Day 1 - Budapest, Hungary
Welcome to Budapest, capital of Hungary. Transfer to your ship from the airport.* After boarding, the afternoon is yours to relax or do a bit of exploring. Tonight, return to your ship for a traditional Hungarian dinner. (Dinner)
Day 2 - Budapest, Hungary
Your morning begins with a panoramic tour of the Pest side of the city. Journey along Andrássy Avenue and see the 19th- and 20th-century mansions, National Opera House, Parliament Building and Chain Bridge. Drive through Heroes’ Square and learn more about Hungarian history, then cross the Danube to Buda’s Castle District. Visit Matthias Church and enjoy brilliant views of the Danube and the beautiful Hungarian Parliament building from Fishermen’s Bastion. Rejoin your ship in Visegrád for lunch as we cruise along the scenic Danube River. Enjoy a midafternoon Viennese coffee workshop, complete with apple strudel. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Included Shore Excursions
PANORAMIC BUDAPEST - Take in one of Europe’s great cultural capitals. Over the last few decades, Budapest has reemerged as one of the continent’s iconic cities, divided by the lilting Danube and connected by the graceful Chain Bridge. Meet your guide for a panoramic tour, beginning in modern Pest. Along the elegant Andrássy Avenue, the Champs-Élysées of Budapest, admire the Hungarian State Opera House. Drive through Heroes’ Square, a wide-open plaza of monuments and statues commemorating the Magyar state. Across the river, explore the more traditional Buda side of the city. Here you will visit the Castle District with its massive hilltop castle complex, the turreted Fisherman’s Bastion and Matthias Church, named for the country’s most popular medieval king. From the heights of Buda Hill, enjoy fantastic views of the famous Chain Bridge, the first span to ever connect the two halves of the city when it opened in 1849.
EXPLORE YOUR OWN WAY: FULL-DAY BUDAPEST - Create your own itinerary and experience the sights of Budapest with the assistance of your own private guide. Once on board your ship, a member of Viking’s Guest Services team will be available to help you plan your time in Budapest so you can make the most of your visit. With a group of up to six guests, you may discover the history of the city’s communist era and visit the UNESCO Castle district. Or head farther afield to the beautiful Lake Balaton and witness the exquisite porcelain craftsmanship for which the region is famed. At a specified time, you will meet your private guide at the pier, board your chauffeur-driven vehicle and set out to visit your chosen sights. Follow your own agenda, exploring more of the sights that you wish to see. After your full day exploring, your driver will return you to your awaiting ship.
EXPLORE YOUR OWN WAY: HALF-DAY BUDAPEST - Create your own itinerary and experience the sights of Budapest with the assistance of your own private guide. Once on board your ship, a member of Viking’s Guest Services team will be available to help you plan your time in Budapest so you can make the most of your visit. With a group of up to six guests, you may discover the history of the city’s communist era and visit the Dohany Street Synagogue to learn about Budapest’s Jewish heritage. Perhaps head to the medieval Castle district—a UNESCO site—or simply explore Budapest through the eyes of a local, seeking out hidden gems. At a specified time, you will meet your private guide at the pier, board your chauffeur-driven vehicle and set out to visit your chosen sights. Follow your own agenda, exploring more of the sights that you wish to see. After your half day of exploring, your driver will return you to your awaiting ship.
