12 days from Bucharest to BudapestOverview
See the best of Eastern Europe on this exhilarating Balkan adventure. Your cruise vacation begins with three overnights in vibrant Bucharest, the “Paris of the East.” A full day excursion to Transylvania will take you to visit notorious Dracula’s Bran Castle and into the Carpathians to Sinaia. Enjoy guided sightseeing in each city, including inside visits of Tsarevet’s Fortress in Veliko Târnovo, Arbanassi’s Ethnographical Museum and Church of the Nativity, the eclectic rock formations of Belogradchik, and Kalemegdan Fortress in Belgrade. Other highlights: visit the medieval fortress of Vidin, pass through the dramatic Iron Gates gorge, visit the Lepenski Vir archaeological site, and enjoy an organ concert in Pécs. Your journey ends with two overnights in Hungary’s lively capital of Budapest, where there’s time on your own to shop for paprika at the Central Market Hall, explore the extensive hilltop castle grounds, visit the many churches and museums, and delight in the vibrant atmosphere.Duration:
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Day 1 Bucharest, Romania.
Welcome to Bucharest! The remainder of the day is free to start exploring this intriguing city.Day 2 Bucharest. Excursion to Transylvania.
Head out of the city to your first stop, BRAN CASTLE of Dracula fame, built in 1377 and assumed to be the home of Romanian vampires. Then, into the Carpathians to SINAIA to visit the monastery of the same name, built in memory of Mihail Cantacuzino’s visit to Mount Sinai. This afternoon, head slowly back to Bucharest. (B,L)NOTE: The full day Transylvania excursion may take place on Day 2 or Day 3, depending on access to Bran Castle.Day 3 Bucharest.
A free day to browse the shops and visit many of the attractions this city has to offer. Your Cruise Director will have suggestions for things to do. (B)Day 4 Bucharest–Oltenita (Embarkation).
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 Oltenita, where your river cruise vessel is docked. Before dinner, meet your crew at a welcome reception. (B,D)Day 5 Rousse, Bulgaria. Excursion to Veliko Târnovo & Arbanassi–Svistov.
In Rousse this morning, you may choose to join a Certified Local Guide for an included CITY TOUR, rejoining your ship in time for lunch and enjoying a pleasant afternoon of cruising to Svistov. Alternatively, you may take a full day excursion to 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. 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. Rejoin your ship in Svistov. (B,L,D)Day 6 Vidin. Excursion to Belogradchik.
After breakfast today a Local Guide shows you Vidin, an important Danube port in northwestern Bulgaria. Its medieval FORTRESS, known as “Baba Vidin,” served as Vidin’s main defensive installation during the Middle Ages and is the only entirely preserved medieval fortress in the country. It is the town’s primary landmark and now a fortress museum that 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! (B,L,D)Day 7 Iron Gates. Excursion to Lepenski Vir.
The TRAJAN TABLE marking the Roman conquest of Dacia and the Serbian fortresses of Golubac and Smederevo are impressive sights on the left bank of the Danube. 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. In the afternoon 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. (B,L,D)Day 8 Belgrade, Serbia.
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, which include St. Sava, the world’s largest Orthodox Church; and Marshal Tito’s tomb and monument. 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. Depart Belgrade during lunchtime and head for Hungary. (B,L,D)Day 9 Mohács, Hungary. Excursion to Pécs.
This morning, a GUIDED EXCURSION takes you to Pécs, Hungary’s fifth-largest city. Established by the Romans in the 2nd century, this was a flourishing and important town for Christianity by the 4th century. Pécs is also rich in terms of Turkish architecture and offers Turkish mosques, attractive churches, and an enjoyable atmosphere around its restaurants and cafés. Enjoy an ORGAN CONCERT before returning to your ship for lunch and heading to Budapest. (B,L,D)Day 10 Budapest (Disembarkation).
Say goodbye to your crew after breakfast this morning. 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. On your GUIDED TOUR of the city, see Heroes’ Square as well as the massive hilltop castle complex, a major sight with its remarkable Fishermen’s Bastion 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. The afternoon is free - stroll along Váci utca, the main shopping street or visit the Great Market Hall and purchase paprika or embroidery at one of its 180 vendor stalls. (B)Day 11 Budapest.
A free day to enjoy Hungary’s exciting capital. Perhaps visit St. Stephen’s Basilica, with marvelous views of the city from its viewing platform, or walk across Chain Bridge built in 1849, a symbol of Budapest. Your Cruise Director will have suggestions for many things to do. (B)Day 12 Budapest.
Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning. (B)
- Captain’s welcome & farewell receptions with sparkling wine and canapés
- Welcome dinner
- Daily Afternoon Tea
- Daily Night Fare
- Farewell dinner
- Complimentary sparkling wine with breakfast; soft drinks with lunch; and wine, beer, or soft drinks with dinner are included daily on board your vessel