Danube Express Bratislava, Slovakia

Central Europe and Transylvania Eastbound – Golden Eagle Danube Express

Sail down the beautiful rivers
Sail down the beautiful rivers

Tour Itinerary
Prague – Krakow – Bratislava – Vienna – Keszthely – Budapest – Lajosmizse – Kecskemet – Sighisoara – Brasov – Veliko Tarnovo – Kazanlak – 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.

Day 1
Arrival | Arrival

Arrival day in Prague where you will be met and transferred to the five-star Four Seasons hotel for two nights. Renowned for its unique architectural structure and enviable location, we are just steps from the Charles Bridge in the heart of Prague’s historic Old Town.

Spend the rest of the day at leisure before the welcome reception this evening, where you will meet your fellow travellers ahead of this spectacular rail journey.

Day 2
Prague | Prague, Czech Republic

Prague is one of the most beautifully preserved cities in Europe. It spans the Vltava River and is dominated by the 9th century Prague Castle, a stunning sight that can be seen almost anywhere in the city. Your tour takes in the Old Town Square with its many historic buildings and Astronomical Clock, the historic 14th century Charles Bridge and the Jewish Quarter.

After lunch you will join a vintage tram to travel through the city and Wenceslas Square, then up the hill to Prague Castle and the gothic St. Vitus Cathedral. The castle and its surrounding architectural gems occupy a hillside overlooking the city and river. Your tour includes the delightful Golden Lane and the Changing of the Guard at the castle entrance.

Day 3
Prague | Prague, Czech Republic

This morning in Prague is at leisure for you to discover the hidden treasures of this wonderful city. Stroll the medieval cobbled streets, relax in the ancient squares and admire the many architectural treasures of this ‘City of a Hundred Spires’.

This afternoon you board the Golden Eagle Danube Express to begin your discovery of Central Europe by private train as you head northwards into Germany.

Day 4
Krakow | Krakow, Poland

Once a royal capital with an extraordinary history, and now a lively university town with fashionable bars and restaurants, Krakow is a fascinating city with beautiful monuments and an exuberant atmosphere.

Highlights of the city include Wawel Hill, home to the Wawel Castle, an impressive blend of Gothic original architecture, a Renaissance Palace and Rynek Glowny, known as the Main Market Square, it is Europe's largest medieval square. You can explore the city at your leisure in the afternoon and perhaps make the trip across the River Vistula to Podgorze, site of the Jewish Ghetto in Krakow and home to the Schindler factory – much of the film 'Schindler's List" was filmed here.

On your day in Krakow we also offer a number of touring options as part of our Freedom of Choice programme outside of the city environs. Close to Krakow is Auschwitz-Birkenau, now a poignant museum which was the largest of the Nazi concentration camps during World War Two, where an estimated 1 million people perished.

Alternatively, you can choose to visit the Wieliczka Salt Mines, a unique venue full of chambers excavated and sculpted in rock salt. Descend the 360 steps in to the mines and be amazed at the devotion of the miners who carved the incredible Chapel of Salt; it has a well-deserved place on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

Day 5
Bratislava & Vienna | Bratislava, Slovakia & Vienna, Austria

You have a full day to savour the captivating Baroque elegance of romantic Vienna. Your tour of Austria’s capital city includes the impressive Vienna Opera House, the majestic Ringstrasse and the awe inspiring St Stephen’s Cathedral. This afternoon is free to stroll along the Kartnerstrasse, sample Vienna’s famous cakes in the historic coffee houses or join a tour to the Imperial Schonbrunn Palace and Gardens.

Alternatively, you can re-board the train for lunch and travel the short distance from Vienna across what was the ‘Iron Curtain’ to Bratislava, the capital city of Slovakia. Your tour includes the medieval Old Town (Starý Mesto) where you will stroll through the cobbled streets of 18th century pastel buildings and the stunning Bratislava Castle perched high above the city on a hill overlooking the Danube. Close to the castle set amongst the many hillside luxury villas is the imposing Soviet War Memorial at Slavin as you learn about the city’s strategic position situated just behind the Iron Curtain.

