On this magnificent cruise vacation, enjoy seeing some of Central Europe’s splendid capitals—Budapest, Bratislava, Vienna, and Prague—as well as many small towns that dot the landscape along the way. Shop for paprika in Budapest, visit St. Martin’s Cathedral in Bratislava, savor a Sachertorte in Vienna, and explore the grounds of majestic Hradcany Castle in Prague. In addition to these amazing and fun cities, there’s even more…enjoy wine tasting in Austria’s Wachau Valley, visit Austria’s oldest theater still holding regular performances in the resort town of Grein, and visit one of Europe’s largest and most spectacular monasteries at Melk. Explore Germany’s Passau, located at the confluence of three rivers, and Linz, Austria’s third-largest city. Guided sightseeing with Certified Local Guides in each city is sure to heighten your experience.
Day #1 Arrive in Budapest, Hungary. Welcome to Budapest, Hungary’s lively capital. The remainder of the day is free to start exploring Eastern Europe’s most cosmopolitan metropolis.
Day #2 Budapest. Budapest straddles both banks of the Danube, with eight bridges, including the famous Chain and Elisabeth Bridges, connecting ancient Buda on the right bank with Pest on the left. The massive hilltop castle complex with Fishermen’s Bastion and the Matthias Church is among the many sights your Local Guide will show you. Shop for renowned peasant embroidery, Herend porcelain, and paprika. (B)
Day #3 Budapest (Embarkation). This afternoon, board your river cruise vessel and meet your crew at a welcome reception. (B,D)
Day #4 Bratislava, Slovakia. Situated at the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains, Bratislava is the dynamic capital of Slovakia. The charming Old Town with its Town Hall and Mirbach Palace, as well as gothic ST. MARTIN’S CATHEDRAL, should not be missed. (B,L,D)
Day #5 Vienna, Austria. Once the center of the mighty Habsburg Empire, Austria’s capital has much to offer: lavish Hofburg Palace, the impressive Vienna Opera House, the majestic Ringstrasse, and awe-inspiring St. Stephen’s Cathedral, to name just a few of the sights on your included tour. Shop in the Karntnerstrasse and enjoy Sachertorte or Apfelstrudel in a neighborhood cafe. An optional concert is available tonight. (B,L,D)
Day #6 Vienna. This morning, the choice is yours with “Vienna a la carte.” Choose to visit one of a number of museums, such as the Kunsthistorisches Museum (Museum of Fine Arts), one of Vienna’s major attractions and known for its magnificent architecture; or, for some lighter exploration, spend some time at the Naschmarkt, a market selling fresh produce and other items, a Viennese institution since the 16th century. Your Cruise Director will give you details of what’s on offer. The afternoon is at leisure. (B,L,D)
Day #7 Krems–Melk. Early this morning, arrive in Krems, which offers a great variety in culture, history, and cuisine. Join a Local Guide to learn more about this town situated on the eastern end of the Wachau Valley. Or, you may prefer to join a wine experience to learn firsthand how wine is so much more than just a drink. Wine is life, culture, inspiration, and the result of a lot of hard work. Back on board your vessel, sail through the Wachau Valley a UNESCO World Heritage Site, passing the magnificent baroque Stiftskirche with its blue facade, the landmark of Durnstein. Above the town you may see the ruins of the castle, where England’s King Richard the Lionheart was imprisoned in the 12th century. After lunch, arrive in Melk. The magnificent BENEDICTINE ABBEY dominates the town from its commanding hill site, and is one of Europe’s largest monasteries. The view from the terrace over the Danube and surrounding countryside is breathtaking! This evening you’ll be able to sample some of the FAMOUS WINES before departing for Grein. (B,L,D)
Day #8 Grein–Linz. This morning, wake up in the attractive country resort of Grein, nestled at the foot of a bluff in the shadow of its castle. After breakfast, take a guided walk through the town and visit its unique historical THEATER, the oldest in Austria still holding regular performances. A behind-the-scenes peek to learn about some of the curiosities of this Rococo-style, 167-seat theater will certainly tell you much about life as it was, and as it now is, in this small town. Then, spend a lazy afternoon on board the ship, watching the peaceful views of the passing riverscapes from the comfort of the Sky Deck on your way to Linz. Alternatively, you might choose to join an optional excursion. Linz is Austria’s third-largest city, an important river port where culture plays a significant role in everyday life. Composer Anton Bruckner lived here, and Mozart’s Linzer Symphony was composed in the city. There is free time to explore Linz on your own. (B,L,D)
Day #9 Linz–Passau, Germany. This afternoon, arrive in Passau, located at the confluence of the Rivers Inn, Ilz, and Danube. This is a city of graceful arcades and cobblestone streets. St. Stephen’s Cathedral houses one of the world’s largest church organs with more than 17,000 pipes. Join a Local Guide for a walking tour through this charming town, and find out much more about the “City of Three Rivers.” (B,L,D)
Day #10 Passau (Disembarkation)–Prague, Czech Republic. Leave Bavaria and head for the Czech border in the Bohemian Forest, making your way to the “Golden City” of Prague. (B)
Day #11 Prague. Prague is a 1,000-year-old city preserved in time. See its best-known treasures such as the Old Town’s Astronomical Clock, once the envy of all of Europe; HRADCANY CASTLE GROUNDS, St. Vitus Cathedral, and the Charles Bridge. Browse the shops for hand-cut crystal or art books. Mix with the locals in Wenceslaus Square or stroll along the Vltava River. (B)
Day #12 Prague. Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning. (B)