Paris-Istanbul Annual Journey on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express

6-day Escorted Tour


The Tour

This once-a-year, week-long luxury rail voyage from Paris to Istanbul on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express is a true ‘trip of a lifetime’. Travel through seven countries in elegant style. Food, wine, service, off-train tours, atmosphere: everything is over-the-top.  Especially if you book one of the new Grand Suites on board this iconic luxury train. Read Rachel Hardy’s enthusiastic blog post and see her magnificent photos. 

There is palpable excitement at every stop as the VSOE luxury train travels through France, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey. The world’s most authentic luxury train, the VSOE is the real deal, complete with coal-heated sleeping cars and windows that open. Enjoy gourmet meals in one of the train’s three sumptuous diners, or a late-night drink in the classy bar car.

Board in Paris for your journey through France, Switzerland and Austria towards Budapest. Overnight at a five-star Budapest hotel, then continue through Hungary and into Romania. Enjoy the next day and night in Bucharest at yet another grand hotel.

The next day, stop in Bulgaria before enjoying your last night and day on board as the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express train arrives in Istanbul.

Istanbul-Paris: Click here to see the the itinerary in the reverse direction (Istanbul-Paris).

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“…Whoever the mastermind was, he or she has a flair for the dramatic. At every stop, our train was met by everything from Budapest’s red-jacketed Hungarian military band to native-clad dancers at the Turkish border to the exotic, reedy whine of Ottoman-style Turkish musicians in Istanbul.”

— Owen Hardy, The International Railway Traveler

The Itinerary

Day 1: Board VSOE in Paris
Board the gleaming blue and gold carriages of the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express at Paris Gare de l’ Est, mid afternoon. After being greeted by your personal steward, settle into your private cabin and relax with a delightful afternoon tea. Later enjoy a delicious gourmet dinner on board and overnight on the train.

Day 2: Hungary
Relax and enjoy the sublime scenery as the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express travels into Hungary. Continental breakfast is served in your cabin and lunch will be taken in one of the opulent dining cars. Afternoon tea is served later in the journey. On arrival in Budapest transfer to your luxury hotel. Dinner and overnight in Budapest.

Day 3: Budapest
After breakfast at your hotel, enjoy a private guided tour of the city Budapest, with lunch at a local restaurant included. The city is divided by the mighty Danube river into ‘Buda’ and ‘Pest’. Rejoin the train late afternoon and perhaps enjoy an aperitif in the Bar Car before dinner as the train travels into Romania. Overnight on board.

Day 4: Sinaia; Bucharest
After breakfast, the train arrives at the mountain town of Sinaia. Disembark for a visit to beautiful Peles Castle, which was also visited by the very first Orient-Express passengers in 1883. Rejoin the train to complete the short journey to Bucharest. On arrival transfer to the JW Marriott Bucharest Grand Hotel where a late lunch is served. In the afternoon there will be a short city sightseeing tour. Dinner and overnight in Bucharest.

Day 5: Bulgaria
This morning, rejoin the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express as the train travels south across the Danube and into Bulgaria. During the afternoon, a stop is made to enjoy this pretty, rural country. Lunch and dinner are served on board the train, as your journey continues. This final night is spent on board the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express.

Day 6: Istanbul
Early this morning the train enters Turkey and crosses the beautiful Thracian Plain. After breakfast and lunch on board, the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express arrives in Istanbul about 4:15 p.m., at the end of a fascinating and unique journey across seven countries and cultures. A highlight of the trip: chugging into Istanbul, gazing out the open windows for a fabulous first view of the sparkling Sea of Marmara.

Itinerary also operates in reverse, from Istanbul to Paris.  Click here for itinerary details. 

2020 Dates:

August 28-September 2

2021 Dates:

August 27-September 1 (Provisional)

The Prices

2020 Price
Accommodations Price Deposit
Twin Cabin From £15,500 50%
Cabin Suite From £30,000 50%
Grand Suite* From £55,000 50%

Please note: tour is priced in British pounds. Prices are per person. Click here for approximate exchange rates. 

For cabin descriptions, please click here.

2020 Twin Cabin and Cabin Suite availability is extremely limited. Please call us at (800) 478-4881 (1-502-897-1725 if outside the US/Canada), or e-mail us at [email protected], for more information.

*Grand Suites are wait list only.

For approximate exchange rates, visit

Pricing varies based on availability. Prices are subject to change daily. Contact us to confirm pricing and availability for your desired accommodation.


Prices are per person and include all table d’hôte meals and accommodation as noted. A cabin suite is two double cabins connected by a private, interior door.

NEW: In 2018, the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express added 3 fully en-suite cabins. Each suite includes a private bathroom with shower, washbasin, and toilet, living area with space for private dining, and a sofa which can be converted into an additional bed in the evening.

On this trip, Grand Suite guests have private check-in, transfers, complimentary designer bathrobes, all hotels accommodations are suites, free-flowing Champagne on board, private off-train excursions, and meals that can be served in your suite if you wish for maximum privacy.

See a full description of the Grand Suites and other VSOE accommodations here.

Alert: This itinerary usually sells out at least a year in advance.

Itinerary also operates in reverse, from Istanbul to Paris. Click here for itinerary details.

Note: Cost is per person, based on double occupancy.

Note: Turkish visa required in advance for this journey for US citizens. Travelers from other countries may differ.

IRT is happy to arrange any pre- or post-tour extensions.

Suggested tour extensions:
Pre-tour stay in Paris with visit to Louvre, Eiffel Tower, and Musee d’Orsay with private guide.
Three nights in Istanbul. Visit Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Cistern, nostalgic tram, and spice market with private guide.
Cruise opportunities from Istanbul abound. Please inquire.

Latest News:
Click here for Track 25, our blog, for the latest news on this and other tours on our World’s Top 25 Trains™.

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The Highlights

  • The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express itself, with lovingly restored 1920s-era cars, five-star dining and stellar service
  • Stays at exclusive, five-star hotels in Budapest and Bucharest
  • Romania’s Peles Castle, built in 1883 and considered one of Europe’s finest royal palaces
  • Musical events throughout
  • A perfect blend of three overnights on luxury train and two nights in deluxe hotels
  • All meals and off-train tours included except where noted. Traditional gratuities to train staff and on-board wine and liquor not included
  • See “Other” for suggested tour extensions
A Venice Simplon-Orient-Express steward checks in guests.  Photo by Rachel Hardy.
A Venice Simplon-Orient-Express steward checks in guests. Photo by Rachel Hardy.
Eiffel Tower, Paris  Photo by Angela Walker
Eiffel Tower, Paris Photo by Angela Walker
A couple dines on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express. Photo by Rachel Hardy.
A couple dines on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express. Photo by Rachel Hardy.
Breakfast served in your cabin.  Photo by Rachel Hardy.
Breakfast served in your cabin. Photo by Rachel Hardy.