Journey along paths forged by conquerors, crusaders and kings through Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia, Hungary, Slovakia, Austria, Germany and the Czech Republic. Step back in time to explore the history and mystery living in the hillsides while cruising the Danube and through the Iron Gates. Legends of all kinds are waiting to be uncovered—Belogradchik, one of Bulgaria’s natural wonders; the Rock-Hewn Churches of Ivanovo, built into the side of a mountain showcasing well-preserved medieval frescos; and the 14th-century Bran Castle, once home to Vlad the Impaler who inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Experience the Romans’ influence firsthand in Pécs, “the city of Mediterranean impressions," and through the taste of wine in Ilok, a center of wine production since Roman times. From imposing capitals—Bucharest, Budapest, Bratislava, Vienna and Prague—to towns lost in time, immerse yourself in the colorful folktales and traditions of the extraordinary people and places you visit along the way.
EMBARKATION – VILSHOFEN, GERMANY. Board the ship in Vilshofen for your Grand Danube Cruise. In the evening, be treated to a festive Oktoberfest celebration – an AmaWaterways exclusive.
VILSHOFEN, GERMANY. Enjoy a free morning to walk around the quaint village of Vilshofen. Later, cruise to Passau, where you have the option of exploring it one of three ways. Take a walking tour and marvel at Gothic and Italian Baroque architecture and St. Stephen’s Cathedral. Or choose between a guided bike tour along the Inn River or a guided hike up to the Veste Oberhaus fortress.
LINZ, AUSTRIA. The ship arrives in Linz where you’ll have several choices of excursions. Opt for a full-day excursion to Salzburg where you’ll tour the historic center, Mirabell Gardens, Residenz Square and the Old Market. En route to Salzburg, stop at Mondsee, home of the Basilica St. Michael. Or join a morning walking tour through the old city center of Linz and by the Mozart House; or go on a bike tour of the city’s famed “Cultural Mile” and the Danube. During the afternoon, visit charming Český Krumlov, located just over the Czech-Austrian border.
WEISSENKIRCHEN, AUSTRIA. Head up to the Sun Deck for panoramic views as you unwind with a scenic cruise through the Strudengau and UNESCO-designated Wachau valleys. After reaching Weissenkirchen, you’ll be treated to several choices of excursions. Take a walking tour of Dürnstein before visiting the UNESCO-designated Melk Abbey. Or hike the trail up to the ruins of Durnstein Fortress, where Richard the Lionheart was once held captive, and where you’ll find spectacular views of the valley, river and village below. You can also choose to cycle through the Wachau Valley on a guided bike tour. For a more culinary-focused experience, sample special apricot treats from a local boutique. In the evening, enjoy a wine tasting hosted by a local vintner.
VIENNA, AUSTRIA. The “City of Waltzes” is a treasure trove and your city tour showcases its regal splendors, including the majestic Opera House and the former Imperial Palace of the Habsburgs. Conclude your tour in the UNESCO-designated historic city center and visit St. Stephen’s Cathedral. For a more active exploration, take a guided bike ride through Vienna. During the afternoon, enjoy leisure time exploring this iconic city even more.
BRATISLAVA, SLOVAKIA. Host to the crowning ceremonies of 11 Hungarian kings and queens between 1536 and 1830, Bratislava certainly has earned the title “Coronation City of Kings,” as you’ll discover during your walking tour. Or join a special “Tastes of Slovakia” tour. For a more active adventure, hike up to Bratislava Castle, offering magnificent views of the city.
BUDAPEST, HUNGARY. You cannot help but fall in love with Budapest, known as the “Queen of the Danube.” Your city tour begins with a visit to the Great Market Hall. The remainder of this tour takes you to both the Buda (hilly) and the Pest (flat) sides of the river. Alternatively, hike up to Castle Hill for breathtaking views of the city.
