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.

Bolzano
Bolzano

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. 

Top Viewed Tours of 2017

As we near the end of 2017, we’re taking time to reflect on another fantastic year and what an honour it has been to take so many of you on wonderful holidays.

And we’re thrilled that, with all the hard work of our teams at Leger HQ and, of course, our coach crews and guides out on the road, we’ve helped create incredible memories and a lasting impressions, as you voted us the Best Medium Coach Holiday Company for the second year running at the British Travel Awards.
But, we couldn’t round off the year without giving you the rundown of our most viewed tours on of 2017. So, without further ado, if you’re on the lookout for holiday inspiration or just wanting to know if your favourite tour made it onto our list, here’s what really caught your eye this year…

10. The Beauty of Lake Como and Lake Maggiore

The third largest lake in Italy, and the first of four Italian tours to make it onto our list. But it’s not just our customers who love Lake Como, it’s also a hit with George Clooney, Madonna and Richard Branson.
Lake Como

9. Picturebook Norway – Fjordland Spectacular

Our dream tour seems to be your dream tour, too. With our first departure sold out and our 2019 dates now on sale, the Norway effect is still in full swing.
Norwegian Fjords

8. Splendours of Paris

Paris is always a good idea, and it seems that’s something we can all agree on! The romantic capital city of France comes in at a respectable 8th on our list.
Paris 2017

7. All Quiet on the Western Front

A perfect WW1 Battlefields experience for first-timers and experienced travellers, 2017 has certainly captured your interest of visiting the Western Front.
Tyne Cot Cemetery

6. Lake Garda, Venice and Verona

The mighty Lake Garda, incredible Venice and the home of Romeo and Juliet, Verona, this is three world-class destinations in one impressive tour, we’re not surprised to see this tour make it into our top 10.
Venice 2017

5. Picturebook Italy

A Leger Holidays favourite, Picturebook Italy, of course, makes its way into our top 5. Well, a holiday visiting the best that Italy has to offer, it’s bound to happen.
Florence

4. The Wonders of Rome & Pompeii

Italy still seems to be a big hitter in 2017, but the Wonders of Rome & Pompeii comes out top of the Italian pickings. And it’s no wonder when Rome alone attracts around 7 – 10 million tourists each year.
Trevi Fountain, Rome 2017

3. Dutch Bulbfields & the Delights of Amsterdam

Tulip mania lives on! In 2017, the beautiful Dutch Bulbfields really caught your attention, or is it the visit to Amsterdam? Either way, a trip to Holland doesn’t get much better than this.
Dutch Bulbfields

2. D-Day Landings in Normandy

Taking the hypothetical silver medal in 2017, our D-Day Landings in Normandy tour narrowly missed out on the top spot. But, with the recent launch of our D-Day 75th Anniversary tour, could it snag the top spot next year? We’ll have to wait and see.
Pegasus Bridge

1. Nashville, New Orleans & Elvis Presley’s Memphis

And with over 300 tours to choose from, for the third year running, our most viewed tour is our Nashville, New Orleans & Elvis Presley’s Memphis tour. Whether you’re an Elvis fan, a music buff in general or just fancy a visit to America’s Deep South, we seem to have got it right with this one.
New Orleans 2017
From everyone at Leger Holidays, we wish you a very happy New Year!

The 10 Most Beautiful Places in the World

Beauty – it’s in the eye of the beholder, is skin deep and can be subjective, we know, we know…  But, it’s hard to deny that there are some destinations in this world that are drop dead gorgeous!

And, who would we be to keep all this beauty to ourselves? Of course we want to share it all with you, so whether you’re looking for a little pick me up or some hearty travel inspiration, here’s our list of the top 10 most beautiful places in the world.

