As the final stretch of the Danube weaves its way through the depths of eastern Europe, meet locals for lunch in their home, enjoy tours of Osijek & Belgrade & marvel at the beauty of the Iron Gate.
Itinerary also travels in reverse.
When you arrive in Bucharest, you will be met at the airport and transferred to your perfectly situated hotel, including a one-night stay in Bucharest.
Welcome to the “Paris of the East”. The centre of Bucharest perfectly encapsulates a distinctive Parisian atmosphere, with wide avenues adorned by famous landmarks and quaint leafy boulevards that cross the city.
Bucharest - Giurgiu
After enjoying the plush surrounds of your hotel this morning, you will get the opportunity to learn about some of Bucharest’s most iconic highlights during your guided drive around the city, including a visit to the Spring Palace, before enjoying some time to explore the leafy boulevards at leisure.
After your insightful tour, you will be transferred from Bucharest to Giurgiu, on the banks of the Danube, where a warm welcome awaits you from your captain and crew on board your Emerald Waterways Star-Ship.
A guided drive through Bucharest
Rousse – Veliko Tarnovo & Arbanasi
Today, you will have the opportunity to learn about Bulgarian history as you explore the former capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire with your local guide, an ancient city that was strategically positioned overlooking the surrounding area. On your included tour, you will have the opportunity to traverse its cobbled streets and witness its medieval fortifications.
Afterwards, you will be taken to neighbouring Arbanasi, situated overlooking the Yantra River, a tributary of the Danube that is known for its many scenic gorges. Your local guide will enable you to explore the past, as your tour touches on a number of traditional houses and ancient churches.
If you would prefer to do something more active, then you could instead choose to embark on a guided hike to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Rock-Hewn Churches of Ivanovo, known for their famous 14th-century frescoes.
Tonight, your crew will welcome you back on board for a welcome reception and dinner.
A choir concert in Arbanasi
Hike to the Rock-Hewn Churches of Ivanovo
A tour of Veliko Tarnovo and Arbanasi
Viticulture forms the heart of life in the most western town in Bulgaria, where sun-kissed vineyards pepper the banks of the Danube and the region has prospered from winemaking for generations. Your included tour of Vidin will introduce you to a peaceful side of life that revolves around wine, as you weave through a local vineyard and learn about their produce, before enjoying a tasting. Afterwards, your local guide will take you to Baba Vida, a fortress that was originally constructed at the turn of the 10th century; known for being one of only a handful of beautifully preserved castles in the country.
If you are feeling more active, then you may instead choose to embark on a guided hike to Belogradchik Fortress, located on the northern slopes of the Balkan Mountains. It’s easy to imagine how this stronghold would have offered the Romans a perfect lookout point.
Hike to Belogradchik Fortress
Visit a local vineyard for a tasting
Donji Milanovac - Golubac
This morning, relax on board and admire your surroundings as we sail along the mighty Danube to Donji Milanovac, where a visit to the Lepenski Vir archaeological site, one of Europe’s best-hidden gems, awaits. Located right on the riverbanks, the Palaeolithic site is one of the most important of its kind on the continent, effortlessly capturing more than 8 millennia of history. Archaeologists from around the world have used this site to learn about a number of different Stone Age settlements and the way that prehistoric cultures moved across Europe.
A visit to Lepenski Vir archaeological site and museum
Serbia’s vibrant capital is yours to explore today, as your local guide takes you on a coach tour through the heart of the city, highlighting its many landmarks and the iconic Belgrade Fortress. Your coach will pass through the centre, where you will be able to catch glimpses of Serbia’s turbulent recent past, set amongst now quiet and peaceful streets. Witness the ornate beauty of the Church of Saint Sava, one of the largest religious buildings in Europe, before stopping for a tour of the Museum of Yugoslavia. If you are feeling more active, then you may instead choose to learn about Belgrade’s history during a guided bike tour.
This evening, you will be invited to the Horizon Lounge to watch a traditional Serbian folklore show.
A Serbian folklore evening show
A guided bike tour
A guided tour of Belgrade
A tour of the National Opera Theatre (extra expense)
Today, you will have the opportunity to explore one of Croatia’s postcard-worthy historic university towns, full of delightful waterfront promenades and quaint cobbled streets. As you walk around the city, you will notice that damage from the Homeland War is still visible, but it’s difficult to imagine turbulent times in this peaceful area.
Embark on a guided walk around Osijek Fortress, a true icon in the romantic old town. This traditional star fort houses a number of different buildings, including a military hospital and armouries, making it perfect for times of conflict. Your EmeraldPLUS experiences today are certain to be a highlight of your trip, as you dine on traditional cuisine with a local Croatian family and meet some students from a local village.
Enjoy an evening of sailing further up the Danube towards Hungary, before joining your fellow passengers for a farewell dinner.
A home-hosted lunch with a Croatian family
Meet the local village students
A guided tour of Osijek Fortress
In the morning, we will sail away from Osijek and on to Kalocsa, a place known for its paprika production and colourful festivals. Discovering Hungary’s culture is an easy task in Kalocsa, where traditional folk art can be found around every corner and old traditions pave the way for daily life.
Later, you will venture to the Puszta, or Great Hungarian Plain, to visit a traditional Puszta horse farm. Your guide will teach you about the traditional performances of the Magyar cowboys, and you will have the opportunity to witness some of their exceptional equestrian skills first hand, as they perform for you during their horse parade and showcase some of their memorable exercise drills.
Visit a Puszta horse farm
After breakfast, it is time to say farewell to your fellow guests and transfer to the airport, taking memories of a traditional Puszta equestrian performance and viticulture on the banks of the Danube with you.
This itinerary is a guide only and may be amended for operational reasons such as high and low water. As such, the cruise may operate altered from that stated above.