Day 1 Arrive in Vienna Austria (Embarkation).
Welcome to Vienna, known as the “City of Music” and a place that inspired the creative genius of Mozart, Beethoven, and Strauss. This afternoon board your river cruise vessel and meet your crew at an evening welcome reception. (D)
_Guests must be on board ship by 5 pm_
Day 2 Vienna.
Once the center of the mighty Habsburg Empire, Austria’s magical capital on the blue Danube is a showcase of gilded architecture. This is home to the lavish Hofburg Imperial Palace complex with its Vienna Boys’ Choir and dazzling Lipizzaner stallions; the neo-renaissance Vienna Opera House; and awe-inspiring St. Stephen’s Cathedral—to name just a few of the sights your Local Guide will show you during your INCLUDED TOUR. Stroll through the delightful pedestrian Kärntnerstrasse, and be sure to take a break and enjoy a piece of decadent Sachertorte or Apfelstrudel in a classic Viennese café. An optional concert is available during your stay.
Day 3 Dürnstein.
This morning stop in Dürnstein, whose baroque blue and white Stiftskirche stands right on the river bank and join a Local Expert for a GUIDED WALK. Afterward there is free time to explore this small town on your own, before you head into the beautiful and romantic Wachau Valley, where so much of the excellent Austrian wine is grown and produced. Relax on board and enjoy a leisurely afternoon of cruising.
Day 4 Passau, Germany.
Uniquely located where the Inn, Ilz, and Danube Rivers converge, Passau is a maze of narrow cobblestone streets lined with beautiful patrician houses and dominated by. St. Stephen’s Cathedral, a masterpiece of Italian baroque architecture. Take in the highlights on the included GUIDED WALK, or maybe join the full-day optional excursion to Salzburg to see some of The Sound of Music sights or to Český Krumlov in the Czech Republic, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Day 5 Regensburg.
This morning, arrive in Regensburg, 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. This evening, enjoy a tasting of some of Germany’s FAMOUS BEERS!
Day 6 Nuremberg.
This morning the choice is yours: Join a Local Guide for GUIDED SIGHTSEEING of Roth. This delightful Bavarian town, with its half-timbered houses and market square, is also an industrial center for textile manufacturing. Take pictures of Schloss Ratibor, an ancient hunting lodge built in 1535, with a most picturesque inner courtyard. Alternatively you might prefer to visit nearby Nuremberg . Although 90% of the city’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 either a 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 RALLY GROUNDS tour. During free time, be sure to make a wish at the beautiful fountain on the Hauptmarkt (main square). Legend says your wish will come true if you turn its gold ring three times.
Day 7 Kitzingen.
Situated on the Main east of Würzburg, Kitzingen is Bavaria’s biggest wine producer. GUIDED SIGHTSEEING shows you the city’s best-known sights such as the Fallerturm (Crooked Tower) and your Local Guide will recount some of the more delightful myths surrounding the founding of the city.
Day 8 Würzburg.
Early this morning arrive in Würzburg. Surrounded by verdant hillside vineyards, Würzburg, also known as the “Pearl of the Romantic Road,” makes an immediate impression with imposing Marienberg Fortress perched above town and the 15th-century Alte Mainbrucke (Old Main Bridge). On your included GUIDED SIGHTSEEING TOUR, visit the magnificent baroque BISHOP’S RESIDENZ, home to the largest ceiling fresco ever painted. This afternoon you are free to explore on your own, or maybe join an optional excursion to medieval Rothenburg. (B,L,D)
Day 9 Karlstadt.
This morning enjoy GUIDED SIGHTSEEING of this interesting town which was once an important player in the wine growing industry. Then after lunch relax on board as you sail on the Main River towards Frankfurt. (B,L,D)
Day 10 Frankfurt.
Today you have the choice between GUIDED SIGHTSEEING of Frankfurt, or joining an excursion to Seligenstadt. Frankfurt on the Main is a city of superlatives: it is the largest financial center in continental Europe, home to the European Central Bank, and the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, one of the world’s largest. The city is a center for culture, commerce and education, and hosts the world’s largest motor show as well as the world’s largest book fair. It has two major botanical gardens, one of which is Germany’s largest. Seligenstadt is one of the oldest towns in Germany. The city’s most important building is the Einhard Basilika, on which Pope Pius XI bestowed the honorary title of “minor basilica” in 1925. (B,L,D)
Day 11 Excursion to Heidelberg.
This morning, an excursion takes you 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. See the 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! Enjoy the afternoon relaxing on board as you head for Strasbourg.
Day 12 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 an important city that manages to retain its historic charm. In fact, on your included SIGHTSEEING 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 middle of medieval Strasbourg, featuring a statue of the inventor of the printing press. An optional excursion into the Alsace wine country is available.
Day 13 Basel, Switzerland (Disembarkation).
Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning.