Budapest to Tehran by Rail
Discover once and for all what it really means to cross from west to east on this 28-day rail tour from Budapest to Tehran. Stroll the streets of Budapest, chug along through the incredible Romanian countryside, gaze upwards at the dome of Aya Sofia in ancient Istanbul, and then explore the main cities of Iran and wonder how it is you didn’t make it here sooner. Your expert CEOs know just where to take you to make the most of your introduction to this part of the world.
Local Living: Dinner with Local Family, Çavuşin. Budapest orientation walk. Romanian villages and countryside tour (half-day, from Sighisoara). ’Dracula’s Castle’ (Bran). Bucharest orientation tour. Hike to Arbanasi village. Sofia orientation walk. Istanbul city tour with local guide. Anitkabir visit. Traditional dinner with local family (Göreme). Open Air Museum visit. Trans-Asia train. Mt Ararat day trip (Van). Ishak Pasha Palace visit. Ahtamara Island visit. Van Castle visit. Tehran city tour, including Sa’d Abad Palace and the national Jewel Museum. Karim Khan Citadel visit (Shiraz). Vakil Mosque visit. Hafez and Sa’adi tombs visit. Persepolis guided tour. Naqsh-e-Rostam visit. Koran Gate visit. Pasargadae visit. Isfahan city tour. Golestan Palace visit (Tehran). National Museum visit. Carpet Museum visit. Transport between destinations and to/from included activities.
Discover the rich and varied culture of Eastern Europe, visit ’Dracula’s Castle’ and charming Slavic villages, soak in the dramatic scenery of Cappadocia, absorb the ancient history of the region, marvel at the dazzling bazaars and colourful mosques.
While it is our intention to adhere to the route described below, there is a certain amount of flexibility built into the itinerary and on occasion it may be necessary, or desirable to make alterations. The itinerary is brief, as we never know exactly where our journey will take us. Due to our style of travel and the regions we visit, travel can be unpredictable. The Trip Details document is a general guide to the tour and region and any mention of specific destinations or wildlife is by no means a guarantee that they will be visited or encountered. Aboard expedition trips visits to research stations depend on final permission.
Additionally, any travel times listed are approximations only and subject to vary due to local circumstances.
Group Size Notes
Max 15, avg 12.
18 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 2 dinners
Train, private vehicles, public bus, metro, ferry, walking.
We believe solo travellers should not have to pay more to travel so our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and do not involve a single supplement. Single travellers joining group trips are paired in twin or multi-share accommodation with someone of the same sex for the duration of the trip. Some of our Independent trips are designed differently and solo travellers on these itineraries must pay the single trip price.
Hotels/pensions (22 nts), overnight train (5 nts).
My Own Room Exceptions
Days 2, 11, 16, 20, 22, 26 (overnight trains).
For details of your joining hotel please refer to your tour voucher, G Account, the G Adventures App or contact your travel agent.
Please note that day 1 is an arrival day and no activities have been planned on this day. Upon arrival to the city on day 1 (or earlier if you have booked pre-accommodation with us), please make your way to the joining hotel (note that check-in time will be in the afternoon). Once you arrive at the hotel, look for a note or bulletin board in the reception with a note from your CEO. This note will give the details of your Welcome Meeting on day 1 (usually between 5pm and 7pm), where you will get a chance to meet your CEO and other travellers, as well as learn more about how the tour will run. If you don’t see a note, please ask reception for details!
If you are arriving later and will miss the Welcome Meeting, your CEO will leave a note at reception for you with any information you may need, and with morning instructions for the next day.
We don’t expect any problems, and nor should you, but if for any reason you are unable to commence your trip as scheduled, please refer to the emergency contact details provided in this dossier and contact us as soon as possible. If you have a pre-booked transfer, and you have not made contact with our representative within 30 minutes of clearing customs and immigration, we recommend that you make your own way to the Starting Point hotel, following the Joining Instructions. Please apply to your travel agent on your return for a refund of the transfer cost if this occurs.
Should you need to contact us during a situation of dire need, it is best to first call our G Adventures Local Office. If for any reason you do not receive an immediate answer, please leave a detailed message and contact information, so they may return your call and assist you as soon as possible.
EMERGENCY CONTACT NUMBERS
G Adventures UK office (manned UK 8am – 8pm)
+44 (0) 2072439878
If you are unable for any reason to contact our local office, please call the numbers listed below, which will connect you directly with our 24 hour Sales team, who will happily assist you.
