Budapest to Istanbul by Rail

13 days,Budapest to Istanbul

Discover the rich and varied culture of Eastern Europe, visit 'Dracula's Castle' and charming Slavic villages, explore the spectacular cities of Budapest and Istanbul

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From pastoral countryside to forbidding forests and fairytale villages, get on the train from Budapest to Istanbul – definitely the road less travelled, but absolutely a worthy adventure to take. Over 13 days, you’ll explore the weathered architecture of Budapest, grand Ottoman palaces, “Dracula’s Castle” in Transylvania, and much more – all accessed via comfortable trains. With an intriguing combination of cultural colour and exploration off the train, you'll come away with a real feel for this lesser-explored corner of Europe.

What's Included

  • Budapest orientation walk. Romanian villages and countryside tour (half-day, from Sighisoara). 'Dracula's Castle' (Bran). Bucharest orientation tour. Hike to Arbanasi village. Sofia orientation walk. Istanbul city tour with local guide. All transport between destinations and to/from included activities.
  • 9 breakfasts. (Allow EUR335-440 for meals not included.)
  • Hotels/pensions (10 nts), overnight train (2 nts).
  • Train, public bus, metro, walking.
  • Chief Experience Officer (CEO) throughout.
  • Small group experience; Max 16, avg 12
Day 1 Budapest

Arrive at any time. We recommend booking pre-accommodation to fully explore this breathtaking city.

Day 2 Budapest/Overnight train (1B)

Enjoy an orientation walk of Budapest to get a feel for this westernized city with eastern charm. Opt to spend free time visiting Buda Castle, wandering the streets of Pest or soaking in a thermal bath. In the evening, board an overnight train to Sighisoara.

Day 3 Sighisoara

With a local guide, venture into the Romanian countryside to visit traditional villages. Get a true sense of life in this less-visited region.

Days 4-5 Brasov (2B)

Ride the rails to the city of Brasov, the best preserved medieval city in Romania. Explore the 'Black Church' or enjoy a coffee in one of the many cafés. Use some free time to explore this charming city's baroque architecture, beautiful squares or just get acquainted with the rhythm of Romania.

Day 6 Bucharest (1B)

Travel to Bucharest, the capital, via 'Dracula's Castle' at Bran and Snagov. Enjoy an orientation walk and time to explore the Soviet-esque architecture, the beautiful cathedral or indulge in Bucharest's international cuisine.

Days 7-8 Veliko Tarnovo (1B)

Cross the border into Bulgaria and head to one of the oldest cities in the world, Veliko Tarnovo. Wander the medieval town, visit the museums or sample your first taste of Bulgarian cuisine. Opt to visit the Tsarevets Fortress just outside the city. On Day 8, hike to Arbanasi village for views over the city. Opt to go mountain biking or view the murals at the Church of the Nativity.

Day 9 Sofia (1B)

On arrival, take an orientation walk of Sofia. Later, wander down Sofia's pedestrian street, Vitosha, or visit the eclectic Ladies' Market. A mix of western grandeur and Soviet bulk, Sofia also boasts a gold-domed church and delicious international dining.

Days 10-11 Plovdiv (2B)

Travel to Plovdiv, Bulgaria's second-largest city. Visit the hilly old town, museums or the Theatre of Ancient Philippopolis, one of the many Roman ruins found here. Continue exploring on Day 11 before an overnight train to Istanbul.

Day 12 Istanbul

Arrive early to Istanbul and take a city tour with a local Turkish guide. Options for free time include the Blue Mosque, the Grand Bazaar, Aya Sofya and the Tokapi Palace. Enjoy the last night of this adventure in the city that straddles Europe and Asia.

Day 13 Istanbul (1B)

Depart at any time.

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