The delightful Danube sets the stage for this incredible journey as you sail through beautiful scenery and quaint towns. Begin in Budapest, Hungary, with two overnights and guided sightseeing. Enjoy Hungarian cuisine, explore its famous produce market—Central Market Hall, wander around the former Royal Palace grounds, explore its famous churches, or visit one of the many museums. Then, board your river cruise vessel and sail westward, with guided sightseeing in magical Vienna, Passau, and medieval Regensburg. Also take a guided walk in the charming town of Dürnstein and see the baroque Stiftskirche; visit the awe-inspiring Benedictine Abbey in Melk and marvel at its beauty. Enjoy a wine tasting in Melk and a beer tasting in fascinating Nuremberg. Disembark your ship and travel to the “Golden City” of Prague for a final three overnights, guided sightseeing, and plenty of free time to discover the Hradcany Castle grounds, wander through Prague’s Jewish Quarter, shop for hand-cut crystal, savor authentic Czech dumplings, stand in the square where protestors demonstrated against Communism, or visit one of the many churches. All of this and more await you on this marvelous vacation!
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 Certified 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 Budapest–Vienna, Austria. A day to relax on board and marvel at the beautiful scenery on both banks of the Danube. Hungary is on your left as you cruise upriver and Slovakia is on your right. The two countries share the Danube for a 58-mile stretch, with the border in the middle of the river. Vienna, Austria’s capital, is known as the “City of Music” and inspired the creative genius of Mozart, Beethoven, and Strauss. (B,L,D)
Day #5 Vienna. Once the center of the mighty Habsburg Empire, Vienna 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. An optional concert is available during your stay. (B,L,D)
Day #6 Dürnstein–Melk. Dürnstein, known for the magnificent baroque Stiftskirche with its blue façade, is situated right in the heart of the Wachau wine region. Above town are the ruins of the castle where England’s King Richard the Lionheart was imprisoned in 1192. This afternoon: Melk, whose magnificent BENEDICTINE ABBEY dominates the town from its commanding hill site and is one of Europe’s largest monasteries. The view you have from the terrace over the Danube and surrounding countryside is breathtaking! This evening you’ll be able to sample some of the Wachau Valley’s FAMOUS WINES. (B,L,D)
Day #7 Linz–Passau, Germany. Linz, Austria’s third-largest city, lies on both banks of the Danube and is an important industrial town and busy river port. An optional full-day excursion to Salzburg takes in the popular Sound of Music sights. Passau, ideally located at the confluence of the Rivers Inn, Ilz, and Danube, 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. (B,L,D)
Day #8 Regensburg. Regensburg is one of Germany’s best preserved medieval cities. Architectural highlights on your guided tour include the Old Town Hall and Porta Pretoria—gates to an ancient Roman fort built in 179 AD. The city is the capital of Upper Palatinate, a bustling university town, and one of Bavaria’s cultural centers. It is here you will find Germany’s oldest restaurant, the 12th-century Historische Wurstküche (Old Sausage Kitchen). (B,L,D)
Day #9 Nuremberg. Although Nuremberg suffered extensive damage during WWII, much of it was restored to its original style. Marvel at this historic city with its fabulous gothic churches and elegant patrician houses—all explained by a local expert. Nuremberg’s traditions include famous Lebkuchen, toy making, and metal working. After dinner we’ll introduce you to some of Germany’s FAMOUS BEERS. (B,L,D)
Day #10 Nuremberg (Disembarkation)–Prague, Czech Republic. Cross the Czech border in the Bohemian Forest and head for Prague, the “Golden City.” (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. A free day for you to explore the city at your own pace. Your Cruise Director will have other suggestions for things to do. (B)
Day #13 Prague. Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning. (B)