Castles of Transylvania by Private Train

Photo credit: David W. Allen

7 Days
From $11,195
Trip Type
Rail Journey
Group Size
Activity Level

Istanbul to Budapest Aboard the Golden Eagle Danube Express


Take a short and sweet weeklong rail journey that begins in historic Istanbul, heads north through Bulgaria and Romania’s beautiful Transylvania region, and rolls on to sophisticated Budapest. Explore alluring capital cities, walk the halls of palaces and royal castles from a range of eras and empires, discover three UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and watch the unfamiliar world of the Carpathian Mountains and the Hungarian Plain stream past your cozy private cabin.

Travels to: Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, Turkey

Photos and details: Discover what life is like aboard the Golden Eagle Danube Express.


Castles of Transylvania by Private Train Map


  • Days 1-2: Istanbul (Turkey)

    Begin in Istanbul, the former capital of two great empires and the historic meeting place of East and West. Board the Golden Eagle Danube Express for Bulgaria.


    • Fabulous Istanbul, Turkey’s bustling metropolis once known as Constantinople
    • UNESCO-listed Old Town Sultanahmet, home of the stately Topkapi Palace, the immense Hagia Sophia, and the legendary Blue Mosque
  • Day 3: Veliko Tarnovo (Bulgaria)

    Arrive in Veliko Tarnovo, inhabited since the Paleolithic Age and once capital of the 12th-century Second Bulgarian Empire. View remains of the Royal Fortress, and walk the town’s winding, cobbled streets. Watch the countryside unfold as the train lumbers north to Romania.


    • Veliko Tarnovo, where houses seemingly grow out of each other’s roofs
    • Royal Fortress ruins, preserved high atop Tsarevets Hill
  • Days 4-5: Sinaia (Romania), Brasov, Sighisoara, Sibiu

    Arrive in Sinaia, gateway to the beautiful Bugeci Mountains, and visit the summer palace of King Carol I, Peles castle. Explore the birthplace of Vlad Tepes the Impaler (Dracula) in the citadel of Sighisoara, and visit Bran Castle in Brasov, which served as Bram Stoker’s model for Dracula’s ancestral home. Stroll the Old Town Square in the Saxon town of Sibiu.


    • Peles Castle, final resting place of several Romanian monarchs
    • Bran Castle, immortalized as Dracula’s castle in Bram Stoker’s novel
    • Sighisoara, a UNESCO-listed medieval town in the heart of Transylvania
  • Days 6-7: Kecskemet (Hungary), Lajosmizse, Budapest

    Explore Kecskemet’s stunning art nouveau architecture and buildings, and enjoy a spectacular Puszta horse show in Lajosmizse. End the journey in genteel Budapest, Hungary’s Hapsburg-style capital, with its renowned Royal Palace, Matthias Church, and splendid Opera House.


    • Kecskemét, on the Great Hungarian Plain, renowned for the wonderful art nouveau buildings surrounding its central square
    • Remarkable demonstration of Hungarian horses and horsemanship in Lajosmizse
    • Budapest, UNESCO-listed capital of Hungary, with fine baroque, neoclassical, and art nouveau buildings

Dates & Prices

Minimum group size: Minimums vary – call for confirmation status

Land Tour Price, Per Person.

  • 2024 Dates
    May 10 - 16
    Oct 20 - 26
    Deluxe Class, double occupancy
    Deluxe Class, single occupancy
    Superior Deluxe Class, double occupancy
    Superior Deluxe Class, single occupancy
  • 2025 Dates
    May 30 - June 5
    Oct 19 - 25
    Deluxe Class, double occupancy
    Deluxe Class, single occupancy
    Superior Deluxe Class, double occupancy
    Superior Deluxe Class, single occupancy

What's Included

  • Tour Includes
    • Accommodation aboard the Golden Eagle Danube Express private train.
    • Hotel accommodation per the itinerary (1 night in Istanbul, 1 night in Budapest).
    • All meals starting with dinner on Day 1 until breakfast on final tour day.
    • A generous allowance of wine or local beer, soft drinks and water with all lunches and dinners.  
    • Complimentary tea, coffee and mineral water round the clock from your car attendant while on board the train.
    • Complimentary draft beer in the Bar Car for all passengers.
    • Arrival/departure transfers, provided you arrive and depart on the tour start/end dates and in the tour start/end cities.
    • All guided off-train tours per itinerary.
    • The services of an experienced Train Tour Manager, with local guides for scheduled off-train touring.
    • All gratuities.
    • Baggage handling.
  • Not Included
    • International airfare or surface transport to the point of joining/leaving the tour. MIR is able to arrange your air itinerary in economy or business class. If you wish to obtain an air quote, please contact us for details.
    • Items of a purely personal nature (laundry, telephone, bar account, photography at museums, etc).
    • Optional pre- or post-tour extensions.
    • Drinks, beyond draft beer in the Bar Car, and beer and wine at set meals.
    • Visa fees, any excess baggage charges, airport departure taxes, vaccination or medical costs.
    • Travel and trip cancellation insurance.

Activity Level

Level 2: Moderate

This rail journey by private train group tour features significant touring on foot, throughout which travelers are expected to keep up with other group members. Walking during touring days will be on a variety of surfaces, with many streets and sidewalks being uneven, and elevators generally not available during touring excursions, leading to some stair climbing. Challenges on board on board the train include long onboard distances with heavy doors, as well as steep steps and gaps to navigate while embarking and disembarking. Only those willing to accept local standards of amenities and services should consider joining this program.

Travelers must be able to walk a mile per day keeping up with other group members. Streets and sidewalks can be uneven or unexpected surfaces, and handrails are not always present. Steps, which may be required due to lack of elevators, may be steep and/or uneven, and may also lack handrails. The distance on board the train between sleeping and dining carriages may be significant, and there are many heavy doors to navigate when moving throughout the train. Getting on and off the train involves navigating steep steps, low platforms and possible gaps between the train and the platform. Navigating rail stations may also involve traveling up and over steep steps/footbridges to cross tracks, or steep steps and dark tunnels to cross under to/from the train station. Although porterage is provided where possible, you may have to carry your baggage for short distances.

General shortcomings of the tourism infrastructure may include problems with bureaucratic service, and availability and quality of public restrooms when not on board the train.


Traveler Reviews

  • "What a fabulous trip! Everything from arrival to departure was perfect. You could see the attention to detail everywhere, and the train staff and guides really went above and beyond to make the entire experience enjoyable, educating, and memorable. The train is a great way to explore this beautiful and interesting region."

    A. Stidger

    Seattle, WA

    Close close