Danube River Cruise

September 30-October 11, 2021 • 12 Days • Price TBA

Austria • Slovakia • Hungary • Croatia •  Serbia • Bulgaria • Romania

Join us for a unique Adventure that combines walking, river cruising, and Old World history and culture! This 7-country Danube River Cruise takes us through Eastern Europe, starting in Vienna, Austria and continuing on through Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Romania.

Transylvania Extension

October 11-14, 2021 • 4 Days • Price TBA

Extend your tour to take in the bucolic vistas of Transylvania.

Now accepting Early Bird deposits on this 2021 tour! An Early Bird is a $50 deposit that holds your spot during the planning stages of a trip, when we don’t have a set itinerary or dates. Early Birds are always refundable!

The 7-country Danube River Cruise takes us from Vienna, Austria, capital of the most durable monarchy of Europe and historic gateway to Eastern Europe, and continues through Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Romania.  Our cruise aboard a small ship is integrated with a program of walks and sightseeing that includes memorable moments in the historic cities throughout these 7 countries.

Transylvania Extension

Travelers on the main Danube River Cruise itinerary see Romania during a day in Bucharest. But traversing the Carpathian Mountains into Transylvania takes us into a completely different, and more culturally and scenically vivid region of Romania.  Since you are already traveling all the way to Romania, we highly recommend that you join us for the optional Transylvania Extension!  When reading the daily itinerary, be advised that Day 1 of the extension overlaps with Day 12 of the main tour.

This is a draft itinerary. Revisions will be made, and an updated itinerary with dates and pricing will be made available!

Danube River Cruise

Including:

  • All land travel as outlined
  • Arrival group transfers on first day
  • Port fees and cruise fuel surcharges (subject to change)
  • Accommodations for 10 nights aboard our ship
  • Accommodations for 1 night in Bucharest at a first-class hotel (following river cruise)
  • 30 meals: All breakfasts, 8 lunches and 11 dinners as denoted (BLD)
  • 2 glasses of wine/beer/soft drink at both lunch and dinner each day during the cruise, and a daily bottle of water per person
  • 7 walk routes, with commentary by local guides
  • Fees for those collecting IVV walking credit (if IVV approved)
  • Onboard lectures and folklore performances/music concerts
  • Live musicians each evening aboard ship
  • Two WAI tour leaders throughout
  • Local guide service at all ports of call
  • Cultural and historical expertise and on-board lectures by our cruise directors
  • Tips to local guides/coach drivers (tips for on-ship personnel not included)
  • Single accommodations are available for a supplement. Contact us for more details. We also provide a roommate matching service for those interested.

Activities/Visits to:

  • Guided city tours by coach of Vienna and Budapest
  • Guided city walks in Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest, Osijek, Novi Sad, Belgrade, Vidin, and Bucharest
  • Petrovaradin Fortress – Serbia
  • Serbian folkdance performance – Serbia
  • Baba Vida Fortress – Bulgaria
  • Belogradchik Fortress and Belogradchik Rocks Natural Landmark – Bulgaria
  • More fun and educational activities than we can list!

Optional Excursions:

  • Schönbrunn Palace – Austria (Day 1)
  • Vienna-area IVV walk – Austria (Day 1)
  • Classical Vienna Concert – Austria (Day 2)
  • Hungarian State Folk Ensemble – Hungary (Day 4)
  • Krušedol Monastery and Sremski Karlovci wine tasting – Serbia (Day 7)
  • Home-hosted Serbian farm visit – Serbia (Day 8)
  • Golubac Fortress & Lepenski Vir – Serbia (Day 9)

Transylvania Extension

Including:

  • All land travel as outlined
  • Superior tourist-class or better hotel accommodations
  • 4 meals: All breakfasts and 1 folklore dinner as denoted (BD)
  • 2 walk routes, with commentary by local guides
  • Fees for those collecting IVV walking credit (if IVV approved)
  • Two WAI tour leaders throughout
  • Cultural and historical expertise of local guide throughout
  • All tipping for guides, coach drivers and group meals
  • A limited number of single rooms are available for a supplement. We also provide a roommate matching service for those interested.

