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Put the romance back into travel with the most iconic of all rail journeys, from London to Istanbul. Our fast-paced take on the classic Orient Express traverses Central Europe, passing through the iconic cities of Venice, Zagreb and Belgrade, but delving deeper into off-the-beaten-path destinations in Croatia and Serbia.
Explore Tour Leader
16 nights comfortable hotel
1 nights simple overnight train
Trip maximum 16 Explore Average 11
Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.
Our trip begins this morning at London's St Pancras Station, the home of the Eurostar. Here you'll check-in for your Eurostar train and board your (unaccompanied) Eurostar train to Paris. You will have your tickets before you travel.
We meet our Tour Leader off the train at the Gare du Nord, and take the Paris metro together to the Gare de Lyon. Here we board our train to Milan, flying through the French countryside and saying 'buona sera' to Italy after arriving around 10pm this evening.
43 Station Hotel (or similar)
We'll have a full morning in Milan to explore the city at our leisure. A walk through the stylish streets of Milan should begin at the Duomo - Milan's cathedral. This flamboyant building began construction in 1368, and is an absolute masterpiece of Gothic architecture. Its 'rooftop terrace' gives outstanding views across Milan, surrounded by the cathedral's Gothic spires - we recommend that tickets are purchased in advance if you'd like to visit.
Just opposite the Duomo is the Galleria Vittorio Emmanuel II - a glamorous European shopping gallery that is well worth a visit even if the world of high fashion isn't for you. This passage conveniently connects the Duomo with the famous La Scala theatre, and its elegant Renaissance stylings and wonderful mosaics are a fitting home for the fashion houses of Gucci, Versace and more.
After taking lunch in Milan, we catch a 2.5 hour train to Mestre, a mainland offshoot of Venice, connected to the island by a short train ride. Our hotel is located close to the train station, and on arrival in Mestre we'll walk over to check in. We arrive at Mestre in the late afternoon, so we will have time this evening to take the short hop over to Venice Santa Lucia. Venice by night is wonderful for strolling and stopping at local bars to taste an array of 'ciccheti' - sort of Venetian small plates, or tapas.
Note that the return train ticket from Venice Santa Lucia to Mestre is not included in the cost of the tour (it costs approximately 2 euro). This is because when purchased in advance, the train times must be selected. We prefer to give you the option to return to the hotel whenever you choose, and as such you can purchase this ticket at the train station directly.
A&O Hostel Mestre (or similar)
This morning we'll take the train journey again into Venice. For a short ride this journey provides one of the most scenic arrivals into any city, right across the Venetian Lagoon.
The Explore Leader will provide an orientation tour of the city to help us locate ourselves, but the rest of the day free is to explore on our own time. Those who haven't visited this captivating city before may wish to explore the Doge's Palace and St Mark's Basilica. Or if the weather is good, you may prefer to take a boat ride along the famous canals. Forgo the gondolas for a ride on a vaporetto (Venice's water-based answer to a bus service) if you'd rather travel like a local. Stops are located throughout the city and easily researched in advance on the ACTV website.
If you've been to Venice and seen the sights before, you may wish to head further afield. The Cannaregio is an atmospheric district off the tourist path, which houses the Jewish Quarter and some lively cafe culture. Or try catching a boat over to Murano, famed for its glasswork, or Burano, with its array of colourful houses.
At the end of the day, we'll make our way back to Mestre by train, where we spend the night. Similar to yesterday, the return train ticket is not included in the cost of the tour, in order to allow you flexibility to return whenever you choose.
We'll cross two borders today as we travel into Croatia via Villach, Austria. The train schedules are such that we'll have a few hours spare to explore the pretty historic centre of Villach and eat lunch. Although it's a whistlestop visit, Villach's range of traditional restaurants offer the perfect opportunity to add Austrian specialities to our culinary odyssey as we work our way across Europe.
In the late afternoon we'll take our onward train to Zagreb, arriving at night.
Hotel Orient Express (or similar)
Once upon a time, the Baroque city of Varazdin, lovingly named 'Little Vienna' by locals, was the capital of Croatia. For its short reign, until 1776, Europe's finest craftsmen and architects constructed mansions, palaces and the array of superbly colourful pastel houses that line Varazdin's central streets. Its main attraction is the Stari Grad, a medieval castle so fanciful that it looks as though a Disney princess might wander out of it at any moment.
