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River Cruise
River Cruise

Great European Odyssey: From Bulgaria

The Danube

from £3,799 per person
2 passengers 20 nights
Including optional travel insurance or a price reduction of £108 if not required
  • New New holiday
  • VIP travel service included on selected European tours VIP on selected river cruises
  • Full Board Full board

An epic voyage from start to finish

Sail aboard Spirit of the Rhine from Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast along the Danube and Rhine on this epic voyage. Compare and contrast the timeless architecture and culture of the great capital cities of Belgrade, Budapest, Bratislava and Vienna, as well as visiting a host of historic riverside towns in Germany and Austria.

Including...

Hands shaking Included travel insurance

Dinner plate59 meals: 20 breakfasts, 19 lunches and 20 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

  • Pleven panoramic
  • Belgrade and the Kalemegdan Fortress
  • Tour of Budapest OR culinary walking tour of Budapest
  • Tour of Bratislava
  • Sightseeing tour of Vienna OR culinary walking tour of Vienna
  • Historic Nuremberg
  • Bamberg city tour
  • Wurzburg and the Residenz Palace
  • Bernkastel panorama train and guided walk

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 and transfer to Rousse (a journey of approximately one hour and 30 minutes) to embark Spirit of the Rhine.

Enjoy a welcome drink reception and dinner on board as your ship remains moored here overnight.

Rousse Bulgaria Europe

Day 2 Rousse to Svistov

Regional Court of Rousse, Bulgaria

Perhaps join an optional tour of Rousse this morning before cruising to Svistov. Alternatively embark on a full-day optional excursion to Veliko Tarnono, rejoining your ship in Svistov later in the day.

Spirit of the Rhine moors overnight in Svistov.

Svistov Bulgaria Europe

Day 3 Svistov to Nikopol

Town Hall and fountain in Pleven, Bulgaria

This morning an included excursion visits Pleven to see the historic panorama depicting the events of the Russian-Turkish War of 1877, rejoining your ship in Nikopol, home to a ruined fortress, 13th-century church and a drinking fountain constructed in the second century.

Spirit of the Rhine will continue cruising overnight.

Nikopol Bulgaria Europe

Day 4 The Iron Gates

The Iron Gate gorge on the Danube between Serbia and Romania

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

Enjoy an included morning tour of Belgrade and visit to Kalemegdan Fortress, where the tomb of the Turkish Grand Vizier, Ali Pasha, is housed. From here perhaps join an optional tour of Novi Sad, or stay on board your ship and sail through the afternoon to Novi Sad.

After excursions participants have rejoined Spirit of the Rhine she continues sailing overnight towards Mohács.

Novi Sad Serbia Europe

Day 6 Mohács

The Air Battle Memorial Church, Mohács

Arrive early this morning in Mohács where you’ll have the opportunity to join an optional excursion to the Puszta to see displays of traditional Hungarian horsemanship. Meanwhile your ship continues to Kalocsa, arriving this afternoon and pausing briefly for excursion participants to rejoin the ship.

Afterwards you’ll continue cruising overnight towards Budapest.

Mohacs Hungary Europe

Day 7 Budapest 🎧

Budapest Royal Castle and Chain Bridge

Budapest is a city made up of two parts: Buda and Pest, built on opposite banks of the Danube and very different in character.

East meets west in this fascinating city, and this can be seen in the variety of shops and restaurants. This morning an included city sightseeing tour reveals the capital's highlights, including the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Buda Castle, Matthias Church and Fisherman's Bastion. Alternatively, perhaps join an included visit to the First Strudel House for a live strudel-making demonstration, followed by a walking tour with a culinary theme. This afternoon, an optional excursion to Lazar Equestrian Park is available.

Your ship moors overnight in the Hungarian capital.

Budapest Hungary Europe

Day 8 Budapest

Hungarian Parliament and the Chain Bridge in Budapest, Hungary

This morning you may like to join an optional excursion to Gödöllo Palace, former summer residence of Queen Elizabeth and Franz Joseph, Hapsburg Emperor and King of Hungary between 1867 and 1916.

