Cruise & Rail: Milan, Venice, Istanbul & the Balkans (2025)

Milan to Istanbul | 10 Days

Date Range: May 2025 - May 2025

Ships : S.S. La Venezia

Countries: Italy

Begin your journey in stunning Milan and embark on your cruise in romantic Venice. These two legendary cities will bookend unforgettable experiences throughout the Veneto region. Then set off on a private train journey to Istanbul—the perfect addition to a river cruise. Along the way, visit Alpine lake towns, historic cities across Eastern Europe, and more.

Begin your journey in stunning Milan and embark on your cruise in romantic Venice. These two legendary cities will bookend unforgettable experiences throughout the Veneto region. Then set off on a private train journey to Istanbul—the perfect addition to a river cruise. Along the way, visit Alpine lake towns, historic cities across Eastern Europe, and more.

Begin your journey in stunning Milan and embark on your cruise in romantic Venice. These two legendary cities will bookend unforgettable experiences throughout the Veneto region. Treat yourself to a private evening lighting ceremony at St. Mark’s Basilica. Depart the enchanting “City of Water” to explore the waterfront shops, colorful facades, and peaceful canals unique to Burano, Mazzorbo, and Torcello. Farther south, discover Chioggia—a charming southern port loved by fishermen, artists, and anyone looking for unique gifts or souvenirs.

Then set off on a private train journey to Istanbul, during which you’ll sleep on the luxury Golden Eagle Danube Express with ever-changing views at your window—the perfect addition to a river cruise. Along the way, visit Alpine lake towns, historic cities across Eastern Europe, and more.

Milan to Istanbul | 10 Days
Note: The itineraries presented are subject to modification due to water levels, closures because of public holidays or other uncontrollable factors. Every effort will be made to operate programs as planned, but changes may still be necessary throughout the cruise. This day-to-day schedule is subject to change. Your final day-to-day schedule will be provided onboard on the first day of your cruise.

DAY 1 Milan
Arrive at Milan Malpensa Airport. If your cruise/tour package includes a group arrival transfer or if you have purchased a private arrival transfer, you will be greeted by a Uniworld representative and transferred to the Rosa Grand hotel.

Featured Excursion:
DAY 2 Milan
Milan is a mecca for Italian fashionistas, famous for its innovative design and stylish flair. Venture inside the city’s hulking Gothic cathedral, as well as its cathedral to capitalism, Europe’s oldest shopping arcade. Alternatively, you can join a Masterpiece Collection optional excursion to Lake Como and Bellagio. This experience is bookable upon arrival, so please inquire with your tour manager about pricing and availability after check-in on Day 1.

Featured Excursion:
DAY 3 Milan (Verona/Valpolicella), Transfer to Venice (Embark)
En route to Venice, you’ll stop in the literary hometown of Shakespeare’s famously star-crossed teen lovers to see the sights. Later, enjoy lunch at a historic wine estate owned by descendants of Dante and learn about one of the most unique Italian wines, Amarone di Valpolicella.

Featured Excursions:

This evening you’ll arrive in Venice and embark. Unpack, relax and enjoy your first evening on the Venetian Lagoon. A compulsory safety drill and briefing, along with the welcome briefing, will be organized shortly before dinner, but this will be a quick and easy part of your journey.
DAY 4 Venice
With your early morning arrival at Doge’s Palace, you’ll be able to marvel at the estate in total peace. Wander through a Venetian neighborhood and experience daily life in an authentic Venetian residential quarter. Later in the evening, cap the day off with a private once-in-a-lifetime experience at an after-hours lighting ceremony inside St. Mark’s Basilica without the crowds.

Featured Excursions:
DAY 5 Venice, Mazzorbo (Burano)
Start your morning in one of two of the Veneto region’s UNESCO World Heritage cities, Vicenza or Padua. In the afternoon, you'll reboard the ship for scenic sailing across the lagoon as we head towards Mazzorbo and Burano.

