TUI Danube Delta Discovery 2021 River Cruise

An amazing 15 day itinerary travelling down the heart of the Danube, stopping at several stunning cities across Hungary, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia.

TUI 2021 River Cruises
Belgrade

Itinerary

You’ll kick off your adventure in Budapest. Sliced in half by the Danube, Budapest is like two cities in one. Hilly Buda sits to the west of the river, crowned by a vast 18th-century castle and the turreted Fisherman’s Bastion. To the east, you’ve got Pest, which is home to one of the grandest parliament buildings in the world.

The whole city’s a treasure chest for architecture – even its famous thermal baths are style icons, from Ottoman-era Rudas to canary-yellow Szechenyi and its open-air number. And its quirky ruin bars – housed in derelict, open-air buildings – are anything but ordinary. Go for a drink at Szimpla Kert and you can take a seat in a cut-open car or admire the graffiti-covered walls.

Just like the top belt of the Hungarian flag, red is the colour in Kalocsa. This town, just inland from the Danube River, is affectionately known as the ‘Paprika Capital of the World’, thanks to its bumper haul of flavoursome red peppers. Handsome architecture’s a running theme, too, as the town’s one of the oldest in the country, and the seat of one of Hungary’s four archbishops. There’s a milk-and-cookie-coloured cathedral and the sunflower-shaded Archbishop’s Palace. Folk art’s a big deal, and you can visit a museum where the best works are on display.
Just like bears, Mohács goes into hibernation for lots of the year. This snoozy little Hungarian town is great for dropping off-grid. But it awakens from its sleep in February or March, when the Busójárás carnival sees locals parade through the streets in scary horned masks, which are meant to ward off winter and welcome spring. Plus, there’s still stuff to see while it slumbers. It might be small in size, but it’s played a huge role in history. Follow the road out of town and you’ll come across the Mohács Historical Memorial Site. This place marks the spot where the Hungarian army were defeated by the Turks in 1526 – a rule which ended up lasting almost five centuries.

Serbia’s up-and-coming capital is like several cities thrown into one. It’s got Berlin’s bohemian grit, New York’s wide-awake attitude and Prague’s historic architecture. Here, there are two riverbanks to roam along – one belonging to the Danube and the other to the Sava. They’re lined with splavovi – floating restaurants, bars and clubs, each with their own personality. Belgrade’s grand fortress sits near the water, too, surrounded by parkland and a zoo. It’s split into sections, with Austrian, Roman and Ottoman features all playing a part. St Sava Temple is the other head-turning piece of architecture around here. This domed Orthodox church is the second biggest of its kind in the world. In fact, it’s so big that it’s still under construction today.

This stretch of the Danube River feels like you’re on the waterways of Middle Earth, with dramatic tree-clad slopes and rock carvings along the banks. It’s like a ready-made border between Romania and Serbia, and gets its name from the steep gorge that forms a natural gateway on either side. Because it’s more scenery than civilisation, there’s no port to hop off at – the best views are from the water. One of the most iconic features is the Sculpture of Decebalus – a 140-foot carving of the ancient king’s face. You can also see the remnants of a Roman bridge and the ramparts of Golubac Fortress – a Medieval town that looks like something from Game of Thrones.

The port city of Giurgiu sits an hour and a half’s drive south of Romania’s capital, Bucharest. Daytrips to this underrated city are a must. Once dubbed the Paris of the East, it’s a treasure trove of churches, Belle Epoque villas and romantic parks, centred around sprawling lakes. There’s even a replica of the Parisian Arc de Triomphe. But the city’s show-stopping landmark is undoubtedly the Palace of Parliament. Spanning over three-million square feet, it’s the world’s biggest parliamentary building. To give you some idea of its grandeur – it took £2.63 billion to build and still isn’t finished. It’s not the only palace in town, either. There’s also Curtea Veche, in the historic Lipscani district, which was built by Romania’s infamous Prince Vlad the Impaler, who inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

Tulcea – or Aegyssus as it was once known – sits at the western gateway of the Danube Delta, where the river empties into the Black Sea. When it comes to age, this place is a bit of a fossil. The now-Romanian city was founded in the 7th century BC by the Dacians, but has also been under Genoese and Ottoman rule. Just like Rome, it’s laid out on seven hills. And that’s not the only thing the two have in common. This place is packed with museums. There’s an archaeological one, featuring artefacts from pre-Roman and Roman civilisations. There’s the ethnographic museum, where you can learn about the city’s cultural diversity. And don’t miss the Danube Delta Eco-Tourism Museum, which is half museum, half aquarium.

Fetesti’s your key to Romania’s Black Sea Coast. An hour’s drive will take you to Constanta, a port city and popular seaside resort. The whole shoreline’s indented with sandy stretches. But the sightseeing rivals the sunbathing here, thanks to the city’s long history. Get clued up at the National History and Archaeology Museum, where exhibits show off Greek and Roman vases, jewellery and statues. Opposite, you’ll find a mosaic complex with tiles dating back to the 4th century BC. The Great Mahmudiye Mosque is another cultural highlight. You can see its minaret from all over the city – but, on a visit, you can climb the 140 steps to the top for panoramic views.