Today we're going to take a bus to this gem of a town, just 80 kilometres north of Zagreb, and explore with a local guide. We'll have a walking tour of the old centre, and, time permitting, we may have chance to visit one of the city's many fascinating museums - the Sermage Gallery of Old & Modern Masters, and the surprisingly beautiful World of Insects are two stand outs. Despite its beauty, which is more than comparable to other classical European cities, Varazdin has escaped the mass tourist trade and retains a sense of 'normal' Croatian life.
We'll return this evening to our hotel in Zagreb.
We'll start the day with a short orientation tour of Zagreb. Famously called a city of museums, with more museums per square foot than any other city in the world, it also has many other architectural structures to boast of. The unique blend of Austro-Hungarian architecture and more hard edged socialist buildings give the city an interesting diversity - its centrepieces are the Gothic Zagreb cathedral and 13th century Saint Mark's Church.
After getting our bearings, we'll have a short time free to discover the city at our own pace - you might like to take the funicular up from the main street (Illica), it's the shortest cable car in the world! - before getting to the train station for an early afternoon train to Osijek, the capital of Croatia's Slavonia region.
Hotel Silver (or similar)
The beauty of train travel is that your route can take you through some unexpected destinations. Osijek is just one of those places - close to the Croatian border with Serbia, it's not a destination that many holiday-makers would visit, being so far from the honeypots of Split, Dubrovnik and the Mediterranean coast. But this Habsburg-built city is just a short distance from one of Europe's largest and most important wetland areas - Kopacki Rit.
Formed by the confluence of the Drava and the Danube, the Kopacki Rit wetlands are a birdwatcher's paradise, playing home to 140 nesting species with many more transient species recorded, from kingfisher and woodpecker to white-tailed eagle and stork. We'll visit the park this morning, travelling there by bus and taking a boat trip through the waterways along with a local guide.
This afternoon we board our train to Vinkovci, where we connect through to Belgrade.
Hotel Prag (or similar)
We begin today with a guided walking tour to see the earliest known areas of the city, Belgrade Fortress and Kalemegdan Park. The fortress is a very appropriate setting to learn about the city's history through the centuries including Medieval, Roman and Ottoman periods. The Romans originally built a fortification here in 2nd century AD due to its excellent strategic viewpoint on the hill overlooking the city and the confluence of the Sava and Danube Rivers. However, when the Huns and the Goths later waged war, the original structure was burnt down but fortunately rebuilt in the 6th century. You'll have a little free time to buy lunch supplies before we begin our train and bus journey to Drvengrad. We take the train from Belgrade to Uzice then drive to Drvengrad. This journey will take us around four hours. Drvengrad (also known as Kustendorf), is a distinctive mountain village built by the international film director, Emir Kusturica, for his movie 'Life is a Miracle'. Everything here is constructed from wood and he wanted to recreate a traditional Serbian village, with the exception that all the streets are named after famous film directors. Nowadays the village is his home, a hotel and also the host of an annual international film and music festival. After visiting the village we continue to our unique accommodation at the old train station of Sharganska Eight. Here we will enjoy a festive dinner with local food and music.
Hotel Sharganska Eight - Mokra Gora (or similar)
This morning, after breakfast, we board the historic narrow gauge railway and steam train, Sargan Eight. The line is part of the former track that once ran between Sarajevo and Belgrade, until it was closed in 1974. The section over the Sargan Pass was renovated by the Serbian government to recapture something of its 1920's heyday and reopened in 1999. It was once admired around the world as a piece of world-class construction, for it allows the train to make the steep climb through the mountains in a figure of eight weaving through 22 tunnels and covering just over 15 kilometres. Although as the crow flies, the distance between the stations of Mokra Gora and Sargan is a mere 3.5 kilometres.
Crossing into Bosnia and Herzegovina in the afternoon, we drive to Visegrad on the Drina River. Here, we will find the inspiration for Nobel Prize-winning author, Ivo Andric's novel, 'Bridge over the Drina'. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it has been an iconic symbol of the region for generations and was the scene of some of the worst atrocities of the Bosnian War. Our local guide will provide some of the historical background during our walking tour of the town. We then return to Mokra Gora for a second night.