1. The Norwegian Fjords


Is there anything more dramatic than a Fjord? Sheer cliffs tumbling down to sea waters with cascading waterfalls either side of a narrow channel of water. As valleys go, these are pretty impressive.
The contrast of the green slopes and the deep blue of the waters below, with a dusting of white with the snow-capped tops… we can categorically say that we do not agree with the old ‘blue and green should never be seen’ saying… in terms of travel at least… we’re not fashion experts.
The National Geographic Magazine awarded the Fjords ‘The Best Unspoiled Travel Destination in the World’, something we whole-heartedly agree with.

2. Venice


Who doesn’t want to visit Venice? Well, if you are one of those people, we think it’s time to rethink. Stunning architecture, canals instead of roads, some of the most iconic views in Europe… and Gondolas! It’s easy to see why so many people call for the charms of Venice.
In the words of Elizabeth Berkley, ‘It feels like you are transported to another time – the art, music and pure romance in the air is like no other place.’
Over 15 million visitors flock to Venice every year to see it yet it’s said to be sinking at a rate of 1-2 millimetres a year! A sad thought that global warming could eventually eradicate such an iconic part of Europe.

3. Ha Long Bay


Emerald waters, towering limestone islands topped with rainforests, of course Ha Long Bay is a popular place for travellers flying in from all over the world. It even ranks top of the list as Vietnam’s number one tourist spot.
The UNESCO World Heritage Site looks like something straight from a film, and funnily enough, it is. Recently featuring in the films Pan (2015) and the soon to be released Kong: Skull Island (2017) and even going back to James Bond: Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), we’d say the ethereal setting is the real star of the show.

4. Banff National Park


Canada’s oldest national park, nestled in the famous Rocky Mountains, is something that dreams are made of. Snow-capped peaks, stunning blue waters and luscious green foliage, and we can assure you, the postcard worthy photographs you see, are certainly not Photoshopped.
It’s also the perfect place to attract some of Canada’s most interesting wildlife. The moose, the elk and even the grizzly and black bear call Banff home thanks to its variations in elevation, climate, and plant communities.
More than 4 million visitors travel to Banff National Park each year to visit the mountains that range from 45 to 120 million years old. Pretty impressive, we’re sure you’ll agree.

5. Oia


Oh Santorini, the ‘poster-island’, so-to-speak, of Greece. Even if you didn’t know, you’ve probably seen it. You can pick up postcards of its white-washed buildings clinging to a cliff edge in just about any Greek island.
But, seeing really is believing, and heading to the famous Cyclades Island is a must if you’re looking for absolute heart-warming beauty.
And where better to get an eyeful of the islands beauty than visiting Oia? Famous for its small village charm, it even offers once of the best sun sets in Europe! And, it’s easily accessible from Fira, the islands capital, making it a great stop off if you’re sailing into the island on a cruise.

6. Isle of Skye


The largest island of the Inner Hebrides, the Isle of Skye shows us that we don’t have to leave our shores to find one of the world’s most beautiful spots.
Its rugged landscapes and spectacular scenery make it one of Scotland’s most popular tourist destinations, but it’s not just a pretty face.
The island has a rich history from the Jacobite rebellion, Clan Warfare and ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’, it’s even known for producing some pretty impressive dinosaur fossils! But not just that, the wildlife on offer is just as impressive.
Otters, seals, whales, dolphins and red deer can all be seen in and around Skye, only adding to the spectacular beauty on offer.

7. Milford Sound


Half a world away but always worth the miles covered to get there. Milford Sound is a stunning fiord on New Zealand’s South Island that is home to Dolphins, Penguins and seals.
Mountain peaks reach as high as 1000ft, it’s considered New Zealand’s most stunning natural attraction, famous for its ink-like waters and cascading forests, if this isn’t on your bucket list, it should be.
And the best thing? You don’t have to worry about the weather. We can’t fault a sunny day, but the best weather to view the sound in is actually rain! The granite peaks and no beaches mean the cliffs don’t absorb water, resulting in some pretty spectacular waterfalls.