Toll-free, from calls within North America only: 1 888 800 4100
Calls from within UK: 0344 272 0000
Calls from within Germany: 0800 365 1000
Calls from within Australia: 1 300 796 618
Calls from within New Zealand: 0800 333 307
Outside North America, Australia, New Zealand, Germany and the UK: +1 416 260 0999
For absolute emergencies after office hours please contact +44 7817 262559
If for any reason you do not receive an immediate answer, please leave a detailed message and contact information, and your call will be returned as soon as possible.
What to Take
We recommend using a backpack for your convenience, or a medium-sized suitcase if you prefer. A daypack is also essential for carrying everyday items. Space is limited on transportation, so there is a limit of one main piece of luggage per person. You will be responsible for carrying your own luggage. You must be prepared to carry your luggage up and down stairs, on and off transportation, and to hotels (max 15-20 mins.)
• Flight info (required) (Printouts of e-tickets may be required at the border)
• Insurance info (required) (With photocopies)
• Passport (required) (With photocopies)
• Required visas or vaccination certificates (required) (With photocopies)
• Vouchers and pre-departure information (required)
• Binoculars (optional)
• Camera (With extra memory cards and batteries)
• Cash, credit and debit cards
• Day pack (Used for daily excursions or short overnights)
• Ear plugs
• First-aid kit (should contain lip balm with sunscreen, sunscreen, whistle, Aspirin, Ibuprofen, bandaids/plasters, tape, anti-histamines, antibacterial gel/wipes, antiseptic cream, Imodium or similar tablets for mild cases of diarrhea, rehydration powder, water purification tablets or drops, insect repellent, sewing kit, extra prescription drugs you may be taking)
• Flashlight/torch (Headlamps are ideal)
• Fleece top/sweater
• Locks for bags
• Long pants/jeans
• Outlet adapter
• Personal entertainment (Reading and writing materials, cards, music player, etc.)
• Reusable water bottle
• Small travel towel
• Toiletries (Preferably biodegradable)
• Watch and alarm clock
• Waterproof backpack cover
• Windproof rain jacket
• Shorts/skirts (Longer shorts/skirts are recommended)
• Sun hat/bandana
Visas and Entry Requirements
PLEASE READ THE ENTIRETY OF THE TEXT BELOW AS THIS IS IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR YOUR ENTRY INTO IRAN***
Please note that visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change. It is important that you check for yourself with the Embassy of Iran. Please, keep in mind that all countries require passports valid for at least 6 months from the moment of departure from the country.
To apply for an Iran visa, all nationalities must present an official Iran Authorization Number/Visa Approval Number.
It is the responsibility of the traveller to check with their nearest Embassy and confirm the requirements for entry into Iran***
IMPORTANT: Once your trip is confirmed, at 90 days prior to your entry into Iran, you must submit an application for your Authorization Number/Visa Approval Number. A link will be emailed to you in your confirmation email. The details will be forwarded to our local agent in Iran and you will be emailed your Authorization Number/Visa Approval Number approximately 45 days after you submit your application. As an Iran Authorization Number/Visa Approval Number is only valid for 30 days once it is issued, you must apply for your visa as soon as you receive this number. Iran LOI’s cannot be rushed.
If you have booked the tour within 90 days of the start date, you must complete this Authorization Number/Visa Approval Number application at the time of booking. You will receive the Authorization Number/Visa Approval Number approximately 15 days before the start of your tour.
As Iran visas are dated specifically for entry and exit, please ensure you enter the correct dates. Americans, Canadians and British citizens must be accompanied by a guide at all times while in Iran, so these dates are important for obtaining your visa. Note that because a guide must be arranged, we can only provide an Authorization Number/Visa Approval Number for the length of the tour, plus any pre or post-night accommodation booked through G Adventures. We allow ONLY 2 pre-nights and 2 post-nights to be booked in Iran, and a complimentary guide will be provided in the cost of the hotel for these days. Any additional days must be requested (allowing 2-3 business days for a response), and will be subject to an additional charge for the guide.
Input your name the same way it is in your passport. The information on the application form must match your passport.
If you have an umlaut or other character not recognized in the english alphabet in your name (ie. ü), please enter it in the longer form (ie. ue).
For the following multi-country trips, the days spent in Iran are as follows:
EABR – Budapest to Tehran by Rail: Days 20-28
Please note: The Iran Government has implemented a new requirement for all American citizens asking passengers to provide a resume or CV in order to issue the LOI. Please make sure to attach this to your LOI application below as both are required to begin this process. This should be a copy of your resume or CV and should contain a cover letter detailing the place and date of your birth, as well as any education and employment you have had and any change in location (countries only). If you have married or had children, it should also detail the dates and locations of these events as well as full names. Finally, please conclude this letter by stating where you currently reside. If you are retired, please also include your date of retirement.
