Holidays by train have developed strongly in recent years, mainly due to increasing affluence and levels disposable income amongst people over 50 years of age. Destinations are often exotic, but the level of service and the experiences gained from taking such holidays is considerable. Many rail holidays are part of a River Cruise or even an ocean-going cruise. The experiences therefore become part of the holiday, but the main benefit is the avoidance of all airports with their associated difficulties and security checks.
Escorted Holidays by Train
There are holiday itineraries to travel to all parts of Europe by train as part of an organised group. Specialists for this kind of holiday include Great Rail Journeys (01904 734173), Treyn Holidays, and Orient Express. The tours include 5-star accommodation, first-class rail travel, the service of a tour manager with all food included.
Here are some suggestions:
The Cote d’Azur and the Nice Carnival
You take the Eurostar from London or Ebbsfleet in Standard Premier class which includes a breakfast or lunch, change in Paris or Lille to take the French TGV trains all the way to Nice, one of the most scenic voyages you can take by high speed rail. Once there, you’ll stay at a luxury hotel, visit the Carnival, Grasse perfumeries, Monaco, Eze, and a special lunch at La Jarrerie, a fine luxury restaurant.
Romance of the Seine Cruise
The journey begins with a journey on Eurostar to Paris. From Paris you board a coach to the small town of Mammes where you board the luxury river-cruise barge. Along the route, short coach transfers are provided to visit sites of interest like Vaux le Vicomte, Mantes, and Giverny.
Travel by Eurostar via Lille in Standard Premier class to the city of Lyon, where you transfer to the floating hotel for the 7-night cruise along the Seine. Highlights of the tour include Avignon the Camargue, Arles and Beaune.
Great Rail Journeys and Shearings operate a number of itineraries to include at least one of the many Christmas markets at cities in German and Eastern Europe. The most popular is Cologne, closely followed by Prague, Bavaria and the small towns of the Hartz Mountains in Germany.
A rail tour of the Imperial Cities of the Austro-Hungarian and Prussian Empires is one of the most popular itineraries with visits to Budapest , Prague, Bratislava, Vienna and Berlin in one tour, plus a dinner cruise on the Danube. Also worth considering is a Danube Cruise incorporating a first-class rail journey all the way to Passau in Germany where you board a river-cruise ship which then takes you down the Danube past Melk, the Passau Valley, Vienna, and Bratislava.
A visit to Venice is one the wish-list for many romantic couples, so to travel there by first-class train is something to make it extra-special. The train arrives into Venice Santa Lucia Station, which is right on the Grand Canal. From there you can take a river taxi to the hotel. Why not time this tour to include a visit to the World-famous Venice Carnival to admire the costumes and the grandness of this special event. A visit to the breathtakingly beautiful Lake Bled in Slovenia is in easy reach so many group tours include this in the itinerary. The Orient Express website is definitely worth considering when looking for this kind of holiday.
Southern Europe & the Mediterranean
With high-speed rail travel now possible all the way to Milan and beyond, the opportunities for group tours to Italy have increased in number. You can now take short holidays in Lake Garda or the Amalfi Coast which start with a Eurostar journey from London. Likewise, Spain now has high speed rail all the way to Andalucia which you can tour by train.