Vienna Austria

Portraits of Eastern Europe

19 DAYS FROM BUCHAREST TO PRAGUE

Note: The itineraries presented are subject to modification due to water levels, closures because of public holidays or other uncontrollable factors. Every effort will be made to operate programs as planned, but changes may still be necessary throughout the cruise. This day-to-day schedule is subject to change. Your final day-to-day schedule will be provided onboard on the first day of your cruise.

Day 1: Bucharest

Arrive at Bucharest Henri Coandă International Airport. If your cruise/tour package includes a group arrival transfer or if you have purchased a private arrival transfer, you will be greeted by a Uniworld representative and transferred to the hotel.

Day 2: Bucharest

On today’s agenda—a guided tour of the infamous Ceaușescu Mansion. Venture to the opulent former residence of Romania’s former leader Nicolae Ceaușescu, where you’ll have a guided tour. It’s been more than a quarter of a century since deposed Romanian president Ceaușescu and his wife Elena were executed by a firing squad on Christmas Day in 1989, but now you can roam the opulent 80-room residence where the couple once lived, situated on 3.5 acres of grounds in one of Bucharest’s most desirable neighborhoods.

Ceausescu's Palace: the Dictator's private mansion

The opulent former residence of Romania's former leader, Nicolae Ceausescu, is nestled in one of Bucharest’s most desirable neighborhoods, where you’ll enjoy a guided tour of this impeccable mansion. Thirty years have passed since deposed Romanian President Ceausescu and his wife Elena were executed by a firing squad on Christmas Day in 1989, but now you have the chance to roam the breathtaking 80-room residence where the couple once lived, which had been closed to the public since that fateful day. Get a glimpse into the extravagant lifestyle that Romania’s final dictator and his family enjoyed during a time when most Romanians were suffering, surviving only on food and fuel rations. Marvel at the striking interior, designed by Romanian artists with the influence of Baroque, Rococo, Rocaille, medieval Romanian, and Renaissance styles. See the precious gifts receive by Ceausescu during his reign from famous heads of states, like Charles de Gaulle and Elizabeth II, still sitting proudly on display.

Day 3: Bucharest, Transfer to Giurgiu (Embark)

Bucharest is a fascinating combination of Communist grandiosity, elegant French-influenced 19th-century buildings and surprising survivors dating from the 1500s. Today in Bucharest you’ll enjoy a panoramic city tour or a walking tour in the old Lipscani district. Later, you'll travel via motorcoach to Giurgiu, where your ship awaits.

“Do as the Locals Do” Bucharest walking tour

“Give a penny for the Athenaeum.” Back in the 1880s, this was the theme for the fundraising campaign that resulted in one of Bucharest’s most beautiful and most beloved buildings: the Romanian Athenaeum. Ordinary citizens, not wealthy patrons of the arts, contributed their pennies and built a jewel-box concert hall with perfect acoustics, which they cherish to this day: It’s called the spiritual and artistic heart of the nation. Start to explore the Bucharest locals love right here with a look at the stately neoclassical home of the George Enescu Romanian Philharmonic Orchestra, and continue to Revolution Square, perhaps best known for the moment when Nicolae Ceausescu climbed into a helicopter on the roof of the Central Committee building and fled Bucharest in 1989. Stroll past the elegant shops in the neighborhood, as you head to Lipscani, the restored old quarter. Just a few years ago this neighborhood was all but a shambles; now it is a lively social center. Here you’ll find everything from a famous beer hall to a spectacularly renovated bookstore, as well as the city’s oldest surviving church and the remnants of the Old Princely Court, where the Wallachian rulers—including Vlad the Impaler—lived in the 15th and 16th centuries. Your walking tour ends at Hanul Lui Manuc, built two centuries ago as an inn and recently restored, where you will take a seat in the tree-shaded courtyard and relax over some favorite local appetizers—perhaps some stuffed mushrooms and a variety of sausages.

Bucharest panoramic highlights tour

Bucharest began as a fortress in the 15th century, a warlike origin that set the tone for its turbulent history. It saw glory days as the summer residence of the Wallachian princes and was burned to the ground by the Ottoman Turks; then Austria-Hungary and imperial Russia fought over it for a century. After Wallachia and Moldavia united to form Romania in the mid-19th century, Bucharest enjoyed a prosperity that was reflected in its extravagant architecture, some of which miraculously survived WWII bombing and Communist building programs. You’ll see Bucharest’s very own Triumphal Arch, which is modeled after the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, and Victoria Boulevard, lined with chic shops and handsomely restored pre-war buildings—and sites where protests brought down Ceausescu’s regime in 1989. These days Bucharest enjoys a lively and eclectic cultural scene, hosting international arts festivals and concerts, and a measure of prosperity apparent in its busy cafés and thriving street life.

In the evening, a special Captain’s Welcome Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you.

Day 4: Rousse

Bulgaria’s foremost Danube port, Rousse is sometimes called “Little Vienna” for its elegant 19th-century mansions and public buildings. You may choose to see some of the town after venturing to a pair of historic monasteries or spend the day visiting two historic hill towns.

Veliko Tarnovo and Arbanassi with authentic Bulgarian lunch

Twice the capital of Bulgaria—before and after the Ottomans conquered the nation—Veliko Tarnovo climbs steep hills above the Yantra River, topped by the ruins of Tsarevets, the stronghold where Bulgaria’s kings ruled between 1185 and 1393. The remains of the great stone walls and towers that you see formed the historic heart of the Second Bulgarian Empire. History lives in this town, as a quick look at the wares for sale in Samovod Marketplace will show you: Handicrafts are all made by local artisans using ancient, medieval or Renaissance technologies. You’ll have time to peruse the exceptional local pottery and textiles there before heading to Arbanassi, home to six amazing 17th-century stone churches, each one decorated with colorful and intricate frescoes. Learn something of the multicultural history of this fascinating town at the Ethnographic Museum and visit the UNESCO-designated Nativity Church, where murals of the Nativity, the Last Judgment and the zodiac brilliantly blend religious and humanist iconography. At another of the churches, Holy Archangels Michael and Gabriel, you’ll hear the otherworldly singing of an Orthodox choir in a short concert. Your day’s adventure includes a traditional three-course Bulgarian lunch, complete with live folk music.

“Do as the Locals Do” Rousse walking tour with Ivanovo and Basarbovo Monasteries

Walk through the woods of Rusenski Lom, a protected region that is home to a wide variety of rare birds, among other wildlife, to Ivanovo Rock Monastery—once an enclave of more than 40 churches and chapels that the devout built inside caves above the Lom River Valley. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is famous for its beautiful and well-preserved 14th-century murals.

Your next destination, the Basarbovo Rock Monastery, is the only rock monastery where monks still live and worship today. Climb the narrow rock stairway to the 15th-century cloister, which is cut into the limestone cliffs high above the Lom River, and take a look at the arresting frescoes. You’ll also spend some time in Rousse, a city with an easygoing, gracious feeling. Freedom Square, a huge open plaza, takes its name from the Freedom Monument, which soars from the center of the square; the stately Belle Epoque buildings surrounding the square attest to the city’s prosperity in the 1890s. Stroll along wide, tree-lined Alexandrovska, the main pedestrian street that links the city’s many attractive squares, encountering such landmark sights as Rousse’s grand theater, the city museum and the first movie theater (it opened in 1896).

Day 5: Cruising the Danube River, Vidin

Vidin is a port town on the Danube that once played an important role in medieval Bulgarian politics, as the great fortress Baba Vida attests. It’s your base for an unusual excursion today—a visit to the fascinating Belogradchik rock formations. Or you can head to a local’s home to bake a traditional Bulgarian dish called banitsa.

Belogradchik red rock valley

Drive through the scenic Bulgarian countryside to Belogradchik, a small town in the foothills of the Balkan Mountains, not far from the Serbian border. After some light refreshment at a local hotel, you’ll be ready to explore the astonishing rock formations nearby, which are over 200 million years old—and have inspired nearly as many legends! Many of the strange wind- and weather-hewn shapes have names, such as Adam and Eve, the Bear and the Castle. The outcroppings formed a natural defense for the town that was enhanced with man-made fortifications over the centuries. Whether you choose to hike with a local expert to the top of the path or not, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views. Your return will take you past some sights that highlight Vidin’s mixed heritage: the Orthodox cathedral, the Turkish mosque, the Konak (the 18th-century headquarters of the Turkish police) and the cruciform barracks (which date to the 1790s). The final stop will be Baba Vida, whose stern 10th-century stone walls were built on the site of a Roman watchtower.

Banitza home baking experience

Day 6: Cruising the Iron Gates, Golubac

Today’s main attraction will be the spectacular scenery along the Danube, as you cruise a stretch of gorges known as the Iron Gates. Later, head ashore to explore a Paleolithic site and an extraordinarily well-preserved medieval fortress. All along the way, history lines the banks of the river. Keep an eye out for Trajan’s Plaque, which the ancient Romans erected to commemorate the road they anchored in the steep cliffs above the water, and Golubac Castle, built in the 14th century and attacked successively by the Serbs, Magyars and Turks.

Lepenski Vir archaeological park and Golubac Castle

Lepenski Vir is one of the largest and most significant prehistoric archeological sites from the Stone Age, located on the Danube. It was once the epicenter of one of the most highly developed prehistoric cultures, with complex social relations and even rudimentary urban planning. The discovery of this prehistoric settlement has changed the image experts once had about the early Stone Age, expanding scientists’ knowledge about human communities that walked the earth millennia ago.

Later, you’ll visit Golubac Castle, one of the best preserved medieval fortresses in Europe, a powerhouse that has loomed over the Danube for centuries.

Unwind onboard as you cruise the breathtaking Iron Gates, an 83-mile-long (134-kilometer-long) stretch of scenic gorges that were cut through the Carpathian and Balkan mountains over eons by the Danube River. These gorges, which act as a natural border between Serbia and Romania, are among the most dramatic and beautiful sights in all of Europe. This was one of the swiftest and most dangerous stretches of the river before two dams were built: Iron Gate I and Iron Gate II. Construction on the dams began in 1964 and took 20 years to complete; they have dramatically altered the area’s landscape, raising the water level by 114 feet (35 meters) and drowning several islands and villages.

