Italian Süd Tyrol & the Dolomites – A Passenger's View

The Dolomites

Amazing, Beautiful, Spectacular, Wonderful, Fantastic, Stunning…. You really do run out of words to describe some of the places you visit and sights you see on this Dolomites tour, but I think the coach crew would sum it up in their own word ‘Amazeballs’ as that’s just what this tour was.

Day One – Outbound to Liege

We were lucky enough to join our tour coach at our pick-up point and were able to sit in our allocated seats from the start. Once on board, Mum had a lovely surprise as her seat had been decorated by our drivers, Paul & Lisa, to celebrate her birthday. This was a lovely gesture and Paul & Lisa also made sure that they presented each passenger who celebrated a birthday on tour with a personal card & gift. This made the tour extra special for those 3 passengers who celebrated their birthdays on this tour of the Dolomites with us.

Following the usual efficient service at the interchange, we re-joined our tour coach and continued on to our overnight hotel in Liege. We arrived at a reasonable hour and were able to enjoy a drink at the bar and the chance to get to know our fellow travellers. One thing we love about Leger tours is the opportunity to make new friends and discover wonderful new places. This tour was no exception!

Day Two – Liege to Uttenheim

It’s an early start and a long day, but travelling through some wonderful scenery, as we did, it’s a very enjoyable journey. There were plenty of refreshments available on board, regular stops to stretch your legs and the lounge on board is a great place to spend some time getting to know the new friends you meet on board. During the journey, Paul explained the itinerary and provided additional information & interesting facts about the planned excursions and places we passed during the day. His knowledge of the area and enjoyment of the tour was obvious and both he & Lisa were more than happy to answer any questions about the tour, or indeed any other tour we were thinking of booking after perusing the brochures on board.

At the end of the day, we arrived at the lovely Zum Schlossl hotel in Uttenheim to find a warm welcome from our hosts Anna & Peter along with a lovely 3-course dinner waiting for us.

Day Three – Dolomites

I think this Dolomites tour has to be one of the highlights of the holiday. Stunning scenery around every bend, and plenty of stops for that perfect picture postcard photo opportunity. Our lunch stop on the Pordoi Pass, in the Dolomites, was fantastic with more than enough time for those who wanted to take the cable car to the top. I can thoroughly recommend doing this if you get the chance as the views were stunning…. snow, ice, blue skies and amazing vistas. The first of many lunches with a view this week….

After dinner, those who didn’t want to watch the football tonight had a fun evening of Bingo provided by Lisa & Paul …. It did get a bit competitive but was a great end to our day. There were a lot of laughs and everyone really enjoyed the fun end to a wonderful day exploring the mighty Dolomites.

Pordoi Pass, Dolomites
Pordoi Pass, Dolomites

Day Four – Lake Garda

This optional excursion was well worth booking. We travelled to Lake Garda and had time to explore Riva before catching our first boat of the day to Limone. Once there, we had plenty of time to explore this lovely town and enjoy lunch in one of the many cafes offering views of the lake. Our last boat ride of the day took us to Malcesine where there was time to visit the castle, browse the local shops and of course enjoy the obligatory ice cream in the Italian sunshine before re-joining the coach for our journey back to the hotel. On board the coach for our return journey we enjoyed our first taste of Meloncello which was lovely and the perfect end to the excursion.

Riva, Lake Garda

Day Five – Brunico & Lake Misurina

In our opinion, this was the best day of the tour and is an optional which really should not be missed. Our first stop of the day was Brunico, where we were given plenty of time to explore both the new and old parts of town and enjoy coffee & cake in one of the many cafes.

Some of us climbed up to the Woodland Soldier Cemetery which Paul had suggested we visit and the castle and I can recommend both on a visit to this beautiful town.

