Calling all literature lovers! To celebrate this year’s World Book Day (5 March) why not treat yourself to a little (okay… pretty large and impressive) getaway inspired by one of your favourite books?

Specialist rail tour operator, Tailor Made Rail has been offering bespoke rail holidays since 2013, and know a thing or two about crafting page turning itineraries to fire up the imagination, sending travellers hot on the heels of their favourite writers and literary figures.

Not that we need an excuse to explore, but to celebrate the 23rd World Book Day – a celebration of books and reading in over 100 countries worldwide – Tailor Made Rail have shared their top five most literary rail expeditions.

1. Agatha Christie’s Orient Express: London to Venice

Venice-Simplon Orient Express © Tailor Made Rail

The Venice-Simplon Orient Express will naturally be forever synonymous with Agatha Christie’s 1934 novel Murder on the Orient Express, in which Hercule Poirot is called upon to solve a murder on the train heading west from Istanbul. 

Christie herself was a frequent and enthusiastic international rail traveller, journeying solo all the way to Baghdad on the Orient Express to visit her second husband Max on his archaeological missions around the Middle East. She was known to travel with her typewriter and described it as, “undoubtedly my favourite train.”

You’d be hard pressed to recreate the full extent of her intrepid voyages now for obvious reasons, but you can still ride on her coattails and sample the lavish splendour of the VSOE journey to Venice and back, with a detour via the charming Franco-centric Swiss city of Lausanne.

From £3,099pp, this five-day luxury rail holiday includes an overnight journey in a twin cabin aboard the Venice-Simplon Orient Express, transfer on arrival from the station to your hotel, two nights in Venice and then a return journey to London by train with a night in Lausanne en route. Full itinerary HERE.

2. The ‘Dracula Express’ to Transylvania & the Black Sea

Bran Castle

This journey glides like a stake right through the heart of Transylvania, taking in Romanian capital Bucharest and the countless castles dotted around the cities of Sibiu and Sinaia, with special excursions to visit Peles Castle and, best of all, Brasov’s Bran Castle. 

The castle’s dramatic setting, perched high above a river valley, fuelled the imagination of Irish writer Bram Stoker, who, despite never having actually set foot in Romania, was nonetheless suitably inspired to conjure up his infamous vampire and sorcerer Count Dracula on illustrations of this awe-inspiring castle alone.

From £899pp, this 12-day rail holiday includes flights in and out of Romania, 11 nights’ handpicked, four-star city centre hotel accommodation with breakfast, first class rail travel throughout Romania with seat reservations and time in the bustling Black Sea port town of Constanta, famous for its Art Nouveau casino. Full itinerary HERE.

3. Paddington’s Andean Explorer & Machu Picchu 

Peru © Belmond Images

Follow in the inimitable pawprints of everyone’s best loved bear from “deepest, darkest Peru” by taking the Belmond Andean Explorer in search of world-famous Machu Picchu.

Peru’s only luxury train travels from Arequipa to Cusco along one of the highest and most beautiful rail routes in the world, with a stay in Peru’s capital Lima, plus an unforgettable day trip to Machu Picchu.

From £3,299pp, this 12-day holiday includes London flights in and out of Peru, eight nights four-star hotel accommodation, two nights on board the lavish Belmond Andean Explorer from Arequipa to Cusco in a twin bed cabin with full table d’hôte dining. Regretfully, marmalade sandwiches may not be included! Full itinerary HERE.

4. Tolstoy’s Moscow & St Petersburg

St Petersburg

The complex narrative of Leo Tolstoy’s seminal novel Anna Karenina is heavily underpinned by trains, (spoiler alert!) with the titular heroine even ending her life by throwing herself under one, at the book’s dramatic climax. But don’t worry, this rail ride journey across Russia promises to be considerably more life affirming! 

The novel is largely set amid the milieu of Saint Petersburg high society, and guests get a taste of this, spending three days in the great imperial city, along with equal time in Moscow.

From £1,149pp, this 10-day holiday includes flights in and out of Russia, eight nights four-star hotel accommodation, and an overnight journey from Warsaw to Moscow in a double cabin. Full itinerary HERE.

5. Anne Frank’s Amsterdam

Amsterdam © Tailor Made Rail

Later this spring, Eurostar will be running their first direct return service from London to Amsterdam, delivering travellers from St Pancras to the Dutch capital – or the reverse – in a mere four hours. Thus, providing the perfect pretext to hit up the canals, parks, museums and Guild houses of Amsterdam, while also making time for the contrasting hip, design-conscious industrial port city of Rotterdam.

The first site on any enlightened traveller’s list in Amsterdam should be a pilgrimage to the Anne Frank House, a sobering museum dedicated to the tragically short life and monumental work of Jewish wartime diarist Anne Frank.

From £569pp, this five-day holiday includes rail travel with Eurostar, four nights four-star hotel accommodation and comprehensive directions to hotels. Full itinerary HERE.

Not quite what you had in mind? Tailor Made Rail are independent rail travel experts specialising in bespoke rail holidays throughout Europe and around the world. The operator develops itineraries to meet travellers’ individual requirements, designing getaways, multi-centre trips and once in a lifetime holidays for couples, families, solo adventurers and mature age travellers. Check out their website for something that hits the spot.

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