Beneath the peaks of the Austrian Alps and along the emerald shores of Lake Garda, find yourself surrounded by natural beauty and holiday cheer on this European expedition.
About the Tour
Austria and Italy, two countries renowned for their dramatic scenery and endless offerings, are your host for this 13-day Christmastime vacation. Begin in Austria, where the peaks of the Austrian Alps form a breathtaking backdrop for your Christmas. Our base here is the beautiful city of Innsbruck, with its colorful buildings and bountiful winter sports. Enjoy sightseeing in Innsbruck and two scenic rail excursions - on the Stubaitalbahn and the Zillertalbahn - during your time here. Once Christmas has passed and the new year is approaching, we continue our journey south into Italy. A brief stop in Verona brings the opportunity to sightsee on a guided tour, and then we proceed to the lakeside town of Desenzano. Brimming with Venetian architecture and centuries of history, this resort destination is the ideal hub for exploring Northern Italy. Enjoy a trip to Venice, replete with a guided walking tour and free time to discover the romantic canals and pretty buildings. We also venture to the Franciacorta wine region for a day tasting the region’s fruits, spend New Year’s Eve in stunning Sirmione, and visit Turin, a locale renowned for its exquisite cuisine and fantastic Baroque buildings. The yuletide traditions you experience during your time in Italy and Austria are sure to leave a lasting impression on your holidays for seasons to come.
- Rail travel on the high-speed Eurostar and local rail networks
- Two scenic rail excursions: the Stubaitalbahn and the Zillertalbahn
- Hotel accommodations for 12 nights
- 23 meals, including a gala dinner on New Year’s Eve
- Innsbruck sightseeing tour
- Private boat ride on the Giudecca Canal
- Venice walking tour
- Franciacorta wine tour
- Sirmione excursion
- Transportation by deluxe motorcoach
- Exclusive meeting point at our dedicated Departure Office at London St. Pancras
- Services of a professional tour escort and knowledgeable local guides for touring
Day 1 - London to Cologne by Train
Arrive at London St. Pancras, and make your way to our dedicated Departure Office to meet your fellow travelers and Tour Manager. Together, board your Eurostar train to Paris, where we switch trains and continue the day’s travels to Cologne. In Cologne, we transfer to our conveniently located hotel for the night. Overnight Cologne. (D)
Day 2 - Cologne to Innsbruck by Train
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel ahead of our transfer to the train station in Cologne. The first leg of our journey takes us to Munich, and here, we switch trains and continue to Innsbruck – our home for the next five nights. After transferring to our hotel, we are welcomed to the city with a 3-course dinner. Overnight Innsbruck. (B, D)
Day 3 - Christmas Eve Sightseeing in Innsbruck
Begin your Christmas Eve with a festive buffet breakfast at the hotel, followed by a guided walking tour around Innsbruck. Take in all the most popular sights of the city, all decked out in their holiday best, with helpful narration by your knowledgeable guide. Following the tour, you have the remainder of the afternoon to sightsee at leisure. Perhaps visit the Schloss Ambras museum to discover over 500 years of Austrian history or meander through one of the city’s atmospheric Christmas Markets to soak in the festive ambiance. Surrounded by the snowy peaks of the Alps, there is no better place to get in the holiday spirit. As you return to the hotel this afternoon, warm up with a piece of lebkuchen and a glass of Glühwein. This evening, celebrate with a delicious 6-course gala dinner with your fellow travelers. Overnight Innsbruck. (B, D)
Day 4 - Christmas Day on the Stubaitalbahn
After a relaxing Christmas morning, head to the tram station to board the Stubaitalbahn for a journey through the picturesque Stubai Valley. Gaze upon icy forests and alpine meadows cloaked in snow. The tram takes us to Fulpmes, where you have some time at leisure. This village is a postcard-perfect representation of an Austrian Alpine destination, with its pretty, historic buildings tucked precariously underneath the imposing mountain peaks. We return to Innsbruck later this afternoon, and you are free to enjoy the quiet beauty of the city or to relax at the hotel ahead of tonight’s turkey dinner. Overnight Innsbruck. (B, D)
Day 5 - At Leisure in Innsbruck