8. Bryce Canyon


We’ve all heard of the Grand Canyon and many people have been there, seen it and purchased the souvenir t-shirt. But, we think that Bryce Canyon is more deserving of a place on this list.
With the largest collection of Hoodoos (oddly shaped pillars of rock left standing as a result of erosion) in the world, the canyon is a sight to behold. In fact, Ebenezer Bryce, who the spot was named after, is thought to have said ‘It’s a hell of a place to lose a cow’… a ‘moo’-ving sentiment.
On a good day, when visibility is clear, views of the canyon can spread for over 100 miles, deep into Colorado! And, interestingly, Bryce Canyon isn’t actually a canyon – it’s a natural amphitheatre! Either way, we’d echo the thought that it really is stunning… stunning… stunning…

9. Lake Bled


It’s got to be said, that beauty lies within Lake Bled! Slovenia isn’t one of the most famous tourist destinations in Europe, but this pretty little lake certainly makes visiting more than worthwhile.
The lake is one of the warmest alpine lakes, sitting at a pleasantly warm 26°C, and it’s tiny, tear shaped island is the only natural island in Slovenia! The church that sits on the island dates back from the 17th century, but we digress…
Just look at it! As lakes go, it’s so spectacularly beautiful, we just had to put it pride of place on our list.

10. Angkor Wat


Last, but by certainly no means least, we had to mention Angkor Wat. The largest religious monument in the world, you can be sure it’s every bit as breath-taking as you’d imagine.
Paramount Pictures even paid $10,000 a day to film in the temple Ta Promh for the Lara Croft: Tomb Raider film, which led to the films lead actress, Angelina Jolie, to adopting her Cambodian son, Maddox.
The UNESCO World Heritage site’s name translates to the ‘City of Temples’ with new structures and ruins being discovered almost every year. Impressively, it was built without the aid of machinery, just the help of approximately 1000 elephants.
 
Would you add any other destinations to our list? Let us know in the comments where you think the world’s most beautiful place lies.

Petrifying Poveglia: Venice’s Haunted Island

Welcome, guys and ghouls. Today, once again, marks the spook-tacular occasion of All Hallows’ Eve…

But, we couldn’t let it pass without an annual ghost story, brought to you from some of the spookiest places in Europe and beyond.
And, although we touched on it briefly last Halloween in our 9 of the Spookiest Places in Europe blog, this year, we’re handing over our freaky focus to Italy, and the petrifying island of Poveglia!
If you’ve visited Venice, you may have spotted Poveglia without even feeling its eerie presence across the lagoon.
Just a stone’s throw from the glitz of one of the world’s most famous cities, Poveglia is a rundown, uninhabited island, situated in the lagoon between Venice and the seaside resort of Lido.
Sounds idyllic, right? Wrong. It’s actually considered the most haunted island in the world!!
It began its inhabited life as a hub for the people of Venice, escaping barbarian invasion and had a healthy population growth, actually becoming a civilised part of society. But, in 1379, Venice came under attack from the Genoan fleet and the people of Poveglia we’re moved leaving the island deserted.

And thus begins the story of how this petite island in the blue lagoon became one of the most feared in history…

(It’s even said to make the toes of even the most hardened fisherman, curl…)

poveglia
Poveglia Island

For good reason, too. Once acting as a dumping ground for victims of the plague, Poveglia was the chosen destination after the Roman’s decided to keep the ill quarantined, far away from the healthy. Sufferers we’re left there to live out their last days, isolated from family and friends, until they dropped dead.
But, it doesn’t stop there. The following epidemic of the bubonic plague once again saw the island used as a mass grave. Bodies were taken over, dumped and burned. In fact, the numbers were so high, even today, the soil composition of the entire island is actually 50% human ash!
There was such an intent to stopping the disease spread that if you so much as sneezed, you would be plucked away from your home and taken straight to bubonic hell.
It doesn’t end there, either. More recently and probably more sinisterly, it was used as a mental asylum.
You can probably imagine, the understanding of mental illness was pretty poor back then, and the care was atrocious. But, as legend has it, the doctor who ran the hospital was exceptionally twisted.
doctor-masks
Plague doctors wore long-nosed masks stuffed with herbs to filter out infected air