Day 6
Keszthely & Budapest | Keszthely & Budapest, Hungary

Today you head to Keszthely on the western shore of Lake Balaton. At Keszthely you will take a tour of the Festetics Palace, a beautiful Baroque palace built on castle ruins in 1745 and expanded 150 years later. Alternatively, take a relaxing boat cruise on the calm waters of Lake Balaton. You will re-join the train and have lunch on board as you glide towards majestic Budapest.

You then arrive late afternoon at your destination, Budapest, the romantic and historic Hungarian capital located on the banks of the magnificent Danube. There is a welcome reception in the Royal Waiting Room at Budapest Nyugati station before transferring for a two-night stay in the five-star Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace, a unique art nouveau landmark which combines historical elegance with ultra-modern comforts.

Day 7
Budapest | Budapest, Hungary

Budapest is actually two cities separated by the Danube. The old city of Buda and the imposing Royal Palace dominates the city with stunning views across the Danube to the commercial heart of Pest. Your city tour includes the Royal Palace, St. Mathias Church and a panoramic view of the city from Gellert Hill. You will also see the Citadel, the Opera House, St Stephen’s Cathedral, Heroes Square and the City Park.

Day 8
Budapest | Budapest, Hungary

Today is at leisure where you can stroll along the banks of the Danube, visit the historic Great Market Hall with its endless variety of delicious foods and wines or head to one of the city’s famous thermal baths for a rejuvenating dip. Alternatively you can relax at the hotel and indulge in the hotel’s luxurious spa with infinity-edge pool or make use of the state-of-the-art fitness centre.

You may also wish to join our fully included Freedom of Choice wine tasting tour to Eger. Situated in the northeast, the town is rich in historic monuments and famous for its wines such as Bull’s Blood. The fortress of Eger, now a protected historic monument, is the site of the István Dobó Castle Museum. The tour includes a visit to the former cellar system of the Archbishop of Eger. Here in this cellar, wines from the vineyards from around Eger were stored. You will taste some of the local wine.

One evening you will enjoy a beautiful dinner cruise along the Danube.

Day 9
Budapest & Kecskemet | Budapest & Kecskemet, Hungary

You will re-board the Golden Eagle Danube Express this morning and continue your rail adventure. You’ll stop at Lajosmizse for a spectacular ‘Puszta’ horse show which demonstrates great horsemanship.

The train will then continue to Kecskemet, and you’ll get the opportunity to explore a fascinating city at the geographical centre of Hungary. You’ll take a walking tour or you can choose a guided tour of the Zwack fruit brandy distillery, where you will get to taste some of their famous apricot brandy.

Day 10
Sighisoara & Brasov | Sighisoara & Brasov, Romania

Overnight the train crosses the Great Hungarian plain on its journey into Romania. Following breakfast you will visit Sighisoara for a walking tour of the town’s main highlights. A World Heritage site rumored to be the birthplace of Dracula, it is one of the best-preserved fortified medieval towns in Europe. Burgher houses and ornate churches line its cobbled streets.

You return to the train for lunch and continue onto Brasov for a tour of Bran Castle. Popularly known as Dracula’s Castle, this beautiful 14th century building is situated amongst stunning mountain scenery. Tonight, dinner is served as your train threads its way through the dramatic landscape of the Carpathian Mountains on its route to Bulgaria.

Day 11
Veliko Tarnovo & Kazanlak | Veliko Tarnovo & Kazanlak, Bulgaria

You arrive before breakfast in Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria’s ancient capital. Nestled in a magnificent mountain setting, the stone houses seem perched, one above the other, on the steep banks of the Yantra River. A tour includes the superbly preserved medieval Tsarevets Hill and Castle and there is free time to wander through the ancient city.

You have lunch onboard as you travel onwards to Kazanlak, situated in the Valley of the Roses, which produces rose oil prized by perfumers worldwide. Here you will visit the Shipka Memorial Church and a Thracian tomb with vaulted brickwork dating back to the 4th century BC, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Day 12
Istanbul | Istanbul, Turkey

Arrive into Istanbul where you will be met and transferred to the iconic five-star Pera Palace Hotel Jumeirah, for a two-night stay. 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 terminates on the outskirts of Istanbul rather than Serkeci station.

Day 13
Istanbul | Istanbul, Turkey

This fabled city that spans Asia and Europe deserves an extended stay, so over the next two days you will see how old meets new; east meets west when you 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 architecture.

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

You will 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 14
Departure | Departure

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

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