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Venice to Istanbul (Balkan Explorer)

This voyage of a lifetime transports you from the enchanting “City of Water” to the jewel of the Byzantium Empire. Evocative of the refinement and sumptuous elegance of a by-gone era, our trains capture the vintage charm of the golden era of travel. Begin your journey in Venice before meandering through the captivating Balkan Region. Experience exclusive excursions across this iconic route before arriving in the magical city of Istanbul.


Day 1: Venice
Day 2: Venice
Day 3: Trieste
Day 4: Postojna & Ljubljana
Day 5: Sarajevo & Mostar
Day 6: Dubrovnik
Day 7: Belgrade
Day 8: Skopje & Thessaloniki
Day 9: Sofia & Plovdiv
Day 10: Istanbul
Day 11: Istanbul
Day 12: Istanbul

What makes your journey unique?
  • Enjoy a gondola ride through the iconic waterways of romantic Venice
  • Explore the ethereal Postojna Cave network of limestone caverns and monuments
  • Discover Sarajevo’s poignant history through a truly absorbing guided tour of the city
  • Visit one of the world’s best preserved Roman amphitheatres in ancient Plovdiv
  • Tour Istanbul’s magnificent Sultan Ahmet Mosque (the Blue Mosque)
Day 1 Venice

Arrivals day in Venice where you will be met and transferred to your centrally located hotel for a two-night stay.

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

Day 2 Venice

Venice is a truly captivating city of romance; its unrivalled beauty takes away the breath of first time visitors and regulars alike. Today we 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. We also see St Mark’s Basilica and stroll through the Rialto Market.

Day 3 Trieste

This morning we transfer from the hotel, by boat, directly to Santa Lucia station on the Grand Canal.  Here our private train, the Golden Eagle Danube Express, is ready to receive us.  Mid-morning the train will thread its way out Santa Lucia station onto the 3-mile causeway over the Venice Lagoon and on to on our first stop at the Italian port city of Trieste, for an afternoon tour.  We stop at the imposing Miramare Castle and also visit the vast Piazza Unita d’Italia, the main town square. Standing on a hill overlooking Trieste is the famous Church of San Giusto built around a medieval complex and dates back to the 13th century. We will go inside the church for a close-up view of the splendid Byzantine-style architecture enriched with precious mosaics.


Day 4 Postojna & Ljubljana

Today we visit Postojna Cave as we ride an underground train deep into the cave and tour the network of magnificent halls, a myriad of cave formations and mysterious animals.

After the visit to the caves we return to Ljubljana which is the delightful capital city of Slovenia offering a combination of ancient architecture and youthful culture. Our afternoon walking tour of Ljubljana’s Old Town includes a visit to Preseren Square, the Three Bridges, Dragon Bridge and Plecnik Market.

Day 5 Saravejo & Mostar

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 we travel past war-torn buildings and we 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.

Following a lunch on board our private train, this afternoon we travel along a very scenic line to 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. We also visit Turkish House and the mosque before walking through the narrow, bazaar streets, where you can shop for traditional souvenirs and handicrafts. From here, we travel onto Dubrovnik by coach where we stay for one night.

Day 6 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. We 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.  We have lunch overlooking the Adriatic and have free time to wander the narrow streets.  Mid-afternoon we head back to the train positioned close to the Croatian border in Capljina, and enjoy dinner as we depart towards Serbia.

Day 7 Belgrade

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. We spend a full day here and our 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

This morning we 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.

We return to the train for lunch on board and continue through the afternoon crossing into Greece for an early evening arrival into Thessaloniki. We 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

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

We enjoy lunch on the train as we 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. We spend the afternoon here exploring the Roman Forum and Amphitheatre. We’ll visit the charming Old Town including its medieval walls and Ottoman baths.


Day 10 Istanbul

This morning we arrive into Istanbul where we stay for two nights at a five-star hotel.

This fabled city that spans Asia and Europe is our final stop on our tour so there is 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.

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 Grand Mosques in the world. Take a few moments to linger here to admire the fine Byzantine mosaics.

Day 11 Istanbul

Also included in our Istanbul programme is a visit to 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.

We 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.

Day 12 Istanbul

Following breakfast you will be transferred to the airport for onward departures. There is also an option to extend your stay in Istanbul for additional nights to explore more of this fascinating city.