Tales of lobotomies, torturous experiments – such as shunting chisels into patient’s brains, just to see what moved, and mental torture were rife. But, don’t expect Poveglia’s very own Doctor Evil to show any compassion.
The patients, or inmates for a better name, were said to be haunted by the groans and screams of the plague victim’s spirits left behind. But, of course, these people were considered ‘insane’, and were largely ignored.
But, in the spirit of good over evil, the doctor met his fate after he became tortured by the troubled souls left behind from centuries of suffering. Some of which, a result of his own ‘care’.
So tormented, he jumped to his death from the islands iconic bell tower, the remnants of a derelict church. Some say he jumped, others say he was dragged, screaming for mercy, by angry inmates to the top and flung to his death.
Although, some say the fall didn’t actually kill him. Instead he was swallowed by a mist that rose from the ground and slowly suffocated him.
Some even say his body was bricked up in the bell tower and his spirit still haunts the island to this day.
istock_84211325_edit
Even to the cynics out there, you have to admit this island has a very creepy past. And, let us tell you, everyone who visits the island, including Psychics, have been left so traumatised they have been unable to return.
Visitors report a heavy, dark and evil atmosphere filling the air around them, and tortured moans can still be heard. There’s even times when the bell from the famed tower will begin ringing… despite there no longer being a bell there.
The island was put up for sale in 2013 and was sold at auction for more than £400,000. Sounds like a deal in comparison to rising house prices in the UK. But, the restoration of the island alone is said to cost around £16.25 MILLION! That’s scary in itself!
Although the businessman who snapped up the island has said he’d like to make it a public attraction, you’ve got to be one brave person to set foot on Poveglia. Would you dare?

🎃👻Happy Halloween!👻🎃

 

Experience Italy like the A-List

The glitz, the glamour, is there anywhere in Europe with more top class destinations than Italy? From Como to Portofino, there’s no wonder it’s so popular with the glitterati.

With a coach full of VIP’s on each of our tours, of course we’re going to visit some of these sought after Italian escapes.
So, if you’re wanting to do Italy like the star that you are and rub shoulders with the A-list, here’s our guide to the top spots craved by A-listers from around the world, right in the boot of Europe.

Venice

Venice Grand Canal
An explanation as to just why Venice attracts people from around the globe, let alone celebrities, is probably not needed. But, we’ll give you a quick rundown, anyway – Gondolas, picturesque canals, exquisite architecture, palaces, ornate bridges, iconic squares… gelato!
Featuring in films such as James Bond epic, Casino Royale and Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, who needs the Hollywood ‘Walk of Fame’ when you’ll be walking in the footsteps of Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford?
And, love is really in the air! The wedding destination of George and Amal Clooney, and more recently German footballing hero Bastian Schweinsteiger and tennis superstar, Ana Ivanovic, if you’re looking for a spark of romance, this floating city has it in abundance.

Lake Como

como
Italy proves to be very popular with the Clooney’s, they actually have a residence in Lake Como. Yes, you can find George relaxing in his multi-million pound villa in Laglio. But, we don’t need to dream of that life because what Lake Como has to offer is just as impressive.
One of the most beautiful lakes in Europe, nestled in the Lombardy region and a stones throw from Switzerland, Lake Como has stunning scenery from every angle and plenty to enjoy, from boat trips to spectacular food, you’ll be living like the stars even if it’s just for one day.
Lake Como has been popular with the rich and famous for some time with the likes of John F. Kennedy and Alfred Hitchcock favouring a retreat to the lake’s shores. You really will be rubbing shoulders with the best.

