18 days from Bucharest to PragueOverview
Discover some of the Continent’s best-kept secrets on this river cruise through Eastern and Central Europe, from Bucharest to Prague. Guided sightseeing with Certified Local Guides in each city shows you the highlights, with inside visits of the Patriarch’s Church in Veliko Târnovo, Kalemegdan Fortress in Belgrade, and Melk’s awe-inspiring Benedictine Abbey. Also visit the diverse rock formations of Belogradchik, the Lepenski Vir archaeological site on the banks of the Danube in Serbia, enjoy an organ concert in Pécs, and wine tasting in the Wachau Valley. Cruise through the dramatic Iron Gates gorge and Main Danube Canal. Enjoy three overnights in Prague, with guided sightseeing of the city’s main sights, plenty of free time, and the conclusion of your incredible cruise vacation.Duration:
Ships Serving this Tour: Luminary
Day 1 Bucharest, Romania.
|23 October, 2015
||09 November, 2015
Welcome to Bucharest! The remainder of the day is free to start exploring this intriguing city.Day 2 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 impressive Parliament Building, the second-largest building in the world after the Pentagon. The Royal Palace Square was the scene of riots in 1989, which led to the collapse of the communist dictatorship. 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 3 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, palaces, 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 4 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 the afternoon, drive to nearby Belogradchik to 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! Before you leave Vidin, a local expert will come on board to demonstrate the technique of ICON PAINTING. (B,L,D)Day 5 Iron Gates. Excursion to Lepinski 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 6 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 this afternoon, attend a fascinating ONBOARD LECTURE about the Balkans as you head for Hungary. (B,L,D)Day 7 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 8 Budapest.
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. This evening, sail out of Budapest heading for Vienna. (B,L,D)Day 9 Budapest–Vienna, Austria.
Enjoy a day of relaxation on board and marvel at the beautiful scenery on both banks of the Danube. Hungary is on your left as you cruise upriver and Slovakia is on your right. The two countries share the Danube for a 58-mile stretch, with the border in the middle of the river. This evening, arrive in Vienna, Austria’s capital. Known as the “City of Music,” it inspired the creative genius of Mozart, Beethoven, and Strauss. An optional concert is available during your stay. (B,L,D)Day 10 Vienna.
Once the center of the mighty Habsburg Empire, Austria’s magical capital on the blue Danube is a showcase of gilded architecture. This is home to the lavish Hofburg Imperial Palace complex with its Vienna Boy’s Choir and dazzling Lipizzaner stallions; the neo-renaissance Vienna Opera House; and awe-inspiring St. Stephen’s Cathedral—plus, countless other sights shown to you by your Local Guide during your included CITY TOUR. Shop in the delightful pedestrian Kärntnerstrasse, and be sure to take a break and enjoy a piece of decadent Sachertorte or Apfelstrudel in one of the classic Viennese coffee houses, historic institutions that helped shape Viennese culture! (B,L,D)Day 11 Dürnstein–Melk.
Dürnstein, known for the magnificent baroque, blue Stiftskirche built in the 1700s, is situated right in the heart of the Wachau wine region. The main street of this small town—with a population of less than 1,000 people—is lined with 16th-century residences and charming cobblestone streets. This morning a Local Guide will take you on an included WALKING TOUR and tell you the tale of England’s King Richard the Lionheart, who was imprisoned in the castle whose ruins still stand above the town. During lunchtime, sail through the picturesque Wachau Valley and arrive in Melk in the early afternoon. Here, enjoy a GUIDED VISIT of the magnificent 11th-century BENEDICTINE ABBEY, one of Europe’s largest monasteries. The abbey houses an ornate library with over 80,000 printed books and 2,000 manuscripts. Words cannot describe the splendor of the church with its frescoed ceilings, stunning high altar, marble statues, and 210-foot-high cupola. The view from the terrace of the abbey over the Danube and surrounding countryside is breathtaking! This evening you’ll be able to sample some of the Wachau Valley’s FAMOUS WINES. (B,L,D)Day 12
Passau, Germany. Today you can choose from several full-day optional excursions: to Salzburg, taking in some of the Sound of Music sights; the popular “Romantic Austria” tour; or to ?eský Krumlov in the Czech Republic, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Alternatively, just stay on the ship and relax as you cruise to Passau, uniquely located where the Inn, Ilz, and Danube Rivers converge. Passau is a maze of narrow cobblestone streets lined with beautiful patrician houses. St. Stephen’s Cathedral, a masterpiece of Italian baroque architecture, houses one of the world’s largest church organs with 17,774 pipes. Take in the highlights on an included GUIDED WALK. (B,L,D)Day 13 Regensburg.
Dating back to the time of the Celts around 500 BC, Regensburg is one of Germany’s best preserved medieval cities. Established during the Holy Roman Empire and the only German city not bombed during WWII, Regensburg has at least 1,300 listed buildings of “historic interest.” Architectural highlights of your GUIDED SIGHTSEEING include the Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall), built in the 13th century, and Porta Pretoria, gates to an ancient Roman fort built in 179 AD. Wander through the city’s lanes and alleys to discover the many mansions with high towers. Wealthy families built these towers to emphasize their status and wealth during the Middle Ages, and many still remain today. Walk across the 12th-century Steinerne Brücke (Stone Bridge), the oldest of its kind in Germany. Grab a beer and enjoy a SNACK at the 17th-century Historische Wurstküche (Old Sausage Kitchen), one of Germany’s oldest restaurants. Here—where the locals congregate—feel the vibrant atmosphere and take in the remarkable views along the river. After dinner, we’ll introduce you to some of Germany’s FAMOUS BEERS. (B,L,D)Day 14 Nuremberg.
Today, spend a relaxing morning of cruising, then, before lunch, attend a fascinating ONBOARD LECTURE about the engineering marvel that is the Main-Danube Canal. The afternoon is dedicated to Nuremberg. Although 90% of Nuremberg’s Old Town suffered extensive damage during WWII, much of it has been restored to the glory it once knew as the unofficial capital of the Holy Roman Empire. Today, choose either a GUIDED SIGHTSEEING TOUR and marvel at this thousand-year-old city’s medieval fortifications, extraordinary gothic churches, and the Kaiserburg (Imperial Castle), or join a more specialized “NUREMBERG RALLY GROUNDS” tour. During free time, be sure to make a wish at the beautiful fountain in the Hauptmarkt (main square). Legend says your wish will come true if you turn its gold ring three times. (B,L,D)Day 15 Nuremberg (Disembarkation)–Prague, Czech Republic
. After breakfast, say goodbye to your crew and travel by motorcoach to Prague, the “Golden City.” (B)Day 16 Prague.
Prague is a 1,200-year-old city preserved in time, and, unlike other Central European capitals, it was not bombed during the 20th-century wars. A Local Guide shows you its best-known treasures such as the Old Town’s Astronomical Clock, built in 1410 and once the envy of all of Europe; HRADCANY CASTLE GROUNDS; St. Vitus Cathedral; and the Charles Bridge, the oldest bridge in Prague. Browse the shops for hand-cut crystal or art books. Mix with the locals in Wenceslaus Square, an important meeting point and where people demonstrated against the communist regime; or watch performers on Charles Bridge. (B)Day 17 Prague.
Enjoy a free day to explore the city at your own pace. Perhaps visit the Communist Museum or take an optional excursion around the Jewish Quarter. Sample the local plum dumplings and Pilsner; stroll along the Vltava River; or wander around Prague’s medieval Old Town, dating from the 10th century. Your Cruise Director will have other suggestions for things to do. (B)Day 18 Prague.
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