12 days from Zürich to ViennaOverview
Four countries, three rivers, and the impressive Main Danube Canal are the basis of this delightful river cruise vacation. Start in Zürich, Switzerland, then travel to Basel to embark your river cruise vessel. Enjoy guided sightseeing in Strasbourg, Würzburg, Bamberg, Regensburg, Passau and Nuremberg. Visit Heidelberg and its imposing castle and stop in Melk for a visit to the beautiful Benedictine Abbey. Guided orientations of the smaller towns show off their famous sights, and time in Regensburg includes the chance to sample some of Germany’s world-famous beers. Your journey concludes in Vienna with guided sightseeing and time at leisure to explore this extraordinary “City of Music” on your own.Duration:
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Day 1 Arrive in Zürich, Switzerland. Transfer to Basel (Embarkation).
Welcome to Switzerland! Your river cruise vessel is docked on the Rhine River in Basel, where France, Switzerland, and Germany meet. Meet your crew at an evening welcome reception. (D)NOTE:Flights into Zürich must arrive before 3 pm. Guests must be on board ship by 5 pm.Day 2 Strasbourg, France.
Situated on the border of France and Germany, Strasbourg blends the cultures of both countries in a delightful way. As capital of the Alsace region and seat of the Council of Europe and European Parliament, it is an important city that manages to retain its historic charm. In fact, on your included SIGHTSEEING TOUR you will discover Europe at its most quintessential. Visit the monumental red-sandstone GOTHIC CATHEDRAL with its ancient murals, stained-glass windows, and fascinating astronomical clock, as well as the magical LA PETITE FRANCE district, home to half-timbered houses, quaint shops, inviting bistros, and a waterfront promenade. Also spend time exploring Place Kléber, a large historic square in the heart of the city, and Place Gutenberg in the middle of medieval Strasbourg, featuring a statue of the inventor of the printing press. An optional excursion into the Alsace wine country is available. (B,L,D)Day 3 Excursion to Heidelberg, Germany.
This morning, an excursion takes you to Heidelberg, home to the oldest university in Germany, founded in 1386. With a Local Guide, visit the imposing ruins of HEIDELBERG CASTLE, towering magnificently over the city and among the most important Renaissance structures north of the Alps. See the GREAT VAT, the “World’s Largest Wine Barrel.” At nearly 23 feet high and 28 feet wide, the cask holds over 58,000 gallons of wine and has a dance floor built on top of it! Enjoy the afternoon relaxing on board as you head for the Main River. (B,L,D)Day 4 Main River Village.
On the banks of the Main River you find cultural gems of small towns, many of them tucked away behind defensive walls and towered gates. With half-timbered houses, narrow streets, and medieval town centers, these picturesque Bavarian villages are a photographer’s delight. Join your Local Guide to experience one of these towns on a GUIDED WALK. (B,L,D)Day 5 Würzburg.
Arrive in Würzburg during breakfast. Surrounded by verdant hillside vineyards, Würzburg, also known as the “Pearl of the Romantic Road,” makes an immediate impression with imposing Marienberg Fortress perched above town and the 15th-century Alte Mainbrucke (Old Main Bridge). On your included GUIDED SIGHTSEEING TOUR, visit the magnificent baroque BISHOP’S RESIDENZ, home to the largest ceiling fresco ever painted. This afternoon you are free to explore on your own, or maybe join an optional excursion to medieval Rothenburg. (B,L,D)Day 6 Bamberg.
Enjoy a leisurely morning on board as you cruise gently along the Main River. Arrive in medieval Bamberg, former residence of one of Germany’s most powerful imperial dynasties. Your GUIDED WALKING TOUR takes in its historic center, including the great 13th-century Romanesque cathedral and the fascinating Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall)—built on an island in the middle of the Regnitz River when the bishop refused to give the townspeople land for a town hall! Wander the town’s serpentine streets with their charming houses and 18th-century mansions. (B,L,D)Day 7 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. This morning, choose either a GUIDED SIGHTSEEING TOUR and marvel at this thousand-year-old city’s medieval fortifications, extraordinary gothic churches, and the Kaiserburg (Imperial Castle), or join a more specialized NUREMBERG RALLY GROUNDS tour. During free time, be sure to make a wish at the beautiful fountain on the Hauptmarkt (main square). Legend says your wish will come true if you turn its gold ring three times. (B,L,D)Day 8 Regensburg.
This morning, arrive in Regensburg, one of Germany’s 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 city’s 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 Brücke (Stone Bridge), the oldest of its kind in Germany. Grab a beer and enjoy an included SNACK at the Historische Wurstküche (Old Sausage Kitchen), one of Germany’s oldest restaurants. Here—where the locals congregate—feel the vibrant atmosphere and take in the remarkable views along the river. Tonight, enjoy a tasting of some of Germany’s FAMOUS BEERS! (B,L,D)Day 9 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, or maybe join the full-day optional excursion to Salzburg to see some of The Sound of Music sights or to Český Krumlov in the Czech Republic, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. (B,L,D)Day 10 Melk, Austria–Dürnstein.
Today is dedicated to the beautiful and romantic Wachau Valley, where so much of the excellent Austrian wine is grown and produced. This morning, visit Melk’s impressive 11th-century BENEDICTINE ABBEY, which towers over the town. Words cannot describe the splendor of the church with its frescoed ceilings, stunning high altar, marble statues, and 210-foot-high cupola. After Melk, lounge on the Sky Deck with a glass of white wine while enjoying the gorgeous scenery as you sail to Dürnstein, whose baroque blue and white Stiftskirche stands right on the river bank. There is free time to explore this small town on your own or to participate in an optional excursion. If you are fit and are in the mood for some exercise, a biking excursion (weather permitting) may fit the bill! (B,L,D)Day 11 Vienna.
Also known as the “City of Music,” Vienna 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—to name just a few of the sights your Local Guide will show you during your INCLUDED TOUR. Stroll through the delightful pedestrian Kärntnerstrasse, and be sure to take a break and enjoy a piece of decadent Sachertorte or Apfelstrudel in a classic Viennese café. An optional concert is available during your stay. (B,L,D)Day 12 Vienna (Disembarkation).
Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning. (B)
- Captain’s welcome & farewell receptions with sparkling wine and canapés
- Welcome dinner
- Daily Afternoon Tea
- Daily Night Fare
- Farewell dinner
- Complimentary sparkling wine with breakfast; soft drinks with lunch; and wine, beer, or soft drinks with dinner are included daily on board your vessel