Leaving the channel tunnel behind, the flat wheat fields and wind turbines of Flanders speed past the window and before you know it you're in Brussels Midi (or Zuid in Flemish). In Brussels, you join the Thalys
with its distinctive dark red livery for a 2 hour high-speed dash to Cologne. Relax into your plush cinema style seat, with power socket, or visit the cafe bar and before you know it, the twin spires of Cologne's gothic cathedral will come into view, signalling that it's time to change trains and stretch your legs.
Onwards from Cologne to the Harz Mountains, East Germany and the Baltic Coast
Changing at Cologne's main station is easy, with escalators leading from the main concourse to the platforms, and you take your reserved seat on Germany's high speed ICE (InterCityExpress) train. These sleek comfortable trains run at up to 186mph, and have an onboard buffet car serving classic German specialities.
Just 10 hours from London, after a change to a local regional train, you reach the spiritual heart of Germany The Harz Mountains
, with a 30 minute transfer to your hotel.
Berlin is just over 10 hours from London, with a direct ICE train between Cologne and Berlin and a 20 minute walk to your Berlin hotel to begin our Beyond the Iron Curtain
holiday. Travelling home from Dresden takes a little longer (12 hours 30). If you are not in a hurry you could break the journey with an overnight stay in Berlin.
With an overnight stay in Germany's capital of cool, you can travel comfortably to the Baltic Coast to begin our cycling holiday Rügen – an Island Revealed
. After an overnight in Berlin, take a direct train for the 3 hour journey north to the Baltic coast. When you book, you can discuss with us your choice of connection from Berlin. We can arrange a Regional train pass for you, valid on any regional train after 9am so if you want to spend the morning relaxing after your journey to Berlin or perhaps visit a museum, you can make up your mind while travelling. On arrival in Stralsund, your hotel is a short walk from Stralsund station. If you prefer more comfortable reserved seating and the convenience of an on-board buffet car, treat yourself to a ticket on the ICE train, although these trains are less frequent than the regional services.
Onwards from Cologne to the Tirol, Dachstein Mountains, Danube Valley and Vienna, by Austrian NightJet sleeper
The NightJet sleeper ranks among the best European sleeper trains, making it easier than ever to reach our Austrian holidays.
Travel by high-speed Eurostar and Thalys
trains to Cologne changing in Brussels, leaving London at around lunchtime and arriving in Cologne late afternoon, allowing a few hours in Cologne for a leisurely dinner.
Several of Cologne's relaxed and convivial beer halls are within a 10 to 15 minute stroll from the station, serving hearty pork specialities washed down with the local Koelsch pale ale, served in 200ml cylindrical glasses by efficient beer waiters renowned for their dry sense of humour! Stroll back to the station along the Rhine, perhaps stopping to admire Cologne Cathedral, then it will soon be time to board the sleeper train.
Austria's NightJet departure from Cologne comprises 2 trains coupled together; one travelling to Innsbruck, the other bound for Vienna. The two trains share part of the journey before branching off in opposite directions in the early hours.
The Innsbruck sleeper
is ideal for travel to our Austria’s Great Cities
holiday and our holidays in the Tirol, all within 35 minute transfer from Innsbruck: Inntaler Hof, Mösern
, A Tyrol Adventure, From the Tyrol to the Bavarian Alps
and an An Alpine Stroll
, Lake Achensee & its Mountains
, and the Romantik Hotel Wiesenhof, Pertisau
We recommend booking a private sleeper cabin with 2 to 3 bunk beds, with the top bunks accessed by a step ladder. There are shared WC and shower facilities on the corridor of each carriage. On some trains it is possible to upgrade to a deluxe cabin with ensuite facilities, although these are in high demand.
Wake up to views of the imposing limestone Karwendel range which towers above the Inn Valley. After a light continental breakfast served in your cabin, step out into the fresh Tyrolean air to meet your taxi for the short journey to your hotel.
The Vienna Sleeper
makes light work of the distance to our holidays in Western Austria, arriving in Vienna at a civilised 8.30am. For our On the Trail of the Habsburgs
journey, you begin in Vienna and return from Trieste. From Trieste you can take a direct Italian Frecciarossa train to Turin to stay overnight before taking the TGV route to London describe on our UK to Italy page
For our In the Shadow of the Dachstein
walking discovery and our winter holiday at the Hotel Matschner, Ramsau,
you take a wonderfully scenic route on an Austrian Railjet through the UNESCO protected Semmering line. After 2 hours, you change at Leoben to the Enns Valley railway for a further 90 minutes of mountains, with the Dachstein peaks to the north, towering above cornfields and dark pine forested slopes.
For the Danube Castles and Vineyards
and the Danube Explorer
, you have a 90 minute journey from Vienna with one easy change of train, followed by a 15 minute transfer to your hotel.