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10 nights
from £3095

East of Budapest

Cruise along the majestic Danube with music and cultural highlights aboard the MS Royal Crown

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  • History and Culture
  • Romanian Athenaeum, Bucharest

The Lower Danube undoubtedly remains one of the most mysterious and least visited regions of Europe. From Hungary to Romania, this stretch of the Danube offers a diversity of history and culture quite unlike anywhere else. From the fall of communism emerged new and vibrant cities and towns of the east which we will visit during this fascinating river voyage. We travel from Budapest, the ‘Queen of the Danube’ with her glorious skyline of castles and cathedrals to Romania’s pretty resort of Constanta. During our journey we will visit five distinctive countries, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania and encounter their traditions, old and new.

It is the combination of modern and ancient culture, combined with the onboard music performances, that makes for a fascinating cruise and September, with its temperate weather and uncrowded sights, is the perfect time for exploring and sightseeing, as well as relaxing as we sail along. To enhance your holiday further we are offering a five night post-cruise extension to the famed Painted Monasteries region of Romania and the Republic of Moldova and its wine regions, during which you will travel through some of the last untouched areas of Europe.

Useful Links & Travel Advice

Please find a selection of useful websites to refer to for information from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, on visa requirements, NHS travel health advice and other useful travel tips.  

  • Our View

    "MS Royal Crown is the perfect way to explore the Danube which, from the earliest of times, has been one of Europe’s most important trade routes linking the eastern shores with central Europe. Highlights will include our excursions with excellent local guides, from sampling local wines in Hungary and Bulgaria to folklore dancing from Serbia – as well as interesting talks by our Guest Speaker. We are also delighted to announce that Alda Dizdari, a violinist of brilliant style and dexterity, will join us on board and perform some wonderful repertoires to enchant us along the way. The combination of music, history and culture will create an enjoyable, informative and lively atmosphere as we sail along the Danube in all its early autumn glory."

    More information
  • Featured Experts

    ALDA DIZDARI

    Alda Dizdari is an outstanding musician of immense diversity. Her triumphant debut at the Wigmore Hall and Southbank’s Purcell Room have already led to notable appearances on BBC Radio 3, solo performances in Europe and the USA and the release of three highly acclaimed CDs, one of which was recorded live from the Wigmore Hall. Now based in the UK, Alda was born into a family of musicians and left her native Albania from an early age to pursue her career in music. She studied in Romania with distinguished soloists and received a Bachelor Degree from the University of Bucharest. She continued her Master Studies at the University of Illinois in USA and her Advanced Instrumental Studies in London, at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama with David Takeno where for two years she held the prestigious Leverhulme String Fellowship. 

    More information

Royal Crown

Royal Crown

This elegant vessel combines the nostalgic charm of the 1930s with the comfort and service of a four-star vessel. No expense has been spared to create not only a vessel that is beautiful to look at, but also a great joy to travel on. Spacious teak decks, elegant public rooms and staterooms with mahogany, rosewood and marble, together with rich fabrics and specially designed furniture, all blend together to create a unique river vessel. Built in 1996 and refurbished in 2010, the 90 passenger MS Royal Crown was designed for the rivers flowing through the heart of Europe. Exquisite furniture, expensive materials and accessories give the vessel its unique atmosphere. Facilities onboard include a library, boutique, fitness area, lounge with panoramic views and a restaurant with open seating. Outside there is a large sun deck, lido bar, a putting green and large scale chessboard. Onboard the efficient air-conditioning system ensures a comfortable temperature. Two powerful engines propel the vessel up to a speed of 12 knots.

View vessel details

Itinerary

Day 1 - London to Budapest, Hungary.

Fly by scheduled flight. On arrival transfer to the MS Royal Crown and embark.

Day 2 - Budapest.

We will explore Hungary’s elegant capital today. Spend the morning on an excursion that will include the old quarter, the Matthias Church and the Fishermen’s Bastion. Spend an afternoon at leisure or join an excursion to Szentendre, Hungary’s most romantic little town. On arrival enjoy a walking tour of the winding narrow streets where artists, galleries and handicrafts abound. Return to Budapest and join your fellow travellers in the evening for the Welcome Drinks and Dinner. After dinner enjoy a performance by Alda Dizardi in the lounge.

