Wonders of Winter in First Class
- Travel along the Rhine Gorge from Germany into Austria
- Head into Switzerland via the TransAlpine route
- Enjoy awe-inspiring views from the Glacier Express as you cross Switzerland
- Out via Cologne, back via Strasbourg: two great Christmas market destinations
- Add extra nights & destinations
- Upgrade your hotels
- Adapt the route to suit your plans
- First Class rail travel with seat reservations
- 7 nights’ handpicked hotel accommodation with breakfast
- City maps and comprehensive directions to your hotels
- Clearly-presented wallets for your rail tickets, hotel vouchers and other documentation
- All credit card surcharges and complimentary delivery of your travel documents
Your winter exploration of Europe begins with a mid-morning Eurostar from London St Pancras to Brussels Midi. One of the benefits of your Standard Premier seat is a light brunch which will be served en route, and on arrival in Brussels, you will transfer to a German ICE service, arriving in Cologne in the late afternoon.
From the station, it’s a short walk to the Mondial am Dom MGallery (or similar), for a one night stay. Once checked in, you have the rest of the afternoon and evening to explore the city’s seven different Christmas markets, perhaps with a hot mug of Glühwein in hand!
Following an early breakfast at your hotel, retrace your steps to the station to catch your train to the Austrian city of Salzburg. Travelling in great comfort, you will see a plethora of picture-perfect winter scenes from your seat, including ancient castles, famous vineyards and traditional German villages which hug the sides of the Rhine valley.
Your train will cross into Austria at Freilassing and deliver you into Salzburg in the late afternoon. Once you’ve disembarked, head to the Radisson Blu Altstadt (or similar) for a 2-night stay.
You have a full day to explore this UNESCO World Heritage Site, although you might feel that you need more time! The stunning baroque architecture and café culture of the Old Town mean you could spend a very enjoyable day relaxing and people watching, but there are some unique experiences which are worth investigating. In particular, Mozart’s birthplace and the beautiful Hohensalzburg castle, perched above the city. For visitors whose musical tastes are more 20th century, you can explore the city, hunting for locations which were used in the famous musical, The Sound of Music.
Following breakfast at your hotel, it is time to travel on to Switzerland and its beautiful mountains and glaciers. From Salzburg station you will take a regional train to Schwarzach St Veit where you will connect onto the TransAlpin service. You will be seated in a panoramic coach where the enormous windows allow the best views of the incredible Alpine scenery.
On arrival at Sargans, you will change trains for a second time, catching a domestic Swiss service to Chur, where you have an overnight stay at the ABC Swiss Quality Hotel (or similar).
You may wish to set the alarm a little early this morning to explore Switzerland’s oldest city before boarding a very special train which will take you to the winter resort of Zermatt. The famous Glacier Express will give you an opportunity to see some of the world’s most spectacular mountain scenery from the comfort of your seat. Lunch will be served (payable locally) as the train climbs through the Swiss Alps to nearly 7,000 feet above sea level, delivering you safely into Zermatt where you will check in to the Hotel Pollux (or similar) for a 2-night stay.
Zermatt is a famously beautiful Swiss ski resort, ringed by snow-capped mountains. It is a car-free town, which encourages visitors and locals to stroll through the quiet streets – but do watch out for the electric buggies!
It’s also well worth taking a day trip on the well-known Gornergrat Bahn. The train runs up to the second highest station in Europe, which is over 3,000 metres above sea level, and affords passengers breathtaking views of the distinctive Matterhorn.
After breakfast at your hotel, you head north, changing at Visp and Basel as you head towards the French city of Strasbourg. On arrival, make your way to the Maison Rouge Hotel (or similar) for an overnight stay.
Having checked in, stretch your legs by walking around town. There’s plenty to explore, from Christmas markets to the waterways and half-timbered houses of the Petite France district, and at the end of your exertions, why not reward yourself with some delicious local wine?
You have a full morning to see more of Strasbourg, or perhaps to buy some unique Christmas gifts for those back home, before you catch a high-speed TGV service to Lille or Paris. An easily connection in either city will see you onto the Eurostar, bound for London, Ebbsfleet or Ashford.
Alternatively, if you’d rather travel on somewhere else, just let us know and we can tailor make your holiday to suit your plans.
Typical hotels on this itinerary
The Radisson Blu Altstadt occupies a historic building dating back to 1377 in the heart of Salzburg’s Old Town. All bedrooms and suites are individually decorated with amenities that you would expect from a 5 star hotel. The hotel also boasts a restaurant overlooking the river and complimentary Wi-Fi internet access in all areas.
This modern hotel is located just 350 metres from the railway station, making it the perfect base for a short stay in Chur. The hotel also offers a sauna and a steam room on site along with a pleasant bar lounge where you’ll find the perfect place to have a drink. Guests are also welcome to make use of the free high-speed Wi-Fi available throughout the property.
Situated in the pedestrian area around Place Kléber, the historic Maison Rouge features ancient stained-glass windows and rooms decorated with individual character. The rooms at Maison Rouge feature a minibar and satellite TV. Each is serviced by the hotel’s traditional lift and has an en suite bathroom with a bath or shower.
Hotel Mondial am Dom Cologne MGallery by Sofitel is located right in the centre of Cologne, close to the famous cathedral and the main station. All of the modern bedrooms feature air-conditioning, complimentary Wi-Fi, minibar and satellite TV. The hotel also boasts a restaurant overlooking the cathedral, a sauna, a steam room and a fitness room.