Single-centre rail travel allows clients to explore a destination in depth, without the hassle of staying in multiple hotels. Charlotte Flach rounds up the options
For clients who love to discover a new destination, but who are less keen on the idea of travelling extensively or staying in several hotels, a single-centre rail holiday might appeal.
These trips give travellers the opportunity to immerse themselves in a destination and gain insights from a guide while experiencing the pleasure and convenience of train travel.
Single-centre rail tours can also appeal to an older demographic craving a slower pace of travel, explains Tim Fleming, sales and business development manager for Arena Rail Holidays.
“Our single-centre tours are generally popular with older clients, offering plenty of time to relax in a picturesque destination, but they also include a range of interesting excursions in the surrounding area.”
He also adds that the guided element of a single-centre trip will appeal to fans of touring. “Consider switch-selling – escorted holidays by rail are ideal for clients who already enjoy river cruising or coach holidays.”
Here, we highlight some popular single-centre options to suggest to clients.
Railbookers’ recently updated four-day rail trip around Vienna allows clients to experience the architectural and cultural wonders of the city.
The first stop is Cologne, Germany, with an afternoon set aside to explore the Rhine city. A sleeper service ensures travellers arrive refreshed in Vienna on day two, where there’s plenty to take in, including imperial palaces, museums and cuisine plus performances at the Spanish Riding School – one of the oldest in the world and home to the famous Lipizzaner horses.
“Vienna is a timeless destination with something for all ages,” says Gareth Jones, product and purchasing manager at Railbookers.
“The Vienna Pass included in The Vienna City Break is key to getting the most out of the city, providing entrance to all the major sights and attractions.”
BOOK IT: Railbookers offers a four-day Vienna city break priced from £609pp, including Eurostar to Brussels and onward rail travel throughout the trip, overnight sleeper train from Cologne to Vienna, flight from Vienna to UK, two nights’ B&B in Vienna and a Vienna Pass.
Maria Cook, general manager at Ffestiniog Travel, suggests the operator’s five-day Boppard & The Rhine in Flames trip, which was introduced last year, as a great single-centre rail trip option.
“This holiday is one of our most popular single- centre tours,” she explains. “Boppard is located in a particularly scenic area of the Rhine and is a lovely small town. It is also not far from Koblenz, which is a major rail hub, giving easy access to other parts of the region.”
Based in the Rhine Gorge town of Boppard, daily jaunts to the surrounding areas include a paddleboat river cruise to Rudesheim and a scenic rail trip through the Lahn Valley to Limburg. The trip also takes clients to the Rhein in Flammen festival in St Goar, where the town is lit up by fireworks and fleets of illuminated riverboats.
BOOK IT: Ffestiniog Travel offers a five-day Boppard & The Rhine trip, priced from £850pp based on two sharing including rail travel, daily excursions, four nights’ half-board and a UK tour leader. Departing 19 September 2019 and 30 April 2020.
Added by Arena Rail last year to enhance its Italy offering, the Lake Maggiore and the Borromean Islands tour includes an epic crossing through the mountainous Centovalli region – which means “one hundred valleys” in Italian– over 83 bridges and passes.
Based in the medieval town of Stresa, the trip also includes a boat trip to Isola Bella’s Borromean Palace, an excursion to the shores of Lake Lugano and Lake Como, and a chance to ride the Mottarone cable car for amazing views over Lake Maggiore.
“Crossing Europe by rail is as much a part of the adventure as exploring the destination, and one of the many joys is simply sitting back and watching the passing landscapes change,” says Arena Rail Holidays’ Tim Fleming.
BOOK IT: Arena Rail Holidays offers an eight-day tour from £1,145pp, based on two sharing and including seven nights’ half-board accommodation in Stresa, excursions, rail journeys, coach transfers and the services of a tour manager. Departures are available on 28 September and 10 October 2019.
Clients can travel back in time on the authentically restored carriages of the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express. After a night onboard, guests will awaken to the grandeur of the Swiss Alps and soak up the breathtaking views along the Gotthard Route. Three nights based in Venice allow ample time to explore landmarks such as St Mark’s Square, the Doges Palace and St Mark’s Basilica.
Guy Saunders, managing director at Planet Rail, says: “Our Venice Simplon-Orient-Express trip recreates the golden age of travel. The blue and gold carriages are the original 1920 to 1930s rolling stock and have received few modernisations. It is very much a celebration rail journey, perfect for marking milestone birthdays, special anniversaries and even a mini-moon.”
BOOK IT: Planet Rail offers a four-night trip from London to Venice from £2,450pp based on two sharing, including three nights’ B&B in Venice, one night full-board accommodation on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, private water taxi to Venice Marco Polo airport and flights. Departing on 3 or 7 November 2019.
For clients wanting a rail journey closer to home, Great Rail Journeys’ Railways and Castles of Wales itinerary may suit. The six-day tour is based in the charming seaside town of Llandudno, an ideal base from which to enjoy this corner of Wales with its beautiful beaches and fascinating history. Days are spent exploring historic steam railways, castles and the Welsh coastline at the hands of a tour manager.
Certain departures are also available with no single supplement for solo travellers.
BOOK IT: Great Rail Journeys offers a six-day Railways and Castles of Wales trip from £699pp including B&B accommodation, heritage rail excursions and evening meals. Price based on selected departures in 2019.