Skip to navigation Skip to content
Skip to content
Close
Search
  • *
    The view from Kalemegdan Fortress
  • *
    Budapest, a tale of two cities
  • *
    Vienna, the city of music

Budapest and the Scenic Danube

The Danube

  • A car with a tick VIP on selected river cruises

Explore the great capital cities of the Danube

Your holiday begins in the beautiful capital of Hungary, Budapest, where you’ll spend two nights at the 4-star Hilton Garden Inn Budapest (4Q). The city is a treasure trove of architectural style encompassing baroque, neoclassical and art nouveau, which you’ll see during an included tour. Alternatively, you may choose to experience the local culture and cuisine by joining an included culinary-themed walking tour to the First Strudel House and Central Market Hall. After soaking up the city sights join Spirit of the Danube, to begin your Danube river cruise

Arriving in Vukovar, perhaps embark on an optional tour into the historic centre with its baroque arches and classical buildings, before visiting the poignant Ovcara Memorial. Continue cruising, pausing at pretty Donji Milanovac in the Djerdap National Park, before passing through the dramatic scenery of the Iron Gates – the largest and longest gorge in Europe. Enjoy included visits to medieval Golubac Fortress and Belgrade’s Kalemegdan Fortress before arriving in Novi Sad, the meeting point of European and Balkan cultures. Contrast the traditional Hungarian town of Kalocsa with Bratislava, Slovakia’s bustling capital city, before cruising to Vienna. Choose between an included culinary-themed walking tour from Albertina Square to the Imperial Palace and an included sightseeing tour, which involves a drive around the Ringstrasse encircling the old city. Both offer a unique window on this musical city, steeped in imperial history. For a grand finale to your holiday why not spend the evening at an ornate Viennese palace listening to the work of Mozart performed live?

Including...

Hands shaking Included travel insurance

Bed2 nights Breakfasts only in a hotel, 11 nights Full Board aboard the ship

Dinner plate34 meals: 13 breakfasts, 10 lunches and 11 dinners

CocktailWine, beer and soft drinks with lunch and dinner

PersonCruise Host

Plus...

  • Drinks reception and Captain’s dinner
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi on board
  • All gratuities on board
  • Return flights and transfers

MapIncluded excursions

  • Budapest city tour OR Budapest culinary walking tour
  • Golubac Fortress
  • Belgrade and Kalemegdan Fortress
  • Vienna city tour OR Vienna culinary walking tour

HeadphonesInteractive maps and audio headsets for independent exploration

Celebrity Guest - Paul Rankin

During the first week of your cruise on October 16, 2022 departure, you will be joined by celebrity chef, Paul Rankin – head chef at the Stein Inn on the Isle of Skye and founder of Northern Ireland’s first Michelin Starred restaurant, Roscoff.

Paul is probably best known for being one of the longest standing chefs on the popular television series Ready Steady Cook, and has appeared on many other programmes since then, including several of his own series, such as The Rankin Challenge. A successful cookery author, Paul’s books include New Irish Cookery, Dublin Dining and Gourmet Ireland, to name but a few. He is also an ambassador and consultant for Sodexo’s education programme, inspiring healthy eating among children in UK schools. As well as all this, Paul has his own range of traditional Irish breads and sausages, which can be found in well-known supermarkets.

View Full Itinerary

Day 1 UK to Budapest

Sunset over Budapest, Hungary

Fly to Hungary’s capital and transfer (a journey of approximately 14 miles, which will take around 30 minutes) to the locally rated 4-star Hilton Garden Inn Budapest (4Q) for a two-night stay.

The hotel is located in downtown Budapest, half-a-mile away from St Stephen’s Basilica and just over a mile away from the Hungarian State Opera House and Hungarian Parliament building. Facilities include a restaurant, bar, rooftop terrace and a gym. There are 214 air-conditioned rooms, each with a television, mini-fridge, complimentary Wi-Fi, ironing facilities, tea/coffee maker and a hairdryer.

You have the rest of the day to settle in and perhaps do a little local exploring.


