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 River, 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, your crew will welcome you back on board for a welcome reception and dinner. EmeraldPLUS A choir concert in Arbanasi EmeraldACTIVE Hike to the Rock-Hewn Churches of Ivanovo Included Excursion A tour of Veliko Tarnovo and Arbanasi (B/L/D)
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. EmeraldACTIVE Hike to Belogradchik Fortress Included Excursion Visit a local vineyard for a tasting (B/L/D)
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. EmeraldPLUS A Serbian folklore evening show EmeraldACTIVE A guided bike tour Included Excursion A guided tour of Belgrade DiscoverMORE A tour of the National Opera Theatre (extra expense) (B/L/D)
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 joining your fellow passengers for a farewell dinner. EmeraldPLUS A home-hosted lunch with a Croatian family EmeraldPLUS Meet the local village students Included Excursion A guided tour of Osijek Fortress (B/L/D)
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. EmeraldPLUS Visit a Puszta horse farm (B/L/D)
Budapest is a place of striking contrasts, with Buda on one side housing a generous scattering of the city’s elegant landmarks and Pest on the other encapsulating Budapest’s fascinating past. The two are separated by the mighty Danube, and you can explore them both by crossing the Chain Bridge, one of the most symbolic structures in the capital. Today, you will have the opportunity to discover the city’s history during a guided tour, including the Castle District, where sights of Buda Castle perched on top of a rocky outcrop overlooking the city are certain to delight.
If you are feeling active, then you may instead choose to hike to Buda Hill, following a maze of cobblestone streets to the massive Baroque masterpiece towering overhead. Included Excursion A guided tour of Budapest EmeraldACTIVE A hike to Buda Hill (B/L/D)
Bordering Austria and Hungary, the Slovakian capital is yours to discover today. Wander down cobblestone streets and witness the sheer majesty of ornate Baroque palaces as you explore with a local guide, passing the Renaissance courtyard of the Old Town Hall and the picturesque gardens of the Episcopal Summer Palace.
Afterwards, enjoy free time to explore at leisure, perhaps perusing some of the quaint boutiques that line the streets. This afternoon, you will be welcomed into the home of a local family to learn about their culture over traditional sweet treats and coffee. EmeraldPLUS Home-hosted coffee and cake with a Slovakian family EmeraldACTIVE A guided hike to Bratislava Castle Included Excursion A walking tour of Bratislava (B/L/D)
A wave of culture paves the way for life in the Austrian capital, where some of history’s most prestigious composers once walked the streets and found their inspiration, before taking to the opulent surrounds of the Vienna State Opera. Today, you will have the opportunity to pass iconic imperial palaces and a number of noteworthy buildings adorning the Ringstrasse, both by coach and on foot.
Alternatively, embark on a guided cycling tour past idyllic riverbanks, monuments and lush parks before passing by Prater. EmeraldACTIVE A guided bike tour Included Excursion A guided tour of Vienna DiscoverMORE A visit to Schönbrunn Palace (extra expense) DiscoverMORE An exclusive Viennese concert with music from Mozart and Strauss (extra expense) (B/L/D)
This morning, you will have the opportunity to hike to Dürnstein Castle, perhaps stopping to imagine how it would have looked when it held Richard the Lionheart captive following the Third Crusade. Alternatively, enjoy a guided bike ride from Dürnstein to Melk, passing noteworthy vineyards and settling down for lunch on the riverbanks. After visiting Dürnstein Castle, relax on the Sun Deck as you sail through the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Wachau Valley and on to Melk, nestled in the heart of the Wachau wine region.
Your local guide will take you on a tour of the spectacular 900-year-old Benedictine abbey, including its ancient monastic library and medieval manuscripts, saved by the monks from fires in the 13th century. EmeraldACTIVE A guided hike to Dürnstein Castle EmeraldACTIVE A guided bike tour along the Danube Included Excursion A tour of Melk Abbey (B/L/D)
Sat on the confluence of the Danube, Inn and Ilz rivers, Passau is a postcard-worthy destination that has been shaped by the surrounding waterways. Maze-like romantic lanes weave through the city, opening up into large squares and magical promenades adorned with classical boutiques. This afternoon, join your local guide for a tour of Passau and discover a peppering of delightful Baroque buildings, some of which date back to the 17th century.