In order to avoid travelling back to Belgrade on the train, we'll cross Serbia by bus over the next two days. This also gives us the excellent opportunity to explore its rural heart, taking us into some interesting places that are off the main tourist trail.
A drive of around 3.5 hours brings us to Aleksandrovac, and the centre of Serbia's largest wine-producing region. Surprisingly Serbia does a great trade in robust reds and dry whites, and the final part of our drive will turn into rolling vine-studded hillsides as we enter the town. We'll take the opportunity to taste some of the region's best at one of the wineries here.
After our wine-tasting, we continue to Vrnjacka Banja, a spa town that was once a favoured holiday destination of the aristocracy due to its natural hot springs. Nowadays most of the springs aren't used to swim in, but spa tourism is still very much alive for local Serbians. Hotel Solaris, which we use for most departures, is a fine example of that, with several different swimming pools available for the hotel guests, and a spa offering an extensive range of treatments.
Hotel Pegaz (or similar)
This morning we drive for an hour to the town of Stalac, where we pick up the train again for our onward journey to Nis. This cosmopolitan city is a place where old meets new; where modern cars travel beside horse and carts. It's a university city, so its old alleyways are home to sophisticated cocktail bars, as well as pop-up markets in summer and it has a burgeoning music scene. We'll have an orientation tour of the city, where our Tour Leader will point out Tito's Memorial, the Ottoman Citadel and the somewhat gruesome Skull Tower, which is embedded with the skulls of the rebels that fought and lost to the Ottoman forces at the Battle of Cegar. We then drive to Sofia, a journey of around two and a half hours, arriving to Sofia at about 8pm.
Budapest Hotel (or similar)
Sofia has a long history which can be seen by the onion-domed churches, Ottoman mosques, Roman ruins and old Soviet monuments. However, it is now largely modern and youthful with a wealth of museums, art galleries, cafes and restaurants.
We will have an orientation walk with the Tour Leader including Alexander Nevski Cathedral, Sofia synagogue (entrance not included) the largest synagogue in Southeastern Europe, the Presidential Palace and red brick church of Rotonda Saint George. In your free time this afternoon you may wish to take the metro to visit the Monument to the Soviet Army. This tribute to the Russian soldiers who died supporting Bulgarian efforts during World War II is surrounded by a large park. In recent years its sculpted bronze statues have frequently been vandalised with them being painted in a pop art style. The paint keeps being removed by the authorities and then a new design will appear a short time later. The statues have been all pink, painted in the style of comic book heroes and villains, in the colours of the Bulgarian flag, and more, so who knows what the statues will look like next.
Leaving Sofia this morning on the train, we break our final journey towards Istanbul with a stop in the ancient city of Plovdiv. The old town's winding cobbled lanes are crammed with colourful mansion houses that are now museums, galleries, shops and restaurants, and it's a wonderful place to spend an afternoon. We'll take a walking tour with our Tour Leader, including a visit to the Roman Theatre of Philipoppol, which is still used for concerts and theatrical performances. We'll see the exterior of this and if there are no performances taking place or being setup then you may be able to go inside the theatre.
You'll also have some free time this evening, our last chance to sample Bulgarian cuisine before we enter Turkey. Specialities include kebapche, small and spicy minced meat rolls, and surmi, stuffed cabbage or vine leafs.
The night train to Istanbul departs around 9pm. There is no catering on the train, so purchasing a low cost bottle of Bulgarian wine and some snacks is a great option to while away the evening's journey! We'll be sharing 4 or 6-person berths with a washbasin, and toilets located separately down the carriage. The border crossing and document check happens during the night, and requires disembarking at the Turkish border to get your passport stamped.
Overnight Train Plovdiv to Istanbul
Simple Overnight Train
We've made it - 13 days across Europe, and we finally enter the gateway to Asia as Istanbul Halkali station greets us this morning. A local Turkish guide will meet us at the station and we'll take the Marmaray metre from Halkali to Sirkeci, in the heart of the city. Hotel check-in isn't available until this afternoon but we have a room booked to leave bags and freshen up after the train journey.