Portofino

Untitled-1
Another picturesque hotspot, attracting seasoned globetrotters year on year, Portofino is a pretty perfect fishing village found on the Italian Riviera.
Pastel-coloured houses, high end boutiques and a harbour lined with super yachts, it’s the perfect place to hop ashore and enjoy some Italian splendours.
But who has pounded the pavements of Portofino in the past, you ask? Well, there was a well-documented visit by music power couple, Beyoncé and Jay-Z, as they celebrated her 33rd birthday and even Director Steven Spielberg has been spotted enjoying some down time in the resort.

Rome

rome
One of the most popular Italian destinations and lined with designer shops, incredible restaurants and, of course, outstanding sightseeing opportunities, Rome is high on the list of stars of film and stage, too.
With the likes of Richard Gere, Jude Law and pop princess, Taylor Swift, having touched down in the eternal city, you can make the most of knowing that you’ll be in great company during your visits to hot spots such as the stunning Trevi Fountain, Colosseum and the Vatican.

Taormina

toarmina
Nestled into the isle of Sicily, this hill top town on the east coast is linked to some iconic stars from the Silver Screen. Audrey Hepburn and Liz Taylor, to name a few.
The Taormina Film Festival brought the internationally famous stars flocking to this pretty little town in Italy. Sat in the shadow of Mount Etna, there was also many holidays enjoyed here, often using the old San Domenico Palace Hotel as their base, helping to make Taormina one of the legendary locations of the Dolce Vita.

Sardinia

sardinia
Last, but far from least, the world famous Costa Smeralda on the North Eastern coast of Sardinia is host to turquoise waters, some of the world’s finest white sands and multi-million pond yachts.
The rugged beauty of is awash with stunning private villas, first class restaurants and chic watering holes, and with the idyllic nature of course comes the famous faces.
Gwyneth Paltrow, Mariah Carey and Heidi Klum have all enjoyed sun-soaked family holidays on the picture perfect Mediterranean island making it one of the most favoured European holiday destinations for celebrities and stars alike.
But you don’t have to be a film or rock star to enjoy these incredible destinations, why not check out our great value Italian holidays and enjoy your life in the limelight as we take care of everything for you? See all of our tours to Italy, here.
 

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.

Europe's Most Colourful Destinations

Spring has blossomed, the darkness of winter will soon be a distant memory and it’s time to say so long to stark trees and grey skies. With spring comes a much awaited injection of colour and that’s just what we’ve been waiting for.

And when it comes to vibrant encounters, Europe is host to many spectacular colour parades from its floral displays to the unique tones of its beautiful architecture.
So, if you’re wanting to get into the spirit of spring, why not take a look at our top destinations to add a pop of colour into your travels?

Holland

iStock_000020097477_Large (1) edit
Of course, in the true spirit of spring, we have to start off with the tulips fields of Holland.
The cheerful Dutch Bulbfields are enough to brighten anyone’s day, with a gorgeous array of stunning colours and perfectly places windmills, you will well and truly know that spring has sprung.
The spectacular Keukenhof Park blooms between March and May, offering not only the iconic tulip displays, but also a variety of daffodils, hyacinths and crocus – a perfect destination for any avid gardener.

Copenhagen

Scenic summer view of Nyhavn pier with color buildings, ships, yachts and other boats in the Old Town of Copenhagen, Denmark
Down by the Nyhavn is where you will make the most of colourful Copenhagen. It was once the home to the famous Danish fairytale writer, Hans Christian Anderson (Number 20 for any literary fans), too!
Pretty pastel coloured buildings line the waterfront with ornate, old ships bobbing about on the water beside you, it sure does make for a lovely setting to rest your feet and enjoy a coffee or beer. Especially after a long day’s sightseeing.

Berlin

BERLIN, GERMANY - NOV 15, 2014: People walkingat Berlin Wall at East Side Gallery . It's a 1.3 km long part of original Wall which collapsed in 1989 and now is largest world graffiti gallery.
Love it or loathe it, graffiti art can be found in most cities, and Berlin is a haven for Street Art. And, when done properly, the artwork brings the city to life with impressive colourful murals.
One part of the world famous Berlin Wall has been turned into a gallery reflecting on a time of change and the hope for a better world. The East Side Gallery is possibly the largest and long-lasting open air galleries in the world and sure is spectacular.