Day 3 - Kalocsa.

Arrive this morning in charming Kalocsa, renowned for paprika production. Your tour of the Puszta district will include the town and a spectacular display of Hungarian horsemanship. Depart this afternoon for a relaxing cruise down the beautiful Danube, arriving in Mohacs in the early evening. Moor overnight.

Day 4 - Pecs & Villany.

Depart after breakfast for a full day scenic tour of Pecs and Villany. The city of Pecs enjoys a fine position on the slopes of the Mecsek Hills. The visit will feature the sites associated with the city’s Roman Ottoman Hapsburg past, as well as a short organ recital in the splendid Pecs Cathedral. Continue on to the town of Villany where we will enjoy lunch and a wine tasting. Villany is one of Hungary’s top wine regions, known for its reds and rosés. Thanks to the area’s sub-Mediterranean climate, wines from Villany are full-bodied and spicy and of the highest quality. Sail this evening.

Day 5 - Osijek, Croatia.

Arrive today in Osijek, located in the Slavonian region of Croatia and picturesquely positioned on the Drava River. On arrival join a walking tour of this historic and lively city; see Tvrda, the oldest part of the town and the neo-gothic Church of St Peter & Paul with its 90 metre high bell tower, 40 stained glass windows and stonework from the Viennese sculptor Eduard Hauser. Enjoy some free time here to explore at leisure, perhaps visit the impressive Church of St Anthony, erected on the remains of a Turkish minaret. Evening performance by Alda Dizdari.

Day 6 - Belgrade, Serbia.

Spend the day in this interesting city. A half day tour highlights the city’s main attractions, including the Kalemegdan fortress as it looms over the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers, Saint Sava Cathedral, the largest Orthodox Church in the world, and Tito’s Memorial. This evening enjoy a Folklore performance on board the vessel.

Day 7 - Cruising through the Iron Gates.

Today the scenery becomes truly spectacular as you cruise through the Iron Gates, a narrow Danube gorge between the Carpathian and Balkan Mountains.

Day 8 - Belogradchik & Vidin, Bulgaria.

Arrive today in the Bulgarian port of Vidin. From here we will drive to Belogradchik which is located close to the Serbian border. The Belogradchik Rocks are a famous Bulgarian beauty spot. The sandstone has been weathered into all manner of bizarre shapes and housed amongst the rocks is an Ottoman fort, built on the remains of a Roman structure. The excursion will end with a visit to Vidin for a performance of classical music by a string quartet from the wonderful Vidin Philharmonic.

Day 9 - Veliko Tarnovo.

From Svistov, drive to Veliko Tarnovo, the capital of the second Bulgarian Kingdom from 1187 to 1393. The city formed a natural fortress, located on three hills surrounding the Yantra River. A palace, fortifications and churches were built into the terrain. Across the river, ancient stone houses seemingly perched on top of each other rise up the steep riverbank. After lunch in a local restaurant visit the museum town of Arbanassi. Rejoin the ship in Rousse and moor overnight.

Day 10 - Rousse.

After breakfast join a city tour of Rousse, birthplace of Nobel Prize winner for literature, Elias Canetti. After our brief walking tour of the city centre, drive a short distance to visit the Monastery of St Demetrius Basarbovski, a rock monastery dating back to the 12th century. Return to Rousse for a wine tasting session of some splendid Bulgarian wines. This afternoon is at leisure for individual exploration. With its stunning architecture, great museums, charming restaurants and shops, there is much to explore here. Tonight join your fellow travellers for the Farewell Gala Dinner on board, followed by a finale performance by Alda Dizdari. Sail this evening towards Romania.

Day 11 - Bucharest, Romania to London.

After breakfast this morning we disembark at the port of Cernavoda and drive to Bucharest, capital of Romania (approx. 3 hours). On arrival we will explore the main sights of this city, and see the boulevards with their decidedly French style. After lunch in a local restaurant we continue on to the airport for your return scheduled flight to London.

