Arrive at the Bucharest airport and transfer to the superior first-class Radisson Blu Hotel Bucharest (or similar) in the heart of the city for a 1-night stay. Spend the rest of the day relaxing, or do some exploring on your own.
After breakfast, check out of your hotel and take a morning tour of the city. See the city’s wide boulevards, the Romanian Athenaeum, the Arch of Triumph and the Palace of Parliament. Visit the outdoor Muzeul Satului, otherwise known as the Village Museum, where authentic dwellings from all regions of the country have been relocated and reassembled, including rural cottages, farmhouses and water mills. During lunch at a local restaurant, enjoy a lively folkloric performance that recalls the simple pleasures of rural life. You then proceed to Giurgiu to board your ship and enjoy a welcome dinner. (B, L, D)
After breakfast, disembark at Russe for a full-day excursion to Bulgaria’s former capital, Veliko Tarnovo. See Tsaravets Hill and the ruins of the royal castle. During free time, shop for local crafts along Samovodska Charshia. Continue your venture to Arbanasi for lunch in a local restaurant and a guided tour of the Nativity Church, with its intricate floor-to-ceiling murals and icons. Return to your ship for dinner. (B, L, D)
Arrive in the picturesque Bulgarian port of Vidin, and take an excursion to see Belogradchik Fortress, built right into the striking Belogradchik Rocks. See the fortress’s amazing construction, begun in Roman times and greatly extended by Bulgarian tsars and the Ottomans, and enjoy breathtaking views. Enjoy lunch on board your ship; then you have free time to explore Vidin’s city center, Orthodox churches and the ruins of the city’s once-grand synagogue. We depart during dinner. (B, L, D)
Today, enjoy scenic cruising as you travel through one of the most picturesque areas of the Lower Danube. The Iron Gate is one of Europe’s most dramatic natural wonders—a spectacular narrow gorge with enormous white limestone cliffs. Take in your Cruise Director’s commentary about the region and scenic points of interest as you sail toward the next port. (B, L, D)
Wake up in Belgrade, capital of Serbia. Take a guided walk through the grounds of Kalemegdan Fortress, now a stately park; also see the Orthodox cathedral and stop at the Square of the Republic. Enjoy lunch on board your ship before you have free time to explore Belgrade’s gracious architecture or visit one of its many museums, such as the Nikola Tesla Museum. Dine on board your ship or experience some of Belgrade’s nightlife. We depart very late this evening. (B, L, D)
Cruise along the Danube, arriving at Vukovar around noon. Disembark for an afternoon excursion to the charming Croatian city of Osijek. Inhabited since Neolithic times, this area has had several heydays under the Romans, the Ottomans and the Hapsburgs; now, Vukovar is revered for its baroque buildings, parks and monuments. Return on board for dinner. (B, L, D)
Sail into Hungary this morning, arriving in Kalocsa after lunch. Take a guided city tour followed by a short organ concert at St. Joseph Church. Then, you are treated to a performance of traditional Puszta horsemanship. Return to the ship and enjoy a festive final dinner on board as we depart for Budapest. (B, L, D)
Arrive in Budapest, capital of Hungary. Situated along the Danube, it combines the once separate towns of hilly Buda and cosmopolitan Pest into a city rich with history. Your guided tour shows you both sides, starting with Pest’s National Opera House and historic Heroes’ Square. In Buda, walk along Castle Hill to Fishermen’s Bastion and Matthias Church. Take some free time to explore before returning on board for a traditional Hungarian dinner. (B, L, D)
Today is yours to explore Budapest on your own. Visit a museum; do some shopping; ride the innovative, efficient metro; relax in one of the Art Nouveau spas; or see the Great Synagogue and Jewish Quarter. As always, your Program Director can help you plan your free time. Lunch and dinner are served on board; we remain docked until the wee hours, so spend some more time ashore this evening if you like. (B, L, D)
Enjoy a day of scenic cruising along the beautiful Danube toward Vienna. As we sail, perhaps join this morning’s German language lesson to learn a few key words and phrases. You may also choose to attend an afternoon presentation on Viennese coffee houses. We arrive early this evening. After dinner, relax or enjoy an optional classical concert. (B, L, D)
Today we tour the Austrian capital of Vienna. Ride along the Ringstrasse, which replaced the city walls in the mid-19th century. See some of the city’s baroque architecture, including the world-famous Opera House, St. Stephan’s Cathedral and Hofburg Palace. Return to your ship for lunch. The rest of the day is yours to further explore. As always, your Program Director can help you plan your free time. Alternately, you may wish to join us on one of the day’s optional excursions, perhaps touring Schönbrunn Palace, the “Versailles of Vienna,” visiting the Spanish Riding School’s famed Lipizzaner stallions, or celebrating a local tradition this evening at a high-spirited Heurigen dinner. (B, L, D)
Today, visit the abbey at Melk, a 900-year-old Benedictine monastery featuring Austria’s finest Italian baroque architecture. See its wonderful frescoes and admire the comprehensive collection of medieval manuscripts in its library. Rejoin your ship and cruise through dinner. (B, L, D)
Arrive this morning in Passau, at the confluence of the Inn, Ilz and Danube Rivers. Your guided walk along the town’s narrow streets takes you through Old Town and past traditional patrician houses. Admire the New Bishop’s Residence and visit the impressive baroque St. Stephen’s Cathedral with its ornate interior. Inside, you are treated to a special concert played on the 17,000-pipe organ, considered Europe’s largest church organ.† Enjoy lunch on board your ship, and return to the city for further exploration on your own before departing. Alternately, set out this morning with your guide to enjoy a full-day optional tour of picturesque Salzburg, the birthplace of Mozart and setting of The Sound of Music. We cruise through the night. (B, L, D)†Passau organ concert is available May 1–October 31 only and is closed on Sundays.
