Sicilian Odyssey on the Danube Express: Budapest to Taormina

11-day Escorted Tour


The Tour

Experience the alluring Sicilian Odyssey by private luxury train on the Golden Eagle Danube Express.

The Sicilian Odyssey begins with one night at the iconic five-star Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace in the romantic city of Budapest. From there, you’ll board the luxurious and comfortable Danube Express and travel briefly through Hungary and Slovenia before crossing into Italy.

Wend your way through the many cities and and provinces of Southern Italy and Sicily, stopping along the way to soak up the history and local culture with guided tours and experiences. Then, spend two nights at a five-star hotel in Taormina.

Enjoy guided city tours of Budapest, Venice, San Marino, Bari, Naples, Palermo, and Taormina. Tour the crumbling ruins of Pompeii in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius, and the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Valle Dei Templi in Agrigento. Take an optional tour to Corleone, where you’ll learn about the notorious Mafia fame’s made famous by Francis Ford Coppola’s motion picture, The Godfather. Experience a hands-on cooking demonstration in Ragusa. Visit the historical center of Syracuse by — the Island of Ortigia — by boat. Tour Mount Etna with a local volcanologist and enjoy the sight of the beautiful Gulf of Naxos from the heights of Taormina — and much more!

The all-inclusive itinerary and the comfortable luxury of the Danube Express will whisk you from location to location in a way not possible by any other means of travel.

Add the ‘Taste of Italy’ 5-day Taormina-Budapest extension to your Sicilian Odyssey! Click here for details.

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“…its riveting itineraries, fully inclusive pricing and comfort undoubtedly put it in the forefront of luxurious European railway travel.”

— Angela Walker, Vice President, Operations, The Society of International Railway Travelers®, following her May, 2015 journey on the Danube Express.

The Itinerary

Arrive today in Budapest, where you will be met and transferred to the Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace for a one-night stay. Enjoy a welcome reception dinner in the elegant surrounds of this art nouveau landmark, where you will meet your fellow travelers on this highly anticipated journey.

Why not extend your stay in Budapest to explore the Hungarian capital at your leisure? Contact us for hotel options and touring programs.

Budapest is two cities separated by the River Danube: the old city of Buda, which contains the imposing Royal Palace, and the commercial heart of the city, which is in Pest. Our morning city tour includes the Royal Palace, St. Mathias Church, and a panoramic view of the city from Gellert Hill.

Enjoy a drinks reception in the impressive Royal Waiting Room at Budapest Nyugati station before boarding the Danube Express. Settle in to your cabin and enjoy a late lunch as the train heads out of the Hungarian capital and south across the border into neighboring Slovenia before crossing into Italy.

Venice is a truly captivating city of romance; its unrivaled beauty takes away the breath of first time visitors and regulars alike. The Danube Express will arrive in Santa Lucia station after breakfast this morning. Take a morning tour around the highlights of the city, followed by free time in the afternoon.

This evening enjoy dinner in the city before returning to the train late in the evening for our departure as we head down the eastern seaboard of Italy towards our next destination.

San Marino is a mountainous micro-state in north-central Italy. Among the world’s oldest republics, it retains much of its historic architecture. On the slopes of Monte Titano sits this ancient capital, known for its medieval-walled Old Town and narrow cobblestone streets. The Three Towers, castle-like citadels dating to the 11th century, sit atop Titano’s neighboring peaks.

Today we spend the day touring the charming Apulia region. First, visit the unique architectural sites of Matera and Alberobello, both declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

This afternoon, enjoy a guided tour of Bari’s Florentine style old-town and its domineering fortress and castle that has stood guarding the port since the 12th century.

Tonight as we sit down for dinner we’ll travel across central Italy west through the Matese hills.

The city of Naples is centrally located on the Gulf of Naples between Mount Vesuvius and the volcanic area of Campi Flegrei. It is a melting pot of many cultures. This morning, enjoy a panoramic tour of the city, including a visit to the fascinating Galleria Borbonica, an ancient underground passage constructed for military purposes to connect the Royal Palace to military barracks in the city.

Later, visit the crumbling ruins of Pompeii, which was destroyed by lava flows in the momentous eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79AD. Pompeii has been painstakingly conserved over the centuries.

We will be welcomed at the Michelin-starred President Restaurant for lunch, where we will have an opportunity to sample Pompeian bread. One of the staff from President will join our group after lunch for an extended visit of the Pompeii excavation and will explain the method of bread production from the Pompeian era.

Overnight, the Danube Express travels from the Italian mainland across the Straits of Messina on one of the very few ‘train ferries’ in the world to the island of Sicily.

