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Glacier Express & Rhine in Flames

11 days Not yet on sale

Celebrate the highly anticipated return of the Rhine in Flames event with a memorable rail and cruise adventure that explores the Rhine and the Swiss Alps

Travel among a group of like-minded travelers led by a professional tour manager

2024 Tour code: GFR24

About the tour

Since 1977, the Rhine in Flames event has been a source of wonder and entertainment for the Lower Rhine region. This year is your chance to be part of the festivities by joining this memorable rail and cruise expedition. Your voyage begins on the water, taking to the Rhine in Amsterdam. Cruise along its scenic course to Cologne and Bonn, where we celebrate the Rhine in Flames with an unforgettable evening carried by the convivial spirit of the event. The journey continues to riverside destinations like Königswinter, Rüdesheim, Speyer, Heidelberg, and Strasbourg. Sample the distinct cultures of each region as you disembark the ship for independent sightseeing or guided excursions that highlight local splendors.

And this is just the beginning. Once the ship docks for the final time in Strasbourg, this journey sets its sights on the mountains. Travel by train from Strasbourg to Zermatt, nestled in the Swiss Alps. Spend your time here climbing to great heights on the Gornergrat Railway and immersed in the peaceful surroundings that only a car-free resort town can bring. It is also in Zermatt that we join the world-famous Glacier Express on its route to Chur and enjoy a vivid painting of Swiss scenery. Experience tradition - in architecture, in atmosphere, and in practice - in Europe.


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What’s included


Day 1 - London to Amsterdam

As you arrive at London St. Pancras, meet your group and Tour Manager, and join them in boarding the Eurostar service to Amsterdam. It takes approximately four hours to reach Amsterdam by train, and on arrival, a group transfer takes us to the banks of the Rhine to board our luxurious Amadeus river cruise vessel. Take some time to freshen up in your cabin ahead of tonight's five-course dinner - the first of many as we cruise. The evening wraps up with a traditional Dutch sea shanty choir performance. Overnight ship. 

  • Dinner
Day 2 - Amsterdam Sightseeing

A city of canals, windmills, and incredible Dutch heritage lies ahead as we explore Amsterdam today. Our half-day sightseeing tour presents a sampling of the city's best attractions and colorful history. Look upon pretty squares, an intriguing mixture of old and new architecture, and sprawling parks as you wind through the streets. Our tour takes us through the city and to Utrecht, where we rejoin the ship and set sail for Cologne, Germany. Enjoy the ship's amenities and wonderful views of the Rhineland from the sun deck as the route unfolds. Overnight ship. 

  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 3 - Cologne/Rhine in Flames Event

Docking in Cologne this morning, we venture into the city for a three-hour tour. Cologne is known for its resplendent Gothic cathedral - the largest in northern Europe - yet has much more to offer. Look upon its Romanesque townhouses and city squares, and admire how modern buildings were woven into the ancient tapestry of the city.

Return to the ship following the tour for a day filled with the gorgeous scenery of the Lower Rhine as we sail toward Bonn. One of the highlights of our rail and cruise journey comes as we arrive tonight: the Rhine in Flames. This annual attraction is an amalgamation of music, color, and light; you have a front-row seat. Look upon a festive procession of boats, and listen to live music as it is played on the shore. The evening concludes as the sky bursts to life with colorful fireworks, seemingly setting the Rhine River "in flames." We set sail for Königswinter following the event. Overnight ship.

  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 4 - Drachenfelsbahn

We alight in our next port of call, Königswinter, to climb to the summit of "Dragon Mountain," Drachenfels. We reach the top by riding aboard the Drachenfelsbahn, a cog railway that has operated since 1883. Every moment of the 722-foot climb is filled with beauty, but perhaps none so much as that of Schloss Drachenburg Villa. This castle is so impressive that it is said to have inspired the castle in Disney's Sleeping Beauty. We continue toward the summit, where ruins of the 12th-century Burg Drachenfels castle invite your exploration.

Enjoy an encore of the scenery as the green train cars descend the mountain, then reboard the ship for an evening of sailing through the Upper Middle Rhine Valley to Koblenz. Overnight ship.

  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 5 - Koblenz and Rüdesheim

Enjoy breakfast on the ship before stepping off for a morning at leisure in the confluence town of Koblenz. This impressive city sits on the cusp of the Rhine and Moselle Rivers and is one of the oldest in Germany. You can spend time strolling through Old Town, admiring its historic architecture and charming surroundings. Highlights of this area include the Schängel fountain and the impressive Four Towers.

Picturesque scenery surrounds us from every angle as the ship nears the Rhine Gorge and the idyllic wine-making town of Rüdesheim. This charming destination is all cobbled streets and half-timbered buildings. Under the glow of evening light, it is all that much more romantic. Whether you spend your time here strolling through the ancient neighborhoods or tasting locally produced wine, there are plenty of ways to enjoy Rüdesheim. Overnight ship.