Day 2 Budapest

Buda Castle, Budapest

Three cities became one when Buda, Pest and Óbuda merged in 1873 and though unified they are still very different in character. Buda is older and more graceful, with its cobbled streets and medieval architecture, while Pest is the administrative and commercial centre, and has wide avenues and 19th-century public buildings. Óbuda is the oldest part of Budapest with museums and Roman ruins.

An included tour will reveal the highlights, from UNESCO-listed Buda Castle on the west bank, to the impressive Hungarian Parliament buildings in Pest on the east bank.

Alternatively join an included culinary-themed walking tour to the First Strudel House and Central Market Hall.


Day 3 Budapest

Budapest with the River Danube

After breakfast at your hotel, check out and transfer to the port to embark Spirit of the Danube.

Enjoy a welcome cocktail reception and dinner on board this evening.

Budapest Hungary Europe

Day 4 Budapest 🎧

Budapest Royal Castle and Chain Bridge

This morning you’ll have the opportunity to join an optional tour with a focus on Budapest’s Art Nouveaux movement.

Spend the afternoon at leisure.

Budapest Hungary Europe

Day 5 Vukovar

Vukovar water tower alongside the Danube

This morning you’ll arrive in Vukovar, the largest Croatian town and river port on the Danube, during breakfast. Vukovar was a thriving town before the Yugoslav War and its unscathed belle époque architecture can be compared with shell-scarred buildings preserved in memoriam, during your visit here.

Set sail this evening and sail overnight towards Donji Milanovac.

Vukovar Vukovar-Syrmia Croatia Europe

Day 6 Donji Milanovac

Donji Milanovac on the Danube

Shortly after lunch you’ll arrive in the pretty town of Donji Milanovac, on the banks of the Danube in the midst of the Djerdap National Park, the largest, and possibly most beautiful, of Serbia's five national parks. The region has a rich history, and this afternoon, you may choose to join an optional excursion to the Lepenski Vir Mesolithic site, revealing a series of villages and rock carvings dating back to 6400 BC and the earliest examples of ‘monumental’ sculptures.

Your ship moors here overnight.

Donji Milanovac Serbia Europe

Day 7 Donji Milanovac to the Iron Gates

The Iron Gate gorge on the Danube between Serbia and Romania

Spirit of the Danube sets sail early this morning and later will sail through a particularly scenic stretch of the Danube – the world-famous Iron Gate gorge, between Romania and Serbia, the largest and longest in Europe, and the Iron Gates is the narrowest and deepest part. Head out on deck and see how the ship manoeuvres through two locks by the Djerdap power station.

Continue sailing overnight towards the village of Golubac.

Day 8 Golubac to Belgrade

Medieval fortress in Golubac, Serbia

An early arrival in Golubac enables you to spend the morning on an included visit to the medieval fortress, which stands guard over the entrance to the Iron Gates and was first mentioned in a Hungarian charter issued in 1337.

Spirit of the Danube will continue sailing in the early afternoon towards Belgrade, arriving this evening.

Belgrade Serbia Europe

Day 9 Belgrade 🎧

St Sava Cathedral, Belgrade, Serbia

Serbia's capital, Belgrade is one of the oldest cities in Europe.

Explore its key attractions, including the Kalmegadan Fortress, the cathedral and St Sava Temple, all set on the waterfront, during an included excursion this morning. The Kalemegdan Fortress, parts of which date back to the 18th century, looms over the city below commanding glorious views. The site of military fortifications from the 2nd century onwards, it has been tussled over by the Romans, the Goths, the Huns, the Avars, the Serbs, the Turks and the Austrians in turn. Today it also serves as Belgrade’s central park for all to enjoy.

This afternoon, perhaps utilise the interactive maps and audio headset to conduct an independent tour of the city. Depart late tonight and cruise overnight towards Novi Sad.

Belgrade Serbia Europe

Day 10 Novi Sad

Petrovaradin Fortress, Novi Sad

Spend the morning at leisure in this city where European and Balkan cultures meet, with the Danube forming part of the border.

