You Can Now Spend the Holiday Season on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express

The iconic train is adding December itineraries to its lineup for the first time, making this possibly the classiest way to indulge in Europe’s festive season.

A Grand Suite onboard the vintage train.

Treat yourself—to a Grand Suite onboard the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express.

Courtesy of Belmond

Imagine settling into a beautifully upholstered banquet in the bar car, sipping a predinner Negroni and pulling back a tasseled curtain to peer out as an amber sunset falls over the snow-topped scenery passing by. Then you make your way to your sleeping car to freshen up before an evening of elegant cuisine, live piano music, and midnight brunch in a vintage, navy-blue train carrying you from Venice to Paris amid the revelry of the holiday season.

This is no fairy tale. It is the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, a historic rail service operated by Belmond, which has announced that for the first time it will offer departures in December, meaning that travelers can indulge in this classic train experience at the height of Europe’s winter festive season.

While riding the rails between France and Italy, guests are served elegant cuisine in equally elegant dining cars.

While riding the rails of Europe, guests are served elegant cuisine in equally elegant dining cars.

Courtesy of Belmond

The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express normally only runs from March to November, but this December there will be 10 routes available, including recently launched service to and from Florence.

Where (and when) the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express will travel this December

  • Venice to Paris: December 2 and 12
  • Verona to Paris: December 2 and 12
  • Venice to Paris (via Rome and Florence): December 7
  • Florence to Paris: December 7
  • Paris to Florence: December 8
  • Paris to Venice (via Rome and Florence): December 8
  • Paris to Vienna: December 17
  • Vienna to Paris: December 18
  • Paris to Venice: December 20
  • Paris to Verona: December 20

During these overnight journeys, priced from $3,410 per person, guests will have a private sleeper cabin (ranging from more cozy “Historic Cabins” with shared bathroom facilities to six larger Grand Suites with private bathrooms) and will be served a parade of gourmet meals, afternoon tea, and classic cocktails in the decked-out dining and bar cars. For the December rides, Belmond promises winter-inspired seasonal menus that will showcase local ingredients from along the scheduled routes.

Guests can explore the unique history of each antique train car while onboard.

Guests can explore the unique history of each antique train car while onboard.

Courtesy of Belmond

The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express is made up of 17 restored train carriages that date back to the 1920s and 1930s, each with its own story to tell. And the story continues to evolve. In 2023, the train will receive eight new Suites with a private marble en suite bathroom, a new cabin category that will be available starting in June. The suites will also a feature a lounge area that can be converted into two twin beds or one double bed at night.

You can read more about what it’s like to actually ride on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express in our first-person review of the classic rail experience.

Michelle Baran is a deputy editor at AFAR where she oversees breaking news, travel intel, airline, cruise, and consumer travel news. Baran joined AFAR in August 2018 after an 11-year run as a senior editor and reporter at leading travel industry newspaper Travel Weekly.
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