If your country has an official Iran Consulate/Embassy, you must choose this as as your ’Visa pickup Embassy’. If you do not see a local Consulate/Embassy on this list, please locate your nearest neighbouring Embassy or Consulate. Please contact your Travel Agent or G Adventures for further assistance if needed. Most nationalities may be able to obtain a visa upon arrival at the Tehran Airport (Canadians, Americans and British citizens may NOT obtain their visa on arrival), but you must make sure to check with your Embassy if this applies for your nationality before choosing this option. A visa obtained on arrival is only valid for 15 days, so for stays of longer than 15 days you must apply for your visa in advance. A copy of your flight tickets is also required for this option.
At time of writing, the below documents will be needed to obtain your visa (however, we do advise you confirm this with your nearest Embassy):
1. A standard visa application form from the Embassy or Consulate where you will collect your visa
2. 2 colour, passport sized photos, taken within 14 days (most Iranian Embassies require female travellers to have their hair covered under a scarf in these photos)
3. Payment for the visa (this will be dependent on nationality and will sometimes need to be made at a local nearby bank – check with your Embassy to confirm details)
4. Passport with empty pages and at least 6 months validity
5. Iran Authorization Number/Visa Approval Number
6. Resume or CV (for Americans)
7. Trip vouchers as well as proof of onward travel (flight tickets entering and leaving the country)
8. No evidence of any Israeli stamps inside the passport is allowed (your visa WILL be refused if you have Israeli stamps)
9. We also recommend bringing a copy of the itinerary, printable from our website. While this may not be needed, we recommend having a copy on hand if needed.
Please carefully check all the information below prior to submitting***
Once you have received your Authorization Number/Visa Approval Number you can apply for your visa by going to the Iran Embassy you listed in the online application. Processing times vary but generally are between 3 and 6 business days. However, it is best to check with the Embassy/Consulate for clarification on this. Please be aware that Iranian Embassies and Consulates observe many statutory holidays and are often closed, delaying processing time.
We advise all travellers to contact their nearest Embassy to find out the best way to apply for their visa. Depending on nationality and how close to the tour start date it is, there may be a need to visit the Embassy in person***
When you are completing your visa application at the Embassy or Consulate, please make sure that you write the Authorization Number/Visa Approval Number directly onto the application. If there is no spot to do so, please write it clearly on the top of your application.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Because this is a time sensitive process, we highly recommend NOT using a visa service to get your Iran visa.
As the LOI is issued by the Iran Ministry of Foreign Affairs – unexpected delays can occur.
Information accurate as of December 9th, 2015
Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
Please also make sure you have access to at least an additional USD $200 (or equivalent) as an ‘emergency’ fund, to be used when circumstances outside our control (ex. a natural disaster) require a change to our planned route. This is a rare occurrence!
Please see the itinerary for information on optional activities, descriptions and estimated pricing.
Safety and Security
Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government’s advice for their latest travel information before departure. We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe keeping of your passport, air tickets, travellers’ cheques, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewelery at home – you won’t need it while travelling. Many of the hotels we use have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage. When travelling on a group trip, please note that your group leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it deemed necessary, due to safety concerns. Your Chief Experience Officer (CEO) will accompany you on all included activities. During your trip you will have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy and explore at your leisure. While your CEO will assist you with options available in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your itinerary, and we offer no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Although the cities visited on tour are generally safe during the day, there can be risks to wandering throughout any major city at night. It is our recommendation to stay in small groups and to take taxis to and from restaurants, or during night time excursions.
Water based activities have an element of danger and excitement built into them. We recommend only participating in water based activities when accompanied by a guide(s). We make every reasonable effort to ensure the fun and adventurous element of any water based activities (in countries with varying degrees of operating standards), have a balanced approach to safety. It is our policy not to allow our CEOs to make arrangements on your behalf for water based activities that are not accompanied by guide(s).
Swimming, including snorkeling, is always at your own risk. Read more about travel safety for ways to further enhance your personal safety while traveling.
Our small group adventures bring together people of all ages. It is very important you are aware that an average level of fitness and mobility is required to undertake our easiest programs. Travellers must be able to walk without the aid of another person, climb 3-4 flights of stairs, step on and off small boats, and carry their own luggage at a minimum. Travellers with a pre-existing medical condition are required to complete a short medical questionnaire, which must be signed by their physician. This is to ensure that travellers have the necessary fitness and mobility to comfortably complete their chosen trip. While our leaders work hard to ensure that all our travellers are catered for equally, it is not their responsibility to help individuals who cannot complete the day’s activities unaided. Please refer to the physical ratings in this Trip Details document for more information.
