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Colditz, Meissen and Saxony by Steam

4.4 stars(10 reviews)

Germany's most scenic region by steam

8 days Sold out

2022 Tour code: SDS22

About the tour

Boasting winding valleys and rugged mountain ranges, Saxony is among Germany's most scenic regions. We discover its prettiest towns and most beautiful scenery on excursions by historic narrow-gauge railway.


What’s included


Day 1 - Nuremberg

We travel by Eurostar to Brussels from our dedicated St Pancras Departure Office. Here, we join the high-speed service via Frankfurt, to Nuremberg where we stay overnight.

  • Dinner
Day 2 - Exploring Nuremberg

Today, we enjoy a guided tour of Nuremberg before boarding the rail service to Dresden. Nuremberg has always been an important city in Bavaria and indeed, in the whole of Germany, mostly thanks to its key position on a variety of trade routes. Much of the wealth that came with traders went into the city itself, and as a consequence, Nuremberg's streets are filled with impressive townhouses, grand castles and reverent religious buildings.

The indisputable highlight of this city is the imperious Nuremberg Castle which sits high over the city. What impresses about this fortress is its sheer scale and impregnability. It is considered by many to be one of Europe's most indomitable fortresses and with its enormous tower, and immense fortifications, this comes as no surprise. Having been originally built by the Holy Roman Emperors and improved by consequent rulers, today's castle is a true delight for those with a keen interest in history.

  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 3 - Dresden

Today we embark on a guided tour of Dresden, visiting its many famous sights before an afternoon at leisure to explore at your own pace. Characterised by stunning cityscapes, Dresden is a beautiful homage to German civilisation. The city is formed by predominantly Baroque architectural styles, though not exclusively. Mansions, town houses, palaces and churches built with impeccable taste and sophisticated touches each offer something different, but it is the sheer grandeur of these royal and imperial streets which make wondering the streets an experience awash with elegance and luxury.

The Royal Buildings are always highly regarded by visitors. Submerged in Baroque charm, the Zwinger Palace is a wonderful edifice with gracefully manicured gardens and babbling fountains acting as the introduction to a marvellous royal building of arches, windows and balconies.

Dresden has been painstakingly rebuilt after it was almost completely destroyed by allied bombing raids towards the end of the Second World War. Dresden was an important military asset for the Nazi war machine, with many workshops, factories and barracks maintained here. This made the city a target for both the British and American air force, and sadly, along with the tragic deaths of many civilians, much of the beautiful old buildings which lent Dresden its glittering charm were destroyed by incendiary bombs.

  • Breakfast
Day 4 - The Weisseritz Valley Railway

This morning, we travel to Freital, where we board the scenic Weisseritz Valley Railway and climb up into the mountains, travelling 16 miles through the wild Rabenauer Grund Valley to the town of Kipsdorf. The scenery here is impressive, and as you snake through the deep greens of the forest and alongside the meandering river, it is not hard to imagine how this landscape inspired the Brothers Grimm and their tome of dark fairytales and nursery rhymes. The colours here are simply fantastic, with the bright sun just about penetrating the forest, lighting up the trees with a golden glow. Thought to be the oldest narrow gauge railway in Germany still in public use, the Weisseritz Valley Railway is fantastic for experiencing the romantic charm of this part of Germany. We cross 34 bridges and pass the valley of the River Weisseritz on this historic line, which first opened in 1882.

  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 5 - Meissen by paddle steamer and Colditz

We take a historic paddle steamer along the Elbe today. This is an exceptional way to experience both the river and the small towns which sit on the riverbanks. Sit back and enjoy the tranquillity of a river cruise, accompanied by the gentle thump of a genuine paddle steamer's wheels. These are real paddle steamers, and this provides a truly fascinating way to experience the gentle Elbe and the people who call this place home. The boat passes Dresden, and continues into the picturesque Elbe Valley. A former UNESCO World Heritage site, the Elbe Valley is a pretty and serene part of Germany, with surrounding flat meadows contrasting with forested foothills. The fields are often prone to flooding here and this makes the Elbe Valley a haven for all manner of wildlife including white storks and even the enormous, majestic sea eagle can be found in these parts. We travel past treelined hilltops on our way to Meissen.

Notably famous for its own ceramic styles, Meissen is a fairytale city, capped and crowned by the superb Albrechtsburg Castle. Built in the late-Gothic style in charming orange and white stone, this castle was constructed back in 1471 and was, and still is, intended as a residence rather than a military fortification. During our excursion, we visit the famous Porcelain Manufacturer for a guided tour, with time to explore the idyllic Old Town at Meissen's heart.

