Cruise Itinerary | Istanbul to Budapest River Cruise - Avalon® Danube Cruises

Balkan Discovery with Extended Stay in Bucharest – Westbound 2016

12 Day River Cruise from Bucharest to Budapest

2016 Information

See the best of Eastern Europe on this exhilarating Balkan adventure. Your cruise vacation begins with three overnights in vibrant Bucharest, the “Paris of the East.” A full day excursion to Transylvania will take you to visit notorious Dracula’s Bran Castle and into the Carpathians to Sinaia. Enjoy guided sightseeing in each city, including inside visits of Tsarevet’s Fortress in Veliko Târnovo, Arbanassi’s Ethnographical Museum and Church of the Nativity, the eclectic rock formations of Belogradchik, and Kalemegdan Fortress in Belgrade. Other highlights: visit the medieval fortress of Vidin, pass through the dramatic Iron Gates gorge, visit the Lepenski Vir archaeological site, and enjoy an organ concert in Pécs. Your journey ends with two overnights in Hungary’s lively capital of Budapest, where there’s time on your own to shop for paprika at the Central Market Hall, explore the extensive hilltop castle grounds, visit the many churches and museums, and delight in the vibrant atmosphere.


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Highlights & Sightseeing

Cruise: deluxe 6-night cruise in an outside stateroom with Avalon’s exclusive Comfort Collection BedsSM

Day 1 Bucharest: welcome to Bucharest

Day 2 Bucharest: guided full-day excursion to Transylvania, visit Dracula’s Bran Castle and Sinaia Monastery

Day 3 Bucharest: free day to explore the city

Day 4 Bucharest–Oltenita (Embarkation): guided sightseeing in Bucharest, onboard welcome reception

Day 5 Rousse. Excursion to Veliko Târnovo & Arbanassi–Svistov: guided sightseeing, visit Tsarevet’s Fortress in Veliko Târnovo and the Ethnographical Museum and Church of the Nativity in Arbanassi; or guided sightseeing of Rousse

Day 6 Vidin–Belogradchik: guided sightseeing to Vidin’s fortress; excursion to Belogradchik to see the rock formations

Day 7 Iron Gates: cruise through the dramatic Iron Gates gorge; visit Lepenski Vir archaeological site

Day 8 Belgrade: guided sightseeing in Belgrade, visit Kalemegdan Fortress

Day 9 Mohács. Excursion to Pecs: guided sightseeing; organ concert

Days 10 & 11 Budapest (Disembarkation): guided sightseeing on Day 10, see Fishermen’s Bastion and Heroes’ Square; free time

Day 12 Budapest: your vacation ends this morning

Special onboard and onshore experiences presented by local chefs, entertainers, artisans, and experts, designed to enrich your cruise.

Visit the captivating Lepenski Vir Archaeological Site.

Meals

  • Captain’s welcome & farewell receptions with sparkling wine and canapés
  • Welcome dinner
  • Daily Afternoon Tea
  • Daily Night Fare
  • Farewell dinner
  • Complimentary sparkling wine with breakfast; soft drinks with lunch; and wine, beer, or soft drinks with dinner are included daily on board your vessel

NOTES:

  • In the event of water level problems or any problems of a technical nature, it may be necessary to operate the itinerary by motorcoach or to alter the program.
  • Included visits and special features are subject to change. If a change is necessary, a substitute will be offered.
  • Please check visa requirements with your local consulate(s); responsibility for obtaining visas rests with the traveler.

Day-By-Day Itinerary

Day 1Bucharest, Romania

Welcome to Bucharest! The remainder of the day is free to start exploring this intriguing city.

Day 2Bucharest. Excursion to Transylvania

Head out of the city to your first stop, BRAN CASTLE of Dracula fame, built in 1377 and assumed to be the home of Romanian vampires. Then, into the Carpathians to SINAIA to visit the monastery of the same name, built in memory of Mihail Cantacuzino’s visit to Mount Sinai. This afternoon, head slowly back to Bucharest. (Breakfast, Lunch)

NOTE:
The full day Transylvania excursion may take place on Day 2 or Day 3, depending on access to Bran Castle.