Please note that all passengers traveling to Antarctica are required to fill out this questionnaire.
The medical questionnaire can be found online at www.gadventures.com/medical-form.
A Couple of Rules
Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on any trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for our travellers. Our philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter, and in particular the local people who make the world the special place it is. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.
Travel insurance is compulsory in order to participate on any of our trips. When travelling on a group trip, you will not be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance has been sighted by your leader, who will take note of your insurance details. When selecting a travel insurance policy we require that at a minimum you are covered for medical expenses including emergency evacuation and repatriation. A minimum coverage of USD200,000 is required. G Adventures can provide you with the appropriate coverage. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects. Some tours include adventure activities that require extra coverage (e.g. crampon use); please review your itinerary and make sure that you are covered for all included activities. If you have credit card insurance we require proof of purchase of the trip (a receipt of credit card statement) with a credit card in your name. Contact your bank for details of their participating insurer, the level of coverage and emergency contact telephone number.
Planeterra-The G Adventures Foundation
The Planeterra Foundation planeterra.org is a Canadian non-profit organization that helps empower local people to develop their communities, conserve their cultures, and create humane and supportive systems for their endeavours. Planeterra provides capacity building and catalyst grants to get community social enterprises off the ground. These businesses address local challenges by providing benefits for indigenous people, empowering marginalized women, and granting disadvantaged youth access to education, employment, and brighter futures. Planeterra also works to ensure these businesses have a thriving customer base by integrating programs into G Adventures’ itineraries globally.
G Adventures is Planeterra’s largest corporate donor, covering all operating costs so 100% of your donation will bring opportunity to people in need.
G Adventures’ Dollar-a-Day Program provides travellers with the opportunity to give back to the people and places visited on our tours by donating one dollar for every day you are on trip. 100% of these donations go directly to support community development projects worldwide that are implemented by Planeterra.
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You must be 18 to travel unaccompanied on a G Adventures tour. For minors travelling with a guardian over 21 years old, the minimum age is 12.
Check-in times and baggage allowances/restrictions vary by airline and can change at any time. For the most up-to-date information for your flight, please contact your airline. We recommend checking in online in advance to avoid potential delays at the airport.
Chief Experience Officer (CEO) throughout, local guides.
PRODUCT_LINE: EABR, ID: 23622
Day 1 Budapest
There are no planned activities until an evening welcome meeting.
Arrival Day and Welcome Meeting
Day 2 Budapest/Sibiu (1B)
Enjoy an orientation walk of Budapest to get a feel for this westernized city with eastern charm. Opt to spend free time visiting Buda Castle, wandering the streets of Pest, or soaking in a thermal bath. In the evening, board an overnight train to Sibiu.
Overnight train (beds) (12.00 hour(s))
Day 3 Sibiu/Sighișoara
Explore Sighisoara’s medieval walled citadel with its cultural attractions and great restaurants and bars.
Sample some Romanian cuisine—the Casa Dracula (original home of Vlad, the model for Count Dracula) is now a restaurant specializing in hearty meat and game dishes of the region.
Local train (2.50 hour(s), 90km)
Day 4 Sighișoara/Braşov (1B)
Enjoy a half-day guided tour of Sighișoara’s countryside. Take in the beautiful rolling scenery and visit medieval villages and fortified churches.
In the early evening, transfer to Braşov – the best preserved medieval city in Romania.
Sighișoara Region Guided Tour
Private Vehicle (2.00 hour(s))
Day 5 Braşov (1B)
Impressively situated on a rock outcrop and dominating the valley, this 14th century castle is steeped in history and folklore. Soak in the gorgeous countryside as you learn about the creepier side of Romania.
Bran Castle Visit
Day 6 Braşov/Bucharest (1B)
Travel to Bucharest and enjoy an orientation walk. Take time to explore the Soviet-esque architecture, the beautiful cathedral, or indulge in Bucharest’s international cuisine.
Train (4.00 hour(s))
Day 7 Bucharest/Veliko Tarnovo (1B)
Enjoy this charming town and opt to visit the Tsarevets Fortress just outside the city.
Private Vehicle (3.00 hour(s))
Day 8 Veliko Tarnovo (1B)
Hike to the hilltop village of Arbanasi. Soak in the views over Veliko Tarnovo. Opt to go mountain biking or view the murals at the Church of the Nativity.
