Why cruise only one European river when you can experience the three most majestic — the Rhine, Main, and Danube — on one seamless, deluxe river cruise? This enchanting Vantage Deluxe World Travel luxury river cruise takes you to the most scenic stretches of Germany, Austria, and Hungary, presenting you with the iconic attractions and cultural experiences that make this part of the Old World so memorable. Absorb the sophistication of Vienna, the city that gave birth to the modern world’s greatest movements of art, music, and more. Visit great Gothic cathedral towns, admire legendary castles, and wander through fairytale villages.
As if those experiences weren’t engaging enough, your journey includes an impressive 28 included features and Cultural Connections that let you try out local traditions for yourself. Visit Vienna’s Kursalon for classical music, learn about the traditional artisanal industries that still inform village life in charming Marktheidenfeld, and get a taste of regional beer in Cologne. Best of all, enjoy all this while sailing in complete luxury aboard your Vantage river ship.
The icing on the cake is your two optional trip extension opportunities: Add a visit to Paris or to Bratislava & Prague to make the most of your time and your value.
If you’re interested in this itinerary and want to revel in even more Cultural Discoveries and immersive experiences, check out our combination river cruise Grand European River Cruise. Explore more and save.
Fly to Germany
Today, fly overnight to Frankfurt, Germany. You can also begin your journey earlier with an optional pre-trip extension to Paris.
Enjoy the Mainz attraction
Today, you’ll land in Frankfurt. If you purchased your airfare from Vantage, a Vantage representative will meet you and arrange transfer to the pier, where you will board your Deluxe river ship and officially begin your European river cruise. Get settled into the rhythm of your cruise, unwinding with your first "Cocktail of the Day" selection in the lounge.
Cologne walking tour and Kölsch beer tasting
Begin with breakfast on board before heading out to discover Cologne, Founded in the 1st century, this is one of Germany’s most well-preserved medieval cities.
Your walking tour begins at the historic center of Cologne’s Old Town. Here you’ll find the Romanic Museum and the old City Hall, renowned for its 16th-century Renaissance facade. Next, you’ll pop into a local brewery to sample Cologne’s famous Kölsch beer, a classically-dry and herbaceous ale that is only produced here. Your tour will conclude at the grand plaza of the twin-spired Cologne Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Construction began in 1248, and it took 632 years to complete it. You’ll have the option to visit the inside of the cathedral to see the gilded Shrine of the Three Magi — said to contain the remains of the three kings from the Nativity story — or return to the ship for an afternoon at leisure.
Tonight, you’ll enjoy a special Captain’s Welcome Champagne Reception and Dinner, then settle in for an evening of onboard entertainment.
Destination Enhancement: Customize your journey when you add an optional excursion. Explore the UNESCO-listed palaces of Brühl and their neighboring gardens. Learn more
Head out on a memorable tour of the Brühl Palaces Augustusburg and Falkenlust, two of Germany’s most important examples of Baroque and Rococo architecture. The splendor of these palaces is simply breathtaking and the adjacent Schlosspark (Palace Park), designed in the French style but with perceptible elements of traditional English landscaped gardens, is an internationally recognized monument to the art of gardening. Today, both structures, along with their gardens and parks are jointly listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Due to high call volume, we recommend you visit MyPortfolio to book this Destination Enhancement. Don’t wait — these optional experiences are limited to a select number of guests and are selling out fast!
Rhine Valley views; Rüdesheim personalized for you
Look forward to an eventful day of scenic highlights and cultural discovery. Then it’s all hands on deck as your ship winds through the Upper Middle Rhine Valley — a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Studded with historic castles and beautiful gorges, it is a sight you only can truly appreciate from the river. A highlight will be your sighting of the famous Lorelei, a steep slate rock that makes a soft, murmuring sound under certain conditions. It used to be the site of many shipwrecks, and a legend sprang up about a lovely, golden-haired maiden who would sit atop the rock combing her hair and singing a song that lured sailors too close to the rock . . . and into perilous waters.
When you arrive in cheerful Rüdesheim, you'll have your choice of three tours. The first is a cable car ride to the historic Niederwald Monument, which overlooks the Rhine Valley and commemorates the unification of Germany in the late 19th century. Or, choose a mini-train ride to Siegfried's Musikkabinett, an amusing museum dedicated to self-playing music and its instruments. Your third choice of tours is a wine hike where you'll be actively walking through vineyards at a steady pace, popping into different Weinstuben to sample regional vintages.
A full day in romantic Heidelberg
Disembarking in Frankfurt, you’ll set off for a full-day excursion to Heidelberg, a red-roofed town on the Neckar River that is home to Germany’s oldest university.
