Tehran to Budapest Aboard the Golden Eagle Danube Express

This remarkable five-country adventure begins in Iran’s dynamic capital, Tehran, and continues through the sacred city of Mashad, the gardens of Mahan, beautiful Kerman and the fascinating ruins of Persepolis.  Cross into Turkey to admire the Fairy Chimneys of Cappadocia and spend time in fabulous Istanbul.  Pause at a Bulgarian fortress and a Transylvania castle, experiencing nine UNESCO Sites before ending in sophisticated Budapest.

Eastbound Budapest to Tehran departures are also available.

Please note

This itinerary is currently only available as a custom or independent program.  For a rail journey by private through this region, see Jewels of Persia & The Silk Route by Private Train.

Day Trip

Overview Itinerary

MIR Signature Experiences on this Tour
  • Survey the complex Persian architecture of beautiful Isfahan
    Survey the complex Persian architecture of Isfahan’s gracefully proportioned UNESCO-listed Imam Square, decorated with cobalt, turquoise and lapis lazuli mosaic tiles....
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  • Explore Persepolis, ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid kings
    Awaken to ancient history as you stand in the shadow of the colossal marble pillars of Persepolis, ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid kings and a celebrated...
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  • 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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  • Interview the vampire
    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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Why Travel with MIR on this Tour
  • Over 25 years of Central Asia travel experience
  • Travel programs such as Vassar, Dartmouth and the Harvard Museum of Natural History have chosen MIR to guide them to Central Asia
  • Twice named one of National Geographic Adventure’s “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth”
  • Featured in the Financial Times
  • Featured in the Huffington Post as a top adventure travel trip of the year
  • 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: Tehran (Iran)

The tour starts with a day of discovery in Iran's capital, including the UNESCO site of Golestan Palace, encompassing several palatial buildings around a cool green garden, before boarding the Golden Eagle Danube Express.


  • Crown Jewels at the Central Bank
  • Golestan Palace, with its Marble Throne, created from 65 pieces of yellow Yazd marble

Days 3-4: Mashad, Kerman, Mahan (Iran)

Arrive in Mashad with a whole day to explore the home of the Imam Reza Holy Shrine, the Nader Shah Museum, and the Tomb of Ferdowsi, the father of the Persian language, who lived over 1,000 years ago. Continue to Kerman and Mahan to visit the UNESCO-listed Prince Garden.


  • Iman Reza Shrine, one of the holiest Shi’ite sites in Iran
  • Mausoleum of the poet, Ferdowsi, author of the influential epic, Shahnameh
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Days 5-6: Shiraz, Persepolis, Isfahan (Iran)

Tour the fabled city of Shiraz before exploring the nearby ruins of Persepolis, a UNESCO-listed wonder of the ancient world built by Darius I. In elegant Isfahan, wander UNESCO-listed Imam Square, the graceful ensemble built by Shah Abbas the Great in the early 17th century.


  • Vakil Citadel, massive medieval stronghold of stone and baked clay
  • UNESCO-listed Persepolis, one of the most important sites of the ancient world
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Day 7: Zanjan (Iran)

Visit Zanjan near the Iranian border to tour the 14th century UNESCO-listed mausoleum at Soltaniyeh, covered in turquoise faience.


  • 14th Century Soltaniyeh Mausoleum, constructed by a Mongol sultan

Day 8: Van, Akhtamar Island (Turkey)

Cross into Turkey and arrive in the city of Van, originally the capital of the 9th century BC Urartu Empire. Take a boat over to little Akhtamar Island, discover the 10th century Church of the Holy Cross, perched above the beach. Cross to the other side of beautiful blue Lake Van on a train ferry.


  • Van, originally the capital of the ancient Urartu Empire in the 9th century BC
  • Boat across Lake Van to Akhtamar Island with little Holy Cross Church

Day 9: Cappadocia (Turkey)

In the midst of the otherworldly landscape of Cappadocia, UNESCO-listed Goreme National Park claims some of the region's finest and strangest rock formations. Admire the fairy chimneys and ancient frescoed cave churches, decorated with Byzantine frescoes.


  • Fairy chimneys and cave churches of Cappadocia

Days 10-11: Istanbul (Turkey)

In magnificent Istanbul, admire the Golden Horn, Topkapi Palace and the Basilica of Hagia Sophia. Visit the Blue Mosque, and cruise the Bosphorus to appreciate the beauty of Istanbul from the water. Spend a night in a top tier hotel as the train is re-positioned for the next stage of the journey.


