Moments of history shape the sights you’ll see in the cities and towns along the Danube River, bookended by moments indelibly etched in time in Berlin and Kraków.
During a three-night stay in Kraków, poignant pauses in Poland's one-time capital, Auschwitz and Kazimierz pay homage to lives lost in tragic times. Board your Tauck riverboat in Hungary for a 7-night cruise, crossing into Austria to experience its storied capital, Vienna, with choices of sightseeing and an Imperial Evening at a private palace; stop at Linz for a walking tour or boat ride in the nearby Lake District; explore Krems and the Wachau Valley by bicycle; and visit historic and charming Bavarian towns like the "city of three rivers," Passau; ancient Regensburg; and cobblestoned Straubing, dating back to 6,000 BC. Then it's on via high-speed train to a three-night stay in Berlin, chronicling past political divides with a look back at Iron Curtain curfews, Jewish hardships and wartime woes, while cultural narratives in the museums on Museum Island showcase an evolution of art through the ages – and choices including an excursion to Potsdam, a Berlin bicycling trip and more.
Tour Begins: 5:00 PM, Sheraton Grand Krakow. A transfer is included to the Sheraton Grand Krakow from Saint John Paul II International Airport Kraków-Balice or Kraków Main Train Station. Settle into your hotel, then join us for a memorable Tauck experience – a fascinating descent down a shaft into the nearby historic Wieliczka Salt Mine for a special underground welcome reception and dinner.
Auschwitz and Krakow
The city of Kraków reigned as the capital of Poland for nearly six centuries, its rulers residing at Wawel Castle until the court and parliament moved to Warsaw in 1609. Today it’s renowned for preserving its country national identity with its prestigious university, royal castle, Gothic cathedral and still thriving Old Quarter. Enjoy a walking tour of the city with a local guide, and choose to join us on a drive into the countryside for a poignant visit to the Auschwitz Memorial and Museum, site of the infamous Nazi concentration camp, or remain in Kraków to spend some time on your own. Please note: the Kraków walking tour and the Auschwitz visit could be either in the morning or afternoon, depending on ticket availability at the Auschwitz site. Your evening is free to spend as you wish; you can enjoy an included dinner at your hotel either tonight or tomorrow, your choice.
Kazimierz or a tasting tour in Krakow
More sightseeing choices await you this morning in Kraków. One is a visit to the Kazimierz District – the city's former Jewish Quarter – for a coach and walking tour to learn more about its poignant Jewish heritage, including views of Oskar Schindler’s Factory, now a museum; following your tour, you'll have an opportunity to visit the Galicia Museum on your own, or enjoy some free time in the area. Or you can join your local guide for a walking tour of Kraków focusing on local life and hidden cultural gems. The rest of the day and evening are yours to spend as you please in Kraków.
Embark Your Riverboat in Hungary
Depart Kraków this morning and drive from Poland through Slovakia and on to Esztergom, Hungary, where your riverboat awaits your arrival. Enjoy a welcome reception followed by dinner onboard in your choice of dining venues, from the formal Compass Rose to Arthur’s intimate bistro.
Vienna, Past and Present
Your riverboat arrives this afternoon in the Austrian capital of Vienna, a compact city with an abundance of important sights. Many are clustered around the Hofburg, the former Imperial Court. Farther afield you’ll find palaces like Belvedere and Schönbrunn palaces, graced by gardens and gilded treasures. The city’s Jewish Quarter, Judenplatz, is in the heart of the city, and the city’s contemporary center, including the new Hauptbahnhof and the university campus, is also nearby. This afternoon you'll have a choice of exploring Vienna on one of two different tours; each begins with an introductory tour of the city and its Ringstrasse with our local guides, then focuses on either classic, Imperial Vienna (including the Habsburgs' Schönbrunn Palace) or the city's Jewish Heritage sites. Spend the afternoon as you like, then return to the riverboat for dinner, or choose to stay in town and dine in Vienna tonight.
Choices in Imperial Vienna
Today you'll explore more of this amazing city – once the capital of the Habsburgs' Austro-Hungarian Empire – with an on-tour choice of a guided visit to Austria's Museum of Military History (Heeresgeschichtliches Museum), documenting the history of Austria's armed forces; or an exclusive opportunity to sit in on a rehearsal at a Vienna palace as an orchestra prepares for a performance, in the city considered by many to be the classical music capital of Europe. Return to the ship for lunch or stay in Vienna to enjoy lunch as you please. Tonight, dress up for an exclusive royal dinner at the private Palais Pallavicini with sparkling entertainment... a highlight of your cruise!
