As the days turn cooler and the summer crowds fade, explore the cultural landscapes along three legendary European rivers—the Danube, Main, and Rhine. Enjoy a choice of daily excursions and tour World Heritage sites from Austria’s Wachau Valley to the Bavarian old town of Regensburg. 

Starting at: $6,890 * 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
Budapest, one of Europe's most beautiful cities, situated along the Danube River
 Fisherman's Bastion, overlooking the Danube, Budapest
Fisherman's Bastion, overlooking the Danube, Budapest
 Interior of Dohany Street Synagogue, Budapest
Interior of Dohany Street Synagogue, Budapest
 Great Market Hall, Budapest
Great Market Hall, Budapest
 Bratislava, Slovakia
Bratislava, Slovakia
 View of Bratislava Castle, main square, and St. Martin's Cathedral
View of Bratislava Castle, main square, and St. Martin's Cathedral
 Hofburg Palace. Credit: Austrian National Tourist Office/Andreas Tischler
Hofburg Palace. Credit: Austrian National Tourist Office/Andreas Tischler
 View of the Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna
View of the Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna
 The Wachau Valley of the Danube, a World Heritage site, Austria
The Wachau Valley of the Danube, a World Heritage site, Austria
 The village of Durnstein, along the Wachau Valley, Austria
The village of Durnstein, along the Wachau Valley, Austria
 Historic Melk Abbey, Austria
Historic Melk Abbey, Austria
 Interior of Melk Abbey, the renowned Benedictine monastery overlooking the Danube
Interior of Melk Abbey, the renowned Benedictine monastery overlooking the Danube
 The beautiful rococo design of St. Stephan's Cathedral in Passau
The beautiful rococo design of St. Stephan's Cathedral in Passau
 The idyllic Rhine River, near Kaub
The idyllic Rhine River, near Kaub
 The picturesque town of Bamberg
The picturesque town of Bamberg
 Town of Wurzburg and the Wurzburg Residenz (foreground), Germany
Town of Wurzburg and the Wurzburg Residenz (foreground), Germany
 Wurzburg, Germany
Wurzburg, Germany
 Miltenberg, Germany
Miltenberg, Germany
 Main square of Miltenberg
Main square of Miltenberg
 Hilltop medieval castle overlooking the Rhine River near Oberwesel
Hilltop medieval castle overlooking the Rhine River near Oberwesel
 View of Cologne along the Rhine River
View of Cologne along the Rhine River
 The medieval town of Rüdesheim, located along the Rhine
The medieval town of Rüdesheim, located along the Rhine
 Typical canal scene in Amsterdam
Typical canal scene in Amsterdam
 Bikes along the canal, Amsterdam
Bikes along the canal, Amsterdam
 The Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
The Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
 Rembrandt's <i>The Night Watch</i> at the Rijksmuseum. Credit: Netherlands Tourism Bureau
Rembrandt's The Night Watch at the Rijksmuseum. Credit: Netherlands Tourism Bureau
 Amsterdam at night
Amsterdam at night

Europe's Great Rivers

Featuring the Danube, Main, & Rhine Rivers

16 days from $6,890

As the days turn cooler and the summer crowds fade, explore the cultural landscapes along three legendary European rivers—the Danube, Main, and Rhine. Enjoy a choice of daily excursions and tour World Heritage sites from Austria’s Wachau Valley to the Bavarian old town of Regensburg. 

or Call 855-330-1542

Overview

FlexAir is designed to provide you with the flexibility and choice you need to personalize your air travel experience. Explore a wide range of flight options in consultation with our experienced travel professionals to select the flights, routing, class of service, and dates of travel that most fit your needs. Our partner tour operator has negotiated contracts with a wide variety of carriers that allow them to hold flight reservations and then issue your ticket close to departure without additional fees. This protects you from the need to purchase published-fare tickets, which must be ticketed within 24 hours of purchase. FlexAir reservations provide the flexibility to adjust reservations without penalty and to accommodate extensions and upgrades right up until ticketing time, usually around 60 days before departure. We look forward to providing you with more choice and the best possible itinerary for your air travel plans.

Program Includes:

  • Guaranteed transfers between the airport and your overseas accommodations upon arrival and departure (in most cases). We will provide you with all of the details you need to guarantee your transfer.
  • Air schedule change and delay assistance. Book FlexAir to ensure assistance should schedule changes or delays impact your air travel plans.
  • Flight insurance worth up to $250,000, subject to policy terms, is automatically included.
  • Confirmed airline seat assignments at the time of booking (in most cases).

Itinerary

Day 1 & 2 — Depart the U.S. / Arrive in Budapest, Hungary

Depart the U.S. for Budapest, Hungary on your transatlantic flight. After arrival at Budapest’s Ferenc Liszt International Airport, after clearing  brief arrival formalities you’ll be met and assisted with transfer to your ship. 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 Jews who fell 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: Discover enchanting Bratislava a picturesque medieval town with a rich cultural and historic past. Marvel at St. Martin’s Cathedral, formerly the site of coronations of the Habsburgs to Hungarian kings and queens. See the Old Opera House and St. Michael’s Gate, the only remaining gate of the city’s medieval fortifications. Continue to the Primate’s Palace, where Hungarian archbishops spend their winters, then visit an impressive cafe entirely painted with scenes from the city’s royal past and sample a typical local pastry and coffee.

Choice #2 – Bratislava Old Town and Music: Bratislava is a city with a formidable musical heritage. It’s here that the renowned composer and pianist 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 – Hidden Vines of Bratislava: Travel by coach out of Bratislava to discover the small Slovak towns just beyond the city limits. See rolling hills, lush vineyards, and old castles. Visit a local winery and enjoy a tour and tasting of Slovakian wines.