Novi Sad is the capital of Vojvodina, the northern Autonomous Province of Serbia. Situated on the Danube between Budapest and Belgrade, it's a treasured regional and cultural centre. You can’t miss the Petrovaradin Fortress, Built between 1692 and 1790, the upper fortress contains a 16-kilometre network of passages and galleries, with officers’ residences and government buildings below in the lower fortress. There’s the City Museum within the fortress walls where you can find out more and also see artisan workshops. The old town is home to some fine 18th and 19th-century architecture.

Set sail early this afternoon and spend the rest of the day relaxing on board Spirit of the Danube as she continues towards Kalosca.

Novi Sad Serbia Europe

Day 11 Kalocsa

The Bishop’s Palace of Kalocsa

Arrive in Kalocsa this morning and take the opportunity to join an optional tour of Puszta or embark on an optional walking tour of Kalocsa.

Spirit of the Danube continues cruising towards Bratislava in the afternoon.

Kalocsa Hungary Europe

Day 12 Bratislava 🎧

Medieval St Michael Gate tower, Bratislava

This afternoon you arrive in Slovakia's capital, Bratislava.

Take the opportunity to explore the city’s old quarter, overlooked by the massive rectangular castle, and admire the attractive Habsburg architecture, independently or on an optional city tour. This afternoon perhaps venture up the UFO observation tower for panoramic views and the opportunity to sample locally brewed beer.

Set sail again late this evening cruising overnight bound for Vienna.

Slovakia Europe

Day 13 Vienna 🎧

Albertina Square, Vienna

Arrive in Vienna – steeped in imperial and musical history – before breakfast.

This morning choose between an included culinary-themed walking tour from Albertina Square to the Imperial Palace and an included sightseeing tour, which involves a drive around the Ringstrasse, encircling the old city. This afternoon an optional excursion visits grand Schönbrunn Palace. You may wish to spend the final evening of your holiday in Viennese style – after dinner on board, you can attend an optional performance of music by Mozart and Strauss in one of the great formal concert houses of Imperial Vienna.

Vienna Austria Europe

Day 14 Vienna to UK

Disembark after breakfast and travel to the airport for your return flight to the UK.

The Art Nouveaux movement in Budapest

The Art Nouveaux movement swept across Europe at the turn of the 20th century and was embraced by architects, interior designers and artists. Look out for Art Nouveaux style architecture as you head by coach from the port to the Ráth György Villa, which was bought in 1901 by György Ráth, the first director general of the Museum of Applied Arts. Ráth and his wife transformed the villa, furnishing it with artwork and incorporating designs by Hungarian Art Nouveau artist Pál Horti.

Look forward to a guided tour of the museum and it’s permanent exhibition, ‘Art Nouveau – a Hungarian Perspective’. You will also have the opportunity to decorate handicraft products, such as postcards, glass or jewellery at a workshop before returning to your ship.

Walking Grade 2

Three hours
Budapest Hungary Europe
  • Optional on 13 nights itinerary

Vukovar and the Ovcara Memorial

Vukovar was the site of one of the biggest battles of the Yugoslav War and many shell-scarred buildings have been deliberately preserved as a memorial. Pre-war architecture can be seen in the historic city centre with its baroque arches and classical buildings. High above the Danube, the city is dominated by the Franciscan Monastery and the Saint Philip and Jacob Church. You’ll also visit the Ovcara Memorial, dedicated to those who died in the tragic Vukovar Hospital massacre in 1991.

Walking Grade 3

Three hours
A war damaged water tower in Vukovar
  • Optional on 13 nights itinerary

Lepenski Vir Mesolithic Site

The Lepenski Vir Mesolithic Site was found in the Derdap Gorge on the banks of the Danube. First discovered by peasants in 1940, serious excavation work began in 1965 uncovering a series of villages, dating back to 6,400 BC. In 1970, the Lepenski Vir finds were moved to higher ground 35 meters above the original site to avoid the flooding that took place when the Derdup Dam was opened. Uncharacteristically, the villages revealed careful planning in both house construction and positioning and, even more significantly, a number of sculptures carved out of rock. Eerily combining the features of humans and fish, these figures are the earliest known examples of 'monumental' sculpture. Explore the site with a guide, and visit the museum to see finds from the dig and films about the archaeological research. There will be time at the end of the excursion to see a little of the pretty town of Donji Milanovac before the ship departs.