Day 3Bucharest

A free day to browse the shops and visit many of the attractions this city has to offer. Your Cruise Director will have suggestions for things to do. (Breakfast)

Day 4Bucharest–Oltenita (Embarkation)

Much recent history has taken place in Romania’s capital city, and its wide, tree-lined boulevards and Arc de Triomphe—built in 1922 to honor the bravery of Romanian soldiers who fought in WWI—have gained it the name “Paris of the East.” During your INCLUDED TOUR this morning, see the main sights including Royal Palace Square, the scene of riots in 1989, which led to the collapse of the communist dictatorship. Later, a motorcoach ride takes you to Oltenita, where your river cruise vessel is docked. Before dinner, meet your crew at a welcome reception. (Breakfast, Dinner)

Day 5Rousse, Bulgaria. Excursion to Veliko Târnovo & Arbanassi–Svistov

In Rousse this morning, you may choose to join a Certified Local Guide for an included CITY TOUR, rejoining your ship in time for lunch and enjoying a pleasant afternoon of cruising to Svistov. Alternatively, you may take a full day excursion to 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, and the Patriarch’s Church. Then, journey to Arbanassi. Founded in the 15th century, the historic village of Arbanassi is best known for its examples of Bulgarian Revival architecture and its ETHNOGRAPHICAL MUSEUM, a 400-year-old house preserved as a museum. Visit the CHURCH OF THE NATIVITY, one of the oldest churches in Arbanassi, and see its outstanding collection of frescoes. Rejoin your ship in Svistov. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 6Vidin. Excursion to Belogradchik

After breakfast today a Local Guide shows you Vidin, an important Danube port in northwestern Bulgaria. Its medieval FORTRESS, known as “Baba Vidin,” served as Vidin’s main defensive installation during the Middle Ages and is the only entirely preserved medieval fortress in the country. It is the town’s primary landmark and now a fortress museum that has been restored to its former appearance. In nearby Belogradchik view the eclectic group of ROCK FORMATIONS on the western slopes of the Balkan Mountains. Sculpted by natural elements for more than 200 million years and with a variety of sizes and shapes, the Belogradchik Rocks are spectacular! (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 7Iron Gates. Excursion to Lepenski Vir

The TRAJAN TABLE marking the Roman conquest of Dacia and the Serbian fortresses of Golubac and Smederevo are impressive sights on the left 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. In the afternoon dock at Donji Milanovac from where a short drive takes you to the impressive LEPENSKI VIR EXHIBITION CENTER housing archaeological artifacts found in this area and from where you have unique views of the Danube Gorge. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 8Belgrade, Serbia

The capital of Serbia is situated at the confluence of the Danube and Sava Rivers. A Local Guide will be proud to show you its main sights, which include St. Sava, the world’s largest Orthodox Church; and Marshal Tito’s tomb and monument. Also visit the city’s principal landmark, KALEMEGDAN FORTRESS, which showcases the history of Belgrade. Built in stages between the 1st and 18th centuries, the fortress witnessed many battles and observed the courage of those trying to defend the city from conquerors. The surrounding park is the most beautiful and largest park in Belgrade. In your free time, be sure to check out the city’s lively pedestrian area and charming outdoor cafés. Depart Belgrade during lunchtime and head for Hungary. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 9Mohács, Hungary. Excursion to Pécs

This morning, a GUIDED EXCURSION takes you to Pécs, Hungary’s fifth-largest city. Established by the Romans in the 2nd century, this was a flourishing and important town for Christianity by the 4th century. Pécs is also rich in terms of Turkish architecture and offers Turkish mosques, attractive churches, and an enjoyable atmosphere around its restaurants and cafés. Enjoy an ORGAN CONCERT before returning to your ship for lunch and heading to Budapest. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 10Budapest (Disembarkation)

Say goodbye to your crew after breakfast this morning. Spanning the banks of the Danube, Budapest is one of Eastern Europe’s liveliest cities. Whether you’re seeing the sights, shopping for handcrafted embroidery or Herend porcelain, or basking in the coffee house culture over a rich cream cake in the renowned Gerbeaud Café, Budapest’s unique energy is positively palatable. On your GUIDED TOUR of the city, see Heroes’ Square as well as the massive hilltop castle complex, a major sight with its remarkable Fishermen’s Bastion and 11th-century Matthias Church, the coronation spot of several Hungarian monarchs. Be sure to take note of the city’s eight bridges—many famous sights in and of themselves—which connect ancient Buda on the right bank with Pest on the left. The afternoon is free - stroll along Váci utca, the main shopping street or visit the Great Market Hall and purchase paprika or embroidery at one of its 180 vendor stalls. (Breakfast)

Day 11Budapest

A free day to enjoy Hungary’s exciting capital. Perhaps visit St. Stephen’s Basilica, with marvelous views of the city from its viewing platform, or walk across Chain Bridge built in 1849, a symbol of Budapest. Your Cruise Director will have suggestions for many things to do. (Breakfast)

Day 12Budapest

Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning. (Breakfast)

Ship Details

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Hotels

Budapest

Budapest

InterContinental Budapest

InterContinental Budapest Apaczai Csere Janos utca 12-14, Budapest,  Hungary Apaczai Csere Janos utca 12-14
Budapest, Hungary

Free WifiFree Wifi

Hotel as shown or similar
Deluxe

Few would argue the InterContinental Budapest is in the city's best location: right on the Danube across from Castle Hill and the Royal Palace. With the Chain Bridge and the Parliament just steps away, there's no shortage of superb sightseeing opportunities. The Váci Utca shopping street, Central Market Hall and the Gellért Baths are also nearby.

