28 Day European Gems & Grand Alpine Explorer
European Gems & Grand Alpine Explorer
From: Amsterdam to Zürich
Countries Visited: Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Switzerland, Italy
( Brochure Price:
$ 15,590 pp )
Our Price: $14,811 pp
1. Arrive Amsterdam, Embark Ship
Fly into Amsterdam today and transfer to your premium river ship. After settling in, perhaps grab a map and explore the canal-crossed streets lined with unique tall and narrow buildings that epitomise this carefree, cosmopolitan city. Enjoy a myriad of great shopping opportunities, stopping to see the traditional blue and white Delftware pottery and making sure to visit one of the many artisan cheese makers or chocolatiers found in the traditional tall houses that line the canal shores. You might like to visit the bustling Dam Square and Madame Tussauds to see this famous wax museum’s lifelike exhibits, or art lovers might want to explore the city’s thriving art scene, being sure to stop in at the Van Gogh Museum. Board your river ship, which remains docked overnight within easy strolling distance of the iconic sights. This evening meet your Cruise Director, Entertainment and Activities Coordinator and fellow passengers at a Captain’s Welcome Reception. Afterwards perhaps discover some of Amsterdam’s sights by night.
2. Amsterdam, Utrecht
Perhaps the best way to get to know Amsterdam is aboard a glass-top boat. Today, you’ll join a local guide who will regale you with stories of daily life as you glide through the city’s maze of waterways. Back on land, enjoy time in Museum Square and have your photo taken in front of the ‘I amsterdam’ sign at the Rijksmuseum. Later, travel by coach via Rembrandt’s Windmill to Utrecht, , and join back up with your river ship. Your ship will set off along the Rhine as you prepare for tonight’s special Gala Dinner.
3. Cologne, Brühl
As you cruise into the riverside city of Cologne, the sheer magnitude of the history of the region becomes apparent as your Cruise Director tells of how the twin spires of the famous cathedral, the Kölner Dom, took over six centuries to complete. Head to the Sun Deck as this magnificent architectural masterpiece comes into view and marvel at the tenacity of its craftsmen and builders. Disembark your ship in Cologne and take the short drive to Brühl. After your Insider Experience, return to Cologne and enjoy free time to discover over 2,000 years of history in the Old City.
4. Rhine Gorge, Rüdesheim
Though the colours of the Rhine Gorge change according to the season, the steep slopes and vineyards are always a beautiful sight to behold. As are Lorelei Rock and Pfalzgrafenstein Castle which, contrary to their surrounds, have remained largely unchanged over the centuries. Dock in Rüdesheim, and board the Winzerexpress mini-train, bound for Siegfried’s Mechanical Musical Instrument Museum. Admire delicate songbird boxes and curious musical dolls. Later, stroll back to your river ship, via alleys lined with shops and cafes, perhaps stopping for a decadent Rüdesheimer coffee along the way.
Today, you are welcomed to the Main River, known as “the snake” because of its meandering path through Germany. Although the Main is one of the longest rivers in Germany it is somewhat sleepier than the Rhine. With its banks spotted with quaint and colourful villages, this section of your cruise is sure to yield plenty of picture-perfect moments. Disembark your river ship and explore the evocative town of Miltenberg, seemingly stuck in time, with many of its half-timbered buildings dating from the 15th to 18th century. Later this evening, enjoy a superb dinner on board before settling in to the lounge to watch the glittering lights of medieval towns and villages glide past as you cruise through the night. Witness a feat of engineering as you pass through a handful of the canal’s 34 locks.
After an early breakfast, board a coach and travel through the green rolling hills and rich vineyards which sit on the fringe of the pretty town of Würzburg. The architectural beauty that defines Würzburg is on show today as you admire its magnificent baroque palace. A walk through the Court Garden is a delight, with its terraced gardens and water basin encircled by stunning yew trees. After lunch, you might like to enhance your journey even further with an excursion to medieval Rothenburg. On arrival embark on a walking tour and discover the magical Christmas museum and shop, as well as narrow cobblestone streets and alleys, overlooked by imposing towers and ramparts. With all guests back on board this evening, sit down to dinner with your fellow travellers as your ship cruises towards the Bavarian town of Bamberg.
Spend a leisurely morning cruising along the last stretch of the Main River before arriving at Bamberg. One of the few German cities that wasn’t destroyed during World War II, this pretty World Heritage-listed city beckons this morning. Enjoy a guided tour, during which you’ll gaze upon such sights as the Old Town Hall and the Bamberg Cathedral, followed by some free time to explore. A visit to one of the historic taverns is perhaps the best place to get a taste for the local Bavarian culture where you’ll find locals enjoying pretzels and steins of smoked ale. Later on this evening, your ship will reach the Main-Danube Canal.
