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Great Escapes for Discerning Drivers

Italian Lakes & Swiss Alps

17 September 2020 - 28 September 2020

The Italian Lakes conjure a dreamy image of romance and beauty, amongst the bucolic landscapes. All around mountains tumble steeply into ribbons of blue, islands float enticingly just offshore, whilst mellowed villas sit in perfect gardens along the shorelines. The Swiss Alps are renowned for their splendour, incredible scenery and world-class mountain drives. This tour has it all!

Explore Lakes Maggiore, Orta, Como, Iseo and Garda, together with the surrounding areas which exhibit an enchanting combination of Mediterranean foliage set against the backdrop of snow-capped mountains. There are some of the most beautiful towns and striking gardens in the whole of Europe to be visited. Experience aristocratic villas, glorious sunsets, boat trips to islands with magical villages, a fascinating range of cuisines, truly superb wines and, of course, the lakes themselves and all they have to offer.

The tour will start and finish in Switzerland, crossing the Simplon Pass into Italy and staying on Lake Maggiore then Lake Como. From Lake Garda drive across the famed Stelvio Pass and back into Switzerland, with a night in beautiful St Moritz. Then drive some of the world’s best mountain passes to stay overnight in chic Crans Montana. Drive through the UNESCO-listed Swiss vineyards for a final night at a fabulous lake hotel on Lake Neuchatel on the Swiss-French border, with a delicious farewell dinner.

It is also possible to just enjoy 7 nights of the Italian Lakes if you do not wish to do the entire tour.

Highlights

  • Drive around the Italian lakes of Maggiore, Orta, Como, Iseo & Garda
  • Discover the Borromean Islands in Lake Maggiore
  • Explore the pretty towns of Bellagio, Varenna, Orta & Sirmione
  • Visit the lovely town of Verona, famed for Juliet’s balcony
  • Enjoy wonderful scenic routes around and between the lakes
  • Stay in the wonderful Swiss Alpine resorts of St Moritz and Crans Montana
  • Drive stunning alpine passes including the Stelvio, Bernina, Julier, Furka and Simplon passes
  • Stay in exquisite hotels – all luxurious, unique and very special
  • See the beautiful Swiss lakes of Neuchatel and Geneva/Leman
  • Gaze upon the incredible Swiss Alps, including the peaks of the Matterhorn and Mont Blanc
  • Taste the perfect cheese fondue
  • Visit the fabulous Maison Cailler world of chocolate
  • Explore the medieval hilltop village of Gruyères
  • Drive through the enchanting vineyards and wine-growing villages that border Lac Leman
Route map
Price: €4,995 per person, sharing
Starts: 17 September 2020
Duration: 11 nights / 7 nights Italy only
Mileage: 1260 (520 Italy only) miles

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What's Included?

  • Eleven nights luxury accommodation (incl all taxes/fees)
  • Breakfast each morning
  • Three-course dinner on nine evenings, with wine (1/2 bottle per person)
  • Boat trip to the Borromean Islands
  • Tour Pack & Route Book – includes a brief history of the region, route maps and easy to follow directions, and a detailed account of everything there is to do, see and visit each day.
  • Road atlas
  • Rally plate
  • Smartphone app with all your tour information
  • Optional pre-loaded Garmin GPS on loan or files for your own device/smartphone
  • Experienced Tour Director, Sarah Dowding & assistant to ensure you’re able to make the most of your trip
  • There will be a dedicated tour mechanic if there are more than 15 cars on the tour.

Itinerary

May be subject to change.

Day : 17 September 2020

Drive across the Jura mountains into Switzerland. Visit the beautiful, medieval hilltop town of Gruyeres, famous for its cheese, and see how the cheese is made in the local alpine farms. Or indulge yourself at the fabulous Maison Cailler chocolate factory, to see how chocolate is made. Stay in a gorgeous chalet-style hotel in the French-speaking part of Switzerland in the little town of Rougemont, in a stunning alpine valley.  There will be welcome drinks followed by a dinner of traditional cheese fondue.

Day : 18 September 2020 160 miles

Drive through Gstaad and over some lovely passes down to Martigny. Head along the valley and then over the Simplon Pass into Italy. Descend into the Ossola valley and drive along the shores of Lake Maggiore to Stresa. Stay for two nights in a fabulous grand hotel, overlooking the lake and the Borromean Islands. All the rooms will have a lake view. Dinner is included this evening.

Day : 19 September 2020 38 miles

A short tour today to circumnavigate Lake Orta and visit the captivating town of Orta San Guilio, set entirely on its own garden peninsula. Take a short boat ride across to the island in the middle of the lake. The lanes are too narrow for cars so take a few hours to discover the town on foot. The scenic journey around the perimeter of the lake makes for a gentle and interesting drive.

This evening there will a boat ride to see the jewel-like Borromean Islands and enjoy the spectacular palace and beautiful gardens. Dinner will be included at one of the island restaurants.

Day : 20 September 2020 83 miles

Take the ferry across Lake Maggiore to Laveno. Drive up the eastern shore of Lake Maggiore, which is dotted with religious sanctuaries and churches, decorated with fine frescoes. Head inland on some sensational mountain roads to Sacro Monte, a holy way that winds 2km to the sanctuary at the top, and is lined with 14 chapels decorated with frescoes and statues.

Drive to Lake Lugano and cross the border into Switzerland and drive around its southern shore before crossing over to Lake Como, where you will spend the next two nights at a wonderful hotel, right on the lake at Moltrasio. All rooms will have a lake view. Dinner is included this evening.