Enjoy panoramic views from the plaza of imposing Heidelberg Castle. You'll also see the famed Heidelberg Tun, an immense wine barrel, now empty, with a capacity of some 58,000 gallons. It would seem the immense volume was warranted, judging by the numerous old student pubs, cafés, and beer gardens that line Heidelberg’s charming alleys. You’ll sample local food at an included lunch in a local restaurant, then have some free time to explore here on your own. Perhaps you’ll poke into the old student jail (the Studentenkarzer), where drunk or unruly collegians were locked up temporarily. It was considered a badge of honor to spend time here, and you can still see the graffiti scribbled by 19th-century “inmates.” After your touring, you’ll transfer to Aschaffenburg, where your ship is waiting.
After dinner you can enjoy the musicianship of four string virtuosos performing classical and contemporary favorites.
Village life and a BBQ lunch in Marktheidenfeld
This morning your ship arrives in charming Wertheim, a picturesque town set at the confluence of the Main and Tauber rivers. You’ll enjoy a brief walking tour to admire its medieval treasures and 12th-century castle before setting off on your choice of four different village life experiences.
The lovely half-timbered village of Marktheidenfeld boasts several traditional industries, and today you’ll choose which one to explore. You can visit the local paper factory, a forge where traditional blacksmithing is done, or a local château whose owner will show you his antique piano and klavier collection. Your fourth choice is a visit to a family-owned winery, where you’ll sample some lovely Franconian vintages. After your chosen tour concludes, you’ll enjoy a German-style barbecue or “grill party,” with traditional live music. Back on the ship, enjoy a German lesson with your Cruise Director.
Würzburg tour and wine tasting inside the Residenz
Arrive in Würzburg and set out on a half-day tour of the Würzburg Residenz, a spectacular Baroque-European bishop’s palace that was designed by visionary architect Balthasar Neumann. Your tour includes a visit to the on-site wine cellar where you will enjoy a tasting led by an experienced sommelier. A designated UNESCO World Heritage site, the palace grounds are ideal for strolling, and you’ll have time to do so before transferring back to the ship for lunch and an onboard cooking demonstration.
Destination Enhancement: Customize your journey when you add an optional excursion. Make the most of your journey with an optional full-day tour of Rothenburg, in addition to visiting the Würzburg Residenz
Rothenburg, or Rothenburg ob der Tauber (“Red castle above the Tauber”), is a well-preserved medieval town located in the Franconia region of Bavaria. As part of southern Germany’s popular Romantic Road, it is a favorite destination for visitors. From its ancient buildings and immersive museums to its historical sites and the beautiful Castle Garden, you’ll be charmed by this picture-perfect city. Following your time in Rothenburg, you’ll head to Würzburg Residenz, a spectacular Baroque-European bishop’s palace that was designed by visionary architect Balthasar Neumann. You’ll have time to stroll the palace grounds, a designated UNESCO World Heritage site, before returning to the ship.
Daytime sailing and walking tour of Bamberg
Today you’ll have the opportunity to attend an onboard glassblowing demonstration that will introduce you to the artistry of this age-old craft. Later, you’ll pass through the locks of the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal before arriving in Bamberg. Here, you’ll embark on a fascinating walking tour of the historic center of town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Back on board, you’ll be able to partake in a cooking demonstration and learn how to make Swabian meat pocket, a regional treat customary in southwestern Germany.
Discover Nuremberg’s medieval history
Step back in time and explore Nuremberg’s medieval history today. You’ll visit the grounds of the Imperial Castle of Nuremberg, a group of fortified buildings dating back to the Holy Roman Empire, before continuing on to the Hauptmarkt. You’ll spend some time at this charming market before heading to St. Sebaldus Church, one of oldest and most important medieval buildings in Nuremberg. At the conclusion of your tour, you will have an opportunity to visit the Nuremberg Toy Museum on your own with your entrance fee covered by Vantage. Nuremberg is famous for its inventors and tinkerers, so this is sure to be a delightful visit.
Destination Enhancement: Customize your journey when you add an optional excursion. Discover Nuremberg’s place in WWII history with an optional tour
The five-day Battle of Nuremberg between the United States’ 7th Army and Nazi Germany took place during the final days of World War II, and saw some of the fiercest combat of the war. As Nuremberg had been the site of many Nazi rallies and was considered a center of the Nazi regime, the loss devastated the German forces. You'll have the opportunity to explore the city’s troubled past during an optional tour, which includes a visit to the Documentation Center, where many of the aforementioned rallies took place.
Regensburg: Roman architecture and Bavarian charms
Explore UNESCO-listed Regensburg today. This city has a history stretching back to the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, and you’ll get to know its heritage during a walking tour. Admire the impressive cathedral, as well as the famous stone bridge built in the 12th century. Later back on the ship, enjoy some local entertainment by a Magic of Rhythm tap dance show.
Music in picturesque Passau
Today, join a walking tour of Baroque Passau, known as the "City of Three Rivers" because it is located where the Ilz and Inn meet the Danube. On your tour, enjoy an organ concert inside St. Stephen’s Cathedral. Back on board, join a local artist to learn how to capture the scenery with a brush, then take part in another cooking demonstration, during which you'll learn about Tiroler Gröstl.
