Themed Holidays

Ffestiniog Travel: Celebrating 50 years of rail travel

A simple passage from A to B? Or a full-on first-class steam-driven extravaganza around some of the world’s most exquisite destinations? For rail travel near and far, Ffestiniog Travel is just the ticket.

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Ffestiniog Travel: Celebrating 50 years of rail travel
  • Ffestiniog Travel is the go-to holiday company for train fans and those who love to see new sights in comfort
  • It’s been in business for 50 years, starting with a trip to the Swiss Alps in 1974
  • The range of destinations now encompasses long hops to Asia, plus relatively quick jaunts to the Pennines
  • Ffestiniog Travel is a one-stop shop for the very best in rail holidays of the world

Ffestiniog Travel FAQs

  • Does Ffestiniog Travel just operate in Wales?

    Ffestiniog Travel covers the globe with its rail holiday programme. It provides holidays that will appeal to train fans as far afield as the US and Uzbekistan as well as those a little closer to home like the mid-Pennines. There are trips to South America, Morocco and Jordan, as well as a chance to get your teeth into Transylvania.

  • Is Ffestiniog Travel just for train enthusiasts?

    Trains are the main focus for Ffestiniog Travel’s holidays. However, there are plenty of other reasons for going on a Ffestiniog Travel holiday. For instance, the Belgian Transport Extravaganza includes, as well as train trips, tram rides, and a canal cruise. And the South American Rail Adventure delivers the opportunity to take in the sights of Buenos Aires and Machu Picchu, as well as a host of other experiences.

  • What length are Ffestiniog Travel holidays?

    There are Ffestiniog Travel holidays of all sorts of lengths. You can spend a whopping 25 days travelling around the sensational sites of South America, or you can indulge in a quick 6-day dip into the delights of Mallorca. There are options to suit all calendars, with 12-14 night durations being particularly well-represented.

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From its base in North Wales, independent rail holiday specialist Ffestiniog Travel has been escorting travellers around the world by rail for 50 years. It’s one of the oldest dedicated rail tour companies, that can claim to be Britain's 'complete specialist' in train travel. 

From Escorted Rail Tours across the globe, bespoke Tailored Rail holidays, exploring the world’s heritage railways to simply buying train tickets for travel through Europe and beyond – Ffestiniog Travel truly is a one-stop shop for discovering destinations by train.

The company celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2024 – its very first overseas tour was to the Swiss Alps in 1974 and Switzerland continues to be one of its most popular destinations. View the special 2024 Rail Holidays of the World Brochure or order a printed copy here.

Ffestiniog Travel produces a programme of up to 40 escorted rail tours each year to destinations in the UK, Europe and worldwide including New Zealand, North and South America, India, Sri Lanka, Jordan and Morocco. Its small, dedicated team of expert consultants also help plan bespoke tours for individuals, couples, friends and private groups, particularly those interested in riding historic and heritage lines – including chartered journeys.

Why travel by train?

There are plenty of people for whom this question will simply not need asking. Train enthusiasts exist the world over, and with good reason. Trains manage to capture a romance and heritage that other modes of travel can only dream of. 

Around the world there are steam and/or narrow-gauge lines that make their sometimes miraculous way through some of the finest landscapes and views it’s possible to witness. Getting the chance to take in these incredible vistas, all the while being treated to sumptuous comfort and perhaps something delicious from the restaurant car, is what singles out a fantastic rail holiday from your everyday run-of-the-mill standard break. 

There are environmental benefits too, as many of the railway holidays that Ffestiniog Travel offers require no flights whatsoever. So you can indulge in the experience of a lifetime, happy in the knowledge that you have protected the planet. Furthermore, sticking to track rather than road while you’re there reduces the load on the local network and reduces congestion and the need for further road building.

Given all this, it’s no wonder that train holidays are increasingly popular. It’s reckoned that 11% of adults in the UK have taken a train to a holiday destination abroad, and up to 32% would consider doing so. And when it comes to domestic holiday destinations, a whopping 58% of adults would be happy to take the train. 

Let’s explore what Ffestiniog Travel has to offer!

