attraction is the gardens of Villa Monastero. At Tremezzo another famous villa, well worth visiting, is that of Villa Carlotta. This villa was built by the extravagant marquis Giorgio Clerici between 1690 and 1743. The magnificent interior houses an enviable collection of Antonio Canova sculptures including Cupid and Psyche. The gardens are the real highlight though: 14 acres of rhododendrons, azaleas, palms, banana trees orchids, camellias and even a sequoia blossom and flourish amongst many other species, totalling 500 in all! A pretty resort on the lake and the starting point for many excellent walks up into the hills behind the lake is Cadenabbia, as is its neighbour, Menaggio. The largest town on the lake, and one that is often overlooked, is Como. Como is an attractive cathedral town, made up of cobbled streets and chic cafes of the old town and the newer industrial area famous for its fine silk production. You can visit silk producers and their shops. The cathedral was completed during the Renaissance period, and now boasts a striking façade and interior of both the Gothic and Renaissance styles. The façade includes statues of two of Como’s most famous residents, Pliny the Elder and Pliny the Younger, whose writings played a key role in the development of antique thought and philosophy. You don’t need the use of a hire-car when you are on Lake Como, but we can arrange one for you.

You have most of the day free, although you would need to check-out of the hotel late morning (ask us to request a late check-out for you), until your return car transfer to Milan for the sleeper service that leaves for Paris about 23.00 hrs.

You arrive into Paris Lyon at about 9.30am, and after changing stations you then take the Eurostar back to London where you arrive at lunchtime.

Holiday price guide From £2,100 per person based on two people sharing a double room at the Grand Hotel Imperiale and including for second class rail travel. First class supplement about £100 per person.
From £3,270 per person based on two people sharing a double room at the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni and including for second class rail travel. First class supplement about £100 per person.

Holiday Code ITBR03

Our prices include ● Second-class travel on all trains, with standard class on Eurostar (first and standard premier can be booked at a supplement)
● Double sleeper compartment on Thello sleeper train Paris to Milan, Milan to Paris overnight each way
● Private car transfers from Milan to your hotel and back to Milan
● 7 nights’ bed and breakfast in a Classic park view room at Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni, Bellagio or in a Comfort room with park view room at the Grand Hotel Imperiale, at Moltrasio
● 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

Holiday price guide

From £2,100 per person based on two people sharing a double room at the Grand Hotel Imperiale and including for second class rail travel. First class supplement about £100 per person. From £3,270 per person based on two people sharing a double room at the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni and including for second class rail travel. First class supplement about £100 per person.

Holiday Code ITBR03

Luxury rail tailormade holiday to Lake Como

About Italian Lakes

An Expressions tailor-made holiday to the Italian Lakes spans the northern Italian regions of Lombardy, Piemonte and the Veneto. We offer hotels located by the undisputedly beautiful Lake Maggiore, Lake Como and Lake Garda and also the smaller, quieter lakes of Orta and Iseo, both well-worth exploring in their own right. Each lake has its own character and atmosphere, distinctive terrain, architecture and style. Placed as the lakes are to the south of the Alps and to the north of the Po Valley, they naturally possess a charming mixture of the vibrant coolness associated with the Alps but enlivened by the warmth of the South. The landscape around the Italian Lakes is one of deep blue waters surrounded by greenish-blue tinged mountains, often snow-capped. On the shores of the lakes and the lower slopes of the hills you find a profusion of lemons and olives, chestnuts and palms, magnolias and camellias. Pretty villages with rustic stone and wood houses hug the sheltered bays and fishing boats still moor next to sailing boats. Wrought-iron balconies and colourful shutters adorn gaily-painted houses with terracotta roofs. Dining is usually al fresco in the summer months and a magical atmosphere is created with the lapping of the waters and the twinkling of the lights around the lake and in the hills above. The close proximity to Milan and Verona as well as other less well-known but artistically interesting cities means that you can visit the Italian Lakes quite easily for just a weekend or short break as well as a longer holiday. The Italian Lakes can all be visited as part of a rail holiday, and the many beautiful gardens located in the vicinity of Lakes Como and Maggiore are well worth a visit as part of a garden tour holiday. Our favourite four and five star hotels for luxury holidays in the Italian Lakes include Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni and Villa d'Este on Lake Como, and the Hotel Cannero Lakeside Resort on Lake Maggiore.

Highlights of the Italian Lakes

Historic villas are to be found on every lake from the Grotte di Catullo Roman villa at Sirmione on Lake Garda to Villa Melzi and Villa Olmo on Lake Como and the Palazzo Estense in Varese. Most of these villas also have extraordinarily beautiful gardens (which can be visited as part of an Expressions Garden Tour holiday) such as the Villa Carlotta on Lake Como, the Isola Bella in Lake Maggiore and Villa Taranto at Punta della Castagnola on Lake Maggiore. Monte Mottarone above Stresa on Lake Maggiore and Monte Baldo above Lake Garda can both be reached by cable car and afford spectacular views. At Gargnano on Lake Garda you can see the stone pavilions where lemons were traditionally cultivated. Within the region there are national parks such as the Stelvio National Park north of Orta and the Parco Nazionale della Val Grande above Verbania on Lake Maggiore.

Cultural highlights of the Italian Lakes

Much of the artistic and architectural cultural wealth in the region is concentrated in the great cities such as Milan and Verona but also in the less well-known but culturally-rich centres of Bergamo, Brescia, Pavia, Mantova and Vicenza (not directly on the Lakes but within reach for a day`s excursion). Highlights include the frescoes by Masolino at Castiglione Olona, the Rocca (castle) at Angera, the Flemish tapestries on the Isola Bella Lake Maggiore, the marble cathedral of Santa Maria Maggiore at Como and the works of art in the Galleria dell`Accademia Tadini at Lovere on Lake Iseo. Milan has La Scala, the Museo Poldi Pezzoli, the Brera Gallery (containing Raphael`s `Marriage of the Virgin` and the Montefeltro altarpiece by Piero della Francesca) and its Gothic cathedral. Verona has its annual opera festival from June until the end of August, the Romanesque church of San Zeno, the Renaissance Loggia del Consiglio and the Roman Arena.

Festivals in the Italian Lakes

The Verona Opera Festival takes place in the Roman Arena every year with performances running from June until the end of August. Verona also celebrates Carnival every year culminating on the Friday before Shrove Tuesday. Como holds a flea market, the Fiera di Pasqua, over the Easter weekend. Music festivals take place in Bergamo throughout the year. The Mille Miglia veteran car race starts and ends in Brescia (via Ferrara to Rome in May each year).

Gastronomy in the Italian Lakes

The cuisine of northern Italy tends to contain more meat and butter than further south and rice and polenta compete with pasta. Saffron is used extensively as in Risotto alla Milanese. Bresaola is cured raw beef served as an antipasta (now often with rocket and parmesan). Manzo al Barolo (beef in Barolo wine), Costolette alla Milanese (veal cutlets in breadcrumbs) and Ossobucco (veal in wine and tomatoes) are all popular dishes. Panettone cake and Zabaglione are two regional desserts. This region produces some of Italy's most famous cheeses such as Gorgonzola, Bel Paese, Fontina and Taleggio as well as some of Italy's most exportable wines such as Soave, Bardolino and Valpolicella. Less well known but interesting wines are produced in the Valtellina in the north of Lombardy and in Franciacorta near Lake Iseo.

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