Tailormade tour Venice over the Swiss Alps by train touring holiday Italy

5 nights/6 days

Lucerne • Gotthard Express • Venice • Return by sleeper train

This rail holiday transports you to Venice for a short break but includes an overnight stop in Lucerne, enabling you to experience a scenic train journey through the Swiss Alps on the Gotthard Express. We include three nights in Venice and a return journey by sleeper train from Venice to Paris. Alternative return journeys can be arranged.
Holiday price guide

Available year-round subject to the opening period of the hotels, from about £1,710 per person.

Luxury rail tailormade holiday to Venice over the Alps

Highlights

Eurostar London to Paris return • Lucerne • Gotthard Express • Venice • Visit the islands of Murano and Burano • Visit the Guggenheim • Return by sleeper train

Day by day

Begin your rail holiday to Lucerne and Venice by departing from London by Eurostar to Paris just before 08.00 hrs. Transfer from the Gare du Nord to the Gare de Lyon by taxi where you board the high-speed TGV train to Basel and then onwards to Lucerne where you arrive at around 19.00 hrs. Your hotel is in the centre of this charming city, and there is a choice of restaurants within walking distance.

Your journey to Venice from Lucerne takes you through the spectacular scenery of the Alps before changing trains and Milan and heading east across the Po valley to Venice. 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.

You have a large part of your last day at leisure in Venice before the private water taxi collects you to take you to the train station for the departure of the sleeper train to Paris at about 20.00 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 Price from £1,710 per person based on two people sharing a double room including second class rail travel. Supplement for Luxury hotel option £590 per person. Supplement £350 per person for first class rail travel.

Holiday Code ITBR12

Luxury rail tailormade holiday to Venice over the Alps

Holiday price guide Price from £1,710 per person based on two people sharing a double room including second class rail travel. Supplement for Luxury hotel option £590 per person. Supplement £350 per person for first class rail travel.

Holiday Code ITBR12

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 Milan to Paris overnight
● Private return water taxi transfers from Venice Santa Lucia station to the hotel
● 1 night’s bed and breakfast in a Classic room at the Hotel Wilden Mann in Lucerne
● 3 nights’ bed and breakfast Classic room at the Hotel Bisanzio in Venice
● 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 and Lucerne

Holiday price guide Price from £1,710 per person based on two people sharing a double room including second class rail travel. Supplement for Luxury hotel option £590 per person. Supplement £350 per person for first class rail travel.

Holiday Code ITBR12

Luxury rail tailormade holiday to Venice over the Alps

Highlights of Lake Lucerne

Begin your exploration of the Lake Lucerne Region with the famous city itself. To get your bearings, wander along the river or lakeside, stopping first at the Chapel Bridge, Lucerne's main landmark and the most photographed monument in Switzerland. This bridge gets its name from St Peter's Chapel, which stands nearby, and was built in the early 14th century, making it a true testament to its ingenious structure. The Water Tower that stands partway along the bridge once formed part of the city walls, and has served a number of functions, including that of an archive, prison, and torture chamber. Also part of the city's fortifications is the Spreuer Bridge, which, again, stretches across the Reuss, but with an unusual ochre design characterised by the small red turrets attached above the bridge's supports. The so-called ‘Water Spike,' which regulates the water level in the Reuss River, is recognised for being a truly unique sight, due to the specificities of its engineering. For more stunning, historical structures, visit the 17th century Jesuit Church, with its grand, regal Baroque façade, which was the first large sacral church to be built in Switzerland. High above the city is the Musegg Wall. Built in the late 14th century, the wall remains remarkably well preserved, as do the nine towers, of which three are open to the public. For a taste of traditional Swiss life, visit one of the historical squares hidden down the city streets and enjoy a light lunch or drink in one of the cafes. The Town Hall and Pfistern Guildhall, which is artfully painted, are situated on the Kornmarkt Square; the Hirschenplatz Square is named after an inn that dates back to medieval times; and the Weinmarkt Square is the site on which Lucerne swore its federal oath with Schwyz, Uri, and Unterwalden in the early 14th century.

