The Danube Express route stretches from the Alps to the historic cities of the Balkans, between Michelin meals and stays in five-star hotels. And trains like this one may be the future of travel in a world increasingly concerned with sustainability issues, where air travel seems like an option for those who want to remain oblivious to the need to curb emissions. Railroads be the new platform for travelers who don’t mind a return to a past where everything was done slower.
There’s been an increase in the number of comfortable, luxury trains, many of them reborn from the golden age of railroading. The Danube Express is one such train that has made a triumphant return to the historic European tracks.
Composed of carriages dating back to the 1950s and others recovered from the 1980s, the machine began its luxurious routes in 2008, mostly connecting Budapest, Hungary, to Istanbul, Turkey, with stops in Romania, Bulgaria or Serbia. In 2014 it was acquired by Golden Eagle Luxury Trains and today they provide some of the most exciting and luxurious train travel in and around Europe.
This may be where many travelers find their next big trip for 2022, in an experience radically different from the hectic travel on low cost companies, always done at a fast pace. One of Golden Eagle’s routes for next year starts in May and is called Habsburg Express, a journey between lakes and forests, which takes travelers to the Balkans and small German and Austrian towns.
The itinerary begins in Vienna, where guests are entitled to a one-night stay in one of the city’s luxury hotels, where dinner will also be served. Travelers will have another day to explore the surroundings, before departing the train station for Lake Chiemsee, where guests will experience the ride in an 1887 steam carriage, before heading to Salzburg, Austria, where another luxurious dinner awaits you.
The journey continues through the Slovenian Alps to the capital Ljubljana. The Danube Express will pass through Rijeka in Croatia, Sarajevo in Serbia, and Mostar, a historic city in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The eight-day trip ends on a high note with two days in Dubrovnik, including a night in a luxury hotel and dinner at Nautika, the Michelin-starred restaurant on the historic city walls.
Practically the entire trip is made on the historic train, which is actually a hotel on the tracks. In addition to the carriages dedicated to the restaurant and the lounge bar, guests have a private cabin. There are two types: the most luxurious, Superior Deluxe, has a folding king-size bed in a cabin of 8.6 square meters, air conditioning, private bathroom, and closet.
The Deluxe is a bit smaller, with 7.7 square meters of space, but otherwise has the same level of comfort and luxury. All beds are collapsible and can turn into benches and sofas during the day to offer guests more space. The Habsburg Express is scheduled for May 18 to 25, with prices starting at 10,000 euros for the Deluxe cabin and reaching 22,000 euros for the Superior Deluxe.
Between destinations, drinks and snack are available at the bar, and there are also entertainment events scheduled for each route. The restaurant offers breakfast every day, as well as the possibility of lunch and dinner with a menu.
The Habsburg Express itinerary includes two luxury hotel stays, one day before departure and one day after arrival at the destination. Dinners in local restaurants to sample traditional meals are also planned. The tickets already include meals on board, as well as drinks in the bar, for a total of six breakfasts, five lunches, and six dinners.