Arrive Prague – private evening at Lobkowicz Palace
Tour begins: 5:30 PM, Prague Mariott Hotel. A transfer is included from Václav Havel Airport Prague or the Praha Hlavni Nadrazi train station to the Prague Mariott Hotel in the heart of the city. Those arriving early may join your Tauck Director for a walk to this historic city's Old Town Square. Begin your amazing Blue Danube river cruise adventure early this evening with a Tauck Exclusive – a royal welcoming reception, tour and dinner at 16th-century Lobkowicz Palace at Prague Castle. Immerse in an evening of classical cultural treasures – music and art played an important role in the aristocratic world of the Lobkowicz family.
Legacy of many centuries in Prague
Start today's exploration of Prague this morning with a choice of walking tours through Prague's ethereal Old Town, choosing between a one-hour introductory tour; a "walk through the centuries" including a visit to St. Agnes Convent; or the city’s poignant Jewish sites in Josefov, the historic Jewish Quarter (ask at booking about dates that cannot visit inside the Jewish Heritage sites as they are closed Saturdays and on Jewish holidays; in those cases, alternate sightseeing will be offered). This afternoon, your choices in the ancient Hradcany (Castle) district include the 1,000-year-old Prague Castle's complex of palaces, courtyards and gardens; the magnificent Gothic Cathedral of St. Vitus; and the grand Baroque libraries of Strahov Monastery, where a private tour is a Tauck Exclusive. Sample the culinary pleasures of Prague on a free night to spend as you wish; the city's many fine restaurants and cafés feature a wide range of cuisines... and some of the best schnitzels, goulashes, strudels, dumplings and beer the region has to offer. Tomorrow – your Danube river cruise begins.
Regensburg / Embark your riverboat
You may choose to remain in Prague for a morning spent exploring as you please, or drive to the quintessential Bavarian town of Regensburg, whose roots stretch back to Roman days, enjoying a little free time upon arrival. The best way to explore this treasure-trove of history is on foot, as our local guide leads you on a walking tour that includes the Steinerne Brücke, a medieval stone bridge over the Danube; the 15th-century town hall; and the remains of the town’s Roman wall. Depart Regensburg and continue on to Vilshofen, where you'll board your riverboat to launch your 7-night Danube cruise. Join your shipmates and crew at a welcome reception followed by dinner aboard the riverboat tonight.
Engelhartszell & cycling along the Danube
Take in the views from your riverboat's sun deck, lounge, or the windows of your outside cabin as your ship glides along the mighty Danube this morning. Your first port of call on your cruise is Engelhartszell, a pretty town on the Danube in Upper Austria. After a visit to a local private home (and a taste of local cake, sweets and coffee), you'll have a choice of a walking tour of town including 18th-century Engelhartszell Abbey and Danube World, or a guided tour of the Jochenstein Lock on the Danube, through which ships navigate through the Wachau Valley. Following lunch aboard the riverboat, you may, if you wish, join us for an optional bicycle excursion along the Danube to Aschach (a fairly rigorous bike ride, for experienced cyclists only) before continuing your cruise this afternoon, bound for Linz. Enjoy the Chef's signature dinner this evening; after the riverboat's arrival in Linz, the musical trio Donau3Klang entertains onboard tonight.
Salzburg, Cesky Krumlov or Linz
Your boat stays docked in Linz today, with a choice of how you spend your day – full-day excursions to Salzburg (Austria), or Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic, or remaining in Linz. A setting for The Sound of Music, Salzburg is enticing with Baroque architecture, painted wrought-iron signage, ornate church towers, and grand palaces. Our walking tour explores Old Town, Mirabell Gardens, and Mozart’s birthplace with time on your own to have lunch and experience the sights as you wish. Alternatively, travel with us through beautiful landscapes to Cesky Krumlov, which has been called a living gallery of elegant Renaissance-era buildings with a well-preserved medieval heritage and charming ambiance. A walking tour takes you to part of Krumlov Castle; it’s worth climbing the many steps to see firsthand the medieval, Renaissance and Rococo design found inside, along with the stunning views of the town below. A third option today provides an opportunity to remain in Linz for time explore as you please on your own before returning to the riverboat for dinner.
