Belgrade, Serbia Danube Express

Balkan Explorer Eastbound – Golden Eagle Danube Express

Sail down the beautiful rivers
Sail down the beautiful rivers

Tour Itinerary
Venice – Trieste – Ljubljana – Zagreb – Sarajevo – Mostar – Dubrovnik – Belgrade – Skopje – Thessaloniki – Sofia – Plovdiv – Istanbul  

The Danube Express offers several itineraries for 2016.  Sightseeing is included in all stops along the route and will be with other passengers on board the train. Enjoy the beautiful European scenery from the comfort of your deluxe cabin, all with individually controlled air conditioning and private bathrooms.

We would also be happy to customize a pre and post train journey program for you in the origination and terminations cities and can include hotels and as much sightseeing as you wish.

Download Itinerary PDF Here.

Day 1
Arrival | Arrival

Arrival day in Venice where you will be met and transferred to the five-star Westin Europa and Regina hotel for a two-night stay. The hotel enjoys a spectacular location beside the Grand Canal and is only a short stroll from St Mark’s Square.

Today is at leisure for all guests to explore this wonderful city. This evening you will enjoy a welcome reception dinner at a local restaurant, giving you the opportunity to meet your fellow travellers.

Day 2
Venice | Venice, Italy

Venice is a truly captivating city of romance, its unrivalled beauty takes away the breath of first time visitors and regulars alike. Today you will have the opportunity to take a walking tour around the highlights of this spectacular city. Walk through the winding lanes beside the Grand Canal to St Mark’s Square, which for 1,000 years was the heart of Venetian life. You will also see St Mark’s Basilica and stroll through the Rialto Market.

For a truly iconic experience, take a gondola ride in the Basin of St. Mark’s and along the Grand Canal followed by a short stroll through the artists’ district of Dorsoduro, where you will stop to take in the city’s most breath-taking views from the Academia Bridge, before returning to your hotel. Alternatively, spend the day exploring this magnificent city at your leisure.

Day 3
Trieste | Trieste, Italy

This morning you transfer from the hotel, by boat, directly to Santa Lucia station on the Grand Canal. Here your private train, the Golden Eagle Danube Express, is ready to receive us. Mid-morning the train will thread its way out of Santa Lucia station onto the 3-mile causeway over the Venice Lagoon and on to your first stop at the Italian port city of Trieste, for an afternoon tour.

You stop at the vast Piazza Unita d’Italia, the main town square, and can climb the hill to the famous Church of San Giusto built around a medieval complex that dates back to the 13th century. You will go inside the church for a close-up view of the splendid Byzantine-style architecture enriched with precious mosaics.

We also offer a Freedom of Choice option to visit the Museum of the Risiera di San Sabba. This former rice-husking facility became the site of the only extermination camp in Italy.

Day 4
Ljubljana & Zagreb | Ljubljana, Slovenia & Zagreb, Croatia

Ljubljana is a delightful city, a combination of ancient architecture and a youthful culture. Your morning city tour includes visits to Preseren Square, Three Bridges, Dragon Bridge and Plecnik Market. You enjoy lunch back onboard as the train travels onward towards Croatia’s elegant capital Zagreb.

This afternoon you will tour Zagreb, a central European city with over 900 years of documented history. You will take a walking tour of the upper town and ‘Kapitol’ (the ancient town centre), which abounds in Baroque atmosphere and cultural monuments. You will also see the ornate buildings of the lower town and its wide boulevards.

Day 5
Sarajevo & Mostar | Sarajevo & Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina

Early morning arrival into the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo which is an intriguing blend of Eastern and Western culture; it has mosques and minarets, an ancient bazaar and an atmospheric old Turkish quarter.

Discover the city’s poignant history through a truly absorbing tour detailing the horrors of the Balkan War. Sarajevo suffered from the longest siege of a capital city in the history of modern warfare. The scars of war are still evident as you travel past war-torn buildings and you make a special visit to the Tunnel Museum under Sarajevo Airport. Your guide, who lived through the 1992-1996 conflict, brings to life in touching fashion the struggles the citizens of Sarajevo faced during the siege of the city.

This afternoon you tour the historic city of Mostar, the crossroads of many civilizations, cultures and three religions. Mostar was one of the most important cities of the Ottoman Empire. The town’s renowned stone arch bridge linking the Christian and Muslim areas was re-built in the summer of 2004. You also visit Turkish House and the mosque before walking through the narrow, bazaar streets, where you can shop for traditional souvenirs and handicrafts.

