Begin your Danube River vacation with two nights in the enchanting city of Vienna, then take a 7-night cruise to Bulgaria, and end with one night in Brasov and two nights in Bucharest. Explore one of Europe’s most awe-inspiring natural wonders, the dramatic narrow gorge known as the Iron Gates, then cruise along the Romanian-Bulgarian border. Visit Vidin, Belogradchik, and Veliko Tarnovo before disembarking your cruise in Romania. Enjoy a unique guided bike tour through Belgrade around Ada Ciganlija Island. Delight yourself with an exclusive wine-tasting excursion to Ilok.
Sample the aromatic, spicy wines from the vineyards of Villány
Visit Belogradchik, a beautiful castle located in an unusual landscape
Hike to the Rock-Hewn Churches of Ivanovo, built into a mountainside
Enjoy an incredible excursion to the legendary region of Transylvania
Arrive in Vienna and transfer to your hotel. The day is at your leisure to explore this culturally rich city.
Day 2: Vienna, Austria
This morning, savor the Baroque elegance of romantic Vienna. First, a panoramic tour of Vienna guides you past the majestic Opera House, the former Imperial Palace of the Habsburg Emperors, Parliament, Town Hall, and Vienna University. Afterwards, visit Vienna’s historic city center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and see St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Graben, and the world famous Spanish Riding School. The afternoon is free to explore on your own.
After checking out of your hotel in Vienna, travel to Budapest where you have some free time for lunch followed by a sightseeing tour of Buda and Pest. See famed Heroes’ Square and Castle Hill, home to Fisherman’s Bastion, Matthias Church, and spectacular views of the Danube. After a Welcome Dinner, the ship sails a special Illuminations Cruise past the glittering riverfront of Budapest.
Arrive in Mohacs around breakfast and depart for your excursion to Pécs. Founded more than 2,000 years ago by the Romans, the city was an important cultural base during many centuries of Ottoman rule. Observe St. Peter’s Basilica, the city’s main Catholic cathedral, as well as either a mosque that has been converted to a church or the restored synagogue before returning to the ship in Mohács. After lunch, enjoy a wine-tasting excursion to sample aromatic, spicy wines from the vineyards of Villány.
This morning, enjoy a Yugoslav Civil War tour of Vukovar that shows you the Ovcara Memorial and Cemetery, the monumental cross that serves as a memorial to those who lost their lives during Croatia’s struggle for independence. Alternatively, choose to take a wine-tasting excursion to Ilok instead. Enjoy lunch on board as you cruise to Novi Sad, Serbia, one of Europe’s greatest historical treasures. After a walking tour of the city, later in the evening see the Petrovaradin fortress, a mighty stronghold no enemy has ever breached and that is now home to a hotel, museum, and artists’ studios.
Wake up in Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, and enjoy a panoramic tour of the city that includes visits to Kalemegdan Fortress and the Serbian Orthodox Temple of St. Sava. This afternoon have your choice of one of three excursions. Your first option is a visit to the mausoleum of Marshal Josip Broz Tito, a beloved figure who was the leader of the Yugoslav Partisans during the Second World War and became the first President of Yugoslavia. Your second option is a tasting of Serbian plum brandy and local snacks at the Quburich Distillery. Your third option is a guided bike tour through Belgrade around Ada Ciganlija Island.
Today, take a full day of cruising through one of Europe’s most awe-inspiring natural wonders, the Iron Gates. Here the Danube narrows as it winds through a series of magnificent gorges between Serbia and Romania. The banks of the river along this natural border are lined with sheer-faced rocks that stretch high overhead, a sight that is an unforgettable highlight of your adventure.
Your time in Vidin begins with a visit to Belogradchik, a beautifully restored castle located in a stunning landscape of unusual rock formations, as well as Vidin Castle. Afterwards, visit Baba Vida Fortress, the only entirely preserved medieval castle in the country, and be treated to a fascinating historical re-enactment. You may also opt instead for a Banitsa pastry and yogurt tasting, or a guided bike tour on which you see sites like the Ottoman post office and visit the synagogue. Afterwards, you have your choice of one of three excursions. The ship departs early afternoon.
Today, enjoy a visit to the ancient capital of Bulgaria, Veliko Turnavo. Here tour Tsarevets Hill, the old citadel of the city. See the old fortress walls, the Royal Palaces and the Patriarchal church, and the Baldwin’s Tower. Or, you may choose to hike to the Rock-Hewn Churches of Ivanovo, a group of monolithic churches, chapels, and monasteries built into the side of a mountain. Return to the ship afterward and enjoy a free evening.
Day 10: Giurgiu | Disembark | Brasov, Romania
Disembark the ship in Giurgiu and continue your tour by motor coach. Today arrive in the village of Brasov and enjoy a city tour and a visit to the infamous Bran Castle. Later this afternoon check in to your hotel.
Day 11: BraȘov | SighiȘoara
Dracula lovers will be in for another treat with an excursion to Sighişoara, birthplace to Transylvania’s most notorious ruler, Vlad Ţepeş, also known as Vlad the Impaler, or Dracula. It’s hard to believe that this perfectly preserved UNESCO designated town filled with resplendent pastel-colored buildings, stone lanes, medieval towers and pedestrian-friendly Old Town was Vlad's place of birth. His home is still here, marked with a placard; however, today it houses a kitschy restaurant called “Casa Dracula.”
Day 12: BraȘov | Sinaia | Bucharest
En route to Bucharest, stop in Sinaia to visit Peleș Castle, Transylvania's other enchanting castle, considered by many to be one of the most stunning in Europe. Tour the castle, which was once the residence of the royal family. Later in the day, check into your hotel.
Day 13: Bucharest
Bucharest, Romania’s capital, has earned its nickname, the “Little Paris of the East,” with its wide boulevards and Arc de Triomphe. Enjoy a visit to the city’s most impressive sites—including the historic city center and the Palace of the Parliament, second only to the Pentagon as the largest administrative building in the world.
Day 14: Depart Bucharest
Bid farewell to Burcharest as you prepare for your homeward flight.
The trip might have been the absolute best of our lifetime (thus far). We particularly want to commend our guide Peter in the Guilin area-he was so incredibly attentive, energetic, enthusiastic-and absolutely dedicated to ensuring that our meals were 100% vegetarian.