If when you think of luxury travel, your first thoughts are of first class on your favourite airline or an extravagant cruise on an ocean liner, then it may come as some surprise to know that luxury train travel is also alive and well. While it is something more usually associated with a bygone era, especially if you've ever been in first class on a British train (it's basically the same as in standard only you don't have to listen to anybody trying to choose a new ringtone and you can charge your laptop), luxury train travel is a very popular way for people to explore beautiful Eastern Europe, and all because of the Danube Express.
What is the Danube Express All About?
The Danube Express, which started operating in 2008, so is actually a pretty new concept, aims to take train travel, which is these days seen more as a functional, necessary evil, and give it back its old world glamour and excitement. Think part hotel, part cruise ship, part train and you'll have a rough idea of what the operating company is going for. The train will take you (depending which itinerary you choose) to all kinds of fascinating Eastern European destinations, where you have the opportunity to alight and explore, just like on a cruise but over land. You then sleep in luxurious accommodation – again, as with a cruise ship there are different levels of room, but you can have a private suite with an en suite bathroom and all kinds of other modern amenities. There is a restaurant and bar, and plenty of ways to pass the time as you speed through gorgeous Eastern European countryside and on to your next fascinating destination. It is novel, it is luxurious, and it is also really good fun!
Where Can I Go on the Danube Express?
There is only one train offering the Danube Express service, and it operates on different routes on different dates, between April and October each year. This means you can choose between different Eastern European tours depending on the places you'd most like to visit, or you can simply book yourself onto a route at a time that suits you and see what the destinations have to offer as you discover them! Again, the way this works is very similar to how a cruise ship operates, allowing you to select different itineraries on the same ship (or in this case, rolling stock!). Some key routes currently offered by the Danube Express include:
The Transylvanian Route
You can do this route either eastbound or westbound (or of course, do the return trip!), taking you either from Budapest to Istanbul or vice versa. Not only does this allow you to check out the Hungarian and Turkish capitals at either end of the journey (and both are well worth the effort, with Budapest widely thought to be one of the most beautiful cities in Europe if not the world, and Istanbul a marvel of east meets west exotic architecture and culture), but also, as the name suggests, takes you through Transylvania, allowing you to see the famous castle of the Dracula stories and plenty of other fascinating places.
The Bosphorous to Baltic Route
As you can probably guess from the title, this route takes you from coast to coast. You board the train in Istanbul in sunny Turkey, and then ride it through various stops on the way to Budapest, before going on to Warsaw. This is a fairly long trip and gives you a chance to take in several fascinating countries, as well as these fascinating capital cities, while also enjoying all of the comfort and luxury the train itself affords you. This route is ideal if you want to explore lots of different places as well as make the most of the fantastic facilities on board the Danube Express.
The Polish Exploration Route
Despite the name, this route doesn't just allow you to enjoy Poland, though it does start off in Warsaw and take you through many Polish destinations. The ultimate destination is Hungary's incredible Budapest, so you will get to see everything Budapest has to offer as well as, naturally, exploring Poland! If you have been thinking about visiting Poland, this is a brilliant way to do it, and you'll get plenty of information about all of the places you go to on board the train, too.
There is also a route that loops you from the train's home in Budapest through to Istanbul and back, with stops in other gorgeous cities like Sofia. The Danube Express really is a fantastic way to see a lot of the Eastern European region while travelling in comfort, luxury, and naturally style, and comes very highly recommended for anyone looking for an adventure or a holiday with a difference.
Luxury family holidays don’t have to involve paradise islands and five star villas, look into your other options and do something truly unique.