Explore the cultural landscapes of five countries situated along three legendary rivers—the Rhine, Maine, and the Danube—on this special cruise featuring a choice of excursions and many World Heritage sites. 

Starting at: $6,240 * Price includes special offer Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 Budapest, one of Europe's most beautiful cities, situated along the Danube River  Fisherman's Bastion, found on the Buda side of Budapest  View of the Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna Austria  The beautiful Strauss memorial in Vienna  The village of Durnstein, along the Wachau Valley, Austria  Interior of Melk Abbey, the renowned Benedictine monastery overlooking the Danube  The beautiful rococo design of St. Stephan's Cathedral in Passau  Hilltop medieval castle overlooking the Rhine River near Oberwesel  The idyllic Rhine River, near Kaub  City of Cologne, showcasing the High Gothic cathedral   The picturesque town of Bamberg  Bikes along the canal, Amsterdam  Traditional Dutch landscape of countryside, windmills, and bicycles  Vermeer's <i>The Milkmaid</i> in Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum. Credit: Frans Lemmens/Alamy

Voyage Through Europe

Featuring the Rhine, Main & Danube Rivers

16 days from $6,240

Explore the cultural landscapes of five countries situated along three legendary rivers—the Rhine, Maine, and the Danube—on this special cruise featuring a choice of excursions and many World Heritage sites. 

or Call 855-330-1542

Overview

Activity Level 2: Moderate

Expectations: River cruise that pulls into a pier for disembarkation. Morning, afternoon, or full-day excursions at a moderate pace. Standing and walking for long periods of time during city tours, museum visits, and/or outdoor activities. Walking over sometimes difficult terrain (e.g. cobblestones, city hills, stairs without handrails, the absence of elevators); some longer walks to get to city centers where coaches are prohibited. Choice of excursions with varying activity expectations offered on some days.

Appropriate for: Travelers who are physically fit and comfortable with long days of touring (both walking tours and coach time).

Itinerary

Depart the U.S. / Arrive in Budapest, Hungary

Depart the U.S. for Budapest, Hungary on your transatlantic flight. After an early morning arrival at Budapest’s Ferenc Liszt International Airport transfer to the Amadeus Imperial. Luggage will be expedited to traveler’s cabins. Early arrivals will make a visit to Budapest’s Margaret Island. Transfer to the ship and settle in. Your Smithsonian Journeys Travel Director will be available to assist with information and planning independent activities. This evening, gather for a welcome reception and dinner aboard ship. (R,D)

Day 3 — Budapest

Today, you’ll have your choice of one of the following shore excursions:

Choice #1 –Highlights of Budapest: This panoramic tour includes both the Buda and Pest sections of the city. See Heroes Square, the Opera House, and the iconic Gothic Parliament Building. Continue to the old Castle District, with its Matthias Church and the turreted Fisherman's Bastion for exceptional views of the city.

Choice #2 – Living Local: Join a local guide for a visit to the Grand Market and then stop at a coffee house to watch and learn how strudel is made. Enjoy a piece of strudel with coffee or tea, and conclude the excursion with a taste of the local schnapps called Palinka.

Choice #3 – Budapest’s Jewish Quarter: Take an extraordinary walk through the old Jewish Quarter to visit the Great Synagogue and the "Tree of Life." Then visit the Holocaust Memorial Center, a renovated synagogue that dates back to the 1920s and serves as a memorial and museum for and about Hungarian Jews that were killed in The Holocaust. Finally, see the compelling Shoes Memorial. This is the place where the Nazi Hungarians shot the Jews into the Danube River in winter of 1944-45.

Lunch will be served on board and the afternoon is free of planned activities so you can explore on your own.

After dinner, the ship will set sail from Budapest. You’ll glide past the impressive Parliament building, Buda Castle, under the Chain Bridge and watch the city sparkle. The buildings and bridges along the river are illuminated at night for an unforgettable evening departure from this romantic city. (B,L,D)

Day 4 – Bratislava

Morning cruising at leisure. This afternoon, the ship arrives in Bratislava. A local speaker will offer a talk about the Velvet Revolution, a pivotal event that led to the end of communism in Czechoslovakia and preceded the country’s split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Further, learn about the surprising success of Slovakia as an independent nation.

