The Golden Eagle Danube Express
• Athens • Thessaloniki • Plovdiv • Sofia • Belgrade • Mostar • Sarajevo • Ljubljana • Keszthely • Budapest
New for 2017, experience the romance of rail on this exclusive voyage, between the beautiful cities of Budapest and Athens, and through the sumptuous scenery of Central and Southern Europe, absorbing the classical culture and architectural masterpieces of some of Europe's most magnificent cities and medieval towns that are steeped in history.
Meandering through verdant landscapes and along turquoise coastlines, this exclusive rail cruise delivers an enthralling exploration of the Balkan nations and neighbouring Greece. Encompassing six countries over 11 enchanting days, our rail adventure samples a taste of the eclectic cultures and customs found across Central and Southern Europe. Venturing through the intriguing countries of the former Yugoslavia, we look to unearth the rich past of this captivating region. Indelibly marked by the poignant conflicts of recent and ancient history we discover the remarkable and inspiring resilience of Sarajevo and Mostar and explore the lasting influences on neighbouring Belgrade.
At either end of this incredible itinerary are two of the most historically rich capital cities in Europe. Staying at the iconic 5-star Hotel Grand Bretagne in Athens, situated in the heart of the city with breathtaking views of the fabled Acropolis, we spend two days exploring the cradle of western civilisation, where ancient landmarks jostle together with bustling neighbourhoods. Equally as enchanting is the city of Budapest, with its stunning collection of baroque, neoclassical and art nouveau buildings.
Day 1: Athens, Greece Arrive into Athens where you spend 2 nights at the Hotel Grande Bretagne. With breathtaking views of the fabled Acropolis, Syntagma Square and the Parliament, Lycabettus Hill or the original Olympic Stadium, the award-winning 5-star hotel offers an unrivalled perspective of Athens' mythical history. Situated right in the heart of the city since 1874, the landmark hotel is within walking distance of exclusive shopping areas, museums and the business district.
Enjoy an elegant Welcome Dinner overlooking the Acropolis from the hotel Roof Garden, a fitting start to the journey ahead.
Day 2: Athens, Greece There is much to reveal on your city tour of Athens. The stunning Acropolis and its museum whisk us back to a time of expansion and empire. Following an al fresco lunch at a local taverna, we head in the afternoon to the coast. We pass the affluent beach towns of Glyfada, Vouliagmeni and Varkiza on our way to Cape Sounion where the marble pillars of the Temple of Poseidon are silhouetted in the late afternoon sun.
Day 3: Athens, Greece Late morning on Day 3 you join the private train, the Golden Eagle Danube Express, to begin your long-awaited rail adventure to Budapest.
Day 4: Thessaloniki, Greece This morning you have a full day to explore the Thermaic Gulf of the Aegean. Start in the vibrant city of Thessaloniki to see the 15th century White Tower, the emblem of the city, because of its prominent position, long history and impressive architecture. An informative museum inside the monument is dedicated to the city's history.
Then head out into Central Macedonia to sample local cuisine and wine followed by time to learn more about this former centre of the Ottoman Empire.
Day 5: Plovdiv & Sofia, Bulgaria Plovdiv, known as 'The City of Seven Hills' is the second largest city in Bulgaria and one of the oldest cities in Europe with more than 200 known archaeological sites. Spend the morning here exploring the many sights in the charming Old Town including its ancient theatres, medieval walls and Ottoman baths.
The site of Bulgaria's modern capital, Sofia, at the foot of Mt Vitosha, was first occupied by the Thracian tribe of Serdi. On your afternoon tour visit sections of the Roman wall, admire the ancient church of St George, the golden-domed Alexander Nevsky Cathedral and the Turkish Bashi Mosque.
Day 6: Belgrade, Serbia Arrive this morning in the Serbian capital, Belgrade. Located at the strategic meeting point of the Danube and Sava Rivers, this truly cosmopolitan city has fortifications dating from Celtic times, medieval tombs and Turkish baths.
Spend a full day here and enjoy a comprehensive morning city tour which passes the Belgrade Fortress, Town Hall, Republic Square, Knez Mihajlova Street, the main shopping area, and includes a visit to Tito's memorial and St. Sava Church, the largest orthodox church in the Balkans. In the afternoon after a traditional lunch in a local restaurant visit the excellent Tesla Museum which honours the life and works of the mechanical engineer and inventor Nikola Tesla. He is best known for many revolutionary contributions in the field of electricity and magnetism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Day 7: Sarajevo & Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina This morning tour 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.
An early afternoon 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 as we visit the location of the assassination of the Heir-Apparent to the Austro-Hungarian throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, that triggered the First World War and the more recent horrors of the Balkan War.
Day 8: Ljubljana, Slovenia Today enjoy a full day in the beautiful Slovenian capital city of Ljubljana as well as visiting the surrounding region. Begin at Predjama Castle, perched on a cliff high above the beautiful Inner Carniola region. Explore the chambers and stairwells and learn about the castle's most famous resident, Erazem of Predjama. Then, continue to Postojna Cave and ride a mini-train deep into the famous cave and tour the ethereal network of stalactites, stalagmites and caverns.
From here return to the city and discover Ljubljana, a delightful combination of ancient architecture and a youthful culture. Our afternoon tour includes visits to Preseren Square, Three Bridges and Dragon Bridge.
Day 9: Keszthely & Budapest, Bulgaria Arrive early morning to Keszthely where you take a tour of the Festetics Palace, a beautiful Baroque palace built on castle ruins in 1745 and expanded 150 years later. In addition, enjoy a relaxing boat cruise on the calm waters of Lake Balaton.
By afternoon arrive into the romantic and historic Hungarian capital, Budapest, located on the banks of the magnificent Danube where there is a welcome reception in the Royal Waiting Room at Budapest Nyugati station before transferring for a two-night stay at the five-star Four Seasons Gresham Palace, located centrally, opposite the renowned Chain Bridge.
Day 10: 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 today 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 11: Budapest, Hungary Following breakfast in the hotel you will be transferred to the airport for onward departure transfers. There is also an option to extend your stay in Budapest for additional nights to explore more of this fascinating city.
• 2 nights hotel accommodation in Budapest • 6 nights hotel accommodation on board Golden Eagle Danube Express • 2 nights hotel accommodation in Athens • Quality rail accommodation onboard the Golden Eagle Danube Express • Evening turndown service • Complimentary tea and coffee throughout the day • Personal cabin attendant service • Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily • Inclusive alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks throughout • Optional in-cabin breakfast • Afternoon tea onboard the train • Dining experiences in local restaurants • Live musical performances • Welcome and farewell dinners • Champagne reception upon departure • Onboard doctor and medical facilities • Experienced Tour Managers • All gratuities and luggage porterage • Exclusive steam haulage for Budapest arrivals and departures (subject to availability) • Arrival and departure transfers • Guided Off-Train Excursions - Imperial Suite guests will benefit from the option of a private car and guide in the majority of places visited along the route.
Pricing (per person) $NZD
Budapest - Athens
24 June - 4 July Athens - Budapest
1 July - 11 July
2017 Budapest - Athens 24 June - 4 July
Athens - Budapest 1 July - 11 July