Discover three of Europe’s most legendary waterways — the Rhine, Main, and Danube — on a grand journey that combines two of our most popular cruises: Majestic Rivers of Europe Wine Cruise: Castles, Cathedrals & Fairytales and Passage to Eastern Europe featuring Transylvania. On a single voyage you'll enjoy 22 included tours in 7 countries, see 10 different UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and enjoy 17 exclusive Cultural Connections that engage you in the customs, cuisine, and craftsmanship of daily European life. Even more impressive than those numbers is the lifelong enrichment your experiences will yield. Witness a parade of castles on the Rhine, roam the fairytale towns of Bamberg, Heidelberg, and Rudesheim, celebrate the vivid folk traditions of Kalocsa, Marktheidenfeld, and Ruse, and behold the architectural splendor of Regensburg and Budapest. Plus enjoy two full days in Vienna, an exclusive Vantage feature!
This tremendous journey unfolds aboard our award-winning, deluxe river cruise ships and features a better value than two separate cruises! Take the time and dive deep into this once-in-a-lifetime European adventure with Vantage!
Depart home for Frankfurt, Germany
Your adventure begins with an overnight flight to Germany, arriving in Frankfurt on Day 2. Upon arrival, we have the remainder of the day to rest up after our journey.
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. This evening, we'll enjoy a Welcome Reception and Dinner as well as some onboard entertainment.
Culinary feature: Enjoy a tasting of Kölsch beer, a signature brew that is only made here in Cologne.
Biking Opportunity: Enjoy this scenic path along the iconic Rhine River, with terrific views of the Cologne Cathedral and Hohenzollern Bridge, during this easy 5-mile route. Click here for details.
Rhine Valley views; Rüdesheim personalized for you
During the morning's cruising, 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. We'll then arrive in Rüdesheim, where 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. You can also embark on a mini-train ride to Siegfried's Musikkabinett, an amusing museum dedicated to self-playing music and its instruments. Wine Feature: Your third choice of tours is a newly added wine tasting walking tour, where you’ll sample three different regional vintages.
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. Cultural Connection: Tonight, convene in the lounge for an onboard performance by 4 Virtuosos.
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.
Culinary Feature: This evening, your interactive cooking lesson option includes Käsespätzle or another regional specialty.
Tour and wine tasting inside the Würzburg Residenz
Arriving in Würzburg, set out on a half-day tour of the Würzburg Residenz, a baroque European castle and 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: Late this afternoon, attend a lecture on “Germany in the 21st Century: Changes & Challenges.”
Altmühl Valley sailing, walking tour of Bamberg, wine tasting dinner
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. There is also an opportunity to partake in a cooking demonstration today, one of several available on your journey. Wine Feature: Tonight’s delicious dinner onboard includes a pairing of wines with insights on their local production.
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 Nuremberg” tour that includes a visit to the delightful Toy Museum.
Cultural Connection: This evening, attend a lecture on Bavaria. Then chat with your fellow travelers during cocktail hour in the lounge and enjoy a delectable dinner onboard.
Regensburg: Roman architecture and Bavarian charms
You’ll arrive at the picturesque Regensburg today, 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.
Cultural Connection: Later, back on the ship, enjoy some local entertainment.
Embark on a walking tour of 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 river.
Biking Opportunity: Follow the beautiful Ilz River along a scenic 10-mile route (moderate level). Click here for details.
Painting Lesson: Join a local artist to learn how to capture the scenery with a brush.
Waltzing into Vienna, a private Kursalon concert, plus a wine tasting dinner
Relax as your ship cruises the Danube River through the scenic Wachau Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Landscape. This afternoon, an apple strudel making demonstration awaits in your Captain's Club.
Cultural Connection: Be prepared for what awaits you later this evening with an insightful onboard lecture about Musical Vienna. Once in Austria’s capital, you’ll be treated to a delightful evening filled with tunes and revelry at an exclusive Kursalon music hall concert. Later onboard, keep the party going with dancing onboard; local dancers will show you their fancy footwork and teach you a few steps.
Wine Feature: Tonight’s dinner will be further enhanced by a pairing and tasting of local wines with commentary.
Your choice of tours in Vienna, plus an optional heurigen dinner
This morning you’ll be treated to a city tour of Vienna, whose historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Among the many highlights are Liechtenstein Palace, and St. Stephen’s Cathedral.
Wine Feature: Wine enthusiasts should treat themselves to a fun evening with a Viennese Heurigen dinner, cozy family-style affairs with wine and music.
Culinary Feature: Tonight’s culinary demonstration features mouthwatering Styrian pot roast.
