Welcome to Budapest, capital of Hungary. Transfer to your ship from the airport.* After boarding, the afternoon is yours to relax or do a bit of exploring. After dinner on board tonight, enjoy an evening cruise on your ship to admire Budapest’s beautiful scenery from the vantage point of the Danube River. (D)* Airport meet & greet transfers included when air is purchased from Viking River Cruises
Today we visit highlights of the hilly Buda and cosmopolitan Pest sides of the city, 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; the rest of the day is yours to explore the city. You may choose to join us on an optional excursion to experience the thermal springs, restorative natural spas whose waters locals have bathed in for centuries. Or, perhaps select another of our optional excursions designed to allow you to delve deeper into the history, culture and cuisine of this fascinating city. Return to your ship for dinner and evening departure. (B, L, D)
Arrive in Bratislava this afternoon and embark on a walking tour of Slovakia’s charming capital with a long and fascinating history. It is the only national capital that borders two other countries, Austria and Hungary. See attractions like the medieval Town Hall complex and fortifications at Michael’s Tower, the baroque Jesuit Church and Gothic St. Martin’s Cathedral, and pass by several Hapsburg-era baroque palaces before returning to your ship. This evening you can relax or take a walk before our late departure. (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)
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)
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)
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 an onboard lunch, but return to the city to further explore on your own before dinner. (B, L, D)†Passau organ concert is only available May 1-October 31 and is closed on Sunday.
Disembark and transfer to Salzburg today. Along the way, see the most renowned sites where The Sound of Music was filmed, including Mondsee Cathedral, where Maria and Baron von Trapp were married, Hellbrunn Palace, Leopoldskron Palace, Nonnberg Abbey and, of course, the gardens at Mirabell Palace, where the Pegasus Fountain and a now-famous stairway played a role in the song “Do-Re-Mi.” This afternoon, check into your hotel in Salzburg, the revered birthplace of Mozart and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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, transfer to Munich, the historic capital of German Bavaria. After lunch on your own, spend the afternoon exploring the city with your guide. 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.
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)
After breakfast, check out of your hotel and proceed to the airport for your return flight.*