A Rail Expedition through the Balkans & Beyond Aboard the Golden Eagle Danube Express

In a classy introduction to southern Europe, this nine-country adventure by deluxe private train travels through Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Macedonia, Greece, Bulgaria and Turkey

The rail journey by private train begins in illustrious Venice and follows the early trade routes through the Balkans into Greece, ending in enduring Istanbul. Explore five UNESCO Sites along the way, including Stari Most, the old Ottoman Bridge rebuilt from the ground up in war-ravaged Mostar, and Thessaloniki, Greece, with its early Roman monuments and Byzantine reminders.

There is also a Budapest to Venice rail journey by private train departure with stops in Hungary and Romania, as well as a similar route through the Balkans.

12 Day Trip

Overview Itinerary

MIR Signature Why end mights on this Tour
  • Admire Plovdiv’s Roman amphitheater
    Stroll the cobbled streets of Plovdiv’s Old Town and admire its 3,000-seat Roman amphitheater, built by Marcus Aurelius....
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  • Visit the Sarajevo Tunnel Museum with a survivor
    Visit the Sarajevo Tunnel Museum with a survivor from Bosnia and Herzegovina who used the tunnel to escape...
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  • People-watch at a charming Ljubljana café
    Indulge in a coffee and some people-watching in one of the delightful cafés that line the medieval streets of Ljubjljana’s Old Town at the base of Castle Hill...
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  • Cross the UNESCO-listed Old Bridge, Stari Most
    Discover the UNESCO-listed area around the Old Bridge, rebuilt over five years in an effort to heal the deep ethnic divide...
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Why Travel with MIR on this Tour
  • 30 years of Central and East Europe travel experience
  • Travel programs such as Stanford and Northwestern universities have chosen MIR to guide them to Central and East Europe
  • Twice named one of National Geographic Adventure’s “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth”
  • On-the-ground support and quality you can trust
  • Personalized travel planning from start to finish
  • Guides and tour managers that clients rave about
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Itinerary & Highlights at a Glance

Days 1-3: Venice, Trieste

Spend time in the queen of European cities, romantic Venice; the city is crowded with gorgeous old palazzos, which in turn are filled with more art per square mile than any other European city. Board the luxury Golden Eagle Danube Express on its way to Trieste, a lovely Italian port city nearly surrounded by Slovenia.


  • Gondola ride along Venice’s Grand Canal
  • St. Mark’s Basilica in St. Mark’s Square
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Days 4-5: Ljubljana, Zagreb, Sarajevo, Mostar

First stop is Slovenia’s capital, Ljubljana, a stunning mix of baroque, Renaissance, neoclassical and Austrian Art Nouveau styles. Stroll the medieval Old Town of Zagreb, capital and largest city of Croatia, and visit the Sarajevo Tunnel Museum with a survivor who used the life-saving tunnel during the 20th century siege. Explore Mostar, with its UNESCO-listed Stari Most, or Old Bridge, from Ottoman times.


  • Ljubljana’s Triple Bridge, connecting the Market Colonnade with Presernov, the city's main square
  • Old Town of Zagreb, centered on the adjoining medieval cities of Gradec and Kaptol
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Days 6-7: Dubrovnik, Belgrade

In beautiful Dubrovnik, Croatia, visit the Museum of Dubrovnik in the Rector’s Palace, and take a walk on the wide city walls. Spend a day in Belgrade, the sophisticated capital of Serbia, and admire its ancient citadel, Kalemegdan Fortress.


  • Dubrovnik, its UNESCO-listed Old Town set atop a walled peninsula jutting into the Adriatic Sea in southern Croatia
  • Serbia’s capital, Belgrade, a very old city swiftly becoming one of the hippest places in Europe
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Days 8-9: Skopje, Thessaloniki, Sofia, Plovdiv

Visit Skopje, Macedonia, where Mother Teresa was born, and UNESCO-listed Thessaloniki, dotted with early Roman monuments and Byzantine reminders. Discover Bulgaria’s capital, Sofia, with its 4th century St. George Rotunda, and Plovdiv’s Roman amphitheater, built by Emperor Marcus Aurelius.