  • Fabulous Istanbul, Turkey’s capital and UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Topkapi Palace, the Great Palace of the Ottoman Sultans
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Day 12: Kazanluk, Veliko Tarnovo (Bulgaria)

Cross the Bulgarian border and visit Kazanluk in the heart of the Valley of the Roses, where Bulgarian rose oil is prized by perfumers worldwide. Continue on to Bulgaria’s ancient capital to tour the World Heritage Site of Veliko Tarnovo.


  • Kazanluk, center of Bulgaria’s rose oil industry, in the fragrant Valley of Roses
  • 4th century Thracian tomb, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
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Day 13: Brasov, Sighisoara (Romania)

Crest the Carpathians to explore Brasov's forbidding Bran Castle (sometimes called "Dracula's Castle"). Then stroll through the lovely medieval city of UNESCO-listed Sighisoara.


  • Bran Castle, whose gothic stone walls, towers and secret passageways embody the popular image of a Transylvanian vampire castle
  • Medieval Sighisoara, a UNESCO Word Heritage Site

Days 14-15: Kecskemét, Budapest (Hungary)

Head north onto the Great Hungarian Plain and make a stop in Art Nouveau Kecskemét before experiencing an exiciting demonstration of Hungarian horsemanship on the grassy puszta. The tour comes to an end with a farewell dinner in beautiful Budapest.


  • Exhilarating Hungarian horse show on the grassy puszta
  • Sophisticated Budapest, with its legacy of baroque and neoclassical architecture

See Dates & Prices for more details or to see suggested extensions.

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Tour Dates & Prices

There are no departures available at this time.

Please contact us for more information and a MIR Destination Specialist will contact you shortly. Thank you!

Please note

This itinerary is currently only available as a custom or independent program.  For a rail journey by private through this region, see Jewels of Persia & The Silk Route by Private Train.

Group Size

This itinerary is available on a custom, private basis. Contact us for more information.

What’s Included

On Your Tour

  • 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.
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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 the Balkans, Caucasus, or Central Asia before or 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 one of these suggested itineraries:

Is this Trip Right for You?

This trip is moderately active, and rated moderate to rigorous touring due to the daily walk- ing 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. Flexibility, a sense of humor and a willingness to accept local standards of amenities and services are essential components to the enjoyment of this trip. A full list of details about the rigors of this tour are explained in the Detailed Descriptive Itinerary.


About Travel to Iran

If you have any questions about traveling to Iran, feel free to contact MIR or speak with one of our Iran travel experts at 800-424-7289.

We invite you to read through our Frequently Asked Questions about traveling to Iran, gathered from our more than 15 years of travel experience.

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Golden Eagle Danube Express

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 24 hours a day. 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: Deluxe Class (en suite), Heritage Class (shared facilities) and Heritage Saloon Class (mixed use).

  • 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

    The Heritage Class features comfortable air-conditioned seating by day, transformed while you dine into upper and lower berths ready for nighttime use. A washbasin is included in the cabin, and large windows make sightseeing pleasant. Toilet and shower facilities are provided at the end of each car.

    Additional Information

    Heritage Class cabin dimensions – 8 cabins/carriage:

    Cabin area – 33 sq ft (3.1 sq m)
    Upper bed – 5′ 10″ x 2′ 5″ (1.8 m x 0.74 m)
    Lower bed – 6′ 5″ x 2′ 5.5″ (2 m x 0.75 m)

  • Heritage Saloon Class

    Heritage Saloon Class

    Heritage Saloon Class is a specially configured car with one double en suite cabin, four singles with washbasins and a conference room. Toilet and shower facilities are shared with fewer travelers than in Heritage Class. While there is no air-conditioning, travel weather is expected to be cool.

    Additional Information

    Heritage Saloon Class cabin dimensions – 1 Saloon Double cabin and 4 Saloon Single cabins/carriage:

    Heritage Saloon Double cabin:

    Cabin area – 110 sq ft (10.2 sq m)
    Double bed – 6′ 2″ x 4′ (1.9 m x 1.2 m)

    Heritage Saloon Single cabin:

    Cabin area – 40 sq ft (3.7 sq m)
    Choice of upper or lower single bed in bunk bed style – 6′ 2″ x 2′ 5.5″ (1.9 m x 0.75 m)

  • Hotel Accommodations

    Hotel Accommodations

    The first and last nights of most tours are spent in well-appointed four and five star hotels. Some tours feature additional hotel nights. Please review the detailed itinerary for specifics pertaining to each tour and departure. Additional nights before and after any tour can be arranged on request.

Life Aboard the Train
Golden Eagle Danube Express

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. Decor 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).