Welcome to Budapest, one of the most cosmopolitan cities in Eastern Europe. You will be met at the airport and transferred to the comfortable surrounds of your Emerald Waterways Star-Ship, where your friendly captain and crew will be waiting to greet you.
This evening, relax on board as you watch an authentic Hungarian folklore show and indulge in a dinner of traditional cuisine.
A traditional Hungarian folklore show
Budapest is a place of striking contrasts, with Buda on one side housing a generous scattering of the city’s elegant landmarks and Pest on the other encapsulating Budapest’s fascinating past. The two are separated by the mighty Danube, and you can explore them both by crossing the Chain Bridge, one of the most symbolic structures in the capital.
Today, you will have the opportunity to discover the city’s history during a guided tour, including the Castle District, where sights of Buda Castle perched on top of a rocky outcrop overlooking the city are certain to delight. If you are feeling active, then you may instead choose to hike to Buda Hill, following a maze of cobblestone streets to the massive Baroque masterpiece towering overhead.
A guided tour of Budapest
A hike to Buda Hill
Bordering Austria and Hungary, the Slovakian capital is yours to discover today. Wander down cobblestone streets and witness the sheer majesty of ornate Baroque palaces as you explore with a local guide, passing the Renaissance courtyard of the Old Town Hall and the picturesque gardens of the Episcopal Summer Palace. Afterwards, enjoy free time to explore at leisure, perhaps perusing some of the quaint boutiques that line the streets.
This afternoon, you will be welcomed into the home of a local family to learn about their culture over traditional sweet treats and coffee.
Home-hosted coffee and cake with a Slovakian family
A guided hike to Bratislava Castle
A walking tour of Bratislava
A wave of culture paves the way for life in the Austrian capital, where some of history’s most prestigious composers once walked the streets and found their inspiration, before taking to the opulent surrounds of the Vienna State Opera. Today, you will have the opportunity to pass iconic imperial palaces and a number of noteworthy buildings adorning the Ringstrasse, both by coach and on foot.
Alternatively, embark on a guided cycling tour past idyllic riverbanks, monuments and lush parks before passing by Prater.
A guided bike tour
A guided tour of Vienna
A visit to Schönbrunn Palace (extra expense)
An exclusive Viennese concert with music from Mozart and Strauss (extra expense)
Dürnstein - Melk
This morning, you will have the opportunity to hike to Dürnstein Castle, perhaps stopping to imagine how it would have looked when it held Richard the Lionheart captive following the Third Crusade. Alternatively, enjoy a guided bike ride from Dürnstein to Melk, passing noteworthy vineyards and settling down for lunch on the riverbanks.
After visiting Dürnstein Castle, relax on the Sun Deck as you sail through the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Wachau Valley and on to Melk, nestled in the heart of the Wachau wine region. Your local guide will take you on a tour of the spectacular 900-year-old Benedictine abbey, including its ancient monastic library and medieval manuscripts, saved by the monks from fires in the 13th century.
A guided hike to Dürnstein Castle
A guided bike tour along the Danube
A tour of Melk Abbey
Sat on the confluence of the Danube, Inn and Ilz rivers, Passau is a postcard-worthy destination that has been shaped by the surrounding waterways. Maze-like romantic lanes weave through the city, opening up into large squares and magical promenades adorned with classical boutiques.
This afternoon, join your local guide for a tour of Passau and discover a peppering of delightful Baroque buildings, some of which date back to the 17th century. Stop to admire the silhouette of the hilltop Oberhaus Fortress and witness St. Stephen’s Cathedral, home of the largest church organ in Europe. Later, return for an afternoon spent peacefully cruising through the heart of Europe.
A guided tour of Passau
A tour of Salzburg (extra expense)
A tour of Ceský Krumlov (extra expense)
Regensburg - Kelheim
After breakfast, set out on an exploration of one of the best-preserved medieval cities in Germany, where more than two millennia of history is yours to discover. Your local guide will lead you through the heart of Regensburg’s UNESCO World Heritage-listed Old Town, once home to the seat of parliament. Delightful historic patrician houses line the streets, a visible testament to the area’s importance as a trading centre hundreds of years ago.
Later, return to your Star-Ship to sail through the picturesque surrounds of the Main-Danube Canal, passing Kelheim as you make your way to Nuremberg.
A Bavarian band performance on board
A guided tour of Regensburg
Visit to a local brewery (extra expense)
After breakfast, it’s time to say farewell to your fellow guests and depart the Star-Ship for your transfer to the airport, taking memories of the postcard-worthy Danube river.
This itinerary is a guide only and may be amended for operational reasons such as high and low water. As such, the cruise may operate altered from that stated above.