Istanbul to Budapest Aboard the Golden Eagle Danube Express

Take a short and sweet week-long rail journey that begins in historic Istanbul, heads north through beautiful Bulgaria and Romania’s 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, and watch the unfamiliar world of the Carpathian Mountains and the Hungarian Plain stream past your own cozy private cabin.


7 Day Trip

Overview Itinerary

MIR Signature Experiences on this Tour
  • Take in the highlights of magnificent Istanbul
    Walk the narrow streets of the Sultanahmet district, admiring the soaring Blue Mosque and grand Hagia Sophia...
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  • Explore seven-terraced Peles Castle
    Tour extravagant Peles Castle, one of Romania’s most important museums and the final resting place of several Romanian monarchs....
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  • Visit Dracula’s haunts
    Discover the Romanian origins of the Dracula story in the medieval towns of Sighisoara and Bran, whose castle embodies the Gothic image of a Transylvanian vampire castle....
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  • See the sights in Hungary’s capital, Budapest
    Budapest, built in the grand style of the Hapsburgs, has a legacy of fine baroque, neoclassical and art nouveau buildings and broad avenues....
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Why Travel with MIR on this Tour
  • Over 30 years of Central and East Europe travel experience
  • University travel programs such as Stanford and Northwestern have chosen MIR to guide them to Central and East Europe
  • Twice named one of National Geographic Adventure’s “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth”
  • On-the-ground support and quality you can trust
  • Personalized travel planning from start to finish
  • Guides and tour managers that clients rave about
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Itinerary & Highlights at a Glance

Days 1-2: Istanbul (Turkey) • Aboard Train

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 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, and Blue Mosque

Day 3: Veliko Tarnovo (Bulgaria)

Arrive in Veliko Tarnovo, capital of the 12th-century Second Bulgarian Empire. View remains of the Royal Fortress, and walk the town's winding, cobbled streets


  • Veliko Tarnovo, where houses seemingly grow out of each other's roofs
  • Royal Fortress ruins, high atop Tsarevets Hill

Days 4-5: Sinaia (Romania) • Brasov • Sighisoara • Sibiu

Explore the birthplace of Vlad Dracul in the citadel of Sighisoara, and visit Bran Castle, 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, whose Gothic stone walls, towers and secret passageways embody the popular image of a Transylvanian vampire castle
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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
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See Dates & Prices for more details or to see suggested extensions.

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Tour Dates & Prices
Trip Length: 7 Days

Land Tour Price, Per Person

  • Deluxe Class, twin share
  • Deluxe Class, single
  • Superior Deluxe Class, twin share
  • Superior Deluxe Class, single

2021 Dates

  • June 24-30
  • FROM
  • $9,995
What’s Included

 On Your Tour

  • Accommodation aboard the Golden Eagle Danube Express private train.
  • Hotel accommodations 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, including a generous, though not unlimited, allowance of wine or local beer, soft drinks and water with all lunches and dinners.
  • 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.
  • Complimentary tea, coffee, and mineral water round the clock from your car attendant while on board the train.
  • All gratuities.
  • Baggage handling.


Before Your Tour

  • Complete pre-departure information including detailed packing list, reading list, insurance information, visa kit.
  • Touring with MIR handbook with country-specific information, maps, and travel tips.
  • Assistance booking your custom flight arrangements (on request; please note that international airfare is not included in the land tour cost).
  • Final document packet including luggage tags, final updates, and more.
Download Detailed Itinerary
Prepare for Your Trip

International Airfare

MIR's in-house, full-service air department will gladly assist with your air travel needs.

More Info

Reading List

MIR recommends reading up before you leave home. So settle back in your armchair with some of our favorite books about our favorite places.

More Info


Most MIR programs require one or more visas, and each visa requires a completely blank page in your passport. Visa information for this particular tour is listed in the Detailed Descriptive Itinerary.

More Info

Travel Insurance

Stay a Little Longer…

MIR can arrange for an extended program in Istanbul before your tour or in Central Europe or the Balkans after your tour. All of MIR’s destinations are open to you, and all can be attached to this program. Please contact MIR for more details about exciting options for extended travel.

Or, choose from these suggested itineraries:

Is this Trip Right for You?

This trip is moderately active, and rated moderate to rigorous touring due to the daily walking involved and the overall shortcomings of the tourism infrastructure. To reap the full rewards of this adventure, travelers must be able to walk at least a mile a day, keeping up with fellow travelers. A full list of details about the rigors of this tour are explained in the Detailed Descriptive Itinerary.

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Golden Eagle Danube Express

The perfect combination of remote destinations and comfortable accommodations, rail journeys by private train open a world of discovery to travelers who enjoy comfort and leisure time as well as exciting new vistas.

Exclusive private trains furnish the dream of Old World rail travel with modern comforts and amenities that make the journey as pleasant as the destinations. The luxurious Golden Eagle Danube Express offers a restful and satisfying way to experience legendary rail routes.

Train & Hotel Accommodations

Relax and enjoy the panorama rolling past your private window and disembark for guided off-train touring in fascinating towns and cities along the way.

