Festive breaks by rail in the UK & Europe with Ffestiniog Travel
Ready or not… here comes Christmas!
Started thinking about Christmas yet? Whether you’re the type to put off shopping for presents until the last few days or one of those enviably organised people who have been ready since August, there’s no denying that the festive season is on its way. And what better way to capture the anticipation that fills the air at this time of year than with a visit to one of the many atmospheric Christmas Markets across the UK and Europe, which get underway over the coming weeks? Specialist tour operator Ffestiniog Travel (www.ffestiniogtravel.com) offers a selection of short breaks and escorted tours by rail (from three to 14-night stays) to get you in mood…
FESTIVE SHORT BREAKS: Tailor-made trips for those who prefer to travel under their own steam:
Christmas Enchantment in Edinburgh
Scotland’s magnificent capital becomes even more entrancing at Christmas, its historic streets brimming with seasonal delights. Browse for the perfect gift and sample tasty treats at its market’s prettily decorated stalls before taking in panoramic views from the top of the Big Wheel, having a spin on the charming carousel in East Princes Street Gardens or braving a twirl on the 60-metre-high Star Flyer. Travelling with little ones? Head to Santa Land, a festive fairground with fun rides and its own children’s market, or strap on some skates and take to the ice rink in St Andrew Square.
Available as a tailor-made itinerary from 16 November 2019 until 4 January 2020, this four-day holiday costs from £375 pp (two sharing), including excursions and three nights’ B&B in the Old Town area of Edinburgh. More details here.
Joyeux Noël in Northern France: Lille, Dunkirk, Arras & Amiens
Experience the festive season, French-style, on a five-day trip that encompasses Christmas Markets in four charming towns. In Lille, explore Place Rihour, where 90 wooden chalets teem with gift ideas, nativity figurines, pretty decorations and delicious local delicacies, and take an unforgettable tour of the city’s landmarks in an iconic convertible Citroen 2CV (Champagne included). Catch a train to the coast and enjoy the warmest of welcomes in Dunkirk, with Advent attractions that include a Ferris wheel, a magical Christmas forest (complete with its own elves) and an ice rink, all of which can be surveyed, along with 360° city views, from the Belfry Saint Eloi (tickets included). Arras’ Flemish Baroque masterpiece, the Grand’ Place, is the setting for its Christmas Market: flanked by a forest of Christmas trees, there are stalls selling crafts, jewellery and wooden toys, as well as roasted chestnuts and spice bread to sustain even the most energetic festive shopper. Last, but not least, is Amiens, where 130 chalets, stretching for over 2 km, await discovery, whilst the evening brings a performance of ‘Chroma’, a new Son-et-Lumière show that uses coloured light and optical illusion to illuminate the Cathedral in dramatic style.
Available as a tailor-made itinerary from 8 to 24 December, this five-day holiday costs from £740 pp (two sharing), including standard class rail travel from/to the UK, InterRail pass for unlimited travel in France over four days, four nights’ hotel B&B (three nights in Lille, one in Amiens), a 2CV tour of Lille and an entrance ticket for Belfry Saint Eloi. More details here.
Germany’s Christmas Markets… and a visit to Amsterdam
Combining superb sightseeing with sublime shopping opportunities, this six-day break takes in the German cities of Berlin, Cologne and Hamburg, as well as Amsterdam where, every year (from 13-26 December), the famous Museumplein transforms into a delightful Ice Village, complete with Christmas games, markets and entertainment. A three-night stay in Berlin – brimming with festive highlights such as ‘Winterwelt’ (in Potsdamer Platz) and the Christmas Market in Alexanderplatz – includes free use of the city’s public transport system, whilst the Global InterRail Pass that also comes with this holiday can be used for a two-hour train ride to the port city of Hamburg. Here, amongst the myriad cultural attractions that earned its UNESCO World Heritage status, the atmospheric ‘Winterwald’ Christmas Market and Miniatur Wunderland – the largest collection of model railways and miniature airports in the world – await discovery (entrance included). This festive break ends with an overnight stay in Cologne, where the city’s Gothic Cathedral offers an impressive backdrop to the festive stalls selling gingerbread, hand-crafted gifts and much more.
