Budapest to Istanbul by Rail
From pastoral countryside to forbidding forests and fairytale villages, get on the train from Budapest to Istanbul definitely the road less travelled, but absolutely a worthy adventure to take. Over 13 days, you'll explore the weathered architecture of Budapest, grand Ottoman palaces, Dracula's Castle in Transylvania, and much more all accessed via comfortable trains. With an intriguing combination of cultural colour and exploration off the train, you'll come away with a real feel for this lesser-explored corner of Europe.
Train, public bus, private vehicle, metro, walking.
Hotels/pensions (11 nts), overnight train (1 nt).
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.
Discover the rich and varied culture of Eastern Europe, visit 'Dracula's Castle' and charming Slavic villages, explore the spectacular cities of Budapest and Istanbul
Day 1 Budapest
Arrive at any time. We recommend booking pre-accommodation to fully explore this breathtaking city.
Day 2 Budapest/Sibiu (1B)
Enjoy an orientation walk of Budapest to get a feel for this westernized city with eastern charm. Opt to spend free time visiting Buda Castle, wandering the streets of Pest, or soaking in a thermal bath. In the evening, board an overnight train to Sibiu.
Day 3 Sibiu/SighiÈ™oara
Arrive in the enchanting town of Sighisoara. Use your free time here to explore the cobblestone streets and medieval architecture.
Day 4 SighiÈ™oara/BraÅŸov (1B)
With a local guide, venture into the Romanian countryside to visit traditional villages. Get a true sense of life in this less-visited region. Transfer to charming BraÅŸov.
Day 5 BraÅŸov (1B)
Visit the picturesque Bran Castle and learn the history (and rumours) of this fascinating place.
Day 6 BraÅŸov/Bucharest (1B)
Travel to Bucharest and enjoy an orientation walk. Take time to explore the Soviet-esque architecture, the beautiful cathedral, or indulge in Bucharest's international cuisine.
Day 7 Bucharest/Veliko Tarnovo (1B)
Enjoy some free time to explore more of Bucharest in the morning before travelling to Bulgaria and 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.
Day 8 Veliko Tarnovo (1B)
Hike to the hilltop village of Arbanasi. Soak in the views over Veliko Tarnovo. Opt to go mountain biking or view the murals at the Church of the Nativity.
Day 9 Veliko Tarnovo/Sofia (1B)
Travel to Sofia and take an orientation walk of the capital city. Later, wander down the pedestrian street or visit the eclectic Ladies' Market.
Day 10 Sofia/Plovdiv (1B)
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.
Day 11 Plovdiv/Istanbul (1B)
Spend the day exploring more of Plovdiv before boarding an overnight bus to Istanbul.
Day 12 Istanbul
Enjoy a city tour with a local Turkish guide. Opt to visit the Blue Mosque, the Grand Bazaar, Aya Sofya, and the TopkapÄ± Palace.
Day 13 Istanbul (1B)
Depart at any time.