Day 1 Passau, Germany (Embarkation).
This afternoon board your river cruise vessel and meet your crew at a welcome reception this evening as you set sail for Regensburg. (D)
Day 2 Regensburg.
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 Brücke (Stone Bridge), the oldest of its kind in Germany. Grab a beer and enjoy an included SNACK at the Historische Wurstküche (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. Before dinner, we’ll introduce you to some of Germany’s FAMOUS BEERS. (B,L,D)
Day 3 Nuremberg.
Today, enjoy a relaxing morning of cruising before arriving in Nuremberg. 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. Choose from an included GUIDED SIGHTSEEING TOUR and marvel at this thousand-year-old city’s medieval fortifications, extraordinary gothic churches, and the Kaiserburg (Imperial Castle), or join a more specialized “NUREMBERG TRIALS” tour. (B,L,D)
Day 4 Kitzingen.
Kitzingen is the center of the wine trade in the region known as Franconia. Join your LOCAL GUIDE for a visit of this city on the river Main. See the city’s main landmark, the leaning tower with its distinctive crooked roof, and the renaissance Town Hall, built in 1563 and formerly used as a watch tower and prison. (B,L,D)
Day 5 Würzburg.
Surrounded by verdant hillside vineyards, Würzburg, 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, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to the largest ceiling fresco ever painted. The afternoon is free for you to explore or shop, or you may wish to join an optional excursion to the medieval walled city of Rothenburg on the “Romantic Road.” (B,L,D)
Day 6 Main River Village Experience.
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 centers, 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)
Day 7 Boppard–Rhine Gorge–Rüdesheim.
This morning, arrive in Boppard on the left bank of the Rhine. After breakfast, a GUIDED WALK will acquaint you with this town, which saw its beginnings as a Celtic settlement, then a Roman stronghold, and today as a spa center and a popular tourist destination. During lunch, sail southward through the most dramatic part of the river, the RHINE GORGE, before arriving in Rüdesheim, the perfect example of a Rhine Valley wine town. Visit SIEGFRIED’S MECHANICAL MUSICAL INSTRUMENT MUSEUM, where you’ll see and hear a large collection of self-playing calliopes and music boxes from the 18th to the early 20th centuries; and enjoy a SPECIAL TREAT. (B,L,D)
Day 8 Excursion to Heidelberg.
This morning, relax on board before joining an afternoon excursion to HEIDELBERG, home to the oldest university in Germany, founded in 1386. With a Local Guide, visit the imposing ruins of HEIDELBERG CASTLE, towering magnificently over the city and among the most important Renaissance structures north of the Alps. You’ll also see the famed GREAT VAT, the “World’s Largest Wine Barrel.” At nearly 23 feet high and 28 feet wide, the cask holds over 58,000 gallons of wine and has a dance floor built on top of it! (B,L,D)
Day 9 Strasbourg, France.
Situated on the border of France and Germany, Strasbourg blends the cultures of both countries in a delightful way. As capital of the Alsace region and seat of the Council of Europe and European Parliament, it is without a doubt an important city, yet it manages to retain its historic charm. In fact, here, on your included WALKING TOUR, you will discover Europe at its most quintessential. Visit the monumental red-sandstone GOTHIC CATHEDRAL with its ancient murals, stained-glass windows, and fascinating astronomical clock, as well as the magical LA PETITE FRANCE district, home to half-timbered houses, quaint shops, inviting bistros, and a waterfront promenade. Also spend time exploring Place Kléber, a large historic square in the heart of the city, and Place Gutenberg in the heart of medieval Strasbourg, which features a statue of the inventor of the printing press. A choice of optional excursions is available this afternoon; a trip into the Alsace wine region in France may strike your fancy, or on the other side of the river in Germany, the Black Forest beckons. (B,L,D)
Day 10 Basel, Switzerland (Disembarkation).
Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning.NOTE:Departure flights should not leave Zürich airport before 10 am.