Arrive Budapest, Hungary Tour begins: 6:00 PM, Kempinski Hotel Corvinus, Budapest. A transfer is included from Budapest Ferenc Liszt Airport or the Keleti train station to the Kempinksi Hotel Corvinus Budapest in the heart of the city along the Danube River. Join us for a cocktail reception and dinner tonight at the grand Akadémia Club in the Hungarian Academy of Sciences set right on the river - a special Tauck experience. Stay Two Nights: Kempinski Hotel Corvinus Budapest (D)
Budapest, Hungary Once the independent cities of Buda and Pest on opposite sides of the Danube, Hungary's capital is blessed with architecture known for its grandeur and style. Begin your guided sightseeing tour of Pest this morning with a special visit to Hungary's State Opera House, a neo-Classical gem. Continue on to see patriotic Heroes' Square, Váci Utca, the Parliament building and tree-lined Andrássy Avenue, where magnificent mansions and villas reflect some of Europe's most elegant 19th-century architecture. The remainder of the afternoon is free to explore as you like. (B)
After time this morning to explore on your own in Budapest
, head up to Castle Hill, a UNESCO World Heritage Site overlooking the Danube on the Buda side of the city, for lunch at a café followed by a walking tour. See Fishermen's Bastion, with its Neo-Romanesque design, and admire the stained glass windows and centuries of history in the 14th-century, late-Gothic Matthias Church (may be closed on some days due to services). Board your riverboat this afternoon in Budapest, and meet your crew at the welcome reception followed by dinner this evening aboard MS Joy or MS Savor, bound for Bratislava, Slovakia. Stay Seven Nights:
Aboard MS Joy
or MS Savor
Our resident expert shares insider anecdotes about Bratislava - an ancient city with one of Europe's youngest populations - before a walking tour of its cobblestoned, vehicle-free city center. See 17 centuries of history chronicled in its 13th-century Old Town Hall, Baroque Habsburg-era palaces, the Opera House, Slovak Philharmonic Hall, and St. Martin's Cathedral, site of the coronation of many Hungarian kings and queens. Cultural delights continue back aboard the riverboat with local entertainment and regional cuisine. Your cruise continues on to Vienna
. Back on board the riverboat, dinner tonight introduces you to a glimpse of daily life in Slovakia with a taste of regional cuisine and an a performance by a talented troupe of Slovak dancers. (B/L/D)
Vienna, Austria Your riverboat arrives overnight in Vienna, Austria, where you'll get an overview of this former capital of the old Habsburg Empire - and one of Europe's grandest cities - on a morning walking tour focusing on either medieval Vienna or the Jewish district of old Vienna, or a bike ride in the city. The rest of the day is yours to explore this famous city as you please. Later, nothing compares to the royal treatment and pageantry you'll experience tonight at our private Imperial Evening in the opulent Palais Pallavicini, a private Baroque palace in Vienna that film buffs may have spotted in the 1940s film noir classic The Third Man. Welcome cocktails and dinner precede an unforgettable spectacle of beautiful ball gowns and a musical performance celebrating the legacy of Mozart. (B/L/D)
Vienna, Austria A choice of sightseeing this morning features a tour of the Habsburgs' Schönbrunn Palace, an architectural masterpiece and Austrian cultural treasure, or the amazing Imperial Apartments at the Hofburg, Austria's official presidential residence. Then, shuttles are at the ready to bring you back to the riverboat for a cruise through Austria's Wachau Valley; glide past castles and abbeys to medieval Dürnstein, where you'll arrive late this evening. (B/L/D)
Dürnstein, Austria Dock in Dürnstein for a closer look at its 16th-century Baroque houses and 13th-century Romanesque church on a walking tour along cobblestone streets; you may also choose to tour a local monastery, or take a bicycle ride. Enjoy some free time in this charming riverside town, perhaps taking an invigorating climb up the steps to the ruins of Kuenringerburg, a hilltop castle above the town where Richard the Lionhearted was held for ransom during the Crusades. Sample the fruits of the Wachau Valley vineyards during a wine tasting at an authentic Austrian tavern. Back aboard, you'll continue to cruise the Danube River through the Wachau Valley, Austria's lush wine-growing region that was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its well-preserved medieval landscapes, to Linz; after dinner onboard, enjoy a show put on by members of the riverboat crew. (B/L/D)
Your riverboat stays docked in Linz today, for a choice of full-day excursions to Salzburg
, Austria, or Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic. Set on the Salzach River, Salzburg is the hometown of composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and the setting for The Sound of Music - a parade of grand Baroque architecture, painted wrought-iron signage and ornate church towers. You'll visit Mozart's birthplace and the cleverly designed Mirabell Gardens, with free time in Salzburg before rejoining the riverboat for dinner.
