European rail tours beyond the tourist trail
Planning a holiday is always a pleasure, but even more so during the grip of a dismal February. With tangible signs of better weather still weeks away in the UK, what better way to pass the time than by planning a Spring escape?
Rail holiday specialist Ffestiniog Travel has a tempting selection of escorted tours to some of Europe’s lesser-known destinations, all departing in May. Created for travellers keen to explore regions still relatively untouched by large-scale tourism, each itinerary blends relaxing rail journeys with cultural sightseeing, comfortable accommodation and convivial company, as well as ample time to explore independently as required. An experienced tour leader joins the group prior to departure in London and stays throughout the tour, joined by local professional guides to explain the history and traditions, as well as acting as interpreter.
Ffestiniog Travel offers four ‘out of the way’ tours for departure this May:
UZBEKISTAN: NEW for 2017 – extra departure date added
Joining Ffestiniog Travel’s ‘Small & Traditional’ collection for the first time this year, Uzbekistan and the Silk Road is a 12-day tour travelling between Tashkent, Samarkand and Bukhara by rail, including a journey across the desert on the new high-speed Afrosiab service and on the Sharq train, its former USSR coaches belying the elegance and comfort of the experience.
Learn how this intriguing small republic once governed most of Central Asia and enjoy visits to the Tashkent open air railway museum and famous Khiva puppet theatre, an evening performance at the Tashkent Navoy Opera and a dance performance at the Nodir Devan-Begi Madrasah. The group will also travel to the Beldersay region of north-east Uzbekistan to view ancient petroglyphs, and to take a scenic cable car ride amid the snow-capped peaks of the Tian-Shan mountains.
Departing 5 May, the price is from £2,130 pp (two sharing) including international (Heathrow) and internal (Urgench to Tashkent) flights, ten nights’ accommodation, all meals, all transfers, travel, excursions and entrance fees as per the itinerary, and the services of a tour leader from London and throughout the tour, plus a local professional Uzbek guide. One overnight flight.
Explore some of Europe’s last true wilderness areas on Romania’s Danube Delta and the Carpathians - A Wildlife Paradise, a 12-day escorted tour. Accompanied by experts, the group will search for rare wading birds in the Delta and bears in the mountains, and spend a day at the annual shepherding festival, whilst enjoying the unspoilt idyll of rural Romania. Rail travel enthusiasts are well catered for, too, with a private steam charter on the unusual Covasna and Comandu forestry railway, and a train journey across the Carpathian Mountains that passes through the ski resorts of Predeal and Sinaia. Accommodation throughout the holiday (other than two nights at a hotel in Bucharest) is in characterful guest houses or family homestays, enabling guests to experience a traditional Romanian way of life and dine on locally-sourced organic produce.
Departing 15 May, the price is from £2,065 pp (two sharing) including flights (Heathrow), 11 nights’ B&B, most other meals, all transfers, travel, excursions and entrance fees as per the itinerary, and the services of a tour leader from London and throughout the tour, plus a local professional Romanian guide and specialist guides where required.
KOSOVO, MACEDONIA & ALBANIA
Blazing a trail through parts of Europe not yet on the tourist map, Pushing the Boundaries: Kosovo, Macedonia and Albania balances scenic railway journeys, rich culture and fascinating recent history in a 13-day itinerary that meanders from Pristina to Tirana. En-route highlights include the riverside resort of Peja, spectacular Rugova Gorge, the beautiful city of Skopje, Gračanica and Dečani Monasteries, and peaceful Lake Ohrid, one of only 28 sites in the world to be granted both Cultural and Natural World Heritage Site status. There is plenty of opportunity to explore at one’s own pace, too: enjoy a free morning to stroll at leisure in Peja, a full day to take in the sights or simply relax amid the neoclassical architecture of the Macedonian capital, Skopje, and a full day to indulge in the lakeside delights of Ohrid.
Departing 3 May, the price is from £1,790 pp* including flights (Gatwick), 12 nights’ B&B, one evening meal, all transfers, travel, excursions and entrance fees as per the itinerary, and the services of a tour leader from London and throughout the tour, plus English-speaking local guides where appropriate.
It has never been so easy to book with Ffestiniog Travel. All of its escorted tours can now be booked online via the website www.ffestiniogtravel.com at the touch of a button.