Day 7: Belgrade

Belgrade, the modern-day capital of Serbia, is one of Europe’s oldest cities, dating back some 7,000 years. Signs of its tumultuous history are visible everywhere, juxtaposed with the city’s vibrant modern-day present.

Belgrade city tour with visit to the Royal Grounds of Karadjordjevic Dynasty Palace

As a motorcoach carries you through the city, you’ll see a mix of architectural styles that reveal the city’s past, ranging from Gothic, Ottoman, baroque and art nouveau to utilitarian Communist apartment blocks and modern high-rises. While Belgrade has been no stranger to political upheaval, the 19th-century Residence of Princess Ljubica and serene old residential streets speak of calmer days, as do the bustling present-day café-lined boulevards. You’ll pass the tomb and memorial museum of Josip Broz Tito, which is located at the site of Tito’s former residence in Belgrade’s affluent Dedinje neighborhood, and visit Kalemegdan Fortress, high on a hill above the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers.

Ancient Romans built the first fortress here, and successive conquerors and defenders—Slavs, Byzantines, Ottomans, Habsburgs—continued to build and destroy fortifications on this site for another 1,500 years. Walk along the old stone walls, passing monuments and memorials (some will surprise you—poets and composers are honored here as well as military actions), for a sense of Serbia’s distant and more recent history. It’s not the only intriguing historical sight you’ll see today, however. You will also visit the Karadjordjevic Dynasty Palace and sip a glass of sparkling Serbian wine as you tour a compound of palaces built in the 1920s and 1930s. Serbia’s royal family, which is related to most of Europe’s royalty, has a strictly honorary position in modern-day democratic Serbia, but Crown Prince Alexander (who did not feel that taking the title of king was appropriate when his father died in exile in the United States in 1972) and his family still live in these palaces. A local expert will show you the public rooms of the Royal Palace, the White Palace, the adjacent chapel and the spacious grounds.

"Let's Go" "I Bike Belgrade" tour

Mount a bike and spend a leisurely half-day getting an up-close look at Belgrade, complete with lively commentary from your guide, who will tell you not just about the tumultuous recent past but also what it’s like to live here. Ride past Branko’s Bridge, Staro Sajmište (a former concentration camp), the Palace of Serbia and Hotel Jugoslavija; after a refreshing stop at a traditional fisherman’s bar, you’ll be ready to pedal to Kalemegdan Fortress and see a bit of Serbia’s more distant past.

Meet Belgrade - people, places and little wonders

  • Duration: 3.5 hours
  • Strenuous:
  • Transportation:
  • Price: $96 pre-purchase / €83 EUR onboard

You can’t begin to understand fascinating, contradictory Belgrade without meeting some of its citizens and hearing their stories. Chat, for instance, with the last perfume-maker in Belgrade about his custom fragrances, including one called Belgrade Nights. His shop, with its glass bottles and vintage family photos, evokes a long-ago time when Belgrade was a center of perfume making. Across the street, Black Sheep offers delicious hand-made ice cream—perhaps you’d like a taste of the day’s flavor, which might be pear and crème brulee? Belgrade is passionate about two soccer teams, Partizan and Red Star, and about street art, so naturally the two come together on the walls of buildings. Partizan’s partisans commissioned portraits of famous Partizan fans—but you’ll see that Red Star’s fans have tagged some paintings. In the Skadarlija neighborhood, drop by an eclectic antique shop, and near the Parliament building, meet the charming young women who run a restaurant in a hidden villa courtyard. At the Kalenic green market, a jam-maker lets you in on some of her secret ingredients, and on Gavrilo Princip street, visit a family-owned candy shop that stills makes Turkish delight by hand.

*Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences can be added to a booking up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date if space allows. Some venues are limited in the number of guests they can accommodate. Guests can book onboard (space permitting) and pay in Euros. Pre-booked Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are refundable up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date–if inside of 48 hours they are non-refundable. Select Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences require a minimum number of participants and are subject to cancellation (with full refund) if minimum is not met. Gratuities are included. Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are non-commissionable. Prices are subject to change.

Day 8: Vukovar (Osijek), Cruising the Danube River

Welcome to Croatia! This ancient country, which has made a remarkable recovery from a brutal civil war, is noted for its beautiful countryside and thriving folk traditions, as well as simple, delicious local rustic food. You’ll dock in Vukovar, Croatia’s biggest port, at the confluence of the Danube and Vuka rivers.

Vucedol Culture Museum and lunch at a family winery

The bullet-riddled water tower stands as a reminder of the bitter Croatian War of Independence, fought between 1991 and 1995, when Croatia sought to break away from Yugoslavia. Thousands died during the siege of Vukovar, which was heavily damaged. As you take a short walk through the town now, you will see lasting signs of the conflict, but you will also see a revitalized community, determined to rebuild. From Vukovar you’ll head to Osijek, where you’ll visit Tvrda, a military and civil complex begun in 1687 by the Habsburgs after they took the region back from the Ottomans. You’ll also learn something of Osijek’s long history—which dates back to Roman times—and stop by the Church of the Holy Cross, built by the Franciscans after the Ottomans left.

Enjoy an Ajvar demonstration in the courtyard of the monastery, a local specialty made from bell peppers, eggplant and tomatoes. You’ll also learn how to prepare vegetables in authentic Croatian style. From there, the group will split up and head off to different nearby villages for a home-hosted lunch.

Later, you’ll visit the Vucedol Museum. The basic idea behind the concept of this unique museum was integration into the terrain—the entire structure is designed to be mostly buried in the ground and only the façade is open to the landscape. Its shape, as serpentine, follows terrain, and on whose green roof you can reach the archaeological sites over the museum. Along the path, you’ll encounter the various Vučedol culture archaeological findings that have been discovered to date, which showcase the daily life and customs during a turbulent time of the immigration of the first Indo-Europeans and their relationship with the natives, the blending of material cultures and religions. Following your time at the museum, enjoy lunch at the Goldschmidt winery.

Full-day tour of Osijek with private home-hosted lunch

Venture into a lesser-known part of Croatia today. Set off from the port of Vukovar with your local expert, who will tell you about Vukovar’s calamitous experience during the Croatian War of Independence (1991-1995), when much of the city was shelled, and head to Osijek, the capital of Slavonia. Osijek is an attractive town on the banks of the Drava River that combines a long history—settlement predates the Romans, who built a fortress there that was conquered by Attila the Hun— with an easygoing charm and a readiness to embrace the future. You’ll stroll through Tvrda, the baroque military and civil complex begun in 1687 by the Habsburgs after they seized the town from the Ottoman Turks, and see some of the historic highlights via a panoramic tour.

You’ll follow up your tour with a stop in a village just outside the city for a traditional Croatian lunch hosted by local villagers. Translators will be on hand to help you and your hosts converse, so you can actually learn a bit about one another’s lives and interests.

Day 9: Cruising the Danube River, Budapest

Located on opposite sides of the Danube, Buda and Pest each have their own distinctive character and allure. Explore this dynamic and multifaceted city with your choice of excursions—you can see it from a local’s perspective on our walking tour, cover more ground with a panoramic tour or “Let’s Go” with a guided bike ride. Vibrant Budapest, Hungary’s capital, offers an enchanting combination of East and West.

“Do as the Locals Do” Budapest walking tour

Get ready for a fun immersion in the daily life of Budapest—your local expert will show you how to use the metro (one of the oldest in Europe) to easily reach all the city has to offer. Start with a visit to one of the city’s irresistible market halls. Stalls spill over with produce, sausages and meats, festoons of dried paprika, cheeses, and jars of honey, all of it authentically Hungarian. After you leave the market, stop for coffee and a sweet treat at Szamos Gourmet Palace, a combination pastry shop, café and chocolate maker in Vörösmarty Square. Marzipan is a favorite confection in Budapest, and Szamos has specialized in making it since the 1930s, so you might want to try some—but the shop’s truffle selection is equally irresistible. Refreshed, you’ll be ready to hop back on the tram for a visit to the gracious green spaces of Károlyi Garden, sometimes described as Budapest’s most charming small park. You’ll ramble along the boulevards and pass the Hungarian National Museum, truly getting the feel for this dynamic city, as you head back toward the ship.

Note: Budapest’s market halls are closed on holidays. If your tour lands on a holiday, we will skip the market.

Budapest panoramic highlights and Parliament visit

This panoramic tour is a wonderful way to get an overview of the city if you have never been here before. It will carry you from Heroes’ Square, created in 1896 to honor the thousand-year anniversary of Hungary’s founding and its greatest historical figures, past some of the city’s most striking architectural sights—Dohány Street Synagogue, the Hungarian National Museum, the state opera house, St. Stephen’s Basilica and the truly stunning Parliament Building—to Castle Hill, which has been called the heart of the nation. The city of Buda began here, when King Béla built a strong keep in 1243 as a defense against Mongol invaders; a castle replaced the simple fortress, and over the centuries other castles replaced that one. The current castle is primarily 18th century; a museum dedicated to Budapest’s archaeological finds is housed there, and the Castle Hill district has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You’ll go inside the magnificent 700-year-old Matthias Church, named for one of Hungary’s greatest kings, and then wend your way on foot to the picturesque Fisherman’s Bastion, whose seven fairytale-like towers represent the seven tribes that originally settled the region. It offers a glorious view of the city and the Danube below.

Note: Visits to the interior of Matthias Church may not be possible on some weekends and Catholic holidays.

“Let’s Go” Budapest by bike

In the evening, a special Captain’s Farewell Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you.

Day 10: Budapest

Enjoy a day of leisure, exploring the Hungarian capital to your heart’s content. Other passengers are heading home today, but you are only halfway through your marvelous holiday. Today you have an opportunity to explore Budapest’s treasures at your leisure. It’s a mecca for lovers of art nouveau architecture—the building housing the Franz Liszt Academy of Music is a particularly noteworthy example of the style—so perhaps you would like to take yourself on a tour of some of these beauties. For a reminder of the centuries when Hungary was ruled by the Ottoman Turks, take a look at the 16th-century tomb of Gül Baba (and enjoy a Turkish coffee at the adjoining coffeehouse). Treat yourself to a relaxing day at one of the city’s splendid spas, such as the Gellért Baths, or borrow one of the ship’s bicycles and explore Margaret Island. Your options are many, and all of them are delightful.

