Settle into your 4 star Left Bank Hotel.
Every day on a Great Trains of Europe tour begins with a full buffet breakfast [B]. Your morning sightseeing includes the Arc de Triomphe, Champs Elysees and Notre Dame, ending up at the Louvre to say hello to Mona Lisa. An afternoon optional excursion is available to the Versailles Palace of Louis XIV.
Paris & Day Trip to Somme Battlefields[B]
Museums? Department stores? Fashion boutiques? A very long lunch? Choices, choices. There is an optional excursion offered today to the Somme Battlefields of World War I. Here you visit sites sacred in Australia's (and NZ's) national history.
A final free day in every true romantic's favourite city. Join the crowds tonight on the Champs Elysees to celebrate the dawning of the New Year.
Interlaken - Swiss Alps & Lakes [B]
Farewell Paris this morning. You begin your love affair with the Great Trains of Europe on her fastest - the French TGV - at 300kph towards the Alps and Interlaken, with stunning views of the Eiger and Jungfrau. This is your home for 4 nights. Interlaken hosts a huge street party on New Year's Day, culminating in spectacular fireworks.
Interlaken - Swiss Alps & Lakes [B]
Enjoy a late and leisurely brunch before deciding whether to do nothing or to do very little. Your Tour Director will have suggestions for some mountain railway or cable car rides to the peaks of the surrounding Alps.
Interlaken - Swiss Alps & Lakes [B]
Today you take what is truly one of the Great Rail Journeys of the World on the Jungfrau Railway. You climb and tunnel through the Eiger to Jungfraujoch, Europe's highest railway station - an unbelievable 11,333 feet above sea level. Superlatives fail when one tries to describe the view across the roof of the world. After coffee (try the hot chocolate!) you retrace your path back down to Interlaken, stopping off for a stroll through the beautiful Alpine village of Grindelwald.
Interlaken - or Glacier Express[B]
A quiet day in the spa, or on the slopes. There is an optional excursion offered today, on another of the world's great train journeys - the tiny red Glacier Express. Enjoy the breathtaking views from the panorama carriage, and enjoy lunch in the restaurant car. Have your cameras at the ready for stunning Alpine vistas. You are back in your Interlaken hotel this evening.
To Venice [B]
Another of Europe's great rail journeys today. The Swiss-Italian Cisalpino takes you through the Alps, past the Northern Italian lakes, via Milan and on to the City of Canals, Venice, another of Europe's truly romantic cities. Your 4 star hotel overlooks the Grand Canal. Settle in as your luggage arrives and watch the lights come on as the waterbuses chug past.
This morning you begin to explore the art and history of Venice. Byzantine St Mark's is considered by many to be the most beautiful church in the world and the historic Doge's Palace and its Bridge of Sighs are “must sees.” Venice is best taken slowly, wandering along her canals and bridges.
There is time for a visit to an outer island - Burano for exquisite lace, Murano for world-famous Venetian glass. Art lovers will want to see the Tintoretto paintings in the Scuola di San Rocco, the Titian in the Friary Church, and the collection of Venetian Renaissance art in the Accademia Gallery. Your Tour Leader is on hand to guide. Save the gondola ride for late afternoon. The true romantics will take their gondola ride under the Bridge of Sighs at sundown as the bells of the Campanile ring.
To Innsbruck [B]
Farewell Italy, as you head back towards the Alps. This morning you join your Eurocity train for Innsbruck, as your luggage is taken on ahead. You are not staying in downtown Innsbruck, but in the beautiful Alpine Village of Igls, perched 15 minutes above. Thaw out with a glass of gluhwein in front of the roaring log fire. This is your home for 4 nights.
Choices today. Skiing? You may choose to ski or join your Tour Leader in an exploration of Innsbruck, the Imperial city of the Hapsburgs. You commence by riding a tramcar through snow decked forests down to Innsbruck below. Explore the mediaeval quarter and take a ride up the Hungerberg rack railway for a panorama of the Alps.
Innsbruck or a Day Trip to Salzburg [B]
Today, you may choose to ski, to potter about the village, to sit in front of the log fire, or to take the tram back down into Innsbruck to the shops. There is an optional excursion by Austrian InterCity train to Mozart's birthplace, Salzburg. There is plenty of time to wander the narrow cobble-stone streets or visit Mozart's house, now a museum.
Another quiet day in your Alpine haven - a good book in front of the log fire? Alternatively, your Tour Leader will assist you if you wish to make a visit to nearby Munich or the fairytale castle of Neuschwannstein.
Our luggage is collected and taken on ahead as you bid farewell to the Alps and join a EuroCity train for another of Europe's great romantic cities - Prague. Your hotel is in the historic centre.
Today there is a visit to Prague Castle, perched high on the hill overlooking the city. Here is also the cathedral church of St Vitus, incorporating the chapel built on the spot where Good King Wenceslas was murdered a thousand years ago. Crossing back over the Charles Bridge, you visit Prague's historic Jewish Quarter. A free afternoon for the shops or to enjoy the music.
