Switzerland & Northern Italian Lakes

Switzerland & Northern Italian Lakes

Tour Switzerland & Italy’s Northern Lakes

Tour Switzerland and Northern Italy for an experience unlike any other! Idyllic villages tucked in the mountains, stunning vistas everywhere you look, Alps excursion by aerial gondola, Swiss fondue and chocolate, boat rides on Maggiore and Como, fascinating history; soak up all the magnificent beauty of these alpine regions on our tours to Northern Italy and Switzerland.

Let us be your personal hosts on this two-week tour to the idyllic alpine villages in the central and southern regions of Switzerland and the mountainous lake region of northern Italy. Switzerland has long been admired for its stunning beauty; it could be said that the “robust spirit” of its people was born of the mountainous terrain of this small yet ruggedly independent nation. Edward Whymper, a young English gentleman who climbed to the summit of the Matterhorn in 1865, praised the beauty of this land in these words: “However magnificent dreams of the imagination may be, they always remain inferior to reality.” Our journey is a true alpine experience, as we explore the picturesque villages of Wengen, Murren and Zermatt, among others.

In northern Italy we explore three lakes, each very different but each strikingly beautiful. On Lake Como, we visit the beautiful village of Bellagio, perched at the tip of a mountainous peninsula surrounded by water on three sides. Our lakefront hotel on Lake Garda, located in the lively town of Saló, is an ideal base to visit not only the ancient villages of Lake Garda but also the nearby Roman city of Verona and the wine region of Valpolicella. Lake Maggiore enjoys a mild climate and exotic vegetation due to the nearby sheltering Alps; by boat we visit the famous Borromean Islands.

Tour Dates: September 4 – 17, 2020

Tour Price: $8,390

Tour price includes:

  • Roundtrip airfare from Boston or New York to Zurich, home from Milan*
  • Airport transfers
  • 12 nights in charming, elegant hotels with magnificent mountain or lake views
  • All breakfasts, 1 lunch, 9 dinners
  • Full-time tour leader
  • Transportation by mini-coach or mini-van
  • Scenic mountain cable car rides in Switzerland
  • Highlights in Switzerland: Zürich, Luzern, Brienz, Gruyères, Lauterbrunnen,
    Wengen, Grindelwald, Zermatt, Ascona and Lugano
  • Highlights in Italy: Bellagio (Lake Como), Salò and Sirmione (Lake Garda),
    Verona and Stresa (Lake Maggiore)
  • Walking tours led by local expert guides
  • Chocolate tasting
  • Winery tour and tasting
  • All tour guides, attraction/monument entrance fees
  • All tips and taxes
Tour price is per person based on double occupancy.
Single supplements are available for those traveling alone who would like their own room.
*Cost of airfare can be deducted if you wish to make your own arrangements