Featured Excursion:

Other Excursions:

Set out for Vicenza, a beautiful town famous for its shopping, its architecture, and for being the home of the Teatro Olimpico. Considered by many to be one of the greatest masterpieces of famous 16th-century architect, Andrea Palladio, the Teatro Olimpico is the oldest Italian Renaissance theater still in existence. A first of its kind, this indoor theater was crafted in wood, stucco, and plaster, with seating room for 400. Enjoy a captivating light and music show while you’re here—an absolute must-see. Afterwards, enjoy lunch on your own in town.

Vicenza with Teatro Olimpico

Join your local guide on a walking tour of medieval Padua. Discover the city’s great squares, churches and palaces.

Padua flourished as a hub of learning and discovery in the 13th and 14th centuries. The second-oldest university in Italy was founded here in 1222, hosting such students as Copernicus and faculty as Galileo. Immediately outside the Palazzo del Bo, the university’s first home, you’ll see a cafe where revolutionaries met to plot an uprising against Austrian invaders in 1848.

Stroll past the largest public square in Italy, Prato della Valle, originally laid out by the Romans and transformed in the 18th century into a graceful, elliptical open space with a serene canal and statues of local nobles. Gaze upon the Byzantine-influenced domes and towers of the vast Basilica of Saint Anthony of Padua, where you’ll often find a crowd waiting to offer thanks or prayers.

You will have some free time too explore Padua on your own, perhaps stopping for lunch at one of the many delicious eateries in town.

Padua Walking Tour

A special Captain’s Welcome Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you this evening.
DAY 6 Mazzorbo, Burano, Chioggia
Spend the day exploring the northern lagoon of Venice and its captivating islands. Start with a visit to Torcello's famous basilica with an art historian, then stroll through the agricultural island of Mazzorbo and the rainbow-hued island of Burano during your free time after lunch. Alternatively, you can take the afternoon to see the renowned glassblowing artisans of Murano at work.

Featured Excursions:
DAY 7 Chioggia
Today, you’ll admire the greatest sites of charming and coastal Chioggia, including a stop at the local and lively market.

Other Excursions:

Chioggia is the quintessential Venetian Lagoon fishing village. Founded in the fifth century, it was known as the pantry of Venice because of its many small truck farms, which supplied Venetian households with produce until just a few decades ago. It is still a thriving fishing port; its wholesale fish market is one of the largest in Italy. On Thursdays, Chioggia also hosts Corso del Popolo—a dynamic outdoor market along its main thoroughfare where stands sell everything from clothes, shoes, purses, gadgets and “every-day” domestic items. Locals usually do their shopping here as prices are more affordable than retail shopping.

Chioggia Market Visit

Set off on a light bicycle ride along the beaches of Chioggia, an island often described as a second Venice in miniature. Head to Lusenzo Lagoon, break to see the fishing boats, and then continue on to Isola dell’Unione.

Let's Go: Biking Chioggia

Head to one of the most enticing islands of the Venice lagoon, Chioggia. A small fishing port often referred to as a Venice in miniature, with a well-preserved tradition due to its relative lack of crowds, Chioggia is a wonderfully authentic and picturesque island. Board a genuine Adriatic wooden sailing boat, a bragozzo, to take in the island from the clear blue waters of the lagoon.

After your sailing, return to shore for a visit to Tenuta Ca’ Zen, a beautiful Venetian villa with a fascinating story. Here, you can explore the expansive grounds, antique stable, family chapel and more before rejoining the group for a tasting of local products, which include organic olive oil, wines, honey and cheeses.

Bragozzo Ride with Tastings at Ca’ Zen

With a sommelier as your guide today, you will learn about the long history of winemaking in the Veneto region. Visit Dominio di Bagnoli, one of the oldest wine producing properties in Europe, for a private tasting. A variety of wines are produced here, with the most popular being made from an indigenous grape variety. The beautiful property of Dominio di Bagnoli is also a farm, where rice, grain and other products are grown. You’ll have the opportunity to see the granary on your visit today.