The site of Hitler’s now infamous Nuremberg rallies, held annually from 1927 to 1938, Nuremberg played a pivotal role for the Nazis during World War II. Learn about the city’s Nazi era as you see such sights as the Zeppelin Field and the Palace of Justice. You will find that Nuremberg is also a great place to explore, as you wander the cobblestone streets discovering hidden boutiques and artisan stores that surround the town square. Finish your day cruising through the Main-Danube Canal, crossing Europe’s Continental Divide - 435 metres above sea level) thanks to the canal’s 16 stair-step locks.
Having reached the Danube River overnight, Regensburg awaits at the meeting point of the Danube and Regen rivers. Join the guided walking tour which highlights the medieval city’s story through the ages. There are plenty of well-preserved sights to see as Regensburg was lucky to escape most of the devastating bombings of World War II. See the ancient Stone Bridge, which gracefully arches across the water, as well as the Old Town Hall, the World Heritage-listed city centre and the Porta Pretoria – ancient gates to a Roman fort built in AD179. You will spend the entire day in this charming city docked right in the heart of town, so another option is to organise a packed lunch and a bicycle and enjoy the freedom as you head out to explore the city or surrounding countryside on your own terms. Re-board your river ship for lunch, or perhaps grab something yourself at a local restaurant or cafe, then spend the rest of the day at leisure.
As you enjoy your breakfast this morning on board your river ship, you’ll arrive in the ‘Three Rivers City’ of Passau, where the rivers Inn and Ilz join the Danube. Today you are spoilt for choice. Perhaps take part in a morning walking tour. As you explore, stroll past the city’s colourful buildings that line the riverbank. Discover Passau’s baroque character, owing to the fact it was rebuilt in the style after fires destroyed it in the 1600s. Alternatively, you can use your ship’s onboard bicycles to explore on your own terms. Or you may like to join one of the two optional Enhance Your Journey day trips available. On one, you’ll enjoy a fascinating day excursion to the city of Český Krumlov in the Czech Republic, home to more than 300 historical buildings. The other option is to travel to Salzburg and enjoy a tour of the sights from the classic movie ‘The Sound of Music’, including the famous Wedding Church. Those not undertaking day trips will meet back on board for lunch and spending a relaxing afternoon cruising.
11. Melk, Dürnstein
Dock in Melk and join a local guide for a tour through Melk Abbey. Sitting majestically atop a rocky outcrop overlooking the Danube, Melk Abbey has been an active Benedictine monastery since 1089. It is then up to you whether you want to catch the coach back down to the river, or stroll through the forest back to your ship, which departs shortly after lunch. Ensure you are on the Sun Deck or in the Lounge as you cruise through the picturesque Wachau Valley, one of the most beautiful and famous in Austria. Continue to the town of Dürnstein, overlooked by castle ruins perched dramatically on a hilltop. It was here that King Richard the Lionheart was held captive when he was caught trying to return to England through mainland Europe after being shipwrecked in the Adriatic at the end of the Third Crusade. Here you have a free afternoon to explore at your own pace. A walk through the cobbled streets would lead to 16th-century town houses and taverns, while surrounding vineyards provide the opportunity to taste some of the local wine or the apricot schnapps for which this lovely little town is known.
Embrace the splendour of the former Habsburg empire in Vienna, a cultural utopia of music, art and food. Discover the sheer elegance of this opulent city as you drive around the Ringstrasse. Learn about some of the city’s most famous buildings – the Vienna State Opera House, the Museum of Fine Arts and more – as well as the city’s rich classical music culture and history. Upon arriving in the city centre, join a walking tour for an insider’s view of a number of landmarks, including St Stephen’s Cathedral, the Graben, Hofburg Palace and the Albertina. Perhaps stop and taste for yourself the cafe culture that influences this city so much. This evening you might choose to attend a wonderful concert featuring a range of different music through the ages, including some compositions by Mozart and Strauss as well as music from the movie ‘The Sound of Music.
With a day at leisure today, you decide on how to shape your experience in Vienna. Perhaps visit the Spanish Riding School, or head to the Hofburg area and the Imperial Treasury, brimming with crowns and precious gems. If you’re feeling peckish, perhaps head to a cosy coffee house where you can try a traditional Sachertorte – a chocolate tart with a lush apricot filling. You’ll be spoilt for choice in a city so rich in great cafes, impressive historical buildings and fabulous shopping opportunities, so be sure to ask your expert Cruise Director for any insider tips. Otherwise, embark on an optional excursion. Perhaps visit Schönbrunn Palace, to see one of Austria’s finest examples of baroque architecture. Or cross the border into Slovakia for a tour of Bratislava, discovering a soviet history that only ended in the 1980s. See communist buildings and monuments and learn about life in the soviet era before enjoying free time in Bratislava’s Old Town.
