Relax in the wonderful Bavarian countryside
Whimsical palaces and gingerbread castles set the theme of our fairy-tale rail tour, during which we relax in the wonderful Bavarian countryside, visit the capital of Bavaria, Munich, and take a trip by train up the Zugspitze, the highest mountain in Germany.
We meet at our dedicated Departure Office in St Pancras and take the Eurostar to Brussels, traveling in Standard Premier Class, with a light meal and drinks. On arrival in the Belgian capital we change trains, continuing by high-speed rail to Cologne or Stuttgart, where we overnight.
This morning we continue our journey in First Class to Munich along the Rhine Gorge. This spectacular journey takes us past extensive vineyards and brooding hilltop castles. In Munich we change for the onward journey through southern Bavaria to Garmisch-Partenkirchen (Standard Class), set in an idyllic location amongst the rugged mountains of the Bavarian Alps. We spend seven nights in Garmisch at the welcoming Reindl's Partenkirchener Hof Hotel, situated in the heart of the town. We enjoy dinner together this evening.
Your day is at leisure, giving you the opportunity to explore Garmisch-Partenkirchen at your own pace. The town has some fine Baroque churches and historic houses decorated with traditional frescoes, as well as an excellent selection of shops and boutiques.
You may wish to simply relax in the hotel and make use of its leisure facilities, or perhaps take advantage of one of the many well-marked walking trails into the Bavarian countryside.
Today we travel by Standard Class train to visit Munich. As the capital of Bavaria, the city has a wonderful collection of museums, art galleries and architectural treasures - along with a fantastic selection of excellent shops and restaurants. We enjoy a guided tour to introduce the sights of the city, before enjoying time to explore at leisure. Be sure to visit Marienplatz, the city's historic center and still its vibrant hub today. Here you can see the impressive neo-Gothic Town Hall, or you could take the lift up one of the copperdomed towers of Munich's imposing cathedral, the Frauenkirche, for great views over the city.
To enjoy a true German culinary experience, the Hofbräuhaus is a must for a typical Bavarian meal accompanied by the local brew. Perhaps you'd like to visit Munich's Englischer Garten or English Garden. Set in the center of the city this expansive green space of 1.4 square miles is a social hub, popular meeting place for the locals and a fantastic area for travelers to shelter from the bustle of busy Munich. The Kleinhesselohler See is a lake within the garden and offers an enchanting spot to visit and take lunch. Alternatively you could visit Munich's BMW Museum. A popular attraction, this museum houses a collection of classic BMWs. The exterior architecture, clad in chrome, makes for a striking sight.
Today we enjoy one of the region's most popular rail journeys, as we take an excursion on the Zugspitze Railroad, reaching the summit of Zugspitze - which at 9,718 ft (2,962 m) is the highest mountain in Germany. Our train departs from the town center and climbs along the mountain base, passing the Eibsee Lake on its way to the Zugspitzplatt, situated by the impressive Schneeferner glacier - Germany's largest.
From here our journey continues by cable car (weather permitting) high above the dense forests to the very summit of Zugspitze. The rocky peak offers breathtaking panoramic views over Bavaria, Switzerland, Austria and Italy.
Today's full-day excursion is arguably the highlight of our tour, as we visit two of Europe's most beautiful castles. We begin with a visit to King Ludwig's marvellous childhood home of Hohenschwangau. Situated on a verdant and tree covered hill, this yellow fortress is covered in towers and turrets that lend an air of the fanciful to the entire building. Here, we learn about the fascinating history of the two structures. Hohenschwangau was built on the site of the 12th century Schwanstein Fortress, but fell into disrepair during the 18th century. Later, it was sold on, and then lovingly reconstructed by Ludwig's father in the 1830s.
From here Ludwig planned his own larger, more impressive castle, just a stone's throw away: Neuschwanstein. We continue to this spectacular building, bristling with turrets and parapets, for a guided tour. The inspiration behind one of the most famous castles in modern times - the famed Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland.
Surprisingly enough, for the time it was built, Neuschwanstein was equipped with many modern conveniences, but incredibly was only occupied for 170 days before Ludwig was deposed. We take in the opulence of this awe-inspiring palace - one of Germany's most popular attractions - with its sumptuous wood carvings, beautiful chandeliers and lavish paintings which adorn the majestic rooms.
Day 7 is at leisure for you to continue exploring Garmisch-Partenkirchen at your own pace.
This morning we visit Oberammergau for a guided tour through its pretty streets with elaborately decorated homes featuring historic and fairytale paintings. The town is internationally famous for its celebrated Passion Play, which stars the town's residents and is held once every ten years. The Passion Play has now become an internationally recognized event, and is heavily attended by Christians from all around the world.
In the afternoon, we visit Linderhof, the smallest palace commissioned by Ludwig II. The whole complex incorporates a range of architectural infl uences and here we explore the striking Hall of Mirrors which was supposedly used by the king as a type of living room, he was known to spend a lot of his time sat here reading solemnly, candles would burn through the night and create a unique atmosphere because of the myriad of reflections generated in the room.
We also explore the ornate bedchamber of the King, an exquisite and enormous gilded bedchamber that is decorated with gold embroidery and a rich, royal blue, which was used extensively in King Ludwig's decorating as it was his symbolic color. Another place we explore is the Moorish Kiosk, situated within the castle's extensive parkland. Decorated with traditionally Arabic geometric shapes and three golden domes, the kiosk was created for the Paris World Exhibition in 1867 before being bought by Ludwig to decorate the Palace grounds. Tonight in Garmsich, we enjoy a farewell dinner.
We leave Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Standard Class rail for Munich and then Munich to Cologne in First Class on the high-speed rail service. Our last night is spent in a central hotel, close to the station, the Rhine and the city's UNESCO-listed Gothic cathedral.
Today we travel to Brussels where we connect with the Eurostar service to London and home.
The following departures are guaranteed to operate:
For this tour, we recommend arriving to, and departing from, London Gatwick or London Heathrow airport (LGW or LHR). London Gatwick is approximately 30 miles from your start and end point, and London Heathrow is approximately 19 miles from your start and end point.
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
Relax in the wonderful Bavarian countryside