A Noble Country Villa and Its Wines

IMPORTANT: We are obliged to comply with Italian Maritime Authorities who require that only crew may be on the ship during the Adriatic Sea passage. Therefore, our guests must disembark the ship and partake in the featured excursions. We thank you for your cooperation. -->
DAY 8 Chioggia, Venice
This morning, join a sailing excursion where you’ll explore the Po Delta where the Po River and the Adriatic Sea meet. Later, during lunch, we sail back to Venice.

Other Excursions:
Po Delta Sailing or

Set off for the Euganean hills to discover one of Europe’s most majestic castles. Enjoy a guided tour of a palace so beautiful that it became a resort for the Habsburg Dynasty before being returned to Italy following the first world war. After marveling at its frescoed walls, continue on for a guided walk around its beautiful gardens or take some free time for yourself to explore as you please before returning to the ship.

Castello del Catajo Visit
DAY 9 Venice
As your water taxi glides past narrow side canals and the Canal Grande, you’ll arrive in style at the Rialto Bridge. The iconic stone arch bridge sits at the narrowest point of the Canal Grande and holds numerous shops and restaurants.

MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experiences Excursion:
  • Venice is known for a unique style of rowing—standing up and facing forward—that is iconic to its gondoliers. This style is also used by athletes, who race batellina boats. The sport, known as Regate, has been held in Venice for over a thousand years. Try your hand at the technique in a lesson led by Row Venice, a non-profit organization of female rowers dedicated to preserving the sport and supporting female rowers, who are vastly underrepresented.

    This MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experience supports Global Goal 5: Gender Equality; and Global Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities.

    Rowing Venice
  • This excursion is only available on sailings that belong to the MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experiences program.

Other Excursions:

Back when Venice was at the height of its power, only the Rialto Bridge spanned the Grand Canal—and the city’s famous Rialto markets for fish and produce have sprawled at its feet as long as the bridge has arched over the water. Here you’ll find violet artichokes from the nearby island of Sant’Erasmo, honey from the salt marshes, white asparagus from Giare—and Venetians shopping for their dinners in the historic heart of the city. Join them as you explore the colorful, noisy and fun arcades with your guide (the ship’s chef often accompanies this expedition), who knows Venice’s culinary arts intimately. Freshly caught local fish is sold to knowledgeable customers under the Gothic arches of the covered fish market, which was probably originally built in the 11th century. At the end of the tour (and after some free time where you should have plenty of time to enjoy a gondola ride), join your guide at a bacaro (a casual wine bar) for the Venetian version of happy hour, called ombra e cicchetti—a drink (often a glass of prosecco) with a bite of something delicious—perhaps crostini with salt cod spread or another Venetian fish specialty.

Do as the Locals Do: Venice Walking Tour

Get an early morning start to see a side of Venice most of the tourists miss—The Dorsoduro. One of Venice’s six main sestieri, or districts, The Dorsoduro is quieter than some of the more popular districts and thus has an authentic, easygoing atmosphere. Enjoy a walking tour around this picturesque side of town before moving on to visit a gondola artisan. See the craftwork that goes into Venice’s iconic sailing vessels and meet some local masters at work.

Venice Walk with Gondola Artisans Visit

An integral feature of the Carnival of Venice, masks are known for their intricate beauty and wide variety of styles. See for yourself how these masks are created at one of the top handmade mask ateliers in town.

