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Great European Odyssey: To Bulgaria

The Danube

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

An epic voyage from start to finish

Cruise aboard Spirit of the Rhine as she navigates the changing riverscapes of the Rhine, Danube, Moselle and Main exploring historic medieval towns and cosmopolitan capital cities en route to Bulgaria.

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

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

HeadphonesInteractive maps and audio headsets for independent exploration

View Full Itinerary

Day 1 UK to Luxembourg to Trier

An aerial view of Trier on a sunny day

Fly to Luxembourg and transfer to Trier where you’ll embark Spirit of the Rhine.

Enjoy a welcome reception and dinner on board as your ship begins the overnight cruise towards Bernkastel.

Trier Rhineland-Palatinate Rhineland Germany Europe

Day 2 Bernkastel-Kues to Cochem 🎧

Bernkastel-Kues, Germany

Arrive early this morning in Bernkastel for an included trip on the panorama train, followed by a guided walk.

Depart this afternoon and arrive in Cochem this evening.

Cochem Rhineland-Palatinate Rhineland Germany Europe

Day 19 Cochem to Rüdesheim 🎧

Cochem Castle overlooks historic Cochem town on the Moselle River

Take an optional trip on Cochem’s Noddy train this morning or join an optional visit to Reichsburg Castle.

Set sail at lunchtime and arrive in Rüdesheim late tonight. Your ship remains moored here overnight.

Rüdesheim Rhineland-Palatinate Rhineland Germany Europe

Day 4 Rüdesheim 🎧

Ruedesheim, Germany

Visit Siegfried's Museum of Mechanical Music on an optional morning excursion before cruising through the afternoon and overnight towards Miltenberg.

Rüdesheim Rhineland-Palatinate Rhineland Germany Europe

Day 5 Miltenberg to Würzburg

The market place, Miltenberg

After an early arrival in Miltenberg perhaps spend the morning on an optional beer tasting excursion.

Enjoy a relaxing afternoon cruising to Würzburg, arriving in the evening and mooring here overnight.

Würzburg Bavaria Germany Europe

Day 6 Würzburg 🎧

Würzburg Residenz palace

Enjoy an included tour of Würzburg and visit to the Residenz Palace.

Spirit of the Rhine will begin the overnight cruise to Bamberg this afternoon.

Würzburg Bavaria Germany Europe

Day 7 Bamberg 🎧

Bamberg, Bavaria

Set off on an included tour of this UNESCO-listed city this morning. Visit the cathedral and walk through the historic streets to see the Old Town Hall located on an island in the river and the quaint fisherman’s houses of ‘Little Venice’. This afternoon you may like to explore the culinary traditions of Bamberg on an optional walking tour.

Your ship cruises towards Nuremberg this evening and overnight.

Bamberg Bavaria Germany Europe

Day 8 Nuremberg to Kelheim 🎧

Nuremberg, Germany

Explore historic Nuremberg on an included tour this morning before setting sail for Kelheim, arriving this evening.

Kelheim Bavaria Germany Europe

Day 9 Kelheim to Regensburg 🎧

Regensburg and Danube River, Germany

An optional excursion this morning visits Weltenberg Abbey and includes a boat trip through the Danube Gorge, rejoining your ship in Regensburg. This afternoon perhaps explore the medieval streets of Regensberg on an optional walk through the UNESCO-listed old town.

Continue cruising late this afternoon towards Passau.

Regensburg Bavaria Germany Europe

Day 10 Passau to Melk 🎧

Passau, Germany

Spend the morning in Passau, where an optional walking tour reveals the baroque St Stephen’s Cathedral and old and new Bishop’s Palaces.

Cruise through the afternoon to Melk, arriving tomorrow morning.

Melk Austria Europe

Day 11 Melk to Dürnstein 🎧

The medieval town of Dürnstein, Austria

This morning an optional excursion visits Melk Abbey. Your ship departs at lunchtime for an afternoon arrival in Dürnstein. Perhaps join an optional tour of the city, followed by an organ concert in the abbey.

Spirit of the Rhine sets sails late this evening and cruises overnight towards Vienna.

