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Short description

A once-in-a-lifetime 15-day luxury rail journey from Budapest to Tehran

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In Brief

  • 1 Night Budapest
  • 3 Nights aboard the Danube Express
  • 2 Nights Istanbul
  • 7 Nights aboard the Danube Express
  • 1 Night Tehran (or v.v)


Recommended for:
Activity adventure | City | Escorted tour | History & culture | Rail journey | Summer

This 15-day journey aboard the luxurious Danube Express, travels through a plethora of exciting cities, stunning landscapes and fascinating historical landmarks, while guests enjoy the luxury, style and service of one of the world's most luxurious trains. You'll also enjoy five-star accommodation in Budapest and Tehran at either end of your holiday.

Day by day itinerary

Day 1

Arrive in Budapest, Hungary's vibrant and historic capital city. You'll be met at the airport and transferred to your city centre hotel where you'll have time to relax before meeting the rest of your fellow passengers for a reception dinner and the chance to discuss the exiting journey ahead.

Stay: Hilton Budapest (or similar)

Dinner included

Day 2
Budapest & Kecskemet

After breakfast at your hotel you'll transfer to Budapest Nyugati station for a drinks reception in the impressive Royal Waiting Room before boarding the Danube Express for the start of your journey to Tehran.

Settle into your luxurious private cabin before enjoying lunch in the train's restaurant car as you travel, steam hauled, for the first 100 kilometres to the town of Lajosmizse where you'll witness a spectacular 'Puszta' horse show. After the show you'll have some time to explore the fascinating city of Kecskemet, located in the very heart of Hungary. Rejoin the train for a pre-dinner drink in the lounge car, enjoying the vast landscapes of the Great Hungarian Plain from the window. Dinner will be served as you continue your journey towards Transylvania.

Stay: Danube Express

Breakfast, lunch & dinner included

Day 3
Sighisoara & Brasov

This morning you'll enjoy a walking tour in the UNESCO World Heritage-listed town of Sighisoara, one of the best-preserved medieval towns in Europe and rumoured to be the birthplace of Dracula. Discover ornate churches and traditional Burgher houses lining the town's pretty cobblestone streets before rejoining the train for lunch. Head further into Transylvania's spectacular countryside to the town of Brasov and the spectacular 14th century Bran Castle -also known as Dracula's castle - where you'll enjoy a guided tour.

Your journey continues this evening as you make your way over the dramatic Carpathian Mountains and onto Bulgaria. Dinner will be served on board.

Stay: Danube Express

Breakfast, lunch & dinner included

Day 4
Veliko Turnovo & Kazanlak

Enjoy breakfast on board before arriving in Veliko Turnovo, Bulgaria's ancient capital set amidst beautiful mountains on the banks of the Yantra River. Take a tour to the beautifully preserved Tsarevets Hill and Castle before enjoying some free time to wander the streets of the ancient city. Lunch will be served as the train climbs over the Shipka Pass, before arriving in Kazanlak, a historic town known for its rose oil. Here you'll visit the Shipka Memorial Church and a Thracian Tomb with brickwork dating back to the 4th century BC. Dinner will be served in the restaurant car as you continue through the scenic Bulgarian countryside, arriving at the Turkish border in the late evening.

Stay: Danube Express

Breakfast, lunch & dinner included

Days 5-6

This morning you arrive in Istanbul, the crossroads of Europe and Asia and home to an extraordinary number of historical treasures. Take a break from the train as you spend the night in this vibrant and enthralling destination, discovering the history of one of the world's great cultural melting pots.

You'll stay overnight at the luxurious Four Seasons (or similar) as the train makes its way to the town of Derince for the next part of your journey to Iran. In the mean time you'll have a full day to enjoy the many sights of Istanbul, including the spectacular Blue Mosque, the Grand Bazaar - one of the world's largest covered markets - and the Hagia Sophia, formerly one of the largest basilicas in the Christian world.

On the evening of your second day in Istanbul you'll transfer by coach to Derince and rejoin the train, continuing your journey through Turkey.

Stay: Four Seasons Sultanahmet

Breakfast, lunch & dinner included

Days 7-8

Today you'll arrive in Central Anatolia and the town of Cappadocia, best known for its dramatic rock-strewn landscape and network of ancient underground settlements, many of which are adorned with fine examples of Byzantine art.

