Castles of Transylvania – Golden Eagle Danube Express

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Absorb the ancient castles, vibrant cultures, and spectacular scenery of Transylvania on this example rail cruise aboard the Golden Eagle Danube Express

Day 1 - Istanbul

Arrive in Istanbul where you will transfer to the iconic five-star Four Seasons Sultanahmet hotel for a one-night stay. This boutique hotel offers a calming space filled with charm and sophistication. Be ready to visit some castles on this journey.

This evening we will enjoy a welcome reception dinner, allowing you to meet your fellow travelers.

reflective view of building and birds in water in Istanbul

Day 2 - Istanbul

Istanbul is a fabled city that spans Asia and Europe. Today see how old meets new, east meets west when we visit a selection of Istanbul's must-see historic sites.

The Sultan Ahmet Mosque (the Blue Mosque) is a superb creation in the classical Ottoman style. It is decorated with over 20,000 Iznik tiles. It features six towering minarets and 260 windows illuminating its vast main chamber.

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

Topkapi is the crown jewel of the Ottoman Empire and is the oldest and largest palace in the world. It 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 a truly fascinating experience.

Late afternoon we join our private train, the Golden Eagle Danube Express. We will begin our rail journey through Bulgaria and Romania to Budapest.

Day 3 - Veliko Tarnovo

This morning we enjoy the views from our private train as we climb over the Shipka Pass and arrive at our first stop Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria's ancient capital. The stone houses, nestled in a magnificent mountain setting, seem perched 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 narrow alleyways of the ancient city.

This evening relax in the Bar Lounge Car before dinner is served. As we head across the Romanian border, our train continues through the scenic landscape.

Building in the fall leaves in Brasov

Day 4 - Sanaia & Brasov

Overnight, the train twists and turns as it climbs over the Carpathian Mountains and threads its way through the dramatic landscape with crystal clear mountain streams.

This morning we arrive in Sinaia for a tour of Peles Castle. The castle, considered by many one of the most stunning castles in Europe, is a masterpiece of German new-Renaissance architecture. Commissioned by King Carol I in 1873 and completed in 1883, the castle served as the royal family's summer residence until 1947. The finest examples of European art, Murano crystal chandeliers, German stained-glass windows, and Cordoba leather-covered walls.

Returning to our private train for lunch, we continue onto Brasov in the afternoon for a visit to Bran Castle. Surrounded by an aura of mystery and legend and perched high atop a 200-foot-high rock, the 14th-century castle owes its fame to its imposing towers and turrets and to the myth created around Bram Stocker's Dracula. Following a tour of the castle and its surroundings, we will enjoy a gala dinner tonight inside the castle walls.

Day 5 - Sighisoara & Sibiu

This morning we make an early departure from Brasov and arrive after breakfast in 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.

We return to the train for lunch as we continue onto Sibiu, explicitly known for its Germanic architecture in the Old Town due to the legacy of 12th-century Saxon settlers. You see the remains of medieval walls and towers, including the 13th-century Council Tower, which connects the two main squares.

We enjoy a Farewell Dinner on board our private train as we travel across the Great Hungarian Plain.

Day 6 - Kecskemet & Lajosmizse

This morning we get the opportunity to explore Kecskemét, a fascinating city in Hungary's geographical center. Next, the train heads to Lajosmizse for a spectacular 'Puszta' horse show.

We arrive in the late afternoon at the romantic and historic Hungarian capital, Budapest, on the banks of the magnificent Danube. We enjoy one night in the five-star Four Seasons Gresham Palace hotel. It is a unique art nouveau landmark that combines historical elegance with ultra-modern comforts.

This evening we will enjoy a farewell reception dinner at a local restaurant. Enjoy reflecting on your journey through this fascinating part of Europe.

View of Castle in the Mountains

Day 7 - Budapest

After an overnight stay at the Four Seasons Gresham Palace this morning, we enjoy our final breakfast.

This itinerary is just a sample to give you some ideas. Let me know if you'd like me to start building an itinerary that suits your needs.