Day 1: ARRIVE IN VIENNA, AUSTRIA (EMBARKATION).
Welcome to Vienna, known as the "City of Music" and a place that inspired the creative genius of Mozart, Beethoven, and Strauss. 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: VIENNA.
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 your Local Guide will show you during an included CITY SIGHTSEEING TOUR. Alternatively, you can join a Vienna culinary walk, during which you will learn about Austrian food culture and taste some local products. The walking tour will be followed by a cooking class at the "Wrenkh" restaurant, where two famous chefs, the Wrenkh brothers, will teach you how to prepare a famous Viennese dessert. In your free time, stroll through the delightful pedestrian Karntnerstrasse, 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! An optional concert is available tonight. (B,L,D)
Day 3: DURNSTEIN-MELK.
Durnstein, known for the magnificent baroque Stiftskirche with its blue facade, lies right in the heart of the Wachau wine region. Above town are the ruins of the castle where England's King Richard the Lionheart was imprisoned in 1192. A Local Guide will tell you the tale during your GUIDED WALK. Those seeking some sporting activity might like to climb up the steep hill to the castle ruins for spectacular views of the town and river. Alternatively, you may just want to stroll through the narrow streets on your own. A Master of Wine will join you on board and will introduce you to some of Austria's famous wines. Cruise through the beautiful Wachau Valley to reach Melk after lunch and visit the magnificent 11th-century BENEDICTINE ABBEY. Melk's abbey towers over the town and is one of Europe's largest. It houses an ornate library with over 80,000 printed books and 2,000 manuscripts. Words cannot describe the splendor of its church with its frescd ceilings, stunning high altar, marble statues, and 65 metre (210-foot) high cupola. This evening, you'll be able to sample some of the region's FAMOUS WINES paired with cheese during an on board TASTING presented by our Master of Wine . (B,L,D)
Day 4: GREIN-LINZ.
This morning, arrive in the attractive country resort of Grein, which is nestled at the foot of a bluff in the shadow of its castle. Take an included GUIDED WALK through the town and visit its unique historical THEATRE, 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 theatre will certainly tell you much about life as it was- and as it is now in this small town. Or, you may prefer to join one of a variety of optional excursions today. Sail to Linz where you dock overnight. (B,L,D)
Day 5: LINZ-PASSAU, GERMANY.
Today, enjoy a relaxing morning of sailing. This afternoon, arrive in Passau, located at the confluence of the Rivers Inn, Ilz, and Danube. This is a city of graceful arcades and cobblestone streets lined with beautiful patrician houses and dominated by St. Stephen's Cathedral, a masterpiece of Italian baroque architecture. Join a Local Guide for a GUIDED WALK through this charming town, and find out much more about the "City of Three Rivers." Alternatively, you can join a city tour more focused on the culinary traditions of both Germany and Austria, during which you will taste some local specialties. (B,L,D)
Day 6: PASSAU (DISEMBARKATION)-MUNICH.
Say goodbye to your crew this morning and drive to Munich, capital of Bavaria. The afternoon is free to explore on your own, or you might like to take an optional excursion to Salzburg, which will bring you to Munich in the late afternoon. (B)
Day 7: MUNICH.
Although a large city, Munich offers a small-town feel with its pedestrian- and bike-friendly atmosphere. With its historical museums, splendid English Garden, traditional cafes, and delightful shops, Munich offers plenty to see and do. A LOCAL GUIDE will show you the highlights of this fascinating city, including Nymphenburg Palace, summer residence of the Bavarian monarchs; MARIENPLATZ with its Old and New Town Halls; and the gothic Frauenkirche, a prominent landmark for Munich. Then, enjoy time on your own in this vibrant city. Watch the famous Glockenspiel, which recreates a royal wedding from the 16th century; enjoy the pedestrian zone; linger at an outdoor cafe; or relax alongside the locals at one of the many Biergarten or breweries to sample one of the Bavarian beer specialties. (B)
Day 8: MUNICH - EXCURSION TO NEUSCHWANSTEIN & OBERAMMERGAU.
This morning, a full-day outing takes you into the garden-like landscapes of the Bavarian Alps and for a visit to King Ludwig's fairytale NEUSCHWANSTEIN CASTLE, high above the village of Hohenschwangau. Continue to Oberammergau, famous for its once-a-decade production of the Passion Play, and enjoy free time here to stroll the streets and admire the typical Bavarian houses, many beautifully painted with scenes from fairytales. (B)
Day 9: MUNICH.
Your holiday ends this morning. (B)