On this Europe river cruise vacation, you’ll sail along the Danube, Main, Rhine, and Moselle Rivers. Start with two nights in vibrant Budapest, Hungary, and then see some of the most intriguing cities of Austria and Germany, and end with two nights in romantic Paris.
Before you embark on your European river cruise, experience the unique energy of Budapest, the capital of Hungary, on a guided tour of the city and time to explore on your own. Perhaps walk across Chain Bridge, a symbol of Budapest, and bask in the coffee house culture with a rich cream cake in the renowned Gerbeaud Café. Sail past the impressive Parliament Building on the Danube River, to Austria’s elegant capital of Vienna. There’s a guided walk in the quaint village of Dürnstein, in the heart of the Wachau Valley, and a visit to the magnificent Benedictine Abbey of Melk. You’ll be introduced to the treasures of Passau, Regensburg, and Nuremberg, and take an excursion to Bavaria’s capital, Munich. On the banks of the Main River, you’ll find small towns tucked away behind defensive walls and towered gates—these picturesque Bavarian villages are a photographer’s dream. Along the Rhine River, stop in Rüdesheim, a quintessential Rhine Valley town. Later, cruise the wide, peaceful curves of the Moselle River Valley, famous for its picturesque scenery, and arrive in the wine village of Bernkastel, surrounded by Germany’s largest expanse of vineyards. Before you leave, we’ll introduce you to some of the famed Moselle wines. In Trier, Germany, believed to be even older than Rome—having been populated over a thousand years before the Romans arrived—a Local Guide will show you the sights, including the Porta Nigra, the only surviving fortified gate from the original Roman settlement.
Disembark in Luxembourg and take a high-speed train to dazzling Paris! You’ve seen pictures of the famous Notre Dame Cathedral, Louvre Museum, and Eiffel Tower—now experience these treasures up close. The perfect way to end this exciting river cruise holiday through Europe!
Your day-by-day itinerary indicates in UPPERCASE all inside visits, special features, and guided sightseeing. All included guided sightseeing is conducted by a Certified Local Guide. Choose the sightseeing pace that suits you
Leisurely, Traditional, or Independent (where available).
Welcome to Budapest, Hungary’s lively capital spanning the banks of the Danube. The remainder of the day is free to start exploring Eastern Europe’s most cosmopolitan metropolis.
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 Cafe, Budapest’s unique energy is positively palatable. On your GUIDED SIGHTSEEING TOUR, see Heroes’ Square as well as the massive hilltop castle complex with its remarkable Fishermen’s Bastion-for spectacular views of the city-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. (B)
You have time this morning to explore Budapest further. Perhaps visit St. Stephen’s Basilica for marvelous views of the city from its viewing platform. This afternoon, board your river cruise vessel and meet your crew at a welcome reception. (B,D)
Enjoy a day of relaxation 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 93-kilometre (58-mile) stretch, with the border in the middle of the river. This evening, arrive in Vienna, Austria’s capital. Known as the “City of Music,” it inspired the creative genius of Mozart, Beethoven, and Strauss. An optional concert is available during your stay. (B,L,D)
Once the centre 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 Boy’s Choir and dazzling Lipizzaner stallions; the neo-renaissance Vienna Opera House; and awe-inspiring St. Stephen’s Cathedral-plus, countless other sights your Local Guide will show you during an included CITY SIGHTSEEING TOUR. Stroll through the delightful pedestrian Karntnerstrasse, and be sure to take a break and enjoy a piece of decadent Sachertorte or Apfelstrudel in one of the classic Viennese coffee houses, historic institutions that helped shape Viennese culture! (B,L,D)
Durnstein, known for the magnificent baroque, blue Stiftskirche built in the 1700s, is situated right in the heart of the Wachau wine region. The main street of this small town-with a population of less than 1,000 people-is lined with 16th-century residences and charming cobblestone streets. This morning your Local Guide will take you on an included WALKING TOUR and tell you the tale of England’s King Richard the Lionheart, who was imprisoned in the castle whose ruins still stand above the town. During lunchtime, sail the picturesque Wachau Valley and arrive in Melk in the early afternoon. Here, enjoy a GUIDED VISIT of the magnificent 11th-century BENEDICTINE ABBEY, one of Europe’s largest monasteries. The abbey houses an ornate library with over 80,000 printed books and 2,000 manuscripts. You’ll be captivated by the splendor of the church with its frescoed ceilings, stunning high altar, marble statues, and 60 metre (210-foot) high cupola. The view from the terrace of the abbey 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)
Today, you might wish to choose from a couple of full-day optional excursions: to Salzburg taking in some of the Sound of Music sights or to medieval Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Alternatively, you may choose to stay on the ship and relax as you cruise to Passau, uniquely located where the Inn, Ilz, and Danube Rivers converge. Passau is a maze of narrow cobblestone streets lined with beautiful patrician houses and dominated by St. Stephen’s Cathedral, a masterpiece of Italian baroque architecture. Take in the highlights on the included GUIDED WALK. (B,L,D)