Krems and Wachau Wines
Your riverboat arrives in the 1,000-year-old city of Krems this morning, located at the start of the Wachau Valley, celebrated for its exquisite Austrian wines. Spend the morning exploring Krems on one of two guided tours – one that begins with a drive followed by a moderate walking tour of town, or another featuring a challenging walking tour designed for robust walkers. Following lunch onboard the riverboat, the afternoon presents a choice of staying aboard the ship for a leisurely cruise past the lush vineyard-lined landscapes of the Wachau Valley, with insights from your local guide; or a guided bicycle excursion through those wine country landscapes, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This afternoon’s wine tasting excursion offers an authentic taste of the grape and reveals time-honored secrets of the Austrian winemakers. Have dinner onboard your riverboat tonight as your ship cruises overnight to Linz.
Lovely Linz & the Lakes of Austria
Arrive in Linz this morning, inhabited since Roman times and one of Austria’s leading cultural centers. Today you may choose to stay in town and join our local guides for a walking tour of Old Town Linz, then hop aboard the historic mountain tram to Pöstlingberg for panoramic views of the countryside and time at leisure to visit the beer gardens or the pilgrimage basilica. Alternatively, you may choose to spend a full day in the Salzkammergut Lake District – enjoying a boat ride across a lake, a scenic journey by coach to Lake Wolfgangsee, and a visit to St. Wolfgang in Salzkammergut to see the famous Gothic winged altar in its 14th-century church.
Passau on foot or by bicycle
Your riverboat arrives in Passau today for a choice of ways to explore this riverside town. Once a Roman outpost at the confluence of three rivers, Passau is over 2,500 years old, a Bavarian town of pastel patrician houses, cafés, romantic cobblestone lanes and riverfront promenades. You can choose to discover its storybook mix of Roman, Italian Baroque and German Gothic architecture on a guided walking tour, or on a bicycle excursion accompanied by a local guide; see St. Stephen’s Cathedral, the hilltop fortress where Passau’s prince-bishops once resided, and the 14th-century Rathaus (Town Hall).
A morning in Straubing
Wake up this morning aboard your riverboat in Straubing. An ancient settlement that dates back to 6,000 BC and is steeped with Roman roots, Straubing is a quintessential Bavarian city. Explore it on a morning walking tour followed by some free time on your own. Return to the riverboat for lunch and an afternoon and evening of cruising to Regensburg, including a farewell reception followed by dinner onboard.
Disembark Ship and Train to Berlin
Disembark your riverboat in Regensburg after breakfast and join us for a morning walking tour of this ancient Bavarian city, home to more than 1,400 historic structures. After lunch in town, spend the afternoon traveling aboard a new special fast train to Berlin. Arrive at the Hotel Adlon Kempinski Berlin early this evening, ideally located near Brandenburg Gate, one of the city’s most famous landmarks. Enjoy the evening at leisure.
A day of choices in Berlin
In the years since the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, Berlin has emerged as one of the most exciting cities in the world. An introductory tour leads to your choice of sightseeing excursions this morning – a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Museum Island for a guided museum tour of the Pergamon Museum or an in-depth tour of Berlin’s Jewish Heritage sites. Everyone meets up for lunch followed by your choice of time at leisure to explore Germany’s vibrant capital as you wish or a bicycle excursion offering a new perspective on the city.
Berlin or historic Potsdam
Today you can choose to experience the city from one of three perspectives. You can join us for a guided visit to the Baroque city of Potsdam, where the WWII-in-Europe-ending treaty was signed, attractively rebuilt after its wartime losses and a showcase of beautiful gardens and grand palaces – or take an opportunity to explore World War II history in Berlin. Spend the remainder of the afternoon as you please; if you wish, take an optional bicycle ride to see Berlin from a different, modern-day perspective. Join us for a special farewell dinner tonight at the Parliament where a local resident shares a personal perspective of life behind the Iron Curtain.
Tour ends: Berlin. Fly home anytime. A transfer is included from the Hotel Adlon Kempinski to Berlin Airport or Berlin Central Train Station. Allow a minimum of three hours for flight check-in at the airport.