Day 1 Arrive Bucharest
Tour begins: 6:00 PM, JW Marriott Bucharest Grand Hotel. A transfer is included from Bucharest Henri Coanda International Airport to the JW Marriott Bucharest Grand Hotel in the heart of the city, ideally located adjacent to Bucharest's monumental Palace of Parliament – the site of tonight's Tauck Exclusive, after-hours gala welcome reception and dinner, where you'll meet your fellow travelers and Tauck Directors to kick off this extraordinary lower Danube cruise in true Tauck Style. (D)
Day 2 Transylvania's Bran Castle, Targoviste or Peles Castle
A choice of sightseeing today echoes the legacy of 15th-century Romanian prince Vlad Tepes (a.k.a. "Vlad the Impaler"), thought to be the historical model for Bram Stoker’s Dracula. You may choose to take a full-day excursion to Transylvania’s 14th-century Bran Castle, which Tepes once used as a fortress during his military campaigns; the excursion includes a brief walk and lunch in Brasov. Or you can opt for a trip to Targoviste to see the ruins of Tepes' palace, including its imposing watchtower, restored in the 19th century; you'll also visit the army barracks (now a museum) where Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu was tried and executed in 1989. Your third option today is an excursion into the Carpathian Mountains and Transylvania for a visit to Peles Castle and Sinaia, with lunch at a local restaurant and a return to Bucharest for free time spent as you please. If you wish, have dinner at the hotel tonight, or choose to enjoy a lunch or dinner at the hotel at another time during your stay. (B, L, D)
Day 3 Discovering more of Bucharest
Discover more of Romania's capital on a morning sightseeing tour with our local guides, seeing such sights as Revolution Square and the Triumphal Arch, and ending in Bucharest's Old Town. The rest of the day and evening are yours to spend pursuing what interests you most in this fascinating city.
Day 4 The Black Sea coast before boarding
Before embarking your riverboat today, drive to Romania's popular Black Sea coast – first to the popular resort town of Mamaia for lunch and some "beach time," then on to the port city of Constanta. Here, in what was originally the ancient Greek colony of Tomis, you'll view numerous Greek and Roman antiquities, an Art-Nouveau casino, and a monument to the Roman poet Ovid, who spent years in exile here, then board your riverboat in Constanta to launch your unforgettable Danube cruise. Meet the captain and crew at a welcome reception, followed by dinner onboard at your leisure. (B, L, D)
Day 5 Bulgarian art & architecture in Ruse or Ivanovo
Your cruise continues in Bulgaria; largely off limits during four centuries of Ottoman rule and decades behind the Iron Curtain, the country's rich natural beauty and history is yours to discover today. Disembark in Ruse – often referred to as “Little Vienna” for its Art-Nouveau homes, Austro-Hungarian architecture and lively cafés – for a choice of sightseeing today. You may join us for a guided walking tour of Ruse, or a lovely hike to the celebrated Rock Churches in the village of Ivanovo, whose stony chambers carved into steep, cliffside caves reveal stunning medieval frescoes inside; a visit is richly rewarding. Return to the riverboat for dinner this evening. (B, L, D)
Day 6 Danube cruising and a visit to Vidin, Bulgaria
There’s something special about just “kicking back” during a leisurely morning cruising the Danube, enjoying picture-perfect views of the passing landscapes. Onboard activities throughout your cruise, such as special lectures and presentations, cooking demonstrations or music and dance performances, are an important part of the Tauck river cruising experience. Today, after the riverboat arrives in Vidin, Bulgaria, join us for a walking tour of Vidin’s cobblestone streets, including a visit to Baba Vida fortress. Back aboard the riverboat this evening, enjoy musical entertainment by a local classical ensemble, followed by the Chef's Signature Dinner in the Compass Rose. (B, L, D)
Day 7 King Decebalus and the Iron Gate of the Danube
Spend today aboard your riverboat as you sail along the Serbian / Romanian border, enjoying great views of the Transylvanian Alps. As you cruise, keep an eye out for a kingly face carved into the Danube's rocky bank on the Romanian side; it's a monument to the 2nd-century Dacian King Decebalus, who defended his kingdom from the invading Romans – and it's the tallest rock sculpture in Europe. Glide through Romania’s Kazan Narrows and the Iron Gate of the Danube, a spectacular two-mile-long series of gorges between the Carpathian and Balkan Mountains, en route to Serbia; the ship arrives in Belgrade overnight. (B, L, D)
Day 8 The sights of Belgrade and a private palace evening
Wake up today in Belgrade, Serbia’s eclectic, cosmopolitan capital at the juncture of the Danube and Sava rivers. You can choose to spend the morning touring the "New Belgrade" section of the city by bicycle with a local guide (you'll need to be comfortable riding a bicycle in a city environment); or join our local guides for a city tour that includes visits to Tito’s Memorial and the formidable Kalemegdan Fortress, and views of busy Slavija Square (now one of the city’s major squares, but once a large pool where residents hunted wild ducks!), Parliament, Republic Square and City Hall. After lunch onboard, you have the afternoon free to spend as you please. Following onboard entertainment by Serbian performers during cocktail hour, you'll return to shore for this evening's sparkling Tauck Exclusive – dinner at the Royal White Palace of the Serbian Royal Family in Belgrade, built in the 1930s for members of the Yugoslavian royal family and set within the same complex as the Royal Palace of Dedinje, today home to HRH Crown Prince Alexander II of Serbia and his family. (B, L, D)
Day 9 Understanding Croatia's history in Vukovar
