Experiencing the ultra-luxury Venice Simplon-Orient Express is a bucket-list trip for world travelers who love to criss-cross Europe by train. Affluent travelers can live like royalty aboard the VSOE’s vintage pullmans as they sit back and traverse the countryside between Venice and London, Venice and Paris, and a slew of other routes.
These trips are traditionally offered between March and November, but this year the company created some new journeys that extend the vacation option through December. The new routes feature overnight trips from Paris to Florence and Paris to Vienna. Several existing journeys also were extended into December.
One-night trips, which start at about $3,000 per person, begin with a three-course lunch, followed later by an opulent four-course dinner. After that, guest can head to Bar Car 3674 to hear a pianist perform, then it’s off to bed in ultra-swanky accommodations. A full French breakfast awaits guests in the morning, and soon after, the train reaches its destination. And here’s a must-know: Formal evening attire is requested for dinner, as in black tie. As VSOE says: You can never be overdressed on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express.
Set The Date For An Overnight Train Journey
The Venice Simplon-Orient Express, considered by many to be one of the best sleeper trains in the world, unveiled this departure schedule for its new December journeys, and a few trips already are sold out, a check of the reservation site reveals.
- Dec. 2 and 12: Venice to Paris, Verona to Paris.
- Dec. 7: Venice to Paris (via Rome and Florence), and Florence to Paris.
- Dec. 8: Paris to Florence (via Rome and Florence) and Paris to Venice.
- Dec. 17: Paris to Vienna.
- Dec. 18: Vienna to Paris.
- Dec. 20: Paris to Venice and Paris to Verona.
Starting in the spring, the VSOE will resume its seasonal service to various cities in Europe. For example, a June departure of its Amsterdam-Paris journey comes with a price tag of about $4,100 per person. In September, a London-Vienna trip will cost $8,800.
A trip between Prague and Paris in October will cost about $3,400. Other city destinations VSOE offers include Brussels, Budapest, Geneva, Istanbul, and Rome. Of course, there are stunning train journeys in America, too, but it’s hard to beat the capitals of Europe.
Luxury Trains Have A Long History In Europe
Luxury trains aren’t anything new on the continent, in fact, they’ve been around since the mid-19th century. The original Orient Express began service in the 1880s, traveling from Paris to Giurgi, Romania.
Fast forward to 1906 and the completion of the Simplon Tunnel, built under the Alps and connecting Switzerland to Italy, opened up a slew of new routes.
Twenty years later, Orient Express launched its Simplon Orient Express service. As air travel eventually emerged, Orient Express lost business and all but shut down in 1977; it continued to operate limited overnight routes until 2009.
The concept of an ultra-glamorous train trip to Europe’s most exciting cities was reborn in 1982 as the Venice Simplon Orient Express, thanks to a deep-pocketed rail enthusiast who had bought and restored some of the vintage trains formerly operated by Orient Express.
Today the Venice Simplon-Orient Express is operated by Belmond, a major hospitality company that owns hotels, river cruise ships, restaurants, and other leisure travel entities.
See These Sights On VSOE’s New Journeys
Travelers who book one of Venice Simplon-Orient Express’s newly created December journeys will visit Florence and Vienna. Here are several of the must-see sights and most beautiful places in Florence and in Vienna:
- Boboli Gardens, an outdoor museum of garden sculptures and fountains created by the Medici family in the 16th century. Roman antiquities can be seen, too.
- Galleria dell’Accademia best known for its sculptures by the Renaissance artist Michelangelo, including the famous Statue of David. It also features paintings by Sandro Botticelli and other 15th and 16th-century masters.
- Uffizi Gallery, considered by many to be the best art museum in the world, is home to thousands of masterpieces by Michelangelo, Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, and Titian.
- Imperial Treasury has a huge collection of treasures, some dating back 1,000 years. See the dazzling Imperial Crown of Austria and the Imperial Crown of the Holy Roman Empire.
- Stephansplatz is an architecturally stunning square in Vienna and home to the Gothic-style St. Stephen’s Cathedral, built in the 12th century. Enjoy the views from one of the many cafes and restaurants around the square.
Christmas markets will be in full swing during December in Vienna, and offer an authentic European holiday experience. The largest is Christmas Village, on Maria-Theresien-Platz, and the oldest is the Old Viennese Christmas Market, on Freyung, dating back to 1772. The Christkindlmarkt, held at Vienna City Hall is considered the city’s most traditional Christmas Market.