Arrive in Munich, the historic capital of German Bavaria. Transfer from the airport to your hotel, then take some free time to get acquainted with the city on your own. Perhaps you’ll browse the main square, Marienplatz.
Today’s full-day tour takes you to two of the region’s most spectacular palatial treasures built by one of Bavaria’s most celebrated monarchs, King Ludwig II. Begin with a drive into the countryside, where you will visit the famed castle of Neuschwanstein. This fairy-tale fortress was built by Ludwig as homage to composer Richard Wagner. Then, continue to Linderhof Palace, said to have been inspired by the Palace of Versailles despite its relatively small size. (B)
Explore Munich this morning on a guided city tour. See Nymphenburg Palace, former summer residence of Bavarian rulers, the broad Maximilianstrasse, lined with impressive neo-Gothic buildings, monuments, high-end shops and the Bavarian State Opera. Observe the famous Glockenspiel at Marienplatz, and experience the gastronomic joy of the Viktualienmarkt, these days a gourmet market renowned for its diversity and size. After lunch, you will continue to Salzburg, the revered birthplace of Mozart and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. (B)
During a morning walking tour of Salzburg, you will see the place of Mozart’s birth. Then, continue to the Alter Markt, Salzburg’s oldest marketplace, dating from the 13th century. On Cathedral Square, see the impressive Salzburg Cathedral and the statue of the Virgin Mary, surrounded by allegoric figures on four sides, as well as St. Peter’s Abbey and Salzburg’s famous Festival Halls, where international stars of opera, concert and theater have performed during the Salzburg Festival for nearly a century. The afternoon is free to continue exploring on your own. (B)
This morning, see the most renowned sites where The Sound of Music was filmed, including the gardens at Mirabell Palace, where the Pegasus Fountain and a now-famous stairway played a role in the song “Do-Re-Mi.” You will also see Nonnberg Abbey, Leopoldskron Palace, Hellbrunn Palace, and Mondsee Cathedral, where Maria and Baron von Trapp’s wedding was filmed. Continue to Passau, where the Inn and Ilz Rivers meet the Danube, to embark your ship.
Today you will take a walking tour of this elegant town, called the Dreiflüssestadt (“City on Three Rivers”), which is situated at the confluence of the Danube, Ilz and Inn Rivers. You’ll see 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.† This afternoon, you are free to explore Passau. See the sights and experience the local culture, or simply relax aboard your ship before departure. (B, L, D)†Passau organ concert is only available May 1-October 31 and is closed on Sunday.
Arrive in Linz this morning and set off on an all-day excursion to the beautiful Bohemian town of Český Krumlov, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Ride through the scenic Czech countryside and take a walking tour featuring the lovely historic center of the city with many baroque and Renaissance buildings, dating back hundreds of years. You have some free time to enjoy Krumlov’s charming streets, filled with cafés, shops, galleries and pubs. Maybe stop for lunch in one of the many local restaurants. Return aboard for dinner and a late-evening departure. (B, D)
This morning, visit the 900-year-old abbey at Melk, a Benedictine monastery that began life as a castle of Leopold II. See its spectacular wall and ceiling frescoes; take note of the library’s comprehensive medieval manuscript collection; and admire the graceful spiral staircase. After lunch aboard your ship, we stop at the picturesque Wachau Valley town of Dürnstein, where you can explore on your own, or join an optional excursion to sample some local vintages from this famous wine-producing region. (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 choose to join an optional excursion to see the famed Lipizzaner Stallions; or, express your creativity and create a lasting keepsake at an optional art workshop inspired by the work of Gustav Klimt. After dinner, relax or enjoy an optional classical concert. (B, L, D)
After an afternoon arrival, you embark on a walking tour of Slovakia’s charming capital to see attractions like the medieval fortifications at Michael’s Tower, baroque Jesuit Church and Gothic St. Martin’s Cathedral. You also pass by several baroque palaces from the Hapsburg Dynasty before you return to your ship and depart late tonight. (B, L, D)
Today we visit highlights of the once separate towns of Buda and Pest, starting with Pest’s National Opera House and historic Heroes’ Square. In Buda, walk along Castle Hill to Fishermen’s Bastion and Matthias Church. Enjoy lunch aboard your ship, with the rest of the day to explore on your own. You may wish to visit the Art Nouveau Gellért Spa, or one of the many other lavish facilities in this “City of Healing Waters.” Return to your ship for a traditional Hungarian farewell dinner. (B, L, D)
After breakfast, disembark and proceed to the airport for your return flight.* Or, extend your journey with 2 additional nights in Budapest, giving yourself more time to explore the bustling Hungarian capital. (B)