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Swiss Alps and Italian Lakes

This unique tour begins in Switzerland, whose very name conjures up images of snow-capped mountains, majestic peaks reflected in glassy lakes and a countryside filled with picture-book villages and crystal clear air. 

The moment we arrive in Zurich, the breathtaking Alps emerge as we travel through the picturesque countryside to the beautiful lakeside town of Lucerne for a 2-night stay.

After our stay in Lucerne we proceed, via touring in Bern and Interlaken, to the welcoming mountain resort town of Villars-sur-Ollon (also known as Villars) for a 5-night stay. We will experience the utmost in Alpine splendour at this traditional resort which is beautifully situated in the heart of the Vaudoise Alps, in view of the peaks of the Dents du Midi and the chain of Mont Blanc, with a sweeping view of the Rhone Valley. While the town has a busy little downtown area, it still retains a sense of coziness and tradition in the true Swiss sense. Villars will be our base for visiting the surrounding region with visits to Montreux, Gruyeres, Vevey, L’Etivaz and Zermatt - home of the mighty Matterhorn! 

Next, we traverse the Simplon Pass into Italy for a 7-night stay at Lake Maggiore’s most beautiful resort town - Stresa. Bursting with flowers, sprinkled with fine old villas and famous for its lush gardens and mild climate, Stresa has been a holiday resort since the 19th century. On our non-touring days you can enjoy people-watching in the lovely town square, or take the cable car to the top of Monte Mottarone for famous views of distant snowy peaks and all 7 of the major Italian lakes. This idyllic spot is an ideal base for touring the beautiful Italian Lakes area, including the lively city of Milan. This will be a perfect opportunity to experience la vera Italia (the real Italy).

* Those joining any of our tours to Europe must be able to walk fairly long distances and climb stairs easily.

Itinerary / Excursions

We depart for Zurich, non-stop from Toronto.
We arrive in Zurich, then proceed to Vitznau where we board a boat and enjoy our first views of the breathtaking Swiss Alps while cruising on Lake Lucerne to our hotel. Tonight we enjoy our Welcome Dinner.
On this morning’s walking tour we’ll stroll along Lake Lucerne and through the city’s Old Town, seeing the Hofkirche Church, the Old Town Hall, Chapel Bridge (the symbol of Lucerne) and the world famous Lion Monument - carved in relief into a sandstone cliff. Afternoon at leisure to explore this beautiful city on your own, or to shop for a Swiss watch or chocolate.
This full-day tour begins in Interlaken, the main tourist centre of the Bernese Oberland. The town lies between two lakes amid the towering Alps, and so views from the town are spectacular. We will see typical Swiss architecture, several 16th century churches and palatial hotels. We then travel to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Bern. We’ll stroll in the old town and see the Zeitglockentrum clock tower, Munster Cathedral, the Bear Pits and the historical fountains for which the town is known. We continue on to Villars for a 5-night stay.
We take a tour to Montreaux – naturally beautiful and one of Lake Geneva’s most popular resorts. The nearby Chillon Castle is built on a rocky islet and has towers that reflect on the lake - very picturesque! The turrets offer fantastic views of Montreux, the lake and the Alps. The castle and its dungeons have been used as a prison over the years (Lord Byron wrote The Prisoner of Chillon here, and carved his name in one of the cells). After our castle visit we proceed to the fortified hilltop town of Gruyere in time for lunch and some time to stroll. We visit a cheese factory to learn about the traditional method for making cheese. A cellar visit with wine tasting is included.
We board a train for the short ride to Zermatt - a village that lies at the foot of the Matterhorn. This is one of the most photographed mountains in the world, and has been visited by mountaineers from all around the world for centuries! We will tour the historic part of the village and enjoy some leisure time to stroll or to enjoy an optional ride on the cog wheel tram for a better view of the famous mountain.
At leisure. Your Tour Manager will offer suggestions. There are many walking trails in and around the town, or opt for a train ride through the Alps.
We traverse the Simplon pass into Italy - a wonderful scenic day. We proceed to Stresa on the shore of Lake Maggiore for a 7-night stay.
We take a boat trip to Isola Bella to see the magnificent 16th century palace and gardens, built as a wedding gift. The garden features statues, fountains and terraces where peacocks roam among the scented shrubs.
Today’s full day excursion takes us on one of Europe’s most scenic railways – the narrow gauge Centovalli Railway – which threads its way across “a hundred valleys”, past sleepy villages and over deep ravines. Upon arrival in Locarno we take an orientation tour of the town and then enjoy some free time. Explore the picturesque Old Town, see the beautiful subtropical gardens filled with palm trees and exotic flowers, stroll the lakeside promenades and enjoy the excellent shopping under the arcades of the Piazza Grande. Later we cruise back down the lake to Stresa.
A day to explore this town and appreciate the beautiful panoramic setting. Relax and enjoy a cappucino at one of the lakeside cafes and observe the local lifestyle and magnificent scenery.
A very scenic day as we travel to Lake Como and the area around it - adorned with ancient villages, exquisite villas and beautiful gardens. Our first visit will be to the “the Pearl of Lake Como” - the town of Bellagio, and then the town of Como, Our walking tour of these beguiling towns will take us along cobbled lanes lined with elegant buildings exuding Old World elegance, and through the gardens of one of the many local Villas.
We visit this very modern city, which also boasts the third largest Gothic Cathedral in the world. We see the Galleria, which was the first indoor shopping mall in Europe - a beautiful, elegant area built in the 19th century. This is the place to have a coffee, people watch and shop.
At leisure in Stresa, an ideal town for strolling. The walking trails around the lake are lovely, as is the shopping! Tonight is our Farewell Dinner.
We transfer to the Milan airport for our flight back to Canada.
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