Walking Grade 3

Two-and-a-half hours
Clay totems, Lepenski Vir
  • Optional on 13 nights itinerary

Puszta tour

Discover traditional Hungary during this fascinating excursion into the Puszta or Great Hungarian Plain. In this historic home of gulyas - cattle herdsmen, csikos - horsemen, and Hungarian Roma, the cattle, horses, sheep and buffalo roam free, controlled only by skilled riders. You'll be treated to astonishing displays of horsemanship that date back centuries, where the necessity for horses to lie down on command ensured survival in times of war. Afterwards you will have an opportunity to ride in a horse-drawn carriage, and be offered a nip of local brandy and savoury scones.

Walking Grade 2

Three hours
Pustza
  • Optional on 13 nights itinerary

Kalocsa walking tour

Learn more about Hungary’s history with a guided tour of Kalocsa, a fascinating town some 80 miles south of Budapest. Its baroque cathedral, completed in 1754, has a stunning pink and gold stucco interior, and Franz Liszt was reputedly the first to play its magnificent 3,560-pipe organ. The Treasury includes a bust of St Stephen cast in 1896 with 2kg of gold, while the Episcopal Library houses a 13th-century Bible annotated by Martin Luther. You’ll also visit Kalocsa’s House of Folk Arts. Based in a 200-year old townhouse, is records traditional rural life including examples of the famous local embroidery. Another treat is a visit to the world’s only Paprika Museum! Learn about the processing of Kalocsa’s ‘red gold’, from sowing and harvesting to smashing and grinding, using time-honoured methods.

Walking Grade 3

Two hours
Cultivation of Paprika in Hungary
  • Optional on 13 nights itinerary

Bratislava city tour

Step aboard the miniature Bratislava City Train to explore the many highlights of this historic city. You’ll pass the 18th-century Slovak Philharmonic Hall and impressive National Theatre before your train slowly makes its way around the Old Town, arriving at Bratislava Castle, with its commanding hill-top setting, to admire magnificent views across the city. The train will then continue through Leopold Gate, back to the Old Town where you’ll disembark for a walking tour. A stroll through the narrow, cobbled streets will reveal sights such as the Archbishop’s Palace, St Martin’s Cathedral, the charming Main Square with its fountain and Old Town Hall, and a number of 18th-century palaces.

Walking Grade 2

Two hours
Bratislava
Bratislava Slovakia Europe
  • Optional on 13 nights itinerary

Beer tasting at the UFO

Beer was first brewed in Bratislava by the Celts 2,000 years ago and has long competed with wine for the most popular drink in the region. This excursion ventures up to the UFO observation tower where you’ll enjoy panoramic views of the city and the opportunity to sample a selection of locally brewed beer.

Walking Grade 2

Two hours
The UFO Bridge, Bratislava
Bratislava Slovakia Europe
  • Optional on 13 nights itinerary

Schonbrunn Palace

Visit the sumptuous Imperial Summer Palace of the Hapsburgs, the centre of royal life in the 18th century, inspired by Versailles. The UNESCO-listed palace is filled with priceless treasures, while the vast grounds feature well-manicured lawns and colourful flower beds.

Walking Grade 3

Four hours
The gardens at Schonbrunn Palace
Schonbrunn Palace Vienna Austria Europe
  • Optional on 13 nights itinerary

Vienna evening concert

After dinner on board your ship, travel to the baroque Palais Auersperg or one of Vienna’s other impressive palaces near the Ringstrasse, for a concert of music by Mozart and the Strauss family. Performance details will be provided on board ship.

Walking Grade 1

Two-and-a-half hours
A classical concert in Vienna
Vienna Austria Europe
  • Optional on 13 nights itinerary
Budapest and the Scenic Danube

The Danube