Later, personalize your cruise with a choice of one of the following tours ashore:

Choice #1 – Bratislava Old Town and Cafe: Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, is a vibrant showcase of medieval architecture. See the National Theater; St. Martin's Cathedral; the Old Town Hall; St. Michael's Gate, the only remaining portion of Bratislava's medieval fortifications and the 16th-century Primate’s Palace, former winter residence of the Bishops of Esztergom. Stop at a famous café and see 17th-century frescoes depicting scenes from the city’s rich past. Learn how their pastry is made and sample one with coffee.

Choice #2 – Bratislava Old Town and Music: Bratislava is a city with a formidable musical heritage. It’s here that Hummel was born, Liszt began his career, Bartok attended school, Beethoven taught, and Haydn composed. This special tour of the quaint Old Town directs focus to the venues associated with these famous musicians. Next travelers will visit a Rococo Palace now the City Gallery. A local musical performance is planned, featuring young talent.

Choice #3 – Bratislava Castle and Beer Tasting: Explore former Pressburg, as Bratislava was once known, with a tour of the Castle, the former Royal Residence and enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of the city. Visit the Old Town center with its charm and great architecture. At the end of the tour, experience the rich local brewing tradition and enjoy the best Slovak beers during a tasting at a typical pub in the Old Town.

In the early evening, the ship departs Bratislava for Vienna, Austria. (B,L,D)

Day 5 – Vienna

Start the day with a local speaker who will give a talk on the history of Vienna, one of the world’s most elegant and timeless cities.

Afterward, you’ll have your choice of one of the following tours:

Choice #1 – Imperial Vienna: The historic city center of Vienna is designated a World Heritage Site. Visit the Imperial Apartments of the opulent Hofburg Palace. Drive along the Ringstrasse, one of the most famous avenues in Europe. See the University, one of the oldest in Europe; the City Hall; the Burgtheater; Houses of Parliament and the State Museums. Drive past monuments to Johann Strauss and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. See the Musikverein, home of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Staatsoper, of the most revered opera houses in the world.

Choice #2 – Art and Wine Tour: Of all the Austrian monasteries, the Klosterneuburg Monastery showcases great medieval and baroque art treasures as well as fascinating artifacts in the monastery’s treasury. After the tour, enjoy a sampling of wine produced at the monastery. Afterward, there is a short walking tour in the center of Vienna.

Choice #3 – Schönbrunn Palace: Tour the Schönbrunn Palace, a World Heritage site, and the lavish summer residence of the Habsburgs. Visit its magnificent State Apartments, the Hall of Mirrors and remarkable Formal Gardens.

Return to the ship for lunch and time at leisure this afternoon. (B,L,D)

Day 6 – Dürnstein/Melk

The ship cruises the beginning of scenic the Wachau Valley just before arriving in Dürnstein. Here, you’ll have your choice of shore tours:

Choice #1 – Dürnstein Walking Tour: Dürnstein is often called the “Pearl of the Wachau Valley.” In the 12th- century, Richard the Lionheart was held prisoner here in Dürnstein on his return to England from the Crusades. Spend time in town and see the baroque Stiftskirche with its blue and white decoration. 

Choice #2 – Bicycling the Danube: Join a two-hour bicycle tour along the Danube and enjoy a wine and refreshments break along the way in Weissenkirchen.

Choice #3 – Wachau Valley Wines: Take an excursion to visit a local winery. Sample some of the wines produced in the Wachau Valley.

Continue scenic cruising through the Wachau Valley to Melk. Depart the ship for a visit to Melk Abbey. Here, visit Austria’s most beautiful Benedictine Abbey, designated a World Heritage site. The baroque building dates from 1736 and is considered a masterpiece. From the terrace, enjoy a beautiful view of the Danube River. The crowning jewel is the lavish Abbey Church. The opulent frescoes, paintings, gilded woodwork, and elegant marble are breathtaking.