Brunico Soldier Cemetery is a forest cemetery and is unlike any other war cemetery I’ve seen. Set amongst the woodland, overlooking the town, all of the graves are carved from trees. Amongst them, you can find Hungarian-Austrian & German army next to Russian & Serbian Prisoner of War graves. Every one of them, whether Catholic or Orthodoxy, Mohammedan or Jewish, were buried according to their religious rites, and all of the graves are equally cared for and decorated all year round by the town. When visiting Brunico it is well worth the walk up to visit this woodland cemetery and we were so glad Paul told us about it.

Brunico Soldier Cemetery
Brunico Soldier Cemetery

Walking across the bridge from the Woodland Cemetery we found Brunico Castle, which overlooks the town. We had the time to go in and explore the castle and were glad we did. There is so much to see within it that we could have spent a lot longer there and would definitely go back again. The views from the castle over the town and surrounding area are worth climbing the stairs of the tower, although a lift is also available if the thought of the stairs is too daunting.

Brunico Castle
Brunico Castle

Lake Misurina

What a place for a lunch stop! There was the chance to walk around the lake if you wanted, which many of the group did. We chose to take our first chair lift ride and enjoyed a very nice lunch (& being at the top of the mountain we couldn’t not try the apple strudel for dessert!) with a spectacular view overlooking this beautiful lake and the surrounding snow-topped mountains.

Without a doubt we would recommend that you do this optional excursion if you get the chance….it’s just Wow!

Lake Misurina

Day Six – Venice

This is a long day with an early start and because of that, not all the passengers joined this optional excursion. Those of us who did had a lovely day in Venice with perfect weather. We enjoyed our first gondola ride and enjoyed wandering around the streets of Venice exploring before finding a lovely local restaurant for lunch. There was time after that to take photos at the Rialto Bridge and enjoy another ice cream while we walked back via St Mark’s Square to catch the boat for the optional Lagoon cruise.

Rialto Bridge, Venice
Rialto Bridge, Venice

Venice is a lovely place to visit and we enjoyed our day, but because of the long drive, it deters a lot of passengers from booking the excursion. It may be worth changing this day and including some of the other wonderful places in the Tyrol which are closer to the hotel. Some of the passengers who didn’t come to Venice had a lovely day exploring the local towns or going for walks from the hotel. Whether they joined the excursion or not, everyone enjoyed their day.

Day Seven – Bolzano

A nice short day after Venice but we still had plenty of time to explore this lovely town. The architecture of the buildings and the beautiful surrounding countryside provide some great photo opportunities. We took time to look around the local shops, visit the castle and enjoy lunch soaking up the sun with overlooking the Cathedral with its beautiful mosaic roof which stands at one end of the central square, Piazza Walther. In the centre of the square is a statue of the poet and bard, Walther von de Vogelweide and we found it was a wonderful place to sit and enjoy lunch whilst watching the world go by.


Hotel Zum Schlossl, Uttenheim

There is not one bad thing to say about this hotel. We had a room in the annexe which had a balcony with fantastic views over the mountains. The hotel is run by Anna, Peter and their son and is just across the quiet road from the annexe. The food is all fresh and homemade by Anna and, believe me, you will never leave the dinner table hungry. After dinner, there is a very nice terrace where we enjoyed a drink in the evening with our fellow passengers and I am being totally honest when I say we really can’t fault anything about this hotel or the wonderful staff. We only wish we could have stayed there longer!

Coach & Crew

There is not one negative thing to say about the coach or Paul & Lisa, our fantastic crew for this Italian Sud Tirol and the Dolomites tour.

The coach was always kept spotlessly clean inside & out, and with plentiful refreshments on board, there was no chance of spending any part of the tour thirsty or hungry.

Paul & Lisa are a wonderful team and they work extremely well together. Their obvious love of their work and knowledge of the tour and the places we visited was infectious and I don’t think one person left the tour without having a thoroughly enjoyable time.

