Rail holiday based in a 5-star hotel in Garmisch
Expect plenty of seasonal Bavarian traditions on our festive Alpine rail break to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, with spellbinding castles to visit, great meals to enjoy, an exciting journey on the Zugspitze Railway and a sleigh ride at Christmas.
Our holiday begins at St Pancras International, where we board the Eurostar to Brussels, travelling in Standard Premier Class. We enjoy a light meal and drinks served on board. In the Belgian capital, we change trains and continue in First Class on the high-speed service to Cologne. Here we spend a night in the heart of the city, close to the station, the Rhine and the city's magnificent Gothic cathedral.
We travel by rail through the Rhine Gorge (First Class) to Munich, then continue to Garmisch-Partenkirchen (Standard Class), set in an idyllic location amongst the snow-capped mountains of southern Bavaria. The two towns of Garmisch and Partenkirchen were joined together for the 1936 Winter Olympic Games and the area remains a world-class ski resort. The spectacular journey takes us past the sprawling vineyards and brooding fairytale castles of the stunning Rhine Gorge and through the scenic Bavarian countryside, all the more magical in winter. We spend six nights in Garmisch at the welcoming 5-star Reindl's Partenkirchner Hof Hotel.
We travel south by train on a scenic journey through Bavaria and the Austrian Tyrol to Innsbruck (Standard Class). Nestling amongst the towering mountains, the imperial city of Innsbruck is the capital of the Tyrol and is a historic city of elegant streets lined with fine buildings. Your time here is free to explore. Be sure to take in the highlights of this striking Alpine city, such as the Golden Roof, built for Emperor Maximilian I to serve as a royal box from where he could observe the tournaments below. The roof consists of nearly 3,000 gold-plated copper tiles and sits within Innsbruck's beautiful Old Town, close to Maximilian's Imperial Palace and the impressive 15th century City Tower. However, at this time of year, one of the city's main attractions is its lively Christmas Market. Here there is a life-sized nativity scene, and a number of festively decorated stalls are brimming with a tempting array of gifts and culinary treats.
On Christmas Eve we enjoy a day at leisure to get to know the twin villages of Garmisch and Partenkirchen. You can spend the day relaxing at the hotel while making use of the excellent facilities. Alternatively, visit the city of Munich and admire the amazing architectural treasures around the Marienplatz. Along with the neo-Gothic Town Hall, the main square is also the site of Munich's imposing cathedral, the Church of Our Lady. Here you can take the lift up one of the copper-domed towers to take in the great views over the city. Another popular option is the Hofbräuhaus, a famous beer hall. Here you can discover Bavarian music and hospitality and absorb Munich's wonderful festive atmosphere. Back in Garmisch this evening, we enjoy our seven-course Christmas Eve gala dinner in the hotel.
On Christmas Day we take a horse-drawn carriage ride through wintry Garmisch, followed by a cup of warming mulled wine and tasty Bavarian pastries. The rest of the day is free for you to relax, and enjoy the festivities at your own pace. Our day concludes with a traditional Bavarian roast duck Christmas dinner.
Our journey on the Zugspitze Railway today takes us towards the summit of the highest mountain in Germany. Departing from Garmisch-Partenkirchen's railway station, we travel as far as Zugspitzplatt at 8,528 ft (2,600m). From here our journey continues by cable car (subject to weather conditions) high above the forests to the summit of Zugspitze. At 9,718 ft (2,962m), it is the highest point in Germany, and from here we can admire the stunning panoramic views over Bavaria, Switzerland, Austria and Italy. You are free to descend in your own time, either returning the way ascended, or alternatively taking the cable car down to Eibsee, a beautiful lake at the base of the mountain.
Today's excursion takes us close to the Austrian border, as we travel by coach to King Ludwig's Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein castles, two of Bavaria's most spectacular attractions. We learn about their fascinating history on a guided tour. The smaller castle (Hohenschwangau) was built on the original Schwanstein castle site, which dated back to the 12th century. Ludwig's father Maximilian loved the residence, and as such, it was Ludwig's primary childhood home. It was from here that he then planned his own more impressive castle, a stone's throw away. We continue to this spectacular fairytale castle, Neuschwanstein, bristling with turrets and pinnacles, yet only occupied for 170 days before the King was deposed. The iconic castle is one of the most photographed attractions in Germany. During the tour, we have a chance to marvel at the opulence of the era, including the intricately detailed paintings and wood carvings that adorn the walls.
We depart Garmisch for the short journey to Munich (Standard Class). Here we connect with the onward service, in Standard Class, to Cologne for an overnight stay.
Our journey continues today as we leave Cologne and travel on the high-speed rail service to Brussels. Here we join the Eurostar service back to London. Travelling in Standard Premier Class, we enjoy a light meal and drinks served on board, before our arrival at St Pancras International.
Please note that while every departure of this tour will feature the same excursions, the order may differ from that shown above.
Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with our dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We write to all booked customers approximately 10 weeks prior to the start of their tour to advise the exact departure and return time for their particular group.
An escorted experience and all travel arrangements
Comfortable accommodation in your destination
Delicious meals included
Exciting excursions and free time to explore
Rail holiday based in a 5-star hotel in Garmisch