Join fellow travelers in the Smithsonian Journeys Travelers Corner this evening for an informal discussion about the day’s discoveries. (B,L,D)

Day 7 – Passau

After arrival in Passau, your walking tour begins in its delightful Old City. Visit the 15th-century St. Stephen's Cathedral located on the Residenzplatz among fine old patrician houses. Also see the Gothic Town Hall, the Old and New Residences of the Prince-Bishops, and the former Niedernburg Abbey with the Holy Cross Church. The remainder of the afternoon is yours to pursue your own individual interests. (B,L,D)

Day 8 — Regensberg

Regensburg is a wonderfully preserved city and a World Heritage site. View the old Roman Tower and the Roman Gateway—still standing after 1,800 years—and the 12th-century Stone Bridge, which is one of the wonders of medieval engineering. See the Old Town Hall, built in Gothic style, where German Emperors presided over early parliaments, and St. Peter’s Cathedral, with its beautiful 14th-century stained glass windows. Then, visit the Thurn and Taxis Castle, a former monastery. Later today the ship enters the Main-Danube Canal, once the dream of Emperor Charlemagne, he ordered the construction of the beginning of the canal in 793. It was finally completed in 1992. Join fellow travelers in the Smithsonian Journeys Travelers Corner this evening for an informal discussion about the day’s discoveries. (B,L,D)

Day 9 — Nuremberg

Today, you can personalize your cruise and choose one of three compelling shore tours:

Choices #1 – The Sights of Nuremberg: In Nuremberg, take a motorcoach through the city and take in the sights including the courthouse where the World War II war trials were held. Begin a walking tour that includes Nuremberg’s renowned hilltop castle. Stroll down to the center of town and the Hauptmarkt, an open square dominated by the Schoener Brunnen, a 14th-century Gothic fountain—Nuremberg's most famous attraction. View Our Lady's Church, then St. Lorenz Church, which dates from the 15th century.

Choice #2 – Documentation Center Museum: Nuremberg’s history cannot be detached from that of the Nazi party. The city often played host to Nazi demonstrations, organized as a display of power, at the massive Documentation Center Nazi Party Rally Grounds. Drive from the ship past the courthouse where the WWII trials were held, make a stop at the Zeppelinfeld, then explore the Center, home to the Fascination and Terror exhibit that examines the National Socialist Party’s control.

Choice #3 – Rural Life: Enjoy an exclusive visit to a Franconian farm to learn about rural life. Drive north from Nuremberg, passing countryside villages along the way, to the town of Moggast. Meet the Kormann family and learn about the traditions and workings of a family farm. Local snacks will be served for lunch during the visit. This afternoon, a shuttle bus will be provided for those who would like to go back into Nuremberg for additional sightseeing. (B,L,D)

Day 10 — Bamberg

In Bamberg, there’s a choice of tours ashore:

Choice #1 – Bamberg Walking Tour: Embark on a walking tour of Bamberg, a designated World Heritage site, and colorful showcase of architectural masterpieces. See the Statue of Neptune, the centerpiece of the most famous fountain in Bamberg. Wander under the grand rococo archway of the Obere Brücke and enjoy the view of the red-roofed fishermen’s houses and baroque mansions that highlight this fairy tale town.

Choice #2 – Culinary Delights: Enjoy a culinary tour around the town of Bamberg, visiting a bakery, butcher, deli, and candy store to learn about and taste local Franconian specialties. Sample the famous local licorice and other food specialties with a glass of smoked and normal Bavarian beer with the Bamberger Weck, a type of roll with sausage.