Our first stop this morning is the flamboyant and feisty capital of Sicily, Palermo. Here we’ll take in a gentle walking tour of the city’s bustling old town where we will enjoy the city’s melting pot of architectural styles. We will finish the tour with an aperitif and small concert at the stunning Teatro Massimo, the biggest theater in Italy and the third largest in Europe.

This afternoon you have the choice to continue browsing the capital or take a transfer to Corleone to learn about the notorious Mafia families made famous by Francis Ford Coppola’s motion picture, The Godfather.

Wake up in Agrigento, home to Italy’s most impressive Greek ruins. Here we will focus on the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Valle Dei Templi with a privately lead tour around the remains of the ancient city.

During lunch on board we will continue our journey by train to Ragusa. This small, quaint town has plenty of character, with its many grey stone houses and churches decorating the hillside, making for wonderful picture-postcard scenery. A cooking demonstration at a nearby hotel will allow us to get hands-on with local delicacies before a brief walking tour of the historic Old Town.

This evening we will have dinner in the basement of the 20C Palazzo Di Quattro in the heart of the old town. The I Banchi restaurant is not only a restaurant but also a bakery and pastry shop that sells high-quality regional produce alongside its bread and cakes.

Overnight, the train will continue its journey through Sicily to Syracuse.

The former Byzantine empire was both founded and raised in Syracuse. We’ll take a walking tour before escaping the hustle and bustle of the city itself and enjoy the view from the water with a tour around the Island of Ortigia before heading back to the train for lunch.

This afternoon, the train will meander north-eastwards, allowing us to enjoy the scenic Sicilian landscape with views of Mount Etna. We will arrive in Catania where you will have free time to explore the various charming squares and churches.

This evening we arrive into Taormina, our final destination. Transfer to your luxury hotel for a two-night stay.

With views overlooking the gulf of Naxos and Mount Etna, the city of Taormina makes for a truly memorable setting for the end of our voyage. A privately guided tour of the Mount Etna museum with a local volcanologist will start our day before taking time on the slopes of the geological wonder itself at a Sicilian palmento. Here you’ll sample local wines and take lunch amongst the vineyards. This afternoon we’ll have time to relax amongst the gorgeous medieval churches and the stunning Greek theater.

Tonight, we toast the success of the tour at our farewell dinner — complete, of course, with fine wine.

After breakfast, you will be transferred to the airport for onward departures.

Want to lengthen your journey? Add the 5-day “Taste of Italy’ Taormina-Budapest extension. Click here for details.

2021 Dates:

April 26-May 6

The Prices

2021 Pricing Double Single Deposit
Deluxe Class TBA TBA TBA
Superior Deluxe Class TBA TBA TBA

All pricing is per person.

Add the ‘Taste of Italy’ 3-day Taormina-Budapest extension to your trip! Click here for details.


Included in the tour price:

• Arrival and departure transfers.

• A generous drink allowance, including wine, is included with lunch and dinner.

• All gratuities.

• All off-train touring, with personal headsets to make it easy to hear your guide.

• Complimentary tea, coffee and bottled drinking water are available in your cabin 24 hours a day.

• An on-board doctor, with medical facilities, is available, should the need arise.

• 24-hour service attendant.

• Porterage of bags; your bags will be stowed for you on the train and transported to your hotel at the end of your trip.

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The Highlights

  • City tours of Budapest, Venice, San Marino, Bari, Naples, Palermo, and Taormina.
  • Experience one of the few train ferries in the world from the Italian mainland to Sicily
  • Tour crumbling ruins of Pompeii
  • Tour of the ancient city of Valle Dei Templi, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Option to explore historic city center of San Marino, an enclaved microstate and a UNESCO site
  • Tour of Mount Etna & Mount Etna Museum with local volcanologist
  • Authentic Sicilian cooking demonstration & pastry lesson
  • Local wine tastings
  • Accommodation in a five-star hotel in Taormina for two nights
  • Accommodation in five-star Four Seasons Gresham Palace in Budapest for one night
  • Fully inclusive meals, drinks, gratuities, touring, & transfers.
Looking out over the gulf of Naxos in Taormina.
Looking out over the gulf of Naxos in Taormina.
Beautiful dining car set for the evening meal on the Golden Eagle Danube Express. IRT Photo by Angela Walker.
Beautiful dining car set for the evening meal on the Golden Eagle Danube Express. IRT Photo by Angela Walker.
Crumbling ruins of Pompeii under the shadow of Mount Etna.
Crumbling ruins of Pompeii under the shadow of Mount Etna.
Venice, Italy.
Venice, Italy.