Three excursions in the Austrian Tyrol by train
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The Austrian Tyrol is a real favourite of ours and is even more enthralling under a mantle of snow. From our base in Innsbruck, we explore some of the region's most beautiful attractions, such as the towns of Kufstein and Rattenberg. We also visit delightful Seefeld with a horse-drawn sleigh, and Mayrhofen - which we discover on a narrow-gauge railway.
We meet at our dedicated Departure Office in St Pancras International and depart by Eurostar to Brussels. Here, we change trains and continue on the high-speed service to Nuremberg, a classic German city with an impressive castle and colourful streets, where we spend the night. On Day 2, we leave Nuremberg and continue to Munich, passing into Austria and on to Innsbruck.
This morning we begin our stay in the Tyrolean capital with a guided sightseeing tour. Innsbruck is known for its wonderful Renaissance and Baroque buildings, and we admire these from the maze of cobbled alleyways in the medieval Old Town. Highlights here include the dazzling Hofburg Imperial Palace and the Golden Roof, built for the Emperor Maximilian I to serve as a royal box from which he could observe the tournaments below. Following the tour, you are free to explore independently. The Old Town is also a perfect place to enjoy a coffee and to try some of the exquisite local cakes. Alternatively, take a scenic excursion into the surrounding mountains on the Stubaitalbahn Railway. Opened in 1904, this 11-mile narrow-gauge railway connects central Innsbruck with the beautiful mountain hamlets surrounding it, climbing past idyllic scenery to more than 3,000ft at the line's peak.
On today's excursion we drive to Seefeld. Set on a plateau amongst Alpine peaks, Seefeld not only enjoys a spectacular backdrop, but has also become one of the Tyrol's premier resorts. Here we enjoy an atmospheric horse-drawn carriage ride through the wintry countryside, followed by time to explore the pretty town centre. Seefeld's Seekirchl, a distinctive onion-domed church, is well worth a visit.
Another popular option is Seefeld's St Oswald Parish church, which dates back to 1263 and sits right in the centre of Seefeld. The church became a popular pilgrimage site in the Tyrol after the 'Miracle of the Host' in 1384. Legend says that Oswald Milser from the nearby garrison at Schlossberg fortress demanded a larger piece of the communion host than the 'common people'. As he received it, the piece turned blood red and the stone he was kneeling on sank into the ground, where the imprint of his hand on the stone can still be seen today. Because of the increased number of pilgrims, the church was extended in 1425. Today the church is considered to be the most attractive Gothic church in the Tyro,l and is well worth exploring.
Today's excursion takes us along the outstanding Ziller Valley on the Zillertalbahn Railway. We take the train to Jenbach, where we connect with the narrow-gauge line and travel southwards across the broad valley floor. The route is wonderfully scenic; during our journey we pass sloping farmland and snow-dusted meadows, overlooked by the grandiose mountains. We continue through clusters of classic Tyrolean villages, with traditional wooden Alpine chalets and frescoed buildings, as well as decorative churches.
Soon we arrive in Mayrhofen at the head of the valley - a popular tourist destination throughout the year. You have plenty of time before our return journey to explore this attractive village of cobbled streets, bustling with skiers and winter sports enthusiasts at this time of year. Otherwise take a cable car into the mountains, perhaps enjoying a meal at a mountain-top restaurant offering spectacular views over the surrounding snow-capped Alpine pastures. The White Lounge at the summit is definitely worth a visit; its Igloo Bar serves drinks in a unique environment, overlooking the 3,000 metre peaks of the Zillertal mountains.
This morning we travel by coach to the picturesque town of Kufstein, situated close to the Bavarian border and dominated by its magnificent fortress. The Old Town of Kufstein, centred around the charming Römerhofgasse, is a real delight to stroll through. The elaborately renovated Kufstein Fortress houses the 'Heroes' Organ', built in the Citizens' Tower of the fortress. The magnificent organ is the largest free standing organ in the world, with 4,307 pipes, 46 registers and four manual playing aids - and its sound can be heard throughout the town.
Later we continue to Rattenberg, which is the Tyrol's smallest town. Visiting Rattenberg feels like a journey back in time, as the town's centre remains virtually unchanged since its medieval heyday. Rattenberg is also famous for its glassware and is known as the 'glass town of the Tyrol' thanks to the fine glassware and crystal that has been produced here for centuries. Several of the shops in Rattenberg sell fantastic glassware that is still made locally. The town's medieval pedestrian zone is its most used thoroughfare and displays an array of old buildings and shops, a charming location for a stroll.
The Augustiner Museum is also worth a visit. Built in a former Augustinian monastery, it displays a collection of art which was started in the 1880s by the then Lord Mayor. You can also see sculptures and statuettes of the Baroque and Gothic eras in the chancel of the old abbey. The museum is also home to a collection of goldsmiths' and silversmiths' works. For those feeling energetic, you can climb to the top of the church tower for excellent views of the town.
We leave Innsbruck this morning and retrace our route back into Germany and northwards to Cologne where we spend the night. This gives you another opportunity to enjoy the ever-changing scenery of Germany's rural environs as you edge closer to Cologne.
Our morning departure sees us travelling on the high-speed service to Brussels where we connect with the Eurostar service for our journey to 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.
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Three excursions in the Austrian Tyrol by train