Tour begins: 4:00 PM, Budapest. A transfer is included from Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport or Budapest Keleti Railway Station directly to your riverboat, docked right in the heart of Budapest. Tauck's two-week Danube, Main, and Rhine River cruise begins with a welcome toast followed by dinner aboard ship tonight.
Both sides of Budapest on the Danube
Standing on opposite banks of the Danube, Budapest's two distinct sections – Buda and Pest – were once independent cities that were linked together in the mid-19th century by the construction of the Chain Bridge to become a single city, today Hungary's capital. Explore both sides of the city on a guided tour featuring a mix of architectural masterpieces and monuments including Heroes' Square, dominated by statues of leaders from Hungarian history and surrounded by museums and stately embassy buildings; the Gothic-Revival home of the Hungarian Parliament, an iconic feature of the Budapest skyline along the Danube; Fishermen's Bastion, standing watch over the river; and the bustling Covered Market, a showcase of Hungarian specialties, from food to crafts. Spend the afternoon cruising past picturesque landscapes along the Danube en route to Slovakia and join us tonight for a welcome reception followed by dinner.
Bratislava & an Grand Evening in Vienna
An ancient city with a modern pulse, Slovakia's dynamic capital is home to an Old Town brimming with life – and devoid of cars – along with one of the youngest populations of any city in Europe today. Our local expert shares insider anecdotes about Bratislava before you join a walking tour of the cobblestoned city center, the perfect place for ambling. Seventeen centuries of Slovak history are eloquently chronicled in its 13th-century Old Town Hall, Baroque Habsburg-era palaces, the Opera House, Slovak Philharmonic Hall, and St. Martin's Cathedral, site of the coronation of many Hungarian royals. Cruise this afternoon to Vienna, enjoying the passing scenery and shipboard activities. Tonight, nothing quite compares to the royal treatment you'll experience at a Tauck Exclusive – our private evening in the Palais Ferstel, a 19th-century palace in the heart of the city. Welcome champagne precedes dinner and a live musical performance.
A visit to Schönbrunn Palace or the Hofburg
Wake up in Vienna, evoking quintessential images of Old World Europe. Sightseeing today includes your choice of guided visits to the Habsburgs' illustrious Schönbrunn Palace, an architectural masterpiece and Austrian cultural treasure, or a tour of the Hofburg – another former Habsburg royal palace that today is Austria's official presidential residence – including the Sisi Museum and the Imperial Apartments. Spend the remainder of the day as you please in Vienna.
Discover the Wachau Valley & Melk Abbey
Go ashore in Dürnstein this morning for a choice of activities. You can either go for a walk through the village with your Tauck Director followed, if you like, by a hike to the hilltop ruins of Kuenringerburg – the castle where England's King Richard the Lionhearted was held for ransom during the Crusades – or take a bicycle ride* in the vineyard-covered Wachau Valley. Later, cruise to Melk for a guided visit to its 900-year-old Benedictine abbey; both its Baroque architecture and river views impress. Return to your riverboat late afternoon; onboard ship tonight, you'll be entertained by a talented musical group.
A choice of Passau or Salzburg
After crossing the border from Austria to Germany, dock in the Bavarian town of Passau on the Danube and Inn rivers, whose history dates back to the days of the Roman empire. Today, you have the choice of a walking tour revealing the Baroque treasures of this lovely riverside town, known for its stained glass and its many churches – including St. Stephan's Cathedral, home to the largest pipe organ outside of the U.S., and the biggest cathedral organ in the world (inside cathedral visit may not be available on all departures); a cycling excursion around Passau, suitable for more experienced riders; or a full-day excursion to the lovely Austrian city of Salzburg, birthplace of W.A. Mozart (and setting of The Sound of Music). This evening, your riverboat departs Passau and continues on to Regensburg.
A visit to Regensburg mixes ancient times and today
its roots as a Roman encampment on the Danube, the quintessential
Bavarian town of Regensburg is home to more than 1,400 original historic
buildings. Walking here is a delight and is the only way to view the
sights up-close. A local guide will lead the way as you see the town's
12th-century Steinerne Brücke (Germany's oldest surviving stone bridge),
the 15th-century Altes Rathaus (Town Hall, once the seat of the Imperial Diet), towering Dom St. Peter,
and the remains of the Roman wall; Visit the princely house of Thurn und Taxis on a guided tour. This afternoon, choose among free time in Regensburg, a leisurely afternoon aboard ship, or a bicycle ride along the river to Kelheim.