Day 11: Budapest, Cruising the Danube River

Located on opposite sides of the Danube, Buda and Pest each has a distinctive character and allure all its own. Explore this dynamic and multi-faceted city with your choice of excursions—you can see it from a local’s perspective on our "Do as the Locals Do" walking tour, or cover more ground with a panoramic tour.

Budapest panoramic highlights and Parliament visit

This panoramic tour is a wonderful way to get an overview of the city if you have never been here before. It will carry you from Heroes’ Square, created in 1896 to honor the thousand-year anniversary of Hungary’s founding and its greatest historical figures, past some of the city’s most striking architectural sights—Dohány Street Synagogue, the Hungarian National Museum, the state opera house, St. Stephen’s Basilica and the truly stunning Parliament Building—to Castle Hill, which has been called the heart of the nation. The city of Buda began here, when King Béla built a strong keep in 1243 as a defense against Mongol invaders; a castle replaced the simple fortress, and over the centuries other castles replaced that one. The current castle is primarily 18th century; a museum dedicated to Budapest’s archaeological finds is housed there, and the Castle Hill district has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You’ll go inside the magnificent 700-year-old Matthias Church, named for one of Hungary’s greatest kings, and then wend your way on foot to the picturesque Fisherman’s Bastion, whose seven fairytale-like towers represent the seven tribes that originally settled the region. It offers a glorious view of the city and the Danube below.

Note: Visits to the interior of Matthias Church may not be possible on some weekends and Catholic holidays.

“Do as the Locals Do” Budapest walking tour

Get ready for a fun immersion in daily life in Budapest— your local guide will show you how to use the metro (one of the oldest in Europe) to easily reach all the city has to offer. Start with a visit to one of the city’s irresistible market halls. Stalls spill over with produce, sausages and meats, festoons of dried paprika, cheeses, and jars of honey, all of it authentically Hungarian. After you leave the market, stop for coffee and a sweet treat at Szamos Gourmet Palace, a combination pastry shop, café and chocolate maker in Vörösmarty Square. Marzipan is a favorite confection in Budapest, and Szamos has specialized in making it since the 1930s, so you might want to try some—but the shop’s truffle selection is equally irresistible. Refreshed, you’ll be ready to hop back on the tram for a visit to the gracious green spaces of Károlyi Garden, sometimes described as Budapest’s most charming small park. You’ll ramble along the boulevards and pass the Hungarian National Museum, truly getting the feel for this dynamic city, as you head back toward the ship.

Your ship sets sail from Budapest after your tour, cruising along the Danube Bend, which is lined with scenic towns—among them are the oldest settlements in the country—nestled at the foot of lovely wooded hills.

Budapest Rock Hospital

Imagine living underneath Budapest for 34 years in a secret abandoned hospital. That’s what one couple did, tending miles of echoing caverns lined with ghostly hospital beds, boxes of files, gas masks . . . gas masks? Yes, gas masks. The Hospital in the Rock began as a hospital during WWII, when Budapest was besieged, but it became a secret nuclear bomb shelter—and hospital/torture chamber for prisoners—during the Soviet era in the 1950s. It was so secret that once it was abandoned in 1970, a single couple continued to live here as caretakers, telling no one what they did. Explore these once-secret caves, seeing 70-year-old hospital equipment still in place, along with some 200 wax figures that stand in for the real people who worked on this site of heroism and horror. Why was this place such a dark secret for so many decades? Can you help unravel its mysteries?

In the evening, a special Captain’s Welcome Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you.

Day 12: Cruising the Danube River, Vienna

The grand dame of the Danube, Vienna was the heart of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and remains, to this day, the political and cultural center of Austria. Klimt painted here; Beethoven and Mozart composed here; Freud developed his theories here. It’s a treasure trove of splendid architecture, astonishing art collections and inviting cafés—and today it is yours to explore. A city tour will show you the architectural highlights of the Austrian capital as well as the legendary opera house in the heart of the city. Or, indulge your passion for art with visits to two distinctively different collections—a “cabinet of curiosities” collected by the Habsburgs and the Belvedere’s extraordinary cache of paintings by Klimt and other renowned artists.

Vienna panoramic highlights with Old Town food and art walk

This excursion has it all! Join us and experience the sights, sounds and flavors of Vienna. Begin the tour with a walk to the iconic and colorful Hundertwasser House before enjoying a walking tour of Burgtheater, the Habsburg Winter Palace and the Fine Art Museum. Replenish with a rest and a bite of delicious Vienna sausages, famous canapes or delightful sweets from Vienna’s best confectionary, Altmann & Kühne. The outing continues with a taste of Viennese white wine, traditional dark bread, and local meats and cheeses before you board the bus to Prater Park, home to the best view of the city thanks to the Ferris Wheel. This is an excursion sure to leave your senses delighted.

Vienna panoramic highlights with World Museum Vienna

Austria’s capital offers a unique blend of imperial traditions, stunning modern architecture and a treasure trove of historic artifacts housed in one of Europe’s most famous museums. See these sights, like the historic Giant Ferris Wheel, on a gorgeous panoramic drive through the city, before stopping in at the world-renowned Weltmuseum Wien, which hosts Austria’s largest collection of anthropological and archeological objects from Asia, Africa, Oceania and the Americas. Tour the ancient relics and other items such as the feathered headdress of Aztec emperor Moctezuma. If time allows, take a stroll through the nearby park to take in the local color.

Segway ride in Prater Park and watch Sacher Torte made or Schönbrunn for kids

Here’s a fun way to see Vienna: Head to Prater Park. Tweens and teens can zoom around the park on Segways, but there’s plenty for younger travelers to do too, including a ride on the Giant Ferris Wheel, built more than a century ago. Unlike American Ferris wheels, which have open seats, the carriages of the Riesenrad resemble miniature railroad cars. It’s one of the tallest wheels in the world, so you get a fabulous view of the city from the top. Back on the ground, you’ll encounter some mouthwatering classic Viennese sweets—because Vienna loves sweets!—by watching the famous Sacher torte being made at Café Demel, one of the city’s most elegant cafés, and sampling yummy Lilliput chocolates at a shop near St. Stephen’s Cathedral. Younger travelers can get a taste of Habsburg splendor at Schönbrunn Palace. At the Children’s Museum in the palace, girls may dress up in the ruffles and brocades of long ago, and boys can don imperial uniforms. Try on tricorns and powdered wigs, flirt with your fan, figure out how to set the table for an imperial banquet—it’s all fun, but it’s also a glimpse into a long-ago world of protocol and grandeur.

Schönbrunn Palace

  • Duration: 3.5 hours
  • Intermediate:
  • Transportation:
  • Price: $76 pre-purchase / €66 EUR onboard

Perhaps the apex of baroque design in Vienna, Schönbrunn Palace’s gardens and structures form a perfectly integrated masterwork; it was Empress Maria Theresa’s favorite palace, and she made it the social and political center of her empire, beginning in 1740. Your visit today will concentrate on the rooms occupied by Emperor Franz Joseph and his empress, Elisabeth (known as Sissi, she was enormously popular in her day). Franz Joseph restored the state rooms to their rococo splendor, but his private rooms reflect his rather severe nature, making for an illuminating contrast.

*Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences can be added to a booking up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date if space allows. Some venues are limited in the number of guests they can accommodate. Guests can book onboard (space permitting) and pay in Euros. Pre-booked Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are refundable up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date–if inside of 48 hours they are non-refundable. Select Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences require a minimum number of participants and are subject to cancellation (with full refund) if minimum is not met. Gratuities are included. Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are non-commissionable. Prices are subject to change.

Private Mozart and Strauss concert

  • Duration: 3.5 hours
  • Easy:
  • Transportation:
  • Price: $91 pre-purchase / €79 EUR onboard

Vienna is linked inextricably with music, as so many great composers lived and worked here: Beethoven, Mozart, Strauss, Schubert, Mahler, Brahms—the list is as long as it is glorious. Enjoy an evening of chamber music performed by some of Vienna’s world-class professionals in a historic and intimate concert venue. The music, naturally, will be by Mozart and Strauss.

*Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences can be added to a booking up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date if space allows. Some venues are limited in the number of guests they can accommodate. Guests can book onboard (space permitting) and pay in Euros. Pre-booked Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are refundable up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date–if inside of 48 hours they are non-refundable. Select Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences require a minimum number of participants and are subject to cancellation (with full refund) if minimum is not met. Gratuities are included. Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are non-commissionable. Prices are subject to change.

Day 13: Cruising the Wachau Valley, Spitz

You’ll want to find a comfortable seat in the lounge or on the Sun Deck today as your ship cruises through the Wachau Valley toward Spitz. Over the eons, the Danube cut a gorge through the foothills of the Bohemian mountains, resulting in a 19-mile (30-kilometer) stretch of riverine scenery so beautiful, UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Landscape. Castle ruins dominate hilltops; baroque church towers appear on the riverbanks, marking historic villages and splendid abbeys; and apricot orchards and vineyards cling to the rocky slopes. Some of Austria’s finest white wines are produced from grapes ripening on the dry-stone terraces above the river, where grapes have been grown for 2,000 years. Your ship will dock in Spitz, midway through this glorious landscape. Later, enjoy a private sparkling wine reception at Artstetten Castle.

Private sparkling wine reception at Artstetten Castle with a member of the Habsburg royal family

You’re invited to a private cocktail reception at Artstetten Castle with a member of the Habsburg royal family—a direct descendent of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie. As a pivotal part of world history, Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s assassination in Sarajevo triggered WWI. The seven-towered castle, parts of which date back to the 13th-century, remains the private property of the Hohenberg family. It is the final resting place of the archduke and his wife, who are entombed in the family crypt, which you may explore. A museum within the castle walls is dedicated to Franz Ferdinand; you might be surprised to discover that the archduke, a stern military man if one judges him by his portrait, renounced his descendants’ claim to the Habsburg throne in order to marry for love.