Ca' Macana Mask Atelier

A special Captain’s Farewell Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you this evening.
DAY 10 Venice (Disembark), Transfer to Train (Embark), Trieste
Disembark the ship and join the Golden Eagle Danube Express at Venice Santa Lucia Station. As you settle into your cabins, the train will thread its way out of the station and onto the causeway across the lagoon that links Venice to the mainland. Your first stop is the ancient port of Trieste for a tour of the city.
DAY 11 Postojna, Ljubljana
Our morning tour takes us to the Postojna Cave. Ride an underground train deep into the cave and tour the network of magnificent halls, a myriad of cave formations, and mysterious animals. Later, we arrive in Ljubljana, the delightful capital of Slovenia. Discover the city’s combination of ancient architecture and youthful culture on our afternoon walking tour of Ljubljana’s Old Town, which includes a visit to Preseren Square, the Three Bridges, Dragon Bridge, and Plecnik Market.
DAY 12 Sarajevo, Mostar
Early in the morning, you’ll arrive in the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo, which has an intriguing blend of Eastern and Western culture. It has mosques and minarets, an ancient bazaar, and an atmospheric old Turkish quarter. Discover the city’s poignant history through a truly absorbing tour detailing the horrors of the Balkan War. Sarajevo suffered from the longest siege of a capital city in the history of modern warfare. The scars of war are still evident in the war-torn buildings you’ll pass before making a special visit to the Tunnel Museum under Sarajevo Airport. Your guide, who lived through the 1992-1996 conflict, brings to life in a touching fashion the struggles the citizens of Sarajevo faced during the siege of the city. Following lunch, you’ll travel along a very scenic line to the historic city of Mostar, the crossroads of many civilizations, cultures, and religions. Mostar was one of the most important cities of the Ottoman Empire. The town’s renowned stone arch bridge linking the Christian and Muslim areas was rebuilt in the summer of 2004. Visit the Turkish House and the mosque before walking through the narrow bazaar streets, where you can shop for traditional souvenirs and handicrafts.
DAY 13 Belgrade
Arrive this morning in the Serbian capital, Belgrade, the former Yugoslavian capital. Located at the strategic meeting point of the Danube and Sava Rivers, this truly cosmopolitan city has fortifications from Celtic times, medieval tombs, and Turkish baths. We spend a full day here, and our city tour includes the ‘House of Flowers’—the mausoleum of Josip Tito, the Town Hall, Republic Square, and Knez Mihajlova Street, as well as ‘Varos’ Gate and a visit to the mighty Kalemegdan Fortress.
DAY 14 Bar, Podgorica
This morning, we cross the border into Montenegro, still one of Europe’s largely undiscovered locations. Blessed with glorious beaches and spectacular landscapes of rugged mountains, gentle lakes, and medieval towns, Montenegro has a combination of incredible natural beauty and captivating history that makes it a fascinating place to visit. We'll arrive in the coastal town of Bar for a sightseeing tour before getting back on the train and heading to our next destination. During lunch onboard, we travel onto the capital city of Podgorica. The city has passed through the empires of the Romans, the Ottomans, and the Austro-Hungarians. Its streets are an interesting blend of Ottoman oddments, Austrian shopfronts, communist tower blocks, and modern shopping malls.
DAY 15 Skopje
This morning, you’ll arrive in the little-visited Skopje and discover a city where the Ottoman influences are still strong. Explore the narrow streets of the Old Town with tiny shops and mosques with ceramic-tiled interiors. Meander through the Old Bazaar area, brimming with things to buy, and cross the 15th-century stone bridge that links the bazaar to the modern town.
DAY 16 Sofia, Plovdiv
After breakfast, your train arrives in Sofia, Bulgaria’s capital at the foot of Mt Vitosha. On your morning tour, you will visit sections of the Roman wall and admire the ancient church of St George, the golden-domed Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, and the Turkish Bashi Mosque. Enjoy lunch on the train as you travel from Sofia to Plovdiv. The second largest city in Bulgaria after Sofia, ‘The City of Seven Hills’ is one of the oldest cities in Europe with more than 200 known archaeological sites. You’ll visit the charming Old Town, including its medieval walls and Ottoman baths. Enjoy the final night’s dinner onboard this evening as you head for Turkey.
DAY 17 Istanbul (Disembark)
This morning we arrive in Istanbul, where we stay for two nights at the stunning Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet. Today we visit the crown jewel of the Ottoman Empire, Topkapi Palace. This stunning monument is the largest and oldest palace in the world and was the primary residence of the Ottoman Sultans from 1465 to 1853. With its treasury and exotic buildings overlooking the Golden Horn, your visit to Topkapi promises to be a truly fascinating experience. We also visit the Grand Bazaar, one of the world’s largest covered markets with 58 streets and over 4,000 shops. In operation since the 14th century, the bazaar is especially known for its jewelry, leather, pottery, spices, and carpets.
DAY 18 Istanbul
Today see how old meets new and east meets west as we visit a selection of Istanbul’s must-see historic sites, including Hagia Sophia. Hagia Sophia was built in the 6th century by the Emperor Justinian and was one of the largest basilicas in the Christian world. After the Ottoman conquest, it was converted to a mosque and is today one of the most magnificent Grand Mosques in the world. One of the most famous monuments in both the Turkish and Islamic worlds, the Sultan Ahmet Mosque (the Blue Mosque) is a superb creation in the classical Ottoman style. We will have time to marvel at the exterior of the building, which features six towering minarets and 260 windows illuminating its vast main chamber. In the afternoon, we'll embark on a cruise of the legendary Bosphorus and visit the Grand Bazaar. On the final evening, we enjoy a Farewell Dinner in a local restaurant.
DAY 19 Istanbul
This morning, you’ll check out of the hotel and be transferred to Istanbul Airport for your departure.
Cruise Departure Double Occupancy Pricing Ship
Fri, 02 May 2025
(Milan to Istanbul)
$0.00 S.S. La Venezia
Select this date
  • All fares are per guest in US Dollars based on double occupancy unless otherwise noted.
  • Fares are capacity controlled and are subject to change at any time without notice.
  • Availability of all stateroom categories cannot be guaranteed.
  • Single Supplement applies for single accommodation.
  • Itineraries, hotels, and vessels may change, and substitute visits to other sites may occur during your trip due to water level fluctuations and other uncontrollable factors.
  • The order of sightseeing and docking ports are subject to change according to port authority assignments.
  • Prices exclude additional port charges of $270 per person