We'll head out to a local cafe for our first chance to try a traditional Turkish breakfast, which usually consists of fresh cucumbers, tomatoes and olives, along with a variety of yogurts, cheese and bread. We then explore the 'Old City' on foot, visiting the famous Blue Mosque, the opulent Topkapi Palace and the historic hub of Sultanahmet Square.
This afternoon is free for you to explore at your own pace. A trip to Istanbul's Grand Bazaar is highly recommended - located within the walls of Istanbul, there are around 60 streets and over 3,000 shops selling everything from jewellery to carpets and textiles and furniture to local arts and crafts. It's one of the oldest and largest covered markets in the world.
You may prefer to visit the impressive 6th century Sunken Palace cisterns or the great Hagia Sophia, which reigned as the greatest church in Christendom for 900 years. Alternatively, there is the chance to take a boat trip on the Bosphorus, offering stunning views of the Istanbul skyline. To appreciate the wonderful skyline of domes and minarets further, climb the Galata Tower for a birds-eye view.
Spend this evening enjoying Istanbul's nightlife, with its large selection of restaurants, bars and entertainment.
Centrum Hotel (or similar)
We leave our group behind this morning as some of us end their tour in Istanbul. All travellers extending to Cappadocia will take the Marmaray metro to Istanbul Sogutlucesme Train Station for our train to Konya. The Tour Leader will not be accompanying us on the train south so we'll also say goodbye here.
Please note that the four days in Cappadocia is designed as an extension to our London to Istanbul by train tour. Whilst this Cappadocia extension has been designed to complement the trip, we wish to point out that this extension may not be a group experience, so you may not be travelling with other customers.
The train takes around five hours, and has a cafe car for snacks and drinks. We'll arrive into Konya in the early afternoon, where we meet our Local Guide for the next three days. Konya is Turkey's holiest city, and the home of the Mevlana sect, better known as the Whirling Dervishes. Here, we will visit the Mevlana Museum to learn more about Sufism and the Whirling Dervish tradition. If we're here on a Saturday we may also catch the free Whirling Dervish ceremony!
We'll also tour the Alaadin Keykubat Mosque and the Karatay Medrese for the Seljuk China tile exhibition. In the evening our local guide will point out some of the city's best traditional restaurants, perhaps eating tandir kebab, or 'etli ekmek' - a long crispy pizza with a herby mince on top.
Mesnevi Hotel (or similar)
There are several noteworthy stops en route to Avanos, our base for the next two nights, from which we will explore the lunar landscape of Cappadocia.
Around one hour outside of Konya we'll find the Neolithic settlement of Catal Hoyuk, known in Turkey as the oldest town on earth. After a visit of the site we follow the Silk Road to the 13th century Sultanhani Caravansarai - once the largest roadside inn in Turkey, supporting the flow of commerce between the East and the West. We continue to the Ihlara Valley, a beautiful lush canyon surrounded by towering walls of over 100 metres in height. It's believed that at one point, almost 100,000 people lived in the valley, and worshiped at numerous cave churches that are decorated with colourful frescoes. We'll take a walk through the valley and discover some of these churches.
After a day of exploring, we'll arrive into Avanos, in the centre of Cappadocia. This area is famed for its unique geological formations and a history that stretches back to before the Hittites (2000 BC).
Sofa Hotel (or similar)
Later this morning we have the option of taking a three-hour walk through the remarkable Red and Rose Valleys, helping us to gain a better appreciation of this landscape. Formed by volcanic eruptions which covered the valleys with mud, ash and blocks of hard rock, over the ages this volcanic 'tufa' was sculpted by erosion into strange and improbable shapes. Byzantine hermits settled in this area and carved churches, houses, fortresses and even complete underground cities into these cone formations known as fairy-tale chimneys.
This afternoon we visit Uchisar Castle, where rooms are carved into this massive rock on the top of the Uchisar citadel. From its peak, magnificent views can be gained of the whole region including the valleys that we walked through yesterday. We also spend time in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Goreme Open Air Museum, where we will explore its many rock-carved churches and monastic buildings; some of which feature a stunning collection of wall paintings.