Dates and Prices

Prices per person based on double occupancy
2 to 12 September 2017
Category Price
Junior Suite £3095
Superior Suite £3195
Deluxe Suite £3395
Premium Suite £3595
Royal Suite £4095
Deluxe Suite For sole use £3395

Tour Reference Code: RCRC020917

Price Includes: Economy class scheduled air travel, 10 nights aboard the MS Royal Crown on full board basis, house wine, beer and soft drinks with lunch and dinner, shore excursions and music events as described, Cruise Director, Tour Manager, Guest Speaker, gratuities, transfers, port taxes, airport taxes.

Not Included: Travel Insurance.

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Destinations

  • Europe

    To see our current selection of tours in Europe click here.

  • Bulgaria

    To see our current selection of tours in Bulgaria click here.

  • Croatia

    To see our current selection of tours in Croatia click here.

  • Hungary

    To see our current selection of tours in Hungary click here.

  • Romania

    To see our current selection of tours in Romania click here.

  • Serbia

    To see our current selection of tours in Serbia click here.

Royal Crown

This elegant vessel combines the nostalgic charm of the 1930s with the comfort and service of a four-star vessel. No expense has been spared to create not only a vessel that is beautiful to look at, but also a great joy to travel on. Spacious teak decks, elegant public rooms and staterooms with mahogany, rosewood and marble, together with rich fabrics and specially designed furniture, all blend together to create a unique river vessel. Built in 1996 and refurbished in 2010, the 90 passenger MS Royal Crown was designed for the rivers flowing through the heart of Europe. Exquisite furniture, expensive materials and accessories give the vessel its unique atmosphere. Facilities onboard include a library, boutique, fitness area, lounge with panoramic views and a restaurant with open seating. Outside there is a large sun deck, lido bar, a putting green and large scale chessboard. Onboard the efficient air-conditioning system ensures a comfortable temperature. Two powerful engines propel the vessel up to a speed of 12 knots.

 
  • Royal Crown
  • Lounge
  • Restaurant
  • On Deck
  • Twin Cabin
  • Sun Deck
  • Cabin Bathroom
  • Bar
  • Royal Suite
    Royal Suite
  • Your Cabin / Suite

    Royal Crown has 45 suites which range in size from 145 square feet to the spacious Royal Suites which measure 200 square feet. All suites are fitted with spacious rosewood cupboards, a dressing table, satellite TV, a safety deposit box, individually controlled airconditioning and en-suite facilities with shower and hairdryer. Suites on the Select deck have portholes and the Royal Suites on the Panorama deck have large windows.

    Please note that Junior, Deluxe & Superior Suites have fixed twin beds. Premium and Royal Suites have fixed double beds with separate mattresses and duvets, so can be made up as twins if required.

  • Your Space

    The elegant Lounge Bar is defined by its 30s inspired Art Deco style, with textured carpets, carved mahogany and plush sofas which create a comfortable and relaxed atmosphere. Experience unforgettable views from the large windows as you enjoy coffee or tea. The lounge is also where our guest speakers will entertain you with informative presentations. In the evenings, let the day come to an end with a choice of beverages from the extensive menu accompanied by a musician playing a Steinway & Sons grand piano. The huge sun deck on MS Royal Crown covers almost the entire length of the vessel, interrupted only by the bridge and the Lido Bar (open when weather permits) where you can enjoy a drink under the umbrella such as fresh juice, a milkshake, or even a cocktail. Recline on a sun lounger and read a book or watch the changing scenery. There is also a putting green and a large chess board for your enjoyment. For some time out, relax in the wellness centre which includes a sauna with shower facilities, and a fitness room. There is also a small boutique and a library with a selection of books and games. Daily news sheets are also supplied.

  • Your Dining

    While the most beautiful river scenery passes by, enjoy delicacies created by the Executive Chef and his team. The restaurant has open seating, allowing you to sit where and with whom you like at each meal. In the morning breakfast is served buffet style, lunch is a delightful salad buffet with hot served choices and dinner is a served four course meal. In addition house wine, beer and soft drinks are included at both lunch and dinner.

  • Life Onboard

    The atmosphere onboard is friendly and informal and within days you will have made new friends in the open-seating restaurant, on the shore excursions or whilst relaxing in the comfortable public areas onboard. You will find yourself amongst like-minded people in an English speaking environment and for those who seek peace and quiet, there will always be the opportunity to find a secluded spot on the sun deck or simply rest in your well-appointed cabin. A musician will play each evening whilst you relax in the lounge, guest speakers will provide a series of interesting talks and our cruise director will host informative port briefings. After a day exploring ashore, you will return to the comfort and peace of a well-run and exceedingly comfortable vessel.