Grand Escorted Rail Tours

These are designed to appeal to the seasoned traveller who wants to explore the world by rail and wishes to combine culture, leisure, convivial company and comfortable accommodation with memorable rail journeys. The destinations are the main appeal, but the journey itself is an integral part of the holiday.

Mountain Railways of Switzerland – Departs 11 September 2024 – 14 days from £3,475pp

Image: Schynige Platte Railway, Switzerland

Travellers can spend two weeks touring and ascending the famous peaks of the Swiss Alps – by train! A chance to experience stunning views as you reach mountain summits courtesy of Switzerland’s engineering excellence and gravity-defying trains including First Class travel on the famous Glacier Express and journeys on steam and rack railways. 

It’s a no-flight holiday, starting out from St Pancras on Eurostar. You’ll be whisked to Cologne for an overnight stay, and from there you’ll journey through Basle and Bern, ending up in Lausanne, on the shores of sublime Lake Geneva. 

Over the next ten days, you’ll see unforgettable sights and virtually limitless alpine vistas, all from the comfort of your first class carriage. You’ll be taken to a height of two miles up Gornegrat Ridge, from which vantage point you’ll absorb the majesty of the Matterhorn. You’ll be treated to landscapes filled with glaciers and mountains as far as the eye can see. You’ll also enjoy a relaxing cruise across the turquoise depths of Lake Brienz. 

The price includes rail travel, First Class Swiss Pass, excursions, B&B hotel accommodation and services of a knowledgeable tour leader.

Jordan: Trains, Petra & the Dead Sea – Departs 4 November 2024 – 10 days from £3295pp

Image: Hejaz Railway in Jordan - Andreas Wolochow - Shutterstock

From Switzerland to what has been described as the Switzerland of the Middle East. Jordan is stuffed full of wonders and vast historic landscapes that truly come to life when journeyed through by train. Magnificent castles, colossal gorges and soaring sand dunes will greet you as you are spirited from place to place in comfort and style. 

Your odyssey commences with a flight from Heathrow to Amman. Assistance is laid on with customs and visa requirements, so a smooth entry to Jordan is guaranteed. You’ll then spend two nights in a nearby hotel, which will be the base for trips to the verdant northern region, including the Greco-Roman city of Jerash. You’ll be shown into the ancient Hippodrome, which accommodated up to 15,000 chariot-racegoers, as well as around the Temple of Zeus and the Roman Forum. 

Next, you’ll take the train (including time spent on the last remnants of the famous Hejaz Railway) to Jordan’s top attraction: the wondrous rock-hewn marvel of Petra, the Rose City. Marvel at the emergence of this hidden city as it comes into view after a journey along almost a mile of pink-walled canyon. Fans of Indiana Jones will know this spot well as a key location in The Last Crusade, and the film connections continue with the next stop, as we take a steam charter to Wadi Rum. 

History aficionados will know all about the Arab uprising against the Ottoman Empire that took place in this region, and keen cineastes will be familiar with these events courtesy of David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia. The enormous sandscapes that sweep all the way to the distant horizon are something to behold, and you’ll get the chance to really get to grips with the terrain in a 4x4 vehicle trip around the region. 

After a night spent in a deluxe en suite tent, you’ll travel to the Crusader stronghold of Kerak, before an afternoon on the shores of the Dead Sea, with its health-giving and restorative mud treatments just the ticket after so many exciting experiences. 

The price includes air, rail, bus and car travel, excursions, hotel accommodation and services of a knowledgeable tour leader.

Connoisseur Escorted Rail Tours

Designed to appeal to those who have a specific passion for railways. The Ffestiniog Travel tour producers are an authority on the world’s railways and every year they rise to the challenge of finding rail journeys that will indulge people’s enthusiasm for railways within the framework of a refined and relaxing holiday.

Narrow Gauge Steam in Eastern Germany – Departs 4 September 2024 – 15 days from £2,650pp

Image Credit: The Molli steam train at Bad Doberan (c) Bob Cable

The fall of the Berlin Wall 35 years ago brought with it access to some of the world's most remarkable narrow gauge steam railways that survived the Cold War and are still in daily operation. This 15-day tour explores the highlights of these railway gems with up to 10 excursions on wonderful lines around Frankfurt, Saxony, Dresden, Wernigerode in the Harz Mountains and Rügen Island on the Baltic Sea. 

You’ll start with a night spent in the modern metropolis of Frankfurt, where you’ll be taken to the Feldbahnmuseum, a museum dedicated to field railways. From Frankfurt, you’ll be taken by train to the historic splendour of Dresden’s railway station. This glorious city, reconstructed to its pre-war specifications following the devastation of the Second World War, contains two narrow gauge steam lines, and you’ll get to enjoy them both while here. 

You’ll also be treated to a train trip to Glossen, where we’ll see a Fieldbahn. Following this, there’s a short journey to the Czech border, and a steam train jaunt under the vibrant forest canopy to Oberwiesenthal. 

Next we’ll go via Berlin to the Baltic coast, where you’ll stay for three nights, with excursions including a trip to Rügen Island, a traditional seaside holiday destination for Germans far and wide. On the island, you’ll get to travel Rügen’s famous steam railway and take in the various delights of this fabulous part of northern Germany. 

After this, we go into the Harz Mountains, where you’ll stay in a railway-themed hotel and travel along the 140km of Harz Narrow Gauge Railway. The return to the UK is via Wuppertal, famous for its Schwebebahn, which is the oldest electric hanging car railway in existence. 

The price includes rail travel, InterRail Pass, 3-Day Harz Rover Ticket, excursions, B&B hotel accommodation and the services of a knowledgeable tour leader throughout.

Mallorca Narrow Gauge – Departs Sunday 6 October 2024 – 6 days from £1675pp

Image: The Soller train in Mallorca - Pixabay

This is a holiday on an island that’s long been a favourite tourist destination. However, one of the huge advantages with this particular trip to Mallorca is that it takes in aspects of this delightful isle that will be unfamiliar to most, as you journey inland on train lines that date back over 100 years. 

A flight from Gatwick will deposit you in beautiful Palma, which is the base for your Mediterranean adventure. This city, the island’s capital, has history galore and is packed with interesting corners, and you’ll get plenty of time to discover them for yourself (there’s at least one full day spent here).

By Day 3, you’ll be on the historic Soller train, on the 20 mile journey up into the Sierra de Tramuntana Mountains. You’ll then take a tram to the fascinating port of Soller before returning to the comforts of your Palma hotel. 

There’s another rail excursion later in the holiday, this time to the town of Inca, followed by a venture further into the rural heartland of Sa Pobla. Such is the untouched nature of this region you’ll find it hard to believe that you’re on one of the most popular holiday islands in the Med. 

The price includes return flight from London, rail travel, excursions and bus travel, welcome dinner, B&B hotel accommodation and the services of a knowledgeable tour leader throughout.

Small & Traditional Escorted Tours

Visit a selection of countries, chosen chiefly because they remain untouched by large scale tourism. Discover remote areas, unspoilt nature, rich culture and wonderful history with the services of a knowledgeable local guide. All tours in our S&T range are limited to a maximum of 20 persons, in many cases far fewer, affording maximum personal attention and flexibility.

Rural Romania – Where Time Stands Still – Departs 13 September 2024 – 12 days from £3,115pp

Image Credit: Moldovita Railway, Romania (c) Ramona Cazacu

Ffestiniog Travel has been escorting travellers to Romania since 2009 and is a UK leading specialist operator to the country. Its classic Rural Romania escorted small group holiday enjoys wonderful hospitality in remote villages that offer a fascinating insight into traditional Romanian rural life – well away from the popular tourist destinations. 

The 12-day tour also appeals to rail lovers as it includes journeys on two narrow gauge steam lines. If you’ve ever wanted to travel on a forestry railway in Europe, this is your one and only chance. This is because the line through the Vaser Valley is the last forestry railway on the continent. The railway is used by the timber industry, as the thick forest is not navigable by road. All in all, it’s an incredibly rare opportunity to travel by steam through a natural wonderland of tree and leaf.

The holiday also offers history in the shape of ancient villages, monasteries and even a jolly graveyard. Called the Merry Cemetery, it’s famed for the brightly painted illustrations that artists have rendered on the stones, depicting the lives of the departed. And you can raise a glass to one and all at the Liliac Winery, up in the gorgeous Carpathians. 

