Tour Date: 31 August to 10/17 SeptemberLocation: Italy, France

It was easy enough to build a standard gauge railway along the wide north-south valley of Sardinia, but the towns in the hills either side of it, or the ports and fishing villages on the east and west coasts could only be reached by narrow-gauge feeder lines

Think of the Douro Valley in Portugal—though here in Sardinia the narrow-gauge lines are longer and the best sections are still open for tourist trains (and charter hire) during the summer month.

Our tour of Sardinia gives you the chance to travel over every open railway line on the island, both standard and narrow gauge, and includes the two tramway systems.

Corsica, the fourth largest island in the Mediterranean is also called “The island of beauty”; a veritable mountain in the sea and an island of strong character. Just look at the wild and rugged natural environment and the island’s tumultuous history. We start our tour in Pisa and tour the sights before travelling to Corsica and its narrow-gauge lines.

Tour Manager: Angelina  Any questions feel free to email angelina@ptg.co.uk

Availability

Tour Highlights


  • Historic cities
  • Great scenery
  • Vintage trains
  • Good hotels
  • Stunning narrow gauge railways
  • Plenty of off-train options
  • Tour Itinerary
  • Prices & Options
  • Booking
  • Gallery
  • Transport & Accommodation

Day 1 Monday 31 August

Our main group flight is at 11.50 from London Gatwick to Olbia Airport (2020 flight time TBC). There are also direct flights from Bristol and Manchester. Transfer by road in our luxury bus to Palau, a well-to-do resort with lively streets lined with surfing shops, boutiques, bars and restaurants. An overland option via Eurostar and ferry (from Genoa) is also available.

Day 2 Tuesday 1 September (B,D)

A free day to relax by the sea or to enjoy any of the various natural attractions around Palau such as La Maddalena or Capo d’Orso. Welcome dinner.

Day 3 Wednesday 2 September (B)

The coast in the vicinity of Palau is famous for its bizarre weather-beaten rocks, some of which we will see from our narrow gauge loco-hauled vintage train over the line from Palau to Tempio Pausania. Lunch by the Nuraghe Majori after which we have a guided tour of this, the most important and well-known nuraghe in Gallura. Night in Sassari at the Hotel Vittorio Emanuele located in the heart of the city.

Day 4 Thursday 3 September (B)

There are options today. Enthusiast option: Visit the Sassari workshop. Free time to ride the Sassari tram system end-to-end and after lunch travel the lines to Porto Torres Marittima and the Sassari to Sorso narrow-gauge branch. Cultural Option: Our bus and a professional guide will take us to Santissima Trinità di Sarcargia, the most important Romanesque site on the island and dating from 1116.  We return to Sassari and have a 2-hour guided city tour. Free time for lunch. Possibility to join the train group for those interested.  In the afternoon the whole group travels by rail along the branch line to Alghero, a pretty city at the seaside. We stay at Hotel Alma di Alghero for two nights.

Day 5 Friday 4 September (B)

A free day to relax by the sea or to visit Alghero old town and its natural attractions such as the Grotta di Nettuno.

Day 6 Saturday 5 September (B)

Transfer by road southwards along the spectacular coastal road to Bosa Marina, dominated by an imposing medieval castle, where we board another loco-hauled narrow-gauge train to Sindia and then by bus to Macomer, a junction with both the FS standard gauge railway and another FdS narrow gauge line to Nuoro, the largest city in the interior of the island. Our train consists of diesel loco type LDe in brown livery with a parcels coach and a beautifully restored “bauchiero” coach dating from 1913 made from varnished wood. The journey starts virtually “on the level” along the coast for a while and then twists and turns for a considerable distance to gain height, still giving splendid views of the coast. Lunch will be in a local restaurant in Macomer. Then we board a charter train train to Nuoro where our bus will take us to Arbatax, stopping to visit the Arbatax Red Rocks before going to the Hotel La Bitta for our overnight stay.

Day 7 Sunday 6 September (B,L)

Some of the old railway line from Arbatax to Mandas has unfortunately been abandoned. But during the summer months a train operates on the most spectacular section from Arbatax to Gairo (we will travel on another section tomorrow). We will have lunch at Turri and a guided tour in Giara Park, the realm of the last wild horses in Europe. We return to Arbatax for a second night at the Hotel La Bitta.

Day 8 Monday 7 September (B)

Today we are able to ride on another fine section of the Arbatax to Mandas line. The line from Gairo to Seui is abandoned (due to major rock falls and unsafe bridges) but we can still ride from Seui to the junction station at Mandas. Our tour bus takes onwards to Cagliari where overnight accommodation for the next three nights is in the 4 star Hotel Regina Margherita. Cagliari has been the capital city of Sardinia for over 2,000 years; today, it has a still-busy, working port and a large student population, grand boulevards, neo-Gothic palaces and art-nouveau cafés.

Day 9 Tuesday 8 September (B,D)

There are two railway museums in Cagliari, the FdS and FS, but the FdS (narrow gauge) museum is closed to the public due to serious damage. We therefore start today with a visit to the FS (or standard gauge) museum and afterwards ride the FS lines in the area, using service trains Cagliari – Carbonia – Villamassargia – Iglesias – Cagliari. We arrive back at Cagliari station in time to join the guided city tour. The Culture group in the morning will visit the archaeological site of Nora, 40 kilometres from Cagliari. Nora is an ancient Roman town located on a peninsula and the ruins function as an open-air museum with mosaics and the remains of the amphitheatre and several buildings. We return to Cagliari for lunch and then a guided tour of the old city with a professional local guide.