Stop to admire the silhouette of the hilltop Oberhaus Fortress and witness St. Stephen’s Cathedral, home of the largest church organ in Europe. Later, return for an afternoon spent peacefully cruising through the heart of Europe. Included Excursion A guided tour of Passau DiscoverMORE A tour of Salzburg (extra expense) DiscoverMORE A tour of Ceský Krumlov (extra expense) (B/L/D)
After breakfast, set out on an exploration of one of the best-preserved medieval cities in Germany, where more than two millennia of history is yours to discover. Your local guide will lead you through the heart of Regensburg’s UNESCO World Heritage-listed Old Town, once home to the seat of parliament. Delightful historic patrician houses line the streets, a visible testament to the area’s importance as a trading centre hundreds of years ago.
Later, return to your Star-Ship to sail through the picturesque surrounds of the Main-Danube Canal, passing Kelheim as you make your way to Nuremberg. EmeraldPLUS A Bavarian band performance on board Included Excursion A guided tour of Regensburg DiscoverMORE Visit to a local brewery (extra expense) (B/L/D)
Set alongside the Main River, Würzburg offers a perfect introduction to the Romantic Road, one of Bavaria’s most popular tourism routes that links stunning medieval locations throughout the country. Your own charming journey of discovery will touch on the sloping vineyard-laden hills of one of the biggest wine-producing areas in Germany. Today, you will have the opportunity to visit the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Würzburg Residence, perhaps stopping to admire the Viennese Baroque architecture and secular features from Italy.
Your local guide will teach you about how the architects behind the Würzburg Residence drew inspiration from a spectrum of different popular styles. After the tour, enjoy a guided walking tour of Würzburg, including the Gothic Marienkapelle and Town Hall. Included Excursion Walking tour of Würzburg & Visit to the Bishop Residenz DiscoverMORE A tour of Rothenburg (extra expense) (B/L/D)
This morning, you will have the opportunity to explore the medieval glass-blowing town of Wertheim independently, perhaps stopping to admire the traditional craft that has put Wertheim on the map in a local museum. Then, travel by coach to the picturesque village of Miltenberg, a place that perfectly encapsulates traditional Bavarian life. Enjoy a guided tour of the village, as your local guide leads you down an intricate network of cobblestone streets, each adorned with colourful houses.
Centuries ago, this area benefited from trade that was brought by river traffic, and that past affluence can still be seen today. Alternatively, embark on an active walk to Mildenburg Castle, where a wonderful collection of artworks can be found inside of a castle that was once little more than a set of ruins. EmeraldACTIVE An active walk to Mildenburg Castle Included Excursion A guided tour of Miltenberg (B/L/D)
Relax on your Star-Ship this morning until we reach Rüdesheim, a town with a rich history of viticulture. When you arrive, ride the Winzerexpress to Siegfried’s Mechanical Music Cabinet Museum to see spectacular displays, including rare music boxes that have stood the test of time in a postcard-worthy building with a half-timbered façade.
Alternatively, enjoy an active walk through vineyards to see what makes this wine region so popular. After lunch, sail through the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Rhine Gorge, perhaps standing on the Sun Deck and watching for the castles and fortresses that pepper the surrounding hilltops. EmeraldACTIVE An active walk through the vineyards Included Excursion A visit to Siegfried’s Mechanical Music Instrument Museum (B/L/D)
Cruise along the Rhine from Koblenz to Cologne this morning, where an illustrious 2,000-year-old history awaits. The Romans founded Cologne in 50 AD, and it is one of the oldest cities in the country. This status has granted it a number of ancient monuments, including Roman ruins and medieval structures.
Enjoy a walking tour of the city today, as your local guide takes you through the Old Town, passing ancient bridges that survived the air raids of WWII, including the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Cologne Cathedral and its filigree twin towers, a recognisable aspect o the city’s skyline. This evening, your crew will be delighted to welcome you to your Farewell dinner. Included Excursion A guided walking tour of Cologne’s Old Town (B/L/D)
This morning, board a glass top canal boat cruise to venture down the UNESCO World Heritage-listed canal system that weaves across Amsterdam, passing elegant merchant’s residences that reflect the prosperity of the Dutch Golden Age, a time when Amsterdam was an important trading centre. Afterwards, enjoy free time to explore at leisure.
Alternatively, explore on two wheels, cycling from the comfortable surrounds of your Star-Ship to Waterland, passing a number of quintessentially Dutch villages and traditional windmills along the way. EmeraldACTIVE A guided bike tour to Waterland Included Excursion A canal cruise DiscoverMORE Guided tour of Haarlem (extra expense) DiscoverMORE Floriade Expo Visit (extra expense) (B/L/D)