Today, enjoy views of one of the Danube’s most enchanting riverside cities as you arrive into the heart of Hungary’s capital. After breakfast, the history, beauty and charm of Budapest are highlighted as a local guide leads you through the city. See Matthias Church, the Fisherman’s Bastion and Heroes’ Square. Learn about the turbulent history of the regal Buda Castle and take the chance to see the spectacular Hungarian Parliament Building, perched on the edge of the Danube River. For those that wish, there’s an opportunity this afternoon to visit the unique Hospital in the Rock. After a Captain’s Farewell Dinner, set off on a twilight cruise back along the Danube through the glittering heart of Budapest. Pass under the Chain Bridge and glide by the sparkling Hungarian Parliament Building, with Buda Castle and the Fisherman’s Bastion lit up in the distance.
15. Disembark Ship, Depart Budapest, Arrive Munich
After breakfast, disembark your river ship and transfer to the airport for your included flight to Munich. On arrival be transferred to your hotel in Munich, the capital of Bavaria and one of Germany’s best-loved cities. This evening, meet your Tour Escort and fellow guests over dinner.
Become immersed in the illustrious sights of Munich. With a rich culture and heritage, the city has a wonderful collection of museums, galleries and architectural treasures. Enjoy a guided tour to introduce you to the highlights of Munich, before time to explore at your own pace.
17. Salzburg, Traunkirchen
Leaving Munich behind, this morning take the train into Austria. Arrive in Salzburg, a city known the world over as the birthplace of Mozart, and the setting for the classic film, ‘The Sound of Music’. Later, travel by coach to Lake Traunsee, a spectacular lake that resembles a fjord. The lakeside village of Traunkirchen will be your home for the next three nights.
Today is free for you to relax in Traunkirchen. Perhaps take a stroll around the village’s cobbled lanes, admire the authentic fishermen’s cottages, or visit the nearby spa town of Bad Ischl.
19. Austrian Lake District
After discovering the beauty of the Austrian Lake District, continue to pretty Mondsee and see its 15th-century church, which featured in the wedding scene of ‘The Sound of Music’.
Transfer by coach to Salzburg, where you will join a rail service for the journey into the historic state of Tyrol. The route takes you past the towering peaks of the rugged Austrian Alps, before arriving in Innsbruck. This afternoon enjoy a walking tour of Innsbruck where you learn of life in the historic old town and discover why the ‘golden roof’ became Innsbruck’s most recognizable icon.
21. Jenbach, Achenseebahn Railway
After journeying to Jenbach by mainline rail, join the steam-powered cogwheel railway for the ascent to Achensee. Here you will take a relaxing cruise across the emerald waters of the lake, before returning to Innsbruck.
22. Swiss Alps, St Moritz
Today’s adventure takes you into the spellbinding scenery of Switzerland. Your train cuts through the mighty Alps, which dominate the skyline. The journey continues through Liechtenstein and into the Swiss town of Sargans. Here you change trains and travel alongside the Rhine to Chur. Continue your ascent through the majestic mountains, overlooking lush meadows running down to the valley floor. The line uses a series of loops, spirals and switchbacks to gain altitude. Arrive in the elegant lakeside resort town of St Moritz.
23. Bernina Express, Tirano
The Bernina Line has been awarded World Heritage status as a testament to the incredible engineering that was required to create it, as well as for the scenery through which it passes. During your rail adventure, travel across the spiralling viaduct at Brusio. The track clings to the mountainside as it winds above deep ravines and past waterfalls, reaching over 2,000 metres above sea level. Later, the train will arrive in the Italian town of Tirano, where you’ll have free time before the return journey.
24. St Moritz
Spend today as you please soaking up the glitz and glamour of St Moritz.
25. Glacier Express, Interlaken
The journey aboard the Glacier Express takes you through classic landscapes, from jagged mountain peaks to sprawling vineyards, and over the epic Landwasser Viaduct. Enjoy a tasty two-course lunch at your seat while watching stunning scenery drift slowly by. The train climbs steadily and steeply up and over the Oberalp Pass, then spirals downward past little villages on the way to Brig. Here you change trains and continue on to Interlaken, your base for the next three nights.
26. Jungfrau Railway
Today’s adventure begins as you leave Interlaken and travel through the foothills of the Alps to Lauterbrunnen. You will then join the Wengeralp Railway to Kleine Scheidegg. It is here your journey on the iconic Jungfrau Railway begins. Your final destination is the Jungfraujoch, Europe’s highest railway station, which is more than 3,400 metres above sea level. With free time at the summit station, you can explore the Ice Palace and its many ice sculptures. Later, descend, and on the way, pass the charming mountain resort village of Grindelwald.
Wake up to breathtaking mountain vistas, happy in the knowledge that Interlaken is all yours to explore at leisure today.
28. Depart Zürich
Your journey ends this morning as you transfer to the airport in Zürich for your onward flight.