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Your Best European Rail Vacations

Escorted and Independent rail vacations are popular because…

Traveling by train evokes adventures and romance. It is reminiscent of an era when only luxury trains provided long-distance travel.

It’s still possible for you to enjoy this in Europe today.

This is a wonderfully relaxing way for you to get from one city to the other. For example, from Paris to Venice on the Simplon-Orient Express, or from Santiago de Compostela to Leon in Spain on the Transcantabrico.

You’ve got many options for rail tours...some are very luxurious, others are more basic, but all offer you this wonderfully relaxing experience…

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Your benefits of European rail vacations

  • It is your accommodation on some overnight programs. On some trips it’s deluxe, on others it's more basic.
  • Meals are served on the train or at typical local restaurants .
  • It’s a hassle-free trip…escorts make sure you’ll enjoy it fully.
  • It’s all-inclusive…you don’t have to drive a car…you can just relax and enjoy it.

And one drawback

  • Escorted train vacations tend to be more expensive than coach tours…some as listed below are deluxe, others not quite as expensive.

Where are the best rail excursions…
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Escorted train vacations

  • The Royal Scotsman in Scotland

    A journey on board this luxury train is an unforgettable trip through the Scottish Highlands.

    It’s like an exclusive country-house hotel on wheels...just 36 passengers. Each cabin has its own private bathroom and meals are served in one of the two beautifully decorated dining cars.

    Traveling on the Royal Scotsman is like experiencing the most elegant way between two points.

    Are there drawbacks to this two, three, four or seven-night experience? NONE, other than that it’s expensive…but remember, everything is included…three meals a day, sightseeing excursions, entertainment and…ALL beverages.

  • The Venice-Simplon-Orient Express

    From London and Paris to Venice, Rome, Budapest, Berlin and Vienna…

    As one newspaper indicated..."it is a deluxe world on wheels"…this kind of luxury destroys your ability to do anything yourself”…

    Another said…”At first I doubted that any 24-hour train ride could be worth 1400 British pounds…but by the end of the trip, the beautifully-restored carriages, superb cuisine, surprisingly unpretentious service and great scenery convinced me that it was…

    The Venice-Simplon Orient Express is two train rides in one, a daytime journey from London to Folkestone in restored British Pullman cars with champagne and, then...

    a sleeper from Calais to Venice in 1929 vintage Wagon-Lits, with dinner, breakfast and lunch served in a choice of three elegant restaurant cars…

    Note: Now also to other cities like Vienna, Budapest and others. The above link has all the details.

  • El Transcantabrico

    Between Santiago de Compostela and Leon in Spain.

    This first tourist train has been delighting travelers through Northern Spain for over 25 years. Caroline took this trip and enjoyed it tremendously.

    What’s the difference with the other two…it’s more basic…it’s for a whole week…and lunches and dinners are served at typical regional Spanish restaurants along the way. Only breakfast is served on the train. (Note: It's now more deluxe than when Caroline took it many years ago.)

    The Transcantabrico travels during the daytime and is parked at train stations overnight.

    You sleep onboard in a very nice small cabin. A modern coach stays with the train and offers you daily excursions through Green Spain that are included in the fare.

  • The Al Andalus, a deluxe train, is now also operating again in Andalusia.

  • Railtours Ireland

    These guided programs are different from the other three listed above… because regular Irish trains are used.

    In addition, for the overnights you can choose between a three-star hotel or a good B&B. You don't sleep on the train.

    The trips, from one to five days, are especially good, if you don’t want to drive a car in Ireland (on the left) or don’t want a fully escorted tour.

    On these multi-day train vacations you travel by train for the longer distances and then by coach for the scenic areas and to and from the major attractions.

    Railtours Ireland is a great company for independent travelers in Ireland. Programs start and return in Dublin. See Ireland in the European Travel Resource Center for details. .

Popular Independent train vacations in Europe

Switzerland and Norway are the two popular countries for multi-day unescorted rail programs.

  • Switzerland offers many scenic train trips that can be combined into multi-day packages with hotel accommodations…they’re not escorted, however, a few times each year independent operators will escort similar programs.

    The Abula / Bernina Railway Line (considered to be one of the most spectacular routes in the world), the famous Glacier Express between Zermatt and Davos / St. Moritz, and the Golden Pass Route from Montreux to Interlaken are the most scenic train rides in these packages.

    For information contact Magic Switzerland.

  • Norway offers the very special Norway in a Nutshell trip…in one day from Oslo to Bergen via Myrdal and Flam. Several day and multi-day options are available, too.

Day trips on Historic Trains in Great Britain

  • Great Britain

    If you like the idea of the Venice Simplon-Orient Express but don't want an overnight trip, take day and weekend trips from London.

    The British Pullm, together with its sister train, the Northern Belle, offers you the magnificent period carriages that enable you to experience all the magic of the VS-Orient Express without leaving Britain.

    The British Pullman consists of restored vintage carriages, while the Northern Belle features exquisite inlaid veneer panels.

    Fine dining is the highlight on every journey…
    CUT+PASTE for details: https://www.belmond.com/trains/europe/.../belmond-british-pullman/

The European Travel Resource Center lists details and direct links for the programs.

So what is the best way to choose your Escorted or Independent rail vacations in Europe?

Decide if you want…

  • Something truly special for a few days…The Royal Scotsman is your choice.
  • A luxurious overnight train to celebrate a special event…take the Venice-Simplon-Orient Express from London or Paris to Venice.
  • To enjoy a week’s vacation by train in an area that not many of your friends may have visited…(and get to know it well)...the Transcantabrico is it!

    The Al Andalus is also in Spain.
  • To experience some of the scenic trains in Europe on your own without having to book your own hotels…think Switzerland and Norway.
  • To take special day rail excursions that whisk you back…many years in time…the British Pullman and Northern Belle are for you…
  • To visit Ireland but don’t want to drive or go on an escorted tour…Railtours Ireland is your answer…

    Note: Rail pakages are also available from:

    Railbookers - for independent travelers
    The Society of International Railway Travelers - upscale group tours all over the world. Website: https://www.irtsociety.com/‎

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