London to Istanbul by train: This 10-day rail adventure is a slow traveller’s dream

Take a 10-day train adventure across Europe to Istanbul
Take a 10-day train adventure across Europe to Istanbul Copyright Canva
Copyright Canva
By Angela Symons
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Long distance rail journeys are on the rise. Here’s how to travel from London to Istanbul via Munich and Budapest.


Romantic cross-European train journeys have long been associated with the Orient Express. But you no longer need to fork out thousands to make this fabled journey.

From Byway to Tailor Made Rail, companies are cropping up to meet renewed demand for long distance train travel.

An epic trip with the latter takes you all the way from London to Istanbul. Here’s how it works.

Can you get the train from London to Istanbul?

Tailor Made Rail’s 10-day cross-Europe adventure starts on the London to Brussels Eurostar. From here, you’ll pick up the ICE service to Frankfurt and connect onto the train for Munich Hauptbahnhof.

After spending the night in the Bavarian capital, take in views of the Bavarian Sea and rolling hills of Salzburg from the dining car on the direct train to Budapest.

Stop in Budapest on your way from London to Istanbul.Canva

A morning stroll along the Danube will refresh you for your journey on to Bucharest. Departing the Hungarian capital around midday, the sleeper train offers comfortable private cabins - ideal if you’re in need of a nap.

In Romania’s capital, communist-era and ultra-modern buildings jostle for space creating a dynamic cityscape. Spend the night before taking a train across the Bulgarian border to Ruse. Here, you’ll change onto a local service bound for the capital, Sofia.

Explore the domed Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, sip a coffee on the bustling Vitosha Boulevard, then grab a bite to eat ready for your sleeper train journey to Istanbul.

You have three days to explore the Turkish city, from the magnificent Hagia Sofia mosque to the colourful Grand Bazaar. And don’t forget you can even swim at Istanbul’s city beaches.

Not ready to go home just yet? Continue your train journey to see the fairy chimneys of Cappadocia.

Read on for details on how to get back to London.

How do trips with Tailor Made Rail work?

Planning a rail adventure across the continent can be a logistics-heavy pursuit - but companies like Tailor Made Rail take all the stress out of it.

As the company’s name suggests, you can tweak their itineraries to fit your dates, preferred stopovers and luxury level.

Their costs include standard class one-way rail travel with seat or sleeper car reservations, as well as hotel and breakfast at each stopover.

The company then recommends you take a flight home, though you can always return by train if you have time for a longer trip. Read this article for inspiration of the best European train routes in 2023.

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