Dating back to the time of the Celts around 500 BC, Regensburg is one of Germany’s best preserved medieval cities. Established during the Holy Roman Empire and the only German city not bombed during WWII, Regensburg has at least 1,300 listed buildings of “historic interest.” Architectural highlights of your GUIDED WALK include the Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall), built in the 13th century, and Porta Pretoria, gates to an ancient Roman fort built in 179 AD. Wander through the city’s lanes and alleys to discover the many mansions with high towers. Wealthy families built these towers to emphasize their status and wealth during the Middle Ages, and many still remain today. Walk across the 12th-century Steinerne Brucke (Stone Bridge), the oldest of its kind in Germany. Grab a beer and enjoy an included SNACK at the 17th-century Historische Wurstkuche (Old Sausage Kitchen), one of Germany’s oldest restaurants. Here-where the locals congregate-feel the vibrant atmosphere and take in the remarkable views along the river. After dinner, we’ll introduce you to some of Germany’s FAMOUS BEERS. (B,L,D)
Although 90% of Nuremberg’s Old Town suffered extensive damage during WWII, much of it has been restored to the glory it once knew as the unofficial capital of the Holy Roman Empire. This afternoon choose a GUIDED SIGHTSEEING TOUR and marvel at this thousand-year-old city’s medieval fortifications, extraordinary gothic churches, and the Kaiserburg (Imperial Castle). Alternatively, join a more specialized `NUREMBERG RALLY GROUNDS” tour. (B,L,D)
After breakfast, drive to Munich, capital of Bavaria. With its historical museums, splendid English Garden, traditional cafes, and delightful shops, Munich has plenty to see and do. A LOCAL GUIDE will show you the highlights of this fascinating city, including Nymphenburg Palace, summer residence of the Bavarian monarchs; MARIENPLATZ with its Old and New Town Halls; and the gothic Frauenkirche, a prominent landmark for Munich. Then, enjoy time on your own in this vibrant city. Watch the famous Glockenspiel, which recreates a royal wedding from the 16th century; linger at an outdoor cafe; visit St. Peter’s, the oldest church in town; or maybe relax alongside the locals at one of the many Biergarten or breweries to sample one of the Bavarian beer specialties. Return to your ship in the afternoon. (B,D)
In the early morning hours, arrive in medieval Bamberg, former residence of one of Germany’s most powerful imperial dynasties and today a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Your GUIDED WALK takes in its historic centre, including the great 13th-century Romanesque cathedral and the fascinating Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall)-built on an island in the middle of the Regnitz River when the bishop refused to give the townspeople land for a town hall! This afternoon, enjoy some relaxing time on board as you cruise toward Wurzburg on the Main River. (B,L,D)
Arrive in Wurzburg during breakfast. Surrounded by verdant hillside vineyards, Wurzburg, also known as the “Pearl of the Romantic Road,” makes an immediate impression with imposing Fortress Marienberg perched above town and the 15th-century Alte Mainbrucke (Old Main Bridge). On your GUIDED SIGHTSEEING TOUR, visit the magnificent baroque BISHOP’S RESIDENZ, home to the largest ceiling fresco ever painted. This afternoon you might like to join an optional excursion to medieval Rothenburg. (B,L,D)
On the banks of the Main River you find cultural gems of small towns, many of them tucked away behind defensive walls and towered gates. Half timbered houses, narrow streets and medieval town centres, these picturesque Bavarian villages are a photographer’s delight. Join your Local Guide to experience one of these towns on a GUIDED WALK. (B,L,D)
Pretty Rudesheim is the perfect example of a Rhine Valley wine town, and SIEGFRIED’S MECHANICAL MUSICAL INSTRUMENT MUSEUM is a real surprise. Enjoy a SPECIAL TREAT, then there’s free time to explore the Drosselgasse and pick up some souvenirs. Downstream, the dramatic RHINE GORGE is the most beautiful stretch of river. Pass the legendary rock of the Lorelei, where sweet songs of local beauties lured enchanted sailors to their doom. (B,L,D)
Early this morning you arrive in the charming wine village of Bernkastel on the Moselle River. With its fascinating narrow streets and half-timbered houses that have stood since the Middle Ages, you’ll enjoy a GUIDED WALK that includes the beautiful marketplace with its renaissance-style Town Hall-built in 1608-and the “pointed house,” built in 1416. The Moselle is famous for its wines, and growers in this area look after Germany’s largest expanse of vineyards, the most celebrated of the vintages being the Bernkasteler Doktor. Later this afternoon enjoy a TASTING of some of these well-loved German wines. (B,L,D)
After breakfast, an excursion takes you to Trier, Germany’s oldest city. Some say Trier is even older than Rome and that it was populated over a thousand years before the Romans arrived. Many Roman remains have survived, including a 20,000-seat amphitheater; the Porta Nigra, a fortified gate from the original Roman settlement, which still gives access to the town’s centre; imperial baths; and the Roman bridge, Germany’s oldest bridge, with stone pilings dating from 144 AD-all evidence of this once-grand Roman city. Trier also offers pleasant market squares, Germany’s oldest Christian church, and a cornucopia of architectural styles-Roman, baroque, neo-classicism, renaissance, and gothic. Choose from the included CITY SIGHTSEEING or the more history-focused “ROMAN TRIER” guided tour, followed by some free time, gives you the opportunity to discover this magnificent town. Rejoin your vessel and head for the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. (B,L,D)
Say goodbye to your crew after breakfast this morning. Travel to Luxembourg City or to Metz to board the HIGH-SPEED TRAIN to Paris, and enjoy GUIDED sightseeing upon arrival. Known as one of the world’s most romantic and lively cities, Paris is a delight for all your senses. Your INCLUDED CITY SIGHTSEEING shows you magnificent must-see sights, such as Notre Dame Cathedral, the unique Louvre Museum with its glass pyramid as a contrast to its ancient architecture, the commemorative Arc de Triomphe, and the Eiffel Tower. (B)
Today in your free time, stroll down the Champs-Elysees with its lavish cafes, or perhaps visit the world-famous Louvre museum, Palace of Versailles or Montmartre with its gleaming white Sacre Coeur Basilica and bevy of artists on Place du Tertre. All of this and more awaits your discovery! (B)
Your holiday ends with breakfast this morning. (B)