Day 1 Bucharest
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. (Dinner)
Day 2 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 the elegant exterior of 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. (Breakfast, Dinner)
EmeraldEXCURSION: A guided drive through Bucharest
Day 3 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, 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, enjoy a welcome reception and dinner. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
EmeraldPLUS: A choir concert in Arbanasi
EmeraldACTIVE: Hike to the Rock-Hewn Churches of Ivanovo
EmeraldEXCURSION: A tour of Veliko Tarnovo and Arbanasi
Day 4 Vidin
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. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
EmeraldACTIVE: Hike to Belogradchik Fortress
EmeraldEXCURSION: Visit a local vineyard for a tasting
Day 5 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. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
EmeraldEXCURSION: A visit to Lepenski Vir archaeological site and museum
Day 6 Belgrade
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. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
EmeraldPLUS: A Serbian folklore evening show
EmeraldACTIVE: A guided bike tour
EmeraldEXCURSION: A guided tour of Belgrade
DiscoverMORE: A tour of the National Opera Theatre (extra expense)
Day 7 Osijek
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 your farewell dinner. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
EmeraldPLUS: A home-hosted lunch with a Croatian family
EmeraldPLUS: Meet the local village students
EmeraldEXCURSION: A guided tour of Osijek Fortress
Day 8 Kalocsa
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. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
EmeraldPLUS: Visit a Puszta horse farm
EmeraldPLUS: A Budapest evening cruise
Day 9 Budapest
Today enjoy your leisure day and continue exploring the magnificent city of Budapest.
This evening, enjoy an authentic Hungarian folklore show on board, followed by a traditional dinner. Later, join your fellow guests on the Sun Deck for a memorable evening cruise on the Danube, witnessing the illuminated façades of some of Hungary’s most iconic buildings and the delightful UNESCO World Heritage-listed Buda Castle Quarter. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
EmeraldPLUS: A traditional Hungarian folklore show
EmeraldPLUS: A Budapest evening cruise
Day 10 Budapest
The ancient Roman city of Aquincum once sat on the site of modern Budapest, where architecture from across the centuries shines a light on the history of the Hungarian capital. Originally two separate cities, Buda on the right and Pest on the left offer incredibly different views on the culture of one of the liveliest cities in Eastern Europe.
Today, you will have the opportunity to explore the city during a guided tour, including Heroes’ Square and the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Andrássy Avenue and Buda Castle District. Alternatively, enjoy a guided hike to Buda Hill for a postcard-worthy panorama of the Danube banks. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
EmeraldACTIVE: A guided hike to Buda Hill
EmeraldEXCURSION: A guided tour of Budapest
Day 11 Bratislava
This morning, relax on board as we sail to Bratislava. An ancient landscape awaits, where remarkable towers add to a skyline that perfectly encapsulates the history of the city, and preserved medieval fortifications tell tales of a turbulent past. Your local guide will take you through the heart of the city, as you soak in sights of the lavish Episcopal Summer Palace and the neo-Renaissance façade of the Slovak National Theatre.
If you are feeling more active, then you could instead choose to hike around the serene gardens of Bratislava Castle, offering the perfect environment for the Shakespeare festival that occurs during the summer months.
This afternoon, you will be invited into the home of a local family to learn about their culture over coffee and cake, before being welcomed to the Gala Dinner. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
EmeraldPLUS: Home-hosted coffee and cake with a local family
EmeraldACTIVE: A hike to Bratislava Castle
EmeraldEXCURSION: A walking tour of Bratislava
Day 12 Vienna
Set on the banks of the Danube, Vienna has been considered to be Europe’s capital of music for centuries. Viennese Classicism is still highly regarded around the world, as the 18th century brought with it the First Viennese School, consisting of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven.
Today, your local guide will take you for a drive around the world-famous Ringstrasse and a walking tour of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Historic Centre of Vienna, including a peppering of lavish Baroque mansions and the Vienna State Opera. If you are feeling more active, then choose to explore on two wheels instead, cycling along the riverbanks before touching on Danube Island and Prater, home to a traditional 19th-century Ferris wheel. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
EmeraldACTIVE: A guided bike tour
EmeraldEXCURSION: A guided tour of the Ringstrasse and Vienna
DiscoverMORE: An exclusive Viennese concert with music from Mozart and Strauss (extra expense)
DiscoverMORE: Tastes of Vienna tour (extra expense)
Day 13 Dürnstein - Melk
This morning, arrive in Dürnstein; a small town nestled in the heart of the Wachau wine region. When you arrive, you will have the chance to hike to the medieval ruins of Dürnstein Castle, the site where King Richard I was held prisoner following his return from the Third Crusade, and part of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Wachau Cultural Landscape, a place peppered with natural lookout points that highlight the beauty of the region. Alternatively, enjoy a guided bike ride from Dürnstein to Melk, traversing the banks of the Danube.
Later, sail through the Wachau Valley, a place that showcases a plethora of historic architecture, in the form of monasteries, castles and ruins, and the development of urban design through the ages. When you arrive in Melk, you will be taken for a tour of the 900-year-old Melk Abbey, touching on the lavish surrounds of the former palace and viewing ancient manuscripts in the monastic library. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
EmeraldACTIVE: A guided hike to Dürnstein Castle
EmeraldACTIVE: A guided bike tour along the Danube from Dürnstein to Melk
EmeraldEXCURSION: A visit to Melk Abbey
Day 14 Passau
After a morning of sailing along the Danube, perhaps relaxing with a drink in hand on the Sun Deck, we will take you into the heart of Passau. As the point at which the Danube, Inn and Ilz rivers meet, Passau is also known as the Dreiflüssestadt, meaning the “City of Three Rivers”.
Your included guided tour of Passau will unveil its noteworthy Gothic and Baroque architecture. The town was destroyed by a series of fires in the 17th century, leaving a blank canvas for Italian architects to work with.
After your tour, enjoy some free time to explore Passau at leisure, before an afternoon spent sailing towards Regensburg. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
EmeraldEXCURSION: A guided tour of Passau
DiscoverMORE: Tour to Salzburg (additional cost)
Day 15 Regensburg
This morning, we will arrive in Regensburg, a city that has been generously steeped in history, built on the site of an ancient Roman fort that went on to become a major centre for trade during the Middle Ages. Your guided walking tour of Regensburg will showcase its UNESCO World Heritage-listed medieval centre, where ancient Roman architecture can be found sitting alongside 11th – 13th century patrician houses. Narrow cobbled lanes and tall façades help to define the character of this enchanting Bavarian city.
Afterwards, sail down the Main-Danube Canal, passing over a series of aqueducts as panoramas of idyllic landscapes pass by. This evening, enjoy a traditional Bavarian band on board. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
EmeraldPLUS: A traditional Bavarian band on board
EmeraldEXCURSION: A guided tour of Regensburg
Day 16 Nuremberg
After breakfast, it’s time to say farewell to your fellow guests and disembark the ship for your transfer to the airport, taking memories of Roman architecture and the cultural divide in Budapest with you. (Breakfast)