A deluxe Danube River cruise from the Danube Delta to Budapest is the highlight on this fascinating vacation through Eastern Europe. Explore the Danube Delta with its unique birdlife, celebrate the end of the Danube’s journey as it flows into the Black Sea, and sail through the dramatic Iron Gates gorge. See the sights with a Certified Local Guide in Romania’s lively capital of Bucharest, Constanta on the Black Sea, Bulgaria’s Arbanassi and Veliko Târnovo, Serbia’s Belgrade, and the Hungarian capital of Budapest, where your adventure concludes with guided sightseeing and two overnights.
Welcome to Bucharest! The remainder of the day is free to start exploring this fascinating city.
Much recent history has taken place in Romania’s capital city, and its wide, tree-lined boulevards and Arc de Triomphe—built in 1922 to honor the bravery of Romanian soldiers who fought in WWI—have gained it the name “Paris of the East.” During your INCLUDED TOUR this morning, see the main sights including Royal Palace Square, the scene of riots in 1989, which led to the collapse of the communist dictatorship. Later a motorcoach ride takes you to Fetesti, where your river cruise vessel is docked. Before dinner, meet your crew at a welcome reception. (Breakfast, Dinner)
This morning during breakfast, dock in St. Gheorghe, from where the excursion into the DELTA will start. A UNESCO World Heritage Site and the best preserved of Europe’s deltas, this area hosts over 300 species of birds as well as 45 species of freshwater fish. From its source in the Black Forest to its delta at the Black Sea, the Danube measures 2,845 kilometers in length. The Km markings can be clearly seen on the river banks the length of the river. Depart St. Gheorghe during lunch and enjoy a small CELEBRATION to mark Km “0”—the end of the Danube’s journey. This afternoon a chance to relax and to learn more about the fascinating Delta at an ONBOARD LECTURE. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
From Cernavoda this morning, an excursion takes you to Constanta, the most important commercial center in Romania, situated on the Black Sea. A CERTIFIED LOCAL GUIDE shows you the highlights of this city and a visit of the NATURAL HISTORY & ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM is included. This afternoon, relax on board as you cruise westward towards Rousse. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Dock this morning in Rousse, Bulgaria’s largest inland port. A comfortable motorcoach ride away is the ancient Bulgarian capital of Veliko Târnovo. Situated on three hills surrounding the Yantra River, the city was a natural fortress with ancient stone houses clinging to the steep slopes. The oldest part is Tsarevets Hill, home of the ROYAL FORTRESS, and the Patriarch’s Church. With your Local Guide, discover this town that played an important role in Bulgaria’s history. Then, journey to Arbanassi. Founded in the 15th century, the historic village of Arbanassi is best known for its examples of Bulgarian Revival architecture and its ETHNOGRAPHICAL MUSEUM, a 400-year-old house preserved as a museum. Visit the CHURCH OF THE NATIVITY, one of the oldest churches in Arbanassi, and see its outstanding collection of frescoes. If you do not wish to participate in the full-day excursion, you may choose to remain on board and join an INCLUDED SIGHTSEEING TOUR of Rousse after breakfast. At lunchtime, sail for Svistov, where excursion participants will rejoin the ship. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Today, enjoy a leisurely morning of cruising before arriving in Vidin, an important Danube port in northwestern Bulgaria. Its medieval FORTRESS, Baba Vidin, is the town’s primary landmark. It served as Vidin’s main defensive installation during the Middle Ages and is the only entirely preserved medieval fortress in the country. It is now a fortress museum and has been restored to its former appearance. In nearby Belogradchik, view the eclectic group of ROCK FORMATIONS on the western slopes of the Balkan Mountains. Sculpted by natural elements for more than 200 million years and with a variety of sizes and shapes, the Belogradchik Rocks are spectacular! (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
The most spectacular scenery must surely be the dramatic gorge of the IRON GATES, a narrow and formerly very dangerous passage dividing Europe’s Alps in the northwest from the Carpathians in the southeast and forming a natural border between Serbia and Romania. After lunch dock at Donji Milanovac from where a short drive takes you to the impressive LEPENSKI VIR EXHIBITION CENTER housing archaeological artifacts found in this area and from where you have unique views of the Danube Gorge. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Early today, arrive in Belgrade. One of the oldest cities in Europe, the capital of Serbia is situated at the confluence of the Danube and Sava Rivers. A Local Guide will be proud to show you its main sights, including St. Sava, the world’s largest orthodox church. Also visit the city’s principal landmark, KALEMEGDAN FORTRESS, which showcases the history of Belgrade. Built in stages between the 1st and 18th centuries, the fortress witnessed many battles and observed the courage of those trying to defend the city from conquerors. The surrounding park is the most beautiful and largest park in Belgrade. In your free time, be sure to check out the city’s lively pedestrian area and charming outdoor cafés. Perhaps visit one of the many art galleries or museums, relax in the park, or walk along the city streets and browse the local shops. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Relax on board this morning before arriving in Mohács, the first stop in Hungary. After lunch, an included excursion takes you to Pécs. Established by the Romans in the 2nd century, this was a flourishing and important town for Christianity by the 4th century. These early Christians left behind many underground burial chambers with memorial chapels above ground. With a Local Guide, visit the UNDERGROUND TOMBS—now part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site—many of which have splendidly decorated murals with Christian themes. Later, enjoy an ORGAN CONCERT. Pécs is also a rich showcase of Turkish architecture and home to Turkish mosques, striking churches, and an enjoyable atmosphere around its restaurants and cafés. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Early this morning, dock in the country’s capital. Spanning the banks of the Danube, Budapest is one of Eastern Europe’s liveliest cities. Whether you’re seeing the sights, shopping for handcrafted embroidery or Herend porcelain, or basking in the coffee house culture over a rich cream cake in the renowned Gerbeaud Café, Budapest’s unique energy is positively palatable. Bid goodbye to your crew before joining a GUIDED TOUR of the city with your Local Guide. See Heroes’ Square as well as the massive hilltop castle complex with its remarkable Fishermen’s Bastion—with spectacular views of the city—and 11th-century Matthias Church, the coronation spot of several Hungarian monarchs. Be sure to take note of the city’s eight bridges—many famous sights in and of themselves—which connect ancient Buda on the right bank with Pest on the left. You may even want to walk across Chain Bridge, built in 1849 and a symbol of Budapest. (Breakfast)
You have time today to explore Budapest further. Perhaps visit St. Stephen’s Basilica for marvelous views of the city from its viewing platform. Or maybe you would like to join one of the optional excursions on offer. (Breakfast)
Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning. (Breakfast)