Prague or Day Trip to DRESDEN [B]
A free day to continue your exploration of this fabulous city. The Old Town Square, left intact through all the wars of the twentieth century, has at least one building from every century from the twelfth to the twentieth. Prague is rich in Mozart associations. Bohemian crystal is world-famous. Alternatively, you may wish to join an optional excursion to Dresden, one of Europe’s cultural wonders now emerging from the ashes of World War II bombing and 44 years of Communism.
Enjoy a last free day in magical Prague. You understand why Mozart loved it so much. Crystal and garnet are popular with shoppers.
Homeward Bound [B]
The tour ends after breakfast this morning.
$AUD 8,215 per person Twin Share.
Land Content only (i.e. join the tour in Venice and leave the tour in Paris)
Single Room supplement $AUD 2000.
Enquire about competitive airfares.
Great Trains of Europe Independent Tours (ie. non-escorted tours) include:
The tour cost does NOT include “optional excursions” (where offered) or meals other than breakfasts.
Why not enjoy a White Christmas in a beautiful Swiss Alpine village (with opportunities to visit Christmas markets) before embarking on the Winter Wonderland Tour?
On your arrival at either Zurich or Geneva Airport on December 21st, there is a transfer to the picturesque Swiss Alpine village of Grindelwald, nestled under the North Face of the Eiger.
Settle in to the traditional chalet-style hotel which has been run by the same family for generations. Your hostess, current manager Gabriella, has been taking care of the Great Trains of Europe White Christmas Tour members for a number of years now. All have spoken very highly of her warm welcome, personal care and attention to detail.
The hotel is rated 3 stars and oozes Swiss charm. There are breathtaking Alpine views and a roaring log fire. You have reserved superior standard rooms with private facilities for your tour members. Every morning there is a buffet breakfast.
There is a beautiful church 50 metres away with a midnight service on Christmas Eve, should you wish to attend (pictured right).
Grindelwald is a snow sports fan's heaven. But if you are not a snow bunny, there are a million other things to do. Grindelwald is a hub for the Swiss mountain train networks, and there are many gondolas and cable cars to the Alpine peaks all around. It is an easy train ride to the cities of Berne, Basel and Zurich with their Christmas markets. The village itself offers excellent shopping and a wide variety of restaurants and coffee shops for lingering lazy lunches, before returning to the hotel to read or snooze in front of the log fire.
On your final day (is it all over so soon?) you are escorted on the rail journey to Paris to commence the Winter Wonderland Tour.
White Christmas Add-On Cost: $AUD$2,500 per person twin share. Single supplement $AUD600
Somme Battlefields Tour Add $275
Departing your Paris hotel at 7.30am, you are in the province of Picardy, in North Eastern France for morning coffee before beginning your visits to the major battle fields and cemeteries associated with the horror of the first day of the Battle of the Somme. On that one day, July 1st 1916, 60,000 Allied soldiers fell. You visit the Newfoundland Memorial at Beaumont Hamel, the British Memorial at Thiepval and the Australian Memorials at Pozieres and Villiers-Brettoneux. Lunch in an atmospheric French country bistro is included.
Glacier Express Add $275
In even the shortest list of the world's great train journeys, the tiny red Glacier Express is featured. It is a long day, so you need to leave the hotel by 7.15am. Travelling by Intercity train via Berne and Zurich, you arrive in Chur. Here you board the Glacier Express for a never to be forgotten journey through a Winter Wonderland across the roof of the world - the watershed between the Rhine and the Danube River systems. Lunch is available in the Restaurant Car if you can drag yourself away from the panorama windows. In the afternoon you arrive in Brig and take a local train home to Interlaken, arriving by 5pm.
Salzburg Add $275
This excursion includes the two hour rail journey from Innsbruck. On arrival in Salzburg you taxi into the old town and ride the rack railway to the top of the Hohensalzburg fortress for a panoramic view over the city. You explore the 12th century castle and upon our descent visit Salzburg cathedral where Mozart's father was organist and where the young genius first played. The Altstadt (old city) is very compact and an all-pedestrian zone. Mozart's birthplace is now a museum worth a visit.
Dresden Add $125
Departing Prague after breakfast, your EuroCity train has you over the German border and to Dresden in a little over two hours. Dresden was said to be Germany's most beautiful city until carpet-bombed by the Allies in 1945. The baroque city is now re-emerging from the ashes. The restoration of the truly unique bell-shaped Frauenkirche cathedral has recently been completed. This is the home of Meissen porcelain, and Dresden boasts a Porcelain Museum as well as a magnificent collection of Old Masters in the Zwinger Gallery. Dresden is also home to the Semper Opera House. The city centre is quite compact and today's sightseeing is largely on foot.
Optional Excursions offered subject to a minimum group size.