Your order

Limited offer: make your Pass 100% refundable for FREE with Plus. Buy now →

:
:
:
Days
Hours
Minutes
Seconds

London to Istanbul

 

It’s one of the world’s most iconic rail journeys: London to Istanbul (once Constantinople) through Paris. Agatha Christie’s exciting detective novel Murder on the Orient Express, gave the route a legendary status.

Now, the latest film adaptation starring Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer and Penelope Cruz shows that the route still evokes a sense of grandeur. Athough the service itself doesn’t exist anymore, it’s still possible to travel by rail from London to Istanbul.

1. London, Great Britain

The first part of your epic rail adventure involves boarding the Eurostar high-speed train from London St Pancras to Paris Gare du Nord. The trip can take as little as 2 hours and 23 minutes.

With Interrail you're covered for travel on the Eurostar – you’ll just have to reserve a seat.

Big Ben at night, London, UK

Big Ben at night, London

From London to Paris

Travel time:

2h15m

Transfer:

0

Reservation needed:

  • London, Great Britain

    London St Pancras

  • 2h 15m

    Reservation required

  • Paris, France

    Gare du Nord

2. Paris, France

Spend a while exploring the French capital, giving yourself time to look around the beautiful Parisian train station. It witnessed the very first departure of the legendary train services in 1883.

When you’ve seen enough of Paris (has anyone ever, by the way?), hop on the daily direct TGV service to Munich from Gare de L’est – it takes you there in just 5 and a half hours, arriving in Munich in the evening.

Again, with Interrail you're covered for the TGV high-speed train, just make sure you reserve a seat beforehand.

The Eiffel Tower at Dawn - Paris, France

The Eiffel Tower at Dawn - Paris, France

From Paris to Munich

Travel time:

5h30m

Transfer:

0

Reservation needed:

  • Paris, France

    Gare de l'Est

  • 5h 30m

    Reservation required

  • Munich, Germany

    München Hbf

3. Munich, Germany

Don’t let a visit to Munich – the capital city of the Bavaria region – pass by without visiting at least one of its famous Biergartens.

Ready to venture further east? Take the daily Euronight Lisinski train from Munich to Zagreb, passing through Austria and Slovenia. You’ll arrive in Zagreb in the morning.

Choose to nap in a seat or have your own bed aboard the night train.

Beer garden in Munich, Germany

Three men in beergarden Munich

From Munich to Zagreb

Travel time:

9h18m

Transfer:

0

  • Munich, Germany

    München Hbf

  • 9h 18m
  • Zagreb, Croatia

    Zagreb Glavni Kolod

4. Zagreb, Croatia

In Zagreb, be sure to visit the historic luxury hotel Esplanade Zagreb Hotel. Built in 1925, it provided accommodation for the well-to-do rail travellers who passed by.

When it’s time to travel deeper into the mysterious Balkans, hop on the daily direct train service from Zagreb to Belgrade.

The train journey takes 6 and a half hours, arriving in the Serbian capital at the beginning of the evening.

View from high over Zagreb

View from high above sunny Zagreb, where people are walking from across the main square to red umbrella covered markets

From Zagreb to Belgrade

Travel time:

6h30m

Transfer:

0

  • Zagreb, Croatia

    Zagreb Glavni Kolod

  • 6h 30m
  • Belgrade, Serbia

    Beograd Glavna Železnička Stanica

5. Belgrade, Serbia

Stay at least one night in Belgrade, because its nightlife is legendary. Easy on the booze though, you have a big day ahead of you tomorrow. The daily service from Belgrade onward to Sofia is closed until at least September 2018. But you can still make it!

Remember, just like the passengers back in the 19th century, we are looking for an adventure into the unknown. So let’s keep an open mind and head off the beaten track.

​First, take the train from Belgrade to Nis, Serbia’s second biggest city. This takes about 5 hours. From here, change trains and head to the Serbian border town of Dimitrovgrad. There are several bus companies here that take you across the border to the Bulgarian capital in about an hour for only a few euros.

Belgrade fortress

Image of the ruins of Belgrade fortress surrounded by green trees and fields

From Belgrade to Sofia

Travel time:

9h47m

Transfer:

2

  • Belgrade, Serbia

    Beograd Glavna Železnička Stanica

  • 4h 27m
  • Niš, Serbia

    Železnička Stanica Niš

  • 4h 20m
  • Dimitrovgrad, Serbia

    Železnička stanica Dimitrovgrad

  • 1h 0m
  • Sofia, Bulgaria

    Sofia

6. Sofia, Bulgaria

Take some time to relax in laid-back Sofia as you embark on the final part of your journey into the exotic: the Sofia-Istanbul Express. This new train service takes you from Bulgaria to Turkey overnight, arriving in Istanbul in the early morning.

Couchette reservations start from just €10

St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Sofia

Cheapest cities in Europe | Sofia, Bulgaria

From Sofia to Istanbul

Travel time:

10h0m

Transfer:

0

Reservation needed:

  • Sofia, Bulgaria

    Sofia

  • 10h 0m

    Reservation required

  • Istanbul, Turkey

    Halkali

7. Istanbul, Turkey

As soon as you hear the call for prayer from the numerous mosques around the city, you know that you’ve made it to the Orient. You did it: you relived the classic London to Istanbul rail journey!

Istanbul at dawn

Istanbul at dawn