Arbanasi Village Visit
Day 9 Veliko Tarnovo/Sofia (1B)
A mix of western grandeur and Soviet bulk, Sofia boasts a gold-domed church and delicious international dining.
Sample modern takes on Bulgarian and international food, with some great trendy dining opportunities.
Local bus (3.00-4.00 hours)
Day 10 Sofia/Plovdiv (1B)
Opt to relax over coffee and a Bulgarian baklava, a specialty of the area.
Train (2.00 hour(s))
Day 11 Plovdiv/Istanbul (1B)
Spend the day exploring more of Plovdiv before boarding an overnight bus to Istanbul.
Transfer by bus to Istanbul and arrive just before dinner and some free time to explore.
Local bus (7.00 hour(s))
Day 12 Istanbul
There are no planned activities before an evening welcome meeting.
Day 13 Istanbul/Ankara (1B)
Enjoy an orientation walk around Istanbul before moving on to the capital city of Ankara.
Istanbul Orientation Walk
Day 14 Ankara/Göreme (1B, 1D)
Visit Anitkabir before transferring to the town of Göreme, the base for exploring Cappadocia. With 2.5 days free to explore, there will be plenty of time to tour the area by bike, visit neighbouring villages, trek regional valleys or try a hot air balloon ride.
During one of the evenings, travel to a nearby village and enjoy dinner with a local family.
Dinner with Local Family
Day 15 Göreme (1B)
Outdoor enthusiast? Hire a bike to get around on two wheels or join your CEO on an optional trekking tour through one of the beautiful valleys of the region.
If you want to go further afield, take a local bus to explore nearby villages.
If you pre-booked the Cappadocia hot air balloon ride, you will be flying today (weather permitting).
Göreme Open Air Museum Guided Tour
Day 16 Göreme/Tatvan (1B)
Enjoy one more morning in Cappadocia before driving to nearby Kayseri. Board an overnight train for Eastern Turkey.
Overnight train (beds)
Day 17 Tatvan/Van
Arrive to Tatvan and board a ferry for the scenic ride across Lake Van. Arrive to the other side and the town of Van in the afternoon.
Day 18 Van
Enjoy a day trip to Mt Ararat with a visit to the Ishak Pasha Palace.
Day 19 Van
Use a full day here to enjoy Lake Van. Drive to Gevas for a short cruise to Ahtamara Island to visit a beautiful Armenian Church. Opt to swim at the local beach.
Day 20 Van/Tehrān
Enjoy another day in the Van area with a visit to the Van Castle. Board the Trans-Asia train in the evening for the journey to Tehran.
Overnight train (beds)
Day 21 Tehrān
Spend the day absorbing the scenery from the train, arriving into Tehran in the evening.
Day 22 Tehrān/Shiraz (1B)
Explore Tehran with a local guide, visiting the Sa’d Abad Palace and National Jewel Museum before boarding an evening train to Shiraz.
Overnight train (beds)
Day 23 Shiraz (1L, 1D)
There is free time to explore the city’s beautiful Regents mosque, Nasiralmolk mosque, Khan madrasa, Bagh-e Eram gardens, and perhaps even listen to some poetry being recited at the Hafez tomb.
This vibrant student city is buzzing with life and is a great place to interact with some Iran’s youth.
Day 24 Shiraz (1B)
Travel to Persepolis to explore this fascinating sight. On the way back to Shiraz, visit the rock cut tombs at Naqsh-e-Rostam, the burial place of Darius the Great and his successors.
With free time, enjoy the vibe of Shiraz.
Day 25 Shiraz/Isfahan (1B)
Embark on an included visit to Pasargadae and explore the capital and burial site of Cyrus the Great.
Day 26 Isfahan/Tehrān (1B)
Wander the tree-lined boulevards of Isfahan, the jewel of ancient Persia. On a city tour, visit Imam Square and mosque, Sheikh Lotfallah Mosque, and the Ali Qapu Palace. Wander the bazaar and learn the history of Isfahan’s bridges.
Stop in a miniatures shop and learn about this intricate art form before sampling some delicious gaz, a candy famous in Isfahan.
Isfahan City Tour
Overnight train (beds)
Day 27 Tehrān
Ramble through the enormous bazaar and visit the Imam Khomeini Mosque. View the many political murals that surround the former US Embassy then relax like the locals do by drinking chai and chewing on dates in a traditional chaikhuneh (teahouse).
Try some more of the fine Iranian cuisine like dizi (stew you crumble bits of bread into and mash up with a mortar and pestle right at the table!) while enjoying traditional music at a local restaurant.
Day 28 Tehrān (1B)
Depart at any time.