Welcome to Budapest, the Hungarian capital and one of Europe’s most diverse and vibrant cities. Divided by the Danube, with Buda on one side and Pest on the other, this city became united in 1873 when a newly built bridge connected the two. The city is an architectural treasure trove comprising styles from Gothic to Art Nouveau and everything in between. It is also well known for its hot springs and thermal baths and has a vibrant nightlife scene. Enjoy a two night stay in a luxury hotel. (D)
This morning you will join your fellow guests for a sightseeing tour of Budapest. Explore this magical city by coach and foot, crossing the bridge between Buda and Pest. Commence your tour on the Buda side where you will see Várkert Bazár before crossing the Margaret Bridge to the Pest side where you will see Széchenyi and Elisabeth squares. Enjoy dinner in a local restaurant tonight before returning to your hotel. (B/D)
This afternoon you’ll board your Scenic Space-Ship. At tonight’s welcome reception, raise your glass to the wonderful cruise ahead. (B/D)
This morning you’ll have free time on board as you sail towards Kalocsa. Relax in the sunshine on the Sun Deck as you enjoy the scenery of the Danube rolling by. Download the Scenic Tailormade App to listen to river commentary and gain insight to the villages and sites you’re passing.
You will arrive in Kalocsa at lunch time. This historic Hungarian town has some of the richest folk art in the world, like its beautifully decorated porcelain. It was an important agricultural centre in the 19th century and the region has retained much of its rural charm.
Freechoice: This afternoon, choose one of these Scenic Freechoice excursions:
Your Scenic Space-Ship will arrive this morning in the Croation town of Osijek, a small city with a turbulent history. Over the past 500 years it has been part of the Ottoman, Habsburg and Austro-Hungarian empires, and in the 1990s was the epicentre of the Croatian War of Independence. Many of the grand Baroque buildings remain standing but bear the scars of the war. Osijek is famous for its food, which is heavily influenced by Hungary and features plenty of paprika, locally-made sausages and river fish.
Freechoice: Today, explore the region in one of these Scenic Freechoice excursions:
After your touring this morning, all guests will visit the home of a local Croatian family and have lunch with the family members. Immerse yourself in this cultural and culinary experience, and enjoy an authentic meal prepared with fresh vegetables from the host’s garden. North-eastern Croatia is the ‘bread basket’ of the country, so it is only natural that the villagers take great pride in their gardens. You’ll be treated to a feast for both the palate and the eyes. (B/L/D)
The capital of Serbia, Belgrade is known as the ‘Door to Central Europe’ and lies at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers. This eclectic city is steeped in history, with Neolithic ruins found nearby, a fortress built by the Romans, Brutalist buildings that sit beside Art Nouveau buildings and a bohemian vibe. One of the oldest capitals in Europe, Belgrade has been rebuilt almost 40 times.
Freechoice: Explore your way with one of this morning’s Scenic Freechoice activities:
This afternoon is free at leisure to explore Belgrade further. You might like to soak up the bohemian culture with a wander along cobblestoned Skardalija Street, a district once frequented by writers and artists and other creative souls, now home to traditional restaurants, local stores and galleries.
Enrich: Tonight, we have a special treat in store for you with our Scenic Enrich event:
Classical concert at St. Sava Temple: Visit the St. Sava, the largest orthodox temple in the Balkans. Have a chance to explore the frescos-lined walls of the cathedrals crypt where the church choir will perform some of the most beautiful hymns just for you. Because of the acoustics in the crypt, this is a once of a lifetime opportunity. (B/L/D)
Today will cruise through the spectacular scenery of the Iron Gates. This stretch of the Danube is the natural border between Serbia and Romania, and features four narrow gorges, soaring cliffs and the mighty rock carving of Decebalus, the former Romanian king.
Spend some time relaxing in your suite, many of which have a window that converts into a Scenic Sun Lounge, allowing you uninterrupted views to watch a rolling tapestry of river life as you cruise the Danube. Sweat it out in the state-of-the-art gym or take time out in the wellness centre, then mingle with other guests as you sit back with a regional wine or beer in the Panorama Lounge & Bar. (B/L/D)
Your Scenic Space-Ship will arrive in the Bulgarian town of Svishtov this morning. Here you will have the choice to disembark and take an excursion to Veliko Tarnovo, known as the City of the Kings, or stay on board and sail towards Rousse (or Ruse), which has been described as ‘Little Vienna’.
Freechoice: Choose one of today’s Scenic Freechoice excursions:
Arrive in Silistra early this morning. This Bulgarian town has changed hands many times over the centuries; a major Turkish fortress and trade centre in the 15th century, it played a significant role in the Russo-Turkish wars of the 1870s, briefly became part of Romania after the Second Balkan War, and finally reverted to Bulgaria in 1940. The town is dotted with historic sites stretching back to late Roman times.
Freechoice: Explore your way with this morning’s Scenic Freechoice options:
Upon arrival, take an orientation tour of the city by coach, from the south of Bucharest to Primaverii Palace stopping to see its squares, including Union Square, University Square, Roman Square, Victory Square and Charles de Gaulle Square.
