Take a five-day frolic through Italy and Switzerland with this itinerary. You'll split your time between lakes and mountains, often enjoying views of both simultaneously, as you take in waterfront historic sites, luxurious villas, and more.

Highlights

  • Visit the ancient Roman Catullo Grottoes in Sirmione
  • Tour the lakeside hamlet of Malcesine
  • Explore the luxury villas of Lake Como
  • Take the Gotthard Panorama Train to the heart of Switzerland

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Milan, Transfer to Lake Garda Gargnano
Day 2 Tour of Malcesine, Cable Car to Monte Baldo Gargnano
Day 3 Transfer from Lake Garda to Lake Como Tremezzina
Day 4 Gotthard Panoramic Train, Guided Tour of Luzern Luzern
Day 5 Goodbye Switzerland!  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Milan, Transfer to Lake Garda

Riva del Garda
Riva del Garda

Arrive at Milan Malpensa Airport, then drive to Lake Garda—a beautiful two-hour journey through Northern Italy's Lakes Region. Arrive in Gargnano, then check in to your lakeshore accommodation and spend a few hours unpacking and relaxing after your travels. 

Lake Garda is large, and its northern villages of Bardolino, Riva, Malcesine, Gardone, and Limone are smaller and have a more romantic mountain feeling. The southern towns of Sirmione and Desenzano are somewhat bigger, with a vibrant nightlife, trendy bars and restaurants, and plentiful accommodation options.

In the afternoon head to the town of Sirmione, which sits on a narrow peninsula on the south end of the lake. The town is known for its famous healing waters and its many historical sites, including the striking 13th-century Rocca Scaligera. The fortress is one of Italy's best-preserved medieval castles and features a restored stone harbor. 

Sirmione is also famous for its ancient Roman villa, the Catullo Grottoes, which dates back to the 1st century BCE. The villa is situated on the northernmost tip of Sirmione's peninsula and commands unparalleled views of the lake. Today, visitors can tour the grounds and ruins of the grand villa to see how ancient Rome's rich and powerful citizens built their homes. 

In the evening, stroll through Sirmione's narrow alleyways, then head to one of the town's many restaurants for a dinner featuring fresh-caught fish from the lake. After dinner, you'll take a ferry ride back to Gargnano.

Day 2: Tour of Malcesine, Cable Car to Monte Baldo

The Scaliger Castle in Sirmione
The Scaliger Castle in Sirmione

After breakfast, board a private boat to Malcesine, a small hamlet nestled between the lake and the nearby mountains. The town encircles the striking Scaliger Castle with an old town center of steep cobbled streets that spreads out from the lakeshore. Family-owned shops, medieval buildings, narrow alleys, and hidden pockets of nature give the small town an old-world feeling. 

Stroll through the village and visit the castle to learn about local history. After your tour of the town, ascend to the top of nearby Mount Baldo to see the surrounding area from an elevation of 5,774 feet (1,760 m). You'll reach the summit on a rotating cable-car, with 360-degree views of the landscape that are an absolute highlight. Take in the views of the lake, hillsides, and distant mountains as you sit back and enjoy the ride. 

Once at the top go for a short and easy stroll to take in the views and breathe the fresh mountain air. When you're ready for lunch pop into one of the many mountain huts or restaurants next to the mountaintop station. Enjoy a delicious typical Northern Italian meal with Lake Garda and the Dolomite Mountains forming a stunning backdrop behind you.

Day 3: Transfer from Lake Garda to Lake Como

Village of Tremezzina
Village of Tremezzina

After a leisurely breakfast, transfer to Lake Como. Before heading to your luxury accommodation above the lake, stop at a winery for a wine tasting and lunch. The winery is family-owned, with a strong focus on preserving the region's heritage of winemaking. Thanks to the family's commitment to history, a visit to the winery is an authentic cultural experience. 

After a stop at the winery, check in to your hotel in the village of Tremezzina. The town may be small, but it boasts a variety of historical and cultural attractions, including the background scenes for several of the Star Wars films.

Spend the afternoon relaxing and exploring the shops and cafes along the lake. In the evening, head to an upscale restaurant for dinner and drinks. Stay after dinner to enjoy cocktails and a buzzing social atmosphere that continues late into the night, à la Jay Gatsby's lavish dinner parties. If you prefer something a bit more high-energy, pay a visit to Lenno's nightclubs and bars.

Day 4: Gotthard Panoramic Train, Guided Tour of Luzern

Gotthard Panoramic Train
Gotthard Panoramic Train

In the morning, transfer to Lugano to board the Gotthard Panorama Train to Flüelen. This 2.5-hour trip travels through some of Switzerland's most beautiful regions.

Enjoy a luxurious trip in first-class, with full panoramic views of the surrounding area thanks to the windows that completely surround the train compartment. Admire the Mediterranean landscape of Ticino, travel along the historic Gotthard route, and enjoy the views as the train passes through a series of tunnels and over bridges. Photography lovers will enjoy getting the perfect panoramic shots of the surrounding landscape from the specially designed photography coach.

Once you reach Flüelen, board a steamboat to cross Lake Luzerne and enjoy the views of the quiet bays and notable local sites as you cross the lake. You'll pass the Rütli Meadow where Switzerland was founded in 1291, as well as the Schiller Stone and Tell’s Chapel.

Arrive in Luzern, a city in the spectacular heart of Switzerland. Join a local guide as you tour the city's sunny plazas, candy-colored homes, and peaceful lakefront promenades. Continue the tour in the well-preserved medieval Old Town to see its ancient rampart walls and towers, 15th-century buildings with painted facades, and Luzern's best-known landmark: the Chapel Bridge. Built in 1332, it's the world's oldest covered wooden bridge. The bridge leads to another well-known historic site, the octagonal Water Tower. Despite the name, the tower does not hold water and has instead been used throughout history as a treasury, a prison, and an archive.

Your evening in Luzern is free to explore. The city is a food lover's paradise, with a combination of stylish new restaurants and well-loved old-world taverns on every street corner. 

Day 5: Goodbye Switzerland!

Wintertime in the Alps
Wintertime in the Alps

Time to say goodbye! After breakfast, head to the airport for your connecting flight home.