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Enjoy a wide range of sightseeing experiences in the luxurious comfort of an Amawaterways river cruise ship with a small group of fellow Travel Insiders.

Go places you'd probably never get to go if not traveling along the Danube, and see the history and experience the living complexity of the Balkans, directly, yourself.

High quality well designed touring and the luxurious comfort of your 'traveling home' make this a great way to extend your knowledge of parts of Europe you'd probably never otherwise get to see.

Come experience and enjoy this for yourself in the warmth of Aug/Sept 2016.

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Detailed Day by Day Itinerary for the 2016
Balkans from Bucharest to Budapest Cruise

Fine wine and dining

You should be in this picture, too!

The proof of our comments - wine and food galore being enjoyed by some Travel Insiders at dinner on our 2015 Christmas cruise on the Amaserena's sister ship, Amacerto.

Tour Itinerary

Join a small select group of fellow Travel Insiders on this 'luxury expedition' type cruise/tour of five countries in the Balkans, in Aug/Sept 2016.


The opulently tasteful library on board the Amaserena.

Our tour combines major capital cities with small unassuming villages, and sometimes unspoiled pure nature in the raw.

Flexibility is a distinctive feature, with many times you having a choice of different touring activities (all free!) during our port stops, helping ensure you see and do exactly what you want.

Here are the details of what we’ll do each day during this wonderful experience.


After you've finished viewing this daily detailed itinerary, please click here to return to the main Balkans from Bucharest to Budapest Cruise page.

Daily Itinerary Details

Thursday 25 August (if doing the pre-cruise Bucharest/Transylvania/Dracula extension)  Leave the US

To arrive in Bucharest on 26 August you probably need to take an overnight flight from the US on 25 August.

You can either make your own arrangements to travel to Bucharest, or have us ask Amawaterways to make them for you.

If you are doing the pre-cruise extension, you will probably leave the US today so as to arrive in Bucharest tomorrow.

But if you prefer to stay longer in Bucharest, or to do other things first, you'll of course leave the US sooner.


Friday 26 August -  Arrive in Bucharest for the pre-cruise Extension

A good illustration of the contrasting architectural styles - French Belle Epoque in the foreground, communist style in the background, in central Bucharest.

After arriving into Bucharest at some time today, you can check in to the hotel for the next two nights and enjoy the rest of today at leisure as it suits you.


Saturday 27 August - Touring through the Carpathians to Transylvania, Peles Castle and Dracula's Castle

Warning - here (may) be vampires!  Sighisoara in Transylvania.

Neo-renaissance style Peles Castle, nestled in the Carpathian Mountains of Transylvania.

Sure, we could have chosen a sunny picture of Bran Castle, but we felt this one to be more appropriately foreboding and evocative!

Better pack a wooden stake, a crucifix and some garlic today - we're off into the vampire lands of Transylvania, set in the beautiful Carpathian Mountain region of Romania.

Two highlights of our day's touring will be visiting beautiful Peles Castle and to forbidding Bran Castle - or, as it is better known, Dracula's Castle.

Bran Castle dates back to the 14th century and is on the site of an earlier wooden castle built by the Teutonic Knights.  So it does have an enormous amount of history and some mysticism associated with it, even though the link to the Dracula story is in reality tenuous.

There are persistent rumors that Bran Castle may be for sale.  Bring your check book, just in case it takes your fancy!

Assuming we aren't waylaid by vampires, we'll be back at our lovely historic city center hotel in Bucharest in time for dinner (not included).

 Included Meals - Breakfast, Lunch

Special Feature - Tour into the Carpathians, Transylvania, Peles and Bran Castles


Sunday 28 August - Bucharest City Sightseeing, then transfer to Amaserena for the Cruise

Like many communist capital cities, Bucharest was designed on a very grand scale.
The Open Air Village Museum preserves the traditional architecture of rural Romania, while incongruously being located close to the center of Bucharest.

The tiny size of the cars in the foreground (and other buildings in the background) provide visual clues to the extraordinary size of the Palace of the Parliament.