Biking Opportunity: Enjoy the architecture of Vienna, including panoramic sights of the city’s skyscrapers, during a medium 8-mile route. Click here for details.
Water Sport Opportunity: Alternatively, ask your Concierge about renting a boat or kayak during your free time.
Please note: The heurigen optional tour is not available on the 8/5 departure.
Your choice of tours in Vienna, sailing toward Budapest
You'll have your choice of two tours today: either the city's excellent Museum of Art History or the grand Schönbrunn Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This afternoon, sail leisurely towards another great European capital: Budapest.
Panoramic tour of Budapest, the “Queen of the Danube”
Begin the day with a panoramic city tour of regal Budapest, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Unforgettable Moment: You’ll take in the spectacular panoramic views of the city from Fisherman’s Bastion, a magnificent terrace overlooking the Danube. The rest of the day you’re free to explore Budapest at your own pace, or opt for a Hungarian Horse Show.
Biking Opportunity: Enjoy the most magnificent sites of Budapest, including Freedom Bridge, Chain Bridge and the Hungarian Parliament Building during an easy 5-mile route. Click here for details.
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, perhaps taking advantage of our onboard bicycles to ride along the Danube pathways, or to do some shopping on the Váci Utca, Budapest’s most famous shopping street. You can also join our delightful full-day optional tour to the Hungarian village of Hollókő, a "living village" of early rural life that has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Delving into Hungary’s musical heritage
Today you'll tour the Hungarian State Opera House, an opulent masterpiece of neo-Renaissance architecture where greats such as composer Gustav Mahler performed. A statue in front of Ferenc (Franz) Liszt reminds you of Hungary's storied musical heritage. Much of the structure was destroyed by American bombing during World War II, then restored afterwards. Cultural Connection: You'll also sample some amazing cake and coffee at the famed Café Hauer, an atmospheric landmark of Budapest's legendary coffee culture.
Exploring Hungarian traditions and cuisine in Kalocsa
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. Cultural Connection: You'll take part in an insightful Folklore Workshop today. After dinner, enjoy more onboard entertainment with folkloric dancers.
Trek to the Croatian border on an exploration of historic Pécs
From our berth in Mohacs we’ll set out on an excursion to Pécs, a multicultural city where Hungarians, Croatians, and Swabians have lived together in peace for generations. Our tour will reveal the city’s ancient and religious significance with a visit to 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
Today we’ll enjoy a tour of Vukovar, Croatia’s largest river port whose history dates back to the 6th century, when Slavic tribes first settled here. Cultural Connection: You’ll also discover 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 around Osijek when school is in session, you’ll also visit an elementary school classroom and meet the children, or you’ll attend a guitar concert in a church courtyard. Cultural Connection: Tonight, more evening entertainment gives us a look inside each region's culture and artistry.
Inside Belgrade and Kalemegdan Fortress
Cultural Connection: 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. Tonight, join your fellow travelers at the Captain's Gala Dinner, followed by more onboard entertainment.
Water Sport Opportunity: Rent a boat or kayak during your free time.
Cruising the Iron Gates of the Danube
Scenic sailing: 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.
We'll enjoy a morning walking tour of Donji Milanovac where we'll visit a local school for 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 party on the sun deck, weather permitting.
You’ll arrive in the Bulgarian river port of Ruse, nicknamed “Little Vienna” for its attractive baroque architecture. Cultural Connection: Enjoy a charming dance performance by Bulgarian children. Later, witness a fascinating icon painting demonstration on board and more after dinner entertainment, featuring the Contemporary Bulgarian Trio.
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 Holy Archangels Michael and Gabriel.
Panoramic tour of Bucharest and exploring its historic buildings
This morning we’ll disembark ship and transfer to Bucharest, Romania’s largest city and capital, where we’ll embark on a panoramic tour and have lunch. Afterwards, explore Bucharest’s grand monuments and leafy, old-world boulevards on a city tour that includes a choice of entrances. Unforgettable Moment: 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 walking 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. Tonight, we’ll savor a delicious dinner at the hotel.
*Please note, for the best airport pacing, passengers on the post-trip extension will enjoy all of the same features from the base tour in a different order. Extension travelers will complete the final Bucharest portion of the base itinerary on their last day.
Traveling through Transylvanian history
Today we’ll venture into Transylvania, the mountainous, legend-haunted region in central Romania. We’ll visit fairy-tale Peles Castle and then stop for lunch in Sinaia, a former royal summer retreat. As we enter Transylvania proper, you’ll see why it’s known as the last medieval landscape in Europe. You’ll return to Bucharest in the afternoon. Dinner is included at your hotel.
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.