PETALUMA, CALIFORNIA – As the first youth adventure travel operator to offer trips by rail, Geckos Adventures, an adventure travel company for ages 18-29, has seen a 10 percent uptick in rail trip bookings among those in North America in 2017. In response to the trips’ growing popularity, the company has more than doubled its rail itineraries for 2018 from seven to 17.
“Other youth adventure travel operators travel by coach, but here at Geckos Adventures, we actually get under the skin of a destination by traveling by train,” says Leigh Barnes, regional director of North America for Geckos Adventures. Train travel is environmentally friendly, bypasses traffic and puts guests right in the city centre. Barnes also notes that the trips appeal to millennials who want to do a Eurail trip, but would rather have the guidance of a leader and a set itinerary.
Geckos has added seven new trips to its existing 10 itineraries for 2018. Each itinerary also includes a leader-led visit to a local market to help immerse guests in the culture. The trip leader begins with language instruction and then sends travelers to buy ingredients for a picnic lunch using their new skills. Most Geckos trips include affordable accommodations in hostels or sometimes family home stays and do not include most meals, allowing travelers to spend as much or as little as they would like on food, and to reduce the overall cost of their trips.
The new 2018 itineraries include:
St. Petersburg to Budapest by Rail
This 13-day adventure takes travelers through key Russian cities, including St. Petersburg, Kiev and Moscow, discovering museums, architecture, street art, parks and gardens. The journey concludes with three days in Budapest to explore historic cafes, stroll down the Danube and meander through Hungary’s capital city.
St. Petersburg to Athens by Rail
On this 23-day excursion, travelers begin by exploring the marvels of Russia in cities like St. Petersburg and Moscow, followed by several nights in the Ukraine to discover Kiev, Rivne and Lviv, as well as the Tunnel of Love along the rail line. Next up is Budapest, the capital city of Hungary, with its museums, castles and cafes. On the way to Greece, the train will make its way through through Belgrade and Skopje, Macedonia’s capital, followed by a final five days through Greece, beginning at ancient Thessaloniki, traveling to the beach village of Nei Pori and concluding in Athens.
St. Petersburg to Rome by Rail
This epic 28-day journey also starts in the grand Russian city of St. Petersburg and then heads to Ukraine and Budapest, like the St. Petersburg to Budapest trip, but adds an additional two weeks to travel through Slovenia, Croatia and then major cities in Italy. The train trip visits the Cinque Terra region along with three days in Venice and two days to explore the historic and cultural sites of Florence. The final two days are left for the glories of Rome.
St. Petersburg to Venice by Rail
A shorter version of St. Petersburg to Rome by Rail, this train trip ends in Venice instead of continuing on to Rome, Florence and the Cinque Terra region of Italy. Highlights include Moscow, several cities in the Ukraine, Budapest, Croatia and Slovenia.
Berlin to Budapest by Rail
Discover some of Eastern Europe’s top cities on this 11-day journey by rail. Start in Berlin to see the former site of infamous Berlin Wall, take in the nightclub scene and tour several of its many museums. Then take an overnight train to Krakow to explore the Polish city and its castles, the World Heritage Site of Old Town and St. Mary’s Church. Listen to jazz in Prague before checking out Cesky Krumlov, tour a brewery in Ceske Budejovice, stroll down the Danube in Budapest and revel in art, history and music in Vienna.
Budapest to Venice by Rail
Travel from East to West on this nine-day itinerary, which takes guests from historic Budapest to world-famous Venice. Beginning in Budapest, travelers can venture through the city to enjoy its hot thermal baths to visiting the 13th-century castle district followed by a morning train to Lake Balaton, known for its underwater caves and charming villages. Next is a journey to Croatia’s capital of Zagreb for quirky museums and the iconic cathedral with another train trip to Lake Bled in Slovenia to see Bled Castle, the Julian Alps and Mount Vogel. The grand finale is Venice for two days’ exploration of its winding canals, piazzas and Italian cuisine.
Budapest to Athens by Rail
This 11-day train trip tackles Eastern Europe from north to south, visiting major cities like Budapest, Belgrade and Skopje before arriving in Greece. There are two days to explore historic Budapest with a night train to Belgrade for another two days in this Serbian city along the Danube, where guests can choose to hit the beach, have a drink on a floating bar or visit its famous bridges and museums. In Macedonia, the adventure stops in Skopje and its nearby Suva Mountains with plenty of caves to explore and nature walks to enjoy. Finally, a train takes guests into Greece to discover ancient Thessaloniki, the laidback beach town of Nei Pori and a final two days in Athens.
Budapest to Rome by Rail
Travel by train for 16 days, venturing from Eastern Europe’s Budapest into the heart of Italy and Rome. The excursion visits major Eastern European cities including Budapest, Lake Balaton and Bled before entering Italy with stops in Venice, Cinque Terre, Florence and Rome. It includes the best of the Croatian and Slovenian countryside combined with Italy’s top cities, spending a day or two in each location with time for guests to explore on their own.
Berlin to Venice by Rail
Travelers will make their way from north to south in Europe on this epic 19-day journey from Berlin to Venice by train, hitting many top European cities along the way. See the site of the former Berlin Wall and indulge in Berlin’s famous beer before an overnight trip to Krakow, Poland, to discover its World Heritage Site Old City, as well as castles and churches. There are stops in Prague and Cesky Krumlov, as well as time to discover the art, architecture and music of Vienna. Along the way, spend time in Slovenia and Croatia with a final two days to enjoy Venice’s many canals, fantastic food and historic architecture.
London to Budapest by Rail
This 20-day rail journey zig-zags across Europe from West to East and North to South through nine countries, beginning in London and concluding in Budapest. Guests will hang out in London for a day, choosing what to see and do before journeying to Paris aboard the famous high-speed Eurostar train to spend two days exploring the city. Wander through Bruges, Belgium, for two days and then head to Amsterdam and Berlin with an overnight train to Krakow, Poland. Other cities on the itinerary include Prague, Vienna and Budapest.