Day 1 Budapest.
Fly to Budapest where you will be met and transferred to the InterContinental Hotel (or similar) for two nights.
Day 2 Budapest.
Included today: Guided sightseeing.
Whether youre seeing the sights, shopping for handcrafted embroidery or Herend porcelain, or basking in the coffee house culture over a rich cream cake in the renowned Gerbeaud Caf, Budapests unique energy is positively palatable. On your GUIDED SIGHTSEEING TOUR, see Heroes Square as well as the massive hilltop castle complex with its remarkable Fishermens Bastion and 11th-century Matthias Church, the coronation spot of several Hungarian monarchs. Be sure to take note of the citys eight bridgesmany famous sights in and of themselveswhich connect ancient Buda on the right bank with Pest on the left. You may even want to walk across Chain Bridge, built in 1849 and a symbol of Budapest. (B)
Day 3 Budapest.
You have time this morning to explore Budapest further. Perhaps visit St. Stephen’s Basilica for marvellous views of the city from its viewing platform. This afternoon, board your river cruise vessel and meet your crew at a welcome reception. (B, D)
Day 4 Budapest – Vienna.
Enjoy a day of relaxation on board and marvel at the beautiful scenery on both banks of the Danube. Hungary is on your left as you cruise upriver and Slovakia is on your right. The two countries share the Danube for a 58-mile stretch, with the border in the middle of the river. This evening, arrive in Vienna, Austrias capital. Known as the City of Music, it inspired the creative genius of Mozart, Beethoven, and Strauss. An optional concert is available during your stay. (B, L, D)
Day 5 Vienna.
Included today: Guided sightseeing.
Once the centre of the mighty Habsburg Empire, Austrias magical capital on the blue Danube is a showcase of gilded architecture. This is home to the lavish Hofburg Imperial Palace complex with its Vienna Boys Choir and dazzling Lipizzaner stallions; the neo-renaissance Vienna Opera House; and awe-inspiring St. Stephens Cathedralplus, countless other sights your LOCAL GUIDE will show you during an included CITY SIGHTSEEING TOUR. Stroll through the delightful pedestrian Krntnerstrasse, and be sure to take a break and enjoy a piece of decadent Sachertorte or Apfelstrudel in one of the classic Viennese coffee houses, historic institutions that helped shape Viennese culture! (B, L, D)
Day 6 Drnstein – Melk.
Included today: Guided walk in Drnstein; guided sightseeing in Melk; wine tasting.
Drnstein, known for the magnificent baroque, blue Stiftskirche built in the 1700s, is right in the heart of the Wachau wine region. The main street of this small townwith a population of less than 1,000 peopleis lined with 16th-century homes and charming cobblestone streets. This morning your Local Guide will take you on an included WALKING TOUR and tell you the tale of Englands King Richard the Lionheart, who was imprisoned in the castle whose ruins still stand above the town. During lunchtime, sail the picturesque Wachau Valley and arrive in Melk in the early afternoon. Here, enjoy a GUIDED VISIT of the magnificent 11th-century BENEDICTINE ABBEY, one of Europes largest monasteries. The abbey houses an ornate library with over 80,000 printed books and 2,000 manuscripts. Youll be captivated by the splendour of the church with its frescoed ceilings, stunning high altar, marble statues, and 210-foot-high cupola. The view from the terrace over the Danube and surrounding countryside is breathtaking! This evening, sample some of the Wachau Valleys FAMOUS WINES. (B, L, D)
Day 7 Passau, Germany
Included today: Guided walk in Passau.
Today, you might wish to choose from a couple of full-day optional excursions: to Salzburg, taking in some of The Sound of Music sights or to medieval Cesk Krumlov in the Czech Republic, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Alternatively, you may choose to stay on the ship and relax as you cruise to Passau, uniquely located where the Inn, Ilz, and Danube Rivers converge. Passau is a maze of narrow cobblestone streets lined with beautiful patrician houses. St. Stephen’s Cathedral, a masterpiece of Italian baroque architecture, houses one of the world’s largest church organs with 17,774 pipes. Take in the highlights on the included GUIDED WALK. (B, L, D)
Day 8 Regensburg.
Included today: Guided sightseeing; beer tasting.
Dating back to the time of the Celts around 500 BC, Regensburg is one of Germanys best preserved medieval cities. Established during the Holy Roman Empire and the only German city not bombed during WWII, Regensburg has at least 1,300 listed buildings of historic interest. Architectural highlights of your GUIDED WALK include the Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall), built in the 13th century, and Porta Pretoria, gates to an ancient Roman fort built in 179 AD. Wander through the citys lanes and alleys to discover the many mansions with high towers. Wealthy families built these towers to emphasize their status and wealth during the Middle Ages, and many still remain today. Walk across the 12th-century Steinerne Brcke (Stone Bridge), the oldest of its kind in Germany. Grab a beer and enjoy an included SNACK at the 17th-century Historische Wurstkche (Old Sausage Kitchen), one of Germanys oldest restaurants. Herewhere the locals congregatefeel the vibrant atmosphere and take in the remarkable views along the river. After dinner, well introduce you to some of Germanys FAMOUS BEERS. (B, L, D)
Day 9 Roth – Nuremberg.
Included today: Choice of a guided sightseeing of Roth or Nuremberg
This morning the choice is yoursjoin a Local Guide for GUIDED SIGHTSEEING of nearby Nuremberg. Although 90% of Nuremberg’s Old Town suffered extensive damage during WWII, much of it has been restored to the glory it once knew as the unofficial capital of the Holy Roman Empire. Marvel at this thousand-year-old city’s medieval fortifications, extraordinary gothic churches, and the Kaiserburg (Imperial Castle),. Alternatively, join a Local Expert for a GUIDED SIGHTSEEING of Roth.This delightful Bavarian town, with its half-timbered houses and market square, is also an industrial center for textile manufacturing. Visit the interesting INDUSTRIAL MUSEUM and then in contrast, take pictures of Schloss Ratibor, an ancient hunting lodge, built in 1535, with a most picturesque inner courtyard. (B, L, D)
Day 10 Nuremberg (Disembarkation)Prague, Czech Republic
After breakfast, say goodbye to your crew and travel by coach to Prague, the Golden City. (B)
Day 11 Prague.
Included today: Guided sightseeing.
Prague is a 1,200-year-old city preserved in time, and, unlike other Central European capitals, it was not bombed during the 20th-century wars. A LOCAL GUIDE shows you its best-known treasures, such as the Old Town’s Astronomical Clock, built in 1410 and once the envy of all of Europe; HRADCANY CASTLE GROUNDS; St. Vitus Cathedral; and the Charles Bridge, the oldest bridge in Prague. Browse the shops for hand-cut crystal or art books. Mix with the locals in Wenceslaus Square, an important meeting point where people demonstrated against the communist regime; or watch performers on Charles Bridge (B)
Day 12 Prague.
Enjoy a free day to explore the city at your own pace. Perhaps visit the Communist Museum or take an optional excursion around the Jewish Quarter. Sample the local plum dumplings and Pilsner; stroll along the Vltava River. Your Cruise Director will have other suggestions for things to do. (B)
Day 13 Prague.
Transfer to the airport for your flight to the UK. (B)