Cruise the Rhine, Main & Danube on an epic 23 day journey which takes you through nine of Europe's countries including Austria, Croatia, Serbia & Romania.
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
Today is a full day at leisure in Budapest. Perhaps a visit to the city market, enjoy relaxing at the local thermal baths. This evening, relax on board as you watch an authentic Hungarian folklore show and indulge in a dinner of traditional cuisine.
A traditional Hungarian folklore show
Budapest is a place of striking contrasts, with Buda on one side housing a generous scattering of the city’s elegant landmarks and Pest on the other encapsulating Budapest’s fascinating past. The two are separated by the mighty Danube, and you can explore them both by crossing the Chain Bridge, one of the most symbolic structures in the capital.
Today, you will have the opportunity to discover the city’s history during a guided tour, including the Castle District, where sights of Buda Castle perched on top of a rocky outcrop overlooking the city are certain to delight. If you are feeling active, then you may instead choose to hike to Buda Hill, following a maze of cobblestone streets to the massive Baroque masterpiece towering overhead.
A guided tour of Budapest
A hike to Buda Hill
Bordering Austria and Hungary, the Slovakian capital is yours to discover today. Wander down cobblestone streets and witness the sheer majesty of ornate Baroque palaces as you explore with a local guide, passing the Renaissance courtyard of the Old Town Hall and the picturesque gardens of the Episcopal Summer Palace. Afterwards, enjoy free time to explore at leisure, perhaps perusing some of the quaint boutiques that line the streets.
This afternoon, you will be welcomed into the home of a local family to learn about their culture over traditional sweet treats and coffee.
Home-hosted coffee and cake with a Slovakian family
A guided hike to Bratislava Castle
A walking tour of Bratislava
A wave of culture paves the way for life in the Austrian capital, where some of history’s most prestigious composers once walked the streets and found their inspiration, before taking to the opulent surrounds of the Vienna State Opera. Today, you will have the opportunity to pass iconic imperial palaces and a number of noteworthy buildings adorning the Ringstrasse, both by coach and on foot.
Alternatively, embark on a guided cycling tour past idyllic riverbanks, monuments and lush parks before passing by Prater.
A guided bike tour
A guided tour of Vienna
A visit to Schönbrunn Palace (extra expense)
An exclusive Viennese concert with music from Mozart and Strauss (extra expense)
Dürnstein - Melk
This morning, you will have the opportunity to hike to Dürnstein Castle, perhaps stopping to imagine how it would have looked when it held Richard the Lionheart captive following the Third Crusade. Alternatively, enjoy a guided bike ride from Dürnstein to Melk, passing noteworthy vineyards and settling down for lunch on the riverbanks.
After visiting Dürnstein Castle, relax on the Sun Deck as you sail through the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Wachau Valley and on to Melk, nestled in the heart of the Wachau wine region. Your local guide will take you on a tour of the spectacular 900-year-old Benedictine abbey, including its ancient monastic library and medieval manuscripts, saved by the monks from fires in the 13th century.
A guided hike to Dürnstein Castle
A guided bike tour along the Danube
A tour of Melk Abbey
Sat on the confluence of the Danube, Inn and Ilz rivers, Passau is a postcard-worthy destination that has been shaped by the surrounding waterways. Maze-like romantic lanes weave through the city, opening up into large squares and magical promenades adorned with classical boutiques.
This afternoon, join your local guide for a tour of Passau and discover a peppering of delightful Baroque buildings, some of which date back to the 17th century. Stop to admire the silhouette of the hilltop Oberhaus Fortress and witness St. Stephen’s Cathedral, home of the largest church organ in Europe. Later, return for an afternoon spent peacefully cruising through the heart of Europe.
A guided tour of Passau
A tour of Salzburg (extra expense)
A tour of Ceský Krumlov (extra expense)
Regensburg - Kelheim
After breakfast, set out on an exploration of one of the best-preserved medieval cities in Germany, where more than two millennia of history is yours to discover. Your local guide will lead you through the heart of Regensburg’s UNESCO World Heritage-listed Old Town, once home to the seat of parliament. Delightful historic patrician houses line the streets, a visible testament to the area’s importance as a trading centre hundreds of years ago.
Later, return to your Star-Ship to sail through the picturesque surrounds of the Main-Danube Canal, passing Kelheim as you make your way to Nuremberg.