Freechoice: Choose from this afternoon’s Scenic Freechoice excursions:
This evening you will enjoy dinner with your fellow guests before heading to your hotel. (B/L/D)
This morning sees us setting off from Bucharest and across the Bulgarian border towards the historic city of Plovdiv, Bulgaria's second largest city. Along the way, our first stop is a traditional Bulgarian village where you learn about the local way of life before a hearty lunch of typical Bulgarian cuisine.
This afternoon we arrive in Plovdiv. Originally founded more than 8,000 years ago the city offers a rich history from prehistoric times, through the Middle Ages and the Renaissance period right through to the present. (B/L/D)
Your local guide will be delighted to showcase this magnificent city including a visit to the Kapana district, also known as ‘The Trap’, which is lined with quaint, colourful buildings housing galleries, ateliers and local shops. You’ll also visit Tsar Simeon’s Garden, a beautiful 19th-century garden complete with impressive fountains and sculptures and the ancient amphitheatre that dates to the 2nd century AD. (B)
Leaving Bulgaria, today you’ll travel south into Turkey and the city of Canakkale. Sitting on the edge of the Dardanelle Strait, Canakkale has been at the forefront of history for centuries. It’s the gateway to the World War One battlefield of Gallipoli and the ancient city of Troy.
At the same time, Canakkale also has a sizeable student population that makes for a great food scene and buzzing nightlife. After a delicious, included dinner, why not join the locals along the waterfront promenade to get a taste of modern Turkish culture. (B/D)
Today you are bound for Gallipoli, a site that holds a special place in the heart of Australians and New Zealanders. As the first major battle for ANZAC troops in the First World War, it was a brutal introduction to global conflict for the new nations. Though the Gallipoli campaign was ultimately a failure, the bravery and strength of the ANZAC soldiers became legendary and helped shape our cultural identity.
The Gallipoli peninsula where the eight-month campaign took place is now a national park and your guide will take you through the most significant sites. Stand on the beach at ANZAC Cove, where the soldiers first came ashore on 25 April 1915. Contemplate the courage and sacrifice that took place at battlegrounds like Lone Pine and the Nek. Walk through some of the 31 cemeteries that dot the peninsula and where more than 10,000 Anzac soldiers are buried. A visit to Gallipoli is a moving experience that will stay with you long after you leave. (B/L)
This morning you’ll be venturing to a place that is shrouded in mystery and legend, the ancient city of Troy. For more than 3,000 years, the tales of Troy and the Trojan War were thought to be mythical, made most famous by Greek poet Homer’s epic work, the Iliad. But in the late 19th century, the ruins of Troy were discovered in modern day Turkey and centuries of history were instantly rewritten. Take a tour through the 4,000-year-old ruins, see a giant replica of the famous Trojan Horse and learn the true story behind this illustrious city.
You’ll travel along the Marmara Coast this afternoon enroute to your final destination, Istanbul. Home to more than 15 million people, it’s the largest city in Turkey and one of the largest in the world. Istanbul will inspire all your senses, an exhilarating blend of cultures, cuisines, architecture, history and style. (B)
The wonders of Istanbul await you today on a guided tour. There have been settlements on this important site, occupying both banks of the Bosphorus Strait, for thousands of years. The modern city began life as Constantinople in the 4th century, before changing its name to Istanbul in 1930.
At every turn, you’re walking through history. See two of the city’s most famous landmarks, sitting on either side of the central Sultanahmet Park; Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque. The Hagia Sophia was built in the 6th century as a Christian church, before being converted to a mosque in the 1450s, mirroring the changing fortunes of the city itself. Both are elaborately decorated, visually spectacular and of a scale that will leave you awestruck. You’ll also visit two of the city’s grandest royal residences, Topkapi Palace and Dolmahbace Palace.
Freechoice: Choose from today’s Scenic Freechoice experience:
Istanbul straddles the Bosphorus Strait, with one half of the city in Europe and the other in Asia. This strategic waterway has played a major role in world trade for centuries and is still one of the most important global shipping routes.
This morning, you’ll take a scenic cruise along the strait, winding between ferries, barges and fishing boats, and passing famous monuments and historic minarets on shore. Then it’s on to the colourful and chaotic Grand Bazaar, a vast undercover market made up of thousands of shops along wide plazas and tiny laneways. Traders have been coming here to sell their wares since the 15th century and it’s still the place to buy ceramics, carpets, glassware, jewellery and textiles.
This afternoon is yours to enjoy at leisure. Visit one of the city’s excellent museums or galleries, hunt for antiques in the busy Çukurcuma neighbourhood, inhale the aromas of the Spice Bazaar, or catch the bright red tram between the two main squares. Be sure to take some time out to indulge in the Turkish national pastime, tea drinking, ideally at a busy streetside café.
Enrich: Tonight’s Scenic Enrich:
A farewell to remember: A special treat awaits for your farewell dinner at the Hamdi Restaurant with its outstanding views over the Golden Horn, an inlet of the Bosphorus. You’ll dine on exceptional Turkish cuisine and raise a glass to an unforgettable journey. (B/D)
Before you farewell Istanbul, take a moment this morning to listen out for the call to prayer before the sun rises. The traditional Muslim call rings out over the city five times a day and is a reminder of the nation’s strong ties to its faith. In the relative calm and silence of the morning, it’s a particularly moving sound.
After breakfast, you’ll take a final transfer to the airport, taking off with a lifetime of memories. (B)