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See unspoiled Eastern Europe and its smaller towns as well as the major cities on this fascinating tour.

You'll cruise the from Budapest to Rousse and then continue on by coach to a Black Sea resort and then on to Istanbul, the ancient city of Constantinople.

Plenty of included shore excursions (at no extra charge) and travels through six countries give you a wonderful and varied unique travel experience.

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Black Sea Discovery Expedition

Day by Day Itinerary

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Every day brings fresh delights and new places to visit on our Black Sea Discovery Expedition.

We'll travel through beautiful scenery and visit lovely towns as we travel through much of Eastern Europe - Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey.

This is the itinerary for the 2007 October Black Sea Discovery Expedition, and may slightly change between now and departure.

Click here for the main details of this cruise and the booking form to confirm your interest.


Day 1 (Thursday 11 October - or sooner) :  Leave the US

Fly to Budapest today or earlier on an overnight flight

You can either make your own arrangements to travel to Budapest, or else take advantage of the air addon to the cruise fare.

You should leave the US today or earlier, so as to arrive in Budapest on Friday (or sooner) in time for the start of the Black Sea Discovery River Cruise.


Day 2 (Friday 12 October)  :  Arrive Budapest, stay overnight in the city

A section of the massive Buda Royal Castle, as seen from the Pest side of the Danube.

You should arrive into Budapest today (or earlier) and make your way to the hotel where we'll be spending the next two nights, the five star deluxe rated Sofitel, right in the very heart of the city, and on the banks of the Danube.

Budapest, once the co-capital of the Austria-Hungary empire, is a massive impressive city, with much of its central part now designated a World Heritage site.


Day 3 (Saturday 13 October) :  Budapest (hotel)

The famous chain bridge that united Buda and Pest, leading to a period of great prosperity.  More recently, it was a focus point of demonstrations for independence and so is a key element of Hungary's past and present.

After breakfast at the hotel, we have an included morning sightseeing tour.  This includes historic Buda Castle, where you have a splendid view of the twin cities of Buda and Pest spread over both banks of the river.

Our tour also features 500-year old Matthias Church, the distinctive Fisherman’s Bastion, the marvelous Royal Palace, Hero’s Square and much more.

The balance of the day is at your leisure. Perhaps explore the main square, ancient Buda, or stroll through the Statue Park.

Included Meals: Breakfast


Day 4 (Sunday 14 October) : Budapest touring, join the ship

Horse riding sills are demonstrated at our Gypsy village tour in the Hungarian Puszta

The Puszta is the region of Hungary most widely known throughout the world - this is the vast flat Great Hungarian Plain, stretching across to the east, where Hungarian cowboys still wear traditional garb and practice the skills of their Magyar ancestors.

We travel to this region today.  Upon arrival we will be met by horse-herds and greeted with warm hospitality, brandy and scones. You can take a ride in an Ox-cart, see a typical Gypsy village and marvel at the equestrian skills of the riders and drivers during an included horse show.

There will be a light lunch of Goulash, the national dish, before returning to Budapest where we'll board our ship.

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


Day 5 (Monday 15 October) :  Pecs and on to Croatia

The town hall and square in Pecs
Evidence of Vukovar's troubled past can still be seen

This morning the ship arrives in Mohacs, where we depart for an excursion to Pecs (about one hour's interesting drive by coach from Mohacs).

Founded more than 2000 years ago by the Romans, Pecs became an important early Christian bishopric and a Turkish cultural base during the many centuries of Ottoman rule.  The Necropolis was deemed a World Heritage site in 2000.

The area around Pecs is made up of rolling hills, similar to Tuscany, and the vine clad slopes and modest climate all combine to give the city a distinctly Mediterranean feel.

Upon arrival there is a walking tour during which we will see the Synagogue, visit the former Turkish Mosque and Christian Basilica, all accompanied by the traditions and tales of old Pecs brought alive by the local guides.

Mohacs is very close to the frontier of Hungary, and as the ship exits Hungary the river makes up the boundary between Serbia on one side and Croatia on the other. We are leaving the European Union and passing into two countries within the space of several miles.