Dürnstein Austria Europe

Day 12 Vienna 🎧

Vienna's Natural History Museum

After an early arrival in Vienna join an included morning tour of the city, which includes a drive around the Ringstrasse encircling the old city where you’ll see the State Opera House, or opt for an included culinary walking tour from Albertina Square to the Imperial Palace. This afternoon there is an optional visit to Schönbrunn Palace, and in the evening you can treat yourself to a musical concert in a Viennese palace on another optional excursion.

Set sail from Vienna late this evening.

Vienna Austria Europe

Day 13 Bratislava 🎧

Bratislava, Slovakia

Early this morning arrive 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 will begin the overnight journey to Budapest late this afternoon.

Bratislava Slovakia Europe

Day 14 Budapest 🎧

Budapest Royal Castle and Chain Bridge

Arrive early this afternoon and embark on either an included sightseeing tour or culinary themed walking tour. Later this afternoon you might choose to join an optional excursion to Gödöllo Palace or the Lazar Equestrian Park horse farm.

Your ship remains moored here overnight.

Budapest Hungary Europe

Day 15 Budapest 🎧

Hungarian Parliament and the Chain Bridge in Budapest, Hungary

This morning perhaps join an optional excursion to Gödöllo Palace, former summer residence of Queen Elizabeth and Franz Joseph. This afternoon another optional excursion visits the Lazar Equestrian Park horse farm.

Your ship departs this evening bound for Kalocsa.

Budapest Hungary Europe

Day 16 Kalocsa to Mohács

The Air Battle Memorial Church, Mohács

Perhaps disembark in Kalocsa early this morning to join an optional full-day excursion through the Hungarian lowlands to Puszta, where you can watch traditional horsemanship, rejoining your ship when she arrives in Mohács this afternoon. You have a few hours here to explore the home of some of Hungary’s most exciting folk traditions.

Spirit of the Rhine continues cruising towards Belgrade late this afternoon.

Mohacs Hungary Europe

Day 17 Novi Sad to Belgrade 🎧

Kalemegdan Fortress, Belgrade

Arrive early morning in this city where European and Balkan cultures meet, with this stretch of the Danube acting as a natural border.

Beside Novi Sad is the Petrovaradin Fortress, with a 16-kilometre network of underground passages and the officers' residences and government buildings beneath. Perhaps pay a visit to the City Museum within the fortress walls. Or you could join an optional walking tour of the old town centre with its 18th and 19th-century architecture, returning to your ship in Belgrade. This afternoon look forward to an included tour of Belgrade and visit to Kalemegdan Fortress.

Belgrade Serbia Europe

Day 18 Sailing day

Mraconia Monastery on the River Danube

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. You’ll also pass medieval Golubac Fortress, which appears to cling precariously to the riverbank.

Day 19 Nikopol to Svistov

Town Hall and fountain in Pleven, Bulgaria

Early this afternoon you’ll arrive 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. Explore at your leisure or join an included excursion to Pleven to visit a historic panorama depicting the events of the Russian-Turkish War of 1877.

Rejoin your ship in Svistov, where she will moor overnight.

Svistov Bulgaria Europe

Day 20 Svistov to Rousse 🎧

Regional Court of Rousse, Bulgaria

Spend a relaxing morning sailing from Svistov to Rousse, arriving during lunchtime. 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 afternoon tour, which also visits the only active rock monastery in Bulgaria.

Your ship moors here overnight.

Rousse Bulgaria Europe

Day 21 Rousse to Bucharest to UK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dürnstein walking tour and organ concert

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 hours
The historical city of Durnstein, Austria
Dürnstein Austria 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

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

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

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

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

Mohács walking tour

Walk from the ship into the city centre via the Jewish quarter. Visit the Busó yard where you can browse handicraft shops and observe mask carving demonstrations. See the Nagyasszonya temple and sculptures of Szechenyi Square and enjoy included entrance to the Kanizsai Dorottya Museum where you’ll see a variety of Hungarian costume. You’ll have some free time before returning to the ship.

Walking Grade 3

Three hours
Szechenyi Square in Esztergom
Mohacs Hungary Europe
  • 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

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
Great European Odyssey: To Bulgaria

The Danube