Venice at Christmas by First Class Rail
Prices from £1,495 per person
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Experience a unique intimacy with the city that can only truly be enjoyed at Christmas when the crowds have vanished, leaving you to stroll along empty quays and deserted squares. The atmosphere seems more authentic as the locals reclaim their neighbourhoods and markets, and the fusion of warm aromas emanating from the café doorways mixed with the twinkling of Christmas lights create the magical haze of Venice at Christmas.
- 6 night / 7 day holiday by First Class rail travelling on daytime trains throughout, including 4 nights at the Hotel Ai Mori d’Oriente (4 star) in Venice, with overnight stays in Zurich and Montreux (featured itinerary) is from £1,495 per person.
- Alternatively, stay at the following hotels in Venice: Maison Venezia UNA Esperienze (4 star) from £1,575 per person, Hotel Bucintoro (4 star) from £1,695 per person, Canal Grande Hotel (4 star) from £1,725 per person, Ruzzini Palace (4 star) from £1,725 per person, or the Hotel Al Ponte Antico (4 star) from £1,825 per person.
- You can travel to Venice via Turin and Milan, and save up to £450 per couple.
- You can travel by overnight 2-berth sleeper from Paris to Venice, returning on daytime trains via Montreux, and save up to £360 per couple.
Day 1 – By rail to Switzerland
You start your Christmas holiday as you enter one of London’s most iconic destinations, London St Pancras International station.
Admire the spectacular Victorian architecture, including the arched glass roof, passing first class bars and restaurants and the towering St Pancras Christmas tree before you relax on board the Eurostar for the start of your scenic journey through Kent’s countryside, dubbed “The Garden of England”. Enjoy your included drinks and light meal in Standard Premier Class (Eurostar’s 1st class for leisure travellers) as you cross into France and arrive into the Gare du Nord. You will be greeted at the end of your platform for your private taxi transfer across to the Gare de Lyon where you board the TGV service for the next stage of your journey through north-east France into Switzerland.
As you pass through the rolling hills of the Swiss countryside you might catch a glimpse of the snow-capped Alpine scenery as you arrive into the charming lakeside city of Zurich. Here you stroll across the River Limmat to your highly-rated and stylish hotel for the night, the Hotel Helmhaus (4 star).
Day 2 – Through Switzerland to Milan and onwards to Venice
You might like to take a wintry stroll down to the lake this morning as the sunrise casts an orange glow over Zurich’s skyline, which reflects across the River and out onto the Lake. From here you can visit most of the city’s main attractions, which include the Old Town’s churches and burgher houses and Zurich’s quartet of notable churches, the Romanesque-style Grossmünster (“great minster”), the Fraumünster, the 13th century Predigerkirche and the city’s oldest, St Peterkirche (with the largest clock face in Europe). You may have time to do some shopping along the elegant Bahnhofstrasse before making your way back to Zurich station for the start of your journey by Euro City train to Italy.
As you return to Zurich station, prepare yourselves for the scenic journey along the impressive Gotthard route through the Swiss Alps. The line transports you through picturesque scenery, climbing to the foot of the snow-capped Alps and through the Gotthard Base Tunnel, the world’s longest tunnel and a marvellous feat of engineering. You soon emerge and continue across the Swiss border and through the outstanding Italian Lakes before arriving in Milan.
Here you change trains for the Eurostar Italia service to Venice and admire the contrasting scenery before arriving into Venezia Santa Lucia station. As you leave the station, your private water taxi will transport you across Venice in style to your hotel for the next four nights, the elegant and welcoming Hotel Ai Mori d’Oriente (4 star), ideally situated in the Cannaregio district, just a short stroll from the Rialto Bridge.
Days 3, 4 and 5 – Venice at Christmas
You have three full days to become fully immersed in the magic of Venice at Christmas. Take a gentle saunter along the myriad of canals, across the network of ornate stone footbridges and through campi (squares) as the misty weather and twinkling Christmas lights cast a hauntingly beautiful and enchanting atmosphere. Enjoy a gondola ride along the Grand Canal, taking in sights such as the iconic Rialto Bridge. From the Christmas markets filled with quality Venetian handicrafts, antiques and Italian cuisine, to the many Christmas concerts hosted in the city’s vast basilicas you are sure to be treated to a unique and magical experience. Alternatively, a more mystical view of the city emerges as you take a boat trip out across the lagoon around the collection of charming islands, including Murano and Burano – famous for glass blowing and linen production respectively.
Day 6 – Venice to Lake Geneva
This morning you are transferred across Venice by water taxi to the station. Here you board the Eurostar Italia service back through Italian countryside to Milan for your spectacular onward journey by Euro City service, through dramatic mountain scenery of snow topped peaks and crystal clear rivers and lakes, before arriving into the idyllic lakeside town of Montreux. Enjoy splendid views across Lake Geneva from your hotel for the night, the Grand Hotel Suisse Majestic (4 star superior), located directly opposite the station.
Day 7 – Free-time in Montreux – Montreux to London – Homeward bound
This morning perhaps wander along the shores of Lake Geneva, where you may be lucky enough to enjoy the sunrise behind the base of the Alps. You may have time to take the short journey by trolley bus to the Château de Chillon (payable locally), the glorious 13th century medieval castle set on a small island in the lake.
Perhaps enjoy an early lunch before you return back to Montreux station for the Inter Regio service along the shores of Lake Geneva to Lausanne, where you change trains for the super-fast TGV service back to Paris. As you travel through undulating Swiss and French scenery take time to reminisce on the memorable moments of the past few days. On arrival at the Gare de Lyon your private taxi transfer will whisk you across Paris to the Gare du Nord for the final stage of your journey by Standard Premier Service on the Eurostar. As you enjoy your light meal and drinks and make the final crossing back into the UK, memories abide as you arrive into London St. Pancras International.