Activities/Visits to:

  • Braşov City walking tour – Braşov
  • Special dinner: Carpati Stag Folklore – Braşov
  • Dracula Castle – Bran
  • Peleș Castle – Sinaia
  • More fun and educational activities than we can list!

“SHIP—staff, services, food, cleanliness was all top Flight…Walking Adventures patrons are delightful & interesting people…Tim & Jeannette—thank you. Your hard work is evident in all you do!”

-Ann-Michele G; Owings Mills, MD


“The ship was fantastic. All the staff was so friendly…Guides in all walks were amazing! The walks seemed to hit most of the highlights & the guides were incredibly informative…Enjoy being able to walk while sightseeing…The guides were wonderful! I loved seeing the dances from each country, especially the Hungarian Folklore Performance. The night cruise through Budapest was a perfect ending to our stay there.”

-Christy P; The Woodlands, TX


“The local guides were all excellent in my opinion…I plan (definitely) to travel again with WAI…Tim & Jeannette did a marvelous job ‘herding us cats’ and taking care of numerous details—much appreciated!!! You guys are really professional and fun.”

-Bob N; Medford, OR


“I really loved the Transylvanian Alp walk. Good guides with English skills and an open and honest attitude…We like where you go, the balance of organized time & free time, and the casual, informal attitude.”

-Margie H; Bellingham, WA


“After 28 tours with you—that should tell you something! Great trip, great tour, Tim & Jeannette! You were great and we thank you for your life-saving assistance. Many beautiful sights and memories to take home with us.”

-Shari S; Cheney, WA


“Ship exceptionally good value, outstanding staff, very clean, good food!…Debbi Custer was very helpful in arranging airport transfer & extra hotel days…Tim & Jeannette extremely thoughtful, thorough, detail oriented & concerned with providing a good experience…Impressed with amount of planning & coordination done by Tim & Jeannette. Special events a nice surprise—wine tasting/dinner/dancing in Braşov and lunch at farm in Serbia especially nice.”

-Eric G; Owings Mills, MD


“I really appreciated the location of the Bucharest hotel. From there, we spent several extra days watching a concert at the Athenian, taking a tour through the Houses of Parliament, and several walking tours…The ship’s crew was extremely attentive and friendly…I love the guided walks with local guides that live and breathe the history, culture, and traditions of the areas you’re visiting.”

-Martin M; The Woodlands, TX


“Very informative guides. Great talks. I was impressed at the knowledge the guides had and how they were able to teach us about their countries…Most important to me is the information that we receive from the talks about the countries that we are in. The tour highlights the important aspects that you would miss doing the trip on your own.”

-Barb G; ON, Canada


“Always classy trips with WAI.”

-Maureen P; Long Branch, NJ


“Quality of locations, walks, guides and fellow travelers – blend of group activities and flexibility for individuals are characteristics that prompt me to come back…Scott did an awesome job!! Great personality and planning skills, plus able to juggle multiple challenges at the same time.”

-Steve B; Springfield, VA


“Interesting places to walk & WAI staff is great!..Magical cruise on the Danube in Budapest at night!! I shall never forget the sight. My serendipity was the visit to the school house & the witty curator, school master.”

-Thelma Y; Spokane, WA


“Great guides, interesting itineraries, nice combo of walks and sightseeing and compatible people to travel with, is what prompts us to return…Val Gardena is absolutely beautiful! Great walks in Bratislava & Budapest—both are beautiful cities. Being on the Danube was very enjoyable. We learned a lot about Eastern Europe which has always been a mysterious place to me. Peles Castle was marvelous!”

-John & Jane M; Matthews, NC


“I feel Scott is a person I would have guide me anywhere—he’s a natural. Great job!..

Thank you for giving us the experience of each of these towns, history and special geographical differences. I would not change any of them!”

