Discover the treasures of the Balkans on this adventure that starts in Budapest, the lively city on the Danube. Guided sightseeing introduces you to the highlights, including the Royal Castle, Parliament, and Fishermen’s Bastion. Next, head south through ever-changing landscapes to Novi Sad, famous for its citadel, then Serbia’s capital of Belgrade and the breathtaking gorges leading into Bulgaria. Explore Sofia with its ornate orthodox churches; visit Rila Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage Site; and explore Plovdiv’s charming Old Town and Roman Amphitheater. Continue to medieval Veliko Târnovo and Arbanassi before arriving in beautiful Bucharest, Romania, for two overnights. On to the picturesque mountains, fortified villages, and castles of Transylvania. Visit Sinaia Monastery and Bran Castle, the medieval dwelling of legendary Count Dracula. Enjoy additional stops in enchanting Sighisoara and Cluj-Napoca, and return to Budapest for the final overnight on this outstanding holiday.
Inside visits and special features are shown in UPPERCASE in the tour description, including admission charges where applicable.
Check into your hotel. The rest of the day is free to visit the Hungarian capital. In the early evening, meet your Tour Director and fellow travellers.
Included sightseeing with a Local Guide features Buda Castle, which dominates the twin cities of Buda and Pest, separated by the broad ribbon of the Danube. Also see Heroes’ Square, which typifies the modern capital, as well as the old inns and along the riverbank, the Royal Castle, Parliament, Margaret Island, Fishermen’s Bastion, and Matthias Coronation Church. (B)
Travel southwards first to the border town of Szeged and into the province of Vojvodina in Serbia. Stop in Novi Sad, capital of the province, situated on the Danube River and famous for its Petrovaradin Citadel, the fortress known in the west as the “Gibraltar of the Danube.” Continue to Belgrade, capital of Serbia. This evening, taste the local specialties at a typical restaurant. (B,D)
Cross the border into Bulgaria. Arrive in Sofia, its capital, for a city tour with a Local Guide, that includes the Parliament building, Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, BOJANA CHURCH, a medieval Bulgarian orthodox church listed as a UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE, the National Theatre, and St. Sofia Church. (B,D)
This morning, drive to Rila to visit its MONASTERY with its colourful frescoes, located inside a nature park. It has a chequered history that goes way back to Ivan Rilski, a hermit who founded it in 927. During the long Turkish rule over the country, the monastery became a beacon of Bulgarian culture. Return to Sofia. Tonight, maybe join an optional folklore dinner. (B)
Head eastwards to Plovdiv, Bulgaria’s second-largest city, located along the banks of the Maritsa River. Stop here to visit the charming Old Town and the ROMAN AMPHITHEATRE. Journey northwards through fine scenery over the Stara Planina Mountains to Veliko Tarnovo. (B,D)
Today, time to see some of the highlights of Veliko Tarnovo, located on the Yantra River. During the Middle Ages, it was Bulgaria’s capital and it still retains some of its most attractive medieval features. Visit nearby Arbanassi, world famous for its type of house, which is a cross between a dwelling and a fortress. The village is known as an architectural and historic reserve and was at one time the summer residence of Bulgarian kings. One of the highlights of the visit is the CHURCH OF THE NATIVITY, built in 1637. Carry on north to Rousse and cross the Danube to reach Bucharest. (B,D)
Flower-festooned parks, gardens, and wide boulevards shaded by century-old trees contribute to Bucharest’s beauty. The highlight of your sightseeing tour is a visit to the open-air VILLAGE MUSEUM, a unique collection of traditional farmhouses, cottages, wind and watermills, and artisans’ workshops from all parts of the country. The Local Guide will show you other places of interest, including the Government Victoria Palace, the Royal Palace, and the Savings Palace. There is also an afternoon optional visit to the massive Romanian Parliament, known as the “House of the People.” (B)
Travel to Sinaia in the Prahova Valley. This is a lovely ski resort, almost 1,000 metres (3,300 feet) above sea level. While in Sinaia, there will be time to visit the SINAIA MONASTERY and PELES CASTLE, considered among the most romantic in the world. Only a few more kilometres and you reach Brasov, a lovely medieval town famous for its town square filled with baroque architecture and outdoor cafes. This evening, enjoy an optional folklore dinner in a typical Transylvanian restaurant. (B)
This morning, leave for Bran and visit its legendary CASTLE, built in 1377 and inhabited by Vlad the Impaler-better known as Dracula. In the afternoon, a walking orientation of the Old Town of Brasov includes a visit to the BLACK CHURCH and leisure time. (B)
Stop in Sighisoara, a medieval town with 11 towers within the city walls that surrounds cobblestone streets, ancient houses, and churches-it is one of Romania’s prettiest towns. Legend has it that it is also the birthplace of the notorious Vlad (Dracula). Continue to Cluj-Napoca, the film capital of Romania. (B,D)
Cross the border at Oradea into Hungary and return to Budapest. (B)
Your holiday ends with breakfast this morning. (B)