Travel back through centuries as you walk along cobblestone streets through grand cities and historic towns bedecked with twinkling Christmas trees and lined with wooden huts gleaming with handcrafted treasures. Iconic Christmas Markets are plentiful and are on full display for your pleasure: Budapest’s Vörösmarty Square, where all products sold in the market are guaranteed as traditionally handmade; Vienna with its impressive Christmas Markets that seem to majestically appear around every corner; Nuremberg’s festive Christkindlesmarkt, the largest and oldest Christmas Market in Germany; and Regensburg’s Christmas Market at Thurn and Taxis Castle, considered one of Bavaria’s most beautiful and romantic—along with many others throughout your journey—are yours to explore. Sparkling lights; the festive sounds of children dressed as angels singing carols; enticing smells of hot-mulled wine, roasted chestnuts, sausages and sweet treats of every kind; and timeless wonders are a feast for all your senses.
EMBARKATION – NUREMBERG, GERMANY. Board your cruise in Nuremberg. Tonight, gather on board your ship and meet your fellow passengers.. The ship will moor overnight in Nuremberg.
NUREMBERG. Join a city tour of WWII highlights and then walk through Nuremberg’s cobblestone streets to the Imperial Castle and 900-year-old city ramparts, followed by a visit to some of the local Christmas markets. Alternatively, you can taste your way through the city with a Franconian specialties tour, which introduces you to bratwurst, rotbier (red beer) and lebkuchen (gingerbread). Later, you can visit Nuremberg’s Christkindlesmarkt, one of the world’s largest and most famous Christmas markets. You will also cross the Continental Divide via the Main-Danube Canal as the day ends.
REGENSBURG. Regensburg is one of Germany’s best preserved medieval cities, as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Join a guided walking tour showcasing the city’s architectural highlights, including the Old Town Hall and the Porta Praetoria, before visiting the Old Town Christmas market. As an alternate option, sample some of Bavaria’s specialties—beer, sausage and pretzels. Or bike to the base of Walhalla where there is a neoclassical white marble temple inspired by the Parthenon in Athens. Later in the day, you’ll be treated to one of Bavaria’s most beautiful and romantic Christmas markets at Thurn and Taxis, where you can watch artisans make their unique arts and crafts. (B,L,D
PASSAU. Join a walking tour of this 2,000-year-old city, noted for its Gothic and Italian Baroque architecture and St. Stephen’s. Go in search of Bavarian-style crafts at the Christmas Market. Alternatively, you can travel through the serene Austrian Alps to Salzburg, birthplace of Mozart. Your full-day excursion in Salzburg includes a walking tour of the UNESCO-designated Old Town, its magnificent cathedral and Christmas Market, which is a feast for the senses. For the active adventurer, join a guided bike tour along the Danube.
MELK, AUSTRIA – VIENNA. Cruise to Melk, known for its magnificent Benedictine Abbey, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Europe’s largest and most revered monasteries. Visit this magnificent Benedictine Abbey, which now houses a museum chronicling its history and a famous library with countless medieval manuscripts. Alternatively, go on a guided bike ride along the Danube and through the scenic the Wachau Valley.
VIENNA. The “City of Waltzes” offers a treasure trove of gems just waiting to be discovered. Join a tour showcasing its regal splendors, such as the majestic Opera House and the former Imperial Palace of the Habsburgs before concluding in Vienna’s historic city center. Afterwards, you'll visit the Rathaus (Town Hall) Christmas Market. If you prefer a more active adventure, then join a guided bike ride along the Danube. During the afternoon, visit the Karlsplatz (Artisans) Christmas Market, a local favorite, and the market at Schönbrunn Palace with a giant sparkling Christmas tree. Cap the day off with "Vienna by Night" Christmas Markets at the beautifully decorated Maria Theresaplatz Christmas Market, set amongst the world-renowned sights of Vienna's majestic Ringstrasse, and at the illuminated Rathaus, Vienna’s largest Christmas Market.
BUDAPEST, HUNGARY. Home to several UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the Buda Castle quarter in Castle Hill and Heroes’ Square, Budapest offers an unmatched combination of culture, tradition and even a secret labyrinth of caves and caverns under the city. Your city tour begins with a visit to the vibrant Great Market Hall brimming with vendors selling everything from food to souvenirs. The remainder of this tour takes you to both the Buda (hilly) and the Pest (flat) sides of the river. Afterwards, you’ll visit Vörösmarty Square, the oldest, richest and the most spectacular of all the Christmas markets in Budapest.
BUDAPEST – DISEMBARKATION. Bid farewell to Budapest as you prepare for your flight home.