On this magnificent cruise vacation, enjoy seeing some of Central Europe’s splendid capitals—Prague, Vienna, Bratislava, and Budapest—as well as many small towns that dot the landscape along the way. Explore the grounds of majestic Hradcany Castle in Prague, explore Germany’s Passau, located at the confluence of three rivers, and Linz, Austria’s third-largest city. Taste beer in Engelhartszell and visit the quaint historical theater in the resort town of Grein. Discover pretty little Weissenkirchen in Austria’s Wachau Valley. Visit St. Martin’s Cathedral in Bratislava and end your vacation in vibrant Budapest. Guided sightseeing with Certified Local Guides in each city is sure to heighten your experience.
Welcome to Prague, capital of the Czech Republic. This fascinating city straddles the Vltava River with domes, cupolas, spires, and pinnacles highlighting its skyline. The remainder of the day is free to start exploring.
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 will show you its best-known treasures, such as the Old Town’s Astronomical Clock, built in 1410 and once the envy of all of Europe; HRADČANY 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 Wenceslas Square, an important meeting point and where people demonstrated against the communist regime; watch performers and shop at the market stalls on Charles Bridge; sample the local plum dumplings and Pilsner; stroll along the Vltava River; or wander around Prague’s medieval Old Town, dating from the 10th century. (Breakfast)
After lunch, drive to Passau, ideally located at the confluence of the Rivers Inn, Ilz, and Danube, where your river cruise vessel is docked. Before dinner, meet your crew for a welcome reception. (Breakfast, Dinner)
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. Join your Local Guide for a WALKING TOUR that reveals much more about the “City of Three Rivers.” This afternoon, stop in Engelhartszell and become acquainted with some of Germany’s FAMOUS BEERS. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Linz is Austria’s third-largest city and an important river port where culture plays a significant role in everyday life. This morning, join a local expert for a GUIDED TOUR. See the 13th-century Hauptplatz, Austria’s largest medieval square, and the Trinity Column, built in 1723 as thanks for the city escaping the ravages of the plague, war, and fire. On your own, you might like to wander around the old castle grounds and take in the beautiful views of the river, or visit the neo-gothic New Cathedral, Austria’s largest church, with capacity for 20,000 visitors. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
This morning, arrive in the attractive country resort of Grein, nestled at the foot of a bluff in the shadow of its castle. Take an included GUIDED WALK through town and visit its unique historical THEATER, the oldest in Austria still holding regular performances. A behind-the-scenes peek to learn about some of the curiosities of this rococo-style, 167-seat theater will certainly tell you much about life as it was—and as it now is in this small town. The turreted houses on the main square make excellent photo subjects. Then, reboard your ship and sail into the picturesque Wachau Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Stop in Weissenkirchen (“White Church”) for a GUIDED WALK through this pretty little town. Once you leave Weissenkirchen on your way to Vienna, be sure to look out for the magnificent baroque Stiftskirche of Dürnstein with its blue façade. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Wake up this morning in Vienna, known as the “City of Music” and the place that inspired the creative genius of Mozart, Beethoven, and Strauss. Once the center of the mighty Habsburg Empire, Austria’s 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. Stephen’s Cathedral—plus, countless other sights you’ll see on your GUIDED SIGHTSEEING TOUR. Stroll through the pedestrian Kärntnerstrasse, and be sure to take a break and enjoy a piece of decadent Sachertorte or Apfelstrudel in a neighborhood café. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
At the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains is Bratislava, the dynamic capital of Slovakia. Join your Local Guide for a tour of the city, including a GUIDED WALK of its fascinating Old Town, where winding cobblestone streets and narrow alleyways twist and turn to reveal the Town Hall, one of the oldest stone buildings in the city. Also visit gothic ST. MARTIN’S CATHEDRAL, coronation church for the Kingdom of Hungary from the 16th to 19th centuries. This afternoon is free to explore on your own. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Spanning the banks of the Danube, Budapest is one of Eastern Europe’s liveliest cities. Whether you’re 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 Café, Budapest’s unique energy is positively palatable. On your INCLUDED TOUR, see Heroes’ Square as well as the massive hilltop castle complex with its remarkable Fishermen’s Bastion and 11th-century Matthias Church, the coronation spot of several Hungarian monarchs. Be sure to take note of the city’s eight bridges—many famous sights in and of themselves—which 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. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning. (Breakfast)