3 DAYS FROM $649
3 DAYS FROM $699
On this truly spectacular river voyage, you'll visit no less than seven countries, as you follow the Rhine, Main, and Danube through the heart of Europe. This special itinerary seamlessly links two of our most popular river cruises — Majestic Rivers of Europe: Castles, Cathedrals & Fairytales and Passage to Eastern Europe & Transylvania — and visits a breathtaking 10 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Just imagine strolling off your boat into the winding lanes of medieval towns and villages … getting to know the baroque treasures of the Austro-Hungarian Empire … mingling with local people … taking part in fascinating Cultural Connections. Plus, Vantage is the only company in the travel industry whose river ships include cabins built specifically for solo travelers, with free Single Supplements. You simply won't find a better, more in-depth Deluxe European river cruise ... or a better value!
Depart home for Frankfurt, Germany
Your adventure begins with an overnight flight to Germany, arriving in Frankfurt on Day 2.
Willkommen! Embark ship in Mainz and begin your river cruise
If you purchased your airfare from Vantage, a Vantage representative will meet you at the Frankfurt airport and assist with your transfer to the pier in Mainz. This is where you will board your Deluxe river ship and officially begin your European river cruise. You can also begin your journey earlier with an optional pre-trip extension.
Sip Kölsch while exploring the historic cultural center of Cologne
This morning, take a walking tour of this historic German cultural center. Culinary Feature: Enjoy a tasting of Kölsch beer, a signature brew that is only made here in Cologne. This evening, we'll enjoy a Welcome Reception and Dinner as well as some onboard entertainment.
Rhine Valley views; Rüdesheim personalized for you
Cultural Connection: During some scenic sailing in the morning, join your Cruise Director in the lounge for a lively German lesson — pick up a few key words and phrases to use when interacting with locals. Then you'll arrive in Rüdesheim, where you'll have your choice of two 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, embark on a mini-train ride to Siegfried's Musikkabinett, an amusing museum dedicated to self-playing music and its instruments. Afterwards, you'll return to the ship for dinner.
Culinary feature: Enjoy a cooking demonstration of German braised beef roulade.
Day-trip to romantic Heidelberg, a UNESCO site
Today, set off from Frankfurt for a full-day excursion to Heidelberg, a UNESCO site that is home to Germany’s oldest college, Heidelberg University. Unforgettable Moment: In Heidelberg, you’ll tour 15th-century Heidelberg Castle, one of the most famous of European castles, an imposing Gothic-Renaissance ruin of red stone that illustrates the history of Germany. Ride the funicular from the castle to the town center, where you’ll enjoy lunch at a local restaurant and then have free time to explore. Culinary feature: Make Swabian meat pockets (or similar) during an interactive cooking demo, with onboard entertainment after dinner.
Discovering village life in Wertheim and Marktheidenfeld
Unforgettable Moment: The highlight of our day today will be a delightful half-day tour of a local German village, during which we’ll savor a BBQ lunch and take in some traditional live music. Back on the ship, a glassblowing demonstration introduces us to the artistry of this age-old craft.
Tour and winetasting inside the Würzburg Residenz
Arriving in Würzburg, set out on a half-day tour of the Würzburg Residenz, a baroque European castle that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Your tour includes a visit to the wine cellar for a tasting and lecture. Alternatively, you may join an optional tour of medieval Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Cultural Connection: Your visit to Würzburg will be amplified by a morning lecture on “Germany in the 21st Century: Changes & Challenges.”
Altmühl Valley sailing and walking tour of Bamberg
Cultural Connection: While we cruise this morning, attend a lecture on the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal, one of Europe’s greatest engineering feats. Later, we’ll pass through the locks of the canal and enjoy a day sailing through the lovely Altmühl valley. Arriving in Bamberg, we'll embark on a fascinating walking tour of the historic center of town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Nuremberg, customized for you — tour the town’s highlights or explore its WWII history
This morning you'll have your choice of two city tours of Nuremberg. Choose “Nuremberg and World War II” to explore the city’s World War II history and visit the Documentation Center, or take the “Highlights of Medieval Nuremberg” tour. Before evening cocktails, learn about “Bavaria: Germany’s Special State” during a special presentation. After, chat with your fellow travelers in the lounge and enjoy a delectable dinner onboard.
