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...visit Austria’s oldest theater still holding regular performances in the resort town of Grein, explore Germany’s Passau, located at the confluence of three rivers, and enjoy free time in Linz, Austria’s third-largest city. Guided sightseeing with Certified Local Guides is sure to heighten your experience.
Welcome to Budapest, Hungary’s lively capital. The remainder of the day is free to start exploring this exciting city.
Spanning the banks of the Danube, Budapest is one of Eastern Europe’s liveliest cities. Whether you’re seeing the sights, shopping for handcrafted embroidery or Herend porcelain, or basking in the coffee house culture over a rich cream cake in the renowned Gerbeaud Café, Budapest’s unique energy is positively palatable. On your GUIDED TOUR of the city, see Heroes’ Square as well as the massive hilltop castle complex with its remarkable Fishermen’s Bastion and 11th-century Matthias Church, the coronation spot of several Hungarian monarchs. Be sure to take note of the city’s eight bridges—many famous sights in and of themselves—which connect ancient Buda on the right bank with Pest on the left. You may even want to walk across Chain Bridge, built in 1849 and a symbol of Budapest. During your free time this afternoon, perhaps visit St. Stephen’s Basilica, with marvelous views of the city from its viewing platform, or stroll along Váci utca, the main shopping street. (Breakfast)
Today you can explore this vibrant city at your own pace. Shop at the Great Market Hall and purchase paprika or embroidery at one of its 180 vendor stalls, or wander around the Royal Palace grounds. In the afternoon, transfer to your river cruise vessel and meet your crew at a welcome reception. (Breakfast, Dinner)
This morning, enjoy 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. At the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains is Bratislava, the dynamic capital of Slovakia, which you reach in mid-morning. Join a LOCAL GUIDE to explore its fascinating Old Town, where winding cobblestone streets and narrow alleyways twist and turn to reveal the Town Hall, one of the oldest stone buildings in the city; and gothic ST. MARTIN’S CATHEDRAL, coronation church for the Kingdom of Hungary from the 16th to 19th centuries. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
A morning of cruising allows you to relax on board before reaching Vienna around lunchtime. This afternoon, enjoy an included visit to the KUNSTKAMMER. In the Museum of Fine Arts. An optional concert is available tonight. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Known as the “City of Music,” Vienna inspired the creative genius of Mozart, Beethoven, and Strauss. Once the center of the mighty Habsburg Empire, Austria’s magical capital on the blue Danube is a showcase of gilded architecture. This is home to the lavish Hofburg Imperial Palace complex with its Vienna Boys’ Choir and dazzling Lipizzaner stallions; the neo-renaissance Vienna Opera House; and awe-inspiring St. Stephen’s Cathedral—plus, countless other sights you’ll see on your GUIDED SIGHTSEEING TOUR. The afternoon is at leisure. Stroll through the pedestrian Kärntnerstrasse, and be sure to take a break and enjoy a piece of decadent Sachertorte or Apfelstrudel in a neighborhood café. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
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 Weissenkirchen (White Church). Join a GUIDED WALK to learn more about this pretty little Wachau valley town, then, reboard your ship and sail to the attractive country resort of Grein, nestled at the foot of a bluff in the shadow of its castle. Take an included 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. The turreted houses on the main square make excellent photo subjects. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
This morning, arrive in Mauthausen and join a local expert for a GUIDED WALK. This afternoon arrive in Linz, Austria’s third-largest city and explore on your own., Linz is 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. See the 13th-century Hauptplatz, Austria’s largest medieval square, and the Trinity Column, built in 1723 as thanks for the city escaping the ravages of the plague, war, and fire. Perhaps wander around the old castle grounds and take in the beautiful views of the river, or visit the neo-gothic New Cathedral, Austria’s largest church, with capacity for 20,000 visitors. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
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.” Alternatively, you might choose to join one of several full-day optional excursions to medieval Český Krumlov in the Czech Republic, a UNESCO World Heritage Site; to Salzburg with its Sound of Music sites; or the popular “Romantic Austria” tour. Rejoin your ship in the late afternoon in Passau. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Today, say goodbye to your crew and to Bavaria, then travel by motorcoach to Prague, also known as the “Golden City” and capital of the Czech Republic. (Breakfast)
Prague is a 1,200-year-old city preserved in time, and, unlike other Central European capitals, it was not bombed during the 20th-century wars. A LOCAL GUIDE will show you its best-known treasures, such as the Old Town’s Astronomical Clock, built in 1410 and once the envy of all of Europe; HRADCANY CASTLE GROUNDS; St. Vitus Cathedral; and the Charles Bridge, the oldest bridge in Prague. Browse the shops for hand-cut crystal or art books. Mix with the locals in Wenceslaus Square, an important meeting point where people demonstrated against the communist regime; watch performers and shop at the market stalls on Charles Bridge; sample the local plum dumplings and Pilsner; stroll along the Vltava River; or wander around Prague’s medieval Old Town, dating from the 10th century. (Breakfast)
Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning. (Breakfast)