September 4, 2015 | Ffestiniog Travel
Specialist operator Ffestiniog Travel has further expanded its sought-after selection of rail-based tours with the addition of two new collections. Appearing for the first time in the 2016 Rail Holidays of the World brochure – out now – are four Small & Traditional Tours (visiting Bulgaria, Georgia, Moldova and Romania) and Rail Holidays Direct, a selection of single-centre itineraries in Europe designed to take the effort out of escorted touring for those who prefer to base themselves in one place.
Introduced following the success of its small escorted tours programme to Romania six years ago – a destination to which Ffestiniog Travel remains the UK’s leading holiday operator – the Small & Traditional Tours collection has been created to give clients a true feel for the nature, history and culture of the countries visited, none of which have yet been touched by large-scale tourism. Travelling in small groups of no more than 20 people (often less), each holiday is accompanied by a tour leader from the UK as well as a local guide, whose pivotal role as interpreter enables the group to fully engage with the local community, many of whom they may also be staying with, as village/homestay accommodation features prominently in each of the itineraries.
There are currently four holidays in the Small & Traditional Tours collection:
Bulgaria’s Hidden Secrets: A vintage tram tour in Sofia, a visit to the national railway museum at Ruse and a trip on the highly scenic narrow gauge rail line from Septemvri to Bansko, travelling through the Rhodope and Pirin mountain ranges, all feature in this 11-day tour, as do excursions to the historic towns of Veliko Tarnovo and Plovdiv, and a visit to a rose petal distillery. Departing 13 June 2016, the price is from £1,995 pp*.
Springtime in the Caucasus: This 12-day tour of rural Georgia, set amid spectacular mountain scenery, promises visits to the highest inhabited village in Europe (Ushguli) and ancient cave dwellings at Uplistsikhe and Vardzia, as well as a guided walk of Tblisi and a ride on the narrow gauge railway from Borjomi to Bakuriani. Departing 10 May 2016, the price is from £1,975 pp*.
Moldova & Eastern Romania: Explore this virtually undiscovered corner of Europe on a 12-day tour, enjoying journeys on the Moldovita narrow gauge steam railway and a privately-chartered Iasi tram, visits to the Painted Monastery at Porobota and fortress town of Soroca, wine tasting at the Cricova winery and much more. Departing 1 September 2016, the price is from £1,825 pp*.
Rural Romania – Where Time Stands Still: Combining characterful homestay accommodation with a fascinating insight into traditional Romanian rural life, this 12-day tour also offers train aficionados no less than three narrow gauge steam railway experiences, two of which are by private charter. Departing 25 September 2016, the price is from £1,955 pp*.
Whilst, for many, the pleasure of travelling lies in waking up somewhere new each morning, for others the prospect of unpacking one’s suitcase and settling in for the duration of their holiday holds far more appeal. Responding to clients’ requests for the latter, Ffestiniog Travel has introduced Rail Holidays Direct – a small selection of escorted European short breaks, from five to eight days’ duration, which do just that. Each itinerary features outward and return journeys (from London) which can be reached the same day by rail without stopover, and are based in a single centre, carefully chosen for its location and proximity to a number of delightful excursions, all of which are included in the price.
There are currently four itineraries in the Rail Holidays Direct collection:
Switzerland’s Lake Lucerne (six days): Exquisitely set in the heart of the Swiss Alps, Lucerne offers an abundance of unforgettable experiences, ranging from train journeys through the Brünig and Gotthard Passes and rail ascents of two mountains (Rigi and Pilatus) to relaxing lake cruises to Vitznau, Alpnachstad and Flüelen. Departing 12 June 2016, the price is from £1,210 pp*.
The Romantic Rhine (six days): Based in the pretty riverside town of Boppard, this holiday boasts highlights that include wine tasting in Bacharach, a journey up-river to Rüdesheim on board the famous paddle steamer, ‘Goethe’, and a visit to the cathedral city of Limburg. Departing 22 July 2016, the price is from £720 pp*.
The Belgian Ardennes (five days): Visit Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxembourg during an itinerary that features the South Limburg steam train to Simpleveld as well as sightseeing in the lovely town of Dinant, cosmopolitan Maastricht and Namur, the southern Belgian town in which the tour is based. Departing 15 September 2016, the price is from £480 pp*.
Switzerland’s Bernese Oberland (eight days): Pretty Wilderswil, near Interlaken, is home for the duration of this sublime short break that includes excursions to Kleine Scheidegg, Lucerne, Thun, Zermatt and the Rothorn Mountain as well as a Swiss Pass, giving free unlimited travel for the duration of the trip. Departing 20 September 2016, the price is from £1,415 pp*.
Also joining the new Small & Traditional Tours and Rail Holidays Direct in Ffestiniog Travel’s latest brochure are an array of NEW escorted tours, ranging from European itineraries with a sprinkling of train travel to scenic grand tours of more far-flung destinations. True railway enthusiasts are amply accommodated, with four new Connoisseur Tours – Burma Adventure (from £5,995 pp*), Tramways of the Low Countries (from £1,545 pp*), Swiss Trams & Trolley Buses (from £1,775 pp*) and the Baie de Somme Steam Festival (from £695 pp*) – whilst travellers who enjoy trains but seek a more general experience will enjoy choosing from new Grand Tours that include Bavaria: Mountains & Castles (from £1,470 pp*), Irish Circular (from £2,540 pp*) and Lake Annecy, Chamonix & the Swiss Alps (from £1,940 pp*).
Further afield, enjoy Alaska – Glaciers & Wildlife on a 15-day tour that travels the entire Alaska Railroad and visits famous attractions such as Denali and Kenai Fjords National Parks (from £5,995 pp*), or travel the USA Coast to Coast during a 22-day American odyssey that journeys from New York to San Francisco via Chicago, The Rockies, Denver, the Grand Canyon and Los Angeles (from £5,120 pp*).
Alternatively, stay closer to home with a UK break – Ffestiniog Travel has added three new itineraries to its 2016 domestic programme: Wales – Steam, Castles & Mountains (from £1,630 pp*), Behind the Scenes in North Wales (from £1,910 pp*) and The Industrial Midlands (from £1,050 pp*).
*Prices are based on two people sharing and include scheduled flights or Eurostar, B&B, most other meals, all rail journeys, transfers, excursions and admission charges as per the itinerary, and the services of a tour leader from London and throughout the holiday. Many overseas tours also include the services of an English-speaking local guide/s. UK breaks include B&B, most other meals, all rail journeys, transfers, excursions and admission charges as per the itinerary and the services of a tour leader throughout.
For further information on Ffestiniog Travel’s range of escorted tours, tailor-made itineraries, ticket-only arrangements and Special Interest Tour planning service, or to request a copy of Rail Holidays of the World 2016, call 01766 772 030 or visit www.ffestiniogtravel.com. The brochure can also be viewed here.