Culinary feature: Watch a cooking demonstration on kasspatzle (the German version of macaroni and cheese).
Regensburg: Roman architecture and Bavarian charms
After some scenic morning sailing with leisure time and lunch on board, you’ll arrive at the picturesque Regensburg, a UNESCO World Heritage Site dating to the Roman era. A morning walking tour reveals what many call the most charming town on the Danube River — it's sure to be a highlight of your Europe river cruise.
Biking Opportunity: Explore Regensburg’s monuments and history, including Walhalla Memorial Hall, during a medium 14-mile route. Click here for details.
Organ concert in picturesque Passau
Today, join a walking tour of baroque Passau, known as the "town of three rivers" because it's located where two tributaries join the Danube. On your tour, enjoy an organ concert inside St. Stephan’s Cathedral. (Travelers on August 5 and November 16 departures will enjoy a live organ concert in Regensburg.)
Biking Opportunity: Follow the beautiful Ilz River along an extremely scenic medium 10-mile route. Click here for details.
Waltzing into Vienna and a private Kursalon concert
Relax as your ship cruises the Danube River through the scenic Wachau Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Landscape, on your way to Vienna. Unforgettable Moment:
You'll hear all about "Musical Vienna" as a prelude to tonight's festivities — a private concert at the Kursalon. Afterward, you'll have dinner on board and enjoy a little dancing entertainment.
Vienna city tour, visit the National Library
Tour Vienna in the morning with a visit to the Austrian National Library. We'll have lunch on board ship with an afternoon waltz lesson. Later, take advantage of shuttle service between ship and city center. Tonight, join us on an optional Heurigen Dinner for a look at authentic Austrian dining.
Watersport opportunity: Alternatively, ask your Concierge about renting a boat or kayak during your free time.
Your choice of tours in Vienna, then join the Captain's Farewell Cocktail Party
You'll have your choice of two tours today: either Vienna's excellent Museum of Art History or the grand Schönbrunn Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. During free time this afternoon, take a bike for a spin, or speak to the Concierge about arranging to rent a kayak or boat. This afternoon, sail leisurely towards another great European capital: Budapest. You’ll gather with your fellow travelers tonight for the Captain’s Farewell Party before dinner.
Panoramic tour of Budapest, the “Queen of the Danube”
After you arrive in Budapest, set off on a city tour of the Hungarian capital including a visit to Fisherman's Bastion. Alternatively, you can choose to take our Hungarian Horse Show optional tour, where you'll be given a tour of the Lazar Equestrian Park in addition to a delightful horse show. Culinary feature: Learn how to make goulash, and then sample this superb regional dish.
Budapest at your own pace — Free day to shop, explore, or take an optional tour to the “living village” of Hollókő
Enjoy a day at leisure today, or set out on a delightful full-day optional tour to the Hungarian village of Hollókó, named a UNESCO World Heritage Site for being a "living village" of early rural life.
Biking Opportunity: Enjoy the most magnificent sites of Budapest, including Liberty Bridge, Chain Bridge and the Hungarian Parliament Building during an easy 5-mile route.
Click here for details.
Delving into Hungary’s musical heritage
Today you'll tour Budapest's grand State Opera House, a masterpiece of baroque architecture. Much of the structure was destroyed by American bombing during World War II, then restored afterwards. You'll also sample some cake and coffee at the famed Café Gerbeaud.
Exploring Hungarian traditions and cuisine in Kalocsa
Cultural Connection: Today, you’ll visit the town of Kalocsa, where you’ll enjoy a city tour that includes workshops on folk painting, folk embroidery, and the making of traditional Hungarian paprika bread, as well as an organ concert. Sample Hungarian specialties during lunch on board. Enjoy an afternoon at leisure.