  • Macedonia’s capital and largest city, Skopje, where Mother Teresa was born and raised
  • Mediterranean seafood dinner in Thessaloniki, Greece
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Days 10-12: Istanbul

Disembark in fabulous Istanbul, exploring the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia, and browsing its Grand Bazaar.


  • Istanbul, sprawled across two continents, and former capital of two great empires
  • Blue Mosque, soaring upwards with its six minarets and layered domes
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See Dates & Prices for more details or to see suggested extensions.

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Tour Dates & Prices

Trip itinerary currently not available.  

Please contact us for more information and a MIR Destination Specialist will contact with you shortly. Thank you!

What’s Included

On Your Tour

  • Accommodation aboard the Golden Eagle Danube Express private train.
  • Per the itinerary, 5 nights of shared accommodation in well-located hotels.
  • All meals starting with dinner on Day 1 until breakfast on final tour day, including a generous, though not unlimited, allowance of wine or local beer, soft drinks and water with all lunches and dinners.
  • Arrival/departure transfers, provided you arrive and depart on the tour start/end dates and in the tour start/end cities.
  • All guided off-train tours per itinerary.
  • The services of an experienced Train Tour Manager, with local guides for scheduled off-train touring.
  • Complimentary tea, coffee and mineral water round the clock from your car attendant while on board the train.
  • All gratuities.
  • Baggage handling.

Before Your Tour

  • Personalized pre-departure support from one of our knowledgeable Tour Specialists.
  • Complete pre-departure information including detailed packing list and reading list.
  • Touring with MIR handbook with country-specific information, maps, and travel tips.
  • Customized visa application instruction kit (please note, visa fees are not included in the tour price).
  • Final document packet including luggage tags, final updates, and more. Assistance booking your custom flight arrangements (on request; please note that international and internal airfares are not included in the land tour cost).
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Prepare for Your Trip

International Airfare

MIR's in-house, full-service air department will gladly assist with your air travel needs.

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Reading List

MIR recommends reading up before you leave home. So settle back in your armchair with some of our favorite books about our favorite places.

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Most MIR programs require one or more visas, and each visa requires a completely blank page in your passport. Visa information for this particular tour is listed in the Detailed Descriptive Itinerary.

More Info

Travel Insurance

Stay a Little Longer…

MIR can arrange for an extended program in Istanbul or the Caucasus or Central Asia before or after your tour. All of MIR’s destinations are open to you, and all can be attached to this program. Please contact MIR for more details about exciting options for extended travel.

Or, choose from one of these suggested itineraries:

Is this Trip Right for You?

This trip is moderately active, and rated moderate to rigorous touring due to the daily walking involved and the overall shortcomings of the tourism infrastructure. To reap the full rewards of this adventure, travelers must be able to walk at least a mile a day, keeping up with fellow travelers. Flexibility, a sense of humor and a willingness to accept local standards of amenities and services are essential components to the enjoyment of this trip.

A full list of details about the rigors of this tour are explained in the Detailed Descriptive Itinerary.

Read our Travel Journals

MIR's Travel Journals offer first hand accounts of MIR's fascinating destinations.

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MIR in the News
  • Luxury Travel Magazine Loves the Balkans

    June 29, 2018

    Luxury Travel Magazine is spotlighting MIR’s wildly divergent small group tour to the Balkans in an article entitled, “Balkan Odyssey, A 7 Nation Journey Through History.” The article hits on many of the tour’s signat... Read More

  • Travel Agent Central Talks Georgian Cuisine & Culture

    May 14, 2018

    MIR’s 12-day culinary journey to the Caucasus, A Taste of Georgia: Wine, Cuisine & Culture, is featured in the online version of Travel Agent Central, a leading publication focused on covering the latest travel news and tre... Read More

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From the Blog
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Golden Eagle Danube Express

Golden Eagle Danube Express

The perfect combination of remote destinations and comfortable accommodations, rail journeys by private train open a world of discovery to travelers who enjoy comfort and leisure time as well as exciting new vistas.

