Highlights

  • Combine two spectacular rail journeys on one epic adventure
  • Experience the glamour of the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express on its classic London–Venice route
  • Swap over to the Golden Eagle Danube Express to explore nine countries in just eight days
  • Discover some of Europe’s city greats in the company of expert guides
  • Enjoy luxury hotel stays in Venice and Istanbul

Spoil yourself

  • Upgrade to a Grand Suite aboard the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express

With space on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express’ classic London to Istanbul departure at a premium, this alternative itinerary traces a different route east. After a sprint across Kent aboard the Belmond British Pullman and a hop across the channel, you’ll board those famous blue-and-gold coaches for an unforgettable overnight journey, sweeping across the Alps and Dolomites in unmatched style to reach Venice. Here, a stay at the ultra-luxurious Hotel Danieli and an included private walking tour will introduce you to the very best of Italy’s floating marvel. You’ll then join the Golden Eagle Danube Express for an incredible adventure spanning no fewer than nine countries, taking the delights of the Balkans en route to Istanbul and your journey's end. This itinerary showcases two of the world’s greatest trains, so expect the very best in refined service and wine-matched dining throughout. 


Day 1

Depart London Victoria

As with all of our luxury holidays, you’ll begin your trip in style with an included chauffeur transfer from your home to Victoria Station in the heart of London. After a welcome reception, you’ll board the Belmond British Pullman for the first leg of your luxury rail odyssey. It all begins with a scenic dash across the Kent countryside, accompanied by a delicious three-course lunch and a Bellini cocktail. Then, after crossing the Channel to Calais, you’ll board the Venice Simplon-Orient–Express, settling first into your private cabin or Grand Suite, and then one of the train’s three elegant dining cars, as you race towards Paris. Dinner itself is a formal affair – three courses of gourmet food inspired by seasonal ingredients sourced, from along the train’s route. As such, you can expect the likes of Brittany lobster and salt marsh lamb from Mont Saint Michel. After dinner, perhaps round the evening off in the bar car with a nightcap, accompanied by the twinkling ivories of the train’s resident pianist, before retiring to your cabin, now converted into a cosy bedroom.

Lunch & Dinner included

Spoil yourself: Upgrade to a Grand Suite

The Belmond British Pullman

The Belmond British Pullman

Belmond British Pullman

The Belmond British Pullman

Venice Simplon-Orient-Express

Departing aboard the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express


Day 2

The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express

You’ll wake this morning to a Continental breakfast served in the privacy of your cabin, affording you time to relax as the epic landscapes of the Alps and Italian Dolomites rush past. You’ll then return to the bar car for lunch as you head through northern Italy, calling briefly into Verona before arriving safely into Venezia Santa Lucia Station in the heart of historic Venice. Waving a fond farewell to your steward, and the gleaming coaches of the Wagons-Lits, you’ll take a private water-taxi transfer to the Hotel Danieli – a collection of three converted palaces dating from the 14th, 17th and 19th centuries, overlooking the azure waters of the Venetian Lagoon. The rest of the day is free to relax and explore, so perhaps head out to take in some of the sights at your own pace, or take the chance to unwind in your room or suite before perhaps heading down to dinner at the acclaimed Terrazza Restaurant.

Breakfast & Lunch included

Venice Simplon-Orient-Express

Breakfast in your cabin – the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express

Venice Simplon-Orient-Express

Crossing the Alps aboard the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express


Day 3

Venice: Italy's floating marvel

Today’s highlight is a walking tour of the city in the company of an expert local guide. Helping you unmask the city’s myriad complexities, you’ll be brought along winding lanes to discover hidden treasures and world-famous sights alike, from the legendary Doge’s Palace to St Mark’s Square and Basilica and the historic Rialto Market. In the afternoon, take the chance to explore further, maybe joining a cruise out to the lagoon island of Murano, which has, since the 13th century, made the same exquisite glass that can found on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express today. Or, you might choose to enjoy a Bellini cocktail at the Metropole Hotel – a favourite of Ernest Hemingway. And, what trip to this floating city would be complete without a gondola punt through the winding waterways of this floating city.

