Day 1 Budapest.
Fly to Budapest where you will be met and transferred to the InterContinental Hotel (or similar) for two nights.
Day 2 Budapest.
Included today: Guided sightseeing.
Whether you're seeing the sights, shopping for hand crafted 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 included GUIDED TOUR of the city, see Heroes' Square as well as the massive hilltop castle complex 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. You may even want to walk across Chain Bridge, built in 1849 and a symbol of Budapest. This afternoon is free. Perhaps visit St. Stephen's Basilica for marvellous city views from its viewing platform, or stroll along Váci utca, the main shopping street. (B)
Day 3 Budapest ( Embarkation )
This morning is free for you to enjoy Hungary's exciting capital. Visit one of the many museums, take a walk to see some of the remaining statues from the communist era, shop at the Great Market Hall to purchase paprika and embroidery, or stroll along Vací Utca main shopping street. Later, transfer to your cruise ship for six nights and meet your crew at a welcome reception. (B, D)
Day 4 Mohács. Excursion to Pécs.
Included today: Guided sightseeing in Pécs, visit underground tombs; organ concert.
Cruise to Mohács this morning and after lunch, join the included excursion to Pécs. Established by the Romans in the 2nd century, this was a flourishing and important town for Christianity by the 4th century. With a Local Guide, visit the early Christian Underground Tombs, many of which have splendidly decorated murals with Christian themes that are now part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Later, enjoy an organ concert. (B, L, D)
Day 5 Belgrade.
Included today: Guided sightseeing.
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. (B, L, D)
Day 6 Iron Gates Gorge.
Included today: Visit Lepenski Vir archaeological site; cruise the Iron Gates Gorge.
This morning, dock at Donji Milanovac, where a short drive takes you to the impressive LEPENSKI VIR EXHIBITION CENTRE, which houses area archaeological artefacts and from where you have unique views of the Danube Gorge. Return to your ship before lunch, then cruise what must surely be the most spectacular scenery of the dramatic IRON GATES gorge, a narrow and formerly very dangerous passage dividing Europe's Alps in the north-west from the Carpathians in the south-east and forming a natural border between Serbia and Romania. (B, L, D)
Day 7 Cetate - Vidin - Belogradchik
Included today: Guided sightseeing to Vidin's fortress; excursion to Belogradchik rock formations.
This morning stop in Cetate, an old Danubian grain shipping port, now turned into a cultural centre. The owner will explain the concept of this fascinating venture before you have a chance to see for yourself and to TASTE some of the locally made products. Then on to Vidin, an important Danube port in north-western Bulgaria. Its medieval FORTRESS, known as Baba Vidin, is the town's primary landmark. It served as Vidin's main defensive installation during the course of 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! (B, L, D)
Day 8 Rousse - Veliko Târnovo - Arbanassi
Included today: Veliko Târnovo guided sightseeing and Ethnographical Museum and Tsarevet's Fortress in Veliko Tarnovo, or Rousse guided sightseeing.
A comfortable ride from the river port of Rousse 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. One of the oldest towns in Bulgaria (dating back to 4300 BC), 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. Next, journey to Arbanassi, founded in the 15th century, and best known for its Bulgarian Revival architecture and ETHNOGRAPHICAL MUSEUM, a 400-year-old house preserved as a museum. Visit the CHURCH OF THE NATIVITY, one of the town's oldest churches, and see its outstanding collection of frescoes. Return to your ship in Rousse, Bulgaria's largest inland port. If you don't wish to participate in the full-day excursion, stay on board, relax, and join a GUIDED TOUR of Rousse (B, L, D)
Day 9 Oltenita, Romania ( Disembarkation ) - Bucharest.
Included today: Guided sightseeing.
After breakfast say goodbye to your crew. Bucharest, Romania's lively capital is only a short drive from Oltenita. Its wide, tree-lined boulevards and Arc de Triomphe—built in 1922 to honour the bravery of Romanian soldiers who fought in WWI—have gained it the name 'Paris of the East'. Much recent history has taken place in the city. During the INCLUDED TOUR this afternoon, see the main sights including the Royal Palace Square, the scene of riots in 1989, which led to the collapse of the communist dictatorship. In your free time, discover this interesting city even further. Stroll down Calea Victoriei, Victory Avenue, Bucharest's most historic and alluring street. Initially built in 1692, today it is lined with shops, museums, churches, restaurants, cafés, and fine houses. Transfer to the Athénée Palace Hilton (or similar). (B)
Day 10 Bucharest. Excursion to Transylvania–Brasov
Head out of the city to your first stop, a visit of BRAN CASTLE, of Dracula fame, built in 1377 and assumed to be the home of Romanian vampires. Then continue to Brasov for the night, with a free afternoon to explore on your own. (B, L, D)
Day 11 Brasov–Bucharest
This morning join a local expert for GUIDED SIGHTSEEING of Brasov. In the afternoon drive into the Carpathians to Sinaia to visit PELES CASTLE, considered to be one of the most beautiful in Europe, before returning to Bucharest. (B, L)
Day 12 Bucharest
Your holiday ends with breakfast this morning. (B)