Arrive in Budapest in the early afternoon and embark on your Scenic Space-Ship. Enjoy a welcome dinner on board this evening.
Discover two distinct sides of the Hungarian capital—the cobbled hills of Buda and the grand boulevards of Pest, linked by eight stately bridges that span the Danube. Take the historic funicular up Castle Hill to see the Royal Palace and visit Matthias Church, the stunning setting for the coronations and weddings of the Habsburg royalty. Alternatively, explore Budapest on a city tour, and opt to delve into bustling Great Market Hall, Budapest’s largest indoor market.
Enjoy views of rolling hills and quaint riverside towns as we cruise north along the Danube to Austrias enchanting capital, Vienna. This evening, take in the luxury of Palais Liechtenstein while enjoying a glass of fine Austrian Sekt, and enjoy an enchanting private evening concert in this sumptuous venue featuring the timeless music of Strauss and Mozart.
This morning, visit Viennas Schönbrunn Palace, host to an intimate, upscale Christmas market during the holiday season. You may instead opt to take a specially arranged tour of the Museum of Natural History for an inside look at its meteorite exhibit, co-curated by National Geographic grantee Ludovic Ferrière. Or peruse the galleries of the Belvedere Museum, home to the world’s largest collection of Gustav Klimt paintings, and stroll the beautiful stalls of the Belvedere Christmas market.
Later, step into a magical winter wonderland at the city’s Christkindlmarkt, framed by twinkle-lit trees and the soaring neo-Gothic city hall, its lights all aglow. Wander past merchants selling roasted chestnuts and Weihnachtspunsch, a spicy spiked punch—the perfect accompaniments as you browse stalls brimming with beeswax candles and hand-blown glass ornaments.
In Austria’s Wachau Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage site, hike to the hilltop ruins of Dürnstein’s medieval castle or embark on an enjoyable bike ride along the river from Dürnstein to Melk. Alternatively, visit Artstetten Castle, the final resting place of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and meet with direct descendants of the family who still live in the castle. You may also opt to enjoy a guided tour of Melk’s 18th-century Benedictine abbey, one of the world’s most magnificent baroque buildings. This evening, sip a cocktail as we cruise past churches and castles festooned with holiday décor.
Salzburg, Austria or Ceský Krumlov, Czech Republic
Today, choose between a visit to Salzburg or the Czech town of Ceský Krumlov—both designated World Heritage sites. Stroll the storybook streets of Salzburgs Old Town, host to one of the continent’s oldest Christmas markets, set in a picturesque square in front of the Salzburg Cathedral and beneath the city’s iconic medieval castle. Or tour Ceský Krumlov’s historic center, a labyrinth of cobblestoned streets lined with medieval, baroque, and Renaissance houses.
Situated at the confluence of the Danube, Naab, and Regen rivers, Regensburg once served as a free imperial city of the Holy Roman Empire. Set out on a guided walk through Regensburg’s medieval center to see its splendid Gothic cathedral, 12th-century stone bridge, and the ancient Roman gateway to the city. Alternatively, browse stalls aglow with candles and twinkling lights at a market in the courtyard of St. Emmeram Palace, or venture to one of the other themed markets sprinkled throughout town.
After breakfast, disembark in Nuremberg and depart for the airport or your next destination. Please book flights to depart after 12pm from Nuremberg and after 2pm from Munich.
Please note: Pre–release itinerary, subject to change