Your riverboat crosses the border from Serbia to Croatia and arrives in historic Vukovar today. Preceded by an onboard lecture on Croatia's turbulent history by a local expert, your tour of this venerable 10th-century city – once showcasing opulent 18th-century Baroque mansions, but now a mix of old and new – poignantly symbolizes the effects of the 1990s war. Visit with a local family who have recently returned to resume their lives in the city after the conflict, as they share homemade refreshments with you in their private home. You'll have some time at leisure in Vukovar before the riverboat continues on to Hungary tonight. (B, L, D)
Day 10 Antiquities and more in Hungary
Arrive in Mohacs, Hungary, this morning for an excursion to Pécs and a tour of its 11th-century cathedral. Here you’ll also explore the fascinating Christian Necropolis, a complex dating back to the 4th century that includes underground burial chambers and chapels adorned with early Christian art and frescoes, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the 19th century, Pécs was famous worldwide for the exquisite Zsolnay porcelain manufactured here, and your visit includes a stop at the Zsolnay Museum for a look at its stunning examples of Art Nouveau stoneware, tiles and pottery. Visit a winery in Villány for lunch (this region is renowned for its red wines) then return to Mohacs. Tonight, attend the ship's farewell cocktail reception and dinner as your Danube cruise draws to a close. (B, L, D)
Day 11 Disembark the Riverboat & spend the next two nights in Budapest
Bid your Danube cruise – along with your captain and crew – farewell as you disembark the riverboat in Budapest. Your exploration of the Hungarian capital, once the independent cities of Buda and Pest, begins in Pest with a visit to St. Stephen’s Basilica, the city’s neo-Renaissance cathedral, and continues with views of Heroes’ Square, bounded by some of the finest architectural works in Hungary, and such Budapest treasures as City Park and tree-lined Andrassy Avenue. When possible, visit the Parliament building, a neo-Gothic architectural masterpiece. Stop to browse at Central Market Hall before checking into your hotel; the rest of the day and evening is at your leisure in Budapest. (B)
Day 12 Budapest sights & a special farewell
Today, you can choose to spend the morning touring Budapest by bicycle with a local guide (you'll need to be comfortable riding a bicycle in a city environment). Or you can do some Buda sightseeing in Castle Hill, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where a guided walking tour introduces architectural landmarks such as well-known Fisherman's Bastion. Revisit Budapest's World War II and Cold War days at the Sziklakórház ("Hospital in the Rock"), a re-creation of underground military medical and facilities in a former secret bunker and hospital hidden below Buda Castle. After time to explore this fascinating city as you please (or, if you wish, visit Dohany Synagogue with a Tauck Director), we invite you to join us at this evening's farewell reception and dinner at the Festetics Palace in Budapest. (B, D)
Day 13 Journey home
Tour ends: Budapest, Hungary. Fly home anytime; a transfer is included from The Ritz-Carlton, Budapest to Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport and Budapest-Keleti Station. Allow 3 hours for departure flight check-in. (B)
River Cruise Highlights
7-night cruise plus 2-night-stays in Budapest & Bucharest
Exclusive VIP dinner in Bucharest's Parliament Palace
Passage through the Iron Gate of the Danube
Private evening at Belgrade's Royal White Palace
All This Included
A Transylvanian Castle and a People's Palace, just two of the architectural treasures that inspire discoveries of cultures little known and endlessly fascinating. Cruise through the ages... from modern-day Budapest, graced with architectural monuments, hilltop masterpieces and a legacy of music, arts and local spice... to Croatia, recovering from a turbulent past and poised for a bright future... to Serbia, where a royal welcome with a prince awaits... to lively Bulgarian traditions that dance into your memories of a land lush with history... to Transylvania, mysterious haunt of "Dracula"... and to explore centuries-old traditions in Romania.
Gratuities to ship staff, drivers, local guides, Tauck Directors and Tauck Cruise Director
Tauck's private shore excursions and distinctive inclusions valued at $3,332
Two nights at a hotel in Budapest and two nights in Bucharest at a hotel with an ideal location next to the Parliament Palace
Choices of bicycle excursions in Budapest & Belgrade
Exclusive evening at Belgrade's Royal White Palace
Dinner at the massive Parliament building (the "People's Palace") in Bucharest
Visit with a Croatian family in their private home in Vukovar
A visit to the city of Pécs in Hungary, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Passage through the Iron Gate on the Danube River
Choice of Romanian excursions exploring the story of Vlad Tepes, 15th-century inspiration for Bram Stoker's "Dracula"
Unlimited complimentary beverages aboard ship include regional wine, beer and premium spirits in addition to specialty coffee, water and soft drinks.
Airport and trains station transfers upon arrival and departure as noted
28 meals (11 breakfasts, 8 lunches, 9 dinners); service charges, taxes, porterage, and applicable fuel surcharge
Accommodations on this Tour
Cruising: Cabin onboard ms Joy
Cabin upgrades are available.
Tour has optional activites which may incur additional costs.
Although not expected, Tauck reserves the right to alter the sequence of ports or omit or substitute scheduled ports or attractions at any time without prior notice. East and west itineraries are similar.
Museums and attractions may be subject to closure due to state, local or religious holidays.
This cruise includes a fair amount of walking in each city.
Please ask your Vacations To Go travel counselor for more information.
Terms and Conditions
The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines. Sorry, we are unable to offer air from countries other than the U.S. However, for those international customers who are able to arrange their own transportation to the trip origination city, we are able to offer the land/cruise portion of the package at the price quoted.