  • All meals onboard cruise and train, prepared using the finest and freshest ingredients
  • 20 breakfasts, 15 lunches, 16 dinners
  • Captain’s Welcome and Farewell Receptions
  • Welcome and Farewell Gala Dinners
  • Unlimited beverages onboard, including fine wine, beer, spirits, specialty coffee and tea, soft drinks and mineral water



  • 17 days of excursions, all fully hosted by English-speaking local experts
  • State-of-the-art Quietvox portable audio-headset system on all excursions
  • Use of bicycles and Nordic walking sticks



  • 6 nights in a luxury cabin onboard the Golden Eagle Danube Express private train
  • 2 nights in Milan at the Rosa Grand (or similar) with breakfast
  • 2 nights in Istanbul at the Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul at Sultanahmet (or similar)
  • 7-night cruise in a riverview stateroom onboard the elegant S.S. La Venezia
  • Well-appointed en-suite sleeping cabins and suites on the train have remote-controlled air-conditioning and heating, individual bathrobes and slippers, wardrobes, large viewing windows, and day seating that converts into comfortable beds for the evening
  • Lavishly appointed riverview staterooms and suites on the cruise have handcrafted Savoir® Beds of England, high thread count 100% Egyptian cotton sheets and European duvets, and a menu of pillow options
  • Free Wi-Fi



  • 7 countries: Italy, Slovenia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Turkey
  • 7 UNESCO World Heritage sites
  • Services of an experienced Uniworld Cruise Manager
  • Group Transfers are included on arrival and departure days (please see terms and conditions for transfer guidelines)
  • Gratuities for onboard personnel (ship staff, crew, Cruise/Tour Manager) are included during the cruise/tour
  • Captivating onboard local entertainment
  • Cultural enrichment