Day 10 Wednesday 9 September (B,L)

After breakfast, our bus takes us to Mandas where we board a diesel loco hauled train.  We take the old narrow-gauge line which used to stretch as far north as Sorgono. Nowadays we can only go as far as Laconi as beyond there the line is completely abandoned. We have time to enjoy lunch so we have arranged a full rural meal with the typical local dishes at Laconi. We return on our train to Mandas, take our bus to Dolianova from where we take a service train to Cagliari Montserrato then our bus to the hotel.  Enthusiasts have the option to ride the new tram system on their own.

Day 11 Thursday 10 September (B)

We take the FS service train from Cagliari to Golfo Aranci, a four hour ride from the south to the north of the island, then take the bus from Golfo Aranci to Olbia airport for the evening flight back to Gatwick. Alternatively, join us as we head up the coast to Santa Teresa di Gallura take the 17:00 ferry crossing of the Bocche di Bonifacio strait to the French island of Corsica. Crossing time is 50 minutes.

CORSICA and PISA

Day C1 Thursday 10 September (B)

Our ferry arrives in Bonifacio and we stop for a guided tour of the old town built on a promontory of white rocks. Before our coach takes us to Porto-Vecchio, where you’ll find pure white sands lapped by brilliant turquoise water. The busy beaches are the top attraction in this port town, which travellers report hasn’t yet been totally overrun by the tourist trade. Sample fresh seafood in the local restaurants. Overnight in Porto-Vecchio.

Day C2 Friday 11 September (B)

Porto-Vecchio was once the terminus station of a railway line which ran down the east coast of Corsica. Sadly it closed in 1943 due to the damage suffered in the Second World War when the retreating German army blew up eighteen bridges and destroyed the rolling stock. Before we leave we will seek out the old station building which still survives before we head up the coast, close to the route of the old railway to Bastia is the principal port of the island. Enroute we will stop to see a few other remnants of the old line. In Bastia the city centre is mainly composed of the “Citadelle”, the stronghold, also called Terra-Nova, the Genoese Governor’s Palace, the old port and its popular quarter and the market plaza. We stay in Bastia for the next 3 nights.

Day C3 Saturday 12 September  (B)

In the morning we have a guided tour of old Bastia. The afternoon is free. Overnight in Bastia.

Day C4 Sunday 13 September (B)

Today we travel by train to Calvi, so covering the upper branch of the Corsica railway. From Ponte Leccia the train goes up a dry and uninhabited valley but soon we have a view of the sea in the distance and before long we are travelling alongside the sea stopping at seaside villages. In Calvi we have a guided tour of the city, built on a promontory in a beautiful bay. We have time for a lunch break before taking our charter bus back to Bastia through the Balagna which is considered to be the most pleasant region of the island. Those who want to can of course return to Bastia by rail.

Day C5 Monday 14 September (B)

Today we travel by service train from Bastia to Ajaccio, the Corsican capital city. The train crosses the island, winding round the mountains, crossing some superb bridges and passing through magnificent forest before reaching the tropical atmosphere of the Gulf of Ajaccio, one of the most beautiful locations in Corsica. Leaving Bastia at 08.55 we arrive in Ajaccio in time for lunch and a free afternoon exploring this pretty town before we return to Bastia by rail.

Day C6 Tuesday 15 September (B)

This morning we take the ferry from Bastia, for a four hour crossing, to the Italian mainland port to Livorno. From Livorno we catch a train us the coast to the city of Pisa. Free time to relax.

Day C7 Wednesday 16 September (B)

Pisa straddles the River Arno just before it empties into the Tyrrhenian Sea. Although known worldwide for its Leaning Tower, the city of over 90,000 residents contains more than 20 other historic churches, several medieval palaces and various bridges across the River Arno. Much of the city’s architecture was financed from its history as one of the Italian maritime republics. We have a guided tour of the main sites in the morning leaving the afternoon free for your own exploration. Second night in Pisa.

Day C8 Thursday 17 September (B)

Direct flights from Pisa to Stansted, Gatwick, Luton, Heathrow, Bristol, Manchester and Edinburgh. Most of these flights are in the evening so you have plenty of time to relax and enjoy Pisa for one last time.

Place(s) available

Holiday Prices (per person)

  • Sardinia holiday from Gatwick, Bristol or Manchester: £1,950
  • Own travel to and from Sardinia: £1,750
  • Pisa and Corsica holiday from London Gatwick: £1,450
  • Own travel to Pisa and from Ajaccio: £1,250
  • Combined Sardinia, Corsica, Pisa holiday from Gatwick, Bristol or Manchester: £3,100
  • Own travel to Olbia and back from Pisa: £2,900

Options

  • Single room Supplement (Sardinia only): £370
  • Single room Supplement (Corsica/Pisa only): £250
  • Overland from St Pancras: POA

Deposit

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

Price includes

  • All travel and excursions as outlined in the itinerary
  • Good quality en-suite accommodation
  • Meals as shown in the itinerary; B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner
  • Services of our tour manager. Holiday is fully escorted

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Flights

Direct flights from Bristol, London Gatwick and Manchester with Easyjet.