Hotel Amenities

Spa Services
Free WiFi
Currency Exchange
Fitness Room
Restaurant On-Site
Business Center
Gift Shop
Beauty Salon
Concierge desk
Pool
Dry Cleaning
ATM
Luggage Storage
Elevator
Parking/Valet
Room Amenities

Iron/Ironing Board
Hair Dryer
Internet Access
Air Conditioning
Climate Control
Television
Room Service
In-Room Safe
Alarm Clock
Phone
Non-smoking Rooms
Coffee Maker
Cable/Satellite
Mini-bar
Smoking Rooms

 Optional Excursions

The following list of optional excursions are examples only for this vacation. These optional excursions might or might not be offered. Whether it's a special dinner, a local show or a special behind-the-scenes glimpse into an historical site, optional excursions are a wonderful way to enrich your vacation even further. Plus, they give you flexibility. We include the must-see sites and experiences, and we also understand that people take interest in different activities and may want to craft a more personal vacation by hand-picking optional excursions that appeal to them.

We know that many times travelers celebrate special occasions on vacation and you can now pre-purchase celebration packages before your cruise departure. We offer special birthday, anniversary and wedding vow packages. These packages include all the elements you need to celebrate with family & friends.

Availability of optional excursions is subject to sufficient participation, weather conditions, seasonal suitability, days of operation, group interests, and general feasibility for your vacation. The approximate value listed gives you a good, general idea of what you can expect to pay but may vary once you are on your vacation. Some information provided might be in a foreign currency; to get an estimated price, use a currency converter for exchange rate information (pricing may vary at the time of booking).

Once you have booked your vacation, Avalon Waterways provides the ability to pre-purchase excursions and packages, register for your cruise and provide emergency contact information online.

Bucharest
Belgrade
Budapest
Celebration

Bucharest

Bucharest Village Museum
Bucharest Village Museum

Bucharest Village Museum

Enjoy a relaxed morning visit to one of the most interesting and largest open-air and ethnographical museums in Europe. See traditional Romanian homes from the inside and learn about the regional differences and an amazing variety of architectural styles typical of this interesting country. Inside visit, guided tour and photo permits are all included.

Approximate value: €35 EUR per person

Cotroceni Palace - Official Seat of the President of Romania
Cotroceni Palace - Official Seat of the President of Romania

Cotroceni Palace - Official Seat of the President of Romania

Enjoy a relaxed afternoon visit to one of the most interesting museum collections showing various aspects of Romanian tradition and its most intricate way of life. The Cotroceni Palace was the seat of the Romanian Kings who assiduously collected artifacts, furniture, rugs, costumes and uniforms as well as very fine china and glass. An amazing collection - it is Romania's finest, housed in the official seat of the President.

Approximate value: €44 EUR per person

The Romanian Parliament - the Second Largest Building on Earth
The Romanian Parliament - the Second Largest Building on Earth

The Romanian Parliament - the Second Largest Building on Earth

The ultimate dream of former Communist Leader of Romania Ceaucescu, this Palace of Superlatives is a breath-taking example of communist dictatorship's omnipotence, rarely seen anywhere else. Admire countless halls, hundreds of crystal chandeliers, amazing carpets and learn on the spot about man's latest effort to create something that would last for more than a thousand years. There is nothing like it anywhere else in the modern world and this inside visit remains an absolute must for every Bucharest visitor.

Approximate value: €44 EUR per person

Belgrade

Serbian Countryside
Serbian Countryside

Serbian Countryside

Step back in time into the lifestyle and traditions of old Europe, as you visit the scenic rural region of northern Serbia, in an area called Vojvodina. Start your countryside tour by visiting the private Honey Museum. The region is also one of the oldest viticulture areas in Europe where grapevine has sprouted on Mt. Fruska Gora's fertile hills for over 1,700 years, ever since it was first planted by Roman Emperor Probus. Enjoy a wine-tasting in a local wine cellar. Sremski Karlovci is located where the wooded slopes of the Fruska Gora meet the Danube. A guided tour will reveal the beauty of this once important town, where for the last hundred years history seems to have passed it by. Enjoy a 4 course lunch in a local restaurant with included wine and soft drinks, before admiring the idyllic views of rolling green pastures, typical European farmland scenery and golden haystacks along the way to Belgrade, Serbia's energetic capital city.

