See the best of Eastern Europe on this exciting Balkan adventure. Enjoy guided sightseeing in each city, including inside visits of Patriarch’s Church in Veliko Târnovo, Arbanassi’s Ethnographical Museum and Church of the Nativity, the eclectic rock formations of Belogradchik, and Kalemegdan Fortress in Belgrade. Other highlights: visit the medieval fortress of Vidin, pass through the dramatic Iron Gates gorge, and enjoy an organ concert in Kalocsa. Your journey ends in Hungary’s lively capital of Budapest, where you disembark.
Day #1 Bucharest-Oltenita (Embarkation). Welcome to Romania! Flights must arrive by 10:30 am. Board your river cruise vessel at Noon and meet your crew at a welcome reception. (D)
Day #2 Rousse, Bulgaria. Excursion to Veliko Târnovo & Arbanassi. A comfortable ride from the river port of Rousse is the ancient Bulgarian capital of Veliko Tarnovo. Situated on three hills surrounding the Yantra River, the city was a natural fortress with ancient stone houses clinging to the steep slopes. The oldest part is Tsarevets Hill, home of the Royal Fortress, palaces, and the PATRIARCH’S CHURCH. The historic village of Arbanassi is best known for its ETHNOGRAPHICAL MUSEUM and the outstanding collection of frescoes in the CHURCH OF THE NATIVITY. Rejoin your ship in Svistov. (B,L,D)
Day #3 Vidin, Bulgaria. Excursion to Belogradchik. Vidin is an important Danube port, situated in northwestern Bulgaria. Its medieval FORTRESS, known as “Baba Vidin,” is the town’s primary landmark. It served as Vidin’s main defensive installation during the course of the Middle Ages and is the only entirely preserved medieval fortress in the country. It is now a fortress museum and has been restored to its former appearance. In the afternoon, drive to nearby Belogradchik to view the eclectic group of ROCK FORMATIONS on the western slopes of the Balkan Mountains. (B,L,D)
Day #4 Iron Gates. The Trajan Table marking the Roman conquest of Dacia and the Serbian fortresses of Golubac and Smederevo are impressive sights on the left bank of the Danube. The most spectacular scenery must surely be the dramatic gorge of the IRON GATES, a narrow and formerly very dangerous passage dividing Europe’s Alps in the northwest from the Carpathians in the southeast and forming a natural border between Serbia and Romania. (B,L,D)
Day #5 Belgrade, Serbia. The capital of Serbia is situated at the confluence of the Danube and Sava Rivers. A local expert will be proud to show you its main sights, which include the city’s principal landmark, KALEMEGDAN FORTRESS; St. Sava, the world’s largest Orthodox Church; and Marshal Tito’s tomb and monument. The city center has a lively pedestrian area and charming outdoor cafes. (B,L,D)
Day #6 Pecs, Hungary–Kalocsa. Pecs is Hungary’s fifth-largest city and its richest in terms of Turkish architecture. Enjoy an orientation and some free time before proceeding to Kalocsa. Founded by St. Stephen in 1009 as an archbishopric, Kalocsa has a most turbulent history. This quiet town, which is best known for paprika and folklore art, is dominated by the Archbishop’s Palace and Kalocsa Cathedral, where you will be treated to an ORGAN CONCERT. (B,L,D)
Day #7 Budapest (Disembarkation). Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning. Flights should not depart Budapest before 10:30 am. (B)