A Bavarian band performance on board
A guided tour of Regensburg
Visit to a local brewery (extra expense)
Today, the historic city of Nuremberg is yours to explore during an included sightseeing tour, touching on the architectural wonders that have acted as an inspiration for famous artists from around the world for generations.
After your guided tour, enjoy time to explore Nuremberg at leisure, passing idyllic houses that were lovingly reconstructed following the destruction of the war years.
A guided tour of Nuremberg
A World War II tour with Court room visit
This morning, the UNESCO World Heritage-listed town of Bamberg awaits. Thousands of listed buildings can be found in the medieval town centre, an area bursting with character, charm and one of the best-preserved old quarters in Europe.
Admire hundreds of ornamental façades as you explore the town with your local guide, passing the New Residence, a building that truly captures the opulence that was enjoyed by the prince bishops. Relax in the Rose Garden before witnessing the opulence of the medieval Altenburg Castle, overlooking the town.
A guided tour of Bamberg
Set alongside the Main River, Würzburg offers a perfect introduction to the Romantic Road, one of Bavaria’s most popular tourism routes that links stunning medieval locations throughout the country. Your own charming journey of discovery will touch on the sloping vineyard-laden hills of one of the biggest wine-producing areas in Germany.
Today, you will have the opportunity to visit the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Würzburg Residence, perhaps stopping to admire the Viennese Baroque architecture and secular features from Italy. Your local guide will teach you about how the architects behind the Würzburg Residence drew inspiration from a spectrum of different popular styles. After the tour, enjoy a guided walking tour of Würzburg, including the Gothic Marienkapelle and Town Hall.
Walking tour of Würzburg & Visit to the Bishop Residenz
A tour of Rothenburg (extra expense)
Wertheim - Miltenberg
This morning, you will have the opportunity to explore the medieval glass-blowing town of Wertheim independently, perhaps stopping to admire the traditional craft that has put Wertheim on the map in a local museum. Then, travel by coach to the picturesque village of Miltenberg, a place that perfectly encapsulates traditional Bavarian life.
Enjoy a guided tour of the village, as your local guide leads you down an intricate network of cobblestone streets, each adorned with colourful houses. Centuries ago, this area benefited from trade that was brought by river traffic, and that past affluence can still be seen today.
Alternatively, embark on an active walk to Mildenburg Castle, where a wonderful collection of artworks can be found inside of a castle that was once little more than a set of ruins.
An active walk to Mildenburg Castle
A guided tour of Miltenberg
Rüdesheim – Koblenz
Relax on your Star-Ship this morning until we reach Rüdesheim, a town with a rich history of viticulture. When you arrive, ride the Winzerexpress to Siegfried’s Mechanical Music Cabinet Museum to see spectacular displays, including rare music boxes that have stood the test of time in a postcard-worthy building with a half-timbered façade.
Alternatively, enjoy an active walk through vineyards to see what makes this wine region so popular.
After lunch, sail through the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Rhine Gorge, perhaps standing on the Sun Deck and watching for the castles and fortresses that pepper the surrounding hilltops.
An active walk through the vineyards
A visit to Siegfried’s Mechanical Music Instrument Museum
Cruise along the Rhine from Koblenz to Cologne this morning, where an illustrious 2,000-year-old history awaits. The Romans founded Cologne in 50 AD, and it is one of the oldest cities in the country. This status has granted it a number of ancient monuments, including Roman ruins and medieval structures.
Enjoy a walking tour of the city today, as your local guide takes you through the Old Town, passing ancient bridges that survived the air raids of WWII, including the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Cologne Cathedral and its filigree twin towers, a recognisable aspect o the city’s skyline.
This evening, your crew will be delighted to welcome you to your Farewell dinner.
A guided walking tour of Cologne’s Old Town
This morning, board a glass top canal boat cruise to venture down the UNESCO World Heritage-listed canal system that weaves across Amsterdam, passing elegant merchant’s residences that reflect the prosperity of the Dutch Golden Age, a time when Amsterdam was an important trading centre. Afterwards, enjoy free time to explore at leisure.
Alternatively, explore on two wheels, cycling from the comfortable surrounds of your Star-Ship to Waterland, passing a number of quintessentially Dutch villages and traditional windmills along the way.
A guided bike tour to Waterland
A canal cruise
Guided tour of Haarlem (extra expense)
After breakfast, it’s time to say farewell to your fellow guests and depart the Star-Ship for your transfer to the airport, taking memories of the postcard-worthy Rhine Gorge and idyllic Dutch countryside 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.