If you're 'doing your own thing' you should plan to arrive on the Amaserena sometime this mid-afternoon.

If you're on the pre-cruise tour extension, we have some great things scheduled today in Bucharest, also known as the 'Paris of the East', due to its many Belle poque buildings dating from the 19th century.

The French influence is paramount in many of the restored buildings of the former aristocracy and monarchy.

We enjoy a city tour, including time at the Open Air Museum, dedicated to preserving the traditional architecture of rural Romania and the second largest open air museum in all of Europe.

We have a nice lunch at a traditional local restaurant, then go for a guided tour of the enormous Palace of the Parliament, a Communist era building that is the second largest in the world (only the Pentagon is larger).

This building is so huge that even though well used, it is estimated that 70% remains empty.  It is so huge that it was easier to set up a carpet making plant inside it to make carpets than to ship them in.

We then transfer down to Rousse to join the ship.

In the early evening, there will be a special Welcome Cocktail Reception on board the ship, followed by a special Welcome Dinner.

Included Meals - Breakfast, Lunch, then Dinner on the ship

Special Features -
Tour of the Palace of the Parliament


Monday 29 August Veliko Turnavo

Hillside houses in the ancient Bulgarian capital of Veliko Turnavo.
The entrance to the fortress on Tsarevets Hill, above the town itself.

Traditional plates for sale in Veliko Turnavo.

Today we'll enjoy a visit to the ancient capital of Bulgaria, Veliko Turnavo.

Here we will tour Tsarevets Hill, the old citadel of the city.  We will see the old fortress walls, the Royal Palaces and the Patriarchal church, and the Baldwins Tower.

And, for those shoppers among us (we know who you are!) we'll visit Samovodska Charshia - a traditional market street now beautifully restored and with lots of tempting arts and crafts and other boutique stores.

We set sail late afternoon and commence our cruise west along the Danube.

Included Meals - Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Special Features - Tour to Veliko Turnavo and lunch ashore


Tuesday 30 August Vidin

The entrance to Belogradchik castle.
Some of the distinctive rock formations around the Belogradchik castle.
Baba Vida Fortress in Vidin, with a tiny peek of the Danube in the lower left.

We start today off with a wonderful tour (well, that's sort of what we do every day!) to Belogradchik, a beautifully restored castle dating back to the Dark Ages (ie 6th century), located in a stunning landscape of unusual rock formations.

Afterwards, we visit the Baba Vida Fortress, the only entirely preserved medieval castle (14th century) in the country, and standing guard over the Danube at the frontier town of Vidin.

At the castle we will be treated to a fascinating historical re-enactment.

Return to the ship for a wonderful dinner, and then spend the evening as you please while our ship departs Vidin and continues taking us westwards.

Included Meals - Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Special Features - Tour of Belogradchik and Baba Vida


Wednesday 31 August Cruising through the Iron Gates

Although at times there are lots of ships on the Danube, at times it seems almost deserted, such as in this scene passing through part of the Iron Gates region.
In the foreground, a commercial boat perilously laden to very low in the water, and in the background, a 135 ft head statue of Decebalus, a Romanian hero and king who fought against the Romans almost 2000 years ago.

A Roman monument marking the construction of a 3/4 mile long 62 ft high bridge across the Danube, way back in 105 AD.

Today is a full day of cruising through one of Europe's most awe-inspiring natural wonders, the Iron Gates.

Here the Danube narrows as it winds through an 80 mile series of magnificent gorges between the southern Carpathian Mountains on one side of the river, and the northwestern Balkan Mountains on the other.

This natural border between Serbia and Romania will be an unforgettable highlight of our cruise, which you can enjoy from the comfort of your stateroom, or from any of the ship's wonderful public areas or even the outdoor sun deck.

Included Meals - Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Special Feature - Cruising the Iron Gates during daylight


Thursday 1 September Belgrade

Belgrade from the river.

The St Sava Serbian Orthodox Church is one of the largest churches in the world.

Belgrade has some excellent ethic restaurants to enjoy.