Breakfast included

Hotel Danieli

Outside the Hotel Danieli, Venice

Hotel Danieli, Venice

A grand entrance at Hotel Danieli

Venice, Italy

The Venetian Lagoon


Day 4

Golden Eagle to Trieste

Transfer by water taxi back to Venezia Santa Lucia Station to begin the last epic leg of your rail journey across Europe. And what a leg it is, spanning nine countries in eight unforgettable days aboard the luxurious Golden Eagle Danube Express. Having settled into your cabin, you’ll depart mid-morning, slipping across the three-mile causeway that spans the Venetian Lagoon before heading east to Trieste – a harbour city on Italy’s sun-kissed Adriatic coast. Here, on an expert-led afternoon tour, you’ll visit the main square – the Piazza Unita d’Italia – and take a hilltop stroll to explore the church of San Giusto. Part of a 13th-century complex, its striking Byzantine-era façade hides several precious mosaics within. Rejoin the train this evening, settling down to the first of you included dinners – a fine-dining feat complemented by a superb wine list.

Stay: Golden Eagle Danube Express

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner included

Golden Eagle Danube Express

A fanfare farewell aboard the Golden Eagle Danube Express

Bar Lounge Car, Golden Eagle Danube Express

Bar Car, Golden Eagle Danube Express

Trieste, Italy

Trieste, Italy


Day 5

Ljubljana & Zagreb

Wake this morning to enjoy a delicious buffet or cooked breakfast in one of the train’s elegant restaurant cars as you arrive into Ljubljana – Slovenia’s elegant and leafy capital. A morning tour will introduce you to some of the city’s standout sights, including Preseren Square at the heart of the pedestrianised old town and the 19th-century Triple Bridge, which spans the Ljubljanica River, connecting the historic and modern parts of the city. You’ll also have time to delve into the Central Market, whose sweeping, Renaissance-style arcades were designed in the early 1940s by acclaimed Slovenian architect, Joze Plecnik.

Return to the train for lunch as you travel on to Croatia’s capital, Zagreb, where a further guided tour will bring you right in among the city’s 900-year history. It’s all brought to life by your expert guide, as you wander amid winding cobblestone lanes framed by sky-piercing church spires and grand neo-baroque and art deco treasures.

Stay: Golden Eagle Danube Express

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner included

Ljubljana, Slovenia

Ljubljana, Slovenia

Art pavilion and fountain in Zagreb, Croatia

Zagreb, Croatia


Day 6

Sarajevo & Mostar

Arrive early into Bosnia’s capital – an intriguing blend of eastern and western cultures, showcased in everything from mosques and minarets to an atmospheric Turkish quarter and an ancient and bustling bazaar. Your tour takes in the city’s highlights while detailing the horrors of the Balkan War, when Sarajevo endured the longest siege of a capital in the history of modern warfare. Passing bullet-scarred buildings, and visiting the fascinating Tunnel Museum under the city airport, it’s made all the more poignant by the touching accounts of your expert local guide, who lived through the conflict.

After a light lunch in the city, you’ll return to the train for a short but scenic journey to Mostar, a crossroads of culture and religion, which was one of the most important cities of the Ottoman Empire. Take the chance to explore its handicraft stalls and thronging bazaar, visit the Turkish House and city mosque, and pause for photos at the city’s famous stone bridge, which links the Christian and Muslim quarters. 

Stay: Golden Eagle Danube Express

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner included

Old Bridge, Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina

The Old Bridge in Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina


Day 7

Dubrovnik

Spend today in Dubrovnik on Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast. Known as the pearl of the Adriatic, this city dazzles with medieval beauty and brilliant blue seas. Your tour takes you through the imposing Ploce Gate to explore the ancient monasteries and palaces hidden inside the city walls. You’ll stop for lunch at a restaurant overlooking the sea, before enjoying some free time to take it all in at your own pace. It’s then back to the train in Mostar for dinner as you set off towards Serbia.

Stay: Golden Eagle Danube Express

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner included

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Old City, Dubrovnik, Croatia

Dubrovnik, Croatia


Day 8

Belgrade

Arrive into the Serbia’s gritty capital, at the confluence of the Danube and Sava rivers. This is one of Europe’s most happening cities. A striking contrast of art nouveau and Habsburg-era architecture set against a backdrop of 20th-century socialist tower blocks, its collection of neighbourhoods exude cool confidence while at the same time remembering its communist-era Yugoslavian past. Today’s tour takes in the city’s historical treasures, from Celtic fortifications to medieval tombs and Turkish baths. Highlights include the impressive Varos gate, the Kalemegdan Fortress, the Republic Square and the ‘House of Flowers’ – the mausoleum of former ruler and communist revolutionary, Josip Tito.

