Istanbul Blue Mosque c Sherpa
Bran Castle c Jozsef Szasz-Fabian
The Transylvanian - Budapest to Istanbul route map
Day 1 - London to Budapest
Departure from London Heathrow is on the 1405 British Airways flight to Budapest. Arrive late afternoon and transfer to the elegant and centrally situated Hotel Astoria (4-star) for three (two) nights. The Danube is just a few minutes’ walk away, so, after dinner, perhaps take a stroll and experience this cosmopolitan city illuminated against the night sky.
Day 2 - Budapest
The day begins with a tour of the two halves of this beautiful city straddling the Danube, Pest and Buda. Imposing 19th and 20th Century mansions line the route to City Park. Learn something of Hungary’s turbulent history in Heroes’ Square and later, pass the Cathedral and magnificent Parliament Building. Cross to Buda to experience exceptional views from Fisherman’s Bastion and Gellert Hill, then see St Matthias Church and the Castle District. This afternoon, an excursion on the narrow gauge Children’s Railway ambles through the wooded Buda Hills.
Day 3 – Budapest
Today is free. Discover more with a visit to a museum, take a Danube cruise or relax in a café or spa.
Day 4 – Budapest & Kecskemét
Transfer mid-morning to Budapest Nyugati station for a champagne reception in the Royal Waiting Room. Board the Danube Express, settle in and enjoy lunch as the train heads for Lajosmizse for a spectacular ”Puszta” horse show. Later there is free time to explore Kecskemét, a fascinating city at the geographical centre of Hungary. Back on board, enjoy a drink in the Lounge car as the train continues across the Great Hungarian Plain and dine as the journey continues on to Transylvania.
Day 5 - Sighisoara & Brasov
Arrive in Sighisoara for a walking tour. A World Heritage site rumoured 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. Return to the Danube Express for lunch on the way to Brasov. The afternoon tour visits Bran Castle. Popularly known as Dracula’s Castle, this beautiful 14th Century building is situated amongst stunning mountain scenery. Back on board, the train twists and turns as it climbs over the Carpathian Mountains and threads its way through the dramatic landscape. Crystal clear mountain streams and spectacular waterfalls cascade past your window. Dinner is served as the Danube Express heads for Bulgaria.
Day 6 - Veliko Turnovo & Kazanlak
Arrive after breakfast in Veliko Turnovo, Bulgaria’s ancient capital. Nestled in a magnificent mountain setting, the stone houses seem perched, one above the other, on the steep bank of the Yantra River. A tour includes the superbly preserved medieval Tsarevets Hill and Castle and there is free time to wander through this ancient city. Lunch during the climb over the Shipka mountain pass where several spirals are used to gain height. Kazanlak in the Valley of the Roses produces rose oil prized by perfumers worldwide. Here you visit the Shipka Memorial Church and a Thracian tomb, a UNESCO World Heritage site, whose vaulted brickwork and splendid murals date back to the 4th Century BC. Relax in the Lounge car before dinner, served as the Danube Express continues through the scenic landscape, reaching the Turkish border late in the evening.
Day 7 – Istanbul
Wake in Istanbul Sirkeci station.
After breakfast, encounter Istanbul’s unique blend of cultures on a city tour that includes the Hippodrome, the Blue Mosque with 20,000 blue Iznik tiles lining its walls and the Hagia Sophia, now a museum but once both cathedral and mosque. After lunch, visit the magnificent Topkapi Palace once home to the great sultans and stroll through the Grand Bazaar. Arrive late afternoon at the Hotel Arcadia (4-star) or similar, situated in Sultanahmet at the heart of the historic city for a two night stay.
Day 8 – Istanbul
With the city on your doorstep, today you are free to experience the strong contrasts and colourful sights of Istanbul. Take a ferry to Asia for a different perspective or savour the fragrance of the exotic east as you while away time in the Egyptian Spice Market.
Day 9 – Istanbul to London
After breakfast, transfer to Istanbul airport for the 1400 British Airways flight to London Heathrow, arriving late afternoon.
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||A 9-day holiday journeying from the banks of the Danube to the shores of the Bosphorus, encountering the stunning scenery and ancient architechture or Transylvania and rural Bulgaria along the way.
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Holiday valid to
30 September 2012
Price Includes Scheduled British Airways Economy Class flights from London Heathrow to Budapest and from Istanbul to London.
Five nights’ hotel accommodation with breakfast and dinner in Budapest (3) and Istanbul (2)
Sightseeing programme in both Budapest and Istanbul.
Three nights on the Danube Express with all meals and complimentary wine, beer and soft drinks.
Full sightseeing programme during the journey as described.
Services of a Tour Manager throughout.
All transfers and porterage.
Price Excludes Lunches and drinks with dinner (Budapest and Istanbul only). Turkish Visa charges – for details please see our Important Information and Booking Conditions in the brochure insert.
Cancellation, travel and medical insurance.