Spitz “Village Day”

Treasure hunt hike in the vineyards

Head outdoors to the beautiful Wachau Valley, one of Austria’s great nature habitats. Hike through vineyards high above the river with a nature expert who will guide you in a hunt for the treasures hiding in this habitat. Can you spot one of the orchid species that only grows here in the Wachau? How about the rare native feather grass? Glimpse a European green lizard basking on a stone terrace or a falcon soaring far overhead, but don’t forget to look out over the river and the valley; these views are so lovely, the memory will stay with you forever.

Day 14: Engelhartszell, Cruising the Danube River, Passau

Your ship cruises through a scenic highlight of the Danube today, the Schlögener Schlinge—a hairpin loop in the Danube that was once very hazardous for ships and is now a lovely, serene stretch of water—and leaves Austria behind today. Your first German port of call is Passau, where three rivers meet—the Inn, the Ilz and the Danube—and three nations almost meet: Austria, Germany and the Czech Republic, making for a fascinating cultural mosaic. Get to know the town and its main claim to fame, Europe’s largest pipe organ, or join an invigorating riverside hike or bike ride.

“Let's Go” scenic Bavarian river biking

Set off on an invigorating bike ride from Engelhartszell to Passau, led by one of our certified wellness instructors. Wind your way through the lovely countryside, along the Danube’s right side, upstream into the picturesque Danube Valley. These particular landscapes are some of the most beautiful in all of Europe—characterized by expansive vineyards, tree-lined slopes, and castle-dotted hillsides—and seamlessly blend the region’s cultural, historical and natural components together. Make a pit stop halfway at an Austrian beer garden, where you can savor your choice of regional beer. Pedal onwards toward Passau, past more charming villages, meadows and orchards, rounding out your trip in Passau’s Old Town.

Passau walking tour

The skyline of Passau is dominated by two buildings that owe their existence to the prince-bishops who ruled the city until 1803: the great fortress looming on a hill above the three rivers, home to the bishops until the 17th century, and the green onion domes of St. Stephan’s Cathedral. As you walk through the cobblestone streets toward those green onion domes, you’ll realize that Passau retains the layout of the medieval town. However, many of the wooden medieval buildings burned to the ground in the 17th century, and the prince-bishops imported Italian artists to build a new cathedral and a magnificent new residence for the bishops themselves. As a result, these splendid structures flaunt Italian baroque and rococo style and ornamentation, complete with opulent gilding and wonderful frescoes. Your guide will introduce you to some of the architectural highlights—the rococo stairways of the New Residence; the cathedral; and the Town Hall, which boasts a magnificent atrium adorned by large paintings by Ferdinand Wagner—and make sure you get a close-up view of the point where the three rivers meet.

"Let's Go" hike along the Ilz River

Put on your hiking boots, grab a windbreaker and a bottle of water, and head out with a local hiking guide and nature expert to explore the banks of the Ilz River. This small but rushing tributary of the Danube originates deep in the Bavarian Forest, near the Czech border, and is just 40 miles (65 kilometers) long. Its upper stretch is a premier whitewater rafting location, but you’ll be hiking along the lower, serene end of the river. Your starting point is Hals-Hochstein, where you’ll pick up a nature trail that follows a curve of the river and then climbs a steep hill, where you have a great view of the river and woodlands. You will cross the river repeatedly, once by way of a dam and again toward the end of your four-mile (6.5-kilometer) hike, as you loop back to the Hals.

Bike the famous Danube Valley from Engelhartszell to Passau

Get into the water this morning: The Ilz River is a great place to paddle a canoe or a kayak—or you could even try some stand-up paddleboarding. It’s splashy fun! Later in the day, you can mount a bike and join a group for a river-hugging ride that starts at the bike ferry across the Danube. You’ll pedal through the lovely countryside between Engelhartszell and Passau—orchards and meadows glide past, along with the occasional castle, charming village or picturesque ruin. Your bike guide will have a surprise waiting for you somewhere along the route, too!

Uniworld looks for the next top model of Bavarian kids fashion, and dumpling workshop onboard

Bavarian farm visit

  • Duration: 3.5 hours
  • Strenuous:
  • Transportation:
  • Price: $65 pre-purchase / €56 EUR onboard

Meet a modern-day farm family in a region where tradition lives on. This is a fun--and delicious!--excursion that gives you a taste of daily life on a farm in today’s Germany. A scenic road winding through the Bavarian Forest, Germany’s first national park, leads to the tiny village of Anschiessing, where Christa and Josef Artman (and their children) welcome you to their farm. Cows in the stable, chickens pecking in the yard and a traditional wood-fired outdoor oven all speak to a traditional lifestyle, but these days a small family farm won’t support a family, so the Artmans have branched out. They created a farm stand to sell their eggs and produce; then Christa decided to put her love of baking to good use: she has a bakery truck where she makes and delivers krapfen--fritters--to customers hungry for the hot, sugar-sprinkled treats. Want to try making them yourself? You’ll get the chance. See how to light the wood-burning oven (and taste the bread baked in it), sample yogurt and farmers cheese made on the premises, ramble through the picturesque village. The scenery is lovely and the insight into the daily routine of the region is enlightening.

*Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences can be added to a booking up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date if space allows. Some venues are limited in the number of guests they can accommodate. Guests can book onboard (space permitting) and pay in Euros. Pre-booked Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are refundable up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date–if inside of 48 hours they are non-refundable. Select Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences require a minimum number of participants and are subject to cancellation (with full refund) if minimum is not met. Gratuities are included. Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are non-commissionable. Prices are subject to change.

Day 15: Regensburg

You have your choice of adventures in Regensburg, famous for its beautiful, UNESCO protected old city center. “Regensburg is so beautifully situated; this region had to attract a town,” wrote Goethe in his Diary of an Italian Voyage. And attract a town it did, but not due to its beautiful location alone. Ambitious and farseeing locals built a bridge (Steinerne Brücke, or Stone Bridge) over the Danube back in the 12th century, making Regensburg an international trading hub. Because so many of the handsome buildings from that period remain, UNESCO declared the old city center a World Heritage Site in 2006.

"Baroque 500" Thurn and Taxis castle visit

Begin this three-hour excursion in Neupfarrplatz, the city center of Regensburg’s Old Town, before taking a short walk to the Princely House of Thurn and Taxis. The family estate is difficult to miss: at over 1,000 years old, the mansion boasts over 500 rooms complete with chandeliers, gold leafing, incredible art and architectural touches to make it truly a sight to behold. The palace has an incredible history and stands as a tale of revival, endurance and baroque style.  What’s even more spectacular? The palace has a long list of celebrities who have stayed within its walls: Mick Jagger, Michael Jackson, Steve Martin, Plácido Domingo and more. These walls may not be able to talk, but if they could they would surely say, “Come see us for yourself!”

BMW factory visit

Here is your opportunity to see German engineering, famous the world over, in operation as you tour the state-of-the-art BMW factory on the outskirts of Regensburg. About a thousand cars a day roll off the assembly line here, many of them in the BMW 3 series. You’ll see the fascinating production process from beginning to end, starting with rolls of sheet metal that are stamped out into body parts and continuing as the body is built and the various other elements are robotically assembled. You’ll follow a car into the finishing department to see it painted, polished and have the final touch applied—the BMW roundel.

NOTE: If the tour lands on a day when the BMW factory is closed, we will visit the Audi factory instead. The Audi production line is closed on weekends, so if your visit is scheduled for a weekend, you will see the Audi museum instead

"Let's Go" Regensburg hiking experience

Did you know that Regensburg residents raised silkworms at one time? It’s just one of the unusual aspects of the city that you’ll discover on a hike that begins at the ship’s dock. Meet up with your guide and head out along the eastern gate road (that eastern gate was part of the old Roman walls), crossing the river to the narrow streets of Stadtamhof, an island in the Danube that is part of Regensburg’s UNESCO-honored medieval complex. Pause atop another bridge to take a look at boats cruising through the lock and then begin your ascent of Holy Trinity Hill; you’ll have a great view of old Regensburg from Windsor Heights, and you’ll pass some of the beautiful mansions that overlook the city—including the buildings that housed the silk plantation begun by Ludwig I in the early 19th century. Your route continues along the heights, offering views of the entire region: fields, woods, even the Bavarian forest in the far distance. After a brief rest, you’ll head back down to the town and the ship.

Fascination BMW

Don your safety goggles and discover how BMW builds a thousand cars a day at their Regensburg plant. Robots and humans work together to assemble a single car—which has about 550 parts—in less than 40 hours (it used to take weeks). The place is huge, and though robots do a lot of the work, a great deal still needs to be done by the human hand. You get to see all aspects of the process, from stamping out metal parts to painting, in a tour tailored to young visitors.

My town guided young city tour - by students

If you’d rather see some of historic Regensburg, you can experience it from the viewpoint of its modern-day teenagers, who will show you where to shop, stop for a bite to eat at a thousand-year-old sausage stand and find the best ice cream. They’ll also point out all the must-see sights—the cathedral, the medieval bridge and the house where Oskar Schindler lived.

Bavarian sausage-making workshop

  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Intermediate:
  • Transportation:
  • Price: $78 pre-purchase / €68 EUR onboard

Germany’s oldest restaurant, Alte Wurstkuche, has been serving sausages to Regensburg’s residents for almost 900 years—which tells you just how much Regensburg loves sausages. Delve into the craft and art of this delicious regional specialty after a tour of the town’s medieval core (presided over by the splendid cathedral) that ends at the Regensburg Ratskeller. It’s housed in part of the Old Town Hall, so it’s a historic site in its own right, but it’s also home to a family-owned shop where Bavaria’s beloved Weisswürste are made—weiss, meaning white (for veal), and würst, meaning sausage. Roll up your sleeves and help create some white sausage under the supervision of the shop’s master butcher, who shares the traditional recipe with you. Once you’ve weighed and mixed the ingredients and stuffed the casings, you’ll watch them cook to delicious perfection. Then comes the best part: eating your own hand-made sausages with local Händlmaier mustard and a fresh pretzel—and, if you want a truly traditional Regensburg experience in the heart of Old Town, you’ll sip a local beer with it.

*Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences can be added to a booking up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date if space allows. Some venues are limited in the number of guests they can accommodate. Guests can book onboard (space permitting) and pay in Euros. Pre-booked Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are refundable up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date–if inside of 48 hours they are non-refundable. Select Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences require a minimum number of participants and are subject to cancellation (with full refund) if minimum is not met. Gratuities are included. Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are non-commissionable. Prices are subject to change.

Day 16: Regensburg, Roth, Nuremberg

The Main-Danube canal is a masterwork of engineering: It allows ships of all shapes and sizes to cruise from the Black Sea all the way to the North Sea, through no fewer than 15 countries. Sixteen locks punctuate the 106-mile (160-kilometer) stretch between Kelheim and Bamberg, linking the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers. Building the canal was no small task, especially considering changes of altitude (each river is different); the locks gently lift and lower the ships an astonishing 1,332 feet (406 meters) over the continental divide. Efforts to connect the rivers began with Charlemagne in AD 793, but the present-day canal was only completed in 1992.

Nuremberg panoramic city tour with WWII Rally Grounds visit and Documentation Center visit

Hitler considered Nuremberg the perfect expression of German culture (partly because of its significance in the Holy Roman Empire, which he called the First Reich), and so beginning in 1927, he chose to hold his massive rallies in the city. By 1933, his favorite architect, Albert Speer, had designed the vast Nazi Party Rally Grounds, where thousands upon thousands of Nazi troops saluted Hitler. (Leni Riefenstahl captured these events in her famous propaganda film Triumph of the Will.) Not all of Speer’s plans were executed, and some of his grandiose structures were bombed out of existence, but the remainder stand as vivid testimony to Hitler’s megalomania. A four-square-mile (10-square-kilometer) complex known as Zeppelin Fields contains parade grounds and a huge grandstand, the excavation site where a stadium for 400,000 people was begun—the hole is now filled with water.

Day 17: Nuremberg (Disembark), Transfer to Prague

Disembark the ship early and set your sights on the “city of a hundred spires” as you transfer to Prague via motorcoach.

Day 18: Prague

Is it possible not to be completely enchanted by Prague, with its fabled skyline of spires, fortress-like castle, beautifully preserved architecture and iconic Charles Bridge? A magnet for generations of artists, writers, scientists and composers, Prague is famous for its dynamic energy and elegant ambiance (and the beers here are pretty amazing, too).

Prague Old Town and Charles Bridge walking tour

Get an overview of the city with a panoramic tour that carries you past such sights as the State Opera House, the National Museum and Wenceslas Square on your way to massive Prague Castle. Step inside the castle's protective walls and enter a self-contained city, with courtyards, palaces, towers, churches and gardens designed for kings and emperors, along with housing and workplaces for all those who tended the rulers. Among the highlights are the lofty St. Vitus Cathedral, which took 600 years to finish, and Vladislav Hall, whose complex stone-vaulting system was one of the most advanced engineering feats of the late Middle Ages. After strolling through Golden Lane, a street of quaint cottages where Prague's 17th-century goldsmiths lived (alas, there's no truth to the legend that it was named for the royal alchemists), you may reboard the motorcoach for a ride back to the hotel or continue our guided walk through the picturesque Lesser Quarter, the district around the castle, to Charles Bridge. Cross the landmark bridge named for Charles IV, who ordered its construction in 1357; it's strictly for pedestrians now, so you can pause and look down at the Vltava below you and examine some of the statues that line the bridge, before you head to Old Town Square. This was the original market square; the buildings that surround it form a case study in Prague's architectural history. You'll find Prague's most famous Gothic church, Our Lady Before Týn, there, along with the 14th-century Old Town Hall (which boasts a famous medieval astronomical clock), the beautiful baroque St. Nicholas, the rococo Kinsky Palace and a group of Renaissance houses.

Hradčany Castle visit

Prague for kids

Day 19: Depart Prague

You’ve experienced the best of the Danube River and Prague, sampling myriad culinary delights and exploring fascinating stops along the way. Now your journey comes to a close. If your cruise/tour includes a group departure transfer or if you have purchased a private departure transfer, you will be transferred to Prague Václav Havel Airport for your flight home. Your Uniworld adventure may be over, but we know you’ll enjoy the memories you’ve made for years to come.
Note: The itineraries presented are subject to modification due to water levels, closures because of public holidays or other uncontrollable factors. Every effort will be made to operate programs as planned, but changes may still be necessary throughout the cruise. This day-to-day schedule is subject to change. Your final day-to-day schedule will be provided onboard on the first day of your cruise.

Day 1: Prague

Arrive at Prague Václav Havel Airport. If your cruise/tour package includes a group arrival transfer or if you have purchased a private arrival transfer, you will be greeted by a Uniworld representative and transferred to the hotel.

Day 2: Prague

Is it possible not to be completely enchanted by Prague, with its fabled skyline of spires, fortress-like castle, beautifully preserved architecture and iconic Charles Bridge? A magnet for generations of artists, writers, scientists and composers, Prague is famous for its dynamic energy and elegant ambiance (and the beers here are pretty amazing, too).

Prague Old Town and Charles Bridge walking tour

Get an overview of the city with a panoramic tour that carries you past such sights as the State Opera House, the National Museum and Wenceslas Square on your way to massive Prague Castle. Step inside the castle's protective walls and enter a self-contained city, with courtyards, palaces, towers, churches and gardens designed for kings and emperors, along with housing and workplaces for all those who tended the rulers. Among the highlights are the lofty St. Vitus Cathedral, which took 600 years to finish, and Vladislav Hall, whose complex stone-vaulting system was one of the most advanced engineering feats of the late Middle Ages. After strolling through Golden Lane, a street of quaint cottages where Prague's 17th-century goldsmiths lived (alas, there's no truth to the legend that it was named for the royal alchemists), you may reboard the motorcoach for a ride back to the hotel or continue our guided walk through the picturesque Lesser Quarter, the district around the castle, to Charles Bridge. Cross the landmark bridge named for Charles IV, who ordered its construction in 1357; it's strictly for pedestrians now, so you can pause and look down at the Vltava below you and examine some of the statues that line the bridge, before you head to Old Town Square. This was the original market square; the buildings that surround it form a case study in Prague's architectural history. You'll find Prague's most famous Gothic church, Our Lady Before Týn, there, along with the 14th-century Old Town Hall (which boasts a famous medieval astronomical clock), the beautiful baroque St. Nicholas, the rococo Kinsky Palace and a group of Renaissance houses.

Hradčany Castle visit

Prague for kids

Day 3: Prague, Transfer to Nuremberg (Embark)

Leave Prague this morning and travel via motorcoach to Nuremberg, where your ship awaits. Before you embark on your river voyage, you’ll have time to enjoy lunch on your own and then explore historic Nuremberg and visit sites associated with the rise and fall of the Third Reich. Nuremberg will forever be associated with the post-WWII Nuremberg trials, but the city’s profound historical and cultural significance stretches back many centuries before that. You’ll gain a newfound understanding and appreciation of both aspects of the city today on an in-depth tour with a local expert. 

Nuremberg panoramic city tour with WWII Rally Grounds visit and Documentation Center visit

Hitler considered Nuremberg the perfect expression of German culture (partly because of its significance in the Holy Roman Empire, which he called the First Reich), and so beginning in 1927, he chose to hold his massive rallies in the city. By 1933, his favorite architect, Albert Speer, had designed the vast Nazi Party Rally Grounds, where thousands upon thousands of Nazi troops saluted Hitler. (Leni Riefenstahl captured these events in her famous propaganda film Triumph of the Will.) Not all of Speer’s plans were executed, and some of his grandiose structures were bombed out of existence, but the remainder stand as vivid testimony to Hitler’s megalomania. A four-square-mile (10-square-kilometer) complex known as Zeppelin Fields contains parade grounds and a huge grandstand, the excavation site where a stadium for 400,000 people was begun—the hole is now filled with water.

Day 4: Cruising the Main-Danube Canal, Regensburg

The Main-Danube canal is a masterwork of engineering: It allows ships of all shapes and sizes to cruise from the Black Sea all the way to the North Sea, through no fewer than 15 countries. Sixteen locks punctuate the 106-mile (160-kilometer) stretch between Kelheim and Bamberg, linking the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers. Building the canal was no small task, especially considering changes of altitude (each river is different); the locks gently lift and lower the ships an astonishing 1,332 feet (406 meters) over the continental divide. Efforts to connect the rivers began with Charlemagne in AD 793, but the present-day canal was only completed in 1992. Today, you have your choice of adventures in Regensburg, famous for its beautiful, UNESCO protected old city center. “Regensburg is so beautifully situated; this region had to attract a town,” wrote Goethe in his Diary of an Italian Voyage. And attract a town it did, but not due to its beautiful location alone. Ambitious and farseeing locals built a bridge (Steinerne Brücke, or Stone Bridge) over the Danube back in the 12th century, making Regensburg an international trading hub. Because so many of the handsome buildings from that period remain, UNESCO declared the old city center a World Heritage Site in 2006.

"Baroque 500" Thurn and Taxis castle visit

Begin this three-hour excursion in Neupfarrplatz, the city center of Regensburg’s Old Town, before taking a short walk to the Princely House of Thurn and Taxis. The family estate is difficult to miss: at over 1,000 years old, the mansion boasts over 500 rooms complete with chandeliers, gold leafing, incredible art and architectural touches to make it truly a sight to behold. The palace has an incredible history and stands as a tale of revival, endurance and baroque style.  What’s even more spectacular? The palace has a long list of celebrities who have stayed within its walls: Mick Jagger, Michael Jackson, Steve Martin, Plácido Domingo and more. These walls may not be able to talk, but if they could they would surely say, “Come see us for yourself!”

BMW factory visit

Here is your opportunity to see German engineering, famous the world over, in operation as you tour the state-of-the-art BMW factory on the outskirts of Regensburg. About a thousand cars a day roll off the assembly line here, many of them in the BMW 3 series. You’ll see the fascinating production process from beginning to end, starting with rolls of sheet metal that are stamped out into body parts and continuing as the body is built and the various other elements are robotically assembled. You’ll follow a car into the finishing department to see it painted, polished and have the final touch applied—the BMW roundel.