Tonight the ship will arrive in Vukovar, Croatia.

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


Day 6 (Tuesday 16 October) :  Vukovar and Novi Sad, Croatia & Serbia

Jewish Synagogue in the heart of Novi Sad
Petrovaradin Fortress, guarding the Danube

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.

There will be a sightseeing tour by bus and foot during which we will see the Franciscan Monastery of St. John Capistrano, the Manorhouse Eltz and the St. Philip and St. Roch churches.

During lunch the ship will cruise on to Novi Sad in Serbia, where we will tour the Petrovaradin fortress.

Novi Sad is dominated by its huge fortress of Petrovaradin guarding the Danube.  Its commanding position faces the Fruska Gora Mountains on one side and Danube River below.

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.

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


Day 7 (Wednesday 17 October) :  Belgrade, Serbia

St Sava's Church
Kalemegdan Fortress

This morning we arrive in the Capital of Serbia, Belgrade.

The “white city – Bel Grad” dates back more than 2500 years. 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.

The home of the Patriarch and St.Sava’s, the largest Orthodox Church in the country will both been seen during the included city tour. We will see both the old and new towns, Tito’s memorial, the Town Hall, the Federal Parliament Building, Terazije Square, Republic Square and Mihajlova Street; as well as Belgrade Fort, "Varoš" Gate and a visit to the mighty Kalemegdan Fortress.

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


Day 8 (Thursday 18 October) : cruising the Iron Gates (Serbia and Romania)

Part of the narrow gorges that make up the 'Iron Gates' section of the Danube.
Golubac fortress on the banks of the Danube

Today is a full cruising day through one of Europe’s most impressive natural wonders, the Iron Gates.

Here the Danube passes through narrow gorges, as the river winds between the Carpathian Mountains on one side of the river and Balkan Mountains on the other.

 These natural borders today make up the frontier between Serbia and Romania.

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


Day 9 (Friday 19 October) : Vidin, Bulgaria

Belogradchik Castle
The rocks in the Belogradchik area

The Baba Vida fortress sits guard over the Danube at the Bulgarian frontier town of Vidin. The 14th century castle has thick walls and dark towers, which contrast with the natural surroundings of the park it sits within.

We will travel a short 30 mile distance by coach to see Belogradchik, a beautifully restored 6th century castle, located in a fairytale landscape of unusual rock formations.

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


Day 10 (Saturday 20 October) :  Bucharest, Romania

7000 houses, churches, monasteries, synagogues and a hospital had to be destroyed to build this monstrous building, the second largest in the world (only the Pentagon is larger).
A downtown view of Bucharest, with a mix of old buildings in the foreground and (harder to see) more modern communist era buildings in the distance.

Today we'll enjoy a full day excursion to Bucharest, the capital and largest city in Romania.

This 'Paris of the East' is famed for its Belle poque era buildings dating from the 19th century.  The French influence is paramount in many of the restored buildings of the former aristocracy and monarchy.

The post war communist era of grandiose architecture is brought home by the world’s second largest building (and largest palace), the Parliament Palace.

During our morning city tour we will see the Arch of Triumph, Soseaua Kiseleff, the Athenaeum and Library, as well as visiting the Parliament Palace.

Lunch is in a traditional local restaurant, and in the afternoon we have free time for shopping and exploration on our own.

If you prefer, you can visit the open air museum, a museum dedicated to the traditional architecture and buildings of rural Romania.

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


Day 11 (Sunday 21 October) : Rousse to Nessebar, Bulgaria

The Old City portion of historic Veliko Turnovo
Samovodska Charshia, or Trade Street.

This morning our cruise portion concludes when we disembark in Rousse.  We continue our tour by coach to the Black Sea (today) and on to Istanbul (tomorrow).

First stop this morning is the ancient capital of Bulgaria, Veliko Turnovo. Here we will tour Tsarevets Hill and the old citadel of the city.  Our tour will include the old fortress walls, Royal Palaces, the Patriarchal church and Baldwin’s Tower.

Or, if you'd rather shop (we know who you are!) you can instead visit Samovodska Charshia - a traditional market street now beautifully restored.

