Enjoy inspiring lake views from your hotel
Wonderful Alpine views in the stunning Grossglockner Hohe Tauern National Park forms the backdrop of this fascinating Zell am See rail tour. From our base in the heart of the Austrian Alps, we explore Salzburg and Hitler's former mountain retreat at The Eagle's Nest.
We meet our Tour Manager at Great Rail Journeys' dedicated Departure Office in London St Pancras International today before leaving for Brussels by Eurostar. As we travel in Standard Premier Class, a light meal and drinks are served at our seats. On arrival in Brussels, we change trains and continue onwards to Germany, arriving in Cologne for an overnight stay at a centrally located hotel. We dine together in the hotel this evening.
We leave Cologne early this morning, continuing our journey by rail to Zell am See. From Cologne we travel in First Class to Schwarzach St Veit, where we change to a local train (Standard Class) to Zell am See, arriving in the afternoon. Zell am See is located in the Salzburger Land at the heart of the mountainous Hohe Tauern National Park, close to Grossglockner Mountain, Austria's highest peak. Zell am See is a picturesque little town full of medieval charm, set beside the shimmering, brilliant-blue waters of Lake Zell. It is perfectly located for making some fantastic excursions into this beautiful part of Austria and is a superb base from which to enjoy gentle strolls and more adventurous walking. We stay for seven nights at the Grand Hotel, superbly situated on a small promontory between the railway and the lake.
Today is free to spend as you wish, perhaps relaxing at the hotel or enjoying a day in Zell am See. Cruises around the lake are a wonderful option for a leisurely day enjoying the fabulous scenery. You may choose to visit the famous winter sports resort of Kitzbühel by train. Here you can take a stroll through the pretty cobbled streets of this charming Alpine town and discover the remains of its medieval town wall. Kitzbühel is very much a traditional town for this corner of the world, boasting pastel coloured town houses with timber roofs and shops packed with all manner of local produce.
Alternatively, you may wish to take a cable car to the summit of Schmittenhöhe, one of the finest viewing points in the Austrian Alps. A range of walking trails make this an excellent place for those wishing to enjoy the crisp Alpine air, and the scenery here is truly sublime. Be sure to keep an eye out for various birds of prey in this region, as they circle in the hope of spotting a stray marmoset.
Accompanied by a local guide, we travel north by coach across into Germany, for a visit to the Eagle's Nest, perched at the top of a 6,000 foot (1,829m) mountain above the town of Berchtesgaden. The Eagle's Nest was given to Adolf Hitler as his 50th birthday present. The chalet building remained unscathed by the allied bombing during World War II, and was saved from destruction in the aftermath, instead being retained as a historical monument.
Today we take a journey by steam train on the narrow-gauge Pinzgau Railway, an archetypal rural railway which runs between Zell am See and the village of Mittersill. The line was built in the late 1890s, with the first train leaving from Zell am See in 1898. The railway has never closed, and now runs regular trains along the foothills of the Pinzgau Mountains, from which the line takes its name. In recent years, a special summer steam service was introduced to the line, which has proved to be immensely popular, allowing passengers to experience the beautiful line winding across barn-dotted meadows whilst reliving the 'Golden Age' of steam.
From Mittersill we ascend to the 'Wonder World of Water' Centre above Krimml, in the Hohe Tauern National Park. The park is the second biggest wildlife preserve in Europe and the biggest in the Alps, extending over a territory of 1,800 square kilometres. A variety of exotic animal and plant species that are endangered can be found in this beautiful, diverse park. From here it is a short walk to the magnificent Krimml Waterfalls themselves.
The Krimml Waterfalls are thought to be the largest in Europe, and they truly are a sight to savour. Over 380 metres crash over the rocks and down into the Krimmler Ache Valley below, producing a thunderous roar. The white water plunges between gaps in the thick forest, and the spray drenches the various walkways that follow the waterfalls down. Down in the valley, the contrast is striking as the rush of the falls rejoins the Krimmler Ache river and becomes, once more, a tranquil river, meandering through the Hohe Tauern National Park.
Your day is free to explore Zell am See at your leisure. Perhaps enjoy a relaxing stroll along the picturesque lakeside promenade, or alternatively, visit the historic city of Innsbruck - the capital of the Tyrol region, which is easily reached by train. The delightful city has a beautiful Old Town which is ideal for exploring on foot. Visit the Imperial Palace and the famous 'Golden Roof', with 2,738 dazzling roof tiles.
The next day we take the regional train (Standard Class) to Salzburg for a full-day excursion. Salzburg is famous for being the birthplace of Mozart and the setting for the film 'The Sound of Music.' The delightful, pedestrianised city centre is a mix of half-timbered taverns, medieval stone houses and grand marble palaces. The original city was designed by architects to create a Baroque version of Rome north of the Alps.
During a guided tour of the city we see the Getreidegasse, the Residenz and the magnificent Mirabell Gardens, gaining a fabulous understanding of Salzburg's fascinating history. We have a little free time to explore, perhaps to visit the magnificent Salzburg Cathedral, before returning.
Today's excursion begins with a coach journey along the Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse, the famous high Alpine road, which takes us through one of the most spectacular and unspoilt landscapes in the Alps.
We travel through the Hohe Tauern National Park, crossing meadows, woods and Alpine pastures, under the icy gaze of the Grossglockner at 12,460ft (3,798m). We make a stop at the wonderful Kaiser-Franz-Josefs Höhe Visitor Centre at 7,700ft (2,347m), which is located on the edge of the Pasterze Glacier.
Here we visit the Grossglockner exhibition, and enjoy some free time to discover more about this imperious mountain. Grossglockner is the highest mountain in Austria and was supposedly first ascended in 1800.
We return to Zell am See through the beautiful eastern Tyrol region, with a short break at the serenely beautiful village of Heiligenblut during our descent. Famed for its iconic church, Heiligenblut is a stunning spot from which to enjoy typical Austrian beauty, packed with traditional charm and wooden chalets. Tonight we enjoy a farewell dinner in Zell am See.
We travel in Standard Class rail for the short journey to Worgl, before continuing by high-speed rail to Cologne. where we overnight in a central hotel. Day 10 is spent travelling to London, first by train to Brussels and then across the Channel on the Eurostar.
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
Enhancing your tour
Enjoy inspiring lake views from your hotel