We wake up this morning in Belgrade, the capital of Serbia.  The name means 'white city' and Belgrade traces its history back more than 2500 years, and archeological digs point to a settlement there as much as 7000 years ago.

Located at the strategic meeting point of the Danube and Sava rivers, this truly cosmopolitan city has fortifications dating back to Celtic times, medieval tombs and Turkish baths.

Belgrade is the cultural and religious center of Serbia. The Old Town streets are lined with 19th century buildings from the period of Serbian independence.

After another delicious breakfast, we'll head out and enjoy a panoramic tour of the city, including a photo stop at Tito’s Tomb and visits to the Kalemegdan Fortress and the Serbian Orthodox Temple of St. Sava.

Back to the ship for lunch and then this afternoon we have our choice of one of three excursions.

The first option is a visit to the mausoleum of Marshal Josip Broz Tito, a beloved figure who was the leader of the Yugoslav Partisans during the Second World War and became the first President of Yugoslavia.

Our second option is a tasting of Serbian plum brandy at the Quburich Distillery followed by a visit to the Avala Hill and TV Tower.

And the third option is a guided bike tour through Belgrade and around Ada Ciganlija island.

The ship stays in Belgrade until midnight, so if you want to dine ashore in one of Belgrade's many excellent restaurants, you have a convenient opportunity to do so.

Included Meals - Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Special Features - Morning city tour, choice of three different afternoon tours


Friday 2 September Novi Sad and Vukovar

The town hall and square in central Novi Sad.
Petrovaradin Fortress, nicknamed 'the Gibraltar on the Danube', perched high above the river at Novi Sad.

The locals decided to preserve the water tower as it was as a result of the 87 day siege of Vukovar during the war in 1991.

We arrive in Novi Sad in the morning and can choose to explore this charming city (the second largest in Serbia) on one of three excursions.

The antiquity of Novi Sad can be traced back to the Romans and Byzantines, but it was the 13th century Tartar invasion that resulted in the building of the original fortress.  Ruled by the Ottoman Turks for 160 years, from the early 16th century, the current fortress was improved and modified by the Hapsburg Austrians.

Oour first option is to join a walking tour from Danube Park to the old town center.

The second option is to join a tasting of Serbian Specialties including learning how to prepare a traditional Vojvodina (the region we are in) meal of stew, salad, dumplings and bread.

Still another option, we could hike up to the Petrovaradin Fortress, a mighty stronghold that dominates the city and looks down to the Danube.  No enemy ever breached Petrovaradin, and it is nowadays home to a hotel, museum and artists’ studios. After the hike, you'll also have a chance to enjoy a refreshment as well as explore the fort and galleries.

When we return back in time for lunch, the ship continues on to Ilok, Croatia. And, yes, again there are choices for us.

Choose between an excursion to the small town of Ilok, where its present day tranquility conceals a confusing past with the town being part of many different empires.  Our Ilok tour includes a wine tasting and visit to the Este Palace.

The other alternative is a city tour of Vukovar.

Situated in Eastern Slavonia at the confluence of the Vuka and Danube Rivers, Vukovar has a long and often troubled history, fought over by the Austrians, Ottoman Turks, Germans, Croatians and Serbians.

We would see Vukovar’s Baroque town center, the Franciscan Monastery, the Castle of the former ruling Eltz family, and the monumental cross that is a memorial to those who lost their lives during Croatia’s struggle for independence.

Included Meals - Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner (all on the ship)

Special Features - Choice of three morning tours, and two afternoon tours.


Saturday 3 September Mohacs and Pecs

A nice view of central downtown Pecs.

Formerly the Mosque of Pasha Qasim, this is now a Roman Catholic church in Pecs.

You are welcome to use the bikes on board the Amaserena any time you wish.  There's no charge.

Maybe you'll see a stork or two in the Drava National Park.

Hello, Hungary!  This morning the ship arrives in Mohcs, where we'll then take coaches for a one or so hour exursion through interesting countryside to Pcs.

