Welcome to Budapest, Hungary’s lively capital. The remainder of the day is free to start exploring Eastern Europe’s most cosmopolitan metropolis.
Budapest straddles both banks of the Danube, with seven bridges, including the famous Chain and Elisabeth Bridges, connecting ancient Buda on the right bank with Pest on the left. The massive hilltop castle complex with FISHERMEN’S BASTION and the Matthias Church is among the many sights your Local Guide will show you. Shop for renowned peasant embroidery, Herend porcelain, and paprika. (Breakfast)
The morning is free for you to explore on your own. This afternoon, board your river cruise vessel and meet your crew at a welcome reception. (Breakfast, Dinner)
Kalocsa was founded by St. Stephen in 1009 as an archbishopric and has a most turbulent history. This quiet town that is best known for paprika and folklore art is dominated by the Archbishop’s Palace and Kalocsa Cathedral. Here, enjoy an ORGAN CONCERT before continuing to Pecs, Hungary’s fifth-largest city and the richest in terms of Turkish architecture. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Overlooking the city of Novi Sad, with a spectacular view of the Danube and surroundings, is Marshal Vauban’s unconquerable Petrovaradin Fortress. Dramatic events in the recent past have shaped both the present and the future of this region, resplendent with natural beauty and a proud history of struggle, victory and defeat alike. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
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 cafés. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
The Serbian fortresses of Smederevo and Golubac and the Trajan Table marking the Roman conquest of Dacia are impressive sights on the right 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. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
A comfortable ride from the river port of Svistov is the ancient Bulgarian capital of Veliko Târnovo. 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. Rousse today is Bulgaria’s largest inland port. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Located in northeastern Bulgaria at the country’s border with Romania, Silistra is a port city and the capital of an important agricultural region. After breakfast, travel by road to Varna. This city on the Black Sea is not only an important naval base and sea resort, but also has a long history. Roman baths are among the younger artifacts. During your sightseeing you will visit the NATIONAL ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM, home of the Gold of Varna, as featured in National Geographic some years ago. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Bucharest, Romania’s lively capital, is only a short drive from Oltenita. Its wide boulevards and Arc de Triomphe have gained it the name “Paris of the East.” Much recent history has taken place in the city. During the included tour this afternoon, see the impressive Parliament Building, the second-largest building in the world after the Pentagon. The Royal Palace Square was the scene of riots in 1989, which led to the collapse of the communist dictatorship. The former Royal Palace now houses the NATIONAL ART MUSEUM. (Breakfast)
Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning. (Breakfast)
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