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

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.)
  • Train, public bus, metro, walking.
  • Chief Experience Officer (CEO) throughout.
  • Small group experience; Max 16, avg 12
  • Hotels/pensions (10 nts), overnight train (2 nts).

Additions Available on This Tour


Day 1Budapest

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

Day 2Budapest/Sighișoara(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 3Sighișoara

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

Day 4Sighișoara/Braşov(1B)

Ride the rails to the city of Brasov, the best preserved medieval city in Romania. Use some free time to explore the baroque architecture, beautiful squares, or just get acquainted with the rhythm of Romania.

Day 5Braşov(1B)

Visit the picturesque Bran Castle and learn the history (and rumours) of this fascinating place. Stop by the village of Snagov en route.

Day 6Braşov/Bucharest(1B)

Travel to Bucharest and enjoy an orientation walk. Take time to explore the Soviet-esque architecture, the beautiful cathedral, or indulge in Bucharest's international cuisine.

Day 7Bucharest/Veliko Tŭrnovo(1B)

Continue on to 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.

Day 8Veliko Tŭrnovo

Hike to the hilltop village of Arbanasi. Soak in the views over Veliko Tarnovo. Opt to go mountain biking or view the murals at the Church of the Nativity.

Day 9Veliko Tŭrnovo/Sofia(1B)

Travel to Sofia and take an orientation walk of the capital city. Later, wander down the pedestrian street or visit the eclectic Ladies' Market.

Day 10Sofia/Plovdiv(1B)

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.

Day 11Plovdiv/Istanbul(1B)

Spend the day exploring more of Plovdiv before boarding an overnight train to Istanbul.

Day 12Istanbul

Arrive in Istanbul early and take a city tour with a local Turkish guide. Opt to visit the Blue Mosque, the Grand Bazaar, Aya Sofya, and the Topkapı Palace.

Day 13Istanbul(1B)

Depart at any time.

Find dates, prices, and more trip options.

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