After a busy day exploring you might like to try a popular local yoghurt drink called ayran; it has an unusual salty and soured milk flavour.
The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in Avanos.
There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Avanos at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to depart from Kayseri Airport (ASR), which is about a one hour drive from the hotel.
Austria has a variable climate with frequent changes of weather from day to day. Expect a contrast of warm summer days with the possibility of showers at any time.
2 Pin Round
With only 20 kilometres of coastline on the Adriatic Sea, Bosnia and Herzegovina has a continental climate for the most part, with cold winters and warm summers. There is a chance of sporadic rain in spring and autumn, though generally it is in the form of short showers. Thunderstorms can occur in summer, generally helping to cool the air. In spring to autumn the temperatures are normally in the low to mid 20's (in °C). Much of the country is mountainous or hilly, rising to a height of 2,386 metres and winter snow lies for long periods in the higher regions. Mostar is set back from the coastline on a plain, which has a hotter Mediterranean climate with temperatures averaging in the mid to high 20's (in °C) in spring and autumn and July and August in the low 30's (in °C) - although sometimes temperatures here can get up as high as 40°C.
Islam (mainly Sunni) and Christian (mainly Serbian Orthodox)
Bosnian, Serbian and Croatian
Bulgaria has a somewhat temperate climate, influence by the combination of Mediterranean and Eastern European weather systems. The winters are mild and the summers warm and fresh. The alpine regions can be cooler, but Ezerovo is one of the sunniest areas in this part of Europe, with some 280 days of sunshine a year.
Bulgarian Orthodox, Islam
Bulgarian, Russian and English.
The Croatian Adriatic has a Mediterranean climate with mild winters and warm, dry, sunny summers. There is a chance of sporadic rain in spring and autumn, though generally it is in the form of short showers. Thunderstorms can occur in summer, generally helping to cool the air. Hvar Island gets the most sunshine in summer with 10-12 hours each day, followed by Split, Korcula Island and Dubrovnik with around 7-8 hours. Temperatures from May to October are generally in the low to mid 20's (in °C), but can reach into the 30's (in °C) in July and August. Trip itineraries with boat cruises can occasionally be disrupted due to bad weather.
Across France, from April - August, weather conditions are generally warm and pleasant with moderate rainfall; Autumn temperatures are a bit lower and the winter months (though colder) remain mild. The summer months on the Mediterranean Coast in the south tend to be warmer than the rest of France and have less rainfall, and also more mild winters; freezing conditions are nearly unheard of. The mountainous areas of the Alps, Juros and Pyrenees can be quite different. During summer the morning and evening temperatures are considerably cooler and it becomes much colder in winter with heavy snowfall. Western France, along the English Channel, there can be very strong winds and frequent rain during the winter months Nov - Apr. Wine harvesting takes place in late August/early September.
April/May and October/November are pleasantly warm. June/September are the hottest months. Showers are common in Autumn.
Serbia has a continental climate with warm summers and cold winters. There is a chance of sporadic rain in spring and autumn, though generally it is in the form of short showers. Thunderstorms can occur in summer, generally helping to cool the air. Temperatures from May to October are generally in the low to mid 20's (in °C), but can reach into the 30's (in °C) in July and August - although sometimes warm air currents from Africa can reach here and push the temperatures as high as 40°C.
Christian (mainly Serbian Orthodox)
Summers are hot and dry with refreshing sea breezes and clear waters, great for boat trips. It is often cooler on higher ground and in the mountains and can be cold at night, even in the summer. During the shoulder seasons (loosely speaking, before mid-May and after early October), temperatures and rainfall can be erratic, with some temperatures dropping to 8-12 degrees, and other days being bright and sunny up to 25 degrees. Mountain locations will be cooler than on the coast, of course. In the winter, temperatures usually hover between 0 and 10 degrees, but are usually wet, particularly around the coast. The best time for walking in Turkey is mid-May, June and September, with pleasant temperatures and clear blue skies.
The UK has a temperate but very variable climate. In general the summers are warm with July and August being the warmest. The winters are cool and the lowest temperatures are recorded during January and February. Whatever the season it is advisable to be prepared for rain!