  • For Your Comfort

    The Royal Crown is equipped with the latest safety and navigation equipment for sailing Europe’s waterways. During you voyage you will have the opportunity to visit the Captain and Officers in the Bridge to learn more about navigating the varying water levels of these meandering rivers. There is no doctor onboard. Smoking is limited to the Sun deck.

  • Deck plans
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Our View

"MS Royal Crown is the perfect way to explore the Danube which, from the earliest of times, has been one of Europe’s most important trade routes linking the eastern shores with central Europe. Highlights will include our excursions with excellent local guides, from sampling local wines in Hungary and Bulgaria to folklore dancing from Serbia – as well as interesting talks by our Guest Speaker. We are also delighted to announce that Alda Dizdari, a violinist of brilliant style and dexterity, will join us on board and perform some wonderful repertoires to enchant us along the way. The combination of music, history and culture will create an enjoyable, informative and lively atmosphere as we sail along the Danube in all its early autumn glory."

Onboard Experts

  • Philip Blake-Jones

    Philip Blake-Jones

    Studied singing and piano at the Royal Academy of Music.  As a professional opera singer he made his solo debut with Glyndebourne Festival Opera and was a principle with the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company which included national tours and singing Strephon in the most recent recording of Iolanthe. 

    He is the Artistic Director of London Festival Opera and over twenty-five years has produced opera performances in a wide range of venues including Buxton Opera House, Windsor Theatre Royal, St John’s Smith Square, St James’s Palace, Kensington Palace, 10, Downing Street, Guildhall and Mansion House.  Overseas performances include at the British Embassy in Paris, the President’s Palace in Malta and La Fenice Opera House in Venice.

    Most recently he has created and presented performances for the Salisbury and Windsor Festivals and a lecture on performing opera internationally at the House of Lords.

    Philip works closely with Noble Caledonia on creating programmes of opera and music inspired by many wonderful locations such as the Villa Carlotta on Lake Como, Mannheim Castle on the Rhein and the Church of Sant’ Andrea della Valle in Rome.  LFO also performs on board many river and sea cruises for the company.

    Philip Blake-Jones will be on the following tour dates: 2 to 12 September 2017
  • Cesar Perez

    Cesar Perez

    A Noble Caledonia veteran, Cesar started in the head office at NCL in 1998.  After a number of years learning the administrations of the travel trade and talking to returning field staff, he began to feel restless and became attracted by the allure of life on the road.  After some deliberation he finally took the plunge and in 2004 escorted his first group to Russia. He has never looked back.  At his first opportunity he switched to become a full time Tour Manager, travelling far and wide from Antarctica cruise ships to taking land tours around New Zealand.  A few years later in 2007, Noble Caledonia undertook a long term charter commitment to the MS Johann Strauss, sailing the Danube, Rhine and Main Rivers and Cesar became its’ full time Cruise Director.  The ship quickly attained a happy entourage of returning travellers, going from strength to strength and becoming NCL’s river flagship for excellence.  Cesar is most happy when sailing on the Danube, through the beautiful region east of Budapest and beyond the Iron Gates towards the Black Sea.  When not on the river, his passions are his homeland of southern Spain, travelling to Asia and fine wines!

    Cesar Perez will be on the following tour dates: 2 to 12 September 2017
  • Rodica Ghiserel

    Rodica Ghiserel

    Rodica brings over 40 years of experience in the industry of travelling. She worked initially on the Black Sea Coast as a receptionist at the end of 1960s. Then in 1972, after working for the famous “Clarksons” UK, as a hotel guide and tour manager on Romanian cruise ships, she became a national and international guide. Rodica has also been a representative of a foreign travel agency, Translator, Interpreter (two months tour of China) Simultaneous Translator, Program Director and Lecturer for 5 years with Grand Circle, Assistant Cruise Director with Intrav and Zeghram, and Tour Manager for many companies. She often delivers lectures on ships on Gypsies, Communism, and Romania.

