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    Cosmopolitan Belgrade
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    Iron Gates Gorge

Scenic Transylvania and the Danube: From Budapest

The Danube

  • A car with a tick VIP on selected river cruises
  • A plate with a knife and fork Half board at hotel/Full board on ship

Cruise the Danube through four countries before a three-night hotel stay in Transylvania

This scenic river cruise aboard our new ship Spirit of the Danube combines time to relax on board your ship as she navigates the Danube with days spent exploring riverside towns and cities, plus a three-night hotel stay is included at the locally rated 5-star Aro Palace hotel (4Q), in the heart of Transylvania.

Delve into the history and culture of the historic cities of Budapest and Belgrade during included sightseeing tours; spend a day cruising through the dramatic sheer cliffs that frame the Iron Gates gorge, a passage that was perilous in ancient times; discover the town of Brasov, with it’s unusual Black Church and venture inside the eerie 14th-century Bran Castle which inspired the story of Dracula during a hotel stay in Transylvania. You’ll also visit the traditional town of Mohács, embark on a guided walking tour of Pleven and see the elaborate architecture that led to Rousse gaining the nickname of ‘Little Vienna’.

Including...

Hands shaking Included travel insurance

Bed8 nights Full Board aboard the ship, 3 nights Half Board in a hotel

Dinner plate30 meals: 11 breakfasts, 8 lunches and 11 dinners

CocktailWine, beer and soft drinks with lunch and dinner on the ship

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
  • Belgrade and the Kalemegdan Fortress
  • Pleven panoramic
  • Brosov city tour
  • Bran Castle

HeadphonesInteractive maps and audio headsets for independent exploration

View Full Itinerary

Day 1 Budapest

The illuminated building of the Hungarian Parliament, Budapest

Fly to Budapest before being transferred to the port where you will embark Spirit of the Danube.

Look forward to your welcome drink reception and dinner as you remain moored here overnight.

Budapest Hungary Europe

Day 2 Budapest 🎧

Central Market Hall of Budapest

Enjoy a day in this thrilling city.

This morning, uncover Budapest’s culinary 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 and help you get your bearings so you can explore independently later this afternoon. This afternoon, perhaps join an excursion to Gödöllo Palace or to the Lazar Equestrian Park Horse Farm before your ship sets sail this evening.

Budapest Hungary Europe

Day 3 Kalocsa to Mohács

St. Mary Cathedral in Kalocsa, Hungary

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 Danube continues cruising towards Novi Sad late this afternoon.

Mohacs Hungary Europe

Day 4 Novi Sad to Belgrade 🎧

Kalemegdan Fortress, Belgrade

You can enjoy an optional excursion to Novi Sad this morning returning to Belgrade.

This afternoon, join an included city tour of Serbia's capital, Belgrade, one of the oldest cities in Europe and the meeting point of Eastern and Western Europe. Your tour also features a visit to the historic 18th-century citadel, Kalemegdan Fortress.

Depart before dinner.

Belgrade Serbia Europe

Day 5 The Iron Gates

Iron Gate, Danube

A real highlight of your holiday, spend the day cruising an exciting stretch of the Danube to the ‘Iron Gates’, a gorge framed by sheer cliffs.

The passage was hazardous in ancient times as the water level was much lower, making it treacherous to navigate. Even though water levels have been raised the journey is still exciting. After leaving the ‘Gates’ in your wake, pass through the southern stretch of the dramatic Carpathian mountains and the foothills of the Balkans and cruise on into the night.

Day 6 Nikopol to Svistov to Rousse

St. George the Conqueror Chapel Mausoleum, Pleven, Bulgaria

Arrive in Nikopol early this morning where you’re sure to enjoy an included excursion to the town of Pleven where you’ll walk through the town with your guide to the Pleven Panorama and afterwards enjoy a glass of Bulgarian wine in a hotel. The ancient city is known for its museums and is famous for the 1877 siege which saw Bulgaria break away from Ottoman rule.

This afternoon an optional excursion visits Veliko Tarnovo. The town sits across three hills beside the dramatic gorge of the Yantra River with a medieval fortress complex that was the centre of the Second Bulgarian Empire, which ruled the region from the 12th to 14th centuries. Excursion participants will rejoin the ship in Svistov before you sail on to Rousse where you moor overnight.

Rousse Bulgaria Europe

Day 7 Rousse to Silistra 🎧

Regional Court of Rousse, Bulgaria

Wake up in Rousse, nicknamed 'Little Vienna', this morning. The city prospered from its location on the Danube and is home to many grand and beautiful buildings, including the Building of the Tax Administration which boasts an elaborate facade.

Perhaps join an optional walking tour of the city this morning before sailing on towards Silistra this afternoon.

Rousse Bulgaria Europe

Day 8 Silistra to Braila

The centre of Braila

Spend a relaxing day on board Spirit of the Danube as she cruises to Braila, arriving this evening and mooring here overnight.

Braila Romania Europe

Day 9 Braila to Brasov

Crossing the Carpathian mountains in Romania

After breakfast disembark Spirit of the Danube and enjoy a scenic drive through the Carpathian Mountains, with lunch and some free time in the hills included.

Continue to Brasov and the locally rated 5-star Aro Palace hotel (4Q), in the heart of Transylvania, where you will stay for three nights on a half-board basis.


Day 10 Brasov

Brasov and its Black Cathedral

Head to the centre of Brasov for an included tour of this beautiful town, including entrance to the 14th-century Black Church. The interior of this Gothic church was destroyed by a fire in 1689 which left the outer walls and roof blackened.


Day 11 Brasov

The medieval Castle of Bran, Brasov, Transylvania

Enjoy an included visit to 14th-century Bran Castle, the inspiration for Bram Stoker's Dracula, even though the author never visited Transylvania! It is thought that Vlad the Impaler, ruler of this area – Walachia – in the 15th century, may have been imprisoned here.


Day 12 Brasov to Bucharest-UK

Check-out after breakfast and travel to Bucharest Airport for your return flight to the UK.


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 11 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 11 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 11 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 11 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 11 nights itinerary
Scenic Transylvania and the Danube: From Budapest

The Danube