This afternoon Spirit of the Rhine begins the overnight journey to Bratislava.

Budapest Hungary Europe

Day 9 Bratislava to Vienna 🎧

Bratislava, Slovakia

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

An included trip aboard the miniature city tourist train reveals the highlights including Bratislava Castle, before you disembark 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 can visit a Majolica pottery workshop or perhaps sample beer at the UFO observation tower during optional excursions.

Continue sailing to Vienna late this afternoon, arriving late this evening.

Vienna Austria Europe

Day 10 Vienna 🎧

Vienna's Natural History Museum

Set off on an included morning tour of this dynamic city – steeped in imperial and musical history – including a drive around the Ringstrasse, encircling the old city, alternatively opt for an included culinary walking tour. This afternoon an optional excursion visits Schönbrunn Palace. After an early dinner on board you may choose to treat yourself to an optional performance of music by Mozart and Strauss in one of the great formal concert houses of Imperial Vienna.

Spirit of the Rhine will begin the overnight journey towards Dürnstein tonight.

Vienna Austria Europe

Day 11 Dürnstein to Melk 🎧

The medieval town of Dürnstein, Austria

Dürnstein is one of the most picturesque towns on the Danube River and is overlooked by the ruins of Kuenringer Castle, where Richard the Lionheart was imprisoned during the late 12th century. You may like to join an optional morning walking tour, which includes an organ concert, before your ship sets sail again late morning.

Cruise through the scenic Wachau Valley to Melk and perhaps visit the Benedictine Abbey on an optional excursion this afternoon.

Melk Austria Europe

Day 12 Passau

Passau, Germany

Passau, the most easterly city in Bavaria, is home to a baroque cathedral containing the largest church organ in the world. Arrive here early this afternoon and perhaps join an optional walking tour of the highlights, most of which are close to the Danube.

Your ship leaves Passau early evening and continues overnight towards Regensburg.

Passau Bavaria Germany Europe

Day 13 Regensburg 🎧

Regensburg and Danube River, Germany

This morning you may like to join an optional city walk in Regensburg, which has been a religious centre since the 7th century and has numerous medieval churches. This afternoon another optional excursion visits Weltenburg Abbey and includes a short boat trip through the Danube Gorge before rejoining your ship in Kelheim and cruising overnight to Nuremberg.

Regensburg Bavaria Germany Europe

Day 14 Nuremberg 🎧

Nuremberg, Germany

Arrive in the historic Bavarian city of Nuremberg early this morning and explore the elegant architecture and major sights during an included tour, from its medieval beginnings to the present. Once famous for the manufacture of toys, it achieved infamy in the 20th century as the setting for the notorious Nazi rallies, and later for the war crimes trials of 1945-46.

You sail from Nuremberg late afternoon and continue towards Bamberg.

Nuremberg Bavaria Germany Europe

Day 15 Bamberg 🎧

Bamberg, Bavaria

Arrive in Bamberg early this morning.

This UNESCO World Heritage city is characterised by quaint streets lined with historic buildings. Take in the town's well-preserved medieval treasures on an included afternoon tour, including the cathedral and the quirky historic town hall, set in the centre of a bridge. Alternatively you may like to join an optional food-themed walking tour which brings the city’s culinary traditions to life.

Sail overnight towards Würzberg.

Bamberg Bavaria Germany Europe

Day 16 Würzburg 🎧

Würzburg Residenz palace

Spend the afternoon in the centre of Franconia's wine industry where an included guided tour explores the town, which was once the ancient seat of the prince-bishops and is consequently home to many fine monuments and buildings, and also visits the Residenz Palace. This baroque palace, dating back to the 18th century, features a grand staircase and Imperial Hall with frescoes by Tiepolo.

Your ship sets sail for Miltenberg this evening.