The Main-Danube Canal to Nürnberg
Today, your riverboat negotiates the Main-Danube Canal, which ultimately links the North Sea with the Black Sea; learn about the canal's history from a local expert during your transit. The idea goes back as far as Charlemagne, but wasn't realized until the canal's completion in the 1990s; pass through 16 locks as the waterway traverses the mountains. After lunch on the riverboat, arrive in historic Nuremberg. From the center of the German Renaissance in the 15th and 16th centuries to the site of National Socialist Germans Workers' Party conventions leading into World War II, Nuremberg has had a storied history since it was first documented in 1050. Today, Nuremberg is a hub for tourism and continues to be important industrial center. Your exploration of this historic city today offers two options; one brings you on a visit Nuremberg's Old Town, including an introductory walking tour through the Medieval fortification walls via Castle terrace to Old Town, passing by Albrecht Dürer House (guests may visit independently after the walking tour), continuing to St. Sebald Church (inside visit if available) and passing by the old City Hall before finishing at the Hauptmarkt; the other, offers a look into Nuremberg, both past and present, viewing sites such as the train terminal, the City Wall, the Opera House, The German National Museum, Courtroom 600, St. Johns Cemetary and the Imperial Castle, each option will finish with a walk through the main market square. Dinner tonight is aboard your riverboat.
An Old Town walking tour or bicycling in Bamberg
Perched atop seven hills, Bamberg is home to a magnificent, four-towered Romanesque
cathedral from the 13th century; see it, along with more of this charming medieval city's unique architecture and colorful gardens, when you choose between a walking tour of Old Town with your Tauck Director or a bicycle ride through town.
Würzburg or Rothenburg
Following brunch, dock late morning in charming Würzburg where you'll have two choices of sightseeing. On one, explore Würzburg's Old Town with a local guide; tour more of the Residenz, see the ornate Alte Mainbrücke (a bridge over the River Main), and spend some time on your own. Alternatively, depart on an excursion to the nearby town of Rothenburg; nestled on Germany's "Romantic Road," it lives up to its reputation as Europe's "most perfect fairy-tale town." View its Gothic cathedral, towered walls and gabled houses on a walking tour, followed by time at leisure. Spend the evening aboard the riverboat following an early evening departure.
Pleasures of a day cruising the Main...
It is no wonder that river cruising was the favored pastime of royalty throughout the centuries... and you'll revel in the experience on a full day cruise along the picturesque Main. Fortified towns with towering cathedrals dot the lush landscapes along the riverbank... and you'll take pleasure in all that you'll see, learn and savor today. Perhaps you'll visit the spa... or the fitness center... practice your putting on the putting green... or savor a little quiet time in the plunge pool...
Cruise to Rüdesheim for a little musical magic
Relax and enjoy your riverboat's amenities as you cruise along the Main River, as it transforms into the Rhine River, to the wine-making town of Rüdesheim, part of the Rhine Gorge UNESCO World Heritage Site. Ride a mini train or walk to lunch in town, followed by either a visit to Siegfried's Mechanisches Musikkabinett – an eclectic museum displaying one of the world's largest collections of mechanical musical instruments in a centuries-old castle – or a bicycle excursion along the river. This afternoon, your Budapest to Amsterdam river cruise meanders through the scenic Lorelei Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, en route to Köln (Cologne).
Köln, a.k.a. Cologne
First up today – a morning visit to Köln (Cologne). Originally founded by the Romans, it is one of the oldest settlements in Germany. Your choices today include a leisurely guided tour of the city or an active walking tour, followed by free time; a visit inside the city's great twin-spired Gothic cathedral, Kölner Dom, is included (subject to availability). Return to the riverboat to sail to Amsterdam; your day concludes with the Chef's signature dinner onboard in the Compass Rose.
A day in Amsterdam and a farewell
Enjoy a tour of Amsterdam this morning that includes a guided visit to the amazing Rijksmuseum where artwork by the Old Dutch Masters includes Rembrandt's The Night Watch, along with masterpieces by Vermeer and more. Hop aboard a canal boat for a luncheon cruise along its 17th century grachten (canals ), gliding beneath curved bridges and past stately merchant homes. Return to the riverboat in the afternoon; join us aboard the ship for a farewell toast and dinner.
Tour ends: Amsterdam. Disembark in Amsterdam; a transfer is included from the riverboat to Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport or Central Station. Allow 3 hours for departure flight check-in. A transfer will also be provided to the airport for guests enjoying a stay at Tauck's selected Amsterdam hotel following their cruise.