Day 1: ARRIVE IN BUDAPEST, HUNGARY (EMBARKATION).
Welcome to Budapest, Hungary's lively capital. This afternoon, board your river cruise vessel and meet your crew at an evening welcome reception. (NOTE: Guests must be on board ship by 5 pm) (D)
Day 2: BUDAPEST.
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 Cafe, Budapest's unique energy is positively palatable. On your GUIDED TOUR of the city, see Hers' 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. During your free time this afternoon, perhaps visit St. Stephen's Basilica, with marvelous views of the city from its viewing platform, or stroll along Vaci utca, the main shopping street. (B,L,D)
Day 3: BRATISLAVA, SLOVAKIA.
This morning while sailing to Bratislava enjoy an ONBOARD LECTURE presented by your beer expert. As you cruise upriver, Hungary is on your left and Slovakia is on your right. The two countries share the Danube for a 93-kilometre (58-mile) stretch, with the border in the middle of the river. At the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains is Bratislava, the dynamic capital of Slovakia, which you reach in mid-morning. Join a LOCAL GUIDE to explore 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; and gothic ST. MARTIN'S CATHEDRAL, coronation church for the Kingdom of Hungary from the 16th to 19th centuries. (B,L,D)
Day 4: VIENNA.
Known as the "City of Music," Vienna inspired the creative genius of Mozart, Beethoven, and Strauss. Once the centre 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. This afternoon stroll through the pedestrian Karntnerstrasse, and be sure to take a break and enjoy a piece of decadent Sachertorte or Apfelstrudel in a neighborhood cafe, or visit the OTTAKRINGER BREWERY, a medium-size family business that stands for the successful combination of tradition and innovation in brewing, using only the clearest water from their own spring, the finest hops, and solely Austrian barley. An optional concert is available tonight. For the real beer lovers after dinner join your beer expert for a LOCAL PUBS TOUR through the streets of Vienna. (B,L,D)
Day 5: DURNSTEIN-MELK.
Durnstein, 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 town-with a population of less than 1,000 people-is 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 England's 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 Europe's largest monasteries. The abbey houses an ornate library with over 80,000 printed books and 2,000 manuscripts. You'll be captivated by the splendor of the church with its frescd ceilings, stunning high altar, marble statues, and 60 metre (210-foot) high cupola. The view from the terrace over the Danube and surrounding countryside is breathtaking! This evening, sample some of the Wachau Valley's FAMOUS WINES. (B,L,D)
Day 6: LINZ.
This morning, arrive in Linz, Austria's third-largest city and enjoy a guided walk which shows you the highlights., Linz is an important river port where culture plays a significant role in everyday life. Composer Anton Bruckner lived here, and Mozart's Linzer Symphony was composed in the city. 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. Thjs afternoon there is free time to explore on your own. Perhaps 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. Alternatively, you might choose to join a full-day optional excursion to medieval Eesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic, a UNESCO World Heritage Site; or to Salzburg with its Sound of Music sites. Tonight enjoy a FOOD AND BEER PAIRING DINNER hosted by your beer expert. (B,L,D)
Day 7: PASSAU, GERMANY.
This morning, arrive in Passau, located at the confluence of the Rivers Inn, Ilz, and Danube. This is a city of graceful arcades and cobblestone streets dominated by St. Stephen's Cathedral, a masterpiece of Italian baroque architecture. Join a Local Guide for a WALKING TOUR through this charming town, and find out much more about the "City of Three Rivers." This afternoon join your Local Guide for a visit to ALDERSBACH BREWERY and TASTE their beers. (B,L,D)
Day 8: DEGGENDORF (DISEMBARKATION)-REGENSBURG - PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC.
Today, say goodbye to your crew and travel by motorcoach to Regensburg, one of Germany's best preserved medieval cities. Architectural highlights of your GUIDED WALK include the Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall) 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. Grab a beer and enjoy a SNACK at the Historische Wurstkuche (Old Sausage Kitchen), one of Germany's oldest restaurants. Later continue to Prague, also known as the "Golden City" and capital of the Czech Republic. (B)
Day 9: PRAGUE.
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; 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; 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. This afternoon, join a BREWS & BITES tour of Prague and visit some of the most magical beer-drinking spots to experience everything from light pilsners and dark lagers to artistic craft beers only the locals know about. (B)
Day 10: PRAGUE.
Your holiday ends with breakfast this morning. (B)