-Chris Z & Holly P; San Jose, CA

Adventure Pace

Tour Pace: 1 2 3 4 5
Walk Challenge: 1 2 3 4 5

Important Info

Group Size

25-30 travelers

Lodgings

Accommodations aboard our small ship on the Danube River Cruise and in superior tourist class hotels for the Transylvania Extension

Meals

Danube River Cruise includes 30 meals; Transylvania Extension includes 4 meals

Airfare

Not included. The official start point for this adventure is Vienna, Austria (airport code VIE).  The finish point for the main tour as well as the Transylvania extension is Bucharest, Romania (airport code OTP).

Transportation

In addition to our ship, we will use motorcoaches with a seating capacity of 40+ seats.

Traveler Age

Our travelers usually range from 50–75 years of age. All ages welcome!

Itinerary

This is a draft itinerary. Revisions will be made, and an updated itinerary with dates and pricing will be made available!

Click on each day to reveal more details. (BLD) refers to meals included – Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.

Danube River Cruise

Day 1: Arrive Vienna, Austria (D)

Travelers arrive into Vienna throughout the day and will be met at the airport by a WAI representative who will provide transfer to our ship. Our first group activity is an Orientation Dinner this evening aboard our ship where we will greet old friends and new, and meet the captain and crew of the ship that will be our floating hotel as we cruise the Danube River together.

Optional morning excursion – Schönbrunn Palace: Travelers who arrive a day early are invited to join us for a guided tour of Vienna’s #1 attraction on day 1 of our tour. The expansive gardens and royal rooms of the palace introduce us to the life and times of Queen Maria Theresa, beloved 18th century Hapsburg monarch and matriarch. Price TBA

Optional afternoon excursion – Vienna-area IVV walk: Travelers who arrive a day early, are invited to join us for a local club walk just outside Vienna. After stowing our luggage aboard ship, we’ll catch taxis for the short ride (20 minutes) to the small town of Langenzersdorf. This will be our only club walk in Austria. Price TBA

Day 2: Port of call: Vienna, Austria (BD)

Vienna is the historic capital of the Hapsburg Dynasty, the most powerful and enduring kingdom in European history. The morning coach/walking tour highlights renowned architectural gems like the State Opera, the Parliament, the Burgtheater, and St. Stephan’s Cathedral, as well as the bustling pedestrian zone. Return to the ship by bus after the morning tour and enjoy lunch aboard with free time to follow in the afternoon.  Or follow our recommendation and stay in town for lunch on your own and spend more time exploring the multitude of world class sites in Vienna. Options include tours of the Vienna Opera House or the Hofburg Palace, a visit to the Kunsthistorisches Museum (Vienna’s most famous art museum), sampling the famous Viennese coffee culture at a local coffee house, or simply strolling the picturesque pedestrian lanes to people watch and gawk at the phenomenal architecture. The afternoon return to the ship is on your own using public transport. Your WAI guides will brief you on the easiest way to use Vienna’s excellent public transport system. Dinner aboard ship is followed by an optional evening classical concert, the preferred way to spend the night in Vienna.

Optional evening excursion – Classical Vienna Concert: Vienna has earned the title of “Music Capital of the World” and our concert here is performed in one of the city’s opulent historical venues. The program lasts about 90 minutes and consists of the most known arias of Mozart and Johann Strauss. It will take place either at Hofburg Palace, Konzerthaus, or Musikverein. Price TBA

Day 3: Port of call: Bratislava, Slovakia (BLD)

Bratislava, Slovakia Walk – 4 km, rated 1A

We wake up this morning in charming Bratislava, one of the Danube’s best kept secrets. Following breakfast, a guided walking tour takes us past highlights like St. Martin’s Cathedral, the Castle and Primate’s Palace, Michael’s Gate, Michael’s Tower, Main Square, Old Town Hall, and Slovak National Theatre. Time to relax and enjoy lunch back aboard ship is followed by the walk of the day, taking us further afield but ending at the city center, near our ship’s docking point.  After our walk, enjoy the delights of Bratislava during free time on your own.  A full day of exploring is capped by a lovely dinner aboard ship and a relaxing evening with entertainment in the lounge before a late-night sailing down the Danube.