Enjoy a guided tour of the region, learning about the fascinating history of this unique part of Turkey before heading back to the train where you'll spend the night. The following morning you'll have some more time to explore Cappadocia before returning to the train to continue your journey.

Stay: Danube Express

Breakfast, lunch & dinner included

Day 9
Van, Lake Van & Akdamar Island

Today you'll travel by ferry (along the with train) from Tatvan to Van, making a brief stop on beautiful Akdamar Island where you'll visit the impressive Akdamar Kilisesa, or Church of the Holy Cross, famed for its Old Testament carvings. From there you'll head into Van itself where you'll explore the town's old streets and see hanging kilims - woven carpets coloured with natural dyes.

Stay: Danube Express

Breakfast, lunch & dinner included

Day 10

Your overnight journey sees you arrive in Iran, crossing the border at the town of Razi. The first stop in this most mysterious of countries is the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Sultanieh, home to the 13th century mausoleum of Oljeitu. Visit the Rakhkt Shoor Khaneh and the fascinating Museum of Mummified Salt Men before boarding the train in time for dinner.

Stay: Danube Express

Breakfast, lunch & dinner included

Day 11

Arrive in Yadz, reckoned to be one of the world's oldest cities, where you'll enjoy a guided tour. Yadz offers a wealth of historical attractions including the remarkable Zoroastrian Fire Temple, beautiful Amir Chakhmagh Square and the 14th century Friday Mosque where you'll discover one of Persia's oldest mosaics.

Re-board the train for lunch as you continue your journey, arriving in Isfahan in the afternoon for a tour of the famous bridges of Sioseh Pol and Khadjou. This evening you'll have dinner in a local restaurant.

Stay: Danube Express

Breakfast, lunch & dinner included

Day 12

Spend a full day exploring the ancient city Isfahan, which served as the capital of Persia between 1598 and 1722 and dates back 2,500 years. An important city on the region's trading routes, visitors coming to Isfahan today will find a rich mix of cultures, languages, religions and customs, making this one of the most fascinating days of your journey.

Your full day tour of Isfahan will take you to some of Iran's most interesting historical sites and monuments including the Chehel Sotoon Palaceand the Vank Church, which is found in the city's vibrant Armenian quarter.

In the afternoon, after a traditional lunch at a local restaurant, you'll visit the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Naghshe Jahan Square, known to be one of the oldest squares in the world, where you'll find some of the city's most important buildings including Ali Qapou Palace and the Shah and Sheikh Lutfullah Mosques. Spend some time exploring the square at your leisure before heading to the handicraft bazaar at Qaisarieh to try out your haggling skills and hopefully pick up the odd bargain.

Stay: Danube Express

Breakfast, lunch & dinner included

Day 13
Shiraz & Persepolis

This morning you arrive in Shiraz, a city known for its beautiful gardens, flowers, fruit trees, wine, literature and poetry. Learn about the city's fascinating past and visit some of its most important historical highlights on a guided morning tour, including the Qoran Gate and Hafez Tomb.

Enjoy lunch on board before heading to Marvdast, the home of Persepolis, another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Dating back to the 6th century and one of Iran's most important historical sites, Persepolis was once the ceremonial capital of the Persian Empire and the impressive ruins that are found there today are testament to the city's historical significance. A guided tour of the ruins takes in all the main highlights including the Necropolis of Naghshe Rustam and the Naghshe Rajab.

Stay: Danube Express

Breakfast, lunch & dinner included

Day 14

After breakfast on board the train reaches Tehran, the final stop on your incredible journey. Disembark the Danube Express and begin a tour of the Iranian capital. In the morning you'll visit the Crown Jewels Museum, located in the Central Bank of Iran building where you'll see a vast and spectacular array of jewelry used by Qajar and Pahlavid royalty. After lunch your tour continues with a visit to Gulestan Palace, known for its decadent Versailles-inspired Marble Throne Hall, which was used for the coronation of the last Shah. At the conclusion of your tour you'll transfer to your five-star hotel for your final night in Iran.

Stay: Parisian Azadi Hotel (or similar)

Breakfast & lunch included

Day 15

Enjoy breakfast at your hotel before transferring to Tehran Airport for your onward flight.

Breakfast included

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Why book with Wexas Travel?

At Wexas, we specialise in bespoke travel experiences. Our itineraries are just samples of what we can arrange, and can be changed depending on your precise needs, finances and ideas by our experienced destination specialists.

Contact one of our consultants on 020 7590 0618 to discuss how we can tailor your holiday.

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