Day 3 - Vienna, Austria
Today we tour the Austrian capital of Vienna. Ride along the Ringstrasse, which replaced the city walls in the mid-19th century. See some of the city’s baroque architecture, including the world-famous Opera House, St. Stephen’s Cathedral and Hofburg Palace. Return to your ship for lunch. The rest of the day is yours to further explore. As always, your Program Director can help you plan your free time. Or, you may choose to join us for an optional excursion to visit Schönbrunn Palace, erected in 1778 and admired as the “Versailles of Vienna.” This evening, you might celebrate the bottling of this year’s wine vintage among the locals at a high-spirited optional Heurigen dinner. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Included Shore Excursions
PANORAMIC VIENNA - See the magnificent architectural highlights of one of Europe’s most elegant and romantic cultural capitals. The center of arts and intellect during the reign of the Hapsburgs and beyond, Vienna dances to a tempo all its own. Meet your guide and drive into the city for a half-day motor coach and walking tour, focusing on the splendid buildings on the remarkable Ringstrasse, the gracious boulevard laid out on the site of the old city walls in the mid-19th century. Imposing palaces, elegant public buildings and grand residences line this world-famous avenue. You will see the magnificent Hofburg Palace, winter residence of the Hapsburgs and home of the Spanish Riding School with its Lipizzaner horses. Admire the great, Gothic St. Stephen’s Cathedral, crowned with a gleaming spire and colorful roof tiles. And view the beautiful Vienna State Opera concert hall, its facade adorned with elaborate frescoes depicting Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute.
JEWELS OF VIENNA’S RING - Marvel at the elegant architecture along Vienna’s famed Ringstrasse, exploring by foot and by horse-drawn carriage and stopping to browse the excellent collection of the Museum of Fine Arts. Meet your guide and travel by metro to Stephansplatz, where an enriching walking tour leads past the towering St. Stephen’s Cathedral, the Imperial Crypt, where the Hapsburgs are entombed, and the shop-lined Kärntner Strasse. See the famed Hotel Sacher, where the city’s beloved Sachertorte was created, and pass the Vienna State Opera, the Albertina museum, the tree-lined Burggarten and the cherished Mozart statue. At the celebrated Museum of Fine Arts, you will have time to peruse the magnificent collection and have some lunch. Then, board a fiaker for a romantic horse-drawn carriage ride along the Ringstrasse, passing the Parliament, Town Hall and Imperial Court Theater. Back at St. Stephen’s Cathedral, enjoy free time. Not appropriate for those with walking difficulties.
SCHÖNBRUNN PALACE - Tour the magnificent home of the Hapsburg Dynasty, built to rival the sprawling Château de Versailles. With your guide, drive just outside the city center to the monarchy’s fabulous summer residence. In 1569, Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian II erected the original hunting lodge here and called it Schönbrunn, meaning “beautiful spring.” In 1775, Empress Maria Theresa, the only female ruler of the Hapsburgs, added the grand neoclassical Gloriette colonnade so she could have sweeping city views. Enjoy a guided tour of the imperial apartments and grandly furnished rooms where Maria Theresa resided. Learn about her extraordinary reign, which featured many military campaigns and domestic reforms in medicine, education and civil rights. There will be free time to explore the formal gardens.
Day 4: Vienna, Austria
Today, spend time exploring Vienna. You may choose to join one of our many optional excursions, including a panoramic tour of Vienna by bike or an all-day optional excursion to the Slovakian capital of Bratislava, filled with lovingly restored baroque city palaces and leafy squares. Perhaps venture to the local Farmers’ Market with a local chef. This evening, enjoy dinner on your own or on board, after which you may choose to join us for a Mozart & Strauss concert. We are docked here overnight.
(Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 5: Krems, Austria
After breakfast, disembark in Krems and set off for Göttweig, a working Benedictine abbey that owns many of the vineyards along the Danube. See the splendid ceiling fresco in its imperial stairwell, one of the largest in the world. Visit the abbey church, a masterpiece of baroque architecture. Alternately, you may instead choose to explore your environs by bicycle, enjoying a ride along a riverside bike path considered one of Europe’s most scenic. Afterward, rejoin your ship and cruise leisurely through the captivating Wachau Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Taste some local Austrian specialties during lunch on board, taking in views of attractive towns and castle ruins along the way. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 6: Passau, Germany
Arrive this morning in Passau, at the confluence of the Inn, Ilz and Danube Rivers. Your guided walk along the town’s narrow streets takes you through Old Town and past traditional patrician houses. See the New Bishop’s Residence and view the impressive baroque St. Stephen’s Cathedral. Enjoy lunch on board your ship, and return to the city for further exploration on your own before departing. Alternately, you may instead journey into the countryside on an optional excursion to a local farm where you will have the opportunity to join a festive Bavarian party, experiencing traditional German music and food and tasting locally brewed beer. Or, you may choose a full-day optional excursion to explore glorious Salzburg; visit the Italianate Old Town, see settings from the film The Sound of Music and enjoy lunch at Austria’s oldest restaurant. We cruise through the night.
(Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Included Shore Excursions
PASSAU WALKING TOUR - Explore the Italianate-style streets of Passau, where three European rivers have converged to shape a distinctive city. Meet your local guide and begin your walking tour through delightful old-world streets, taking in a pastel rainbow of building facades as you stroll. You will see the impressive Bishops’ Residenz from which powerful prince-bishops ruled secular and religious life for hundreds of years. Continue past the 14th-century Rathaus, or Town Hall, built on the site of a former fish market on the Danube. Conclude your walk at the magnificent 17th-century St. Stephen’s Cathedral. This baroque wonder houses Europe’s largest pipe organ, with more than 17,000 pipes, and inspired Franz Liszt to write his Hungarian Coronation Mass. Enjoy free time to explore more of the city on your own before returning to your awaiting ship.
Day 7: Regensburg, Germany
After breakfast, meet your local guide for a walking tour through the scenic town of Regensburg, considered one of Europe’s best preserved medieval cities. See one of the largest groupings of 13th- and 14th-century church spires, towers and patrician houses north of the Alps. You also encounter the 12th-century Old Stone Bridge, St. Peter’s Cathedral and a number of idyllic courtyards. Take time to stroll the streets, shop or visit Germany’s oldest restaurant, the Alte Würstküche. Lunch is served on board your ship.
This afternoon, take an optional excursion to visit Weltenburg Abbey* and experience a short cruise through a stunning mountain pass, one of the most breathtakingly scenic bends in the Danube Narrows. Alternately, you may choose a full-day optional excursion to see the highlights of the grand city of Munich or a full-day optional excursion to Nuremberg, one of Germany’s most renowned and intriguing cities. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Included Shore Excursions
REGENSBURG WALKING TOUR - Witness a true medieval city untouched by World War II bombing and rich in architectural splendor. Regensburg is one of Germany’s best-preserved cities and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. To get acquainted with this gem, explore it on foot with a local guide, who will share a personal view of the city he knows so well. See some of the Roman city walls erected by Marcus Aurelius upon its founding. Walk past the Old Town Hall and see the 12th-century Old Stone Bridge, a 16-arch marvel of medieval engineering that still carries traffic today. See the famous Alte Wurstküche (Old Sausage Kitchen), Germany’s oldest restaurant, and admire its idyllic courtyards. At the Gothic St. Peter’s Cathedral, gaze up at the Donkey Tower, a remnant of the former cathedral that was left to support this one. Marvel at the structure’s superb stained glass windows before returning to your ship at your leisure.
HISTORIC REGENSBURG & JEWISH HERITAGE - Discover Regensburg during a walking tour and learn more about the city’s Jewish heritage. This tour contains all the same elements as the regular Regensburg Walking Tour but adds stops at several Jewish-related sights. Meet your guide at the pier and set off on foot, admiring Roman-era ruins and the many landmarks that date back to the Middle Ages. Continue your journey, delving into the city’s Jewish heritage, with stops at important monuments. Learn more about its history at Neupfarrplatz, in what was once the Jewish Quarter. Here, where the Synagogue once stood, is the site of a striking memorial. You will also see the former residence of Oskar Schindler, who saved more than 1,200 Jews, and the tombstones at the Old Town Hall and the Stumbling Stones memorial. These small brass plaques on the pavement commemorate the Jewish residents who died in the Holocaust.
Day 8: Regensburg, Germany
After breakfast, disembark and proceed to the airport for your return flight.* Or, extend your journey with our extension to Nuremberg or Prague, Czech Republic, including a tour of Old Town and Prague Castle. Alternatively, you can join a fully guided four-night extension to Prague and Nuremberg to experience the best of both towns. (Breakfast)