We enjoy a traditional Bulgarian lunch before continuing on to the Black Sea and the coastal town of Nessebar, where we stay at the Iberostar Sunny Beach Resort.

Included Meals: Breakfast, Lunch


Day 12 (Monday 22 October) :  Black Sea and on to Istanbul

A view towards the peninsular of Nessebar on the Black Sea
This lovely old ruin in Nessebar is now an Art Gallery.

Situated on a small peninsula Nessebar is one of the oldest towns in Europe, and was named a World Heritage site in 1983.

It still exudes the spirit of different ages and peoples - Thracians, Greeks, Romans, Slavs, Byzantines and Bulgarians.

Nessebar's greatest wealth is its many churches - the Old Bishop's Residence in an early Byzantine style (4th-5th century), the New Bishops Residence (St. Stephan’s), containing valuable 12th century murals, the Christ Pantocrator and Aliturgetos churches (13th - 14th century).

Nessebar's National Revival houses with stone foundations and broad wooden eaves, overhanging narrow cobbled lanes leading right into the sea, are also remarkably beautiful.  During this morning's walking tour we will visit St.Stephan’s, Pantocrator Church and Nessebar's oldest church the 5th-6th century Basilica on the Beach.

After free time for lunch, we continue on by coach to Istanbul, Turkey, arriving late this afternoon.  We'll spend the next three nights at the lovely Ritz Carlton.

Included Meals: Breakfast


Day 13 (Tuesday 23 October) :  Istanbul

A view out over Istanbul
The Hagia Sophia
The Blue Mosque
The Grand Bazaar.  Remember not to pay the initial asking price!

Situated at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, on the banks of the Bosphorus and the natural harbor of the Golden Horn, with the Black Sea to its north and the Sea of Marmara, the entrance to the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas, to the south, Istanbul is a city defined by water and trade routes.

This city is unique in the world for being the only city in two continents (Asia and Europe meet across the Bosphorus) and the only city that has been the capital of three different empires - the Roman Empire of 330 - 395, the Byzantime Empire (395 - 1453) and the Ottoman Empire (1453 - 1923).

Formerly known as Constantinople, the city's rich history goes back thousands of years. For centuries she was the world’s greatest city, filled with treasures from the many Empires and peoples who have ruled her.

This morning’s comprehensive city tour will show us the old city of Istanbul, and the many Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman monuments of her long past.  We will see the mighty defensive walls, Roman aqueduct and hippodrome; the Suleymaniye Mosque and Church of the Pantocrator; as well as the Galata Tower, then we will visit the Blue Mosque.

Later we have the choice to see more of Byzantine Constantinople and visit one of Christendom's greatest churches, St. Sophia (Hagia Sophia), or to explore more of Ottoman Istanbul and visit the Grand Bazaar.

Included Meals: Breakfast, Dinner


Day 14 (Wednesday 24 October) :  Istanbul

The Topkapi Palace is a sprawling collection of buildings adjacent to the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia.
One of the lush interiors of the Topkapi Palace.
Dusk falls on the skyline and domes of and around the Topkapi Palace.

Today, we visit the Ottoman Sultans Grand Palace of Topkapi, home to every single Sultan from the time of the conquest of Constantinople in the 15th century until the end of the 19th century.

The palace has many fine buildings, pavilions and courtyards.  During our tour we will see the private chambers of the Sultans, the world famous Harem, the Treasury (home to the Topkapi diamond), the holy relics room, the Hagia Eirene Church originally constructed by Constantine the Great in the 4th century, and reception rooms of the Imperial court.

The historic parts of Istanbul are on the World Heritage list.

Included Meals: Breakfast


Day 15 (Thursday 25 October) :  End of Tour

Say goodbye to Istanbul as our wonderful Black Sea Discovery Expedition comes to an end.

Our tour ends this morning, and you're free to either fly back home or extend your travels as you may wish.

Included Meals: Breakfast


Click here for the main details of this cruise and the booking form to confirm your interest.


Originally published 25 Jan 2007, last update 21 Jul 2020

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