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  • *
    Spend time in the city of Budapest
  • *
    Navigate the Iron Gate
  • *
    See Basarbovo Monastery
  • *
    Visit the city of Pleven

From the Balkan Mountains to Vienna

The Danube

  • A car with a tick VIP on selected river cruises
  • A plate with a knife and fork Full board

Sail the Danube from Bulgaria to Austria

Sail the Danube where it runs parallel to Bulgaria’s Balkan Mountain range from Rousse to Nikopol. Visit the Pleven panorama depicting the events of the Russian-Turkish War of 1877 and perhaps join an optional excursion to medieval Veliko Tarnovo where the historic walls of the Tsarevets fortress encircle the Royal Palace.

Continue through the dramatic scenery of the Iron Gates, a gorge framed by sheer cliffs, to arrive in the Serbian capital Belgrade. Enjoy an included tour of the city and visit to Kalemegdan Fortress, built and rebuilt numerous times between the 2nd and 18th centuries. See Hungarian horsemanship during an optional excursion to Kalocsa and Puszta, before exploring a trio of capital cities: Budapest, Bratislava and the musical city of Vienna, birthplace of the waltz.


A car with a tickVIP door-to-door travel service from anywhere on the UK mainland

Hands shaking Included travel insurance

Dinner plate26 meals: 9 breakfasts, 8 lunches and 9 dinners

CocktailWine, beer and soft drinks with lunch and dinner

PersonCruise Host


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

MapIncluded excursions

  • Pleven panoramic
  • Belgrade and the Kalemegdan Fortress
  • Tour of Budapest OR culinary walking tour of Budapest
  • Tour of Bratislava

HeadphonesInteractive maps and audio headsets for independent exploration

View Full Itinerary

Day 1 UK to Bucharest to Rousse

Sunset in Rousse, Bulgaria

Fly to Bucharest before transferring to Rousse, where you will embark Spirit of the Rhine.

Look forward to your welcome drink reception and dinner on board.

Rousse Bulgaria Europe

Day 2 Rousse to Svistov 🎧

Rousse architecture, Bulgaria

Nicknamed 'Little Vienna' due to its belle époque architecture, Rousse prospered from its location on the Danube, becoming Bulgaria’s main port.

As a result it’s home to many grand buildings, such as the Building of the Tax Administration with its elaborate facade. Perhaps join an optional morning tour, which also visits the only active rock monastery in Bulgaria or embark on a full-day excursion to Veliko Tarnovo, rejoining your ship in Svistov, where she will moor overnight.

Svistov Bulgaria Europe

Day 3 Svistov to Nikopol

St. George the Conqueror Chapel Mausoleum, Pleven, Bulgaria

Enjoy a coach trip to Pleven to visit a historic panorama depicting the events of the Russian-Turkish War of 1877 on an included excursion this morning.

Rejoin your ship in the town of Nikopol, which features the remains of a ruined fortress, a 13th century church and a drinking fountain constructed in the second century. After a brief visit Spirit of the Rhine will begin sailing towards Belgrade.

Nikopol Bulgaria Europe

Day 4 The Iron Gates

Danube gorge

Cruise along a particularly scenic stretch of the river, as the Danube passes through the southern stretch of the dramatic Carpathian mountains and the foothills of the Balkans to the ‘Iron Gates’, a gorge framed by sheer cliffs. The passage was infamous in ancient times as the water level was much lower, making navigation treacherous.

Your cruise continues this evening and overnight.

Day 5 Belgrade to Novi Sad 🎧

Kalemegdan Fortress, Belgrade

Arrive this morning in the Serbian capital where you’ll enjoy an included tour and visit to Kalemegdan Fortress, built and rebuilt numerous times between the 2nd and 18th centuries. This afternoon perhaps join an optional tour of Novi Sad.

Rejoin Spirit of the Rhine in Novi Sad and begin the overnight journey to Mohács.

Novi Sad Serbia Europe

Day 6 Mohács to Kalocsa

St. Mary Cathedral in Kalocsa, Hungary

Depart for Kalocsa, stopping en route for the opportunity to join an optional full-day excursion through the Hungarian lowlands to Puszta, where you can watch traditional horsemanship, rejoining your ship when she pauses in Kalocsa late this afternoon.

Spirit of the Rhine will then continue cruising overnight to Budapest.

Kalocsa Hungary Europe

Day 7 Budapest 🎧

Old Fisherman Bastion, Buda Castle, Budapest

Arrive this morning in Budapest and perhaps uncover the city’s food and cultural scene on an included culinary walking tour, which visits the First Strudel House and Central Market Hall, or join an included city tour that will reveal the main highlights.

A city of two halves – Buda and Pest – the Hungarian capital is a cosmopolitan, culture-rich centre. Buda is the older part, with cobbled streets and medieval architecture, while Pest is the administrative and commercial centre, with wide avenues and 19th-century public buildings. The Parliament Building dominates the Pest waterfront. St Stephen’s Basilica is also in Pest, and home to a holy relic of St Stephen, the first king – his mummified right hand! The Fisherman’s Bastion has seven towers, each one symbolising one of the Magyar tribes that came to Hungary in 896, and from here you can enjoy superb city views. Heroes’ Square, flanked by the Palace of Fine Arts and the Palace of Art, is another of Hungary’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites. This afternoon you’ll have the opportunity to visit the Lazar Equestrian Park Horse Farm on an optional excursion.

