Next week, I am headed to Budapest to sail with Avalon Waterways on the Danube. I first sailed with Avalon Waterways in 2021, when I was invited to sail the Rhone River on an Active & Discovery itinerary. These “A + D” itineraries have quickly become my favorite way to travel because of the type of travelers to whom they cater and the fast-paced style of travel that they offer.
The name itself attracts a certain type of traveler looking for active and authentic experiences in a destination. When I sailed the Rhone with Avalon, I immediately noticed that my fellow passengers had a real “can do” attitude and came ready to get active (and even get a little dirt on our hands). And at night, there were more of us dancing in the lounge than I had seen on any previous voyage. It was clear that everyone on board was there to do one thing: have fun.
While there was certainly time to relax and enjoy sightseeing for some, I chose to take a more aggressive approach, making sure that I could do and see everything that I wanted while I was in France. Instead of sitting out on deck reading a book, I was attending pastry making classes in the lounge or fitness classes on deck. Usually when I cruise, I opt to explore on my own but the choice of unique excursions offered on the Active & Discovery itinerary provided the chance to see and do things that I hadn’t done before – like a visit to an essential oil factory, an olive oil tasting (yum!) and even a wine tasting in a cave (told you we weren’t afraid to get dirty).
I can’t wait to chronicle my Active & Discovery experience on the Danube for you all over the upcoming weeks, but for now let’s look at a few of the A + D itineraries Avalon has to offer.
Active & Discovery on the Danube – 8-days from Budapest to Vilshofen
Countries visited: Hungary, Austria, Germany
Stops in: Budapest, Visegrad, Vienna, Krems, Grein, Engelhartzell, Vilshofen
This is the itinerary that I will be sailing next week, I took a peek at the excursions that Avalon offers and was intrigued by a medieval knights tournament in Visegrad, an early risers tour in Vienna, and a visit to a Trappist monastery (with a beer tasting, of course). This itinerary provides many alternate ports of call from the other Danube itineraries I have sailed, making it perfect for someone who is looking to explore the region for a second (or third) time.
Active & Discovery on the Lower Danube – 9-days from Bucharest to Belgrade
Countries visited: Serbia, Croatia, Bulgaria, Romania
Stops in: Belgrade, Novi Sad, Belgrade, Golubac, Vidin, Nikopol, Oltenita, Bucharest
Avalon also offers an A + D itinerary on the Lower Danube. These departures present guests with opportunities to visit nature reserves and waterfalls, learn about Bulgarian cuisine and wines, venture to archaeological sites, and more. On board, passengers will attend onboard lectures to learn more about the history, destinations and culture of the Balkan states.
Active & Discovery on the Rhine – 8-days from Basel to Amsterdam
Countries visited: Switzerland, Germany, France, Netherlands
Stops in: Basel, Breisach, Strasbourg, Mainz, Heidelberg, Koblenz, Dusseldorf, Amsterdam
With multiple bike tours, a beer tour, painting class, kayak tour, and much more (including a “Volcano Encounter” in Mendig), guests have ample choice of things to do and see along the Rhine. These itineraries also include classic tours in the ports of call, making them great for families and groups with multiple interests.
Active & Discovery in Holland & Belgium – 8-days roundtrip Amsterdam
Countries visited: Netherlands, Belgium
Stops in: Amsterdam, Middelburg, Ghent, Antwerp, Rotterdam
Guests will have the chance to visit an oyster farm, create street art on Graffiti Street in Ghent, attend chocolate making and workshops, and hike and bike through the Netherlands and Belgium. This itinerary provides more exploration of Belgium than “traditional” Rhine itineraries, with ample time to explore Ghent, Brussels and Antwerp.
Active & Discovery on the Rhone – 8-days from Lyon to Arles
Countries visited: France
Stops in: Lyon, Tain l’Hermitage, Tournon, Viviers, Avignon, Arles, Port-Saint-Louis
This is the first Active & Discovery sailing I had the pleasure of taking. As mentioned earlier, the choice of excursions on this itinerary is superb – with a wine tasting in a cave being the absolute highlight for me. Though I’m not an artist by any stretch of the imagination, I also partook in a painting workshop in Arles. My painting was awful, truly, but it was really fun to see the work of all the friends I had made over the week. I didn’t make it to the oyster tasting excursion, but I am told that is not to be missed. Word on the street is that the oysters were delicious but there was an even more delicious oyster farmer.
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