     

    Rodica worked as a teacher in a high school in Constanta and she managed to combine her passion for travelling with her equal love for education by teaching “Junior Achievement” in English. As a teacher, she worked in the travel business during long summer holidays as a guide for land tours in Romania, and many other Europe countries.

     

    One of her many other jobs was working as a consular secretary in the Constanta Lebanese Consulate and as a Factory Manager for 3 years for a Romanian Israeli joint venture in the ‘90s when tourism was not flourishing in Romania. During this period she found the time to attend Post University studies, and gained a license as a Hotel and Travel Agency Manager.

     

    In 2007 whilst working as guide in Romania for Lloyd Touristik and Noble Caledonia, she was offered a job she was ready for – Tour Manager. She thoroughly enjoys this position and has never forgotten to be a keen promoter of Romania. This is why she made new and different destination proposals to Noble Caledonia, including cruise extensions to Bucovina, Transylvania, Maramures and a 12 day Land Tour of Romania. All these trips have become successful and she is extremely proud of herself and grateful to Noble Caledonia for having understood that Romania is an interesting location for many travellers.

     

    Rodica does not consider herself an expert in any area and feels comfortable even in the areas she has not travelled to, in her time with Noble Caledonia she has travelled along European rivers, the Black Sea, the Nile, Ganges, Irrawaddy and the Mississippi.

    Rodica Ghiserel will be on the following tour dates: 2 to 12 September 2017

Tour Extensions

    • 12th to 17th September 2017

      We are offering a five night post-cruise extension to the beautiful north east region of Romania to visit the famed Painted Monasteries, including an overnight stay in the Republic of Moldova to experience the wine and culture of this little known state. These beautiful remote lands are steeped in history, tradition and culture and the itinerary includes many highlights as we travel amongst the plains and slopes of the eastern Carpathians. We start in Iasi, the cultural capital of Moldova and the most attractive city in the region. From here we travel across to Chisinau, the capital of the Republic of Moldova and from where we visit the extraordinary Cricova wine cellars, located beneath the hills just outside the city. These cellars are a maze of wine-filled vaults extending between 60 and 120 kilometres into the earth. Indeed, they are so big they are best navigated by car. Amongst the wines on display is a priceless group of bottles accumulated by Herman Goering, having been brought back by the Red Army at the end of World War II. Cricova is more than just a giant wine rack, it also produces wine, most notably the Kodrinskoie-sparkling, a unique methode champenoise made with Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. Returning to Romania, we will visit Tarpesti, a small rural village in the Moldova region before travelling on to Suceava, our base for excursions to the fascinating and unique painted Voronet and Sucevita monasteries; their fine exterior and interior frescoes have been preserved since Medieval times and in 1993 these unique monasteries received UNESCO’s World Cultural Heritage status. We will also have the opportunity to visit Moldovita Monastery. 

      Vineyards of Cricova, Moldova Vineyards of Cricova, Moldova

      Day 1 Bucharest to Iasi, Romania. Disembark the MS Royal Crown in Cernavoda and transfer to Bucharest by coach (approximately 3 hours). On arrival we explore the main sights of this impressive city and see the boulevards with their decidedly French style. After lunch in a local restaurant we continue on to the airport for the flight to Iasi, and on arrival transfer to our four-star hotel for an overnight night stay. Dinner will be at the hotel this evening.

      Day 2 Iasi, Romania to Chisinau, Moldova. After breakfast this morning depart for Chisinau (approx. 2.5 hours), arriving around midday. After lunch in a local restaurant we depart for a guided tour, including Parliament House, the Central Market, City Hall, the Opera House and the Orthodox Cathedral. This evening enjoy dinner in a local restaurant with traditional Moldovian cuisine and music. Overnight stay in a four-star hotel.

      Day 3 Cricova, Moldova to Iasi, Romania. After breakfast we depart for nearby Cricova for a tour of the famous cellar and a wine tasting. Cricova cellar is a real underground town with a remarkable and historic collection of wines, and currently the number of bottles stored stands at around 1.3 million, with high profile politicians such as Vladimir Putin and Angela Merkel keeping their private wine collections here. Enjoy lunch and a wine tasting, after which we will return to Iasi. Enjoy an afternoon tour of this historic city, home to an impressive number of Orthodox churches (almost 100), most of them located in the so-called Golden Plateau. The oldest, the Princely Saint Nicholas Church, dates from the reign of Stephen the Great. The finest, however, are the 17th century St Paraschiva Metropolitan Cathedral and Trei Ierarhi Church, the last a curious example of Byzantine art, erected in 1635-1639 by Vasile Lupu. Dinner tonight will be at a local restaurant serving typical Romanian rustic fare. Overnight at your hotel in Iasi.

