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The Ultimate Guide to Venice-Simplon-Orient-Express Train Routes

  • Inspiration
  • By Francesca Brooking
  • Published 12 October 2022
  • Revised 27 April 2023

The iconic Venice-Simplon-Orient-Express, a Belmond Train doesn’t just conjure up Agatha Christie’s murder mysteries. It also recalls a golden age of travel when trains carried their passengers to romantic destinations in luxury. 

The glamorous antique train first traversed Europe in the 1880s and became most popular at the height of the 1930s. Almost 100 years later, the legendary train stopped running altogether – that is, until Belmond reopened it in 1982. 

Now, luxury train travel is seeing a revival so how better to celebrate it than with a ride on one of its biggest legends. If you want to relive the old-world glamour of the ‘30s, here are the best Orient Express train routes to inspire you. 

Venice-Simplon-Orient-Express train routes from London

The Orient Express offers departures from London, but for most of them, you don’t board the train until you reach mainland Europe. Instead, you transfer under the Channel via the Eurostar. 

Although, on some routes like London to Venice, you start your journey on British Pullman, A Belmond Train at London Victoria station. You'll be able to check which train you depart on depending on the route you want to do.

There are nearly two dozen routes you can take through Central Europe, starting from Amsterdam, Venice, Verona and more. However, we think Paris is one of the best cities to start your Orient Express adventure simply because it offers the most routes. It’s also the starting point of the original Orient Express. 

Read on to find a selection of some of our top recommended Orient Express experiences. 

The best Orient Express train routes from Paris

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Paris to Cannes itinerary

Take the luxury train down the centre of France for one night and wake up the next morning on the French Riviera. The Paris to Cannes route evokes old-world glamour as you follow in the footsteps of Hollywood film stars. 

Once you’ve settled into your cabins, you’re invited to nibble on pastries while the French countryside whizzes past your window. 

Dinnertime is a grand affair so dress in your best. Spend the rest of the evening sipping cocktails and dancing the night away. Tumble into bed and wake up the next morning to breakfast and views of the Côte d’Azur. 

A sofa with a view inside the Venice-Simplon-Orient-Express

A sofa with a view inside the Venice-Simplon-Orient-Express

Paris to Budapest itinerary

Settle in while you cross Central Europe from Paris to Budapest. Enjoy a sumptuous dinner made with seasonal ingredients as the train speeds through eastern France before traversing on a gradual descent through Germany. 

After you’ve dined like royalty, head to Bar Car '3674' where champagne flows and a pianist plays your favourite tunes. Grab a midnight brunch before slipping under the covers to dream. 

The next morning, breakfast is served accompanied by views of Alpine peaks. Enjoy a three-course lunch to set you on your way as you arrive in Hungary.  

The luxury train going round a bend

The luxury train going round a bend

Paris to Innsbruck itinerary

This one-night itinerary takes you on an evening of extravagance as the Orient Express travels from France into northern Switzerland and Austria. 

Wine, dine and party as the light fades but make sure you wake up with the dawn the next morning. An Alpine feast for the eyes awaits, peppered with lakes and lush meadows. Purchase a memento from the onboard boutique to commemorate the occasion before you depart. 

Innsbruck is a fitting destination to end your Orient Express experience. This colourful city offers the best of both nature and culture. 

The Venice-Simplon-Orient-Express travelling through Austria

The Venice-Simplon-Orient-Express travelling through Austria

Paris to Prague itinerary

Traverse Central Europe in a leisurely night before disembarking in Prague, the Czech Republic capital. Enjoy views of forested hills and pretty villages as the train intersects the south of Germany. 

Raise a glass of Czech beer as you pass by Pilsen country before dining on a relaxed three-course lunch. Once you arrive in Prague, the beautiful old and new towns of the city will give you plenty to do to help you walk off all that deliciously rich food. 

Inside a suite

Inside a suite

Paris to Florence itinerary

Romance, luxury and leisure – that’s what you can expect from the Paris to Florence route. The perfect way to start a honeymoon in Italy, the Orient Express stops at Geneva before chugging down to the Tuscan capital. 

The journey is one night but you spend the best part of the next day relaxing over delicious nibbles as the Alps give way to the regions of Piedmont, Emilia-Romagna and at last, the vineyards of Tuscany. 

Your lavish Belmond trip doesn’t have to end in Florence. Spend a night or two at Villa San Michele, a gorgeous Belmond hotel carved into the Florence hilltop. Then, visit Castello di Casole, Belmond’s 10th- century estate in the Tuscan countryside. 

Belmond Villa San Michele

Belmond Villa San Michele

Paris to Rome itinerary

This itinerary follows the same route as the Paris to Florence one except the Orient Express snakes further down Italy to Rome. Languish over dinner and then make your way to the Bar Car dressed to impress as the train travels down France, touches Switzerland and onwards to Italy. 