Alternatively, travel through beautiful landscapes of rolling hills to Cesky Krumlov. This Bohemian town has earned its place on the UNESCO World Heritage Site roster - and that's the entire town - due to its incredibly well-preserved medieval heritage. A walking tour includes Krumlov Castle; the many steps are worth it to get a look at the mix of medieval, Renaissance and Rococo designs. Free time precedes your return to the riverboat. Enjoy an onboard performance by local musicians tonight after dinner. (B/L/D)
Engelhartszell, Austria Wake up this morning in Engelhartszell, a pretty town on the Danube in Upper Austria. Enjoy a guided walking tour plus visits to several private homes and a taste of local cake, sweets and coffee. If you wish, join us for an optional riverside bicycle ride before continuing your cruise this afternoon. Take in the views from the sun deck, lounge, or the windows of your outside cabin as your riverboat glides into Germany, bound for your final destination, Vilshofen; enjoy a farewell reception followed by dinner onboard tonight. (B/L/D)
The cruise portion of your trip concludes when you disembark your riverboat in Vilshofen and travel overland to the well-preserved Bavarian town of Regensburg, which began its long life as a Roman encampment many centuries ago. Take a walking tour led by a local guide; visit the Steinerne Brücke (a medieval stone bridge over the Danube), towering Dom St. Peter, and the remains of the town's Roman wall. Perhaps try some of Regensburg's celebrated Bavarian sausage for lunch and explore a bit on your own before driving to Prague
, capital of the Czech Republic and the "City of 100 Spires," arriving in late afternoon.
Alternatively, you may choose to travel directly from Vilshofen to Prague this morning to explore on your own, then join your Tauck Director for a brief walk through local sights. This evening, sample the culinary pleasures of Prague for dinner as you please; the city's many fine restaurants and cafés feature a wide range of cuisines... and some of the best schnitzels, goulashes, strudels, dumplings and beer the region has to offer. Stay Two Nights:
Prague Marriott Hotel (B)
Prague, Czech Republic Start your exploration of Prague this morning with a choice of walking tours through Prague's ethereal Old Town, choosing between a "walk through the centuries" including a visit to St. Agnes Convent, or the city's poignant Jewish sites in Josefov, the historic Jewish Quarter (ask at booking about dates that cannot visit inside the Jewish Heritage sites as they are closed Saturdays and on Jewish holidays; in those cases, alternate sightseeing will be offered).
This afternoon, explore the ancient Hradcany (Castle) district on a guided excursion that takes you to 1,000-year-old Prague Castle's complex of palaces, courtyards and gardens; the magnificent Gothic Cathedral of St. Vitus; and the grand Baroque libraries of Strahov Monastery, where a private tour is a Tauck Exclusive. Tonight, cap a memorable trip with a truly royal evening that's another Tauck Exclusive; join us for a farewell reception, tour and dinner at 16th-century Lobkowicz Palace at Prague Castle. Immerse in an evening of classical cultural treasures - and see for yourself how music and art played an important role in the aristocratic world of the Lobkowicz family. (B/D)
Depart Prague Tour ends in Prague, Czech Republic. Fly home anytime. A transfer is included from Prague Marriott Hotel to Praha Hlavni Nadrazi train station or Václav Havel Airport Prague. Please allow a minimum of 3 hours for check-in. (B)