Day 4: Port of call: Budapest, Hungary (BLD)

We glide through picturesque Hungarian countryside this morning, relaxing while taking in an educational lecture by our cruise director. As our ship seeks out our docking site, we enjoy lunch while we sail through dramatic cityscapes of Budapest, Fisherman’s Bastion and Buda Castle in Buda to the west and the Hungarian Parliament Building to the east in Pest. After lunch, a coach tour winds through this historic “Queen of the Danube” connecting us with highlights such as the Parliament Building, St. Stefan Church, the Opera, Heroes Square, and the Millennium Monument.

Optional evening excursion – Hungarian State Folk Ensemble: See some of Hungary’s best folklore dancers and musicians in an elegant Old World setting! The Ensemble consists of 30 dancers, 14 members of the Gypsy Orchestra, and 5 members of the Hungarian Folk Orchestra. The return ride to the ship is augmented by a drive past some of the city’s beautifully-lit boulevards and monuments. Price TBA

Day 5: Activities from Budapest, Hungary (BLD)

Budapest, Hungary Walk – 10 km, rated 1A

This morning’s guided walk features classic Budapest panoramas along both banks of the Danube. After lunch aboard ship, the afternoon is free to explore Budapest, easily one of the most interesting and visually impressive towns along the Danube. Late this afternoon, a concert by a local Gypsy duo provides a high energy segue to dinner onboard. Join us on the Sun Deck when the ship weighs anchor tonight for an unforgettable sailing between the illuminated bridges and monuments of Budapest!

Day 6: Port of call: Osijek, Croatia (BLD)

Osijek, Croatia Walk – 5 km, rated 1A

A stop in Croatia offers a walk to the oldest and best-preserved ensemble of Baroque buildings in Croatia. The Tvrđa (Citadel) forms the core of the Old Town and houses the Church of the Holy Cross, Franciscan Monastery, Homeland War Monument, Jesuit Monastery, and several other architectural gems. Before returning to the ship for dinner, we take in a bit of Croatian folklore music, featuring the tamburica, a Croatian banjo, and perhaps time to window shop or people watch.

Day 7: Port of call: Novi Sad, Serbia (BLD)

Novi Sad, Serbia Walk – 6 km, rated 2B

Pedestrian-friendly Novi Sad is the venue for our morning walk in Serbia. The route passes the dramatic, 17th century Petrovaradin Fortress, strategic post during ongoing wars between Serbs, Austrians, and invading Turks. Later, the route winds between traditional Old World architecture and past inviting sidewalk cafes in the appealing historic district. Late this evening, we set sail again along the Danube towards Belgrade.

Optional afternoon excursion – Krušedol Monastery and Sremski Karlovci wine tasting: An optional afternoon excursion into the bucolic Serbian countryside takes us to Krušedol Monastery, a Serbian Orthodox church noted for its 15th century frescos. For many, the highlight of the trip is the surprising story of a local legend – a beekeeper turned vintner – in the village of Sremski Karlovci (including wine tasting). Price TBA

Day 8: Port of call: Belgrade, Serbia (BLD)

Belgrade, Serbia Walk – 8 km, rated 1A

We start our day with an enlightening walk through the vibrant city of Belgrade, including sights such as Belgrade Fortress and Kalemegdan Park, the Parliament Building, and Princess Ljubica’s Manor. It’s difficult to believe this bustling, upbeat city was the target of NATO bombing raids 20 years ago. The afternoon is free to explore Belgrade on your own with lunch onboard, or join us for the optional visit to Jarak (see below). After dinner aboard ship, a professional dance troupe from Belgrade provides a high energy performance of Serbian folk music and dance.

Optional afternoon excursion – Home-hosted Serbian farm visit: This afternoon, we drive through pastoral Serbian countryside to the village of Jarak, where a local family provides a delicious homemade lunch, accompanied by a small band of local musicians. This fun, food-filled experience has been a fan favorite of previous groups. Price TBA

Day 9: Sailing – Iron Gates (BLD)

With no ports of call today, there is plenty of time to relax, or consider joining in a free-style history/cultural discussion with our cruise directors as we cruise the “Blue Danube”. Those participating in this morning’s optional excursion (see below) rejoin us for lunch before the afternoon cruise transits the highest natural gorge on the Danube. Over 100 km long, “The Iron Gates” posed a major navigational obstacle until the Djerdap Hydroelectric and Navigation System was completed in 1972.

