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Colditz, Meissen & Saxony by Steam

(10 reviews)

Germany's most scenic region by steam

8 days From $1,805 per person

2020 Tour code: SDS20

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 railroad.


What’s included


Day 1 - Nuremberg

Meet your group and Tour Manager at our dedicated St Pancras Departure Office where you catch the Eurostar to Brussels. Here, we join the high-speed service via Frankfurt, to Nuremberg where we stay overnight.

  • Dinner
To Nuremberg
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 Railroad

This morning, we travel to Freital, where we board the scenic Weisseritz Valley Railroad and climb up into the mountains, traveling 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 colors 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 railroad in Germany still in public use, the Weisseritz Valley Railroad 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
Weisseritz Valley Railroad
Days 5-6 - 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. Enjoy Day 6 at leisure.

  • Day 5 - Breakfast
  • Day 6 - Breakfast
Days 7-8 - Cologne and London

Leaving Dresden by rail on Day 7, we head to Cologne via Frankfurt for an overnight stay. On Day 8 we take the train from Cologne to Brussels. Here we join the Eurostar service to St Pancras International.

  • Day 7 - Breakfast, Dinner
  • Day 8 - 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.

Recommended airports

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.

Visa Requirements

It is your responsibility to check and fulfil the passport, visa, health and immigration requirements applicable to your itinerary. We do not accept any responsibility if you cannot travel, or incur any other loss because you have not complied with any passport, visa, immigration requirements or health formalities. You agree to reimburse us in relation to any fines or other losses which we incur as a result of your failure to comply with any passport, visa, immigration requirements or health formalities.

Departure times

You may check in at the first hotel on your itinerary anytime after 14:00; your Tour Manager will be available between 16:00 and 18:00. However, if you are arriving later, you can meet your Tour Manager before dinner from 19:00.


Maritim Hotel, Dresden

Maritim Hotel, Dresden

View hotel


Weisseritz Valley Railroad


100% of travelers would recommend this tour

Based on 10 verified reviews

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Mrs J Yaxley

Submitted Jul 09, 2019

A wonderful vacation 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 vacation. Would certainly recommend.

Mrs P Levett

Submitted Jul 08, 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).

Mr A Jones

Submitted Jul 24, 2018

Very enjoyable vacation. 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 tours. 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 vacation with you. I used the swimming pool at the Hotel in Dresden and at checkout at the end of the vacation 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 vacation was good and there were many positives.

Mr K Clark

Submitted Jul 23, 2018

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


Submitted May 14, 2018

it was a well organised vacation. I have no specific points to make either for or against the vacation.

Martin Roach

Submitted May 08, 2018

A thoroughly enjoyable vacation in a fascinating area of Europe - centred on Dresden, a remarkable city

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