Exclusive private trains furnish the dream of Old World rail travel with modern comforts and amenities that make the journey as pleasant as the destinations. The luxurious Golden Eagle Danube Express offers a restful and satisfying way to experience legendary rail routes.

Train & Hotel Accommodations

Relax and enjoy the panorama rolling past your private window and disembark for guided off-train touring in fascinating towns and cities along the way.

Each car on the Golden Eagle Danube Express has its own attendants who provide bed turndown service, plus tea, coffee and mineral water 24 hours a day. Attendants keep an eye on everything while guests are away from the train. Towels are provided and onboard laundry service is available.

Two styles of accommodation are available on board the Golden Eagle Danube Express: Deluxe Class (en suite) and Heritage Class (shared facilities).

  • Deluxe Class

    Deluxe Class

    The Deluxe Class on the Golden Eagle Danube Express features newly designed air-conditioned cabins which pair luxury with utility, offering superior accommodations that feature two lower berths and fully en suite facilities. Cabins are furnished with two daytime armchairs, a free-standing chair, a window that opens, a table, and a wardrobe with a safe. Your attendant will convert the two armchairs into comfortable twin beds for nighttime use. The en suite bathroom features a range of toiletries, a hair dryer and heated towel rack.

    Additional Information

    Deluxe Class cabin dimensions – 5 cabins/carriage:

    Cabin Area (total, including bathroom) – 83 sq ft (7.7 sq m)
    Cabin length – 13′ (3.97 m)
    Cabin width – 6′ 5″ (1.95 m)
    Bed (two singles, each) – 6′ 3″ x 2′ 7.5″  (1.9 m x 0.8 m)

  • Heritage Class

    Heritage Class

    The Heritage Class features comfortable air-conditioned seating by day, transformed while you dine into upper and lower berths ready for nighttime use. A washbasin is included in the cabin, and large windows make sightseeing pleasant. Toilet and shower facilities are provided at the end of each car.

    Additional Information

    Heritage Class cabin dimensions – 8 cabins/carriage:

    Cabin area – 33 sq ft (3.1 sq m)
    Upper bed – 5′ 10″ x 2′ 5″ (1.8 m x 0.74 m)
    Lower bed – 6′ 5″ x 2′ 5.5″ (2 m x 0.75 m)

  • Hotel Accommodations

    Hotel Accommodations

    The first and last nights of most tours are spent in well-appointed four and five star hotels. Some tours feature additional hotel nights. Please review the detailed itinerary for specifics pertaining to each tour and departure. Additional nights before and after any tour can be arranged on request.

Life Aboard the Train
Golden Eagle Danube Express

The Golden Eagle Danube Express private train provides everything you need for a pleasurable journey. Join travelers from around the world to enjoy the relaxed and casual environment onboard, with no need to wear formal attire on excursions or while dining.

Train formations are not fixed, as the composition varies to suit the number of passengers on a given departure. The exact configuration of train on any particular journey may not be determined until close to departure.

Please note that a variety of cabins styles are in use aboard the train. Décor and layout of dining, bar and sleeping cars on your journey may differ from the sample images depicted in our brochures/websites.

  • Bar/Lounge Car

    Bar/Lounge Car

    A Bar/Lounge Car is included in the formation of the train. The lounge offers a relaxing and comfortable area where you can enjoy a drink and gather with other passengers around the piano.

    Additional Information

  • Dining Cars

    Dining Cars

    Dining Cars feature European cuisine complemented by a selection of European wines.

    Additional Information

  • Off-Train Tours

    Off-Train Tours

    Rail journeys feature an extensive selection of educational city tours in the various stops on our routes. Private coaches and local guides whisk you away from your private train for fascinating half- or full-day forays into the principal towns and cities, sometimes including an in-city dining opportunity. Read through this tour’s itinerary for more information (found on the Itinerary & Map tab of this page).