Cultural highlights of Lake Lucerne

Lucerne is home to a variety of museums and galleries, including the KKL Luzern, the Rosengart Collection of works by Picasso and Klee, the Wagner Museum in Tribschen, and the most well-known of them all, the Swiss Museum of Transport. Once you have explored Lucerne's streets, restaurants, and shops, finish your tour with a visit to the Dying Lion of Lucerne. Commemorating the deaths of the Swiss mercenaries at the attack on the Tuileries at the end of the 18th century, this monument is one of the most moving in Europe. Follow the northern shore of the lake to the picturesque villages of Weggis and Vitznau. Weggis is recognisable from the water by the red-topped church spire at the village's highest point. The scattered houses in both are surrounded by green lawns, clusters of evergreen trees, and gently rising slopes. The Wilhelm Tell Express will take you by boat from Lucerne across the river to Fluelen, passing the iconic spots that feature in the legend of Wilhelm Tell, the best known folk character in Switzerland and the Swiss National Hero of Liberty. The meadows in Rutli, for example, are the setting of Friedrich Schiller's recounting of Tell's tale, and Tell's Chapel in Sisikon is built upon Tell's Slab, where he famously jumped from the bailiff's boat before pushing them back into the storm. Further inland, in the neighbouring cantons that claim sections of Lake Lucerne's shores, are several picturesque towns and villages with their own individual character. The town of Schwyz, in the canton of the same name, provides both a valuable connection with the cities and towns to the east of Lake Lucerne and an equally valuable insight into the traditions and atmospheres of small towns that have retained much of their historical air. The most popular and interesting part of this town, which is mainly characterised by its peaceful streets of chalet-style buildings, is the Hauptplatz. Here, you can admire the painted façade of the Town Hall while enjoying some food at the restaurant of the Hotel Wysses Rossli. Those looking to explore the landscape on foot or by cable car should head towards the two main peaks of the Lucerne area: Pilatus and Rigi. The former was once reputedly the home of a dragon and is now believed to be the final resting place of Pontius Pilatus, but most remarkable are the views across 73 Alpine peaks that can be appreciated from the top. Rigi is known as Queen of the Mountains, from the summit of which you can see 13 lakes, the entire Swiss Mittelland, and the borders into Germany and France. A cable car up to Rigi can be taken from Weggis. To enjoy the scenery by rail, take the funicular railway from Stoos to Fronalpstock or vice versa, the track of which is the world's steepest. Once on the mountainsides, you are at your leisure to embark on cycling tours and hiking tours to unveil the waterfalls and mountain streams, to take a once-in-a-lifetime skydiving or paragliding trip, or to take your time with a round of golf. The range of places and activities that surround Lake Lucerne is given its diversity by the stunning landscape, and by the coming together of so many cantons, each with their own unique culture. We would recommend staying long enough to try a little of everything to truly make the most of this fantastic and inspiring region.

Festivals in Lake Lucerne

Lucerne prides itself on being a city of festivals, a title that it lives up to through its blend of music, food, and theatrical celebrations. The biggest of these is without a doubt the Lucerne Carnival. Beginning on Fat Thursday before Lent begins, the carnival features three massive parades with masks, costumes, bonfires, and displays by the various societies in the area. Music festivals in Lucerne also include the World Band Festival at the end of September, the Lucerne Blues Festival at the beginning of November, the Lucerne Festival at the Piano in mid to late November, the two Lucerne Festivals (at Easter and in summer) which focus on classical music, and the Blue Balls music and art festival in late July. Sports enthusiasts might want to plan their visit in time with the Lucerne Regatta, on the 7th to 9th July 2017, and the Athletics Meeting, also in July.

Gastronomy in Lake Lucerne

The food around Lake Lucerne, like its history, is made diverse by the numerous cantons. Visitors can enjoy high-class gourmet food in stylish modern restaurants, or can enjoy traditional delicacies in smaller, family-run establishments. One example of a popular local dish is the Lozarner Churgelipastete, which comprises of veal and mushrooms cooked inside a puff-pastry casing. Those with a sweet tooth might wish to try the pear bread. To try some Swiss Alpine cheese, we would recommend ordering either the raclette or the fondue, as these are possibly the most typically Swiss dishes available. Finish off your culinary tour of Lucerne with some of the famous Swiss chocolate made by a local chocolatier.

Luxury rail tailormade holiday to Venice over the 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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