Wachau Valley cruise to Dürnstein
Continue cruising through the Wachau Valley, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its well-preserved medieval landscapes. Dock in Dürnstein for a closer look at its 16th-century Baroque houses and 13th-century Romanesque church on a walking tour along cobblestone streets; or join us for a bicycle ride in the Wachau Valley. If you wish, visit the Augustinian Monastery. Enjoy some free time in this charming riverside town – perhaps taking an invigorating climb up the steps to the ruins of Kuenringerburg, a hilltop castle above the town where Richard the Lionhearted was held for ransom during the Crusades, from which the views of the river and valley are glorious – and sample the fruits of the Wachau Valley vineyards during a wine tasting at an authentic Austrian tavern. The riverboat departs early evening for Vienna.
Choices in Vienna
Your riverboat arrives overnight in Vienna, Austria, where an introductory tour of this former capital of the old Habsburg Empire – and its grand boulelvard, the Ringstrasse – precedes a walking tour focusing on your choice of either medieval Vienna or the Jewish district of old Vienna, or a bike ride in the city. The afternoon is yours to explore this famous city as you please. Later, nothing compares to the royal treatment and pageantry you’ll experience tonight at our private Imperial Evening in the Palais Pallavicini, an opulent, private Viennese palace that played a role in the 1940s film noir classic The Third Man. Welcome cocktails and dinner precede an unforgettable spectacle of beautiful ball gowns and a musical performance celebrating the legacy of Mozart.
Vienna sightseeing & on to Slovakia
A choice of sightseeing this morning features either a tour of the Habsburgs’ Schönbrunn Palace, an architectural masterpiece and Austrian cultural treasure, or a visit to the amazing Imperial Apartments at the Hofburg – including the Sisi Museum, dedicated to the popular 19th-century Empress Elisabeth of Austria ("Sisi"), wife of Habsburg Emperor Franz Joseph – today Austria’s official presidential residence. Then, shuttles are at the ready to bring you back to the riverboat before our afternoon cruise to neighboring Slovakia. Dinner tonight introduces you to a glimpse of daily life in Slovakia with a taste of regional cuisine and an onboard performance by a talented troupe of Slovak dancers.
Baroque in Bratislava
Begin the day with a Tauck Exclusive – a presentation by our local guide that takes you inside contemporary Slovakia and Bratislava for a look at politics, the economy, religion, the social order, preservation and emergence of the arts, and more. Then, it's your choice of a walking tour of this cobblestoned, vehicle-free city, where you'll see 17 centuries of history eloquently chronicled in sites including its 13th-century Old Town Hall, Baroque Habsburg-era palaces, the Opera House, Slovak Philharmonic Hall and St. Martin’s Cathedral – or a guided bicycle excursion through the "Iron Curtain Area" of Bratislava. Back aboard ship, get ready to celebrate tomorrow’s arrival in Budapest and the end of your Danube riverboat cruise with a farewell reception and dinner onboard.
Disembark in Budapest & explore Buda
Your cruise ends this morning in Budapest, Hungary, which is split into the sections of Buda and Pest by the Danube River. After disembarking your riverboat and bidding the crew farewell, explore the city's Buda side with a visit to the historic Covered Market and a walking tour of Castle Hill, a UNESCO World Heritage Site; see Fishermen’s Bastion with its Neo-Romanesque design, and admire the stained glass windows and centuries of history in Matthias Church (may be closed on some days due to services). After lunch at a local café, transfer to your city-center hotel. Spend the rest of the day and evening pursuing what interests you most in Budapest.
Discover Pest & celebrate at the Akadémia Club
Budapest is split into the sections of Buda and Pest by the Danube River. This morning, explore the Pest side of the city on a tour including a special visit to the opulent State Opera House, opened in 1884, with its royal boxes, gilded vaulted ceiling, exquisite murals and three-ton chandelier – and stops at City Park and Heroes’ Square, bounded by some of the finest architectural works in Hungary. Later, you have a choice of a themed walking tour that focuses on the Hungarian Revolution and includes the Parliament building, the Embassy and St. Stephen’s Basilica; a guided visit to Dohány Synagogue; or a guided bicycle tour through the city. In the afternoon, you'll have an opportunity to visit one of Budapest's famed public spas, if you wish. Budapest has acquired quite an excellent reputation for its cuisine; tonight’s special farewell dinner is at the grand Akadémia Club in the Hungarian Academy of Sciences – a fitting finale to your Danube River cruise experience.
Tour ends: Budapest, Hungary. Fly home anytime. A transfer is included from The Ritz-Carlton, Budapest to Budapest Ferenc Liszt Airport or the Keleti train station; allow a minimum of three hours for check-in at the airport.