Arrive in Regensburg after breakfast and tour this wonderfully preserved medieval city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, including structures dating back to Roman times. Discover many 13th- and 14th-century patrician houses and see the splendid St. Peter’s Cathedral. During free time, visit the Alte Würstküche (Old Sausage Kitchen), Germany’s oldest restaurant. Alternately, you may choose to disembark this morning and drive with your guide to Munich for an optional full-day tour of this cultural and historic city, rejoining your ship before our evening departure. Cruise through dinner. (B, L, D)
Cruise the Main–Danube Canal this morning. Or, instead, disembark in Roth for a short drive to Nuremberg and use your free time to explore until lunchtime. After lunch, venture out on a tour of the city. Visit the ruins of Zeppelin Field, the Nazi parade grounds of the 1930s, and see the Palace of Justice, site of the infamous Nuremberg Trials. See the Old Town area as you walk past the Albrecht Dürer House and Main Market Square. Alternately, you may choose to join an optional afternoon World War II tour including the illuminating Documentation Center. Dinner is served on board your ship before we depart late this evening. (B, L, D)
Continue along the Main–Danube Canal this morning, arriving in Bamberg in early afternoon. Enjoy a tour of Bamberg, with its medieval city center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Your walking tour includes a visit to the magnificent 11th-century cathedral, reworked in late Romanesque style in the 13th century, and the picturesque city hall built on a tiny island in the middle of a river. Take some free time to enjoy Bamberg and sample some of the town’s distinctive smoke-flavored beer before returning on board. (B, L, D)
Today, enjoy an onboard lunch, then tour Würzburg’s Bishops’ Residenz, one of Germany’s largest and most ornate baroque palaces and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Or, you may choose to disembark this morning to experience an optional full-day journey along Germany’s picturesque “Romantic Road” to Rothenburg, with its turreted city wall and impressive Gothic and baroque architecture. Upon returning to Würzburg, enjoy a tour of the Bishops’ Residenz before rejoining your ship for dinner and an evening glassblowing demonstration. (B, L, D)
Wertheim is located at the confluence of the Main and Tauber Rivers. During your morning walking tour, experience life in a typical small German town. Stop in a bakery and a butcher shop, and learn about Wertheim’s glassblowing tradition. Enjoy free time to explore before returning to your ship for lunch. Alternately, depart this morning on an all-day optional excursion that offers a rare glimpse into noble life, enjoying Privileged Access visits to two very different castles: Schloss Mespelbrunn and Schloss Löwenstein. (B, L, D)
Today, we cruise past hilltop castles along the Rhine; this stunning stretch of the river is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Be sure to keep an eye out for the Lorelei Rock, which marks the river’s narrowest point; the rock is named after a legendary Rhine Maiden who lured sailors to their demise. This afternoon, we’ll stop to visit Marksburg Castle, the only Rhine fortress never destroyed. Rejoin your ship in Koblenz and dine on board. (B, L, D)
Arrive in Cologne during breakfast, then disembark for a tour of Germany’s fourth largest city. Stroll through Old Town past St. Martin’s Church and visit the Dom, Germany’s largest cathedral and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Spend your free time enjoying Cologne’s atmospheric waterfront, or perhaps join an optional excursion on which you will ascend to the Dom’s roof for up-close views of the cathedral’s architecture and bird’s-eye vistas of Cologne. Afterward, return on board for dinner. Alternately, you may set off on an optional excursion to explore Cologne’s spirited beer culture, sampling Kölsch, a light, crisp beer brewed only in Cologne, and enjoying a brauhaus dinner. After, return to your ship for a late-evening departure. (B, L, D)
We sail along the Rhine during the morning hours. Admire scenic views and enjoy a morning of enjoyable Dutch diversions: sample Dutch cheeses and jenever, a distilled juniper liquor, and take in a culturally enriching presentation on the Dutch Golden Age. This afternoon, your ship arrives in Kinderdijk, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Disembark for an afternoon tour of this ingenious network of windmills and other flood management devices. You learn why the windmills were built and see how they work, plus you enter a working windmill for a tour of its mechanisms and living quarters. Board your ship for departure and dinner. Arrive in Amsterdam around midnight. (B, L, D)
After breakfast, disembark and proceed to the airport for your return flight.* Or, extend your journey with 2 additional nights in Amsterdam; take time to explore the city’s neighborhoods, museums and exciting nightlife. (B)* Ground transfers are included with Viking Air purchase.