On this magnificent cruise vacation, enjoy seeing some of Central Europe’s splendid capitals—Prague, Vienna, Bratislava, and Budapest—as well as many small towns that dot the landscape along the way. Explore the grounds of majestic Hradcany Castle in Prague, savor a Sachertorte in Vienna, visit St. Martin’s Cathedral in Bratislava, and shop for paprika in Budapest. But in addition to these vibrant cities, there’s even more…explore Germany’s Passau, located at the confluence of three rivers, and Linz, Austria’s third-largest city. Visit the quaint historical theater in the resort town of Grein and one of Europe’s largest and most spectacular monasteries at Melk. Discover Krems in Austria’s Wachau Valley or choose to learn about wine, which is an important part of life in the Wachau region. Guided sightseeing with Certified Local Guides in each city is sure to heighten your experience.
Day #1 Arrive in Prague, Czech Republic. Welcome to Prague, capital of the Czech Republic. The city straddles the Vltava River with domes, cupolas, spires and pinnacles highlighting its skyline. The remainder of the day is free to start exploring.
Day #2 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 #3 Prague–Passau, Germany (Embarkation). After lunch, drive to Passau, ideally located at the confluence of the Rivers Inn, Ilz, and Danube, where your river cruise vessel is docked. Before dinner, meet your crew for a welcome reception. (B,D)
Day #4 Passau–Linz, Austria. Passau 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 Certified Local Guide for a walking tour through this charming town, and find out much more about the “City of Three Rivers.” During lunchtime, set sail for Linz, where you arrive in the early evening. (B,L,D)
Day #5 Linz–Grein. 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. Today is free to do as you like. Explore Linz on your own or simply spend a relaxing day on board. Once you depart for Grein around Noon, enjoy the views of the peaceful riverscapes from the comfort of the Sky Deck—or, alternatively, choose one of a variety of optional excursions. The choice is yours. In the late afternoon, arrive in the attractive country resort of Grein, nestled at the foot of a bluff in the shadow of its castle. Take a guided walk through 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. (B,L,D)
Day #6 Melk–Krems. Depart Grein in the early morning hours to arrive in Melk after breakfast. The magnificent BENEDICTINE ABBEY dominates the town from its commanding hill site, and is one of Europe’s largest monasteries. After your included visit of this impressive baroque edifice this morning, sail into the picturesque Wachau Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Pass the magnificent baroque Stiftskirche with its blue façade, the landmark of Dürnstein, before arriving in Krems. Join a Certified 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. This evening, depart for Vienna. (B,L,D)
Day #7 Vienna. Wake up this morning in Vienna, known as the “City of Music” and the place that inspired the creative genius of Mozart, Beethoven, and Strauss. 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 you will enjoy during your city tour. You do not rush through Vienna—you waltz, taking your time to savor each classic sight and sound. Shop in the Kärntnerstrasse and enjoy Sachertorte or Apfelstrudel in a neighborhood café. (B,L,D)
Day #8 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, Mirbach Palace, and gothic ST. MARTIN’S CATHEDRAL, should not be missed. (B,L,D)
Day #9 Budapest, Hungary. Budapest, spanning the banks of the Danube, is Eastern Europe’s liveliest and most cosmopolitan metropolis. Eight bridges connect 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 impressive sights you’ll see on your included tour. Shop for renowned peasant embroidery, Herend porcelain, and paprika. (B,L,D)
Day #10 Budapest (Disembarkation). Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning. (B)