Trek to the Croatian border on an exploration of historic Pécs
Set out on an excursion to Pécs, where a city tour will feature the magnificent Basilica of St. Peter and the Roman Necropolis — together recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Those who enjoy additional walking can also visit the Museum Quarter. Savor lunch in Pécs at a local restaurant
Hello, Croatia: Exploring Vukovar and Osijek
Disembark to tour Vukovar and the vibrant university city of Osijek, where you’ll meet a Croatian family while enjoying lunch in their home. This is a fantastic opportunity to learn about Croatia’s independence firsthand. If you’re in Osijek when school is in session, you’ll visit an elementary school classroom and meet the children, or you’ll attend a guitar concert in a church courtyard. This evening, don your finest for the Captain's Gala Dinner, followed by local entertainment on board.
Inside Belgrade and Kalemegdan Fortress
: Following an informative lecture on modern Serbia, discover the country’s 2,500-year-old capital, Belgrade, on a half-day tour. Belgrade’s recent history has left the city somewhat disheveled — yet you’ll be impressed by bold redevelopment and the positive outlook of the residents. You’ll also visit Kalemegdan Fortress. This afternoon, you may want to take advantage of the optional tour to Tito’s Memorial and Royal Palace. If you're up for something a bit more adventurous, speak to your Concierge about where you can rent a canoe or kayak on the river. Later, raise a glass during an informal pub crawl. Dinner will be on board tonight, followed by a performance by a local folk ensemble.
Watersport opportunity: Rent a boat or kayak during your free time.
Cruising the Iron Gates of the Danube
Relax on deck and enjoy the views as your river cruise passes through one of the most dramatic and beautiful stretches of the Danube river, the series of gorges known as the Iron Gates of the Danube. As your ship passes through two sets of locks, you’ll hear commentary from the bridge describing the process. Cultural Connection: Enjoy a fascinating introduction to the Cyrillic alphabet, the script invented by a Byzantine monk in the 9th century that is now widely used throughout the Slavic world.
Amused in Ruse, Europe’s “Little Vienna”
Cultural Connection: As you cruise, take in a morning presentation on the “Bulgaria, Romania, and the Expansion of the European Union.” You'll also enjoy a Balkan-style BBQ lunch party on the sun deck, weather permitting.
A day Veliko Tarnovo, with choir performance in Arbanassi village
Step ashore for a full-day tour to Veliko Tarnovo,, a 12th-century Bulgarian capital where colorful houses perch above the winding Yantra River.
While in Veliko Tarnovo, you’ll have lunch with university students. You’ll continue to the 16th-century village of Arbanassi, where you’ll be treated to a heavenly Eastern Orthodox choir performance at the Church of the Archangels Michael and Gabriel.
Ahoy, Transylvania! Peles Castle and panoramic city tour of baroque Brasov
After disembarking ship, we’ll travel into Transylvania, the mountainous, legend-haunted region in central Romania. On the way, we’ll stop for lunch in Sinaia, a former royal summer retreat, and visit the fairy-tale Peles Castle. As we enter Transylvania proper, you’ll see why it’s known as the last medieval landscape in Europe. Our destination is charming Brasov, the compact baroque city that still retains the medieval walls and gates erected nine centuries ago by Saxon merchant princes. Upon arrival in Brasov, enjoy a panoramic tour of the city that includes pretty Council Square, which is surrounded by tidy baroque buildings in pastel colors. The tall spire of the aptly named Black Church towers above. Dinner is included at your hotel.
Exploring the People’s Palace and Manuc’s Inn in Bucharest*
Today you’ll transfer from Brasov to Bucharest, Romania’s largest city and capital, where we’ll have lunch. Afterwards, explore Bucharest’s grand monuments and leafy, old-world boulevards on a city tour that includes a choice of entrances. You can visit the infamous People’s Palace, the grandiose, sprawling, and never-completed administrative building initiated by dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. Alternatively, take a fascinating tour of Manuc’s Inn, Bucharest’s oldest hotel building, which was built as a way station for caravans and surrounds a large open courtyard.
* Please note: Travelers taking the Transylvania post-trip extension will remain in Brasov and complete the Bucharest part of the base itinerary on their last day.
Depart Bucharest and fly home
Transfer to the airport for your flight home.
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.