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Vantage invites you to Transylvania, where the lure of vampire legends awaits in Romania’s fabled central region, home to mountainous scenery, medieval villages, and Bran Castle — Dracula’s legendary manse. You’ll visit Prejmer Fortified Church, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and check off another UNESCO Site off your list when joining our optional tour to enchanting Sighișoara. Step inside elegant Bucharest, bohemian Brasov, and a forested region of fairytales — now with an extra day added for better pacing in 2020!
Please note that for pre- and post-trip extension passengers to enjoy the best pacing and airline routing, two days of base tour features will be listed in the itinerary below as noted (Days 3 and 7 for the pre-trip extension). For pre-trip extension passengers, your price includes:
Fly to Romania
Today you’ll board an overnight flight to Bucharest, Romania.
Arrive in Bucharest, and attend a Welcome Briefing
Arrive in Bucharest today. If you purchased your airfare from Vantage, our representative will meet you outside the arrivals area and assist with your transfer to your Bucharest hotel. Tonight, attend a Welcome Briefing and Dinner in the hotel.
Transylvanian delights: Mountainous Sinaia and Peles Castle
Venture into Transylvania, the mountainous, legend-haunted region in central Romania. On the way, stop for lunch in Sinaia, a former royal summer retreat, and visit fairytale-worthy Peles Castle. As you enter Transylvania proper, you’ll see why it’s known as the last medieval landscape in Europe. You’ll return to Bucharest in the afternoon. Enjoy dinner in the hotel this evening.
Panoramic Bucharest tour, then explore its historic sites
Today we’ll set off on a panoramic tour of Bucharest and enjoy lunch at a local restaurant. Afterwards, explore Bucharest’s grand monuments and leafy, old-world boulevards on a city tour that includes a choice of entrances. You can visit the infamous People’s Palace, the grandiose, sprawling, and never-completed administrative building initiated by dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. Alternatively, take a fascinating walking tour of Manuc’s Inn, Bucharest’s oldest hotel building, which was built as a way station for caravans and surrounds a large open courtyard. This afternoon we’ll transfer to Giurgiu and embark our river ship. Tonight, the Contemporary Bulgarian Trio puts a twist on traditional music during our first dinner on board.
Spend a day in captivating Veliko Tarnovo, including lunch with students and a choir performance
Today offers an exciting high point of your journey when you spend a full day in Veliko Tarnovo, a 12th-century Bulgarian capital where colorful houses perch above the winding Yantra River. Have lunch with local university students in Veliko Tarnovo before heading to the 16th-century village of Arbanassi for a lovely Eastern Orthodox choir performance at the Church of the Archangels Michael and Gabriel. This afternoon, some local children come on board for a delightful dance performance and, later, we’ll learn about the Bulgarian tradition of icon painting from a local artist, and then meet a local Orthodox priest.
Cruising to Belgrade with a Balkan-style BBQ
As you cruise this morning, a lecture on “Bulgaria, Romania, and the Expansion of the European Union” offers some contemporary context to our journey as we sail toward Belgrade. Enjoy some leisure time on board, including the festive Balkan-style BBQ on the sun deck of the ship (weather permitting).
Cruising the Iron Gates of the Danube, and cultural immersion in Donji Milanovac
Relax on deck this morning and enjoy the views as your river cruise passes through one of the most dramatic and beautiful stretches of the Danube river, the series of gorges known as the Iron Gates of the Danube. As your ship passes through two sets of locks, you’ll hear commentary from the bridge describing the process.
This afternoon, set off on a walking tour of charming Donji Milanovac, where you’ll visit the Church of St. Nikolas and an elementary school. Here, you’ll also enjoy a fascinating introduction to the Cyrillic alphabet, the script invented by a Byzantine monk in the 9th century but now widely used throughout the Slavic world.
Discover Belgrade and Kalemegdan Fortress
An illuminating lecture on modern Serbia sets the stage for our discovery of the country’s 2,500-year-old capital, Belgrade, on a half-day tour. Belgrade’s recent history can be felt in the city’s grittiness, but bold redevelopment and the positive outlook of residents will undoubtedly impress you. As a counterpoint to Belgrade’s comeback, we’ll visit the Kalemegdan Fortress. Dating back to a staggering 279 BC, the fortress was since destroyed more than 40 times in approximately 115 battles.
Explore Croatia, and savor a home-hosted lunch in Vukovar
What better way to learn about local life than with a visit to a local family? As we make landfall in Croatia today, we’ll join a local family in their home for a riveting lunch. Then, if school is in session, we’ll meet some local students, or otherwise attend a guitar concert in a local courtyard. After, we’ll make our way to Eltz Manor, a baroque castle housing the Vukovar City Museum. More music awaits us back on the ship when a local band comes on board to play some modern-day classics that they’ve rejiggered into new arrangements.
