The Danube is one of the most popular waterways in the world when it comes to river cruising. Much has been written about journeys that take travelers from the Hungarian capital of Budapest to Nuremberg and points beyond, but the eastern Danube – or Lower Danube – is often overlooked.
From April until October of 2014, Avalon Waterways operates a 10-night Balkan Discovery voyage that highlights some of the most important sights and ports of calls along the Lower Danube. Sailing aboard the Avalon Luminary and Avalon Illumination (constructed in 2010 and coming in 2014, respectively), these voyages operate from Budapest, Hungary to Bucharest, Romania or reverse.
Along the way, Avalon Luminary and Avalon Illumination will take guests to historic ports of call like Belgrade, Serbia, where a guided excursion visits the mighty Kalemegdan Fortress that dates back to the year 535.
Avalon’s Balkan Discovery voyage also visits one of the Lower Danube’s most striking attractions: the Iron Gates gorge. Located between the boundary of Serbia and Romania, the Iron Gates technically run for nearly 83 miles along the length of the Danube, but are perhaps best known for the spot where they narrow, creating a narrow stretch of water bordered by massive land formations that rise more than 1,000 feet in height.
The full itinerary:
|Day 1||Budapest||Arrival in Hungary|
|Day 2||Budapest||Guided sightseeing; visit Fisherman's Bastion|
|Day 3||Budapest||Embarkation; onboard welcome reception|
|Day 4||Mohacs||Excursion to Pecs; visit the underground tombs; organ concert.|
|Day 5||Belgrade||Onboard lecture; guided sightseeing in Belgrade; visit Kalemegdan Fortress|
|Day 6||Iron Gates||Visit Lepenski Vir archaeological site; cruise through the dramatic Iron Gates gorge.|
|Day 7||Vidin-Belogradchik||Guided sightseeing to Vidin's fortress; excursion to Belogradchik to see the rock formations.|
|Day 8||Svistov||Excursion to Veliko Tarnovo & Arbanassi-Rousse; guided sightseeing, visit the Patriarch's Church in Veliko Tarnovo and the Ethnographical Museum and Church of the Nativity in Arbanassi; or guided sightseeing of Rousse.|
|Day 9||Oltenita - Bucharest||Disembarkation in Oltenita; guided sightseeing in Bucharest; see the Parliament Building and visit the National Art Museum.|
|Day 10||Bucharest||Your vacation ends this morning; onward journey home.|
Most of these Balkan Discovery departure dates are operated aboard the popular Avalon Luminary, while two dates – July 2 and September 19 – are operated aboard the brand-new Avalon Illumination, which will enter service in the spring of 2014. A sister-ship to this year’s Avalon Expression, Avalon Illumination is the next evolution in Avalon’s river cruising product along the waterways of Europe, with more Wall-to-Wall balcony staterooms than her predecessors.
On the other hand, you can’t go wrong aboard the Avalon Luminary. Sister-ship to Avalon Affinity and Avalon Felicity, this 361-foot long vessel has earned a well-deserved reputation as an intimate and spacious river cruise vessel to discover the striking Lower Danube aboard.
More information on Avalon Waterways and its fleet can be found by viewing our complete Avalon Waterways overview here on River Cruise Advisor.