Approximate value: €66 EUR per person

Budapest

Gold & Glamorous:
Gold & Glamorous:

Gold & Glamorous: "Belle Epoques" of Budapest

Travel back in time with your guide; join a short coach trip along the Danube embankment with a short walk to one of the hidden treasures of Budapest, the House of Hungarian Art Nouveau. It houses a unique exhibition representing the refined world of Art Nouveau, including paintings, furniture, decorative objects and interiors, to give an insight into the atmosphere of middle-class life in Budapest in the "happy pre-war times". The second stop of your tour is the "musical jewelry box" of Pest, the Hungarian State Opera House. The building enchants not only lovers of opera and ballet, but everyone who is amazed by the fine neo-Renaissance architecture. Following the visit you will be treated to coffee and cake in the Book Café, in the glamorous main hall of the Paris Department Store, one of the hidden secrets of the city. Sip your coffee and taste a fine delicacy of Hungarian confectioners in this glossy literary cafe with glittering chandeliers and flamboyant ceiling frescoes, painted by the same artist whose masterpieces raise the splendor of the State Opera House, Parliament and several other public buildings. This tour is a must for any passionate photographer as there are plenty of fantastic photo opportunities.

Approximate value: €49 EUR per person

Hungarian Countryside Experience with Wine Tasting
Hungarian Countryside Experience with Wine Tasting

Hungarian Countryside Experience with Wine Tasting

Enjoy a genuine countryside experience only 30 minutes away from the capital. Stroll through the stunning vineyards of Etyek, enjoy the fascinating landscape of the youngest and the fastest developing wine region of Hungary. Visit two small, family-run wineries; learn the secrets of winemaking from the local winemakers. Sample three top quality wines in each cellar along with tasty Hungarian snacks. You will leave with a really intimate understanding of the traditions and people that make the wines here so special.

Approximate value: €59 EUR per person

Hungarian Puszta Farm with Horse Show and Lunch
Hungarian Puszta Farm with Horse Show and Lunch

Hungarian Puszta Farm with Horse Show and Lunch

Do not miss this unique opportunity to visit the Hungarian countryside and its authentic ways, an experience out of the ordinary. A short coach ride takes us deep into the Hungarian countryside, where we can admire the unsurpassed qualities of the Hungarian Equestrian virtue at an active stud farm. Enjoy the sight of the proud horses as they lead the festive procession. Take a typical country wagon ride and learn about life on a typical Hungarian farm. The Hungarians have been inseparable from their horses for more than a thousand years. Experience the well-known Hungarian hospitality in the most natural environment of the Puszta Farm as we provide you with an authentic lunch. The excursion is fully hosted by one of our guides. An excursion with impressions to last a long time.

Approximate value: €69 EUR per person

Celebration

Anniversary Celebration Cake
Anniversary Celebration Cake

Anniversary Celebration Cake

Want to celebrate your anniversary during your cruise? Avalon can help. Our crew can surprise your loved one with a special anniversary cake presented during dinner. Make this a cruise like no other.

Approximate value: €60 EUR per group

Anniversary Celebration Package - Basic
Anniversary Celebration Package - Basic

Anniversary Celebration Package - Basic

Want to celebrate your anniversary during your cruise? Avalon can help. Our crew can surprise your loved one with a special anniversary package that includes the following in your stateroom on your anniversary day: decoration of stateroom, bottle of sparkling wine, small floral bouquet, chocolates, fruit plate and anniversary card. Personalized invitations will also be delivered to the staterooms of 4 other guests with whom you wish to celebrate. Later that evening in the ship dining room you will find a specially decorated table reserved for you, your spouse and 4 other guests of your choice, and an anniversary cake presented by the ship's crew during dinner. Let your spouse know how much they still mean to you.