BUDAPEST. Tradition will be on full display in Puszta, the Great Hungarian Plain. Tour a genuine Hungarian csárda (farm) run by world-champion carriage-drivers. Afterwards, be treated to an unforgettable performance of horsemanship and then experience the Hungarians’ warm hospitality, along with a traditional lunch complete with authentic goulash.
MOHÁCS – PÉCS. Enjoy a scenic morning cruise to Mohács and then visit Pécs, founded more than 2,000 years ago by the Romans. Visit the UNESCO-designated Christian Necropolis; St. Peter’s Basilica, the city’s main Catholic cathedral along with its catacombs; and Széchenyi Square, the heart of Old Town Pécs. You will also see the Mosque of Pasha Qasim the Victorious, one of the symbols of the city. Or choose a guided bike tour through Mohács. For wine connoisseurs, you’ll want to go instead to the Szekszárd wine region, one of the oldest red-wine-growing areas in Hungary, established more than 2,000 years ago.
VUKOVAR, CROATIA – NOVI SAD, SERBIA. Vukovar is a Croatian symbol of resistance, which you’ll better understand on your city tour showcasing the Ovčara Memorial and Eltz Castle. Alternatively, choose a wine tasting in Ilok, a center of wine production since Roman times, where you’ll sample its famous Grasevina, Traminac and Frankovka wines. Back on board, cruise to Novi Sad, sometimes called the “Serbian Athens.” Discover Novi Sad on a walking tour to Dunavski Park and through Stari Grad, the Old Town center. If you prefer a more active exploration, join a guided biking tour or hike through Fruska Gora National Park. During the evening, visit Petrovaradin Fortress.
BELGRADE, SERBIA. Explore Serbia’s capital, Belgrade, on a city tour that includes the Kalemegdan Fortress and the Serbian Orthodox Temple of St. Sava. Later, choose from three intriguing excursions. Visit the Royal Palace, the official residence of the Serbian Royal Family; and then tour the House of Flowers, the mausoleum of Marshal Tito, who became the first President of Yugoslavia. Or enjoy a taste of the region by sampling Serbian plum brandy, Šlivovitz, and delicious local delights at the Quburich Distillery. For those wishing a more active adventure, join a guided bike tour or hike to well-preserved Belgrade Fortress with its conical towers.
SCENIC CRUISING THROUGH THE IRON GATES. Visit Golubac Fortress – one of the best preserved medieval fortresses in Europe – before cruising through the Iron Gates. The Iron Gates is one of Europe’s most awe-inspiring natural wonders. The Danube narrows as it winds through a series of magnificent gorges between the Carpathian and Balkan mountains.
VIDIN, BULGARIA. Explore Vidin, one of Bulgaria’s oldest cities, and surrounding areas with a choice of excursions. Discover Baba Vida Fortress, the largest preserved medieval castle in Bulgaria. Continue on to Belogradchik, one of Bulgaria’s natural wonders, where you can hike around its most spectacular rock formations. Alternatively, visit a local home for a demonstration of traditional Bulgarian yogurt and Banitsa, a pastry you will also get to make. You also have the choice to bike through Vidin and to the castle.
ROUSSE – GIURGIU, ROMANIA. Visit Bulgaria’s ancient capital, Veliko Tarnovo, with its medieval fortress and multiple orthodox temples. You can opt instead to go to Rousse, known for its 19th- and 20th-century Neo-Baroque and Neo-Rococo architecture, and then afterwards visit the UNESCO-designated Rock-Hewn Churches of Ivanovo with frescos revealing exceptional artistry of 14th-century paintings. Later in the day, travel through the Romanian countryside to the capital of Bucharest, known as the “Little Paris of the East.” Enjoy a panoramic tour of the historic city center and its elegant architecture, followed by a visit to the Palace of the Parliament, the second largest administrative building in the world.
GIURGIU – DISEMBARKATION. Disembark the ship and bid farewell to Giurgiu as you prepare for your flight home.