The Blue Danube – Westbound (12 Days)

Cruise Line: Tauck River Cruising
Ship: Varies by Departure
Budapest, Hungary to Prague, Czech Republic
Tour Segment  Cruise Segment
Budapest, Hungary

Your Danube river cruise starts at 6 PM at Kempinski Hotel Corvinus, Budapest. A transfer is included from Budapest's Ferenc Liszt Airport or Keleti train station to Kempinski Hotel Corvinus, Budapest. Budapest has acquired quite an excellent reputation for cuisine; tonight's special welcome cocktail reception and dinner is at the grand Akadémia Klub in the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Meet your fellow travelers and Tauck directors and learn about the upcoming days ahead.

Budapest, Hungary

Budapest is split into the sections of Buda and Pest by the Danube River. Explore the Pest side of the city, including Heroes' Square, bounded by some of the finest architectural works in Hungary. Enjoy a special visit to the opulent State Opera House, opened in 1884, with its royal boxes, gilded vaulted ceiling, exquisite murals, and three-ton chandelier. View the Parliament building, a Neo-Gothic masterpiece, and stroll the city's most fashionable promenade, Váci Utca; the rest of the afternoon and evening are spent pursuing what interests you most in Budapest, as you get set to cruise the Danube tomorrow.

Budapest, Hungary

You have some additional time this morning to explore on your own in Budapest, then 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 Fisherman'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, as you begin to cruise the Danube River aboard ms Joy or ms Savor, bound for Bratislava, Slovakia.

Bratislava, Slovakia

Our resident expert takes you inside contemporary Slovakia and Bratislava for a look at politics, the economy, religion, the social order, preservation, and emergence of the arts, and much more prior to a walking tour of this cobblestoned, vehicle-free city. See 17 centuries of history eloquently 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, and sample some of Slovakia's delectable almond pastry at a local café. Back onboard the riverboat, dinner tonight introduces you to a glimpse of daily life in Slovakia with a taste of regional cuisine and a performance by a talented troupe of Slovak dancers.

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. 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.

Vienna, Austria
Dürnstein, 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 before we cruise the Danube River through Austria's Wachau Valley; glide past castles and abbeys to medieval Dürnstein, where you'll arrive late this evening.

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. 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 Lionheart 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.

Linz, Austria
Salzburg, Austria
Linz, Austria

Your boat stays docked in Linz today, with a choice of how you spend your day – full-day excursions to Salzburg (Austria) or Český Krumlov in the Czech Republic. Salzburg is the hometown of Austria's beloved composer, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The setting for The Sound of Music, Salzburg is a parade of beautiful Baroque architecture, painted wrought-iron signage, ornate church towers, and grand palaces. You'll visit Mozart's birthplace and the very cleverly designed Mirabell Gardens, with some free time in Salzburg before rejoining the riverboat for dinner. Alternatively, travel through beautiful landscapes of rolling hills to Český Krumlov. This 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 for dinner; local Austrian musicians entertain you aboard ship tonight.

Engelhartszell, Austria, 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 to cruise the Danube River 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.

DAY 10
Vilshofen, Germany
Regensburg, Germany
Prague, Czech Republic

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 and have lunch on your own, then join your Tauck director for an introductory tour of the city. This evening, sample the culinary pleasures of Prague for dinner on your own; 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.

DAY 11
Prague, Czech Republic

Start today's exploration of Prague in the ancient Hradčany (Castle) district, where you'll see 1,000-year-old Prague Castle's complex of palaces, courtyards, and gardens. Exquisite European architecture awaits on a guided excursion in Hradčany that includes the magnificent Gothic Cathedral of St. Vitus – an exclusive private tour of the grand libraries of Strahov Monastery is a highlight. Spend the afternoon as you please, or join us on a walking tour through ethereal Old Town, choosing between a "walk through the centuries" 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). Tonight, cap a memorable trip with a truly royal evening that's a 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.

DAY 12
Prague, Czech Republic

Your Danube river cruise experience ends in Prague, Czech Republic. Fly home anytime. A transfer is included from the Four Seasons Hotel Prague to Praha Hlavní Nádraží train station or Václav Havel Airport Prague. Please allow a minimum of three hours for check-in.

The Blue Danube – Westbound map

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The art of personalized river cruising meets the heart of history aboard Tauck's signature river cruises. Tauck's uncommon access and exclusive cultural experiences ashore along European waterways – the Rhine, Danube, Main, Rhône and Moselle rivers – connects you with each place you visit... and ancient civilizations take on new meaning on our Egypt and China trips along the River Nile and the Yangtze River. River cruises – and river cruising – at their best...

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