Founded more than 2,000 years ago by the Romans, Pcs became an important early Christian diocese and then a Turkish cultural base during the many centuries of Ottoman rule, while the area around Pcs is made up of rolling hills, vine-clad slopes and a modest climate that gives the city a distinctly Mediterranean feel.  The Necropolis was deemed a World Heritage site in 2000.

 Upon arrival, we take a city tour that includes UNESCO's underground excavations, St. Peter’s Basilica (the main Catholic Cathedral in the city), as well as the restored Synagogue.

Or, if you prefer, for those of us wishing something a bit more active, there is a scenic guided bike tour from Mohcs along the Danube River and through the Danube –Drava National Park.  In this area we may spot a black stork or white-tailed eagle, and we go on to visit the Kilked Stork Museum before returning back to the ship in Mohcs.

This afternoon, we set sail on along the Danube, with our next stop possibly being the last, unless you choose to extend your cruise for a second week on to Germany (ask us for more information on this option).

Included Meals - Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner (all on the ship)

Special Features - Choice of two tours.


Sunday 4 September Cruise Ends - Optional Extensions - another week of cruising to Germany or two nights in Vienna

Amazing light on this view up to Fisherman's Bastion in Budapest.
The Budapest Parliament viewed from the Danube.
St Stephen's Cathedral and its distinctive patterned tile roof towers over all the other buildings in Vienna.

The Amaserena expects to arrive in Budapest at about 4.15am this morning.  Don't worry, you don't have to get off the ship immediately!

After breakfast this morning, we'll split into three groups.  Some of us will be staying on the ship, and continuing on this lovely cruise, all the way to Vilshofen in Germany.

If this is you, we will send you information separately about your next week on the ship.

Some of us will be wishing we were extending, but instead will be leaving the tour at this point, possibly to return home, possibly to do other things on their own.

The third group will be those of us who have decided to add the optional two nights in Vienna.

Please keep reading if this is your choice.

After breakfast this morning, we'll say goodbye to the Amaserena.  We will sightsee by coach, first on a tour of the highlights of the twin city of Buda and Pest.

We will see famed Heroes’ Square and Castle Hill, home to Fisherman’s Bastion, Matthias Church and spectacular views of the Danube.

After time in Budapest, we travel on by coach to glorious Vienna.  Now, don't get me wrong.  I like Budapest.  But I love Vienna! After checking-in to our hotel, the rest of the day is free to do as we wish.  Evening concert, anyone?

Included Meals - Breakfast

Special Features -  Budapest city tour, transfer to Vienna hotel


Monday 5 September Vienna

The Prater Amusement Park's Ferris Wheel was made famous in the movie 'The Third Man' and often features in other movies.  Note in the distant left background, St Stephen's Cathedral.  Entrance to the Prater is free, but you pay to go on the Ferris Wheel.
Vienna is full of magnificent palaces - this is the Belvedere Palace.
The Graben in central Vienna is a sophisticated shopper's paradise.

This morning, it is time to fully  savor the Baroque elegance of romantic Vienna.

First, we'll go on a panoramic tour of Vienna that takes us past iconic sights such as the majestic Opera House, the former Imperial Palace of the Habsburg Emperors, Parliament, Town Hall and Vienna University.

But wait - there's more.  Afterwards, we go on a walking tour through Vienna’s historic city center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and see St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Graben and the world famous Spanish Riding School.

The afternoon is free to explore on our own.

Included Meals - Breakfast

Special Features - Touring around Vienna by coach and on foot


Tuesday 6 September Extension Ends

The beautiful State Opera House is one of many venues in Vienna with nightly concerts.

Alas, this morning is the end of your extended cruise and tour.

That's not to say you must go directly home, and if we can suggest/assist you with planning any additional activities while you're in Europe, please don't hesitate to ask.

Included Meals - Breakfast

Special Features - A chance to go home again?

For More Information

Please return to the main page for more information about our 2016 Balkans from Bucharest to Budapest Cruise/Tour.  And here's a link to jump you directly down to the booking form.

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