3 Pin Flat
A selection of optional activities are listed below to help you budget for your adventure. Whilst the tour price you pay before you travel includes a great selection of highlights, we have also built in free time to allow you the flexibility to choose from a carefully selected range of additional excursions and activities. Alternatively, take time to relax; the choice is yours. In Milan and Venice, we recommend that you pre-book tickets to avoid queues. Details below. Milan: The Duomo - € 20 for the cathedral, rooftops, museum and archeological area. Tickets can be purchased here: https://ticket.duomomilano.it/en/ Venice: The Doge's Palace - €26. Tickets can be booked here: https://muve.vivaticket.it/en Vaporetto - €8
Select your clothing carefully. Remember, you are expected to carry your own luggage so packing light is essential. In summer, most locations will be hot, while trains will have differing levels of air-conditioning (from high to non-existent!), so light layers are encouraged, and waterproofs are recommended throughout the year.
Comfortable shoes are recommended for travelling and walking around the cities.
As you'll be taking care of your own luggage, including stowing it on the trains, it's absolutely essential that you bring a small suitcase. If you're travelling in a pair, bringing one small suitcase each is much easier than bringing one large one between you. A suitable suitcase size is approximately 61 centimetres (24 inches) in height. Suitcases with wheels are very handy for ease of transportation. Although our ideal size given might seem small, it should help reduce the chance of overpacking and will greatly improve your enjoyment of the tour!
We advise you bring a water bottle for day to day use. We have a partnership with Water-to-Go, who have developed a filtration system that eliminates over 99.9% of all microbiological contaminants. This allows you to drink from any tap, including on trains, or even streams and lakes. You can purchase your own Explore branded bottle with the discount code EXPLORE15. Sunscreen and a sun hat are advised. We also recommend taking a power bank with you, particularly for your overnight train journey, where the carriages have limited plug points.
Bus, Boat, Train
Throughout this trip we use a range of comfortable accommodation, well located for access to train stations and for exploration of these diverse cities. It's worth noting that there may be a maximum of 10-15 minutes' walk from train stations to accommodation, for which you will be required to carry (or pull!) your own luggage. For distances above this, we will take taxis or public transport. If you don't fancy walking at all, that's no problem - taxis are easily available from train station entrances and you can meet the group at the hotel. On Day 12 we'll take an overnight train from Plovdiv to Istanbul. We will book 4 or 6-berth cabins which feature bunk-beds in a compartment with lockable door and wash basin. Toilets are located further along the carriage. All bedding and towels are provided and luggage can be stored underneath the beds or in overhead racks. We will do our best to room groups together, although this cannot be guaranteed, and you may be sharing with non-Explore travellers in the same cabin. The border crossing and document check happens during the night, and requires disembarking at the Turkish border to get your passport stamped.
Can you drink the water?
It is generally possible to drink the local tap water, therefore to reduce the need for single-use plastic bottles we recommend you bring a refillable water bottle with you. Your leader will advise you on refill points each day.
Can you drink the water?
The water quality is poor and therefore it is recommended to avoid drinking tap water during your trip.
Can you drink the water?
It is generally possible to drink the local tap water, therefore to reduce the need for single-use plastic bottles we recommend you bring a refillable water bottle with you. Your leader will advise you on refill points each day.
We strongly recommend that you check your government's travel advisory for up-to-date information and advice about your destination: safety and security, entry requirements, health, local laws and customs. For UK citizens, check the latest Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office advice.
Please refer to our COVID-19 entry requirements page for any country-specific conditions of entry. Whilst we strive to update this on a regular basis we recommend you also check the FCDO website for the latest advice on entry requirements in this fast-evolving situation. Information can change at any time.
Please note that some countries require proof of parental consent when travelling overseas with under 18s. Please check requirements with the relevant embassy or consular office well in advance of travel if this applies to your party.
