London to Istanbul by rail vacation
This isn’t the Orient Express – it’s faster and more adventurous, and what it doesn’t have in terms of panelled carriages and silver service, it makes up for with plenty of time off the train to explore great European cities, Croatia and rural Serbia.
London Paris Milan Venice Villach Zagreb Varazdin Osijek Kopacki Rit wetlands boat trip Belgrade Drvengrad Sargan Eight Train Vrnjacka Banja spa town Nis Sofia Plovdiv Istanbul Optional extension to Cappadocia
US $4640 excluding flights
Description of London to Istanbul by rail vacation
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As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we've screened this (and every) vacation so that you can travel knowing it will help support the places and people that you visit, and the planet. Read how below.
PlanetYou couldn't get a more inherently sustainable way to travel than by train. Not only is it a wonderful way to see landscapes change as you traverse a country, or in this case an entire continent, but it has an extremely low carbon footprint compared to flying or using vehicles.
Part of our rail journey takes us on the historic Sargan Eight Railway, which was once admired as a piece of world-class construction, for it allows the train to make the steep climb through the mountains in a figure of eight weaving through 22 tunnels across 15 kilometres. By visiting this attraction we’re helping to support the ongoing maintenance needed for the steam train and rail track.
We also visit the Kopacki Rit Wetlands during the trip, an enormous wetland area in Croatia that has an incredible biodiversity (and is listed as a RAMSAR site of international importance). Our visit here is undertaken with a local guide, in a boat and on foot. We'll learn about the protection measures that are taking place here, and of course the cost our visit goes towards the site's ongoing conservation efforts. The wetlands provide a habitat for over 200 bird species as well as large deer and wild boar populations along the Danube and Drina deltas.
As a travel company we are continually looking for ways to improve and are proud to be ‘Responsible in everything we do’. Education is key, and so all staff, Tour Leaders and partnering suppliers are trained in responsible and sustainable tourism. At our Head Office, we continually strive towards a sustainable and planet-friendly working environment, including having solar panels installed and a company commitment to reducing our plastic usage.
PeopleWe're keenly aware of the impact of mass-tourism on local communities, which is why we try to incorporate smaller gems in amidst a tour of highlights. In Venice, for example, taking the train in a small group of maximum 18 people is much better than a deluge of cruise ship passengers who only visit one or two places before departure. Our tour leaders also find small eateries and cafes away from the tourist crowds at St Mark's Square.
In Serbia, we have purposely plotted the trip so that instead of going direct from the big cities of Belgrade and Nis into Bulgaria, we take you right through its rural heart, away from the well-trodden tourist trail. You'll go wine-tasting at a local vineyard in Aleksandrovac, and stay overnight in a mountain village called Drvengrad. This village was built by a Serbian film director, with the aim of creating a place to preserve Serbian traditions and culture - not just film but ceramics, painting and music.
As this trip moves through Europe, you'll see the trains transform from well-appointed high-speed carriages to ex-soviet rolling stock with plenty of character but not many amenities. Train travel is a way to integrate you into local life - so it's an opportunity to talk to the person next to you, find out a bit about their lives and share some of yours.
As a company we have valuable and longstanding partnerships with UK charities Toilet Twinning and Send a Cow, plus many smaller initiatives and projects around the world. We’re members of the UK travel industry body AITO because we believe it’s important to share our knowledge and experience, as well as learn from other operators.