Superior Deluxe Floorplan


Superior Deluxe cabins, with private en-suite facilities, offer the ultimate in European rail accommodation in terms of space, facilities and comfort.

With 12 cabins per departure, each cabin offers comfortable daytime seating with a full length sofa and two additional chairs. The large cabin also benefits from two full-size picture windows, one of which is openable to add to the bright and airy feel of the interior.

Each evening the cabin is transformed into a luxurious bedroom with a UK-standard King Size bed. All cabins have, as standard, a large double wardrobe with excellent storage space, individually controlled air-conditioning, lighting with dimmer switches, individual reading lights, in cabin Wi-Fi and USB ports, power sockets and a safe.


  • Cabins per car: 4
  • Cabin length (inc. bathroom): 454cm (14’9”)
  • Cabin width: 190cm (6’2”)
  • Cabin area (inc. bathroom): 8.6 m2 (93 ft2)
  • Bed size: 190cm x 152cm (6’2” x 5’0”)
  • King Size bed (UK standard)
  • Additional daytime seating with table
  • Individually controlled air-conditioning and heating
  • Two large picture windows
  • Adjustable lighting
  • Double wardrobe
  • Personal safe
  • Wi-Fi & two USB ports
  • Private en-suite bathroom with cubicle shower and WC



Deluxe Floorplan


Travel in some of the finest rail accommodation available in Europe. Each deluxe sleeper carriage has just five spacious yet intimate en-suite cabins offering every convenience and comfort so you may sit back, relax and enjoy the scenery as it rolls by.

Private bathrooms feature a shower with constant hot water, washbasin and toilet. There is a heated towel rail, shaver socket and hairdryer. A range of toiletries and a dressing gown are provided. Cabins have individually controlled air-conditioning, lighting with dimmer switches, individual reading lights, power sockets and a safe.

Co-ordinated fabrics complement wood-panelled walls and brass fittings. Two comfortable armchairs provide daytime seating and a free-standing chair adds flexibility. Cupboards and a full length wardrobe provide ample storage whilst the large picture window and full length mirror enhance the spacious feel. A second window will open for fresh air and for that perfect photo opportunity.



  • 5 x 2-bed cabins per carriage
  • Cabin size (inc. bathroom): 397cm x 195cm
  • Cabin area (inc. bathroom): 7.74m2 (83 ft2)
  • Bed size (each): 185cm x 80cm (6ft 1″ x 2ft 7.5″)
  • Private en-suite bathroom with cubicle shower & wc: 77cm x 195cm 1.5 m2 (16 ft2)
  • Remote controlled air-conditioning
  • Two armchairs and a free standing chair for daytime seating
  • Large picture window – opens partially, perfect for photograph opportunities
  • Full length wardrobe and power sockets



  • Quality pre and post tour accommodation in Venice and Istanbul
  • Private en-suite accommodation on the Golden Eagle Danube Express train
  • Overnight stay at the Hilton Pucic Palace hotel, Dubrovnik (or similar)


  • Freshly prepared meals on board, using the finest local ingredients
  • Authentic dining experiences in local restaurants
  • Inclusive alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages from Standard Bar list
  • 11 Breakfasts, 10 Lunches, 11 Dinners


  • Expertly guided off-train excursions as detailed in the itinerary
  • Freedom of Choice touring options


  • Cabin attendant service including evening turndown
  • Experienced Tour Management team
  • Services of a UK-registered Doctor and medical facilities on board
  • Arrival and departure transfers
  • All gratuities – on and off the train
  • Luggage porterage throughout the journey


  Deluxe Class Superior Deluxe Cabin
Twin ($) Single ($) Twin ($) Single ($)
Apr 29 – May 10 US$16,995 US$25,495 US$21,395 US$35,795
Oct 18 – Oct 29 US$17,595 US$26,295 US$22,095 US$36,895

Deposit required:

Deluxe Class – US$2,000 ; Superior Deluxe Class – US$2,500

All prices are per person and in US dollars. We charge in Australian dollars based on the prevailing rate of exchange at time of payment.

Prices do not include international flights.
For a complete list of tour inclusions see the inclusions tab above.

Departure Dates


Take the trip of a lifetime

Find out more about the Golden Eagle Luxury Train.