Throughout the week, both Lisa & Paul were happy to answer any questions about any tours that we saw in the brochures on board the coach. Then, on the Friday night, they had the great idea of a ‘Booking Night’. This gave the whole group the chance to talk to each other and ask any questions of Paul & Lisa about future tours they were thinking of booking. We were lucky enough to make some wonderful new friends this tour and by the end of the night, we had booked another 3 tours to look forward to with our new friends.

To find out more about our Summer in the Italian Süd Tirol & the Dolomites tour, click here to find out more. 

Exploring Italy as a Single Traveller: Rachel Wade Visits the Süd Tirol

Having fallen in love with Italy on her first Leger Holidays trip, solo traveller Rachel Wade couldn’t wait to explore more of the country – along with a little taste of Austria – on our ‘Italian Süd Tirol & the Dolomites‘ tour.

With idyllic scenery, enticing excursions and the appeal of experiencing two cultures, a visit to the Italian Dolomites sounded like my ideal adventure. After a leisurely two days of travel, our tour group arrived at the hotel in Kiens to a warm welcome and a delicious dinner.
Italian Dolomites by Rachel Wade
On Monday we travelled through the beautiful countryside of the Italian Dolomites. The monochrome mountains, lush green landscapes and turquoise waters of the streams and lakes made for some incredible photo opportunities. A spectacular start to our holiday!
Excitement murmured along the coach as we eagerly anticipated Tuesday’s excursion to Lake Garda. The views were truly breathtaking as we drove down to the elegant resort of Riva, followed by boat trips to the equally delightful Limone and Malcesine.
Lake Garda by Rachel Wade
Wednesday began in Brunico with its bustling market, popular high street, decorative churches and hilltop castle to explore. We then headed to Lake Misurina for more spectacular views of peaceful waters and towering snow-topped mountains.
Despite Thursday’s bad weather, the sights of Venice were guaranteed to brighten our spirits! It was my first visit and exceeded all of my expectations – with meandering alleyways, tranquil canals and grand buildings, it is hard not to fall in love with the ‘floating city’.
Venice by Rachel Wade
On our last day, we visited Bolzano, a vibrant little town with lots to explore from museums and galleries to shops and market stalls. We were back in Kiens by the afternoon to pack our bags and say a reluctant goodbye to this stunning area. It was a trip I’ll never forget.
Bolzano by Rachel Wade
Why not explore more of Europe with our dedicated Single Traveller tours? See our full range here.

Destination Italy – A Country of Contrasts

Lake Como

Imagine being sat outside a restaurant along the shores of Lake Garda after a day filled with amazing scenery, fine buildings, works of art and lavish history with a delicious freshly baked pizza and a glass of fine wine, followed by one of many varieties of ice-cream and a first-rate Italian coffee. Heaven!
It’s easy to see why Italy appeals to so many travellers year after year. ‘La Bella Italia’ has it all! The serene elegance of Venice, Renaissance treasures of Florence, the ancient wonders of Rome, stunning scenery around Lake Garda, the romantic charm of Verona and the spectacular cliff-top panoramas of Capri. The chances are you’ll find much more than you ever dreamed of when you visit Italy.

Italian Dolomites
Sunrise over Rifugio Lagazuoi in the Italian Dolomites

Best for Amazing Mountain Vistas

Picture the first rays of the morning, sun shining on the mountain tops and during the summer months forcing the wonderful alpine flowers into bloom on the surrounding pastures, or during winter reflecting off the crisp white snow.
The Italian Dolomites in the Sud Tirol are some of the most gorgeous mountain-scapes in Europe, dotted with pretty little villages and surrounded by lush green meadows.
From the tranquil Sud Tirol, the charming towns of Lake Garda with landmarks such as Riva’s Rocca Fortress and famous sights of Venice like St Mark’s Square and the Bridge of Sighs, are not too far away meaning true Italian culture and history can also be experienced.

