London to Istanbul by Rail

Company : G Adventures
Activities: Tours / Rail passes & tours
Countries: Austria / Bulgaria / England / France / Germany / Hungary / Romania / Switzerland / Turkey / United Kingdom
Duration: 3 weeks to 4 weeks
Approx Costs: 2500 to 2500 £ Pound (UK)

Whether you’re looking for Europe’s most famous highlights or its undiscovered treasures, the answer lies aboard the trains running between London and Istanbul. 

This 25-day Rail journey allows you to check out the dramatic landscapes across Europe, as well as experiencing both medieval charm and modern cool in tiny villages and capital cities. Take in the Alpine scenery from the windows of the Glacier Express, step off to visit 'Dracula’s Castle' in Transylvania and revel in as much ancient eastern European charm as you can get. Once you’ve seen the countryside gliding by from a comfortable train, you’ll never forget it.

 

Itinerary

Day 1 London
Arrive at any time.

Days 2-3 Paris
Board the famous Eurostar train for the journey through the Chunnel to Paris. Enjoy an orientation walk and free time to visit the Eiffel Tower, dozens of museums, Luxembourg Gardens, wander the banks of the Seine or sip wine and eat cheese at a sidewalk café like a local.

Day 4 Lausanne
Take a morning TGV train to Lausanne, Switzerland. Spend the afternoon in this charming town.

Day 5 Zermatt
Board another train for the journey to Zermatt, a tiny village in the heart of the Swiss Alps. Enjoy the afternoon in the auto-free centre or hiking in the nearby mountains.

Day 6 Chur
Board the Glacier Express for a slow and stunning ride through the Alps. Pass meadows, rushing streams, bridges, villages and massive mountains as the train heads towards Chur. Arrive in the evening after a full day of soaking in the scenery.

Days 7-8 Munich
Day 7 is a full travel day to reach Munich, in the heart of Bavaria. Arrive in time for an optional evening out at a local brewery with a few steins of beer and some typical German fare. Day 8 is free to explore the city or head further afield to visit Füssen and the famous Neuschwanstein Castle.

Days 9-10 Salzburg 
Included visit to Dachau in the morning before a short train ride to Salzburg, Austria. This charming city is brimming with history and character. Known for the nearby salt mines, Mozart and the setting for The Sound of Music, Salzburg has plenty to pack into a day and a half.

Day 11 Vienna
Continue by train to Vienna. Opt to visit the famous opera house, join a city tour or visit world-class museums. Vienna's a great city to try some local specialties and enjoy a piece of strudel in a café.

Day 12 Vienna/Budapest
Enjoy a free morning before a train to Budapest, Hungary. Opt to enjoy a night out in this western city with eastern charm.

Days 13-14 Budapest
Enjoy two full days in Budapest starting with an orientation walk. Opt to visit Buda Castle, the famous thermal baths or take a bike tour of the city. In the evening on Day 14, board an overnight train to Sighisoara.

Day 15 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 16-17 Brasov
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. On day 17, enjoy a day trip to Bran castle.

Day 18 Bucharest
Travel to Bucharest, the capital. Enjoy an orientation walk and time to explore the Soviet-esque architecture, the beautiful cathedral or indulge in Bucharest's international cuisine.

Days 19-20 Veliko Tarnovo
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 20, 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 21 Sofia
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 22-23 Plovdiv
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 23 before an overnight train to Istanbul.

Day 24 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 25 Istanbul
Depart at any time.

 

What's Included

  • Eurostar ride through the Chunnel
  • Paris orientation walk
  • TGV train
  • Lausanne orientation walk
  • Zermatt stay
  • The Glacier Express train with lunch onboard
  • Dachau tour (Munich)
  • Salzburg orientation walk
  • Vienna orientation walk
  • 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
  • 20 breakfasts, 1 lunch. (Allow EUR750-950 for meals not included.)
  • Train, public bus, metro, walking.
  • Chief Experience Officer (CEO) throughout, local guides.
  • Small group experience; Max 16, avg 12
  • Hotels/pensions (22 nts), overnight train (2 nts).

 

Trip Specifics

  • Duration: 25 days
  • Price: £2677 (available to book in other currencies)
  • Code: EEIR

 

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