Optional morning excursion – Golubac Fortress & Lepenski Vir: Golubac Fortress was a fortified town on the south side of the Danube established in the 14th century by the medieval Serbian state. During its tumultuous life, it has changed hands repeatedly, particularly between the Kingdom of Hungary and the Ottoman Empire, but it carries the distinction of successfully repelling well over 100 attacks. A scenic drive above the Danube connects us with Lepenski Vir, a significant archeological site claiming Europe’s earliest permanent human settlement. Discovered only in 1960, its museum is now housed in an impressive glass and steel structure and is lauded for the exceptional quality of the artifacts and their level of preservation. Price TBA

Day 10: Port of call: Vidin, Bulgaria (BLD)

Belogradchik Rocks/Vidin, Bulgaria Walk – 5 km, rated 2B

We wake up this morning in Bulgaria! An after-breakfast walking tour explores the small, riverside Bulgarian community of Vidin, including the humble 13th Baba Vida fortress. From Vidin, we drive by coach to Belogradchik Rocks, a group of bizarre formations hailed as one of Bulgaria’s natural wonders. Our afternoon walk here explores some of these formations and the Belogradchik Fortress strategically embedded amongst the rocks. We return to Vidin for our final dinner onboard the ship and begin our last stretch of sailing the Danube.

Day 11: Disembarkation – Bucharest, Romania (BD)

Bucharest, Romania Walk – 8 km, rated 1A

Following a drive through bucolic Romanian landscapes, we arrive in the capital city of Bucharest. This afternoon’s walk connects many of the highlights of Bucharest, including the Senate, where hated dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu made his famous last speech, the lovely 19th century Romanian Athenaeum music hall, the National Opera, and the massive Ceauşescu-commissioned structure known as the Palace of the Parliament. Following the walk and time to relax at our centrally located hotel, we enjoy a farewell dinner together in a typical Romanian beer hall.

Day 12: Depart Bucharest, Romania (B)

We reluctantly say fond farewells to walking friends, this morning, and return home enriched by these relationships and renewed in our appreciation of the history, culture, and scenery of the Danube countries.

Transylvania Extension

Day 1: Bucharest – Brașov, Romania (B)

Brașov, Romania Walk – 5 km, rated 1A

Following breakfast at our hotel, we leave Bucharest by coach for medieval Braşov for a two-night stay. A walk through this old Germanic town past medieval Saxon walls and bastions takes us into the nostalgic First Romanian School, past the Black Cathedral, and down winding cobblestone lanes near our hotel. The evening is free to explore the charms of the lovely, cobbled old town replete with colorful baroque buildings and a lively café scene.

Day 2: Activities from Brașov (BD)

Transylvanian Alps Walk – 6 km, rated 2B

Today’s walk offers eye-popping panoramas of the Transylvanian Alps and traditional Romanian farms with picturesque haystacks plopped on sloping hillsides like giant mushrooms. After lunch in the village of Bran, we visit the “Dracula Castle”, a 14th century link to the story of Count Vlad, “the Impaler,” inspiration for the fictional Count Dracula. Later tonight back in Braşov, we enjoy a memorable dinner accompanied by folk music and dance.

Day 3: Brașov – Bucharest, Romania (B)

A morning drive takes us back across the Carpathian Mountains to the Carpathian Mountain resort town of Sinaia, and a tour of 19th century Peleș Castle, a masterpiece of German neo-Renaissance architecture and residence of the last Romanian monarch.  Our afternoon arrival back in Bucharest, leaves the late afternoon and evening free for exploring and preparing for tomorrow’s return to a North American reality.

Day 4: Depart Bucharest, Romania (B)

We bid adieu to walking pals and Romania, returning across The Pond with a new understanding of this easternmost Danube country, and its neighboring nations so impacted by their proximity to the Danube River.

More Details

Click on each heading for more details.

How do I lock in my place on this Adventure?

