Imagine taking a private train ride stopping at storybook spots like Dracula's castle in Romania, the ornate palaces of the ancient emperors of Bulgaria, the fabulous Land of the Fairy Chimneys in Turkey and the historic ruins of Persepolis in Iran.
Iran? That's right. Global tour operator MIR Corporation promises its new 15-day “Jewels of Persia” trip set to debut next year will be something to write home about.
“For the first time ever, a European private train tour will be allowed into Iran,” says MIR Vice President Annie Lucas. “Intrepid travelers will be a part of history on this truly unique journey.”
Passengers boarding the train after a champagne reception in Budapest's Royal Waiting Room might feel like they're on a five-star hotel on wheels. Aboard, the 65 or so persons on the tour will find posh amenities and sit down to gourmet-class meals. Plus, your deluxe cabin has side-by-side beds instead of upper and lower berths.
The train – called “the Golden Eagle Danube Express” – is slated to kick off its inaugural run from Hungary to Iran on Oct. 14, 2014. After stops at jaw-dropping places in Romania and Bulgaria and at three cities in Turkey (Istanbul, Cappadocia and Akhtamar Island) the tour features excursions to the Iranian sites of Isfahan, Shiraz, and Persepolis (built by super-kings like Darius and Xerxes the Great) before ending up in Tehran on Oct. 28.
All-inclusive prices for the tour start at $12,995 per person (double occupancy) including hotel and train accommodations, all meals, ground transportation, sightseeing excursions with local guides, and gratuities. You're on your own for flights to and from Budapest and Tehran.
About MIR Corporation: The Seattle-based company has specialized in European and Asian tours since 1986. MIR has twice been named one of National Geographic Adventure's "Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth."
Tour catalog: You can request a free catalog of all of MIR's tours on the company's website.