Best for Superb Scenery and Sightseeing

The beautiful lakeside towns around Lake Garda have charmed visitors for centuries.
The southern lakeshore is low, rolling land. In contrast, the dramatic fjord-like northern end is surrounded by towering mountains and cliffs.
Most of the towns which nestle along the shore, such as Sirmione with its striking Scaliger Castle and Limone with its charming old fishermen’s houses and lemon groves, are popular as holiday resorts and have a very friendly and relaxed feel.
Wonderful sightseeing opportunities aren’t far away with the two largest cities in the Veneto area, Venice are Verona, just around the corner.

Lake Como
Sunset over Lake Como

Best for Stunning Lakeside Views

Not far from the cosmopolitan city of Milan you’ll find stunning Lake Como, which has been a popular tourist resort since the days of the Roman Empire.
Visitors ever since have admired the clear blue waters, delightful lemon trees and olive groves and luxurious villas dotted in the wooded lakeside slopes above.
The best way to appreciate the beauty of the area is by taking to the water. You could visit two of the loveliest villas on the lake, Villa Carlotta and Villa del Balbianello.
Another stunning lakeside region is Lake Maggiore with its beautiful gardens growing rare and exotic plants. Once you spend time there you will soon become familiar with the name of the Borromeo family, who own the islands named after them.

Best for Excursion Variety

Visiting Italy really can mean mountains, lakes, city sights, shopping, history, architecture, relaxation and art all in one visit.
You can spend a day in each place and experience it all. Then maybe choose one of two of your favourite places and come back again next year.
Imagine two glorious weeks in a country of contrasts.
You could visit Lake Garda to experience the ambience and charm of this lovely area and finish the day off with a delicious ice-cream along the shoreline of Sirmione, then move on to Venice to see the maze of bridges, weaving canals and Renaissance architecture.
Next visit Rome, the ‘eternal city’ with its unique and colourful atmosphere built on its ancient Roman past with famous sights such as the Colosseum and Trevi Fountain.
Then have a more relaxing day in the popular resort of Sorrento on the Neapolitan Riviera with its many shops and fantastic views. You could see all of this and much more!

A visit to Italy isn’t complete without enjoying some local cuisine

Italian Food… bellissimo!

The southern region of Italy is known for growing red, ripe, juicy tomatoes. Vegetables such as sweet peppers also grow with exuberance and are added to Italian dishes of the region.
Naples is king of pizza in Italy and claims to be the birthplace of one of the most popular Italian foods around the world.
Cheeses such as ricotta and mozzarella add richness. Northern Italian cuisine highlights dairy products with rich sauces made of butter, cream and eggs. Ingredients native to the area are used. Meat and seafood from the coast is also common.
You’ll find many pasta dishes to try in Italy. Common pasta sauces in Northern Italy include pesto and ragù alla bolognese, which usually adds meat to the sauce. In Central Italy there are simple sauces such as tomato, amatriciana and carbonara. Southern Italian sauces include spicy tomato, garlic and olive oil, with the pasta often paired with fresh vegetables or seafood. There are approximately 3,500 different types of pasta. Examples include spaghetti, macaroni, fusilli and lasagne.
Italian desserts range from sweet to slightly bitter and are always delicious. Many desserts are made from cookies and biscotti, which are flavoured with nuts, candied fruit and light glazes.
A custard dish from Siena is now very well known outside of Italy, tiramisu. The layered dessert includes biscuit fingers soaked in espresso, liqueur, eggs, cocoa, and mascarpone cheese.
No visit to Italy would be complete without trying the different varieties of ice-cream or ‘Gelato’. Traditional flavours include almond, chocolate, coffee, mint, pistachio, rum raisin, strawberry and vanilla. Ice cream took hold in Europe when Marco Polo brought the Chinese recipe to Venice in 1292. Now 54% of Italians eat ice cream at least once a week.
If you would like to escape to Italy with Leger Holidays then you can view our collection of Italian tours on our website now.
Images courtesy of flickr user Bill Stanley, digitalurbanlandscape and avlxyz.