Call or mail in your Early Bird ($50) to save your spot! We’ll take approximately 25-30 travelers on this tour, accompanied by 1-2 Walking Adventures Guides, assisted by our excellent local guides.

What’s an Early Bird? Early Bird deposits are refundable $50 deposits which serve to hold your spot on a tour until dates and pricing have been confirmed. Once all details on a tour have been finalized, travelers can then register with an additional deposit.

Traveler Rewards Program

Returning travelers receive our Alumni Traveler Discount of 5-10% off the main tour price. Terms, exclusions and conditions apply. See the Traveler Rewards page for more details or contact us with any questions at 800.779.0353 or [email protected].

Note: The Alumni Traveler Discount applies only to the main tour price. The Transylvania Extension is not eligible for this discount.

Walks in 7 Countries

We are excited to present 9 walks on the full tour (7 walks on the Danube River Cruise and 2 walks on the Transylvania Extension), with commentary by local guides. In addition, we are offering a local walking club’s route as an optional activity on Day 1 in Langenzersdorf, Austria.

For those who maintain IVV stamp books, we will be requesting sanctions for at least one walk in each of 6 countries, with an option for a 7th stamp in Austria.

Walk Ratings

We generally walk at a pace of 2 to 3 miles per hour. In most cases, we are not “strolling.” We are walking at a relaxed but steady pace. Your experience will be significantly affected by your level of physical fitness. Because these are guided group walks, the success of the walks is predicated upon walkers having this minimum level of fitness in order to ensure that we are walking at a somewhat similar pace. If not walking regularly at home, we strongly recommend that you make a priority of “training” beforehand in order to both enjoy the trip and avoid medical issues due to overexertion. If you have questions about your ability to participate, please talk with our office at 1.800.779.0353.

We have adopted a walk difficulty rating system which contains a numeric indicator for trail incline and an alpha indicator for trail terrain. The explanation for this system is presented below:

INCLINE

1. Very small hills or very little stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: up to 200 feet.
2. Some moderate hills and stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 200-1000 feet.
3. Some significant hill or stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 1000-2000 feet.
4. Lots of significant hills or stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 2000-3500 feet.
5. Many steep hills. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: more than 3500 feet.

TERRAIN

A. Almost entirely on pavement.
B. A significant part of the route is on well-groomed trails with very few obstacles.
C. A significant part of the route is on somewhat difficult terrain (rocky / rooted paths or soft sand).
D. A significant part of the route is on very difficult terrain.
E. The majority of the route is on very difficult terrain.

How is airfare arranged?

The official start point for this adventure is Vienna, Austria (airport code VIE).  The finish point for the main tour as well as the Transylvania extension is Bucharest, Romania (airport code OTP). More details about flight arrangements and travel agent contact information will be provided after this itinerary has been finalized.

Tour Cancellations

Walking Adventures International reserves the right to cancel any tour departure with fewer than 15 participants, in which case registered participants will receive a 100% refund of payments received. This refund policy contains one exclusion related to the COVID-19 outbreak. Many suppliers require non-refundable deposits as a condition of booking services. Unforeseen circumstances linked to the virus can force us to cancel a tour. Due to these supplier’s non-refundable policies, WAI intends to retrieve as much of these deposits as possible, but cannot guarantee a 100% refund. In cases where full refunds cannot be obtained for a cancelled tour, we will do our best to transfer unrefunded money as traveler credits to be applied to a future tour to that destination.

View our full Coronavirus FAQ for more details.

What happens next?

We are currently developing the itinerary for this Adventure. Once the itinerary is released, we will accept registration deposits to save space.

If you have Early Birded with a refundable $50 deposit, your spot on the tour will be held for 2 weeks after the itinerary is published while you make a decision on whether or not you’d like to register with an additional fee. If you decide not to join us for this tour, your Early Bird can be refunded or transferred to another tour.

Take a few minutes to peruse the enclosed itinerary.  In the end, we think you will agree that the combination of cruising and walking is the best way to experience this part of our world. Give us a call and talk to one of our Adventure Consultants about how to join us for this unforgettable Walking Adventure program as we cruise the Danube together!