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

6-day Escorted Tour


The Tour

The Paris to Istanbul journey (or vice versa) is THE most glamorous way to celebrate a milestone anniversary or birthday.

This once-a-year, week-long luxury rail voyage from Paris to Istanbul or from Istanbul to Paris on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express (VSOE) 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. (For more info on the Grand Suites, read Rachel Hardy’s 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.

Paris to Istanbul: 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 to Paris: Board in Istanbul and travel through Turkey and Bulgaria before arriving in Bucharest for a one-night stay in a 5-star hotel. Continue your journey into Budapest, where you overnight, again in a grand hotel.

The next day, drink in the scenery as the train makes its way to Balaton Lake in Hungary, winding through vineyards and forests. Then, re-board the train for an elegant farewell dinner, before your overnight journey through Germany and into France. Enjoy a delicious farewell lunch on board before the train arrives into 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

Paris to Istanbul 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.


Istanbul to Paris Itinerary

Day 1: Istanbul
Step aboard the gleaming blue and gold Wagons-Lits carriages of the Venice Simplon Orient-Express as the train departs for the first part of your journey. Dinner is a sumptuous affair, prepared on board by our skilled chefs and served in one of the beautifully restored restaurant cars. Afterwards linger in the Bar Car, listening to the pianist tickle the ivories of the baby grand, before retiring for the night.

Day 2: Bucharest
The next morning Continental breakfast is served in your cabin as the train winds its way through Bulgaria and into Romania. Soak up the scenery rolling by your window before enjoying a delicious brunch. Soon afterwards the train arrives in Bucharest.. On arrival in Bucharest, enjoy an orientation tour of the city by coach escorted by local guides on your way to the JW Marriott Bucharest Grand Hotel. Dinner this evening will be in a private venue — always a highlight of the journey. Overnight at the lovely hotel.

Day 3: Bucharest – Budapest
This morning rejoin the train and enjoy a delicious brunch in the restaurant cars as the train journeys towards the mountain town of Sinaia and its Peles Castle, the summer home of the former King Carol. This beautiful jewel box of a castle was also visited by the very first Orient Express guests in October 1883, at the personal invitation of the King. Return to the train in the late afternoon for a relaxing journey towards Hungary. Enjoy another delectable dinner and night on board.

Day 4: Budapest
On arrival in Budapest, local guides take you on a river cruise along the Danube, ending after lunch. Comfortable walking shoes are recommended as part of today’s excursion will be on foot. In the evening you will be escorted to a nearby private venue for a typical Hungarian dinner. This is a sparkling evening, filled with excellent cuisine and music.

Day 5: Budapest – Paris
Lunch is served as the train makes its way to Balaton Lake in the Trans-danubian region of Hungary, through vineyards and forests. Later this afternoon, you are invited to disembark for an aperitif by the lake at sunset before re-joining the train for dinner and your final climactic night on board.

Day 6: Paris
Enjoy your final breakfast in your cabin while the train travels through Germany before entering into France. A delicious farewell lunch is prepared by our skilled chefs before all too soon the train arrives into Paris Gare de l’Est station, your journey’s end.

2021 Dates:

August 20-25
August 27-September 1

2022 Dates:

August 26-31 (tentative)
September 2-7 (tentative)

The Prices

2021 Price
Accommodations Price Deposit
Twin Cabin From £15,000 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. There is a 100% single supplement on this journey. Click here for approximate exchange rates. 

For cabin descriptions, please click here.

To book, or for more information: Please call us at (800) 478-4881 (1-502-897-1725 if outside the US/Canada), or e-mail us at [email protected]. You can also fill out our booking request form online.

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


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

NEW: There are now 6 fully en-suite Grand Suites available on the Paris to Istanbul and Istanbul to Paris departures (on shorter VSOE departures, the number of Grand Suites is subject to change).

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 guided off-train excursions, and meals that can be served in your suite if you desire maximum privacy.

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

These journeys typically sell out about a year in advance. Contact us to ASAP to reserve your cabin.

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

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

Suggested tour extensions:
Pre- or post-tour stay in Paris with visit to Louvre, Eiffel Tower, and Musee d’Orsay with private guide.
Pre- or post-tour 3-night stay 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 (house wine and well drinks included for Grand Suite guests).
  • In addition to house wine and well drinks, Grand Suite guests also have the following amenities included: private check-in, private transfers to/from train station, complimentary designer bathrobes, all-suite accommodation at hotels in Bucharest and Budapest, free-flowing Champagne on board, private off-train excursions, and meals that can be served in your suite if you desire maximum privacy.
  • 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.