Get folksy with craft and cooking lessons in Kalocsa
After breakfast, transfer to charming Pécs in the foothills of the Mecsek Mountains. Set off on a walking tour that includes a visit to the city’s UNESCO-listed Necropolis, which hearkens back to the 4th century, as well as the Pécs Cathedral. Alternatively, you might also embark on an hour-long city tour by train. Lunch is in a local Pécs restaurant.
Visit the town of Kalocsa this afternoon and embark on a city tour that includes workshops on folk painting, folk embroidery, and the making of traditional Hungarian paprika bread, as well as an organ concert.
Exploring the Pest side of Budapest, and a Jewish Heritage optional tour
Divided by the Danube, Budapest is actually two cities — Buda and Pest. Today we’ll explore Pest, beginning with an inside visit to St. Stephen’s Basilica, as well as a tour of City Park, Heroes’ Square, and neighboring Andrássy Avenue — a UNESCO World Heritage Site lined with Neo-Renaissance palaces and homes — and a glimpse of the Parliament building, which you’ll explore in-depth tomorrow. This afternoon, take an optional Jewish Heritage tour that reveals the historic Jewish Quarter and local landmarks, or simply enjoy some leisure time to explore Budapest on your own. Back on the ship this evening, a folk music and dance show concludes your first night in Budapest in style
Discover the largest Jewish community in eastern Europe during your stay in Budapest. This tour offers an illuminating look into the rich cultural, historical, and religious heritage of Hungary, with visits to Budapest’s Jewish Quarter, Dohány Synagogue — Europe’s largest — and more.
Please note: This tour is not available on Saturdays.
Take a walk on the Buda side and go inside Parliament
Arguably Budapest’s most historic building, the Parliament towers over the Danube with its intriguing blend of architectural styles and 365 spires — one for every day of the year. Tour the inside of the Parliament building in this Vantage-exclusive experience that allows us fast-track entrance.
Head to Hollókő, or spend a day at leisure in Budapest
Join our delightful full-day optional tour to the Hungarian village of Hollókő, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a “living village” of early rural life before the agricultural revolution of the 20th century. Alternatively, enjoy a day at leisure in Budapest, perhaps taking advantage of our onboard bicycles to cruise along the Danube pathways, or to do some shopping on the Váci Utca, Budapest’s most famous shopping street.
A scenic journey back in time, into the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains, takes you to the medieval UNESCO World Heritage village of Hollókő. Here life follows the same patterns it did centuries ago — the houses are built in a medieval style with whitewashed walls and red-tiled roofs, and the locals still honor age-old customs and dress in traditional embroidered clothing on special occasions — such as your arrival! You'll be greeted with singing, dancing, and a snack of Hungarian cheesecake. Then, in small groups, we'll be invited into a home for lunch — a truly wonderful way to meet people of Hungary. Afterwards, you'll take a walking tour through the village's cobbled streets.
City tour of Budapest, or opt for a Hungarian horse show
Begin the day with a city city tour of regal Budapest, including Fisherman’s Bastion and other local landmarks; or, transfer to the Great Market Hall for a guided tour followed by an afternoon at leisure. Alternatively, you can choose to take our Hungarian Horse Show optional tour this afternoon, where you'll be given a tour of the Lazar Equestrian Park in addition to a delightful horse show.
Enjoy the romantic scenery of the countryside as you visit the Equestrian Park of the Lázár brothers, who have won several world championships in carriage driving. Hungarian horsemen will welcome and accompany you to the inn’s yard where you will enjoy the famous Hungarian pálinka (brandy) before going to the show. The horse show features varied styles of dressage and fun competition with guests. After the show, a carriage awaits you for a scenic ride through the surrounding area.
Make Vienna the apple of your eye
A morning of scenic sailing through Bratislava awaits this morning. Culinary Feature: Enjoy an apple strudel-making session today in the lounge and enjoy dessert before lunch! This afternoon, you’ll arrive in Vienna, where you’ll be treated to a city tour. The capital’s historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Among the many highlights are the Austrian National Library and St. Stephen’s Cathedral. This evening, dinner is on board your ship or treat yourself to a fun evening with a Viennese Heurigen Dinner, a cozy family-style affair with wine and music.
Join us for this lively optional tour and take a seat inside a traditional heurigen — a cozy, family-style tavern — for hearty food, lively music, and locally produced vintages, of course. Heurigens customarily feature rustic décor, open courtyards with outdoor seating, and an accordion player playing traditional Viennese songs. Look forward to a fun, authentic, and festive evening!
Vienna as you like it, and a private Kursalon concert
Join an onboard lecture this morning on "Musical Vienna" prior to venturing to Austria's grand capital. Then you'll experience another unforgettable moment on your choice of two tours: either the Museum of Art History or Schönbrunn Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is one of the grandest of European castles. With the afternoon at leisure, perhaps you can schedule a visit to a spa in Vienna through our Vantage Concierge Service, or take one of the complimentary shipboard bicycles. This evening, you’ll be treated to a private classical music concert at the Kursalon.