Cruise the scenic Wachau Valley, plus a musical Viennese evening
This will be a memorable day filled with stupendous scenery and music. Relax as your ship cruises the Danube River through the scenic Wachau Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Landscape. As you take in the romantic views of hilltop castles, ancient monasteries, and terraced vineyards, you'll cruise by the wine town of Dürnstein. In 1192, King Richard the Lionheart of England was imprisoned in the castle that looms above the town. Your Cruise Director will provide live commentary from the bridge.
This morning you can learn the secrets of making a perfect Austrian apple strudel during an onboard cooking demonstration. As your ship makes its way toward Vienna, you also can attend a presentation on that city’s famous musical heritage. Then, experience it firsthand during your exclusive, private visit to Vienna’s Kursalon, where an orchestra, singers, and dancers perform a wonderful classical concert. Later on board, come to the lounge where professionals from Viennese opera and music halls will teach you the waltz in true Blue Danube style. Tonight’s dinner will be enhanced further by a pairing and tasting of local wines.
Discover the historic heart of Vienna
This morning you’ll be introduced to the historic center of Vienna, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Your city tour takes you by coach and on foot across the famous Ringstrasse and into the Innere Stadt. Here you’ll see the Hofburg Palace, the Stephansdom Cathedral, the fashionable Graben area, and the adjoining Kohlmarkt. Back on board, the balance of the day is at your leisure. This afternoon, you’ll have the opportunity to attend an onboard cooking lesson.
Destination Enhancement: Customize your journey when you add an optional excursion. Visit Vienna’s famed Opera House and pop into the city’s coffeehouses
Vienna’s State Opera House (Wiener Staatsoper) is one of the world’s leading opera houses. Commissioned in 1861 as part of the city’s expansion efforts, this 1,700-seat Renaissance Revival venue was the first major structure built on the Vienna Ringstrasse. While its past is steeped in tradition, today the opera house hosts many richly varied performances and events. Each season’s schedule may include as many as 350 performances of over 60 different operas and ballets. This optional tour affords you an opportunity to visit this elegant theater, followed by a taste of Viennese coffee culture when you pop into one of the many cozy coffeehouses found here.
Explore Vienna at your leisure today
You’ll have a full day at leisure to explore more of Vienna at your own pace today. Tonight, relax on board and enjoy a festive Farewell Dinner as we make our way to Budapest.
Destination Enhancement: Customize your journey when you add an optional excursion. Choose an optional Vienna tour and visit either Schönbrunn Palace or the Museum of Art History
The history of Schönbrunn, and the buildings that previously stood on this site, dates back to the 14th century, when the original estate belonged to the manor of the abbey at Klosterneuburg. Towards the end of the 17th century, Baroque architect Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach was commissioned by Emperor Leopold I to design an imperial hunting lodge. It was to be a gift for his son, Crown Prince Joseph, who later became emperor in his own right. This optional tour will give guests a chance to visit this magnificent 1,441-room palace, which has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, for themselves.
Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches Museum — or Museum of Art History — is Austria’s largest art museum, opened in 1891. On this optional tour, guests will visit this palatial building which houses the Imperial family’s extensive collection. Numerous major works by European masters are on display here, among them Raphael’s Madonna in the Meadow, Vermeer’s The Allegory of Painting, and the Infanta paintings by Velazquez. Other masterworks by Rubens, Rembrandt, Dürer, Titian, and Tintoretto are also housed in the paintings gallery, and the Egyptian and Near Eastern Collection contains fascinating treasures from mysterious cultures long past. It’s no wonder why this is considered one of the most eminent museums in the world.
Discover the best of Budapest
Today, you’ll set out on a city tour of Budapest, focusing on its historic center, which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You’ll visit City Park, Heroes' Square, Andrassy Avenue, the iconic Parliament building, and Castle Hill. You’ll have free time here with entrance to Fisherman's Bastion provided. The remainder of the afternoon is free for you to continue your explorations at your own pace.
Destination Enhancement: Customize your journey when you add an optional excursion. Uncover Budapest’s Jewish history and visit the Synagogue Triangle
Archaeological records have shown that Hungary’s Jewish history spans many centuries and Budapest has the largest Jewish community in Central Europe. Through the centuries, Hungarian Jews played a key role in this region’s religious, artistic, and historical culture, and are still playing a vital role in the country's current economic, cultural, and political life. This optional guided tour will help you understand the Jewish past and present in Budapest and in Hungary.
Disembark ship and return home
Transfer to the Budapest airport for your return flight home, or begin your optional post-trip extension to Bratislava and Prague.
Important Notice: The above day-by-day itinerary is preliminary and subject to change. If changes occur while on tour, you will be notified by your Cruise Director or regional expert. In addition, should there be an extreme change in water levels, Vantage will do everything possible to provide either the included excursion or an alternate excursion at Vantage’s discretion.
Please Note: Port times & itineraries are subject to change. Fluctuating water levels may affect itinerary.