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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 in an effort to better the pacing, two days (Days 3 and 7) from your base journey will take place within your extension. The order of these two base days in the extension itinerary is subject to change.
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 hotel in Bucharest. Tonight, attend a Welcome Briefing and enjoy a drink before dinner at 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.
Panoramic Bucharest tour, then explore its historic sites
Today we’ll set off on a panoramic tour of Bucharest, exploring this city's grand monuments and leafy, old-world boulevards, with a choice of entrances at two of the city's landmarks. 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. After lunch, we’ll transfer by coach to Giurgiu and embark our river ship. Tonight, the Contemporary Bulgarian Trio puts a twist on traditional music during our first dinner.
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. 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, 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.
After lunch on board, 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 — then embark on a pub crawl
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.
Home-hosted lunch in vibrant Vukovar and local entertainment
Get a firsthand understanding of local life in Croatia today! As we make landfall in Croatia, we’ll visit a Franciscan monastery — where we’ll be treated to the rich, mellow strains of a cello concert — before making our way to Eltz Manor, a baroque castle housing the Vukovar City Museum. After, we’ll join a local family in their home for a riveting lunch. Learn about day-to-day life, regional food, and more as we break bread with welcoming hosts. 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, we'll disembark in Mohacs and transfer to charming Pécs in the foothills of the Mecsek Mountains. We’ll 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 a hour-long city tour by mini-train. After lunch in a local restaurant, we'll transfer by coach to the lovely town of Kalocsa. Here we'll 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 in the local cathedral. Afterwards, we'll board our river ship once more and set sail for our next destination: Budapest.
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 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 sets the mood for your Captain’s Gala & Farewell Dinner.
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. We’ll also explore Castle Hill and Fisherman’s Bastion.
Board your return flight home from Budapest's airport, or set off on an optional post-trip extension to Poland.
Experience the resurgence of Warsaw and Krakow on this historical foray into the heart of Poland. You’ll spend three nights in Krakow, one of Europe's most indisputably beautiful cities, before transferring to Warsaw, the elegant capital meticulously restored after its destruction during World War II. Enjoy informative walking tours of each city’s atmospheric and historic districts and visit the Warsaw Ghetto and the Auschwitz-Birkenau camps to explore some of the darkest chapters in world history. Three UNESCO World Heritage Sites round out this extension, as well as a potential fourth when you join our optional Wieliczka Salt Mine tour.
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.