In the spirit of bringing our readers superb, specially-designed travel experiences led by genuine experts with a deep knowledge of the destinations, it’s my pleasure to invite readers to join Traveller on a one-off luxury river cruise through Central Europe, including the Balkans.
Our 15-day, Budapest-to-Budapest "Voyage Through the Balkans" tour, carefully created by Traveller’s editors in partnership with APT, features Clare Birgin, our main special guest guide, a distinguished former ambassador of Australia to Budapest and Belgrade.
In the erudite company of Clare, who has direct, first-hand knowledge of the places this cruise encompasses, you’ll enjoy a host of exclusive experiences, including the chance to view a private royal art collection in Vienna’s City Palace and a visit to Croatia’s Brzica Winery in the Erdut "Valley of the Wines", one of the world’s most ancient wine-growing regions.
Clare, who will deliver talks and offer her invaluable insights on the tour, will be joined by a second guest guide, travel writer Sue Williams, a regular Traveller contributor, who will share her own adventures on the road as a travel writer. This will be Sue’s second Traveller Tour and she will be researching stories from the journey for the pages of this liftout.
You will also meet two other special guest guests: winemaker Ivo Brzica, of Croatia’s Brzica Winery, and Cristian Lupsa, a leading Bucharest-based editor and journalist, who will share his insights into Romanian society and politics. Traveller has again proudly partnered with APT, one of the world’s leading and most trusted cruise operators, for this Traveller Tour, which offers readers the chance to indulge in the wonders of some lesser-explored parts of the Continent.
WHAT YOU'LL SEE AND DO
Day 1 July 20
Budapest, Embark Ship
On arrival in Budapest, you will be met at the airport and transferred to your luxurious river ship. After settling in to your suite, enjoy a delicious dinner. Later, be enchanted by the city lights during a twilight cruise through Budapest.
Board your APT Concerto River Ship
Day 2 July 21
Take a tour of Bratislava. Later, attend a traditional folklore show in the Old Town before sampling local specialities. Tonight, enjoy a welcome cocktail reception with Clare Birgin, a former Ambassador to Hungary and to Serbia, and Sue Williams, an award-winning travel writer. Meals BLD
Day 3 July 22
Take a walking tour of Vienna. Tonight head to the princely family of Liechtenstein's City Palace in the heart of Vienna for an exclusive experience: the palace will open its galleries for guests to view the family's private art collection. You'll be welcomed and guided by an in-house art expert. Later, attend an exclusive cocktail reception and private concert featuring members of the Mozart Boys' Choir, and pieces by Mozart and Strauss. Meals BLD
Day 4 July 23
Join Clare for her in-depth talk and Q&A on the history and culture of Hungary and the fascinating figures that change the course of its history. Clare will also share her knowledge of the town of Mohács ahead of your arrival tomorrow. Later, take a tour of Budapest, including a visit to the Hungarian Parliament, which houses the old House of Lords and the Hungarian Crown Jewels.
Day 5 July 24
Arrive in Mohács. Here you can either visit the Buso Courtyard, which offers an insight into the Busojaras of Mohács and the craftwork associated with this event or take an excursion to Pecs to visit the Gyugyi Museum, which houses Laszlo Gyugyi's private collection, including ceramics from the Golden Age of the Zsolnay Factory. Meals BLD
Day 6 July 25
You can explore Serbia’s capital by foot on a city tour. Or you can explore the city by bike, or visit a brandy distillery for a tasting. Clare will deliver a talk and Q&A on the history and politics of the former Yugoslavia, including Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia and Kosovo, which she was accredited to until its unilateral declaration of independence. Meals BLD
Day 7 July 26
Cruise through one of Europe's most awe-inspiring natural wonders, the Iron Gates. Here the Danube narrows as it winds through a series of magnificent gorges between Serbia and Romania. This afternoon, sit back and enjoy a talk and Q&A session with Traveller writer, author and tour guest Sue Williams. She will share her experiences charting the world from Argentina to Zimbabwe. Meals BLD
Day 8 July 27
Enjoy a talk by our expert journalist and editor Cristian Lupsa, founder and editor of DoR (Decât o Revista), a quarterly magazine devoted to telling the stories of modern-day Romania. Then spend the day in Bucharest, Romania's stunning capital. Take in the wide tree-lined boulevards and Belle Epoque buildings, and then walk through the Old City centre to the Royal Court, Stavropoleos Church and the Lipscani district. After lunch, tour the Palace of the Parliament with a specialist guide. Meals BLD
Day 9 July 28
Rousse, Veliko Târnovo, Svishtov
Docking in Rousse today, you have a choice of activities: either travel to Veliko Târnovo for a guided tour that highlights the city's rich history, or if you are keen for a more active option, enjoy a visit to the World Heritage-listed Rock-Hewn Churches of Ivanovo and walk through the rock monasteries. Meals BLD
Day 10 July 29
This morning dock in Vidin, one of Bulgaria's oldest cities. Discover Baba Vida Fortress, the largest preserved medieval castle in Bulgaria overlooking the Danube. Then continue on to Belogradchik, one of Bulgaria's natural wonders, where you can hike around spectacular rock formations. Meals BLD
Day 11 July 30
Spend an entire day on board to unwind as you take in the stunning scenery. Later, enjoy an afternoon tea hosted by Clare and Sue with a Q&A. Meals BLD
Day 12 July 31
Novi Sad, Vukovar