      Day 4 Iasi to Targu Neamt-Suceava to Radauti. After breakfast depart for Tarpesti, a small village in the Modavia region, and on arrival make a visit to the private museum of Mr Popa; see his extraordinary and vast collection of artefacts and archaeological finds, followed by a performance of local folk dance by some of the village children. After lunch here continue on to Radauti with a panoramic city tour of Suceava Citadel en-route. On arrival into Radauti we check into our four-star hotel for a two night stay, and join your fellow travellers for a regional wine tasting session before dinner.

      Day 5 The Painted Monasteries – Bucovina. After breakfast depart for the small town of Gura Humorului and visit the Catholic Church Cacica. On arrival see the beautiful Voronet Monastery – the “Sistine Chapel of the East” where the frescoes feature an intense shade of blue known in Romania as “Voroneţ blue”. Continue on to Campulung-Moldovenesc and on arrival enjoy lunch in a local restaurant. Afterwards we will visit Moldavita Monastery and Sucevita Monastery, considered to be the greatest of the painted monasteries with its fortress-like appearance, towers and buttresses. Return in the late afternoon to our hotel for dinner followed by a folkloric show.

      Day 6 Iasi to London (via Vienna). Breakfast at your hotel and travel back to Iasi for the return scheduled flight to London, via Vienna.

    • Prices per person based on double occupancy
      CategoryPrice
      Twin £695
      Single £865

      Price Includes: Five nights accommodation at four-star hotels in Iasi, Chisinau and Radauti, full board throughout, wine, soft drinks with lunch and dinner, all sightseeing as described, Tour Manager, water during excursions, gratuities.

      Not Included: Travel Insurance, drinks other than those stated.

Itinerary Highlights

“Queen of the Danube” – Budapest
Hungarian horse display at Kalocsa
The wine region of Villany in Hungary
The historic city of Osijek in Slavonia, Croatia
Arbanassi, famous for its 17th and 18th century architecture and the unique Church of the Nativity of Christ
The rock monastery of St Demetrius Basarbovski in Bulgaria

River Guides

  • To see our current selection of tours for the river Danube click here.
     
    • Danube

    More than any other river in the world, the Danube will always conjure thoughts of music. The Danube rises in the Black Forest of Germany and reaches its end in the Black Sea, passing through four capital cities on its way (more than any other river in the world) and ten countries – Romania, Hungary, Serbia, Austria, Germany, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Croatia, Ukraine and Moldova. It has many tributaries, some important rivers themselves. The Danube is all about high culture and the historic cities that appear in close succession along its banks.

    Vienna, for instance, is a jewel. Its Ring created by Franz Joseph in the 1860s is a parade of imperial magnificence, opera house after university, palace after cathedral, interspersed with shaded gardens designed for outdoor summer concerts. Yet this is a city centre small enough to walk around easily – though you can take a tour in a horse-drawn carriage. Must-sees include the Hofburg and the Schonbrunn but if you might want to try a must-do, go to the Music House where you can virtually conduct the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra on screen – if you get to the end, the orchestra stands up and applauds you!

    Bratislava is a tiny city dominated by its castle on the hill and a historic gem. The Old Town is completely pedestrianized which makes for pleasant walking. Besides the Gothic Cathedral and an exquisitely pretty Old Town Hall, look out for the humorous statues – the Good Soldier Schweik’s head emerging from a manhole on the street for instance. Budapest is a city of two halves. Buda is hilly and wooded with Gothic houses and cobbled streets. Pest is all grand boulevards and Baroque buildings including a jewel of an opera house. For music lovers, there are museums to Liszt and Bartok and plenty of concerts on offer. And for everyone there are breath-taking views from the Fisherman’s Bastion perched high above the city where, in the sunshine, the Danube turns a perfect blue.

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