Fall in love with the Danube—with its charming small towns, scenic beauty, and exciting cities—on this river cruise vacation. Begin your vacation with a 2-night city stay in the vibrant Hungarian city of Budapest and discover its various offerings. Shop for paprika at the Central Market Hall, explore the massive castle complex, visit its many museums, and savor Hungarian cuisine. Then, board your ship and discover Slovakia’s vibrant capital of Bratislava, explore the quaint town of Dürnstein with its baroque Stiftskirche, visit Melk’s awe-inspiring Benedictine Abbey, visit the cultural city of Linz and bask in the natural beauty of Austria’s Wachau Valley. Your vacation ends in Vienna, the “City of Music,” where you’ll disembark and spend an additional two nights. In Vienna, visit one of the many lavish museums, explore St. Stephen’s Cathedral, shop in the Kärntnerstrasse, or relax in a local café while enjoying a slice of the famous Sachertorte. All of this and more awaits you on this marvelous cruise 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 morning you can explore this vibrant city at your own pace. In the afternoon, transfer to your river cruise vessel and meet your crew at a welcome reception. (B,D)
Day #4 Bratislava, Slovakia. A morning to relax on board and marvel at the beautiful scenery on both banks of the Danube. As you cruise upriver, Hungary is on your left 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. 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 Dürnstein, Austria–Melk.This morning, our first stop is Dürnstein, lying right in the heart of the Wachau wine region and best known for the magnificent baroque Stiftskirche with its blue façade. Above town are the ruins of the castle where England’s King Richard the Lionheart was imprisoned in 1192. Explore this picturesque little town on your own or choose from a number of optional excursions. Melk’s 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! (B,L,D)
Day #6 Linz–Grein. Linz, Austria’s third-largest town, lies on both banks of the Danube and is an important industrial town and busy river port. Culture is an important part of life in Linz. Composer Anton Bruckner lived here and Mozart’s Linzer Symphony was composed in the city. Choose from a variety of optional activities today. In the late afternoon, arrive in the attractive country resort of Grein, which is nestled at the foot of a bluff in the shadow of its castle. Time at leisure to enjoy the small-town atmosphere. The turreted houses on the main square make excellent photo material. (B,L,D)
Day #7 Vienna (Disembarkation). 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. Shop in the Kärntnerstrasse or simply savor the atmosphere of the “City of Music” while enjoying a slice of Sachertorte or Apfelstrudel. (B)
Day #8 Vienna. A full day at leisure in this fascinating city! (B)
Day #9 Vienna. Your vacation ends this morning. (B)