Lisbon

Lisbon, Portugal skyline at Sao Jorge Castle at dusk.
Lisbon’s streets certainly have a nice surprise when you take a minute to look at the buildings surrounding you. Many homes are covered top-to-toe in decorative tiles, also known as the Azulejos.
They’re a huge part of Portuguese culture and, funnily enough, only private homes are allowed to be adorned in such splendour. So, it’s well worth heading off the beaten track in Lisbon.

Burano

Colorful buildings in Burano island sunny street, Venise, Italy
A little known cheerful haven just 7km from the centre of Venice. Burano, the coloured island of lace, is awash with brightly painted buildings, neon pink? You better believe it!
The coloured buildings date back to the islands ‘Golden Age’ when the island was first being developed. It is said that fisherman were the first to paint their homes bright colours so they could see them whilst out on the water.
But, you can’t paint your home just any old colour. You must send a letter to the government who will let you know colours that you’re allowed to paint your home meaning the island keeps its multi-hued charm.

Santorini

sunset over Santorini
Think of Greek Islands and you are sure to conjure up an image of white buildings and blue roofs. And is there anywhere more stunningly in keeping with this than Santorini?
But don’t just think it’s a whitewash, the petite island is awash with stand-out colour, particularly in the town of Oia.
Colourful flowers and buildings painted in pink, yellows, oranges and red, perfectly contrast the clear blue skies and sparkling seas surrounding this cliff-side town.

Isn’t Europe such a colourful place? What’s the most pantone perfect place you’ve visited?

Europe's Most Romantic Cities

They say love is all around us but we just can’t deny that there are some places that just ooze that romantic charm. They have a certain je ne sais quoi, a heart-warming atmosphere and, lucky for us, these places are right on our doorstep.

Yes, it’s the stunning cities of Europe. Maybe it’s the unique architecture, the winding rivers or the mouth-watering cuisine, there’s just something that gets the butterflies of even the most cynical romantic fluttering away.
With Valentine’s just around the corner, you may just be thinking about what Europe’s most romantic cities may be. Wonder no more, you won’t even need your rose tinted glasses to feel this kind of love, here are our top 9 cities perfect for a romantic experience.

9. Verona

Verona
Starting off with the home of the most famous Shakespearian love affair, in at number 9 it has to be Verona. The setting of Romeo and Juliet, it’s certainly a city to play out a true act of affection.
Romeo? where for art thou? Right here. One of the most popular destinations is, of course, Juliet’s Courtyard where tourists will pose for a picture or two upon the balcony.
The city is so famous for love that countless letters addressed to ‘Juliet, Verona, Italy’ are sent every year, there’s even a team of volunteers dedicated to responding to these lovelorn love notes.

8. Budapest

Budapest
Reaching over both banks the river Danube, Budapest is a sight to behold. Known as the Paris of the East, it really is a city of romantic beauty.
With stunning architecture from the impressive Parliament Building to the stunning Vajdahunyad castle, there’s plenty to see and do to kick start your romantic heart.
Steal a kiss on the chain Bridge or take a loved up selfie as you take in the sights from the castle district. With the allure of the Széchenyi Thermal Bath thrown into the mix, who could say no to Budapest?

7. Prague

Charles Bridge, Prague
With beautiful coloured buildings, gothic architecture and some amazingly great beer on offer, Prague may be under the radar when it comes to romantic city locations, but it certainly has a lot to offer.
The birthplace of Bohemia, from the love, locks bridge in the Malá Strana district, to the winding paths of Petri­n Park, you could easily fall in love with Prague.
If you’re in the city on the 1st May, a kiss by the statue of Karel Hynek Macha is said to guarantee your love will blossom. The tradition is related to the poem ‘May’ written by Mácha which starts, ‘Late evening, on the first of May—
The twilit May—the time of love.’
The tradition is so popular, Czech couples actually have to queue to steal their kiss with their beloved.

