Enjoy steam by land and lake in three different countries, on a holiday that ensures excitement as well as refinement.
Situated near Lake Constance and set against the backdrop of the Swiss Alps, the elegant Cathedral City of St. Gallen is a UNESCO World Heritage site as well as an attractive railway ‘hotspot’. From this fabulous base, you’ll enjoy languid cruises on vintage ships, such as Switzerland’s oldest steamboat ‘Greif’, as well as thrilling railway journeys with historic steam locomotives, including the famed Wutach Valley Railway in Southern Germany. Mountain top adventures include Mount Pfänder in Austria and Mount Säntis in the Appenzell, while private steam charters at the Bezau and Ochsenhausen narrow-gauge railways extend your rail adventure. You’ll also visit the Zeppelin and Dornier aviation museums in Friedrichshafen, and travel behind the historic German and Austrian tank engines. Additional highlights are an exclusive, all-inclusive dinner cruise aboard the magnificent Art Deco ship MS Oesterreich and a paddle steamer journey on Lake Zurich. See these wonderful countries in a completely new and refreshing way.
Sunday 30th June
London to St. Gallen
You travel from London St. Pancras International to St. Gallen via Paris and Zurich, using comfortable Eurostar, TGV and SBB trains. You’ll arrive in St. Gallen in the evening and check into your comfortable 4-star hotel.
Monday 1st July
Scenic cruise to Meersburg and Konstanz; Steam charter at the Wutach Valley Railway
After breakfast you’ll enjoy a panoramic cruise on the majestic MS Austria, a red-and-white funnelled vintage motor vessel from 1939. With its well-appointed lounges and spacious outdoor decks, this fabulous ship takes you on a leisurely cruise along the north shore of Lake Constance, with lunch served on board in the stately salon. You’ll glide past the hilltop castle of Meersburg and the garden island of Mainau, before arriving in the namesake city of Constance at the other end of the lake. There you’ll have time to see the attractive harbour and landmark cathedral, before continuing by coach to the nearby Wutach Valley Railway. This spectacularly engineered heritage railway, with its swirling layout and plethora of serpentine curves, spiral tunnels and towering viaducts, is known locally as the ‘Pig Tail Line’. You’ll experience its rural charm travelling behind the impressive 2-8-2 tank engine Nr.262, built in 1954. After a full return journey over the 25.5 kilometre long line from Blumberg to Fützen, with several photo stops and run-pasts along the way, you return to St. Gallen to spend the evening at your leisure. (B L)
Tuesday 2nd July
Steam in Vorarlberg at Bezau and ascent to Mount Pfänder
Today you explore Vorarlberg, Austria’s westernmost state, close to Lindau and bordering Germany, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. You’ll visit the 5 kilometre long Bregenzerwald 760mm narrow gauge railway, running through pristine Alpine scenery from Bezau to Schwarzenberg. This is one of the best-preserved railways in Austria and the line passes over two impressive viaducts. Your private charter train will hold several run-pasts for film and photo opportunities. After lunch at the quaint railway station in Schwarzenberg, your U.25 type steam locomotive runs you back to Bezau. On the return to St. Gallen you stop in Bregenz, Austria’s principal city on the shores of Lake Constance, before ascending nearby Mount Pfänder by aerial cableway to enjoy awesome summit views. Alternately, you can spend the afternoon in the city’s lovely old town and take a stroll along the lakeside promenade. You return to St. Gallen in late afternoon. (B L)
Wednesday 3rd July
Mountain Railways in the Swiss Appenzell; Lindau Dinner Cruise on 1928 Art Deco Ship
Today is dedicated to magnificent mountain top adventures in Switzerland, on the country’s famed narrow-gauge railways and aerial cableways. After a quick transfer to Wasserauen, you visit the railway museum of Appenzeller Bahnen, with its display of early 20th century railcars. You then travel First Class on a comfortable 1930s heritage train through the serene Appenzell landscape to Urnäsch. Arriving in Urnäsch you make a short coach transfer to nearby Schwägalp. Here you take Switzerland’s first aerial cableway to the summit of majestic Mount Säntis. Built between 1933 and 1935, this impressive engineering achievement overcomes an altitude differential of 1123 metres over its 2307 metre length. From the top, there are breath-taking views of distant mountain peaks and in good weather you can see Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, France and Italy all at the same time! If you want to skip the cableway journey you can stay in Schwägalp, surrounded by Swiss chalets and quaint farms. After this round-trip to one of Switzerland’s finest panoramic peaks, you return to St. Gallen by coach in the late afternoon. After a rest at the hotel, you’ll enjoy a refined dinner cruise aboard the vintage vessel MS Oesterreich from 1928, only just returned to service after a complete restoration. As a true flagship of preserved vessels, the MS Oesterreich features lavish Art Deco salons and furnishings, directly inspired by the grand ocean liners of the time. A sumptuous buffet dinner will be served on the ship. (B L D)
Thursday 4th July
Steamboat ‘Greif’ on Lake Greif and Lake Zürich paddle steamers
Today features more Swiss mountain scenery and historic steamboats. After taking the train from St. Gallen to Zurich, you first sail the full length of Alpine Lake Zurich aboard the genuine paddle steamer Stadt Zurich from 1909. With the Glarus Alps in full view, you eventually reach the historic city of Rapperswil, to savour an al fresco lunch in the shadow of the medieval castle. In early afternoon you continue by SBB service train the short distance to Uster, for a unique private charter cruise on Switzerland oldest steamboat, the venerable Greif from 1896. This coal-powered screw steamer with wooden superstructures sails on its namesake lake just southeast of Zurich. Experience a real jewel of European boat preservation and one of Switzerland’s best kept secrets. You’ll also be able to watch the fireman shovel coal into the boiler and observe the steam engine work hard below deck. In the late afternoon you return to St. Gallen by SBB service train. (B L)
Friday 5th July
Zeppelin and Dornier aviation museums; Ochsenhausen steam charter with Mallet tank engine
More tour highlights await today as you first visit the Dornier and Zeppelin aviation museums in Friedrichshafen, which include globally unique aircraft, including flying boats from the 1930s and an exact, fully accessible replica of the ill-fated Hindenburg. You have lunch in town before transferring to nearby Warthausen for a steam charter on the local heritage railway, which runs over the rural 22 kilometre long branch line to Ochsenhausen. Your train will be hauled by the Mallet tank engine 99 633, which only recently returned to active service and often features on TV in Germany. After a full-return journey over the length of the line, including countless photo stops and run-pasts, you transfer from Warthausen back to St. Gallen. (B L)
Saturday 6th July
Return to London
Today you return to London St. Pancras by rail, once again travelling on high speed services through Stuttgart and Paris. (B)
All prices shown are per person.
Meals included each day are shown as:
B = Breakfast - L = Lunch - D = Dinner