Rail Journeys

Rails and Lakes of the Dolomites – Sep

Tour Date: 27 September to 6 October 2024
Location: Italy

For the main seven-night holiday we are based at Hotel Miralago in Molveno, a charming small town located on the shores of Lake Miralago at the foot of the Brenta Dolomites, 25 miles north-west of Trento.

Perfect for lovers of nature, culture and history, the town itself has a 13th century church and a working watermill as well as water sports on the lake. Our itinerary takes us to historic towns, wine-tasting, mountain railways, funiculars, cable cars, a lake cruise and, of course, stunning mountain scenery.

We begin in Bolzano, and a guided walk around its medieval historic centre. Today we ride on a cable car which affords us amazing views of the city and valley below us, before catching a train to Collalbo. Another mountain funicular on the following day, as we reach the 1,362-metre-high Mendel Pass. We finish this day at a winery, where we will have the opportunity to taste some of their excellent wines. We experience another scenic railway, the “Castles Train”, as we go to Caldes and Cles. Our Dolomites adventure continues with a trip to Lake Garda, a favourite holiday destination for Italians, with time in the charming resort town of Riva Garda and of course a cruise on the lake. Our final rail journey takes us from Trento to Bassano del Grappa, another very scenic line.

This is a half-board holiday. Each day we return to our hotel in Molveno in time for dinner, which is served in the hotel, and includes drinks with our meal.

Tour Highlights

  • Seven nights at the same hotel with breakfast and dinner
  • Mountain scenery of the Dolomitic Alps
  • Bassano del Grappa
  • Rack railway to the Mendel Pass
  • Renon narrow-gauge railway
  • Lake Garda

Tour Itinerary

Morning and early afternoon free for your own exploration of Milan, including the famous Cathedral. 3pm we travel by train to Verona for our tour bus which takes us on the Molveno, our home for the week. Dinner at the hotel. It is also possible to join the tour today by making your own arrangements to Verona.

Stunning Molveno, our base for all 7 nights of this holiday

This morning we travel north to the town of Bolzano (or Bosen in German). Here we are joined by our local guide for a walking tour around the medieval historic centre. Bolzano is the gateway to the Dolomites Mountains. Though it is part of Italy now, it used to belong to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and as so many people still speak German as their first language, you’ll be excused if you forget we are in Italy! After time for lunch, we take the cable car up to Soprabolzano (Oberbosen). This 10-15-minute journey affords wonderful views of the town and valley below us, and is an attraction in itself, not just a means of transport. After a short break at Soprabolzano, we catch our train on the Renon narrow-gauge railway to Collalbo. This metre-gauge railway, dating from 1907, is one of South Tyrol’s treasures, as well as being an important part of public transport in the area. We hope to also have a short charter on one of their historic railcars.

Renon Railway, vintage railcar.

We return to the hotel by coach, visiting the Earth Pyramids on the way. These earth pyramids are a phenomenon caused by erosion. When dry, the material is as hard as rock but, when wet, it becomes a clay-like mush which flows into the valley.

Earth Pyramids

We begin our day by travelling to Caldaro, at the bottom of the Mendel funicular. From there we climb over 850 metres on the funicular to Mendel Pass. This railway has a maximum gradient of 64%. After a short break at the top, we head back down to Caldaro where our guide will lead us on a short walking tour. Free time for lunch in this very Austrian of villages, followed by a visit to a winery near Mezzacorona where we will have an informative guided visit and of course the opportunity to taste their produce.

Mezzacorona Village
Vineyards near Calderon

This morning we transfer by coach to the railway station at Mezzolombardo, for our 45-minute rail journey northwards to Caldes. From the train, we have views of the Dolomites and some of the castles that are in this area. On arrival at Caldes, we visit one of those castles.

