DAY 2 – BUDAPEST, HUNGARY
“Queen of the Danube” Tour & Christmas Markets
Cited as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, your city tour includes sightseeing in both Buda and Pest. In 1873, the independent cities of Buda and Pest officially merged and created the new metropolis of Budapest. Your tour through this sprawling World Heritage city offers splendid views from historic Buda Castle of the twin cities on both banks of the River. Your tour also features a visit to the Fisherman’s Bastion as well as seeing the marvelous Royal Palace, St. Stephen’s Basilica, Heroes’ Square, and much more. Later, explore this beautiful city’s Christmas Markets.
Castle Hill Hike
As an alternative to the panoramic city tour of Budapest, the more active guest may choose instead to venture up to the Castle Hill district by foot to see Fisherman’s Bastion and Buda Castle.
Overlooking the city, Buda Castle sits 160 feet above the Danube and offers a beautiful view of the city below. Conclude your hike with some free time at the festive Christmas Markets.
DAY 3 – VIENNA
“Imperial Vienna” Tour & Christmas Markets
Savor the imperial elegance of romantic Vienna during today’s guided sightseeing tour which will take you past the city’s most famous and beautiful locales. You will see the Vienna Opera House, St. Stephen’s Cathedral, and the city’s historic center, rich in architectural marvels, Baroque castles, and lush gardens. You’ll also see the majestic Ringstrasse, Vienna’s famed ring road, lined with grand buildings, monuments, and parks. The afternoon is free to stroll along the Kartnerstrasse, the most prestigious shopping street in central Vienna. Perhaps sample Vienna’s famous pastries, or you may choose to enjoy the festivities of the Christmas Markets.
Vienna City Tour by Bike
Join your friendly guide for a thrilling bike ride along the romantic Danube Canal and through the fascinating city of Vienna. Along the way, you’ll traverse a bridge, cycle across a meadow, and head to Vienna’s famous Ringstrasse boulevard, taking in such iconic sites as the distinctive domed Karlsplatz Church, the elegant State Opera House, and the royal Habsburgs’ Imperial Palace. Enjoy some free time in the city, perhaps to try some sacher torte, shop for souvenirs, or take photos. Then, follow your guide on a new path back to the ship that may include opportunities to see City Hall, the local university, Börse Palais concert hall, and the giant ferris wheel.
Schönbrunn Christmas Markets
We will visit the Schönbrunn Palace Christmas Market, with a giant Christmas tree surrounded by stalls selling a great variety artisanal handicrafts, providing a spectacular festive atmosphere with the scent of mulled wine and ginger bread.
Optional Tour: Evening Mozart & Strauss Concert
There is no finer place to attend a classical concert than in Vienna, the “Music Capital of the World.” This unforgettable experience will be a mixture of the most popular compositions of Vienna’s favorite and most famed composers – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart & Johann Strauss II – as presented by local musicians.
Please Note: There is an additional cost for this optional tour and it is unavailable for pre-registration. Please speak to your Cruise Manager for additional information and to book this tour. A minimum
number of participants is required in order to operate optional tours.
DAY 4 – MELK, AUSTRIA – VIENNA
Melk Abbey tour
Located above the town of Melk on a rocky outcrop overlooking the Danube, Melk Abbey (Stift Melk) is one of Europe’s largest and most revered Baroque monasteries. Originally founded in the 11th century, this magnificent Benedictine abbey now houses a museum chronicling its history and a famous library with countless medieval manuscripts. The library served as the inspiration for Umberto Eco’s classic novel “The Name of the Rose.” Within these walls you will find frescoes painted by Johann Michael Rottmayr and Paul Troger, as well as a famed collection of musical manuscripts. After your tour, enjoy free time to explore the picturesque village of Melk, one of Europe’s great cultural heritage sites.
Guided Bike Ride Along the Danube
Experience the majestic Wachau Valley, dotted with vineyards, fruit trees, castles, charming villages, and unforgettable scenery, on a guided bike tour around Melk. The UNESCO-designated Wachau is one of the most beautiful and famous regions in Austria. Visitors from all over the world come here to enjoy the picturesque landscape, the cultural heritage, and the superb wines that grow in this region. Your route will take you across the Klein-Pochlarn bridge for a scenic ride along the picturesque Danube River.
Evening Vienna Rathaus Christmas Market
This evening, spend some free time at the beautifully decorated and illuminated Rathaus Square and the Chirstkindlmarkt, where you will have the opportunity to explore Vienna’s largest Christmas Market. This yuletide market whose roots date back to the 18th century is open all day, but it is best experienced at night when the lights and smells combine to give the true Christmas market experience during this festive holiday season.
DAY 5 – PASSAU
Passau Walking Tour & Christmas Markets
Passau is also known as the Dreiflussestadt or “City of Three Rivers,” because the Danube is joined at Passau by the Inn from the south and the Ilz from the north. The town has many notable Baroque buildings and cobblestone streets, especially in the Old Town where you will see the city fortifications and St. Stephan’s Cathedral. The Cathedral is home to one of the largest church pipe organs in the world with 17,774 pipes and 233 registers. Afterwards, take some time to experience the traditional Christmas Markets.
River Inn Bike Tour
Experience this charming area on a guided bike tour along the Inn River to Wernstein. Crossing the old town of Passau, riding next to the river Inn along its scenic shores which are lined with wooden hills. After taking some photos, arrive in Wernstein for a quick rest. Biking along the other side of the River Inn now allows for a different point of view for the ride back to the ship in Passau. Cycling into Passau rewards you with a beautiful silhouette of the old town.