NOTE: If the tour lands on a day when the BMW factory is closed, we will visit the Audi factory instead. The Audi production line is closed on weekends, so if your visit is scheduled for a weekend, you will see the Audi museum instead

"Let's Go" Regensburg hiking experience

Did you know that Regensburg residents raised silkworms at one time? It’s just one of the unusual aspects of the city that you’ll discover on a hike that begins at the ship’s dock. Meet up with your guide and head out along the eastern gate road (that eastern gate was part of the old Roman walls), crossing the river to the narrow streets of Stadtamhof, an island in the Danube that is part of Regensburg’s UNESCO-honored medieval complex. Pause atop another bridge to take a look at boats cruising through the lock and then begin your ascent of Holy Trinity Hill; you’ll have a great view of old Regensburg from Windsor Heights, and you’ll pass some of the beautiful mansions that overlook the city—including the buildings that housed the silk plantation begun by Ludwig I in the early 19th century. Your route continues along the heights, offering views of the entire region: fields, woods, even the Bavarian forest in the far distance. After a brief rest, you’ll head back down to the town and the ship.

Fascination BMW

Don your safety goggles and discover how BMW builds a thousand cars a day at their Regensburg plant. Robots and humans work together to assemble a single car—which has about 550 parts—in less than 40 hours (it used to take weeks). The place is huge, and though robots do a lot of the work, a great deal still needs to be done by the human hand. You get to see all aspects of the process, from stamping out metal parts to painting, in a tour tailored to young visitors.

My town guided young city tour - by students

If you’d rather see some of historic Regensburg, you can experience it from the viewpoint of its modern-day teenagers, who will show you where to shop, stop for a bite to eat at a thousand-year-old sausage stand and find the best ice cream. They’ll also point out all the must-see sights—the cathedral, the medieval bridge and the house where Oskar Schindler lived.

Bavarian sausage-making workshop

  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Intermediate:
  • Transportation:
  • Price: $78 pre-purchase / €68 EUR onboard

Germany’s oldest restaurant, Alte Wurstkuche, has been serving sausages to Regensburg’s residents for almost 900 years—which tells you just how much Regensburg loves sausages. Delve into the craft and art of this delicious regional specialty after a tour of the town’s medieval core (presided over by the splendid cathedral) that ends at the Regensburg Ratskeller. It’s housed in part of the Old Town Hall, so it’s a historic site in its own right, but it’s also home to a family-owned shop where Bavaria’s beloved Weisswürste are made—weiss, meaning white (for veal), and würst, meaning sausage. Roll up your sleeves and help create some white sausage under the supervision of the shop’s master butcher, who shares the traditional recipe with you. Once you’ve weighed and mixed the ingredients and stuffed the casings, you’ll watch them cook to delicious perfection. Then comes the best part: eating your own hand-made sausages with local Händlmaier mustard and a fresh pretzel—and, if you want a truly traditional Regensburg experience in the heart of Old Town, you’ll sip a local beer with it.

*Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences can be added to a booking up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date if space allows. Some venues are limited in the number of guests they can accommodate. Guests can book onboard (space permitting) and pay in Euros. Pre-booked Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are refundable up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date–if inside of 48 hours they are non-refundable. Select Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences require a minimum number of participants and are subject to cancellation (with full refund) if minimum is not met. Gratuities are included. Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are non-commissionable. Prices are subject to change.

In the evening, a special Captain’s Welcome Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you.

Day 5: Cruising the Danube River, Passau

Passau is a crossroads in more ways than one—three rivers meet here and three nations nearly do, making for a fascinating cultural mosaic. Get to know the town and its main claim to fame, Europe’s largest pipe organ, or enjoy an invigorating riverside hike or bike ride.

Passau walking tour

The skyline of Passau is dominated by two buildings that owe their existence to the prince-bishops who ruled the city until 1803: the great fortress looming on a hill above the three rivers, home to the bishops until the 17th century, and the green onion domes of St. Stephan’s Cathedral. As you walk through the cobblestone streets toward those green onion domes, you’ll realize that Passau retains the layout of the medieval town. However, many of the wooden medieval buildings burned to the ground in the 17th century, and the prince-bishops imported Italian artists to build a new cathedral and a magnificent new residence for the bishops themselves. As a result, these splendid structures flaunt Italian baroque and rococo style and ornamentation, complete with opulent gilding and wonderful frescoes. Your guide will introduce you to some of the architectural highlights—the rococo stairways of the New Residence; the cathedral; and the Town Hall, which boasts a magnificent atrium adorned by large paintings by Ferdinand Wagner—and make sure you get a close-up view of the point where the three rivers meet.

"Let's Go" hike along the Ilz River

Put on your hiking boots, grab a windbreaker and a bottle of water, and head out with a local hiking guide and nature expert to explore the banks of the Ilz River. This small but rushing tributary of the Danube originates deep in the Bavarian Forest, near the Czech border, and is just 40 miles (65 kilometers) long. Its upper stretch is a premier whitewater rafting location, but you’ll be hiking along the lower, serene end of the river. Your starting point is Hals-Hochstein, where you’ll pick up a nature trail that follows a curve of the river and then climbs a steep hill, where you have a great view of the river and woodlands. You will cross the river repeatedly, once by way of a dam and again toward the end of your four-mile (6.5-kilometer) hike, as you loop back to the Hals.

Bike the famous Danube Valley from Engelhartszell to Passau

Get into the water this morning: The Ilz River is a great place to paddle a canoe or a kayak—or you could even try some stand-up paddleboarding. It’s splashy fun! Later in the day, you can mount a bike and join a group for a river-hugging ride that starts at the bike ferry across the Danube. You’ll pedal through the lovely countryside between Engelhartszell and Passau—orchards and meadows glide past, along with the occasional castle, charming village or picturesque ruin. Your bike guide will have a surprise waiting for you somewhere along the route, too!

Uniworld looks for the next top model of Bavarian kids fashion, and dumpling workshop onboard

Bavarian Country Cooking Class

  • Duration: 5 hours
  • Intermediate:
  • Transportation:
  • Price: $288 pre-purchase / €250 EUR onboard

Discover the true meaning of farm-to-table! Roll through the lush hills of lower Bavaria--with a stop to at a farm store to pick up cooking supplies--to serene and bountiful Hofgut Hafnerleiten. This rural haven, a compound of guest houses, gardens, orchards and a state-of-the-art kitchen, is a dream come true for your hosts today, Erwin and Anja Rückerl. “Hofgut” means big farm, and this big farm began as a rural cooking school 15 years ago. Erwin Rückerl is an award-winning chef who abandoned a successful restaurant career in Munich to live in harmony with nature, growing the food he cooks. Don an apron and help him prepare a delectable three-course meal of Bavarian specialties; naturally, the menu varies with the season and the fruits of the farm--you might make dumplings or schnitzel or apple strudel--and then dine on the patio with a glorious view of the countryside or inside in the cozy dining room. One thing is always true though: good food, good wine and beer (or a yummy farm-made non-alcoholic beverage), and good company make for the most memorable meals.

*Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences can be added to a booking up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date if space allows. Some venues are limited in the number of guests they can accommodate. Guests can book onboard (space permitting) and pay in Euros. Pre-booked Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are refundable up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date–if inside of 48 hours they are non-refundable. Select Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences require a minimum number of participants and are subject to cancellation (with full refund) if minimum is not met. Gratuities are included. Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are non-commissionable. Prices are subject to change.

Day 6: Engelhartszell, cruising the Danube River

Your ship cruises through a scenic highlight of the Danube today, the Schlögener Schlinge—a hairpin loop in the Danube that was once very hazardous for ships and is now a lovely, serene stretch of water.

“Let's Go” scenic Bavarian river biking

Set off on an invigorating bike ride from Engelhartszell to Passau, led by one of our certified wellness instructors. Wind your way through the lovely countryside, along the Danube’s right side, upstream into the picturesque Danube Valley. These particular landscapes are some of the most beautiful in all of Europe—characterized by expansive vineyards, tree-lined slopes, and castle-dotted hillsides—and seamlessly blend the region’s cultural, historical and natural components together. Make a pit stop halfway at an Austrian beer garden, where you can savor your choice of regional beer. Pedal onwards toward Passau, past more charming villages, meadows and orchards, rounding out your trip in Passau’s Old Town.

Bavarian farm visit

  • Duration: 3.5 hours
  • Strenuous:
  • Transportation:
  • Price: $65 pre-purchase / €56 EUR onboard

Meet a modern-day farm family in a region where tradition lives on. This is a fun--and delicious!--excursion that gives you a taste of daily life on a farm in today’s Germany. A scenic road winding through the Bavarian Forest, Germany’s first national park, leads to the tiny village of Anschiessing, where Christa and Josef Artman (and their children) welcome you to their farm. Cows in the stable, chickens pecking in the yard and a traditional wood-fired outdoor oven all speak to a traditional lifestyle, but these days a small family farm won’t support a family, so the Artmans have branched out. They created a farm stand to sell their eggs and produce; then Christa decided to put her love of baking to good use: she has a bakery truck where she makes and delivers krapfen--fritters--to customers hungry for the hot, sugar-sprinkled treats. Want to try making them yourself? You’ll get the chance. See how to light the wood-burning oven (and taste the bread baked in it), sample yogurt and farmers cheese made on the premises, ramble through the picturesque village. The scenery is lovely and the insight into the daily routine of the region is enlightening.

*Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences can be added to a booking up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date if space allows. Some venues are limited in the number of guests they can accommodate. Guests can book onboard (space permitting) and pay in Euros. Pre-booked Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are refundable up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date–if inside of 48 hours they are non-refundable. Select Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences require a minimum number of participants and are subject to cancellation (with full refund) if minimum is not met. Gratuities are included. Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are non-commissionable. Prices are subject to change.