Back on board ship, dancers will entertain you and welcome you up into the crowd to learn the waltz and enjoy some fancy stepping, too.
Indulge in scenic Wachau Valley cruising and a wine tasting dinner
Depart Vienna and settle back to enjoy one of the most scenic stretches of our journey. The Cultural Landscape of the Wachau Valley is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, notable for its architecture, vineyards, monasteries, and orchards. As you take in the romantic views of hilltop castles and terraced vineyards, you'll cruise by the wine town of Dürnstein. In 1192, King Richard the Lionheart of England was imprisoned in the castle that looms above the town. Tonight’s dinner will be further enhanced by a pairing and tasting of local wines with commentary.
Music and pub crawls in picturesque Passau
Today, join a walking tour of baroque Passau, known as the "town of three rivers" because it's located where two tributaries join the Danube river. On your tour, visit a beer garden, and enjoy an organ concert inside St. Stephan’s
Regensburg: Roman architecture and Bavarian charms
You’ll arrive at the picturesque Regensburg today, a UNESCO World Heritage Site dating to the Roman era. A morning walking tour reveals what many call the most charming town on the Danube River — it's sure to be a highlight of your Europe river cruise.
Nuremberg, customized for you — tour the town’s highlights or explore its WWII history
This morning, learn about the Main-Danube Canal during an onboard presentation, followed by lunch. Upon arrival in Nuremberg this afternoon, you'll have your choice of two city tours: Choose “Nuremberg and World War II” to explore the city’s World War II history and visit the Documentation Center, or take the “Highlights of Nuremberg” tour that includes a visit to the delightful Toy Museum.
Sail the Altmühl Valley, tour Bamberg by foot, and enjoy a wine tasting dinner
You’ll cruise toward Bamberg today and arrive midmorning for a walking tour of the historic center of town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Enjoy some free time to explore independently afterward and return to your ship in time for lunch. Set sail for Würzburg and hear a fascinating lecture on Bavaria, Germany's “special state", along the way. You’ll also learn how to make Swabian meat pockets, a hearty dish that is well known in this region.
Tour and wine tasting inside the Würzburg Residenz
Arriving in Würzburg, set out on a half-day tour of the Würzburg Residenz, a baroque European castle that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Your tour includes a visit to the wine cellar for a tasting and lecture from an experienced sommelier. The Residenz are ideal for strolling, and you’ll have time to do so before transferring back to the ship for lunch. More active travelers will have the option to walk back to the ship for lunch onboard.
Exploring village life in Marktheidenfeld, with a BBQ lunch and traditional live music
We'll arrive in Wertheim this morning and will set out to explore the town after breakfast. The highlight of our day will be a delightful half-day tour during which learn about local industry. Later, we’ll savor a BBQ lunch and take in some traditional live music.
Go day-tripping through romantic Heidelberg, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
In the morning, the ship docks in Aschaffenburg, and we will take a coach bus to Heidelberg. Enjoy panoramic views from the plaza of imposing Heidelberg Castle, a Gothic-Renaissance ruin of red stone looming above the downtown and see the castles famed Heidelberg Tun, an immense wine barrel, now empty, with a capacity of some 58,000 gallons. Afterwards, descend via funicular from the castle to the town center to stroll the pedestrian-only main street. This evening, we'll meet the ship in Rüsselsheim and enjoy onboard entertainment, including expert vocal performances from the 4 Virtuosos.
Sip Kölsch while exploring the historic cultural center of Cologne
This morning, explore Cologne’s Gothic splendor on a walking tour that includes the UNESCO-listed Cologne Cathedral. Enjoy a tasting of Kölsch beer, a signature brew that is only made here in Cologne.
Rüdesheim personalized for you; Rhine Valley views
After some scenic sailing in the morning — during which we'll marvel at the scenery and hear about local lore — you'll arrive in Rudesheim, where you'll have your choice of three tours. The first is a cable car ride to the historic Niederwald Monument, which overlooks the Rhine Valley and commemorates the unification of Germany in the late 19th century. You can also embark on a mini-train ride to Siegfried's Musikkabinett, an amusing museum dedicated to self-playing music and its instruments. Your third choice of tours is a newly added vigorous hiking tour, where you’ll sample three different regional vintages. Afterwards, return to the ship for the Captain's Farewell Dinner.
Disembark ship and return home
Disembark ship in Mainz, then transfer to the Frankfurt airport for your return flight home.
Important Notice: The above day-by-day itinerary is preliminary and subject to change. If changes occur while on tour, you will be notified by your Cruise Director or regional expert. In addition, should there be an extreme change in water levels, Vantage will do everything possible to provide either the included excursion or an alternate excursion at Vantage’s discretion.
Please Note: Port times & itineraries are subject to change. Fluctuating water levels may affect itinerary.