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World's Top 25 Trains

Train: Danube Express

Train Type: First-Class

Danube Express
The Danube Express pianist entertains travelers in the lounge car.

Danube Express

Danube Express
Lounge car of the Danube Express.

Danube Express

Journeys on this Train

Danube Express: Istanbul to Prague
Danube Express: Venice-Budapest Balkan Odyssey
Danube Express: Venice-Istanbul Balkans Explorer
Danube Express: Central Europe & Transylvania


When we first experienced the Danube Express private train, we knew it would jump to IRT's World’s Top 25 Trains list.  The train started service with its gorgeous deluxe carriages in 2008.  Most itineraries either start or go through Budapest, Hungary, where the train is headquartered.  One of the best itineraries is Istanbul to Prague, and one of the great developments for this train:  all departures are guaranteed departures.  This is great news for our guests.

Latest News:  Click here for Track 25, our blog, for the latest news on the Danube Express and other of our World's Top 25 Trains™.

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The Danube Express accommodates just 50 passengers and offers a magical combination of modern amenities and traditional style.  

The Deluxe sleeping carriages offer the best train accommodations in Europe.  Private compartments are air conditioned, with private, ensuite facilities and two lower beds that fold up into seating during the day.  They are roomy at 83.4 square feet, including the bathroom.  There are windows that open throughout the train, a boon for photographers. There are five Deluxe cabins per carriage.

Each deluxe carriage has a heated towel rail, shaver socket and hairdryer and a range of toiletries. Bedrooms have individually controlled air-conditioning, lighting with dimmer switches, individual reading lights, power sockets and a safe.

Some tours also include the older and less expensive Heritage cabins, which are much smaller (33.2 square feet), with bunk-style beds that fold into seating by day; shower and toilet are down the hall.

Co-ordinated fabrics complement wood paneled walls and brass fittings. Two comfortable armchairs provide daytime seating and a free-standing chair adds flexibility. Cupboards and a full length wardrobe provide ample storage; the large picture window and full length mirror enhance the spacious feel. A second window can be opened for fresh air and for that perfect photo opportunity.

During dinner each evening the living room is converted into two comfortable lower beds by your attendant who is also on hand to bring early morning tea or coffee or perhaps later, a glass of wine.


Dining is delicious but not fancy, and dress is smart casual.  All meals are served in a single sitting, offering diners more time to relax and enjoy the scenery outside the windows.  Gourmet meals and white-glove service are not the aim here; meals are hearty local specialties such as goose, mashed potatoes and braised red cabbage and service is friendly and experienced.  Staff members do not speak much English, but they are pleasant and cheerful.  As one staff member said to a recent IRT traveler:  "We are smiling."

Lounge Cars

The lounge car is spacious, with room for most of the train’s passengers.  The atmosphere is friendly, and the brandy—the local specialty—is tasty.  House wine and beer on the train are included with the price of the journey; spirits are not included.  The pianist is talented and jolly; the songbook on board seems two inches thick stuffed with every song you ever thought of singing.


The itineraries are designed to take you to the heart of Central and Eastern Europe in comfort and style.  The off-train sightseeing calls for plenty of walking, often over cobblestones and uneven pavement.  None of the compartments on the train is handicapped accessible. 

2014: Note that no drinks are included off the train except for water on the touring buses.  Gratuities are not included in the price of your program.

2015: Beginning in 2015, the Danube Express will become the Golden Eagle Danube Express, with upgrades designed to transform the train and service from first-class to luxury (similar to the Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express).

Improvements include: 

• Upgraded audio system

• L'Occitane toiletries

• New china and crystal ware for the restaurant cars

• Luxury bathrobes and towels

• New tableware and deluxe tablecloths

• Luxury bed linens

• Curtain tie-backs

• New cushions for deluxe cabins and bar

• New signage for carriages

• New curtains for bar car

• New and improved menus with upgraded cuisine

Tours in 2015 are all-inclusive, with prices to match.

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