6. Florence

Florence
Italy really is home of the romantic heavyweights and appears once again with a firm favourite, fantastic Florence.
Bordering the Tuscan Chianti country, Florence really is packed full of the flavour of love. And, with almost a third of the world’s art treasures residing in Florence, it really can whet the whistle of the cultural couple.
Romantic strolls? It’s got them in abundance, the narrow streets of the city, the stunning Piazzas and, of course, the romantic River Arno.
To top it off,  the spectacular city views, dominated by the striking Duomo, really do set the scene for the perfect romantic trip.

5. Copenhagen

Copenhagen
If you’re looking for some fairy-tale romance, Copenhagen has just what you are looking for.
The symbol of the city is the world-renowned little mermaid, created by Danish author, Hans Christian Andersen. Her statue even sits on a rock in the harbour – awaiting her love.
With quaint, cobbled streets, this compact city has the wow factor without being overwhelming. Take a stroll over to the harbour bridge and leave a love lock to seal your romance in stunning Copenhagen.

4. Vienna

Vienna
With romantic sight-seeing opportunities and even a huge Ferris wheel to take it all in from above, you’ll certainly feel young at heart in Vienna.
White horses, imperial palaces, beautiful gardens and chandelier-lit coffee houses to enjoy, it’s almost like a scene from a romance feature film.
Take a horse and cart ride through the city and stop off at the beautiful Hofburg Palace, once the centre of the Hapsburg Empire, for a truly Viennese experience.

3. Rome

Trevi Fountain, Rome
Put the Rome in romance, celebrate eternal love in the eternal city – do we need to go on?
Take a Roman holiday in the stunning city of Rome and feel love of colossal proportions.
Recreate the iconic love scene in ‘La Dolce Vita’ by sharing a kiss by the Trevi fountain, saunter down to the Spanish Steps or canoodle at the Colosseum.
The river Tiber is a hot spot for couples, with love lock bridges and a stunning view over the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica, especially as the sun sets, that’s certainly amore.

2. Venice

Venice
The creme de la creme of Italian romantic escapes, of course, it has to be Venice.
There’s just something about the winding canals with stunning turquoise water, the gondola rides and with plenty of scenic piazza’s to explore, you’re not short of romantic strolls.
Enjoy the iconic view over the lagoon from San Giorgio Maggiore and tie up your trip in a truly romantic style.

1. Paris

Paris
Be still, my beating heart. In the words of Audrey Hepburn, Paris is always a good idea. Yes, it’s cliche, but you can’t deny the French capital the top spot.
Climb the Eiffel tower to take in panoramic views over the whole city, take a sail down the river Seine or take your love to the Louvre.
There’s a reason why this city is given the name ‘City if Love’, and it’s because it’s so easy to fall in love with Paris.
If you’re struggling to find the perfect Valentines gift this year, check out our gift guide, here.

Leger Holidays' Top 10 Viewed Tours of 2015

A new start to a new year, and no, we can’t quite believe it’s 2016 either. 2015 was a brilliant year for Leger Holidays. Our new coach, Luxuria, hit the road, our website got a new look and, best of all, we got to take more fantastic customers to some great destinations and made memories to last a lifetime.

Whilst we’ve been busy preparing for the exciting year ahead, we can’t help but look back fondly on our experiences from last year. So, we’ve compiled a list of our most-viewed tours over the last 12 months. If you’re looking for some inspiration or just curious to see if your favourite tour makes the list, here’s what caught your eye over throughout 2015:

10.

In at number 10, giving us all that warm, fuzzy feeling is the Fairy Tale Castles of Bavaria, the Rhine Valley & Black Forest. And, who said romance was dead?
Bavaria, Germany

9.

Taking the number 9 spot was beautiful Italy with our Lake Garda, Venice & Verona tour. Now that’s amore!
Venice Grand Canal

8.