Day : 21 September 2020 40 miles

Drive south, past Cernobbio and Villa d’Este to discover the lovely little walled city of Como and its fine monuments. Take a scenic drive around the southern half of Lake Como – Italy’s prestigious romantic lake since the early Roman times. Then drive along the lake edge to visit Bellagio, a town as charming as its setting, then take the ferry across to the western shore and back to the hotel. Dinner is at leisure this evening.

Day : 22 September 2020 162 miles

Drive northwards along Lake Como to Menaggio where we will take the ferry to Varenna. Drive some fabulous mountain roads, past the spa town of San Pellegrino and onto Lake Iseo. There is the option to visit the Mille Miglia Museum in Brescia.

Drive to Lake Garda to stay for three nights on the western shore. The hotel is situated right on the shores of the lake and each room overlooks the lake. Dinner is included this evening.

Day : 23 September 2020 90 miles

There is the option of a circular drive to Lake Idro or just enjoy wandering around the various little towns along the lake and taking it easy, relaxing in the local vicinity, or take the opportunity to visit the city of Verona, which is about 40 miles away. Dinner is at leisure this evening.

Day : 24 September 2020 105 miles

Take a circular tour to drive around either the whole of Lake Garda or just the southern half, with a ferry across the lake. Visit the charming towns of Riva in the north, Torri del Benaco, Sirmione and Desenzano. Dinner is included this evening – a more informal dinner on the shore.

Day : 25 September 2020 211 miles

Leave Lake Garda and drive north to the Alps and experience the famous Stelvio Pass and Bernina Pass crossing into Switzerland. Stay overnight in the glamorous resort of St Moritz in a fabulous five-star luxury hotel. Dinner is included this evening.

Day : 26 September 2020 173 miles

Today is a day of sensational alpine passes. Leave St Moritz and drive over the beautiful Julier Pass, descending to the medieval town of Chur. Then climb over the Oberalp Pass to the town of Andermatt, before driving the Furka Pass, immortalised by the car chase scene from James Bond’s Goldfinger.

From Gletsch continue along the Rhone Valley, past the historic village of Ernen, and past the amazing Aletsch glacier, the longest glacier in the Alps at 23km long, and part of the first Alpine UNESCO World Heritage Site. The scenery is exquisite and the driving is superb.

Then proceed to the beautiful and chic resort of Crans-Montana. Stay in a beautiful, five-star, traditional-style, luxury alpine hotel. A superb dinner is included.

Day : 27 September 2020

Leave Crans Montana and head down the valley to the historic towns of Sion and Saillon and onto the town of Martigny. Continue to the lakeside town of Montreux. Here you can visit the medieval Chateau de Chillon, one of Switzerland’s most photographed subjects, or explore a museum dedicated to the legendary rock band, Queen, as this is where they created a major portion of their most successful albums.

Drive alongside Lake Geneva/Lac Leman to the gorgeous town of Vevey and through the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Lavaux and its vineyards. Cotinue to Lausanne and along the lake to the pretty town of Morges, then inland to historic Aubonne with it’s beautiful buildings from 16th to 19th centuries.

The route then climbs up to the Jura Vaudois Natural Park, which is dotted with forests, jagged limestone rocks, glades, open pastures and lakes, and punctuated with gorges and mountains. The road leads to Le Sentier, which is a cradle of Swiss watch-making, especially grand complication watches. See the Clock & Watch Museum to discover this incredible craft and technology.

Pass through Motiers, which is famed for its absinthe production and continue to Travers where road enthusiasts will be delighted to learn there is an asphalt museum, on the site of the old asphalt mines! For over a century asphalt was labouriously mined underground and exported worldwide for road construction.

Continue to the Creux du Van, a natural rock arena of immense proportions, with 160-metre high vertical rock faces surrounding a 4km long and 1km wide valley basin. It’s then a short drive to Neuchatel for a final night at the amazing five-star lake-side hotel. There will be a farewell dinner overlooking the lake.

 

Day : 28 September 2020

After a superb breakfast feast in the restaurant overlooking the lake, depart on your journey homewards…

Accommodation

We have hand-picked some sensational, beautiful and luxurious hotels that you’re going to love. There are quintessentially traditional Swiss-chalet hotels, grand belle-epoque lake-side Italian palaces, exquisite mountain retreats, and a modern and funky lakeside hotel. Each one is individual, unique, luxurious and fantastically memorable. All of the hotels on this tour are five-star and truly exceptional.

Suitable parking is a feature of each hotel, although it’s not always covered or garage parking, and this is reserved for you where available.

The Italian section of the tour will stay in three delightful hotels, each on a lakeshore. All the hotels have wonderful character and individuality, whilst being of an excellent standard. Due to the nature and age of these hotels, all the rooms are different, and will vary from charmingly comfortable to the utmost luxury. We have hand-picked and visited each hotel to ensure it has an enchanting atmosphere, as well as suitable parking for your car.

Requirements

  • Each person must have a passport (and any necessary visas for non-EU passport holders) valid for Italy and any other countries you may visit to participate on the tour. All passports must be valid for six months after the end of the tour
  • You will also need your vehicle registration documents, driving licence (a photo-card licence or international permit is best), and an international insurance green card.
  • We strongly suggest and recommend you have European breakdown cover, and ensure you are covered for the countries to be visited.
  • Please check your travel and motor insurance that you are covered for travel in the required countries.
  • You are also required to safety equipment: carry a warning triangle, first-aid kit, fluorescent jacket, set of replacement bulbs and a national identification sticker.
  • However, the most important requirement is that you take pleasure in motoring through fabulous scenery, and relish individual, character hotels.

Book

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We will contact you directly for more details after you make your initial booking.

Tour Price

€4,995 euros per person

Based on two people sharing a double/twin room
Please enquire for single occupancy

Italian Lakes only (18-25 September 2020): €3,495 euros per person

Based on two people sharing a double/twin room