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Escorted Rail Tours to Cologne

Famous for its perfume

Cologne was raised to a 'colony' (hence the name), with city status by the Romans in 50 AD, and was later absorbed into the Gallic Empire, becoming the capital from 260-271. The city was highly prized by both of these communities, due mainly to its location on the River Rhine, which placed it at the intersection of the major trade routes east and west, and was the basis of Cologne's growth. In addition to this, several saints were martyred in the city and the relics of the Three Magi were acquired from Milan. Cologne then also became a centre of ecclesiastical importance, as well as a pilgrimage centre, meaning the city continued to prosper in the middle ages as a result. Following a slight decline in the city's fortunes, Cologne experienced something of a renaissance in the 18th century with a recipe involving distilling flower blossoms in alcohol. This 'toilet water' achieved worldwide fame as eau de Cologne.

Although Cologne was badly damaged in the Second World War, the Cathedral survived, and extensive restoration work has since taken place throughout the city. In the modern age Cologne has reclaimed its old role as a major trade and business centre - now a radio and television metropolis, and a beer city, with over twenty breweries producing Kölsch, the distinctive local beer. Whilst in Cologne you really ought to visit the vast Cathedral. The foundation stone was laid in 1248, and it was finally completed in 1880. Called "the mother of all German churches", it is one of the largest Gothic structures ever built, and its size reflects its power - it is the seat of the Primate of Germany. The Cathedral was awarded UNESCO World Heritage status in 1996, and today you can see the relics of the Three Magi, and climb the south tower for a spectacular view of the city and the Rhine.

Sightseeing in Cologne
Cologne's Old Town, which has been carefully restored to preserve its pre-war appearance, is also a joy to discover. It spreads from just south of the Cathedral to the bank of the Rhine. Here you can admire the tall and narrow pastel-coloured houses, set out along the Old Town's winding streets, as you wander to the Rhine Promenade for a stroll along the river. There are many traditional brewery taverns close to the Old Town, all of which serve Kölsch beer - brewed only in Cologne. You may wish to visit at least one of these to sample the beer for yourself.

If you have the time to explore further, Cologne boasts an assemblage of both Roman and medieval remains that is unsurpassed in Germany. For example Eigelsteintor, one of the three surviving magnificent city gates, is a short distance north. The other gates, Severinstor and Hahnentor, are further afield but also worth a visit.

There are 38 tours matching Cologne

Glacier Express & St Moritz

Dramatic mountain scenery and beautiful lakes provide the setting for this magnificent tour, as we take the iconic Glacier Express through the Swiss Alps, staying in glamorous St Moritz, and Zermatt, where we enjoy breathtaking views of the Matterhorn.

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2018MayJunJulAugSep

9 days from £2,995 pp

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Glacier Express in Winter (Chur-Kandersteg)

This adventurous twin-centre rail holiday provides ample opportunity to explore the majestic Swiss Alps cloaked in their winter finery, and to enjoy our trip on the famous Glacier Express, surely the slowest, and certainly one of the most scenic 'express' trains in the world.

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2018JanFebMar

7 days from £1,445 pp

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5-Star Rhine Cruise

From Amsterdam in Holland, we explore charming medieval wine towns, admire the breathtaking scenery of the Rhine Gorge and then cross into France, exploring charming Strasbourg before ending in the Swiss city of Basel.

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2018MayJunOct

7 days from £1,885 pp

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Austrian Alps All-Inclusive

Explore the mighty Austrian Alps on this wonderful tour to one of Europe's most scenic and alluring countries. From our base in the enchanting Tyrolean town of St Johann, we discover the majesty of this Alpine wonderland.

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2018MayJunJulAugSep

9 days from £1,395 pp

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First Class Glacier Express in Winter

Spectacular views and stunning scenery have made the Glacier Express from Brig to Chur famous the world over. Shimmering winter peaks and sugar-frosted forests provide a picture-postcard backdrop to our wonderful winter rail adventure, taking in some of the very best that Switzerland has to offer.

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2018JanFebMar

8 days from £2,145 pp

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Grand Tour Of Switzerland

Journey through the heart of the Alps on this grand tour of majestic Switzerland. Visit the picturesque cities of St Gallen and Lucerne, explore delightful Lugano and Bern and experience wonderful Swiss rail over and around the spectacular Swiss peaks.

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2018JunSep

11 days from £3,295 pp

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