Speeding in at number eight, it’s fast cars and lavish surroundings with the Monaco Grand Prix by Coach.
Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix

7.

Lucky Seven, our Splendours of Paris caught your eye for a short trip just across the channel.
Eiffel Tower, Paris

6.

The stunning Dutch Bulbfields take the number 6 spot, or was it the excursion to Amsterdam that tempted you to this colourful tour? Both spectacular choices, of course.
A windmill in Holland

5.

Italy sure is popular, coming in at number 5 is the fantastic Wonders of Rome & Pompeii.
Trevi Fountain, Rome

4.

Our D-Day landings in Normandy comes in at an impressive number 4, proving once again, we will never forget.
Pegasus Bridge

3.

Into the top three for 2015, and first onto the winner’s podium, the tour taking the hypothetical bronze medal is Beautiful Bruges!
Bruges, Belgium

2.

And in second place, it’s another appearance for the Formula 1 fanatics, our ever popular Belgium Grand Prix Race Weekend spiked your interest for another year.
Ferarri Forumla 1 Car

1.

Taking the top spot, the most viewed tour of 2015 is… Nashville, New Orleans and Elvis Presley’s Memphis. Heading into America’s Deep South, you liked the sound of the live jazz of New Orleans, the blues and rock ‘n’ roll in Memphis and the country sounds of Nashville. And, a visit to Graceland? We can’t disagree with that.
Nashville, USA
With a host of new tours coming up, we wonder which tour will top our most viewed tours this year. One thing we do know is that we’ve got plenty of holidays and experiences we hope you enjoy in the meantime. Where will your plans take you in 2016?

Easter in Lake Garda, Venice and Verona by Linda McKeown

Linda McKeown and her family took one of our Italian Tours over the Easter holidays, visiting Lake Garda, Venice and Verona, here’s how she found her first coach trip to Italy.

I have just returned from a wonderful holiday to Italy this Easter; the Lake Garda, Venice & Verona Tour. I had wanted to visit Italy by road for some while and was dreading the driving, as there is plenty of it! However, I persuaded my husband and 2 teenage children to accompany me on the tour – and we had a fabulous time!

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All we had to do was turn up at the convenient meeting point (just 7 miles from home) with our passports, and everything else was taken care of! The first holiday I have ever experienced when I am not constantly juggling tickets, passports, hotel details and a map! We were able to relax in the knowledge that everything was organised.
The drivers (Stuart and Gareth) were absolutely excellent – they got us from one place to another in good time, their driving was faultless and their knowledge of the area unsurpassed. We were not hurried, there were plenty of comfort stops and they made sure we were always looked after.
My husband and children dreaded the journey to Italy (boredom and leg room were the perceived issues) but we had plenty of leg room (we upgraded to Silver Service) and there was so much to look at on the way, that no one was bored! There was even a DVD to watch on the homeward journey. The hotel in Belgium for the first and last nights was excellent quality and the Lake Garda hotel offered an outdoor pool which the children braved during our stay!
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We found Venice an absolute gem, we were there in good time in the morning to enjoy it before it became too crowded, and the children took the optional cruise which they really enjoyed. Verona was completely different, and a beautiful city to spend the day in and enjoy – we had lunch in one of the squares and enjoyed people-watching after walking around the arena, the church and the Roman ruins.
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We did a spot of shopping after lunch (credit card beware, the shops are very tempting!) and then returned to the tranquillity of Lake Garda. We did the optional boat tour of Lake Garda on Easter Monday, and despite the holiday traffic, we arrived in Malcesine in good time to enjoy the sights and the ice cream – we also had a wonderful boat ride to see the sights from the Lake.
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We spent the day before departure walking around the Lake, having lunch at Riva del Garda enjoying the views and the sunshine, and sitting around the hotel pool – how fabulous!
We won’t forget our wonderful holiday in Italy, and not only have we recommended this holiday to friends and family, we will definitely do it again! Thank you Leger Holidays team! Linda, Dave, Rowan & Millie
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