Imagine the opportunity to experience a whole slew of the world’s most iconic cities. This epic 40-day journey will have you breezing by rail from London, southward and eastward through France, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, and Turkey, to underexplored Iran and the doorstep of the Persian Empire. History-lovers, culture-fanatics, and people-watchers alike won’t want this adventure to end.
Eurostar ride through the Chunnel. Paris orientation walk. TGV train. Lausanne orientation walk. Zermatt stay. The Glacier Express train with lunch onboard. Dachau tour (Munich). Salzburg orientation walk. Vienna orientation walk. 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 Jewelry 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.
Travel across Europe by train, explore tiny villages and big capital cities, savour cuisine across different countries, soak in the dramatic scenery of Switzerland and Cappadocia, absorb the ancient history of the region.
Group Size Notes
Max 15, avg 12.
Trains, subway, ferry, private vehicle, public bus, walking.
Hotels/pensions (33 nts), overnight train (6 nts).
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.
•Light fleece top
•Light windproof/waterproof jacket
•Small towel and swimwear
•Sturdy walking shoes
•Watch or alarm clock
-Camera with extra memory cards and batteries
-Waterproof backpack cover
•Passport (with photocopies)
•Travel insurance (with photocopies)
•Airline tickets (with photocopies)
•Credit or debit card (see personal spending money)
•G Adventures vouchers, pre-departure information and dossier
•Any entry visas or vaccination certificates required
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:
EETR – London to Tehran by Rail: Days 32-40
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
Safety and Security
A Couple of Rules
Planeterra-The G Adventures Foundation
Travel Forum - The Watering Hole
Chief Experience Officer (CEO) throughout, local guides.
Allow USD1135-1475 for meals not included.
28 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 2 dinners
PRODUCT_LINE: EETR, ID: 23621
Day 1: London
There are no planned activities until an evening welcome meeting.
Arrival Day and Welcome Meeting
Day 2: London/Paris (1B)
Board the famous Eurostar train for the journey through the Chunnel to Paris.
Enjoy an orientation walk and free time to visit the Eiffel Tower, dozens of museums, Luxembourg Garden, wander the banks of the Seine or sip wine and eat cheese at a sidewalk café like a local.
Train (2.50 hour(s))
Day 3: Paris (1B)
The Louvre, Musée d’Orsay and Rodin Museum are all worth a visit. Stop by Notre Dame or Sacre Coeur to add some spirituality to your day. Shop on the Champs-Élysées or explore the Left Bank.
Day 4: Paris/Lausanne (1B)
Take a morning TGV train to Lausanne, Switzerland. Spend the afternoon in this charming town.
Train (4.00 hour(s))
Day 5: Lausanne/Zermatt (1B)
Board another train for the journey to Zermatt, a tiny village in the heart of the Swiss Alps. Enjoy the afternoon in the auto-free centre or hiking in the nearby mountains.
Train (3.00 hour(s))
Day 6: Zermatt/Chur (1B, 1L)
Board the Glacier Express for a slow and stunning ride through the Alps. Pass meadows, rushing streams, bridges, villages and massive mountains as the train heads towards Chur. Arrive in the evening after a full day of soaking in the scenery.
Board the Glacier Express and enjoy the stunning view out of the domed glass roof.
Train (5.00-6.00 hours)
Day 7: Chur/Munich (1B)
Take a full day to reach Munich, in the heart of Bavaria. Arrive in time for an optional evening out at a local brewery with a few steins of beer and some typical German fare.
Train (5.00-8.00 hours)
Day 8: Munich (1B)
Explore the city or head further afield to visit Füssen and the famous Neuschwanstein Castle.
Day 9: Munich/Salzburg (1B)
Visit the concentration camp of Dachau, right outside the city centre. Learn of the atrocities of war and the triumph of the human spirit.
Return to the city for a short train ride to Salzburg, Austria. This charming city is brimming with history and character. Known for the nearby salt mines, Mozart and the setting for The Sound of Music, Salzburg has plenty to pack into a day and a half.
Dachau Concentration Camp Visit
Train (1.50 hour(s))
Day 10: Salzburg (1B)
Make the most of a free day in Salzburg. Opt to visit the salt mines or take the famous Sound of Music tour.
Day 11: Salzburg/Vienna (1B)
Continue by train to Vienna. Opt to visit the famous opera house, join a city tour or visit world-class museums.
Train (3.00 hour(s))
Day 12: Vienna/Budapest (1B)
Journey by train to Budapest, the ‘Pearl of the Danube’. The city, split into Buda and Pest by the river, retains its eastern charm with Buda Castle and Turkish-style thermal baths.
Depending on arrival time, opt to visit some city sights or soak in one of the famous baths.
Train (4.00 hour(s))
Day 13: Budapest
Today, new travellers may join you for the rest of your adventure. You are welcome to join them at a group meeting this evening, followed by an optional dinner.
Day 14: Budapest/Sibiu (1B)
Continue exploring Budapest before an overnight train to Sibiu.
Overnight train (beds) (12.00 hour(s))
Day 15: Sibiu/Sighișoara
Explore Sighisoara’s medieval walled citadel with its cultural attractions and great restaurants and bars.
Enjoy a half-day guided tour of the area. Take in the beautiful rolling scenery and visit medieval villages and fortified churches.
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.
Sighișoara Region Guided Tour
Private Vehicle (1.50-2.00 hours, 90km)
Day 16: Sighișoara/Braşov (1B)
Enjoy charming Brasov. Opt to explore the ‘Black Church’ or enjoy a coffee in one of the many cafés. Walk in the medieval centre, one of the best preserved in Romania.
Train (3.00 hour(s))
Day 17: 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 18: 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 19: Bucharest/Veliko Tŭrnovo (1B)
Enjoy this charming town and opt to visit the Tsarevets Fortress just outside the city.
Private Vehicle (3.00 hour(s))
Day 20: Veliko Tŭrnovo
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.
Hike to Arbanasi Village
Day 21: Veliko Tŭrnovo/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 22: Sofia/Plovdiv (1B)
Opt to relax over coffee and a Bulgarian baklava, a specialty of the area.
Train (2.00 hour(s))
Day 23: Plovdiv/Istanbul (1B)
Spend the day exploring more of Plovdiv before boarding an overnight train to Istanbul.
Occasionally, the overnight train to Istanbul will not be running. In those cases, we will use the overnight bus service instead.
Overnight train (beds) (14.00 hour(s))
Day 24: Istanbul
After getting the lay of the land with a local guide, spend some free time visiting all you can in this eclectic city straddling two continents.
In the evening, there will be a farewell dinner for travellers coming from Budapest or London and a welcome dinner for travellers joining the tour here to continue to Tehran.
Day 25: Istanbul/Ankara (1B)
Enjoy some free time in the morning before catching a train to Ankara.
Day 26: 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 27: 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 28: 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 29: 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 30: Van
Enjoy a day trip to Mt Ararat with a visit to the Ishak Pasha Palace.
Day 31: 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 32: 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 33: Tehrān
Spend the day absorbing the scenery from the train, arriving into Tehran in the evening.
Day 34: 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 35: 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 36: 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 37: Shiraz/Isfahan (1B)
Embark on an included visit to Pasargadae and explore the capital and burial site of Cyrus the Great.
Day 38: 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 39: 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 40: Tehrān (1B)
Depart at any time.