  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 6 - Speyer and Heidelberg

The beautiful port town of Speyer welcomes us this morning. After we moor, you have free time to walk around and soak in its historic atmosphere. As another of Germany's oldest cities, Speyer has centuries of architecture and stories to uncover. Perhaps visit Speyer's cathedral, the city's Old Gate, or the Technik Museum Speyer, a massive collection of privately-owned vehicles. Return to the ship for lunch before embarking on your next adventure to Heidelberg.

Set less than half an hour from Speyer, Heidelberg is a dreamy university town brimming with history. A guided walking tour offers a taste of the town's best-known attractions, including its castle, constructed around 1300. Explore the castle ruins to your heart's content, then return to the ship for an evening of dinner and sailing. Overnight ship.

  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 7 - Strasbourg

As we moor in Strasbourg, you may choose to spend your day exploring on one of two optional excursions. Your first choice keeps you in Strasbourg for a walking tour of the city that presents its unique combination of French and German heritage. Since it has changed hands so many times throughout history, you will notice the influences of both cultures in its architecture and styling. Colorful half-timbered houses, cobbled streets, and an incredible Gothic cathedral are just some sights you can anticipate. Alternatively, set out on the Schwarzwaldhochstraße for an unforgettable perspective on the Black Forest. This old and scenic byway leads to myriad picturesque villages, including Mummelsee, where you have free time to explore. Overnight ship. 

  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 8 - Disembarkation/To Zermatt

Let a final onboard breakfast tantalize your taste buds ahead of this morning's disembarkation in Strasbourg. Join a motorcoach on the Rhine's shore for your included transfer to Strasbourg's train station to begin your journey toward Zermatt in the Swiss Alps. Your rail journey from Strasbourg to Zermatt takes you through Basel and Visp, and you will know you have arrived at your final destination for the day when the pyramid-shaped Matterhorn comes into view. Walk from the station to your four-star hotel in this car-free resort town. Dinner is served at the hotel this evening. Overnight Zermatt. 

  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 9 - Gornergrat Railway

Dramatic alpine views pave the course for today's adventure aboard the Gornergrat Railway. As Europe's highest open-air cog railway, this line provides a fantastic perspective over mountainside lakes, forests of evergreens, ravines, and pretty Swiss towns. The climb unveils a glimpse at Gorner Glacier and showcases the glorious mountain scenery around Zermatt. The highlight of the climb to the 10,000-foot summit, though, is the mighty Matterhorn. Find yourself in awe of its enormity during the journey to the top, which takes just over half an hour to complete.

Those final moments on the train are filled with suspense as you wait for the sheer glory at the top. And it is worth it. Panoramic vistas of the otherworldly terrain greet you from the viewing platforms and 360-degree Scenic Loop. Once you have had your fill of the scenery, check out the summit's unique offerings, which range from the Bernhard von Aosta summit chapel to a virtual experience and the opportunity to seek out the shaggy black sheep that call this mountain home. The summit is also home to the 3100 Kulmhotel Gornergrat, the highest hotel in the Swiss Alps. Marvel at the scenery once more as you descend back to Zermatt, where the rest of your day is at leisure. Overnight Zermatt.

  • Breakfast
Day 10 - Glacier Express

"The slowest express train in the world" welcomes you aboard for a visual symphony of Swiss scenery. Settle into your first-class seat on the Glacier Express with your camera ready to capture mile upon mile of mountain vistas, sparkling lakes, thick forests, and the idyllic Swiss towns that call the foothills and valleys home. Because the train does not exceed 24 miles per hour, you have a clear view of each spectacle as the Glacier Express traverses bridges, passes through mountain tunnels, and negotiates this dramatic landscape en route to Chur.

Sweep through the dramatic Matter Valley, where the landscape is framed by some of the most impressive peaks in the Swiss Alps. The train passes through Visp and Brig and crosses the Rhone River to enter the beautiful Rhone Valley. Cross through wide-open valleys and meander through foothills before climbing once more to Oberalp Pass, the highest point on the train journey, and then reveling in a slow and steady descent into the picturesque Rhine Valley. One look and you will see why they call this region the Swiss Grand Canyon. Finally, the train stations in Chur, the lowest point on the Glacier Express route and Switzerland's oldest city. Walk from the station to your hotel, and spend the remainder of the day wrapped in the ambiance of this historic destination. Overnight Chur.

  • Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 11 - Tour Conclusion

After eleven days of magnificent destinations and some of the world's best scenery, your rail and cruise adventure comes to a close this morning after breakfast at the hotel - but not before one last rail journey. Walk to Chur's station to board a train to Basel. From Basel, a series of trains takes you to Paris and eventually London St. Pancras, from which you are free to depart for home. 

  • Breakfast

Additional information

Departure times

Departure times vary based on selected rail vacation. This information will be provided in your final documents. For more information please speak with your rail specialist.

Mobility information

Due to the nature of our tours they are generally unsuitable for those with restricted mobility. If you’d like to discuss any particular vacation with us in this respect, then please don’t hesitate to call us.


Drachenfels Railway
The Glacier Express
Gornergrat Mountain Railway