Rail Journeys

Vintage Slovakia (and into Poland)

Tour Date: 7/8 to 17 July 2023
Location: Slovakia

Welcome to our two-country holiday of marvellous lands of national parks, mountains, valleys, forests, rivers, castles, churches and ruins.

Slovakia’s geographical position between two superpowers of the middle ages, Austro-Hungary and Russia, has left its mark plainly in its historical architecture. Of the two, the traditions of Germanic Austro-Hungary dominate, often tied to the Roman Catholic faith with some hints of Protestantism. However, especially in the east, the Orthodox Christian religion of Russia and other eastern European cultures play a role in the architectural landscape. Towards the end of our tour we will experience just a little of Poland. Being so close to where we are in the Tetras it will be fascinating to visit another beautiful country. Compare the cultures and scenery and sample a taste of perhaps a future, longer Polish adventure.

Most towns have historic churches, and many of these have features of special significance. For those seeking a truly eastern European experience, the centuries-old, still-functioning wooden churches of north-eastern Slovakia and southern Poland are amongst the greatest treasures.

We will tour around the country, where possible by rail, and visit some of the cultural highlights. Along the way we will have a steam hauled trip in the historic Ciernohronská forest railway in Slovakia and the Vychylovka open air museum and switchback railway in Poland. Also a trip on a cog railway in the High Tatras National Park.

From: Heathrow, Gatwick, Birmingham, Manchester, London St Pancras

Tour Manager: Marion  marion@ptg.co.uk

Tour Highlights

  • Ciernohronská forest railway
  • Cog-rail to Štrbské Pleso high in the Tatras
  • The enormous Spis castle
  • Vychylovka open-air museum and switchback railway
  • Incomparable Kraków
  • Chabówka steam railway and museum

Tour Itinerary

Optional Pre night Friday

Fly direct to Vienna today from Heathrow (11:35), Gatwick (17:30), Stansted (19:45), Bristol (13:55), Birmingham (13:20), Manchester (13:00) or overland from London St Pancras. We take the train from the airport to the main railway station in Vienna. There is a short walk to our hotel for the night.

Day 1 Saturday (B, D)

Fly direct to Vienna today from Heathrow (09:55), Gatwick (08:05), Stansted (09:00), Birmingham (13:20), Manchester (13:00), Edinburgh (06:40). On arrival we will load our suitcases onto our coach and not see them again until we arrive in Bratislava. Our transfer will leave us in Vienna where we will have a guided walk of this wonderful city with time to explore for ourselves or have a little lunch before meeting up again at the Twin City Liner dock for our boat to Bratislava. At Bratislava we have a transfer to our hotel where we will have some time to freshen up and head out to a local restaurant for our evening dinner. Those arriving late today (from Birmingham, Manchester) will go by coach to Bratislava. If you want the boat trip we advise travelling out a day early (see option above). Flying from Bristol is only available on 10 July.

Day 2 Sunday (B)

This morning we will have our guided tour of Bratislava. A century ago, Bratislava was a modest-sized provincial town. Today although relatively small as a capital city by international standards, it is the country’s biggest city still largely contained within its demolished fortifications. We will visit the Old Town, its inviting streets lined with the Baroque residences of a long-gone aristocracy. After our lunch break we visit the transport museum before free time to enjoy Bratislava at your own pace.

Day 3 Monday (B,D)

Today we transfer to the main railway station from where we catch a train to Zvolen in the central part of Slovakia. The route will take three hours. On arrival we will have a coach transfer and a stop for lunch before we travel to Chvatimech for one of the greatest attractions of central Slovakia – the historic Ciernohronská forest railway which once hauled timber down the picturesque valley of the river Cierny Hron. The railway was opened in 1908 and expanded until it once had a network of an unbelievable 132 km. We will have a steam hauled ride on the restored lines and finish in Čierny Balog where we can visit a small railway museum before we travel onto the High Tatras.