Your ship remains moored in Budapest overnight.

Budapest Hungary Europe

Day 8 Budapest 🎧

Budapest with the River Danube

This morning you may like visit Gödöllo Palace on an optional excursion before your ship begins the journey to Bratislava.

Budapest Hungary Europe

Day 9 Bratislava to Vienna 🎧

Bratislava Castle over the Danube River

Arrive this morning in the capital of Slovakia and enjoy an included trip aboard the miniature city tourist train past Bratislava Castle, before disembarking in the Old Town for a walking tour to see the Archbishop’s Palace, St Martin’s Cathedral, the Market Square, Town Hall and more…. This afternoon you may like to join either an optional visit to the UFO observation tower for beer tasting with panoramic views or visit a Majolica pottery workshop.

Spirit of the Rhine cruises late this afternoon to arrive in Vienna tonight.

Vienna Austria Europe

Day 10 Vienna to UK

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

Tour of Rousse

After a short drive through the beautiful valley of the Lom River you can visit the only active rock monastery in Bulgaria. Situated 10 kilometres south of Rousse, it is devoted to a local saint, St Dimitrius of Bassarbovo. Once there, a short stone staircase will lead you to an extraordinary rock church and a rock cave where the monk lived in the 17th century.

After this visit you will be taken back to the city where you will enter the Holy Trinity Church to hear its turbulent history followed by a guided walk through the town. During the visit to Liberty square you'll be treated to a small Bulgarian snack with the local wine or coffee.

Walking Grade 3

Three-and-a-half hours
Rusenski Lom Natural Park, Bulgaria
  • Optional on 9 nights itinerary

Veliko Tarnovo

One of Bulgaria’s most stunning medieval towns, Veliko Tarnovo perches astride three hills overlooking the dramatic gorge of the river Yantra. Here you’ll see the ancient fortress of Tsarevets with its far-reaching walls that encircle the Royal Palace, the Church of the Blessed Saviour, and the monastery with its grisly Execution Rock. Explore Veliko Tarnovo’s winding historic streets and admire the commanding views before enjoying lunch at a typical Bulgarian restaurant. If time permits, you may also visit the nearby town of Arbanassi, home to quaint, painted churches and unusual, fortress-style houses.

Walking Grade 3. Lunch Included.

Six hours
Tsarevets Castle
  • Optional on 9 nights itinerary

Novi Sad

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. Enjoy a short walking tour of the old town centre, which boasts a fine selection of 18th and 19th-century buildings. Then continue to an old family wine cellar where you can taste the local wines, and also honey, produced here.

Walking Grade 3.

Three hours
Novi Sad
  • Optional on 9 nights itinerary

Kalocsa and Puszta

Discover traditional Hungary during this fascinating full-day 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. Refreshments are included. Later continue to Kalocsa and find out more about the Hungarian way of life with a visit to the Folk Art House to see wall and furniture painting in a former peasant’s cottage. You’ll also enjoy lunch and learn about the significance of the favourite regional spice with a visit to the Paprika Museum.

Walking Grade 2

Full day
  • Optional on 9 nights itinerary

Lazar Equestrian Park

Travel to the Lazar Equestrian Park, owned by the world champion horse and carriage drivers, the Lazar brothers. After refreshments enjoy a fascinating show demonstrating exceptional horsemanship. Afterwards, take a carriage ride around the park, followed by a walk through the yard to see local breeds of livestock and visit to the stables where the Lazar's champion horses are kept.

Walking Grade 1

Four hours
Hungarian horsemanship
  • Optional on 9 nights itinerary

Gödöllo Palace

The second largest baroque palace in the world, Gödöllo Palace was the former summer residence of Queen Elizabeth and Franz Joseph, Hapsburg Emperor and King of Hungary between 1867 and 1916. Gain an insight into the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the couple’s lavish lifestyle as you explore the interior, the Palace Theatre and gardens.

Walking Grade 2

Four hours
Godollo Palace, Hungary
  • Optional on 9 nights itinerary

Majolica Pottery & Slovakian Wine Tour

Drive from Bratislava into the Small Carpathian region. Your first stop is at a Pottery workshop where the tradition of Slovak Folk Majolica dates back to the 16th century. It was brought to western Slovakia by Habans, who resettled from Germany to Switzerland. They manufacture more than 200 kinds of products here and production is mainly focused on traditional decors and shapes, thereby conserving cultural heritage of this region. The production is colourful, blue, green and majolica of Haban colours. There may also be an opportunity for guests to try out the pottery wheel! Afterwards continue to a traditional wine cellar where you will have the opportunity to taste some of the wines that this region is famous for. Your knowledgable host will explain wine making processes and give an introduction to the wines that you will be tasting.

Walking Grade 3

Three-and-a-half hours
Visit a pottery workshop
  • Optional on 9 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 9 nights itinerary
From the Balkan Mountains to Vienna

The Danube