Switzerland & Northern Italian Lakes Itinerary

Depart the US, flying to Zürich

Day 1
We arrive at the Zürich Airport and check into our hotel in the lively city center. Situated on the northern shores of Lake Zürich, with a magnificent view of the snowcapped Alps on the horizon, Zürich (dubbed “Downtown Switzerland”) offers a unique mixture of attractions.  We take a walking tour with a local guide and have some time to relax before our Swiss welcome dinner
Overnight: Zürich  Meals:  D
Day 2
After breakfast, we take a short drive to central Switzerland’s largest town, Luzern. On the western edge of Lake Luzern (Lucerne, in French), Luzern is easily explored on foot because of its compact size. We enjoy a guided walking tour of the medieval Old Town, including the famous Chapel Bridge. We then head south to the Bernese Oberland mountain region.  Our base for the next two nights is an elegant historic hotel on the shore of beautiful Lake Brienz. Tonight, dinner is a gourmet affair with wonderful Swiss specialties.
Overnight: Brienz Meals: B, D
Day 3
We are now in the “Jungfrau Region,” a spectacular area of deep blue lakes and magnificent mountains. Our wonderful local guide leads us on the “Männlichen excursion”— a fantastic journey by train and aerial gondola rides from Grindelwald to enchanting Wengen and up to Männlichen, 2,230 meters high and a popular winter ski resort. From here we have the option of taking a hike with spectacular vistas. Another gondola ride takes us to the idyllic village of Lauterbrunnen, nestled on the floor of the stunning  Lauterbrunnen Valley—the deepest U-shaped valley in the world. From here, our eyes feast on the beauty of this quintessential Swiss alpine scenery, with  waterfalls—including the UNESCO Trümmelbach Falls—and green meadows dotted with cows and snowy peaks.  Dinner tonight is at a lakefront restaurant in the village of Brienz.
Overnight: Brienz Meals:  B, D
Day 4
This morning a scenic drive takes us to Broc for a visit to the Cailler Chocolate factory. Picture yourself in a room full of chocolate where the guide invites you to eat as much as you can! Next we stop in the village of Gruyères— voted the most beautiful village in western Switzerland in 2014.  After free time to explore and try some Gruyères cheese for lunch, we continue on a spectacular mountain drive, stopping in Montreux on the shore of Lake Geneva to stroll along the promenade.  We arrive at our destination, the famous car-free village of Zermatt, our home for the next three days. Nestled at the foot of the majestic Matterhorn mountain, Zermatt is arguably the most beautiful village in all Switzerland, if not the world.  After wandering Zermatt’s quaint streets, we enjoy a Swiss fondue dinner in a local restaurant.
Overnight: Zermatt Meals: B, D
Day 5
Today is an exciting mountain adventure we take with a local mountaineering Swiss guide:  the “Matterhorn Glacier Paradise” excursion. We ride on a spectacular cable-car— the highest aerial cableway in Europe— up 3,883 meters to the top of the Klein Matterhorn summit.  If the weather is clear, we have a 360 degree panoramic view of 38 alpine peaks and fourteen glaciers in the Swiss,      Italian, and French Alps.  As if this wasn’t enough of a thrill, we then literally walk inside a glacier through a tunnel called the “Glacier Palace”.  The thick   glacial walls of the tunnel are brightly lit, and set within carved out niches are illuminated fairytale ice sculptures, each one more impressive than the last. At the summit restaurant you may want to try a Slivovitz hot chocolate— a Swiss drink of plum brandy in hot chocolate (just to take off the chill).  We ride the cable car back down the mountain to Zermatt and have a free afternoon to hike, explore, or have another Slivovitz.
Overnight: Zermatt Meals:  B
Day 6
Our third day in Zermatt begins with free time to roam the village, shop or relax with a beverage. Late morning we catch the Sunnegga Express funicular railway up Rothorn Mountain to enjoy stunning views of the Swiss Alps and Matterhorn. From there we walk ten minutes to the tiny hamlet of Findeln.  This Alpine village was once a “Maiensäss”, where many Zermatt families lived and worked during the summer months, growing grain and grazing cattle. We have a Swiss mountain lunch in one of the charming chalets, consisting of dry-cured meats, homemade sausages and Alpine cheeses. Our afternoon and evening are free.
Overnight: Zermatt Meals: B, L
Day 7
After leaving Zermatt, a gorgeous scenic drive east through the Alps takes us to the picturesque town of Ascona, Switzerland, for lunch. After a scenic drive along Lake Lugano, we cross the Italian border and arrive at the western shore of Lake Como.  We spend the night at a lovely hotel on the lake and enjoy our first delicious northern Italian dinner.
Overnight: Lake Como, Italy Meals: B, D
Day 8
We begin our day on Lake Como with a  visit to the beautiful Villa Carlotta, with its acres of magnificent gardens.  We then take a boat across the lake to the    enchanting village of Bellagio, known not only for the famous movie stars who reside here but also for the quaint medieval streets winding up the mountain with spectacular lake vistas.  After time to explore Bellagio, we drive eastward to Lake Garda and arrive at the charming resort town of Salò. Our lakefront hotel is home for the next three nights. We enjoy a gastronomic Italian dinner overlooking the lake.
Overnight: Salò, Lake Garda Meals: B, D
Day 9
This morning we take a boat to the ancient Roman village of Sirmione, where we visit the ruins of a fascinating Roman villa, complete with heated swimming pool. After lunch in Sirmione, we take another boat to an island called Isola del Garda. The magnificent villa on the island belonged to the Borghese family and its owners spared no expense in embellishing their luxurious residence. If we’re lucky, our tour guide will be the current Countess Cavazza, who gives us a tour of the palace gardens and then invites us onto the villa’s terrace for a glass of wine and a tasting of the Cavazza family’s olive oil. We return to Salò for free time to stroll the boardwalk along the lake and peak into the shops. Tonight is free to choose one of the many enticing restaurants in Salò.
Overnight: Salò, Lake Garda Meals: B
Day 10
After breakfast we take an excursion to Verona to see the oldest part of this beautiful city, including, of course, Juliet’s famous balcony. Before returning to Salò, we visit a Valpolicella winery to sample the famous Amarone red. Tonight is another wonderful dinner of northern Italian specialties
Overnight: Salò, Lake Garda Meals: B, D
Day 11
We head west to Lake Maggiore, where we check into our lakefront hotel in the lovely town of Stresa. If weather permits, we can take a chairlift ride high up the side of a mountain for a magnificent view of the mountains and lake  below.  In the afternoon, we are free to stroll the lakeside promenade or explore the delightful village. Tonight is an Italian feast you won’t soon forget. Before retiring you must sit on the balcony of your room to gaze out at the sparkling lights across the lake, reminding you of how lucky you are to have this experience.
Overnight: Stresa, Lake Maggiore Meals: B, D
Day 12
A short boat ride takes us to the three Borromean Islands (Isola Bella, Isola dei Pescatori and Isola Madre). The first, “Beautiful Island,” houses a 17th century palace belonging to the Borromeo family, owners of these islands since the 12th century; the second, the “Mother Island,” has a large garden filled with exotic plants and flowers and an elegant villa to explore; the third, “Fisherman’s Island,” is an unspoiled dream of a tiny Italian village straight out of a movie set and a perfect place for lunch. Our farewell dinner tonight in Stresa is a gourmet affair of regional northern Italian dishes.
Overnight: Stresa, Lake Maggiore Meals: B, D
Day 13
Depart after breakfast from Milan Malpensa Airport for our return flights home.
Meals: B

 


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