Join fellow travelers this evening for an informal discussion in the Smithsonian Journeys Travelers Corner. (B,L,D)

Day 11 — Würzburg

Personalize your experience today and choose one of the shore tours that interests you most:

Choice #1 – Würzburg Residenz and City Walk: Travel by motor coach from the ship to visit the famous Würzburg Residence, one of the finest baroque palaces in Europe. Afterwards, there’s a 1-hour walking tour of the historic city center that takes you past the Romanesque St. Kilian’s Cathedral; the Neumünslerkirche, where St. Kilian’s Crypt is found; the Old Town Hall; the University; and the bustling marketplace.

Choice #2 – The Romantic Road: Head out to experience Germany’s Romantic Road, once a Roman roadway that originates in Würzburg. Travel through spectacular walled villages and towns featuring cobbled streets and medieval charm to Rothenburg ob der Tauber, known for its medieval Altstadt and surrounded by 14th-century medieval walls.

Lunch and dinner are served on board ship. (B,L,D)

Day 12 —Miltenberg

Depart the ship for a walking tour that passes through the town’s charming market square where a 16th-century fountain and unusual half-timbered houses make it one of the most photographed sites in all of Germany. See the Town Hall which was mentioned in 1379 for the first time and has been restored totally between 1979 and 1983. See the oldest inn in Germany. The half-timbered building was built in 1590 and over the centuries it has been the place where electors, nobility, and kings stayed the night. There will be a visit of St. Kilian’s winery with a liqueur tasting in the old vaulted cellar, which dates from the 15th century. (B,L,D)

Day 13 — Koblenz

Today, the ship cruises through the Rhine Gorge past the Loreley Rock. The crew invites passengers onto the Sun Deck mid-morning for the age-old German tradition of drinking a beer before midday along with some tasty pretzels, sausages, and mustards! After arrival in Koblenz, join a walking tour that includes the Town Hall with the famous Schängelbrunnen, the Liebfrauenkirche with a Gothic choir and baroque towers, the Alte Burg of the Electors of Trier, now housing the Municipal Archives and Library, and other cultural and historic points of interest. The balance of the day is at leisure in Koblenz. Join fellow travelers this evening in the Smithsonian Journeys Travelers Corner. (B,L,D)

Day 14 — Cologne

Begin the day with a walking tour of this medieval city with its colorful Patrician Houses and narrow cobbled lanes. Visit the Kölner Dom, Cologne’s world-famous cathedral, a World Heritage site and the symbol of the city. It is one of the largest Gothic structures in the world and one of the few structures in Cologne that survived the war. This evening, gather for a farewell reception and dinner. (B,L, R,D)

Day 15 — Amsterdam

This morning, a local speaker will review the current state of affairs in the Netherlands, a constitutional monarchy, and discuss its future as a member of the European Union.

Later, you’ll have a choice of one of the following tours:

Choice #1 – Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum: The Rijksmuseum is home to a wonderful collection of Dutch art and history. Rembrandt’s Night Watch is one of the most famous works by the Dutch master. Enjoy an audio-guided tour and have time at leisure at the museum.

Choice #2 – Waterland Bicycle Ride: Travel to Waterland for guided “bike hike” in a unique rural setting. The region is mainly fen, a marshy wetland. It comprises nine historical villages and has many officially registered monuments. A coffee and pastry break is included in Broek. Other villages passed are Zunderdorp, Ransdorp, and Durgerdam.

Choice #3 – Canal District Walking Tour: Join a walking tour of one of the most beautiful and upmarket canals in Amsterdam, the Herengracht. Explore the history of the canal district at the Museum of the Canals with fantastic 3D animations, models, projections and an interactive multimedia exhibition. The museum opened in 2011 after the Amsterdam canal district was listed as a World Heritage site. Board a small canal cruiser for a unique tour of Amsterdam. Cruise a portion of more than 60 miles of tree-lined canals and waterways. Admire some of the city's 1,500 bridges, dozens of islands, charming Dutch homes and the architectural gems of the bustling city harbor during a guided cruise with a local expert. (B,L,D)

Day 16 — Return to the U.S.

Disembark the ship and transfer to Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport for your return flight to the U.S. (B)

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)