Why I love the Italian Lakes
“From cutting-edge textiles to hi-tech olive presses and a sidewalk scene that makes Fashion Week seem entirely redundant, Milan and the lakes are both thrilling and fun. Everyone here is fizzing with ideas, ambition and energy, and it’s catching. Unlike nonna’s Italy further south, Lombards, like New Yorkers, are refreshing modernists and natural entrepreneurs. A surprising number of people here care deeply about...” Read More
Top experiences in The Italian Lakes
The Italian Lakes activities
Milan Half-Day Sightseeing Tour
Milan boasts plenty of superlatives: it's home to one of the world's oldest churches, a renowned opera house, the most fashionable city in Italy, and Leonardo Da Vinci's masterpiece, The Last Supper. You get to see all this and then some on this 3.5-hour tour. Meet your guide near Sforza Castle in central Milan and set out on your tour. (The exact route will depend on your departure time.) First, head to the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie — a UNESCO World Heritage site — and feast your eyes on The Last Supper in the refectory. This exquisite and incredibly important mural is thought to have been completed toward the end of the 15th century and depicts Jesus' last meal with his disciples. Hear from your guide how da Vinci painted it directly onto a dry wall, a choice that makes it extremely delicate. For this reason, entrance is limited to those who have pre-booked, with the numbers of people and duration of visits also strictly controlled. Each visiting group is only allowed to stand with the painting at any one time in a specially conditioned room for a maximum of 15 minutes.After admiring da Vinci's work, continue your explorations of Milan, where centuries of history and heritage blend seamlessly with cutting-edge styles and fashions. Follow your guide to the Teatro alla Scala (La Scala Theatre), considered by many to be one of the world's most famous opera houses and learn how it has hosted leading lights such as Italy’s own Luciano Pavarotti. Admire the ornate stage, crystal chandelier and orchestra pit from your vantage point in one of the public boxes (unless there’s a rehearsal or show on). Your entrance ticket provides admission to the theater and museum, which you may like to revisit for a longer period.No tour of Milan would be complete without taking in some of the city’s finest shopping hotspots — this is the world’s fashion capital! Wander around the chic boutiques and luxury stores of the glamorous Galleria Vittorio Emanuele shopping arcade, and admire the many luxurious items on sale.After 3.5 hours discovering some of Milan’s top attractions, return to Sforza Castle in central Milan where your tour will conclude.Please note: the order of the itinerary may vary on the day.If a rehearsal or show is taking place during your La Scala visit, you will not visit the public box.Please note: Entrance to the Cathedral is not permitted during Services
Lake Como Day Trip from Milan
Lake Como Cruise and Brunate Panoramic View (Nov - March)Departing from central Milan in the morning, take a 1-hour drive up to Como, arriving around 10am. Take a guided tour of the city and then ride the funicular up to the town of Brunate, one of the best places to soak up a sweeping panorama of the city and the lake. You'll then have free time for lunch (own expense) in Brunate before the highlight of your afternoon: a Lake Como cruise. Board the boat at the Como city center and then sit back and relax on a 1-hour cruise around the breathtaking lake. Admire the splendid lakeside villas and keep an eye out for Villa d'Este at Cernobbio, a luxurious hotel with tropical gardens.After your Lake Como cruise, you'll have free time to shop, sightsee and grab some coffee if you wish before heading back to Milan around 4:30pm. On the way back, you'll stop to visit the Basilica of Sant'Abbondio, a notable church built in the 11th century in Romanesque style. You'll arrive in Milan in the evening. Lake Como Cruise and Bellagio Visit (April - Oct)Board the coach in central Milan in the morning and relax on the 1-hour drive to Como. Start with a visit to Basilica of Sant'Abbondio. Take a tour of the city and enjoy free time to shop at local boutiques for fine Italian goods. Then, board a boat at the Como city center for your extended 2-hour cruise on Lake Como.Soak up picturesque views as you make your way to Bellagio, one of the many scenic villages surrounding the lake. You'll have free time to explore this delightful town on your own and have lunch (own expense). Back on board, savor the last views of Lake Como as you cruise to Cadenabbia, where you'll hop on the coach and head back to Milan, arriving around 6:30pm.
Swiss Alps Bernina Express Rail Tour from Milan
What better way to enjoy the breathtaking scenery of Switzerland and the Alps year-round than a ride on the Bernina Express? Known as the ‘Little Red Train,’ the Bernina Express was built more than 100 years ago to scale the majestic mountain landscapes of the Swiss Alps. This historical feat of engineering still climbs up the 7,330-foot (2,235-meter) high Bernina Pass along a UNESCO World Heritage-listed route.Depart by comfortable coach from Milan at 7am and enjoy a scenic bus tour to the Swiss town of Tirano, situated at the foothills of the Alps. Pass mountain streams and forested hills against a backdrop of steep, snow-capped peaks. When you arrive in Tirano at approximately 10:30am, you’ll have free time to explore before boarding the train.Your rail journey starts amid the palms and oleanders of northern Italy, taking you over the spiraling viaduct at Brusio and through the Bernina Pass into Engadin, arriving in St Moritz 2.5 hours later. Along the way you'll pass wild gorges and icy glaciers, cross soaring bridges and shoot through loop tunnels. This north-south alpine crossing offers eye-catching vistas of stunning scenery from your rail car. Capture photographic views of the Alps and its glacial lakes, and look out your window to watch the bright red train curve against a snow-speckled landscape (if traveling in winter). You’ll see impressive alpine valleys, lakes and waterfalls at almost every turn!When you arrive at the exclusive resort of St Moritz, disembark and spend about 1.5 hours in town. Flanking the shore of a beautiful lake in the middle of the Upper Engadin, St Mortiz offers an array of attractions and is famous for its winter sports as well as polo, golf, cricket and tennis. Set out on foot to discover the town’s elegance, perhaps stopping for lunch (own expense) or visiting a chocolatier before departing by coach at 4:30pm and arriving in Milan around 7:30pm.