The price includes flights (London), all rail and private coach travel, hotel & homestay accommodation, most meals, excursions and the services of a knowledgeable tour leader and local Romanian guide. Please note this tour is limited to 12 people.

Worldwide ‘Bucket List’ Rail Tour

South American Rail Adventure – Departs 19 October 2024 – 25 days from £10,560pp

Image Credit: Cusco to Puno train, Peru (c) Bob Cable

For those who want a truly unforgettable once-in-a-lifetime track-based experience, we are proud to offer this absolute beauty. It’s an incredible rail holiday that showcases the best of Argentina, Bolivia and Peru, including an enormous variety of landscape, from the excitement of teeming cities to peerless wilderness areas where the soaring condors are your only company. 

Of course there are spectacular train journeys included, such as the Tren a las Nubes, Tren de las Sierras, Expreso del Sur and Titicaca Train. You’ll also travel by train to the wondrous Inca site of Machu Picchu, where you’ll get the benefit of a fully-guided tour, so you can make the most of this fabulous opportunity to come face-to-face with one of the true iconic destinations of the world. 

This is a great way to experience South America, mostly at ground level with only two internal flights. The price includes flights in Economy Class, all rail, road and boat travel, B&B hotel accommodation, six lunches, excursions, services of a knowledgeable tour leader and local English speaking guides.

Tailored Rail Holidays

You can create your own tailored tour if you want the freedom to dictate when and where you travel and with whom. Ffestiniog Travel can design a personalised tour for single travellers, couples or groups who have a specific rail journey in mind. The company will manage your journey from source to final destination, arranging your travel tickets and organising accommodation and guided sightseeing trips en route.

Sorrento, Florence & Turin – 14 days from £3,150pp

Image: Positano, Amalfu Coast, Italy

This is a tour that we put together for a couple wanting to take in the marvellous Italian spots of the Amalfi coast, as well as the northern cities of Florence and Turin. It’s a great example of what’s possible with our customised packages – you really can call the shots and name the stops. 

The trip encounters a rich slice of Italian history and culture by train, incorporating en route some of the very best that Italy has to offer over the course of a leisurely 2-week rail holiday. The outgoing train journey stops for the night in Paris, then Geneva, and you’ll spend afternoons and evenings in both of these wonderful cities. From Geneva, you’ll travel in style via trains to Milan, Naples and finally the unique beauty of the Sorrento peninsular and the Amalfi coast. 

Seven nights ensue here, packed full of opportunities to take in the tourist hotspots of Capri, Pompeii, Herculaneum and Vesuvius, as well as sampling a pizza in the popular delicacy’s home, the frenetic and exciting city of Naples. You can also spend time discovering the coastal delights of Positano and Sorrento, as immortalised in the 1999 film The Talented Mr Ripley.

Then it’s first-class train travel to Florence, famed for its unrivalled cultural treasures and glorious cathedral. Three nights later, you’re on your way to the lively centre of Turin, replete with a panoply of striking architectural styles and public art. 

You’re then only a swift TGV ride back to Paris, in time for a spot of dejeuner, before a mid-afternoon departure back to the UK. 

The price includes all rail travel, some in premier and First Class and hotel B&B accommodation.

Why Choose Ffestiniog Travel?

  • Expertise – it’s one of the oldest rail holiday companies in the UK and it has remained a dedicated rail travel specialist.
  • As an AITO member, Ffestiniog Travel offers quality, expertise, peace of mind and financial protection. It boasts a 97% customer satisfaction rating in AITO’s Independent Reviews
  • Ffestiniog Travel runs a busy Ticket Only department which issues train tickets and rail passes for simple and complicated journeys around Europe and many worldwide destinations.
  • The company is owned by a charitable trust and profits go to support the world-famous Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways.
  • It employs holiday experts who will find the best accommodation and plan sightseeing excursions to suit all budgets
  • Many customers return to travel with Ffestiniog Travel year on year – over 60% annual repeat business.
  • Its small team of consultants are always at the end of a phone to discuss and respond to rail travel enquiries 

Call: 01766 512400

Cover Image: TranzAlpine, New Zealand

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