Day 7: Spitz, Cruising the Wachau Valley

Your ship will dock in Spitz, midway through the glorious landscape, where you are invited to enjoy a private sparkling wine reception at Artstetten Castle. Later in the day, you’ll want to find a comfortable seat in the lounge or on the Sun Deck as your ship cruises through the Wachau Valley. Over the eons, the Danube cut a gorge through the foothills of the Bohemian Mountains, resulting in a 19-mile (30-kilometer) stretch of riverine scenery so beautiful, UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Landscape.

Private sparkling wine reception at Artstetten Castle with a member of the Habsburg royal family

You’re invited to a private cocktail reception at Artstetten Castle with a member of the Habsburg royal family—a direct descendent of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie. As a pivotal part of world history, Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s assassination in Sarajevo triggered WWI. The seven-towered castle, parts of which date back to the 13th-century, remains the private property of the Hohenberg family. It is the final resting place of the archduke and his wife, who are entombed in the family crypt, which you may explore. A museum within the castle walls is dedicated to Franz Ferdinand; you might be surprised to discover that the archduke, a stern military man if one judges him by his portrait, renounced his descendants’ claim to the Habsburg throne in order to marry for love.

Spitz “Village Day”

Treasure hunt hike in the vineyards

Head outdoors to the beautiful Wachau Valley, one of Austria’s great nature habitats. Hike through vineyards high above the river with a nature expert who will guide you in a hunt for the treasures hiding in this habitat. Can you spot one of the orchid species that only grows here in the Wachau? How about the rare native feather grass? Glimpse a European green lizard basking on a stone terrace or a falcon soaring far overhead, but don’t forget to look out over the river and the valley; these views are so lovely, the memory will stay with you forever.

Private Mozart and Strauss concert

  • Duration: 3.5 hours
  • Easy:
  • Transportation:
  • Price: $91 pre-purchase / €79 EUR onboard

Vienna is linked inextricably with music, as so many great composers lived and worked here: Beethoven, Mozart, Strauss, Schubert, Mahler, Brahms—the list is as long as it is glorious. Enjoy an evening of chamber music performed by some of Vienna’s world-class professionals in a historic and intimate concert venue. The music, naturally, will be by Mozart and Strauss.

*Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences can be added to a booking up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date if space allows. Some venues are limited in the number of guests they can accommodate. Guests can book onboard (space permitting) and pay in Euros. Pre-booked Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are refundable up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date–if inside of 48 hours they are non-refundable. Select Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences require a minimum number of participants and are subject to cancellation (with full refund) if minimum is not met. Gratuities are included. Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are non-commissionable. Prices are subject to change.

Day 8: Vienna

The grand dame of the Danube, Vienna was the heart of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and remains, to this day, the political and cultural center of Austria. Klimt painted here; Beethoven and Mozart composed here; Freud developed his theories here. It’s a treasure trove of splendid architecture, astonishing art collections and inviting cafés—and today it is yours to explore. A city tour will show you the architectural highlights of the Austrian capital as well as the legendary opera house in the heart of the city. Or, indulge your passion for art with visits to two distinctively different collections—a “cabinet of curiosities” collected by the Habsburgs and the Belvedere’s extraordinary cache of paintings by Klimt and other renowned artists.

Vienna panoramic highlights with Old Town food and art walk

This excursion has it all! Join us and experience the sights, sounds and flavors of Vienna. Begin the tour with a walk to the iconic and colorful Hundertwasser House before enjoying a walking tour of Burgtheater, the Habsburg Winter Palace and the Fine Art Museum. Replenish with a rest and a bite of delicious Vienna sausages, famous canapes or delightful sweets from Vienna’s best confectionary, Altmann & Kühne. The outing continues with a taste of Viennese white wine, traditional dark bread, and local meats and cheeses before you board the bus to Prater Park, home to the best view of the city thanks to the Ferris Wheel. This is an excursion sure to leave your senses delighted.

Vienna panoramic highlights with World Museum Vienna

Austria’s capital offers a unique blend of imperial traditions, stunning modern architecture and a treasure trove of historic artifacts housed in one of Europe’s most famous museums. See these sights, like the historic Giant Ferris Wheel, on a gorgeous panoramic drive through the city, before stopping in at the world-renowned Weltmuseum Wien, which hosts Austria’s largest collection of anthropological and archeological objects from Asia, Africa, Oceania and the Americas. Tour the ancient relics and other items such as the feathered headdress of Aztec emperor Moctezuma. If time allows, take a stroll through the nearby park to take in the local color.

Segway ride in Prater Park and watch Sacher Torte made or Schönbrunn for kids

Here’s a fun way to see Vienna: Head to Prater Park. Tweens and teens can zoom around the park on Segways, but there’s plenty for younger travelers to do too, including a ride on the Giant Ferris Wheel, built more than a century ago. Unlike American Ferris wheels, which have open seats, the carriages of the Riesenrad resemble miniature railroad cars. It’s one of the tallest wheels in the world, so you get a fabulous view of the city from the top. Back on the ground, you’ll encounter some mouthwatering classic Viennese sweets—because Vienna loves sweets!—by watching the famous Sacher torte being made at Café Demel, one of the city’s most elegant cafés, and sampling yummy Lilliput chocolates at a shop near St. Stephen’s Cathedral. Younger travelers can get a taste of Habsburg splendor at Schönbrunn Palace. At the Children’s Museum in the palace, girls may dress up in the ruffles and brocades of long ago, and boys can don imperial uniforms. Try on tricorns and powdered wigs, flirt with your fan, figure out how to set the table for an imperial banquet—it’s all fun, but it’s also a glimpse into a long-ago world of protocol and grandeur.

Schönbrunn Palace

  • Duration: 3.5 hours
  • Intermediate:
  • Transportation:
  • Price: $76 pre-purchase / €66 EUR onboard

Perhaps the apex of baroque design in Vienna, Schönbrunn Palace’s gardens and structures form a perfectly integrated masterwork; it was Empress Maria Theresa’s favorite palace, and she made it the social and political center of her empire, beginning in 1740. Your visit today will concentrate on the rooms occupied by Emperor Franz Joseph and his empress, Elisabeth (known as Sissi, she was enormously popular in her day). Franz Joseph restored the state rooms to their rococo splendor, but his private rooms reflect his rather severe nature, making for an illuminating contrast.

*Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences can be added to a booking up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date if space allows. Some venues are limited in the number of guests they can accommodate. Guests can book onboard (space permitting) and pay in Euros. Pre-booked Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are refundable up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date–if inside of 48 hours they are non-refundable. Select Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences require a minimum number of participants and are subject to cancellation (with full refund) if minimum is not met. Gratuities are included. Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are non-commissionable. Prices are subject to change.

Day 9: Budapest

Located on opposite sides of the Danube, Buda and Pest each has a distinctive character and allure all its own. Explore this dynamic and multi-faceted city with your choice of excursions—you can see it from a local’s perspective on our "Do as the Locals Do" walking tour, or cover more ground with a panoramic tour.

Budapest panoramic highlights and Parliament visit

This panoramic tour is a wonderful way to get an overview of the city if you have never been here before. It will carry you from Heroes’ Square, created in 1896 to honor the thousand-year anniversary of Hungary’s founding and its greatest historical figures, past some of the city’s most striking architectural sights—Dohány Street Synagogue, the Hungarian National Museum, the state opera house, St. Stephen’s Basilica and the truly stunning Parliament Building—to Castle Hill, which has been called the heart of the nation. The city of Buda began here, when King Béla built a strong keep in 1243 as a defense against Mongol invaders; a castle replaced the simple fortress, and over the centuries other castles replaced that one. The current castle is primarily 18th century; a museum dedicated to Budapest’s archaeological finds is housed there, and the Castle Hill district has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You’ll go inside the magnificent 700-year-old Matthias Church, named for one of Hungary’s greatest kings, and then wend your way on foot to the picturesque Fisherman’s Bastion, whose seven fairytale-like towers represent the seven tribes that originally settled the region. It offers a glorious view of the city and the Danube below.

Note: Visits to the interior of Matthias Church may not be possible on some weekends and Catholic holidays.

“Do as the Locals Do” Budapest walking tour

Get ready for a fun immersion in daily life in Budapest— your local guide will show you how to use the metro (one of the oldest in Europe) to easily reach all the city has to offer. Start with a visit to one of the city’s irresistible market halls. Stalls spill over with produce, sausages and meats, festoons of dried paprika, cheeses, and jars of honey, all of it authentically Hungarian. After you leave the market, stop for coffee and a sweet treat at Szamos Gourmet Palace, a combination pastry shop, café and chocolate maker in Vörösmarty Square. Marzipan is a favorite confection in Budapest, and Szamos has specialized in making it since the 1930s, so you might want to try some—but the shop’s truffle selection is equally irresistible. Refreshed, you’ll be ready to hop back on the tram for a visit to the gracious green spaces of Károlyi Garden, sometimes described as Budapest’s most charming small park. You’ll ramble along the boulevards and pass the Hungarian National Museum, truly getting the feel for this dynamic city, as you head back toward the ship.

Your ship sets sail from Budapest after your tour, cruising along the Danube Bend, which is lined with scenic towns—among them are the oldest settlements in the country—nestled at the foot of lovely wooded hills.

Budapest Rock Hospital

Imagine living underneath Budapest for 34 years in a secret abandoned hospital. That’s what one couple did, tending miles of echoing caverns lined with ghostly hospital beds, boxes of files, gas masks . . . gas masks? Yes, gas masks. The Hospital in the Rock began as a hospital during WWII, when Budapest was besieged, but it became a secret nuclear bomb shelter—and hospital/torture chamber for prisoners—during the Soviet era in the 1950s. It was so secret that once it was abandoned in 1970, a single couple continued to live here as caretakers, telling no one what they did. Explore these once-secret caves, seeing 70-year-old hospital equipment still in place, along with some 200 wax figures that stand in for the real people who worked on this site of heroism and horror. Why was this place such a dark secret for so many decades? Can you help unravel its mysteries?

A special Captain’s Farewell Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you this evening.