Available as a tailor-made itinerary from 25 November to 29 December, this six-day holiday costs from £915 pp (two sharing), including standard class Global InterRail Pass, free rail travel from your home station (in the UK) to/from London before/after tour, five nights’ hotel B&B (one night each in Amsterdam and Cologne, three nights in Berlin), and entry to Hamburg’s Miniatur Wunderland. More details here.
FESTIVE ESCORTED TOURS: Companionable itineraries for those who prefer to travel in a group:
Christmas Markets Combo: Munich, Salzburg & Cologne
Enjoy three of Europe’s Christmas Markets on this eight-day holiday, which also promises unlimited mainline rail travel for the duration of your stay, thanks to the Global InterRail Pass included. Five nights are spent at Munich’s InterCity Hotel; set within the station building with tram and underground stops conveniently outside the front door, it’s the perfect base from which to enjoy optional excursions (no extra cost) to Bayerisch Eisenstein (straddling the German/Czech Republic border, the village’s railway station is located in both countries), Garmisch-Partenkirschen (and the rack railway up Germany’s highest mountain, the Zugspitz) and Salzburg, with its historic Christmas Market dating back to the 15th century. Last stop on this festive itinerary is Cologne for an overnight stop, allowing ample time to potter for that perfect present amid no less than seven Christmas Markets.
Departing 28 November 2019, this eight-day holiday costs from £1,455 pp (two sharing), including standard class rail throughout, a Global InterRail Pass, seven nights’ hotel B&B (one night each in Aachen and Cologne, five in Europe), one evening meal, travel from your home station to London pre-post tour, and the services of a UK tour leader from London and throughout the tour. More details here.
Christmas & New Year in Switzerland: Aachen, Interlaken & Chur
A ‘White Christmas’ is guaranteed on this 15-day, two-centre holiday in the snow-covered Swiss Alps… a true Winter Wonderland. Beginning in Interlaken (your base for seven nights) after an overnight stay in Aachen, use the First Class Swiss Travel Pass included – giving unlimited travel on trains, postbuses, lake steamers, and many city buses and trams – to explore the beautiful Bernese Oberland region, either on an optional escorted excursion (no extra charge) or at your own pace. Next, travel south to the Rhône valley at Brig to connect with the world-famous Glacier Express for the scenic train journey to Chur, where the Ffestiniog Travel group will spend the next five nights. Highlights of this section of the trip include free time to explore the surrounding area using the UNESCO World Heritage Rhaetian Railways network, an optional escorted excursion to Tirano in First Class on the Bernina Express (a route renowned for its spirals, tunnels and peak altitude of more than 2000m), and a convivial New Year’s Day dinner.
Departing 20 December 2019, this 15-day holiday costs from £2,875 pp (two sharing), including standard class rail travel to/from Switzerland, First Class Swiss Travel Pass (giving unlimited travel on trains, postbuses, lake steamers and many city buses and trams), supplements and reserved seats in First Class on the Glacier and Bernina Express trains, optional escorted excursions, 14 nights’ hotel B&B (one night each in Aachen and Cologne, five in Chur and seven in Interlaken), dinners in Aachen and Interlaken, New Year’s Day dinner in Chur, and the services of a UK tour leader from London and throughout the tour. More details here.
A copy of Ffestiniog Travel’s Rail Holidays of the World 2020 brochure can be viewed here. For more information on its tailor-made rail holidays, ticket-only service and escorted tours worldwide, call 01766 512 400, email email@example.com or visit www.ffestiniogtravel.com.
Note to Editors: Ffestiniog Travel is owned by a Charitable Trust and profits go to support the world-famous Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways. Established in 1974, Ffestiniog Travel offers a wide portfolio of escorted tours and tailor-made itineraries across the UK, Europe and worldwide.
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