Würzburg Bavaria Germany Europe

Day 17 Miltenberg

The market place, Miltenberg

Arrive during lunch and explore this ancient town on the banks of the Main this afternoon. The old town is home to a 13th-century castle, timber-framed houses and wine taverns.

Perhaps join an optional excursion to a local brewery before sailing overnight towards Rüdesheim.

Miltenberg Bavaria Germany Europe

Day 18 Rüdesheim to Koblenz

Ruedesheim, Germany

An optional excursion this morning visits Siegfried's Museum of Mechanical Music in Rüdesheim, or you may like to explore this picturesque town in the heart of the Rhineland's wine-producing region independently.

Set sail after lunch to arrive in Koblenz late this afternoon for an overnight mooring.

Koblenz Rhineland-Palatinate Rhineland Germany Europe

Day 19 Koblenz to Cochem 🎧

Cochem Castle overlooks historic Cochem town on the Moselle River

Leave Koblenz in your wake at breakfast and cruise through the morning to Cochem, which is backed by the neo-Gothic Reichsburg Castle. This afternoon an optional excursion visits the castle, which sits atop a hill cloaked entirely in vines. Although most of the castle was rebuilt in the 19th century, the original 11th-century keep still survives. The excursion will also visit a local vineyard for a wine tasting. Another optional tour explores the town by land train.

Sail through the night to Bernkastel-Kues.

Cochem Rhineland-Palatinate Rhineland Germany Europe

Day 20 Bernkastel-Kues to Trier 🎧

Bernkastel-Kues, Germany

Arrive early this morning in Bernkastel-Kues and after breakfast on board your ship enjoy an included trip on the panorama train, followed by a guided walk.

Depart this afternoon and arrive in Trier this evening.

Trier Rhineland-Palatinate Rhineland Germany Europe

Day 21 Trier to UK

Disembark Spirit of the Rhine and travel to Luxembourg 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 20 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 20 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 20 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
Pustza
  • Optional on 20 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 20 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 20 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 20 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 20 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 20 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 20 nights itinerary

Dürnstein walking tour

Walk from the ship to the historic heart of Dürnstein, where the cobbled streets are home to traditional wineries and quirky little shops. Continue to Dürnstein Abbey with it’s blue and white steeple that can be seen from every angle of the town. After a tour of the historic abbey, owned by the Augustinian Canons of Herzogenburg Abbey, you will be treated to an organ concert featuring classical music composed by the likes of Mozart, Bach and Beethoven.

Walking Grade 3

Two-and-a-half hours
The historical city of Durnstein, Austria
Dürnstein Austria Europe
  • Optional on 20 nights itinerary

Melk Abbey

Set on a promontory overlooking the Danube, the wonderfully ornate Melk Abbey is a masterpiece of high baroque architecture. Work on the present monastery began in 1702. The imposing exterior features an octagonal dome and symmetrical towers, while the interior is lavishly decorated and contains many artistic treasures. After touring the abbey enjoy some free time in the lovely garden.

Walking Grade 3

Two and a-half hours
Melk Abbey
Melk Abbey Melk Austria Europe
  • Optional on 20 nights itinerary

Passau city walk

A cultured city, Passau’s wealthy past is reflected in its many fine buildings, including the magnificent baroque St Stephen’s Cathedral and old and new Bishop’s Palaces. Enjoy a walking tour through the charming streets and the Danube’s riverside promenades.

Walking Grade 3

Two hours
Passau
Passau Bavaria Germany Europe
  • Optional on 20 nights itinerary

Regensburg city walk

Explore Regensburg’s old town, a charming labyrinth of medieval streets and alleys that was once the centre of the Holy Roman Empire and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Highlights include the Gothic St Peter’s cathedral, the eight-storey Old Town Hall and 12th-century Stone Bridge.