Once your booking has been confirmed we guarantee the price will not increase, whatever the circumstances. Before booking please ensure you have read our important tour pricing information.Booking Conditions
France, Italy, Austria, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria: Visas not required by citizens of the UK, Australia, New Zealand, US and Canada. Other nationalities should consult their local embassy or consular office. You should confirm all visa related questions with the relevant Embassy prior to departure. Turkey: Citizens from the UK, New Zealand and the EU travelling to Turkey for tourism purposes do not require a visa for visits of up to 90 days. Citizens of Australia, US and Canada require a visa that will last for up to 90 days Other nationalities should consult their local embassy or consular office. In addition to the above visa information, it is essential that you provide Explore with the correct passport information at the time of booking, as this will be required in order to pre-book any applicable train tickets. Corrections and amendments will incur additional charges, so please double check that the information we have for you is up to date and correct, this includes your passport number, full name as per passport (including middle names), date of birth and place of birth; if customers renew or reissue their passports from the details initially given to Explore, train tickets must be cancelled and purchased again, which involves extra costs. If you intend to renew your passport please let Explore know at the point of booking.
If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may be able to apply through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See www.travcour.com to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, with the correct validity for your chosen destination.
Before booking your Explore trip, please ensure that you read both our Essential Information and Booking Conditions.
Customers who have chosen to book on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements of our tour, please ensure that you have checked your tour specific ‘Joining Instructions’ prior to booking your own travel arrangements. Your joining instructions can be found below in the dates and prices information.
You may also be eligible for the Free Explore Transfer.
Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The complimentary transfers will be arranged from the Explore designated airport or train station to your trips joining point, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. Generally the airport or station that Explore have selected will be the one that is closest to the town or city where the trip starts, or the one nearest to the joining point. It will be either an airport or train station but not both.
The exception to this rule is customers who are booked on a tour where the joining and ending point is at the designated airport or train station.
Free transfers are not available for Polar customers.
If you are not eligible for the Free Transfer then you will need to make your own way through to the joining and ending point. On a majority of our tours Explore will be able to provide a private transfer at an additional cost. Please ask for a quote at the time of booking.
For more information regarding the Explore Free Transfer click here
It is a condition of booking with Explore that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency helicopter evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are trekking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. The cost of many of our Polar Voyages will exceed the capped amount covered by standard insurance premiums and you will be required to pay an additional premium to cover the full value of your trip. Please ensure that you are covered for the full amount of your holiday cost, as insufficient cover could invalidate a claim under the policy. Medical and repatriation insurance cover is not mandatory for UK residents who are travelling on trips within the United Kingdom.
Read more information about what travel insurance is required.
Explore offers a wide range of flexible flying options to make joining and leaving our trips easy. Read more about them here.
You are able to book this tour on a 'land only' basis or as a ‘flight inclusive’ package. Your flight inclusive package will be fully protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL protection scheme.
We have a good selection of flights not only from London but from many regional airports around the UK allowing us to compare fares between scheduled carriers as well as low cost and charter airlines. Our dedicated flights team will match the best flight options to your arrival and departure airport.
On our website we display a UK flight inclusive package guide price which is generally based on a London departure. To avoid paying supplements or to secure your preferred flight option, we recommend booking as early as possible, especially for peak travel dates.
Nothing compulsory, but we recommend protection against tetanus, polio and hepatitis A. Tickborne encephalitis is recommended by some medical sources if travelling in certain areas of Europe, at specific times of the year. Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at Explore Travel Health and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling.
Nothing compulsory, but we recommend being up-to-date with your routine vaccination courses and boosters as recommended in the UK including protection against measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, diphtheria, hepatitis A, typhoid and polio. Tick-borne encephalitis protection is recommended by some medical sources at certain times of the year. Ticks are most active between spring and late autumn. Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at Explore Travel Health and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling.
We recommend protection against typhoid, hepatitis A, polio and tetanus. Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at Explore Travel Health and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling.
Nothing compulsory. Tetanus recommended. Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at Explore Travel Health and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling.
Nothing required. Tetanus recommended. Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at Explore Travel Health and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling.
Nothing compulsory, but we recommend protection against tetanus, typhoid, infectious hepatitis and polio. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at http://www.explore.co.uk/Travelhealth/ and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed before departure.
Nothing compulsory, we recommend protection against tetanus, diphtheria, polio and hepatitis A. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at http://www.explore.co.uk/Travelhealth/ and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed before departure.