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Discover the Balkans

This undiscovered gem of a region is fast becoming a hot new destination for river cruising.

Travelmarvel is delighted to be offering river cruising in the Balkans for the first time in 2023. The Balkans is considered an emerging hot destination for river cruising, a perfect way to showcase this incredible region in style travelling on the famous European waterways. Encompassing Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria the Best of the Balkans 14 night cruise covers all the highlights of this often unexplored area.

Fishernan's Bastion Matthias Church at Morning, Hungary Budapest

Nathan Walker, Europe Product Executive shared his insider knowledge on why the Balkans is such a unique and rapidly growing river cruising destination.

“The Balkans is a great destination to travel to, to get off the well-trodden path and experience a place truly new and exciting. You feel as though you’ve discovered a captivating, hidden corner of Europe and have stories to share no one has heard a thousand times before! This fascinating place is so stunning with incredible natural beauty, making it an absolute must-see – a perfect alternative for second, third or fourth time European River cruisers!”

“If you have already done our popular European Gems - Amsterdam to Budapest journey and know you love river cruising, you should consider exploring this incredible and lesser-known region of Eastern Europe. On this tour, we take guests to some truly unheralded and adventurous destinations, all with the surety and assurance of travelling with Travelmarvel.”

Highlights Include:


The Serbian capital is known for its vibrant music and arts scene and is a must-visit in the region. If you have a moment to spare between visiting the beautiful museums and excellent shopping, make sure to take a turn down Skadarlija, the bohemian street where the locals sing and dance until dawn and duck into a “kafanas”, a traditional Serbian tavern, for fresh coffee and ćevapi.

Aerial shot of Belgrade at sunset
Iron Gates

Further down the Danube, history and culture collide at the Iron Gates, an imposing gorge at the border of Serbia and Romania. Enjoy a tick list of fascinating sights as your cruise along the river, including a lone cross stood atop the 1,000ft cliffs, a precariously placed monastery and of course the face of Roman Hero Decebalus carved into stone.

Cruise on the Danube passing through the Iron Gates, Romania

Bulgaria has a plethora of natural and architectural marvels to discover, a particular highlight being the river-side town of Vidin. Travelmarvel guests will have the opportunity to explore the impressive Belogradchik Kaleto, a unique and striking fortress dating back to the Romans. The tour also includes up-close viewing of the region’s famous natural phenomenon, the strange Belogradchik rocks which can stand at over 200 meters tall and are at the centre of many local legends. To reach this remarkable Bulgarian port, Travelmarvel guests will first take a memorable coach ride past some of the most iconic landmarks of the area, the Triangle of Tolerance, Mourning Soldier Monument and the Turkish Post Office – the only postal building remaining from the Ottoman Empire.

Stunning rock formations of Belogradchik, Bulgaria

A visit to Romania can’t be considered complete without a visit to Bucharest House of Parliament, otherwise known as the “Palace of Parliament”. Requiring over 700 architects to complete over 13 years, at 83 meters tall this phenomenally large building is the heaviest in the world, which makes sense considering it houses 480 chandeliers.

Front on shot of Bucharest Palace of Parliament

Our Travelmarvel European Cruise Director Roland Noordermeer has a soft spot for this area, as he explains…

“I love the Balkans and the Lower Danube, where river cruising still feels like we are trail blazing. This area has always been the place where the orient meets the occident. You can sense the influence of the Habsburgs and the Ottoman Sultans, who have ruled here over centuries. The Iron Gates, which have nothing to do with the Iron Curtain, has been the gateway to Europe, from Asia Minor. For thousands of years this very area was the only easy way for people to pass through. The first civilisations in Europe appeared here. Crusaders passed through, the Ottoman and Habsburg troops and of course on the left bank we have Transylvania, known by many as the place where Count Dracula lived. Also, the locals in this area are so hospitable and genuine, it is just amazing.”

The Best of the Balkans is the flagship 14 night cruise, showcasing all the highlights and is also available as two shorter 7 night cruises which are the Balkan Adventure and Legends of the Balkans.