Walking Grade 3

Two hours
Regensburg
Regensburg Bavaria Germany Europe
  • Optional on 20 nights itinerary

Weltenburg Abbey & the Danube Gorge

Built on a gorge beside the Danube in Eastern Bavaria, between 1715 and 1734, the Abbey is a masterpiece of German baroque architecture and it is exquisitely painted. The Benedictine monks here are renowned for the award-winning dark ale they have been brewing since the 11th century. Enjoy a short boat trip through the Danube Gorge en route to the Abbey where a guide will give a short introductory talk.

Walking Grade 3

Four hours
Weltenburg Abbey
Weltenburg Abbey Regensburg Bavaria Germany Europe
  • Optional on 20 nights itinerary

Bamberg culinary walking tour

Enjoy a themed tour of Bamberg, which promises to bring hundreds of years of the city’s culinary traditions to life. Your tour will begin at the Schlachthaus - abattoir – and continues into the old town. Enjoy commentary from your knowledgeable guide and the chance to sample local specialities along the way before your tour wraps up with the chance to sup a cold beer, brewed locally.

Walking grade 4

Two-and-a-half hours
Beer and traditional German pretzels
Bamberg Bavaria Germany Europe
  • Optional on 20 nights itinerary

Miltenberg beer tasting

Take a short walk from the ship’s berth in the heart of Miltenberg’s old town is the Brauhaus Faust. Enjoy a behind-the-scenes tour of this brewery founded in 1654. Discover the history of Bavarian beer brewing and, of course, sample the beer, accompanied by a typical Bavarian pretzel!

Walking Grade 3

Two hours
Sample a selection of beers
Miltenberg Bavaria Germany Europe
  • Optional on 20 nights itinerary

Siegfrieds Museum of Mechanical Music

Siegfried Wendel’s eccentric collection of 350 self-playing instruments is a veritable treat for eyes and ears. In this whimsical museum you’ll find a fantastical, nostalgic and joyous cacophony of beautiful music boxes, barrel organs, hand-cranked carnival machines and early jukeboxes, all in full working order. High points include the ‘Puppet Orchestrion’, a huge cabinet containing puppet musicians (1888) and the later ‘Phonoliszt Violina’ a blend of piano and violins that plays in perfect harmony.

Walking Grade 2

One-and-a-half hours
Seigfried's Mechanical Music Museum
Siegfried's Mechanical Music Museum Rüdesheim Rhineland-Palatinate Rhineland Germany Europe
  • Optional on 20 nights itinerary

Cochem, Reichsburg Castle and Wine tasting

Visit fairy-tale Reichsburg Castle to learn about its colourful history and see magnificent views of the Moselle. Enjoy a guided tour of the castle, which was rescued and restored in the 19th century in neo-Gothic style. Today it is a fabulous showcase for Renaissance and baroque furniture. Later head to a local vineyard and winery for an introductory talk, and a tasting of four regional white Rieslings. There'll be the chance to purchase some wine before returning to the ship.

Walking Grade 3

Three-and-a-half hours
Winetasting
  • Optional on 20 nights itinerary

Cochem Noddy Train

From the pier you'll be met by the Cochem land train, which will take you on a 25-minute guided tour around the town. Starting at the old Mosel Bridge, you'll be taken through the old town and will then cross the new bridge into the Cond district, from where you'll have great views of Cochem and Reichsburg. The land train then takes you to the Moselstrabe and alongside the vineyards which ascend up the valley. After your sightseeing tour you'll have some free time to spend in Cochem, before being collected by the land train and taken back to the ship.

Walking Grade 2

Two-and-a-half hours
Explore Cochem by land train
  • Optional on 20 nights itinerary
Great European Odyssey: From Bulgaria

The Danube

from £3,799 per person
2 passengers
20 nights
Including optional travel insurance or a price reduction of £108 if not required

Great European Odyssey: To Bulgaria

Read reviews
Great European Odyssey: From Bulgaria

The Danube

from £3,799 per person
2 passengers
20 nights
Including optional travel insurance or a price reduction of £108 if not required