The next morning, take breakfast in your cabin and then wander the dining car for more nibbles while you take in the view from the window. 

From Florence to Rome, there is 231km of Tuscan countryside to enjoy. Look out for fortified farms and medieval hill-top villages whizzing past. Arrive in Rome in time for gelato and an aperol spritz. 

Cocktails in the Bar Car

Cocktails in the Bar Car

Paris to Vienna itinerary

Board the train in Paris and once settled, meander through to the dining car for a luxurious lunch. Bring a book or a pack of cards as you while away the afternoon crossing France and Germany. 

This one-night itinerary is similar to the Paris to Prague route except you disembark in the Austrian capital instead. 

Let yourself sink into blissful contentment as the train’s restored old-world glamour takes you back to the 1920s. Arrive in Vienna and walk along the Danube River in the footsteps of Mozart and Beethoven. 

The Orient Express travelling through the Alps

The Orient Express travelling through the Alps

Paris to Verona itinerary

The perfect itinerary for a couple’s getaway, this route travel between two of the world’s most romantic cities – Paris and Verona. 

The train journey intersects Switzerland so make sure to curl up beside a window with a glass of champagne to toast the breath-taking Alpine view. If you take this trip in winter, you’ll be greeted by a snow-covered wonderland that will make you feel warm and cosy. 

Arrive in Verona, the medieval city which provides the setting for William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Visit Juliet’s House, a 14th-century residence with a small balcony overlooking the courtyard. 

The ensuite bathroom in a Grand Suite

The ensuite bathroom in a Grand Suite

Paris to Venice itinerary

Arrive at the City of Water in style via a one-night train journey that traverses through Verona. Explore the many opulent carriages on the train as it winds its way down through France, Switzerland and at last northern Italy. 

The next day, take breakfast in your cabin and then relax over a three-course meal at noon before arriving in Venice by mid-afternoon.

Make your luxury experience one to remember by staying at Belmond’s Hotel Cipriani, a beautiful Venetian hotel perched on Guidecca Island with shimmering lagoon views. It's a fitting end to one of the most lavish Orient Express trips! 

Belmond Hotel Cipriani

Belmond Hotel Cipriani

Paris to Istanbul itinerary

Last but by no means least, the Paris to Istanbul route is quite possibly the most special route of all. That’s because it’s the original 1889 route of the Orient Express revived. 

Available in 2023, about 134 years after the first direct train from Paris to Istanbul, this glamorous five-night expedition is back. 

Following along almost the same track, the Venice-Simplon Orient Express crosses the length of Central Europe traversing countries including France, Germany, Austria, Hungary and Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey. 

The one key difference between this itinerary and the others is that it also features hotel accommodation and experiences in both Budapest and Bucharest integrated within the cost of the ticket. 

Off-train activities include a city tour in both cities plus a Danube cruise and a visit to Pele Castle in Romania. It certainly is one of the top Orient Express holidays!

The train conductor on the Orient Express

The train conductor on the Orient Express

Venice-Simplon-Orient-Express FAQs

Where else can you go on the Orient Express?

The Orient Express route itineraries listed above are by no means exhaustive. There are nearly two dozen routes you can do, including departing from Amsterdam, Brussels, Geneva and London (with the Eurostar). Plus, you can enjoy most of the routes above in reverse, too. 

What should you wear on the Orient Express?

This iconic train journey is your invitation to spare no expense with the glitzy ballgowns. Bring all your fanciest garments. In fact, keep an eye out for any themed nights that coincide with your trip. 

You’ll be notified about the dress code before you go, but jeans and tennis shoes are a no-no. Bring cocktail dresses and suits for the evening, and smart casual outfits for the day. 

Need a little inspiration? Pretend you’re attending an Agatha Christie soiree and you can’t go wrong. 

What should you pack for the Orient Express?

Aside from your ballgowns, it’s recommended that you pack light as the luggage racks are small. Larger suitcases are put in the train’s storage, and you won’t have access to them during your trip.
If you’re a light sleeper, bring earplugs to avoid the noise of the train keeping you up at night. 

Who owns the Orient Express?

The official name of this train is Venice-Simplon-Orient-Express. It’s currently owned by Belmond, a company which also operates 45 other luxury hotels, restaurants, tourist trains and river cruises in 24 countries. 

From luxury to history and literary legends, the Venice-Simplon-Orient-Express, A Belmond Train has got it all. Whichever route you choose, each one will allow you to relive the golden age of European train travel revived once more in this icon of the rails. 

If you would like to know more about this iconic train journey and the best Orient Express route for you, call our experienced luxury travel team on 0203 816 0985. Bon Voyage!

Tagged: Europe
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