Austrian Christmas & Italian New Year
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Enjoy the festive period in two of Europe's most spectacular settings on this truly memorable rail holiday. Innsbruck at Christmas is enchanting, and Lake Garda is the perfect place to enjoy a fantastic New Year.
We meet at our Departure Office in St Pancras International, departing by Eurostar for Brussels, where we transfer onwards by First Class rail to Cologne. Here, we overnight.
This morning we travel by First Class rail southwards into Switzerland, passing through the dramatic scenery of deep valleys and towering snow-covered mountains for which the area is justly famous. Our journey then continues over the Austrian border to stylish Innsbruck, the capital of the scenic Tyrol. We stay here for five nights at the 4-star Hotel Innsbruck.
On Christmas Eve morning we enjoy a guided tour of Innsbruck. We take in the highlights of this striking Alpine city, such as the Golden Roof, built for Emperor Maximilian I as a royal box from where he could observe the tournaments below, and including nearly 3,000 gold-plated copper tiles. The Golden Roof sits within Innsbruck's beautiful Old Town, close to Maximilian's Imperial Palace and the impressive 15th century City Tower. Following the tour, your afternoon is at leisure for you to explore the city further. Perhaps stroll around the maze of cobbled alleyways in the medieval Old Town, a perfect place to sample a coffee and some of the exquisite local cakes. This evening we enjoy a special Christmas Eve dinner together.
On Christmas Day, we take a trip out on the Stubaitalbahn, a narrow-gauge tram line, first opened in 1904, which connects Innsbruck to the surrounding snow-covered mountain hamlets. Our scenic journey takes us past icy forests and Alpine meadows laden with snow, to more than 1,000 metres at the line's peak. This evening we dine together in the hotel, enjoying a festive turkey dinner.
Today is free to explore Innsbruck. Located in the Inn Valley beneath the unique backdrop of the Alps, Innsbruck is known for its imperial buildings. The Tyrolean capital's magnificently preserved Old Town still reflects the city's historic and cultural past with its wonderful Renaissance and Baroque architecture. Alternatively, you could perhaps venture further afield - the delightful towns of Igls and Seefeld are both interesting to explore, and are easily accessible by rail. Another popular option is the Hungerburgbahn Funicular Railway, which runs from Innsbruck's city centre to the Hungerburg plateau - 2789 ft (850m) above sea level - affording spectacular views over the city and the surrounding mountain ranges.
This morning we travel by train (Standard Class) to Jenbach where we embark on a fantastic rail journey on the Zillertalbahn, in wonderfully restored four-wheel carriages. This narrow-gauge railway runs along the dramatic Inn Valley, travelling through breathtaking scenery on its way to Mayrhofen. Here you are free to explore the cobbled streets lined with shops and restaurants before our return journey.
This morning we head south, through the soaring icy peaks of the Dolomites into Italy and on to Verona (Standard Class). We enjoy a guided tour of the beautiful city of Verona before continuing by coach to the lakeside city of Desenzano, on the shores of Lake Garda. Here we spend five nights at the Hotel Desenzano.
This morning we travel by coach to the mesmerising floating city of Venice. A private boat takes us along the Giudecca Canal to St Mark's Square to meet our local guide. During our guided tour we see many of this unique city's famous sights, including St Mark's Basilica. You also have some free time to explore at your own pace. Perhaps visit the impressive Doge's Palace and the iconic Bridge of Sighs, or one of the city's many art galleries. Otherwise, why not get an alternative view of this fabulous city with a ride along the waterways in one of its famous gondolas?
This morning you are free to relax by Lake Garda and to explore Desenzano at leisure, possibly by enjoying a lakeside stroll. This afternoon we enjoy an excursion by coach to the Franciacorta wine region, where we enjoy a visit to a local winery and have the chance to taste some local wines.
On New Year's Eve, we visit Sirmione, one of the most popular holiday resorts on the shores of Lake Garda, located on the tip of a long peninsula protruding from the southern shore of the lake. The town is dominated by its imposing castle, the Rocca Scaligera, and is known for its thermal springs - it was a spa destination even in Roman times. This evening we enjoy a gala dinner and celebrations at the hotel - a great way to see in the New Year.
On New Year's Day, you are free to relax and maybe take a stroll along the lakefront to blow the cobwebs away. For the more adventurous and energetic, take a walk into the hills for panoramic views across the surrounding countryside. One popular option is Malcesine, a particularly atmospheric town that boasts a number of picturesque Old Town buildings and a quaint harbour.
This morning, we travel in First Class to Turin, where we overnight. On Day 13, we leave Turin behind, travelling in First Class to Paris. Here, we transfer to the Eurostar for our return journey to London.
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
Please note: This tour may be suitable for reduced mobility passengers, please call for further information.
Combine Austria and Italy in one on this festive break