Our next visit is the infamous ex-POW camp of Colditz. Perched on a rocky outcrop above the Mulde River, the Renaissance castle of Colditz was built to defend the town from invaders. Its defensive position was one of the maine reasons the Nazis chose it to be a high-security prison. Then, with the outbreak of World War II, it became Oflag IV-C, a maximum-security prison for Allied prisoners of war (POWs). Each POW held there had attempted escape from at least 1 other prison. With so many people determined to escape, many ideas were pooled and then put into practice. Hundreds were foiled almost instantly, and in the end, just 31 Allied POWs made it out before Colditz was liberated in April 1945. Of the British escapees, Peter Allen, Patrick Reid and Airey Neave are perhaps the most famous.

  • Breakfast
Day 6 - At leisure in Dresden

Today you are at leisure.

  • Breakfast
Day 7 - Cologne

Leaving Dresden by rail, we head to Cologne via Frankfurt for an overnight stay. 

  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 8 - Cologne to London

Today, we take the train from Cologne to Brussels. Here we join the Eurostar service to St Pancras International.

  • Breakfast

Additional information

Please note

Please note that while every departure of this tour will feature the same excursions, the order may differ from that shown above.

Departure times

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.

Mobility information

Due to the nature of our tours they are generally unsuitable for those with restricted mobility. If you’d like to discuss any particular holiday with us in this respect, then please don’t hesitate to call us.


NH Collection Dresden Altmarkt

NH Collection Dresden Altmarkt, Dresden

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Weisseritz Valley Railway

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4.4 stars4.4 / 5 · 10 reviews

  1. 5 stars
  2. 4 stars
  3. 3 stars
  4. 2 stars
  5. 1 star

Mrs S

3 stars

Submitted 04 Jul 2022

We had a pretty disastrous journey getting to Dresden, caused by Deutsche Bahn, which resulted in us not going to Nuremburg at all so missing one of our city tours and included meal. The management of required hotels which needed to be booked because of the DB failure was not managed efficiently by the head office. They provided our Tour guide with incorrect hotels and had booked with incorrect names which caused more frustration than needed. The remaining part of the holiday was very much in line with the itinerary. Not a holiday to be repeated.

Collected by Trustpilot

Mr Michael Arnold

5 stars

Submitted 23 Sep 2020

Excursions and hotels all very nice, plenty of free time and it was also very warm(!)

Collected by Great Rail Journeys

Mrs J Yaxley

5 stars

Submitted 09 Jul 2019

A wonderful holiday in great company. The overnight hotels in both Nuremburg and Cologne were acceptable as overnight stays. The main hotel in Dresden was excellent, lovely rooms, fabulous food. Well organised by Great Rail. Excursions were all excellent. We felt the Tour Manager treated us all rather like schoolkids but it didn't spoil the holiday. Would certainly recommend.

Collected by Great Rail Journeys

Mrs P Levett

4 stars

Submitted 08 Jul 2019

Everything was perfect except I found the first day journey all the way to Nuremburg extremely taxing. I think it was too far St Pancras to Nuremburg in one hit. Also such a short time in Nuremburg seemed little reward for the time taken to get there. I did find manipulating my luggage on escalators on stations wearing. (I knew loading onto European trains would be challenging).

Collected by Great Rail Journeys

Mr A Jones

4 stars

Submitted 24 Jul 2018

Very enjoyable holiday. We did not get off to the best start on Eurostar as we assumed that we would be served breakfast on the train as we have always had on previous holidays. However we discovered that we should have upgraded for this and it was stated in the brochure. We checked this on our return and it was there proving we should not take things for granted even with Great Rail. This was our eighth holiday with you. I used the swimming pool at the Hotel in Dresden and at checkout at the end of the holiday I was asked to pay a charge for that. I was not impressed with this along with the other members of our group who had used the pool. It was an expensive hotel and one assumed that such facilities should have been included for guests. Furthermore we had to ask for coffee at the end of dinner as we were not offered this. Many of our group had the same sentiment. However, the holiday was good and there were many positives.

Collected by Great Rail Journeys

Mr K Clark

5 stars

Submitted 23 Jul 2018

Great holiday, lovely area of Germany and very good tour manager

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Colditz, Meissen and Saxony by Steam

Germany's most scenic region by steam


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