Day 6
Dubrovnik | Dubrovnik, Croatia

After breakfast you leave your train for a scenic drive along the Dalmatian Coast to Dubrovnik. Since its foundation in the 13th century Dubrovnik has been attacked many times but it is now restored as one of the great cities of the Mediterranean, essentially unchanged for 700 years.

You will tour the city travelling through Ploce Gate to visit the Franciscan Monastery with one of the world’s oldest pharmacies, the Old Harbour, St Laurence Fortress and the Rector’s Palace. You have lunch overlooking the Adriatic and have free time to wander the narrow streets. Late afternoon you head back to the train for dinner as you depart towards Serbia.

Day 7
Belgrade | Belgrade, Serbia

Arrive this morning in the Serbian capital, Belgrade, the former Yugoslavian capital. Located at the strategic meeting point of the Danube and Sava Rivers, this truly cosmopolitan city has fortifications from Celtic times, medieval tombs and Turkish baths. You spend a full day here and your city tour includes the ‘House of Flowers’ – the mausoleum of Josip Tito, the Town Hall, Republic Square and Knez Mihajlova Street, as well as ‘Varos’ Gate and a visit to the mighty Kalemegdan Fortress.

Day 8
Skopje & Thessaloniki | Skopje, Macedonia & Thessaloniki, Greece

This morning you arrive in the little-visited Skopje and discover a city where the Ottoman influences are still strong. Explore the narrow streets of the Old Town with tiny shops and mosques with ceramic-tiled interiors. Meander through the Old Bazaar area, brimming with things to buy, and cross the 15th century Stone Bridge which links the bazaar to the modern town.

You return to the train for lunch onboard and continue through the afternoon crossing into Greece for an early evening arrival into Thessaloniki. You soak up the evening atmosphere of this vibrant city by heading to Aristotelous Square, and will enjoy an al-fresco Mediterranean seafood dinner.

Day 9
Sofia & Plovdiv | Sofia & Plovdiv, Bulgaria

The site of Bulgaria’s modern capital, at the foot of Mt Vitosha, was first occupied by the Thracian tribe of Serdi. On your morning tour you will spot sections of Roman wall, admire the ancient church of St George, the golden domed Alexander Nevsky Cathedral and the Turkish Bashi Mosque.

You enjoy lunch on the train as you travel from Sofia to Plovdiv. The second largest city in Bulgaria after Sofia, ‘The City of Seven Hills’ is one of the oldest cities in Europe with more than 200 known archaeological sites. You spend the afternoon here exploring the many sights in the charming Old Town including its ancient theatres, medieval walls and Ottoman baths.

Day 10
Istanbul | Istanbul, Turkey

This morning you arrive into Istanbul where you stay two nights at the iconic five-star Pera Palace Hotel Jumeirah. The hotel was built in 1892 to cater for guests taking the Orient Express and it was here that Agatha Christie wrote her famous book ‘Murder on the Orient Express’. A fitting Grand Hotel to end your tour.

Note: Continuing engineering works associated with the new Bosphorus tunnel could mean that the train stops on the outskirts of Istanbul and your bus will transport you to the city centre.

This fabled city that spans Asia and Europe is your final stop on your tour so there is ample time to see how old meets new; east meets west when we visit Istanbul’s must-see historic sites. One of the most famous monuments in both the Turkish and Islamic worlds, the Sultan Ahmet Mosque (the Blue Mosque) is a superb creation in the classical Ottoman style and features six towering minarets and 260 windows illuminating its vast main chamber, which is decorated with more than 20,000 Iznik tiles.

Now a museum, Hagia Sophia was built in the 6th century by the Emperor Justinian, and was one of the largest basilicas in the Christian world. After the Ottoman conquest, it was converted to a mosque and is today one of the most magnificent museums in the world. Take a moment to linger here to admire the fine Byzantine mosaics.

This afternoon is at leisure for all guests to explore this wonderful city, or relax in the luxurious hotel and spa.

Day 11
Istanbul | Istanbul, Turkey

Today you visit the crown jewel of the Ottoman Empire, Topkapi. This stunning palace is the largest and oldest in the world and was the primary residence of the Ottoman Sultans from 1465 to 1853. With its treasury and exotic buildings overlooking the Golden Horn, your visit to Topkapi promises to be a truly fascinating experience.

You also visit the Grand Bazaar which is one of the world’s largest covered markets, with 58 streets and over 4,000 shops. In operation since the 14th century the bazaar is especially known for its jewellery, leather, pottery, spices and carpets. The Egyptian Market or Spice Bazaar will also be visited on the Golden Horn.

Day 12
Departure | Departure

Following breakfast you will be transferred to the airport for your onward departure.

There is also an option to extend your stay in Istanbul for additional nights to explore more of this fascinating city.

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