Stay: Golden Eagle Danube Express

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner included

Church of Saint Sava, Belgrade

Church of Saint Sava, Belgrade

Serbia, Belgrade

Serbia, Belgrade


Day 9

Skopje & Thessaloniki

Ottoman influences abound in Skopje, Macedonia’s off-the-beaten-track capital. Here, you’ll have the chance to take in its pretty old town, dotted with markets and mosques and home to the city’s main bazaar. Cross the 15th-century bridge, which connects the city’s historic and modern districts, before returning to the train for lunch and the journey to Thessaloniki in neighbouring Greece. This is a chance to experience something completely different to the previous days, as you soak up the evening atmosphere with an al-fresco seafood dinner overlooking the azure waters of the Mediterranean Sea.

Stay: Golden Eagle Danube Express

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner included

Skopje, Macedonia

Skopje, Macedonia

Thessaloniki, Greece

Thessaloniki, Greece


Day 10

Sofia & Plovdiv

With everything from Roman ruins and Red Army monuments to Ottoman mosques and onion-domed churches, Bulgaria’s laid-back capital is a joy to explore. In the company of an expert guide, you’ll take in sections of the Roman wall, visit the ancient church of St George and stop to take in the gilded dome of Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. It’s then back to the train for lunch and the short hop to Plovdiv – a city host to some 200 archaeological sites. You’ll spend a memorable afternoon dipping in and out of Roman amphitheatres and ancient Ottoman baths before dinner and the final leg of your journey, overnight to Istanbul.

Stay: Golden Eagle Danube Express

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner included

The Alexander Nevsky Cathedra, Sofia, Bulgaria

The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Sofia

Sofia, Bulgaria

Sofia, Bulgaria

Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Plovdiv, Bulgaria


Day 11

Arrive into Istanbul

Arriving on the shores of the Bosphorus, you’ll depart the train and transfer to your luxury Istanbul hotel – the grand dame Pera Palace. You’ll then have a full day to explore, with a guided tour that will introduce you to the city’s rich blend of cultures showcased in such famous landmarks as the Blue Mosque – an Ottoman-era masterpiece – and the 6th-century Hagia Sofia, which was once one of the largest basilicas in the Christian world. Following the Ottoman invasion, it was converted to a mosque before becoming one of the world’s most magnificent museums, known especially for its collection of fine Byzantine mosaics.

Breakfast included

Blue Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey

Blue Mosque, Istanbul

Lobby at Pera Palace, istanbul

Lobby at Pera Palace, istanbul


Day 12

Depart for UK

After a final breakfast, you’ll transfer to the airport for your flight home, where a waiting chauffeur driver will see you safely to your door.

Breakfast included


"If you miss out on a the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express' annual journey to istanbul – an icon of luxury rail travel that sells out months in advance – this is the ideal alternative. Tracing almost the same route, our 12-day trip still includes a night on the legendary train as you join its classic overnight route to Venice, where you'll break the journey with a stay at the prestigious hotel Danieli – one of my favourite Venice hotels. I've even thrown in a walking tour of the city, the perfect way to showcase the city's myriad attractions. You'll then swap onto the Golden Eagle Danube Express – another luxury rail icon – for an eight-day, nine-country dash to Istanbul and a stay at the famous Pera Palace Hotel. Simply stunning."

Andy Austen

Destination Specialist

Guide price from £19,500 pp incl. flights

Year Round from: £19,500 pp

Includes

  • Complimentary UK return chauffeur transfers
  • Welcome refreshments by British Pullman on the departure platform at London Victoria Station
  • London to Folkestone on the British Pullman including three course gourmet brunch accompanied by an iconic Bellini cocktail
  • Calais to Venice on the Venice Simplon-Orient Express including selected meals prepared by onboard chefs
  • Transfers throughout
  • 2 nights accommodation in 5*Danielli Hotel in Venice on a B&B basis
  • Venice to Istanbul on the Golden Eagle Danube Express (7 nights overnight train accommodation) Deluxe Class
  • Golden Eagle Danube Express tour managers
  • Welcome Dinner
  • Route Guide, Itinerary and Information Pack
  • Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner as part of the Golden Eagle Danube Express journey
  • All departures feature one or two uniquely designed restaurant cars where you can enjoy the excellent waiter-served food and wine. Several times during the tour we will also sample authentic local cuisine off the train
  • 1 night accommodation in 5* Pera Palace Hotel in Istanbul on a B&B basis
  • Flight between Istanbul and the UK






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