Day 4 Tuesday (B,D)

Today we take a ride on the cog-rail to Strbske Pleso. Here we have a short walk around the tarn at an altitude of 1300m, a top destination in the High Tatras, also a sports centre. The surface of the tarn remains frozen for around 155 days a year. After our lunch break we take the electric tram to Stary Smokovec for the funicular to Hreienok for the beautiful views of the Tatras. Our last visit of today, via coach, will be to the folk museum in Zidar. On our return we meet up for dinner in Koliba restaurant. Here we will be entertained with a demonstration of a “Fujara”, a unique Slovak musical instrument. You may even like to give this a go yourself.

Day 5 Wednesday (B)

Today we will explore some gothic and renaissance jewels of the Spis region with the Spis Castle and Church of St. Jacob (both listed by UNESCO) and the highest gothic wooden altar in the world. Spis Castle is the largest castle complex in Central Europe.

Day 6 Thursday (B,L)

We transfer to Kezmarok and visit a wooden church listed by UNESCO. From here we travel on to the National Park Pieniny – the smallest park in Slovakia, where the River Duanjec flows, creating the border between Poland and Slovakia. Here we travel on wooden rafts down the river canyon taking in the wonderful scenery and wildlife created by this magnificent river. After our journey we have an option to walk a little while (10mins) or take a horse and cart to the restaurant for lunch. We later take the coach to the railway station for our journey back to the High Tatras.

Day 7 Friday (B,D)

Time to leave Slovakia for Poland. After our brief sighting of this beautiful country yesterday from the raft, it is now time to visit. Our transfer will take us to Vychylovka where we will visit the open air museum and switchback railway (the journey will take approx. 2 hours). Whilst at the museum we will have time for lunch before we continue our journey to Krakow.

Day 8 Saturday (B)

This morning we will have a sightseeing tour of the city of Krakow. During our tour we will see Wawel castle the cathedral, the main square, St. Mary’s Basilica, the old university district and Florian’s gate. After our tour the afternoon is free for lunch and exploration of this wonderful city. Perhaps take a horse and coach ride around the city, visit some of the museums, take a boat ride on the River Vitsula or retrace our steps and visit some of the sights we have passed on our way during our walk.

Day 9 Sunday (B,D)

We have a transfer to Kasina Wielka for a historic train ride and visit to the open air museum at Chabowka. Here we are able to move around and admire the old stock as well as ride on the steam. After this we return to our hotel for our final night. Farewell group dinner.

Day 10 Monday (B)

Today we transfer to the airport at Krakow for our flights home.

You can also join us by using the ‘Rail all the way’ facility. It is possible to travel from London to Vienna in a day, albeit a long journey. Alternatively, you could break your journey in Munich for an overnight stay if you so wish to make the long journey more relaxing.

There is also the opportunity to travel to Vienna for a pre tour night which will give you time to explore Vienna before traveling onto Bratislava.

As well as our PTG Tour Manager, we will also have a local English speaking guide with us throughout the trip. Our tour is “shadowed” by a coach which will transfer our luggage between the hotels for us.

This is a moderately active tour.  To fully enjoy this program, participants should be able to climb a flight of stairs and walk at least a half-mile on uneven ground during several of the sightseeing trips.

Prices & Options

Place(s) available

Holiday Prices (per person)

  • From London Heathrow: £1,920
  • From London Gatwick: £1,920
  • From London Stansted: £1,920
  • From Bristol (includes pre-tour night): £1,970
  • From Birmingham: POA
  • From Manchester: £1,970
  • From Edinburgh: £1,920
  • From St Pancras: Price on application
  • Own travel to and from Vienna: £1,695


  • Single room Supplement: £420
  • Fly out on 7 July: £60 (twin/double) or £105 (single)
  • With flight prices may not be available for late bookers


  • Travelling by air: £500
  • Travelling by land: £1,000
  • Own travel: £300

Price includes

  • All travel and excursions as outlined in the itinerary
  • Good quality en-suite accommodation
  • Five nights in Ljubljana, four nights at Lake Bled,
  • Meals as stated in the itinerary: B = breakfast, L = lunch, D = dinner
  • Services of our tour manager (tour is fully escorted from London)