Ruse is a great addition to any river cruise itinerary – it’s Bulgaria’s fifth-largest city and often referred to as the Pearl of the Danube, thanks to its elegant architecture. There’s lots to explore, including spacious streets lined with up-market shops, grassy parks dotted with fountains, and squares flanked by café terraces. The city’s buildings are pulled out of a pick ‘n’ mix bag of classic styles, from Baroque and Renaissance to Gothic and Rococo – and they come in all shades of the rainbow, from butter-yellow to lipstick-pink. If you fancy peeling back the city’s history, hit up one of its many museums, or visit the ruins of an ancient Romans fortress that used to stand tall on the banks of the Danube.

The unassuming town of Vidin’s tucked into the north-west corner of Bulgaria. It’s a less-trodden location, but a sprinkling of tourists manage to make the journey each year – and it’s the Baba Vida Fortress that draws them here. It’s considered one of the best-preserved in the country, with its moat and defensive towers still intact. The building started life as a 3rd-century Roman fort, before being rebuilt by the Bulgarians in the 10th century and then getting a revamp by the Turkish in the 1600s. It’s not the town’s only claim to fame, though. Vidin also boasts some seriously impressive Ottoman-era gates and Bulgaria’s second-biggest cathedral – it’s worth peeking inside the latter for the Art Nouveau frescoes.

This pretty Serbian town sits on the banks of Lake Djerdap in the Djerdap National Park. It’s a popular stop for Danube river cruising, thanks to the Iron Gate Gorge – a dramatic part of the river on the boundary between Serbia and Romania. Donji Milanovac’s biggest tourist attraction is Lepenski Vir, one of the most significant Prehistoric archaeological sites in Europe. Here, you can see how humans lived in the area in 20,000 BC. Elsewhere, you’ll find a charming church dating back to 1840, and numerous little restaurants serving Serbian specials, like pljeskavica – grilled meats served on a type of flatbread.

Novi Sad, on the Serbian banks of the Danube River, counts picturesque parks and imposing castles in its skill set. The main part of the city’s on the west bank, and often gets called the ‘Athens of Serbia’ for its gaggle of historic landmarks. The Neo-Renaissance town hall and cathedral-like Name of Mary Church populate the main square, Trg Slobode. Look across the water to the eastern bank, and you’ll see Petrovaradin Fortress nestled on a hilltop. Secret tunnels unravel like tree roots underneath the foundations and, every summer, one of Europe’s biggest music festivals cranks up the volume within the curtain walls.

Osijek might be Croatia’s fourth-biggest city, but it has a really laidback feel. Most of the action’s clustered around the Baroque-style Ante Starcevic Square, a central plaza that’s actually shaped like a triangle. At one of its three tips, you’ll find the city’s tallest landmark, the Church of St Peter and St Paul. Head inside this cathedral for a look at its colourful frescoes – they date back to the 1890s. In amongst the city’s tan-tinted houses and well-preened public parks, you’ll find remembrance landmarks to Croatia’s War for Independence. The War of Independence Memorial honours the thousands who died defending the city in the 1990s conflict. The Red Fico art installation, meanwhile, pays tribute to when a Fiat 500 tried to stop a Yugoslavian tank from invading, by recreating the event in full scale.

Just like the top belt of the Hungarian flag, red is the colour in Kalocsa. This town, just inland from the Danube River, is affectionately known as the ‘Paprika Capital of the World’, thanks to its bumper haul of flavoursome red peppers. Handsome architecture’s a running theme, too, as the town’s one of the oldest in the country, and the seat of one of Hungary’s four archbishops. There’s a milk-and-cookie-coloured cathedral and the sunflower-shaded Archbishop’s Palace. Folk art’s a big deal, and you can visit a museum where the best works are on display.

Transfer to the airport and prepare for your flight home.

Price Guide

Date Price (pp)
2 July 2021 £2,368

What's Included

  • Upgrade to All Inclusive from £420pp
  • Direct flights from a range of UK airports with 20kg luggage allowance
  • 14 nights on board TUI Maya
  • Airport transfers - to and from your ship
  • Full board plus - breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Tea, coffee and juices with breakfast
  • Wine, beer and soft drinks at lunch and dinner
  • Barbecues on deck (weather permitting)
  • 1GB of Wi-Fi per cabin, per week
  • £120 excursion credit, per person, per 7 days
  • All tips and port charges

Excursion Guide

  • The Great Hungarian Plain
  • Budapest city tour
  • Dinner and dancing in Budapest
  • Walking tour of Mohacs
  • Belgrade city tour & Folklore show
  • Novi Sad & Krusedol Monastery
  • Wine & history in and around Novi Sad