Each car on the Golden Eagle Danube Express has its own attendants who provide bed turndown service, plus tea, coffee and mineral water from the early morning hours until 9 p.m. Attendants keep an eye on everything while guests are away from the train. Towels are provided and onboard laundry service is available.

Three styles of accommodation are available on board the Golden Eagle Danube Express: Superior Deluxe Class (en suite, with UK king bed and WiFi), Deluxe Class (en suite) and Heritage Class (shared facilities).

  • Superior Deluxe Class

    Superior Deluxe Class

    The Superior Deluxe Class on the Golden Eagle Danube Express is the ultimate in luxury European rail accommodation, featuring only four modern en suite cabins per car, complete with a UK king bed and WiFi access. Designed and built for 2017, Superior Deluxe cabins include a full-length sofa and two chairs, a double wardrobe, individually controlled air conditioning, USB ports, power sockets, personal safe, and a newly designed en suite bathroom with its own shower cubicle. At night, your attendant transforms the sofa into a king size double bed. The two picture windows, one of which opens, bring light and air into your private retreat.

    Additional Information

    Superior Deluxe Class cabin dimensions – 4 cabins/carriage:

    Cabin Area (total, including bathroom) – 93 sq ft (8.6 sq m)
    Cabin length – 14′ 9″ (4.5 m)
    Cabin width – 6′ 2″ (1.9 m)
    Bed (UK standard king size) – 6′ 2″ x 5′  (1.9 m x 1.5 m)

  • Deluxe Class

    Deluxe Class

    The Deluxe Class on the Golden Eagle Danube Express features newly designed air-conditioned cabins which pair luxury with utility, offering superior accommodations that feature two lower berths and fully en suite facilities. Cabins are furnished with two daytime armchairs, a free-standing chair, a window that opens, a table, and a wardrobe with a safe. Your attendant will convert the two armchairs into comfortable twin beds for nighttime use. The en suite bathroom features a range of toiletries, a hair dryer and heated towel rack.

    Additional Information

    Deluxe Class cabin dimensions – 5 cabins/carriage:

    Cabin Area (total, including bathroom) – 83 sq ft (7.7 sq m)
    Cabin length – 13′ (3.97 m)
    Cabin width – 6′ 5″ (1.95 m)
    Bed (two singles, each) – 6′ 3″ x 2′ 7.5″  (1.9 m x 0.8 m)

  • Heritage Class

    Heritage Class

    Heritage Class cabins offer comfortable accommodation in air-conditioned cars with twin-berth compartments featuring upper/lower berths. The lower berth converts to a comfortable sofa for daytime travel. A washroom/toilet is located at each end of each sleeping car, and there is a separate purpose-built shower car in the overall train configuration.

    Additional Information

    Heritage Class cabin dimensions – 8 cabins/carriage:

    Cabin area – 43 sq ft (4 sq m)
    Cabin length – 6′ 7″ (2 m)
    Cabin width – 6′ 5″ (2 m)
    Lower bed width – 3′ 3″ (1 m)
    Lower bed length – 6′ (1.8 m)
    Upper bed width – 2′ 3″ (0.72 m)
    Upper bed length – 5′ 7″ (1.75 m)

    Beds convert to a sofa for daytime use.

  • Hotel Accommodations

    Hotel Accommodations

    Five or six nights of the tour (depending on which direction you are traveling) are spent in hotels — two or three in Beijing, one in Ulaanbaatar, one in Irkutsk and one in Moscow.

    Additional Information

    In Beijing and Moscow, Bolshoi Platinum and Bolshoi Class passengers are accommodated in upgraded rooms, with standard rooms booked for Nostalgic Comfort and Standard Class guests.

    Please note that the hotels in Ulaanbaatar and Irkutsk are moderate — basic but comfortable. Additional nights before and after the tour can be arranged on request.

Life Aboard the Train

The Golden Eagle Danube Express private train provides everything you need for a pleasurable journey. Join travelers from around the world to enjoy the relaxed and casual environment onboard, with no need to wear formal attire on excursions or while dining.

Train formations are not fixed, as the composition varies to suit the number of passengers on a given departure. The exact configuration of train on any particular journey may not be determined until close to departure.

Please note that a variety of cabins styles are in use aboard the train. Décor and layout of dining, bar and sleeping cars on your journey may differ from the sample images depicted in our brochures/websites.

  • Bar/Lounge Car

    Bar/Lounge Car

    A Bar/Lounge Car is included in the formation of the train. The lounge offers a relaxing and comfortable area where you can enjoy a drink and gather with other passengers around the piano.

    Additional Information

  • Dining Cars

    Dining Cars

    Dining Cars feature European cuisine complemented by a selection of European wines.

    Additional Information

  • Off-Train Tours

    Off-Train Tours

    Rail journeys feature an extensive selection of educational city tours in the various stops on our routes. Private coaches and local guides whisk you away from your private train for fascinating half- or full-day forays into the principal towns and cities, sometimes including an in-city dining opportunity. Read through this tour’s itinerary for more information (found on the Itinerary & Map tab of this page).