1. Arrive Zürich, Lucerne
Fly into Zürich Airport by midday then enjoy an orientation tour of Zürich. Wander through the shop-lined streets of this retail hotspot. Explore the famous shopping strip of Bahnhofstrasse and discover the high-end brands that feature in what is one of the world’s most expensive shopping streets. Admire the Gothic beauty of the Grossmünster Church, which is said to be built on the graves of the city’s patron saints, Felix and Regula. Your local guide will then take you to the picturesque boulevard of Limmatquai. This famous street follows the Limmat River from the historic Old Town, past modern fashion boutiques and numerous mouthwatering cafes, chocolatiers and gourmet restaurants before arriving on the shores of Lake Zürich. Afterwards, travel through the undulating countryside to Lucerne.
With its breathtaking Swiss Alps backdrop, this city is a delight to explore. On a guided tour, see the Lion of Lucerne, a monument that commemorates events of the French Revolution, and wander along the Chapel Bridge, with its octagonal Water Tower.
Embark on a scenic journey via Interlaken to Zermatt, set in the gaze of the world’s most photogenic mountain, the Matterhorn. This pretty, eco-friendly resort town is a car-free zone, making it a delight to explore by foot. Enjoy a relaxed evening breathing in the alpine air as you wander the streets.
After breakfast this morning, set out on a guided morning tour of the town. As part of your exploration, you’ll discover the charming Hinterdorf (Old Village), home to around 30 traditional chalet-style barns and shops constructed between the 16th and 18th centuries. Enjoy time at leisure this afternoon and evening to explore this gorgeous city even further.
5. Zermatt, Andermatt, Glacier Express, St Moritz
Travel to Andermatt and enjoy your Insider Experience. On arrival in St Moritz, check in to your hotel before dinner this evening.
6. St Moritz, Kitzbühel, Salzburg
This morning set out on a journey into Austria, travelling via the small alpine town Kitzbühel on the way to Salzburg, birthplace of the famed composer, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Soak in the city’s atmosphere with an afternoon at leisure, perhaps visiting Mirabell Gardens, where scenes for ‘The Sound of Music’ were filmed back in the 1960s.
Enjoy a tour of the city and the Old Town, where melodies drift from bustling coffee houses. This evening indulge in a special dinner with your fellow travellers.
Travel to Budapest via Mondsee and board your ship.
Today, enjoy views of one of the Danube’s most enchanting riverside cities as you explore the heart of Hungary’s capital, Budapest. Learn how the twin cities of Buda and Pest were unified in the 19th century and are bisected by the Danube. Each of these historic cities displays their own character. After breakfast, a local guide will lead your discovery 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 by day.
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.
Dock in Dürnstein where you have free time to explore at your own pace. The town is 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. A stroll to the ruined Castle of Dürnstein leads you to some of the most beautiful vantage points, giving spectacular views of the Wachau Valley below. This steep path is worthwhile for those keen to explore by themselves. A walk through the cobbled streets leads to 16th-century town houses and taverns, while surrounding vineyards provide the opportunity to taste some of the local wine or the apricot schnapps this lovely little town is known for. Continue to Melk for a tour of magnificent Melk Abbey, an active Benedictine monastery since 1089. After your tour here, 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.
Today you are spoilt for choice. You can choose to disembark and ride a bike along the riverside to the ‘Three Rivers City’ of Passau, where the rivers Inn and Ilz join the Danube. Alternatively, you have the option of embarking on a fascinating day excursion to the city of Český Krumlov in the Czech Republic, home to more than 300 historical buildings. Or 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 a day trip remain on board, spending a relaxing afternoon cruising to Passau. Here, 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.
Continue cruising along the Danube River to Regensburg, located at the meeting point of the Danube and Regen rivers. Here, join a 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 – gates to a Roman fort built way back in AD179. As you will spend the morning in this charming city, docked right in the heart of town, another option is to borrow a bicycle and head off to explore the city or surrounding countryside on your own terms. Re-board your river ship for lunch and relax on board.
Today your ship will enter the Main-Danube Canal, a feat of engineering, and take you across Europe’s Continental Divide (435 metres above sea level) thanks to the canal’s 16 stair-step locks. Continue to Nuremberg, which 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, before paying a visit to the site of Hitler’s infamous Nuremberg rallies, held annually from 1927 to 1938. Nuremberg is a great place to explore in its own right, as you’ll learn while wandering the cobblestone streets discovering boutiques and artisan stores.
Spend a morning cruising along the last stretch of the Main-Danube Canal before arriving at the World Heritage-listed city of Bamberg. Here you can choose between an afternoon of free time or a guided tour, during which you’ll gaze upon such sights as the Old Town Hall and the Bamberg Cathedral. A visit to one of the historic taverns, complete with locals enjoying pretzels and steins of smoked ale, is a great way to get a taste for the Bavarian culture.
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, the Würzburg Residence. This impressive building brought together the leading architects of the 18th century from Germany and France. A walk through the Court Garden is a delight, with its terraced gardens and water basin encircled by stunning yew trees. Enjoy free time to explore. 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 the ship this evening, sit down to a delectable dinner with your fellow travellers as you cruise this evening towards Miltenberg.
Disembark your river ship and travel through the evocative town of Miltenberg, with its many half-timbered buildings dating from the 15th to 18th century. Later this evening, enjoy a superb dinner on board before settling into the Lounge to watch the glittering lights of medieval towns and villages glide past as you cruise through the night.
19. Rüdesheim, Rhine Gorge
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. 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. Ensure you are on the Sun Deck with your camera as you cruise this picturesque stretch of river.
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. Later, return to Cologne and enjoy free time to discover over 2,000 years of history in the Old City. There is something for everyone – from artisan chocolates to architecture displaying each period through the ages.
Today, cruise to the eclectic city of Amsterdam. Clustered by historic houses and studded with low bridges, Amsterdam’s network of 17th-century canals lends the city its famous charm. 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 some free time at Museum Square with time for a photo in front of the ‘I amsterdam’ sign. Perhaps grab a map to 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. Perhaps visit the bustling Dam Square, or art lovers might want to explore the city’s thriving art scene. Enjoy a Captain’s Farewell Dinner back on board your river ship later this evening.
22. Disembark Ship, Depart Amsterdam
After breakfast, disembark your river ship and transfer to the airport for your onward flight.