Today is yours to enjoy the offerings of Innsbruck at your own pace. You may wish to wander around the old town center, surrounding yourself in history and culture while you peruse shops and dine in local cafes. Get a look at the impressive scenery from above on the Nordkette Cable Car, which travels to Hafelekar, the top of Innsbruck. Overnight Innsbruck. (B)
Day 6 - The Zillertalbahn
A scenic rail journey through the dramatic Inn Valley beckons as we set out on the Zillertalbahn today. A short walk from our hotel takes us to Innsbruck’s station, where we board our train to Jenbach. Here, we board the Zillertalbahn and soak in all the beauty of the Tyrol region as we travel to Mayrhofen. The train winds through the valley, following along the river Ziller en route to its destination in the Zillertal Valley. On arrival, sightsee at leisure in Mayrhofen before returning to Innsbruck ahead of dinner. Overnight Innsbruck. (B, D)
Day 7 - Verona & Desenzano
Following breakfast at the hotel, we depart Austria and begin our southerly journey into the beautiful country of Italy by train. From Innsbruck, we travel to Verona - the setting of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. A walking tour introduces us to points of interest on arrival, and you are then free to continue sightseeing independently for a bit. Perhaps seek out Juliet’s house or get a closer look at the Verona Arena in your spare time. We transfer back to the train station to continue our journey this evening, this time bound for Desenzano on Lake Garda, Italy’s largest lake. On arrival, a motorcoach is waiting to transfer us to our hotel. We are welcomed to Italy with a lovely 3-course dinner this evening at the hotel. Overnight Desenzano. (B, D)
Day 8 - Venice Sightseeing
The Floating City, Venice, is our destination for the day. As we arrive, we are treated to a private boat ride along the Giudecca Canal, floating directly to St. Mark’s Square, one of the most renowned parts of the city. A guided walking tour of the city awaits as we disembark our boat. Look upon impressive buildings constructed in classical styles and the city’s pretty squares. See historic sites and lovely bridges. Our tour also includes admission to St. Mark’s Basilica, which is beloved for its intricate architecture and its cultural significance. You are free to explore the city on your own ahead of our return to Desenzano this evening. Overnight Desenzano. (B, D)
Day 9 - Franciacorta Wine Region
Take a leisurely morning to soak in the relaxed, lakeside atmosphere of Desenzano. You may wish to seek out points of interest in the city or to pamper yourself with a year-end spa treatment at one of the region’s wellness centers. This afternoon, we are whisked into the heart of the Franciacorta wine region, beloved for its sparkling wines. Al Rocol Winery is our host here, and on arrival, we enjoy a look at the wine-making process and a tasting of the fruits of their labors. Enjoy some light snacks alongside your wine tasting. We return to our hotel with the remainder of the day at leisure. Though not ideal beach weather, you may wish to walk along the sandy beaches in Desenzano or to meander through the old port. Overnight Desenzano. (B, D)
Day 10 - New Year’s Eve in Sirmione
For New Year’s Eve, enjoy a look at one of Lake Garda’s most unique destinations, Sirmione. This quaint locale is situated upon a jutting peninsula on the lake and offers an immense amount of history, despite its size. Your time here is at leisure to seek out points of interest as you wish. Rocca Scaligera, an impressive 13th-century castle, is one of the most popular attractions, and Grotte di Catullo - one of the largest remaining Roman villas in Italy - is also eye-catching. This evening, ring in the new year in style with a fantastic gala dinner and New Year celebration at the hotel. Overnight Desenzano. (B, D)
Day 11 - New Year’s Day at Leisure in Desenzano
Begin your new year with the adventure of your choosing; today is at leisure in Desenzano. If you are hoping for some retail therapy, there are many shops throughout the town. Looking for a dose of history? The ruined remains of the Villa Romana are an impressive reminder of the region’s ancient past. The stone castle in Desenzano is also a wonderful look back at yesteryear - and a fantastic destination for taking in views of the lake and the surrounding mountains. Overnight Desenzano. (B, D)
Day 12 - Turin
