Indulge in an Italian Christmas, nestled in a picturesque lakefront setting of Riva del Garda. With its fine food and wine, beautiful sights and rich heritage, let the romantic region of Venice take you under its spell in all its festive splendour.
Lake Garda and Venice are magical at Christmas time: with the tree lined Piazza Catena now twinkling with lights, a shimmering harbourside ice rink in Bardolino, Di Gusto in Gusto market in Riva del Garda dedicated to the culinary specialities of the area, and the lavish Christmas tree opposite Venice’s famous San Marco Basilica.
Christmas in Venice is extra special, with the peace and quiet allowing you to appreciate the famous sights with a feeling of tranquillity. Whilst the vibrant Christmas markets of Verona and Riva del Garda will have you feeling extra festive, with plenty of sights, sounds and smells to warm the senses.
Our base for the festive stay will be the four-star Hotel Europa, found in the heart of the old town of Riva with unrivalled views of the harbourside. Painted a shade of periwinkle blue, the charming and stylish hotel will no doubt be adorned with delightful Christmas decorations to celebrate the season. The incredible views combined with the twinkle of fairy lights and mellow candles create an idyllic atmosphere in which to enjoy the inviting menu, which often features market-fresh and local ingredients. Relax, recharge and rejoice on this unforgettable Italian tour, with a Christmas twist.
Arrive at the airport for your flight, where you will be welcomed by your tour manager or a member of the Riviera Travel team. On arrival, you’ll be transferred to the four-star Hotel Europa, ideally situated on the lakefront in Riva del Garda, right in the heart of the old town, with unrivalled views of the historic port. There will be a drinks reception hosted by your tour manager so that you can get to know your travelling companions before moving on to a dinner at the hotel
Today we will explore Riva, our base for the next few days. We will explore the quaint old town, much of which dates to the late Middle Ages, and which at this time of the year is home to a bustling Christmas market with distinctly Germanic influences, due to Riva’s long connections with Austria. The afternoon is free for you to explore independently, perhaps you may want to take advantage of the From Taste to Taste section of the market that brings finest food specialities of the Trentino area to Riva, and eat your way around the region savouring its high quality fresh produce such as its cheeses, cured meats, chestnuts, apples and dumplings.
Today we travel down the eastern shore of Lake Garda, exploring towns and quaint lakeshore villages along the way. We will stop off at the town of Bardolino which is famous for its wines and we visit a local winery where we will learn about what makes Bardolino unique, and then see if we can remember as we sit indulge in a tasting session accompanied with some local finger food and snacks.
We then continue to the historic town of Garda which gave its name to the lake, where we have time to explore the beautiful cobbled alleyways of the old town. Why not take a leisurely lakeside stroll to enjoy the beautifully crafted nativity scene, or wander the family-run shops of the twinkling old town in search of a special souvenir? We then return to Riva where we have dinner together at the hotel.
Today we travel to nearby Verona where Shakespeare based his timeless play Romeo and Juliet. We will see the city’s rich heritage seeing the Roman amphitheatre, the countless renaissance houses harking back to Verona’s prosperous trading history and the Piazza delle Erbi, the main market square and beating heart of the city throughout the centuries. Today you will see it buzzing and alive with activity as it hosts Verona’s main Christmas market and people will be doing their last-minute present shopping and enjoying the traditional market stalls.
There are also many medieval and Renaissance squares and courtyards to explore, as well as a 12th-century cathedral housing a work by Titian. The fine late Renaissance Giusti Garden, with clipped box hedges and dazzling displays, will add splashes of colour to your lasting Christmas memories.
In the evening we will have a traditional Italian Christmas Eve dinner with musical accompaniment at the hotel. Afterwards you may wish to go out and witness the people of Riva going to midnight mass and placing the figure of the baby Jesus in their presepi, nativity crèches, marking the arrival of Christmas proper.
After a leisurely start to the morning we will take a Christmas cruise on the lake, complete with a complimentary glass of bubbly to get into the festive spirit, to the nearby port village of Limone.
After returning to Riva we will return to the hotel to enjoy a more typically British Christmas lunch with turkey and trimmings, in the company of your new-found travelling companions. The rest of the afternoon is free for you to while away as you wish: perhaps you might want to walk along the lakeshore and see the town light up as dusk falls, or sit in the hotel’s cosy lounge whilst sipping on a glass of mulled wine.
Today on Boxing day we will travel to Venice to explore La Serenissima, one of the world’s most spectacular cities, at a time of year when there are far fewer tourist crowds. We will have a guided introduction to the city followed by free time to explore Saint Mark’s Square, the Rialto Bridge and many other of the most famous sights in relative calm, a truly unique opportunity.
The Basilica di San Marco is among Europe’s most exotic cathedrals and one of the world’s most splendid buildings. There are over 86,000 square feet of detailed mosaics, mostly from the 13th century. Another highlight is the magnificent Pala d’Oro, a gem-studded golden altarpiece containing over 250 enamelled panels.
Transfer to the airport for our flight home.
The price is per person and based on one person in a twin or double room for sole occupancy. The price includes:
UK Citizens do not require a visa to enter Italy however must have a valid passport. For the most up-to-date passport and visa information visit https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/italy/entry-requirements
We are unable to accept responsibility if you are unable to travel because you have not complied with any passport/entry/immigration requirements.
We want to ensure you make the correct choice before you book your holiday with us. If you have any concerns regarding the suitability of the holiday due to reduced mobility we would encourage you to call us to discuss these concerns. General information on mobility in connection with our tours can be found here.
All transfer times listed here are approximate, and dependent on traffic. If you have a question regarding transfer times please don't hesitate to contact us.
|Airport||Hotel location||Transfer time|
|Milan Bergamo Airport||Riva del Garda||2 hrs 30 mins|
|Verona Airport||1 hr 30 mins|
We have just returned from the Douro cruise aboard the “Elegance”. We cannot fault the ship, food, excursions and general organisation - it was all very slick and nothing was too much trouble for the helpful crew and staff. We...
Marie and Malcolm Maciver
This is an excellent trip. Our guide John was terrific. His knowledge and enthusiasm made the trip. One of the best guides we have had. Our one criticism would be that on four of the seven nights we were in hotels where dinner was...