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 – Vienna Woods: Depart Vienna and take a short drive north to the outskirts of town, where you’ll find hills and forested area often visited by locals for an escape from city living. Take a guided walk through this oasis and enjoy views over the city and the Danube. Along the walk, stop at a local cafe for refreshments.

Choice #3 – Schonbrunn Palace: Tour the Schonbrunn 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 an afternoon at leisure. A shuttle will provide scheduled transportation from the ship to the Sweden Platz and return. After dinner, attend an exclusive, onboard waltz performance accompanied by a classical trio. A highlight of your visit to Vienna! There will be a brief introduction to the history of the waltz followed by a performance by dance professionals. Later, you’ll be invited to give the waltz a try!  (B,L,D) 

Day 6 — Durnstein/Melk

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

Choice #1 – Durnstein Walking Tour: Durnstein 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 exterior blue and white decoration. 

Choice #2 – Bicycling the Danube: Join a two-hour "bike hike" along the Danube. Stop in the charming town of Krems and enjoy a coffee and cake break.

Choice #3 – Wachau Valley Wines: Join an excursion to visit a well-known local winery. After a short walk, take a fun train/trolley ride to the middle of the village and the winery. Sample some of the wines from the famous Wachau Valley and receive an explanation about them and the different vineyards found in the 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 an architectual 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 — Regensburg

Begin your day with an interesting talk on Contemporary Germany by a local speaker. Afterwards, take a guided walk through Regensburg, 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 shoreside experience and choose one of these compelling shore tours:

Choice #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 to 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 – 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 family anddiscover traditions and workings of the local farm. A lunch featuring local specialties will be served 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 historic 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 sculpted in 1697. Wander under the grand rococo archway of the Obere Brucke 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 or traditional 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 — Wurzburg

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

Choice #1 – Wurzburg Residenz and City Walk: Travel by motor coach from the ship to visit the famous Wurzburg 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 Neumunslerkirche, where St. Kilian’s Crypt is found; the Old Town Hall; the University; and the bustling marketplace.

Choice #2 – The Romantic Road: Head out via motorcoach to experience Germany’s Romantic Road, once a Roman roadway that originates in Wurzburg. 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

This morning the ship sails along the Rhine bound for Miltenberg. The ship’s crew invites you to the Sun Deck at mid-morning for the age-old German tradition of Frühschoppen. You’ll partake in the local beer with pretzels, sausage, served with a variety of mustards! 

After arrival, 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 totally restored 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 remarkable Rhine Gorge. Gather on deck to marvel at ancient hilltop castles, historic riverside towns, and villages and view the Lorelei Rock made famous in a German fable. After arrival in Koblenz, you have a choice of shore excursions. 

Choice #1 City Walk of Koblenz – More than 2,000 years ago, the Romans established a settlement at the confluence of the Moselle and Rhine Rivers. Today, this beautiful town occupies that same strategic location. During your tour through the romantically narrow streets, you’ll pass the Town Hall with the famous Schangelbrunnen or Schangel fountain, the Church of Our Lady, the Old Castle of the Electors of Trier, now housing the Municipal Archives and Library, and the Old Merchant’s Hall.

Choice #2 – Ehrenbreitstein Fortress – At nearly 400 feet above the Rhine, the fortress has the most fantastic views over Koblenz and the confluence of the Rhine and Moselle rivers. The Ehrenbreitstein Fortress, the second largest preserved fortress in Europe, was constructed in its present form between 1817 and 1828. Its origin dates back to the year 1,000. Today the fortress is home to the Landesmuseum Koblenz that showcases diverse exhibitions including the history and archaeology of the country. Enjoy a cable car ride over the river to visit the castle and hear about its history. 

The balance of the day is free of planned activities. (B,L,D)

Day 14 — Cologne

This morning, join a walking tour of this medieval city with its colorful Patrician Houses and narrow cobbled lanes. Visit the remarkable Kölner Dom, Cologne’s world-famous cathedral, a historic symbol of the city and a World Heritage site. It is one of the largest Gothic structures in the world and one of the few structures in Cologne that survived WWII. After lunch, the ship will depart for Amsterdam. This evening, join fellow travelers for a farewell reception and dinner. (B,L,R,D)

Day 15 — Amsterdam

This morning, review the current state of affairs in the Netherlands, a constitutional monarchy, and discuss its future as a member of the European Union with a local expert. Afterward, personalize your Amsterdam experience with a choice one of the following excursions.

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

Choice #2Waterland Bicycle Ride: Travel to Waterland for guided bike hike in rural setting. Waterland is located just north of Amsterdam. Almost half the acreage of Waterland consists of water, hence the name. The region is mainly fen, a marshy wetland. It is a group of nine historic villages and has 391 officially registered monuments. A coffee and pastry break is included in Broek. Other villages passed are Zunderdorp, Ransdorp, and Durgerdam.

Choice #3Canal District Walking Tour: Join a walking tour of one of the most beautiful canals in Amsterdam, the Herengracht. Explore the history of the canal district at the Museum of the Canals with amazing animations, models, projections and an interactive multimedia exhibits. The museum opened in 2011 after the Amsterdam Canal District was listed as a World Heritage site.

Lunch is served on board the ship. The afternoon is free to follow your own path and explore Amsterdam on your own. In early evening board a private canal boat for a unique tour of the city. Cruise through 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 canal houses and the architectural gems of the bustling city harbor during a guided cruise with a local expert. Return to the ship in time for dinner. (B, L, D)

Day 16 — Amsterdam / Depart for Home

Disembark the ship and transfer to Amsterdam’s Schiphol International Airport, for your return flight home. (B)

Please note: The progression of this itinerary may change due to navigational and other operational considerations.

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

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