Skip the Line: Small-Group Milan Walking Tour with da Vinci's 'The Last Supper' Tickets
Get to know the stylish city of Milan on foot, starting with a visit inside the famous Duomo in the heart of the city. This impressive and beautiful cathedral is often described as one of the most beautiful churches in the world!Your next stop is the impressive Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II – a 19th-century glass-vaulted shopping arcade. Brimming with fashionable shops and cafes, you can admire the spectacular shop windows as you pass through the gallery to reach Piazza della Scala. This famous square is home to the world-renowned La Scala – Milan’s opera house since 1778 and still in use today. Some of the greatest musicians and singers the world has ever known have performed here!Next, take a stroll through the Brera District, rich in historical buildings, restaurants and fashionable bars – this area has long been home to artists and intellectuals. Its picturesque and winding streets lead you north to Sforza Castle, where you will take a short stop to admire the imposing medieval castle and fortress. The final stop and highlight of this walking tour is Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper, hidden inside a Dominican refectory next to the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie. This enormous and complex 15th-century mural captures the emotional moment in which Jesus announces that one of his 12 disciples will betray him. The painting had been severely damaged over the centuries, and has only very recently undergone a painstaking 21-year restoration, revealing the original colors and details of this masterpiece. The delicate nature of the mural and its importance means entrance is strictly limited to those who have pre-booked – only one group is allowed to stand with the painting at a time, in a specially conditioned room, for 15 minutes only. This skip-the-line tour includes pre-booked entrance, so you avoid the lines and enjoy an intimate viewing of this sublime and incredibly special painting.Please note: * The above itinerary is applicable to the 10:30am and 2:30pm departures only. If you select a different departure time, the tour will start at The Last Supper and finish with the walking tour around Piazza del Duomo.* Visits inside the Duomo are not possible on Sundays or religious holidays. On these days, a detailed tour will be given from outside of the Duomo.
Da Vinci's Last Supper and Church of San Maurizio
Select your preferred start time, and then meet your guide at a predetermined location — either Piazza Santa Maria delle Grazie or Duomo Square — for your 2-hour walking tour. Then, follow your guide through the heart of the city to discover some of its most astonishing hidden beauties, giving an insight into Milan’s rich artistic and architectural heritage.Walk down Via Torino to the Church of Santa Maria presso San Satiro, a place of worship that lies on an ancient sacred site erected by the archbishop Anspertus in 879. An important pilgrimage site in the 13th and 14th centuries, it was later perfected by Bramante during the 15th and 16th centuries in a classic Renaissance architectural style.Continue down Via Spadari and Via Cordusio to Piazza Affari and see the unique L.O.V.E sculpture by artist Maurizio Cattelan. It’s no wonder this public art piece has caused such a controversy: it’s a giant middle finger in front of the Italian stock exchange building.Head next to the Church of San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore, once part of Milan’s most important Benedictine convents and now used as an archaeological museum. This 16th-century church may seem inconspicuous on the outside, but walk inside and you’ll discover why it’s one of Milan’s must-see sights. Dubbed the 'Sistine Chapel of Milan,’ the church has an interior that boasts some of the most beautiful frescoes in the city, with many created by students and followers of Da Vinci.Your last stop is the magnificent work by the master himself. Sure to be a highlight of your walking tour, Da Vinci’s world-famous The Last Supper mural painting is located in the refectory of the convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie. When you arrive here, bypass the entrance lines with your skip-the-line ticket and stand in awe of the wall-to-wall artwork that depicts the biblical scene of The Last Supper of Jesus with his disciples. Listen as your guide highlights the techniques Da Vinci used and explains the significance of this beautifully preserved piece.After admiring the artwork, follow your guide back to the start point to end your tour.
Skip the Line: 'The Last Supper' Milan Tour
Meet your local guide outside the Ambrosian Library (Pinacoteca Ambrosiana) in central Milan. Receive a headset to help you best hear the commentary and then head inside to see the Atlantic Codex, the largest collection of Leonardo da Vinci drawings in the world. Follow your guide through the temporary exhibition and hear how this 12-volume bound set of scientific drawings and writings, comprised between 1478 and 1519, was written in mirror image — right to left and backwards.After marveling at the Atlantic Codex, enjoy a leisurely stroll through the city center to the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie. Enjoy a guided tour of the UNESCO-listed church and Dominican convent and then perhaps refuel with a drink and a light snack (own expense) in the square outside the church.Then, walk together with your guide to the convent’s refectory where The Last Supper is housed. Bypass the crowds with your skip-the-line ticket and enter the intimate room with your guide — only one group at a time is allowed to stand with the painting. Get up close to this world-famous mural that depicts the moment Jesus announced that one of his 12 disciples would betray him. Admire the exquisite colors and details and hear about the painstaking 21-year restoration that is has recently undergone. After your time is up (15 minutes is the maximum amount of time anyone is allowed to stay in the specially conditioned room), head to the souvenir shop where your tour concludes. Here, take the opportunity to purchase gifts for yourself, your friends or your family. Alternatively, ask your guide for directions to anywhere else you want to go.Please note: reservations to see The Last Supper are limited and sell out quickly, sometimes months in advance. Choose this tour to be guaranteed advance booking and entrance tickets