One final Italian destination lies ahead as we venture to Turin today. We depart Desenzano by train after breakfast and continue by rail to the city of Milan. From Milan, the route presses forth to Turin, a place where the Italian Alps loom in the distance. Our hotel is located just a short distance from the train station, and after check-in, you are free to check out the attractions of this elegant city at your own pace. Architecture buffs are spoiled for choice when it comes to beautiful Baroque buildings to behold. There is an incredible Egyptian Museum in Turin, as well as a beloved auto museum, art museums and other cultural attractions. Piazza Castello, the city’s historical center, is brimming with sights to discover, including one of the city’s most well-known palaces. Join your fellow travelers and Tour Manager for a 3-course dinner tonight at the hotel. Overnight Turin. (B, D)
Day 13 - Tour Conclusion
Making our way to Turin’s rail station, we board our train from Turin to Paris. We join our high-speed Eurostar train in Paris and continue to London St. Pancras, where this holiday adventure concludes. (B)
Maritim Hotel, Cologne
The 4-Star Maritim Hotel in Cologne is located on the banks of the mighty River Rhine in the historic Old Town. The hotel has three restaurants, a comprehensive shopping arcade, indoor swimming pool, solarium, gym, sauna and coffee shop. Room amenities include minibar, safe, hairdryer, air conditioning, television and complimentary Wi-Fi.
The 4-Star Hotel Innsbruck is situated in the heart of the old town, within walking distance of many of the sights and attractions of Innsbruck. The hotel has a restaurant and a bar as well as a wellness centre with a swimming pool, steam bath and a sauna. Beauty treatments and therapies are available (pay locally). The comfortable, spacious rooms feature a television, a safe and a hairdryer.
The 4-Star Hotel Desenzano is a family-run establishment, situated close to the centre of the town, within walking distance of the harbour and just 170 metres from the railway station, for superb convenience. The centre of Desenzano del Garda is nearby, allowing for an easy stroll into town on a free day.
Boasting immaculate furnishings and impeccable service, the hotel has its own outdoor swimming pool, a solarium, a roof terrace during the summer months, and a cocktail bar - the ideal place for guests to relax and sample a range of local wines the hotel keeps stocked. The bar is open throughout the day, so refreshments are always available.
Rooms are air conditioned with a telephone, a flat-screen television, a minibar, a safe and a hairdryer. Complimentary Wi-Fi is provided in each en-suite room, and each guest room includes a balcony.
The high speed Eurostar trains link St Pancras International in London with Paris and Lille in France as well as Brussels in Belgium.
Eurostar's Standard Class coaches feature two seats on either side of the central aisle, most of which is arranged in an 'airline' seating configuration with drop down tray tables. There are two tables for four per carriage. Passengers travelling in Eurostar Standard Class coaches can take advantage of the Bar-Buffet which sells a range of snacks, meals, hot and cold drinks - including Champagne!
The highest class of Eurostar travel available for leisure customers is Standard Premier Class. In your dedicated Standard Premier carriage you'll find a less dense seat configuration, meaning the seats are larger and you have ample space to relax and stretch out. As part of the service you'll enjoy complimentary drinks and refreshments, served at your seat by friendly, helpful waiting staff.
Stubai Valley Railway
The Stubai Valley Railway - Stubaitalbahn, in the native tongue - was opened in 1904 and has grown in passenger numbers ever since, no doubt owed to the beautiful scenery it enjoys on its one hour trip from Fulpmes to Innsbruck. Along the journey, the train passes many spectacular sights including the Mutters and Kreither viaduct.
Our outstanding journey on the Zillertalbahn (or the Ziller Valley Railway) takes us on a 19-mile route from Jenbach through the grandiose mountain scenery to Mayrhofen at the other end of the valley.
It is your responsibility to check and fulfill the passport, visa, health and immigration requirements applicable to your itinerary. We do not accept any responsibility if you cannot travel, or incur any other loss because you have not complied with any passport, visa, immigration requirements or health formalities. You agree to reimburse us in relation to any fines or other losses which we incur as a result of your failure to comply with any passport, visa, immigration requirements or health formalities.
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