Welcome to Nuremberg, Bavaria’s second largest city. Transfer from the airport to your ship.* After boarding, you have free time to stretch your legs and explore the city a bit on your own. (D)
Your morning tour of Nuremberg includes the ruins of Zeppelin Field, the Nazi parade grounds of the 1930s, and the Palace of Justice, the venerable vestige of the Nuremberg Trials. You have a brief stop at the main courthouse before walking from the imperial palace grounds, past the Albrecht Dürer House and on to the Main Market Square of Old Town, enclosed within ancient city walls.
After lunch aboard your ship, join a lively and entertaining discussion of the European Union as you sail through the locks that comprise the Main–Danube Canal. An engineering marvel, the canal stretches 106 miles from Bamberg on the Main River to Kelheim on the Danube, enabling river travel from the North Sea to the Black Sea. Dinner is served aboard while we cruise through the night. (B, L, D)
This morning, meet your guide dockside for a walking tour through the scenic town of Regensburg, considered one of Europe’s best-preserved medieval cities. See one of the largest groupings of 13th- and 14th-century church spires, towers and patrician houses north of the Alps. You also encounter the 12th-century Old Stone Bridge, St. Peter’s Cathedral and a number of idyllic courtyards. Take time to stroll the streets or to shop. As always, your Program Director can help you plan your free time.
This afternoon, spend more time in Regensburg, perhaps visiting Germany’s oldest restaurant, the Alte Würstküche. Or, choose an optional excursion to Kelheim at the southernmost point of the Main–Danube Canal. Travel by road to Kelheim, then cast off on a ferryboat ride to explore the 400-foot chalk cliffs and dramatic scenery of the Danube Narrows. You also visit the renowned Weltenburg Abbey*, famous for its dark ale, brewed here by monks since 1050. Rejoin your ship for dinner and cruise through the night. (B, L, D)
*Weltenburg Abbey tour is available from May-October only
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. 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.† Enjoy lunch aboard your ship, and return to the city for further exploration on your own before departing. We cruise through the night. (B, L, D)†Passau organ concert is only available May 1-October 31 and is closed on Sunday.
This morning, cruise leisurely through the captivating Wachau Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Taste some local Austrian specialties as you spot attractive riverside towns and castle ruins along the way. After lunch, explore the time-honored town of Krems and see the Steiner Tor, the last remaining city gate. Visit Göttweig, a working Benedictine abbey that owns many of the vineyards along the Danube. The splendid ceiling fresco in the imperial stairwell is one of the largest in the world. Visit the church, a masterpiece of baroque architecture. Rejoin your ship and continue cruising through the splendid Wachau Valley. Arrive in Vienna after dinner and enjoy a relaxing evening, or you may choose to attend an optional concert in the “City of Waltzes.” (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. Or you may take an optional tour to Schönbrunn Palace, the “Versailles of Vienna,” erected in 1778 and graced by a number of formal gardens, Grecian statuary, the world’s oldest zoo and Roman ruins. Dinner is served aboard. (B, L, D)
Today is a free day to explore the elegance and splendor of Vienna on your own. Your Program Director will provide tips and guidance to help you make the most of your time in the former capital of the Hapsburg Empire. Visit one of the many exquisite museums, browse the boutiques along grand boulevards, admire magnificent architecture and stroll through lush, green parks. Be sure to sample the Viennese café culture, pausing to indulge in the city’s famed Sachertorte, the decadent chocolate cake invented here for a prince in 1832. You might also treat yourself to a ride through the city by horse-drawn carriage. (B, L, D)
Enjoy a tour of Esztergom, capital of Hungary from the 10th to mid-13th century. The medieval streets of Old Town recall days of Magyar princes. You’ll admire the massive green dome of its basilica rising above the Danube’s banks. Later, take in the natural beauty of one of the river’s most beautiful stretches today, the Danube Bend. Here, the emerald-green Transdanubian and North Hungarian Mountains flank the waterway as it curves sharply south toward Budapest. You will embark a small boat for scenic cruising of this magnificent region.
Later today, you will make your dramatic arrival in Budapest, greeted by the grand and Gothic Parliament Building on the Pest bank, Fisherman’s Bastion perched on the Buda side and the magnificent Chain Bridge linking the two halves of the city. You will have the evening free to explore this cosmopolitan gem. (B, L, D)
Take a panoramic city tour through the more modern Pest side of the city. Journey along Andrássy Avenue and see the 19th- and 20th-century mansions, National Opera House, Parliament Building and Chain Bridge. Stop in Heroes’ Square to learn more about Hungarian history, then cross the Danube to Buda’s Castle District. Walk up the hill to Fishermen’s Bastion and Matthias Church; enjoy brilliant views of the city below. Return to your ship for lunch and the rest of the day is yours to explore both sides of the city. (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)