On arrival in London, you’ll be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel. After settling in, you’ll have the rest of the day at leisure. This evening, meet your Tour Escort and fellow guests over dinner at a local restaurant.
Depart St Pancras International railway station by Eurostar for Brussels, then change trains and continue on your journey by First Class rail to the German city of Cologne. Enjoy an overnight stay in this beautiful city, known as the region’s cultural hub.
Today you’ll travel to one of the largest cities in Switzerland, Basel, then start the picturesque ascent through the Swiss Alps to glamorous St Moritz, nestled in the Upper Engadine Valley. This elegant and exclusive resort town is continuously frequented by royalty. On arrival, take a short stroll to your hotel, which overlooks a shimmering lake.
4. St Moritz, First Class Rail aboard the Bernina Express, Tirano
The Bernina Line has been awarded World Heritage status thanks to the incredible civil engineering required to create it, as well as the breathtaking scenery surrounding it. The ascent takes you through the Albula Tunnel and over the stunning Bernina Pass. Enjoy wonderful views of the snow-capped peaks and turquoise glacial lakes as we travel to Tirano in Italy. You’ll have some free time in Tirano before returning to St Moritz.
Enjoy a relaxed breakfast this morning. With the entire day at leisure, you’ll have the opportunity to explore St Moritz by cable car. Or, you might wish to ascend the mountain viewpoint of Diavolezza, which offers stunning panoramas over the surrounding peaks. Alternatively, explore the mountains further afield with discounted fares using your St Moritz Travel Pass.
6. St Moritz, First Class Rail aboard the Glacier Express, Zermatt
Your journey aboard the Glacier Express takes you through the classic landscapes that have made Switzerland famous. On leaving St Moritz, descend towards the valley floor, emerging from a rock tunnel to cross the impressive Landwasser Viaduct and travel into the Upper Rhine Valley. A two-course lunch is served at your seat during the journey – the perfect accompaniment to your time on board the slowest express train in the world. The train climbs steeply over the Oberalp Pass, the peak of the route, and spirals down before crossing the spectacular gorge at Brig. Arrive in Zermatt and head to your lovely hotel, overlooked by the towering Matterhorn. The Matterhorn is completely unique; so magnetic that its mammoth size and geometric splendour make it almost impossible to tear your gaze away.
7. Zermatt, Gornergrat Mountain Railway
Make your ascent aboard the Gornergrat Mountain Railway today. Opened in 1898, it is the highest open-air cog-wheel railway in Europe. The train climbs to the 3,000-metre-high summit of the Gornergrat and offers spectacular views of the Matterhorn. On a clear day here, you are able to count 29 snowy peaks. After spending some time at the summit to enjoy the views over the Gorner Glacier, the second largest glacier in the Alps, descend and enjoy a guided tour of Zermatt. This pretty, eco-friendly town is a car-free zone, with timbered buildings and a beautiful English church.
8. Zermatt, Stresa, Lake Maggiore, Isola Pescatore
Board a train to Domodossola in Italy this morning, where you’ll take a coach to Stresa, set on the shore of Lake Maggiore. What Isola Pescatore lacks in size, it makes up for in character and you’re sure to be impressed by sights such as the church of San Vittore, the island’s own national monument. Later, return to Zermatt for dinner this evening.
Explore Zermatt at your own pace today. Perhaps enjoy a walk along one of the many marked trails or climb the Kleine Matterhorn. Another option is to use your First Class Swiss Travel Pass to explore further afield. The card allows discounted fares on most trains, buses and lake steamers. Among the most popular options available to you is a journey through the ‘hundred valleys’ on the Centovalli Railway. This narrow-gauge line winds over high bridges, burrows through tunnels and passes sleepy villages to the town of Locarno, located on the shore of glistening Lake Maggiore. This evening, be sure to head to one of Zermatt’s gorgeous restaurants to sample the city’s divine local fare. The town is widely known for its delectable Swiss fondue made from Gruyere cheese.
This morning you will travel via Visp back to Basel in Switzerland. Then join the service to the French town of Colmar. Upon arrival, you may wish to stretch your legs and wander around the streets. Filled with half-timbered houses, canals and a flower-decked town centre, Colmar will be quick to charm.
11. Colmar, Eurostar, London
Today you will journey through France, where you’ll connect with a Eurostar service and continue on to London. Along the way, make the most of this wonderful mode of travel as you simply sit back and watch the charming landscapes and quaint townships roll by.
12. Depart London, Arrive Amsterdam, Embark Ship
After breakfast this morning, you will be transferred to the airport for your included flight from London to Amsterdam. Upon arrival in Amsterdam, 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.
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.
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.
15. 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.
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.
26. Disembark Ship, Depart Budapest
After breakfast, disembark your river ship and transfer to the airport for your onward flight.