Approximate value: €161.50 EUR per group

Anniversary Celebration Package - Deluxe
Anniversary Celebration Package - Deluxe

Anniversary Celebration Package - Deluxe

Want to celebrate your anniversary during your cruise? Avalon can help. Our crew can surprise your loved one with a special anniversary package that includes the following in your stateroom on your anniversary day: decoration of stateroom, bottle of sparkling wine, a floral bouquet, chocolates, fruit plate and anniversary card. Personalized invitations will also be delivered to the staterooms of 4 other guests with whom you wish to celebrate. Later on, enjoy a 30 minute cocktail party with wine, beer and soft drinks on the Sky Deck/Club Lounge or in the lounge to celebrate the special day. Our crew will be on hand to take pictures with your camera, which later will be downloaded onto a special memory stick for you to keep. Later that evening in the ship dining room you will find a specially decorated table reserved for you, your spouse and 4 other guests of your choice, and an anniversary cake presented by the ship's crew during dinner. Sparkling wine will top off the evening. Let your spouse know how much they still mean to you.

Approximate value: €362.50 EUR per group

Birthday Celebration Package - Basic
Birthday Celebration Package - Basic

Birthday Celebration Package - Basic

Let Avalon help you celebrate a birthday on your cruise. Our special birthday package includes the following presented in your stateroom on your birthday: decoration of stateroom, bottle of sparkling wine, small floral bouquet, chocolates, fruit plate and birthday card. Personalized invitations will also be delivered to the staterooms of 5 other guests with whom you wish to celebrate. Later that evening in the ship dining room you will find a specially decorated table reserved for 6 (you and 5 other guests of your choice), and a birthday cake presented by the ship's crew during dinner.

Approximate value: €142 EUR per group

Birthday Celebration Package - Deluxe
Birthday Celebration Package - Deluxe

Birthday Celebration Package - Deluxe

Let Avalon help you celebrate a birthday on your cruise. Our special birthday package includes the following presented in your stateroom on your birthday: decoration of stateroom, bottle of sparkling wine, a floral bouquet, chocolates, fruit plate and birthday card. Personalized invitations will also be delivered to the staterooms of 5 other guests with whom you wish to celebrate. Later on, enjoy a 30 minute cocktail party with wine, beer and soft drinks on the Sky Deck/Club Lounge or in the lounge to celebrate the special day. Our crew will be on hand to take pictures with your camera, which later will be downloaded onto a special memory stick for you to keep. Later that evening in the ship dining room you will find a specially decorated table reserved for 6 (you and 5 other guests of your choice), and a birthday cake presented by the ship's crew during dinner. Sparkling wine will top off the evening.

Approximate value: €344 EUR per group

Wedding Vow Renewal Celebration Cake
Wedding Vow Renewal Celebration Cake

Wedding Vow Renewal Celebration Cake

Avalon wants to help you celebrate your wedding vow renewals. Let your spouse know how much they still mean to you. Our crew will prepare a special cake and present it to you during dinner. Make this a cruise that you will never forget.

Approximate value: €60 EUR per group

Wedding Vow Renewal Celebration Package - Basic
Wedding Vow Renewal Celebration Package - Basic

Wedding Vow Renewal Celebration Package - Basic

Avalon wants to help you celebrate your wedding vow renewals. Let your spouse know how much they still mean to you. Our crew will prepare a special anniversary package that includes the following in your stateroom on your wedding day: decoration of stateroom, bottle of sparkling wine, small floral bouquet, chocolates, fruit plate and wedding card. Personalized invitations will also be delivered to the staterooms of 4 other guests with whom you wish to celebrate. Later that evening in the ship dining room you will find a specially decorated table reserved for you, your spouse and 4 other guests of your choice, and a wedding cake presented by the ship's crew during dinner. Make this a cruise you will never forget.

Approximate value: €207 EUR per group

Wedding Vow Renewal Celebration Package - Deluxe
Wedding Vow Renewal Celebration Package - Deluxe

Wedding Vow Renewal Celebration Package - Deluxe

Avalon wants to help you celebrate your wedding vow renewals. Let your spouse know how much they still mean to you. Our crew will prepare a special anniversary package that includes the following in your stateroom on your wedding day: decoration of stateroom, bottle of sparkling wine, a floral bouquet, chocolates, fruit plate and wedding card. Personalized invitations will also be delivered to the staterooms of 4 other guests with whom you wish to celebrate. Later on, enjoy a 30 minute cocktail party with house wine, beer and soft drinks on the Sky Deck/Club Lounge or in the lounge to celebrate the special day. Our crew will be on hand to take pictures with your camera, which later will be downloaded onto a special memory stick for you to keep. Later that evening in the ship dining room you will find a specially decorated table reserved for you, your spouse and 4 other guests of your choice, and an wedding cake presented by the ship's crew during dinner. Make this a cruise you will never forget.

Approximate value: €362.50 EUR per group

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