Full-day Salzburg Excursion & Christmas Markets
Your excursion begins this morning with a drive towards Salzburg, a small Austrian town that is utterly charming, offering lush meadows, avenues and cradled by mountains and hills. We will begin the walking tour in the historic center, famous for its religious history, Baroque architecture, and as the birthplace of Mozart. Highlights of the tour include a visit to the beautifully landscaped Mirabell Gardens. Enjoy free time on your own to explore Salzburg Cathedral, where Mozart once served as court organist and composed numerous works of sacred music, or venture upwards to the never conquered Hohensalzburg Fortress looming on the bluffs above, for a taste of medieval history and architecture, complete with expansive views of the breathtaking scenery surrounding the city. There will be free time to join in the merriment at the beautiful Christmas Markets, renowned for local handicrafts and unusual holiday presents. The day ends in Linz where there will be free time to visit and explore the Christmas Markets before returning to the ship.
DAY 6 – REGENSBURG
Regensburg Walking Tour and Thurn & Taxis Christmas Markets
The history, sights, and landmarks of Regensburg are so densely packed that they are best discovered on foot. Throughout the centuries, patricians and priests, saints and sinners, citizens, and craftsmen have left their mark on Regensburg’s colorful history. We will hear vivid stories about the people of Regensburg throughout the ages, seeing the Old Town Hall and the Porta Praetoria. The old Stone Bridge, considered a masterwork of medieval construction and an emblem of the city is perfectly located next to one of the oldest restaurants in the world, the Regensburg Sausage Kitchen, notable for its role in catering for the workers who built the bridge. Spend some free time at Thurn & Taxis where you will visit the palace grounds and enjoy the festive atmosphere of the “Royal” Christmas Markets, a very traditional handicraft market where you can watch the craftsmen make their unique local arts and crafts.
Thurn & Taxis Christmas Markets
This afternoon, spend some free time at Thurn & Taxis where you will visit the palace grounds and enjoy the festive atmosphere of the “Royal” Christmas Markets, a very traditional handicraft market where you can watch the craftsmen make their unique local arts and crafts.
Tastes of Bavaria + Thurn & Taxis Christmas Markets
Regensburg is a wonderfully preserved medieval city that managed to survive WWII nearly unscathed. Our culinary delights will provide the opportunity to sample three of the city’s most renowned delicacies, Bratwurst, German dark beer, and a pretzel. Spend some free time at Thurn & Taxis where you will visit the palace grounds and enjoy the festive atmosphere of the “Royal” Christmas Markets, a very traditional handicraft market where you can watch the craftsmen make their unique local arts and crafts.
Regensburg Guided Bike Tour
Today’s guided bike tour will take you on a leisurely journey through the spectacular scenery of the Danube River Valley. Your route travels parallel to the river, past harvested fields, orchards, and tiny hamlets surrounding picturesque churches. At the base of the hill marking the turnaround point, be sure to look up for a glimpse of Walhalla, a neoclassical structure that houses a hall of fame honoring generations of esteemed Germans. Inhale the crisp air as you pedal back to Regensburg along the opposite bank of the river, crossing over a centuries-old bridge and admiring the Danube from a truly unique vantage point.
DAY 7 – NUREMBERG
Nuremberg City Tour & Christmas Markets
Explore medieval Nuremberg and see the storybook ramparts that surround this historic city and the Imperial Castle. Walking through the Castle, we will be treated to an amazing view of the old city below. Previously one of Europe’s greatest trade towns, see some of the original medieval city walls and towers constructed around Nuremberg. Visit and learn about the legend of the Beautiful Fountain, the centerpiece of Market Square. Afterwards, enjoy a visit to one of the world’s largest Christmas Markets where over 100 red and white canvas-topped booths offer an assortment of unique children’s toys, tinsel angels, dolls, dollhouses, gingerbread and everything else imaginable.
Nuremberg Christmas Markets
Enjoy a visit to one of the world’s largest Christmas Markets where over 100 red and white canvas-topped booths offer an assortment of unique children’s toys, tinsel angels, dolls, dollhouses, gingerbread and everything else imaginable.
Tastes of Franconia
This tour introduces you to three Nuremberg specialties: bratwurst (sausage), rotbier (red beer), and lebkuchen (a baked treat similar to gingerbread). Depart your ship for Nuremberg Imperial Castle and visit City Brewery where you will delight your palate with savory Nuremberg bratwurst and malty rotbier. Then continue to Sebalder Kirche (church) and nibble on sweet and spicy lebkuchen. Learn about Nuremberg’s once thriving spice trade and its importance in the production of these Franconian specialties. End your tour at Beautiful Fountain where you can enjoy some free time before returning to your ship.
Main-Danube Canal Scenic Cruising
Enjoy a relaxing afternoon as you cruise through the Main-Danube Canal.
Included Biking Excursions
We are proud to have been the first river cruise line to carry an entire fleet of complimentary state-of-the-art bicycles on board, so you can pedal alongside enchanting riverside pathways and in city centers on a variety of included excursions throughout Europe. Whether you feel like joining one of our exclusive guided bike tours, or you want to reserve a bike to discover a destination on your own, there are many ways for you to explore on two wheels during your river cruise. From lighter five-mile bike tours to rides that stretch over 20 miles, we offer excursions for guests at any level.
Bike Tour Guides
Your guide will be sure to stop and point out highlights along the way, providing interesting facts and history, as well as much-needed water breaks! Often, there is some built-in free time for you to explore off your bike. And best of all, to ensure no guests are left behind, there is typically a guide both at the front and back of the tour group, so whatever pace you pedal, you will have peace of mind you will be taken care of and find your way back to the ship.
There are a limited number of child-size bicycles available on board as well. This enables you to enjoy family-friendly active excursions in many destinations along the rivers.