Castle Caldes

After this visit, we catch another train to the town of Cles. The town is famous for an important archaeological find, the Tavola Clesiana, dating to the year A.D. 46. Cles, and the Val di Non, are also well known for their apples. Melinda is the brand name given to high quality apples exclusively grown in the Val di Non valley, and you will see many apple trees in the town. A guided visit to the Assessorile Palace, whose walls and ceilings are adorned with centuries-old frescos.

Lake Garda, the largest lake in Italy, is our destination this morning. The narrower northern part of the lake is surrounded by mountains from the Monte Baldo range, while in the south, the wider part of the lake is surrounded by morainic hills that were left after the melting of the glacier. Flourishing vegetation – mainly olive and lemon groves, palms, cypresses, oleanders and orange trees – along with majestic landscapes make this lake the most charming in Italy.

Riva del Garda at Lake Garda

We visit Riva Garda, at the northern end of the lake. This charming resort town is located at foot of high mountains, and also has an interesting historic centre with narrow streets and alleyways and an abundance of excellent restaurants. We will have a short cruise on Lake Garda, with time ashore at the charming medieval village of Limone.


Our final train trip of the holiday starts at Trento, where we catch a train along the scenic branch line to Bassano del Grappa. Our two-hour train journey takes us past lakes and along valleys between high mountains. Bassano del Grappa. As well as an attractive historic centre a short walk from the railway station, the town boasts a covered wooden pontoon bridge, designed by the architect Andrea Palladio in 1569. The bridge has been destroyed many times, most recently during World War II, but it has always been rebuilt. Return to Trento by train at the end of the day, with our coach waiting to take us back to Molveno in time for dinner.

Bassano del Grappa.

The last day of our holiday is a free day for you to explore on your own. Perhaps you wish to relax by the lake or even walk round it (7 miles), hire a rowing boat or simply soak up the beautiful mountain air and scenery. Or head up into the mountains on the cable car that leaves a short distance from the hotel. The first route rises 460 m to Pradel, with a further 180 m rise on the second, to over 1,500 metres (5,000 feet) above sea level, with stunning mountain views from the moment you set out. The day is yours, and our local guide will also offer suggestions depending on your abilities and interests.

Molveno from cable car

This morning we return by coach to Verona with 3-4 hours for your own exploration. Mid afternoon to take the train back to Milan for our overnight stay. You can also leave the tour in Verona today, should you so wish.


Depart from the hotel at leisure for your train back to the airport. For those returning to the UK by rail we take the 07:20 train, via Basel in Switzerland, to arriving into Paris at 15:42. Change Paris stations and then take the Eurostar at 18:09 arriving St Pancras at 19:39 (based on 2023 timings).

This is a relatively easy tour, with very little “compulsory” walking, though there are some short optional walking tours. We are picked up from and brought back to our hotel each day by our own luxury coach (which will also meet us at the airport on arrival and take us back for our flights home), and dinner is in the hotel each evening. To enjoy the tour to the full, you need to be able to get on and off our coach and also trains and a cable car.

Book early to get the best “with flight” prices as they may increase for late booking. Verona is one of the most expensive places in Italy to fly to from the UK.  It can also be cheaper to fly to Milan and catch a train to Verona (1hr, 15m).

Lake View Rooms: Rooms with a view over the lake are limited so book early to guarantee the best rooms.

Prices & Options

Holiday Prices (9 Nights)

  • From London Gatwick: £1,699
  • From London Heathrow: £1,785
  • From Manchester: £1,699
  • From London St Pancras (by rail): £1,799
  • From Milan: £1,399
  • From Verona (7 nights): £1,199


  • Single Room Supplement: £180
  • Lake view room in Molveno: £60 per room


  • £600 with flights, £300 own flights

Price Includes

  • All travel and excursions as outlined in the itinerary
  • Good quality en-suite accommodation
  • Meals as shown in the itinerary: B = breakfast, D = Dinner
  • Services of our Tour Manager.

Transport & Accommodation

BW Madison Hotel Milano (or similar)

Hotel Miralago in Molveno (7 nights)