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 Budapest, you will be met at the airport and transferred to your Emerald Cruises Star-Ship, where your friendly captain and crew will be waiting to greet you.
This afternoon, enjoy free time to explore Eastern Europe’s liveliest city at leisure. The “Paris of the East” is a truly breath-taking sight, where dozens of lights adorn the stone bridges that cross the mighty Danube, separating both sides of the city.
This evening, join your fellow guests for dinner on board.
In the morning, we’ll sail out of Budapest towards Kalocsa, best known for its vibrant paprika festivals. Traditional folk art and culture are yours to discover here, as you sail through one of the oldest towns in Hungary.
This afternoon, you’ll venture to the Puszta, or Great Hungarian Plain, for a traditional performance showcasing the exceptional equestrian skills of the Magyar cowboys. Relax as you watch their spectacular horse parade and witness their exercise drills, most of which were readily practiced for wartime.
Tonight, your crew will welcome you for a Welcome Dinner & Reception.
A Puszta horse show
Cruise into the border region of Croatia and into Osijek, a historic university town full of leafy boulevards and promenades. Damage from the Homeland War is still visible across the city, but it is easily forgotten when you immerse yourself in the peaceful surrounds that can be found here.
Today, you will be able to meet students from a local village who will be delighted to perform for you during your EmeraldPLUS excursion, before embarking on a walk around Osijek Fortress, nestled in the centre of the romantic old town. This ensemble of well-preserved Baroque buildings is laid out like a traditional star fort, with bastions, armouries, a guardhouse and a military hospital all protected within its walls.
Later, sail further down the Danube and into Serbia, where remnants of recent conflicts can be seen on the riverbanks.
Home-hosted lunch with a Croatian family
Meet the local students
A guided walking tour of Osijek Fortress
The capital of Serbia awaits you today, as a city tour introduces you to the highlights of one of Europe’s oldest cities, including Belgrade Fortress. Relax as your coach takes you through the centre of the city, where remnants of a chaotic past look out of place among peaceful surrounds.
Witness the symmetrical façade of the Church of Saint Sava, one of the world’s largest church buildings, and stop for a tour of the Museum of Yugoslavia. Enjoy learning about the life of the leader of the Partisans, Josip Broz Tito, and the way that they became one of the most effective resistance movements in occupied Europe. Alternatively, learn about the history of Belgrade during a guided bike tour of the city.
This evening, relax in the Horizon Lounge and watch a traditional Serbian folklore show.
A Serbian folklore evening show
A guided bike tour in Belgrade
A guided tour of Belgrade
National Opera Theatre tour (extra expense)
Golubac – Donji Milanovac
In eastern Serbia, within the Majdanpek municipality, the town of Donji Milanovac sits on the right bank of the Danube. Today, you will have the opportunity to visit the Palaeolithic site of Lepenski Vir on an included excursion. Enjoy learning about the importance of this archaeological site and its illustrious history, spanning more than 8 millennia. Archaeologists have used this site to track the development of prehistoric culture in Europe, and numerous Stone Age settlements have been found in the area.
The day ends as we sail through the Iron Gates, a scenic narrow gorge that meanders between the Carpathian Mountains and the European Alps.
A visit to Lepenski Vir archaeological site and museum
This morning, we’ll arrive in Vidin, a beautiful town in north-west Bulgaria. Situated on the right bank of the Danube, it is one of the oldest along the Bulgarian Danube bank, prospering from the surrounding countryside, renowned for producing wines. Your included tour will introduce you to the best of Vidin’s viticulture, as you stroll through a local vineyard and enjoy a tasting of their produce.
Later, venture to Baba Vida, a medieval fortress whose name can be translated to mean “Granny Vida”. Construction began on the fortress in the 10th century, and it has been steeped in legend ever since. Alternatively, hike to Belogradchik Fortress, a well-preserved stronghold that sits against a series of impressive rock formations.
A hike to Belogradchik Fortress
Visit a local vineyard with wine tasting& visit to Baba Vida Fortress
Traditional Bulgarian pastry making (extra expense)
Rousse – Veliko Tarnovo & Arbanasi
Today, your Star-Ship will cruise into Rousse. You will have the opportunity to visit Veliko Tarnovo, stopping to learn about its rich history as the former capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire. This medieval city was built atop three hills, and its fortifications and cobbled streets are certain to delight history lovers.
Nearby, Arbanasi sits on a high plateau overlooking the Yantra River. Each street in the area is lined with traditional houses, and old churches offer centuries of exploration during your guided tour of Veliko Tarnovo and Arbanasi.
Alternatively, embark on a guided hike to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Rock-Hewn Churches of Ivanovo, a complex of churches, chapels and monasteries. Witness the incredible nature of the 14th-century painted frescoes and learn about their composition and the emotional atmosphere that they convey, something that was far ahead of its time.
Tonight, your crew will welcome you on board for a Farewell dinner.
A choir concert in Arbanasi
Hike to Ivanovo Church
A tour of Veliko Tarnovo and Arbanasi
Paint & Wine (extra expense)
Wine-tasting at Leventa Complex (extra expense)
Giurgiu – Bucharest
This morning, relax and enjoy the passing scenery as we drive towards Bucharest, including the Romanian city of Giurgiu, set amongst the mud flats and marshes of the Danube.
Visit the Spring Palace to see the elegant exterior of a well-kept secret and the plush interior of the private residence of Nicolae Ceausescu, before enjoying free time to explore the city at leisure. Learn about Bucharest’s vibrant history on a guided coach tour, passing by the Palace of Parliament.
This evening, settle into the comfortable surrounds of your hotel, perhaps going for a stroll down one of the wide avenues or leafy boulevards that give Bucharest a distinctly French feel.
A guided drive through Bucharest
After breakfast, it is time to say farewell to your fellow guests and transfer to the airport, taking memories of the Great Hungarian Plain and medieval fortresses 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. Please refer to our terms and conditions for further information.