Day 10: Budapest

Enjoy a day of leisure, exploring the Hungarian capital to your heart’s content. Other passengers are heading home today, but you are only halfway through your marvelous holiday. Today you have an opportunity to explore Budapest’s treasures at your leisure. It’s a mecca for lovers of art nouveau architecture—the building housing the Franz Liszt Academy of Music is a particularly noteworthy example of the style—so perhaps you would like to take yourself on a tour of some of these beauties. For a reminder of the centuries when Hungary was ruled by the Ottoman Turks, take a look at the 16th-century tomb of Gül Baba (and enjoy a Turkish coffee at the adjoining coffeehouse). Treat yourself to a relaxing day at one of the city’s splendid spas, such as the Gellért Baths, or borrow one of the ship’s bicycles and explore Margaret Island. Your options are many, and all of them are delightful.

Day 11: Budapest, Cruising the Danube River

Located on opposite sides of the Danube, Buda and Pest each have their own distinctive character and allure. Explore this dynamic and multifaceted city with your choice of excursions—you can see it from a local’s perspective on our walking tour, cover more ground with a panoramic tour or “Let’s Go” with a guided bike ride. Vibrant Budapest, Hungary’s capital, offers an enchanting combination of East and West.

“Do as the Locals Do” Budapest walking tour

Get ready for a fun immersion in the daily life of Budapest—your local expert will show you how to use the metro (one of the oldest in Europe) to easily reach all the city has to offer. Start with a visit to one of the city’s irresistible market halls. Stalls spill over with produce, sausages and meats, festoons of dried paprika, cheeses, and jars of honey, all of it authentically Hungarian. After you leave the market, stop for coffee and a sweet treat at Szamos Gourmet Palace, a combination pastry shop, café and chocolate maker in Vörösmarty Square. Marzipan is a favorite confection in Budapest, and Szamos has specialized in making it since the 1930s, so you might want to try some—but the shop’s truffle selection is equally irresistible. Refreshed, you’ll be ready to hop back on the tram for a visit to the gracious green spaces of Károlyi Garden, sometimes described as Budapest’s most charming small park. You’ll ramble along the boulevards and pass the Hungarian National Museum, truly getting the feel for this dynamic city, as you head back toward the ship.

Note: Budapest’s market halls are closed on holidays. If your tour lands on a holiday, we will skip the market.

Budapest panoramic highlights and Parliament visit

This panoramic tour is a wonderful way to get an overview of the city if you have never been here before. It will carry you from Heroes’ Square, created in 1896 to honor the thousand-year anniversary of Hungary’s founding and its greatest historical figures, past some of the city’s most striking architectural sights—Dohány Street Synagogue, the Hungarian National Museum, the state opera house, St. Stephen’s Basilica and the truly stunning Parliament Building—to Castle Hill, which has been called the heart of the nation. The city of Buda began here, when King Béla built a strong keep in 1243 as a defense against Mongol invaders; a castle replaced the simple fortress, and over the centuries other castles replaced that one. The current castle is primarily 18th century; a museum dedicated to Budapest’s archaeological finds is housed there, and the Castle Hill district has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You’ll go inside the magnificent 700-year-old Matthias Church, named for one of Hungary’s greatest kings, and then wend your way on foot to the picturesque Fisherman’s Bastion, whose seven fairytale-like towers represent the seven tribes that originally settled the region. It offers a glorious view of the city and the Danube below.

Note: Visits to the interior of Matthias Church may not be possible on some weekends and Catholic holidays.

“Let’s Go” Budapest by bike

Unicum distillery visit

  • Duration: 3 hours
  • Intermediate:
  • Price: $55 pre-purchase / €47 EUR onboard

It was 1790 when Doctor Zwack, Royal Physician to the Imperial Court, offered the Habsburg monarch a sip of Unicum as a cure for his indigestion. Upon tasting, the monarch exclaimed, “Dr. Zwack, das ist ein Unikum!” Translation: “Dr. Zwack, this is unique!”—thus earning this herbal tincture its name. The beverage, which contains over 40 herbs, spread across the royal court in Vienna, growing more and more popular by the day. Learn more about Doctor Zwack and the Unicum brand and take a sip of history on this exclusive distillery tour. This experience is truly one of a kind and sure to delight the mind as well as the palate.

*Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences can be added to a booking up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date if space allows. Some venues are limited in the number of guests they can accommodate. Guests can book onboard (space permitting) and pay in Euros. Pre-booked Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are refundable up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date–if inside of 48 hours they are non-refundable. Select Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences require a minimum number of participants and are subject to cancellation (with full refund) if minimum is not met. Gratuities are included. Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are non-commissionable. Prices are subject to change.

In the evening, a special Captain’s Welcome Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you.

Day 12: Cruising the Danube River, Vukovar (Osijek)

Welcome to Croatia! This ancient country, which has made a remarkable recovery from a brutal civil war, is noted for its beautiful countryside and thriving folk traditions, as well as simple, delicious local rustic food. You’ll dock in Vukovar, Croatia’s biggest port, at the confluence of the Danube and Vuka rivers.

Vucedol Culture Museum and lunch at a family winery

The bullet-riddled water tower stands as a reminder of the bitter Croatian War of Independence, fought between 1991 and 1995, when Croatia sought to break away from Yugoslavia. Thousands died during the siege of Vukovar, which was heavily damaged. As you take a short walk through the town now, you will see lasting signs of the conflict, but you will also see a revitalized community, determined to rebuild. From Vukovar you’ll head to Osijek, where you’ll visit Tvrda, a military and civil complex begun in 1687 by the Habsburgs after they took the region back from the Ottomans. You’ll also learn something of Osijek’s long history—which dates back to Roman times—and stop by the Church of the Holy Cross, built by the Franciscans after the Ottomans left.

Enjoy an Ajvar demonstration in the courtyard of the monastery, a local specialty made from bell peppers, eggplant and tomatoes. You’ll also learn how to prepare vegetables in authentic Croatian style. From there, the group will split up and head off to different nearby villages for a home-hosted lunch.

Later, you’ll visit the Vucedol Museum. The basic idea behind the concept of this unique museum was integration into the terrain—the entire structure is designed to be mostly buried in the ground and only the façade is open to the landscape. Its shape, as serpentine, follows terrain, and on whose green roof you can reach the archaeological sites over the museum. Along the path, you’ll encounter the various Vučedol culture archaeological findings that have been discovered to date, which showcase the daily life and customs during a turbulent time of the immigration of the first Indo-Europeans and their relationship with the natives, the blending of material cultures and religions. Following your time at the museum, enjoy lunch at the Goldschmidt winery.

Full-day tour of Osijek with private home-hosted lunch

Venture into a lesser-known part of Croatia today. Set off from the port of Vukovar with your local expert, who will tell you about Vukovar’s calamitous experience during the Croatian War of Independence (1991-1995), when much of the city was shelled, and head to Osijek, the capital of Slavonia. Osijek is an attractive town on the banks of the Drava River that combines a long history—settlement predates the Romans, who built a fortress there that was conquered by Attila the Hun— with an easygoing charm and a readiness to embrace the future. You’ll stroll through Tvrda, the baroque military and civil complex begun in 1687 by the Habsburgs after they seized the town from the Ottoman Turks, and see some of the historic highlights via a panoramic tour.

You’ll follow up your tour with a stop in a village just outside the city for a traditional Croatian lunch hosted by local villagers. Translators will be on hand to help you and your hosts converse, so you can actually learn a bit about one another’s lives and interests.

Day 13: Belgrade

Belgrade, the modern-day capital of Serbia, is one of Europe’s oldest cities, dating back some 7,000 years. Signs of its tumultuous history are visible everywhere, juxtaposed with the city’s vibrant modern-day present.

Belgrade city tour with visit to the Royal Grounds of Karadjordjevic Dynasty Palace

As a motorcoach carries you through the city, you’ll see a mix of architectural styles that reveal the city’s past, ranging from Gothic, Ottoman, baroque and art nouveau to utilitarian Communist apartment blocks and modern high-rises. While Belgrade has been no stranger to political upheaval, the 19th-century Residence of Princess Ljubica and serene old residential streets speak of calmer days, as do the bustling present-day café-lined boulevards. You’ll pass the tomb and memorial museum of Josip Broz Tito, which is located at the site of Tito’s former residence in Belgrade’s affluent Dedinje neighborhood, and visit Kalemegdan Fortress, high on a hill above the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers.

Ancient Romans built the first fortress here, and successive conquerors and defenders—Slavs, Byzantines, Ottomans, Habsburgs—continued to build and destroy fortifications on this site for another 1,500 years. Walk along the old stone walls, passing monuments and memorials (some will surprise you—poets and composers are honored here as well as military actions), for a sense of Serbia’s distant and more recent history. It’s not the only intriguing historical sight you’ll see today, however. You will also visit the Karadjordjevic Dynasty Palace and sip a glass of sparkling Serbian wine as you tour a compound of palaces built in the 1920s and 1930s. Serbia’s royal family, which is related to most of Europe’s royalty, has a strictly honorary position in modern-day democratic Serbia, but Crown Prince Alexander (who did not feel that taking the title of king was appropriate when his father died in exile in the United States in 1972) and his family still live in these palaces. A local expert will show you the public rooms of the Royal Palace, the White Palace, the adjacent chapel and the spacious grounds.

"Let's Go" "I Bike Belgrade" tour

Mount a bike and spend a leisurely half-day getting an up-close look at Belgrade, complete with lively commentary from your guide, who will tell you not just about the tumultuous recent past but also what it’s like to live here. Ride past Branko’s Bridge, Staro Sajmište (a former concentration camp), the Palace of Serbia and Hotel Jugoslavija; after a refreshing stop at a traditional fisherman’s bar, you’ll be ready to pedal to Kalemegdan Fortress and see a bit of Serbia’s more distant past.

Meet Belgrade - people, places and little wonders

  • Duration: 3.5 hours
  • Strenuous:
  • Transportation:
  • Price: $96 pre-purchase / €83 EUR onboard

You can’t begin to understand fascinating, contradictory Belgrade without meeting some of its citizens and hearing their stories. Chat, for instance, with the last perfume-maker in Belgrade about his custom fragrances, including one called Belgrade Nights. His shop, with its glass bottles and vintage family photos, evokes a long-ago time when Belgrade was a center of perfume making. Across the street, Black Sheep offers delicious hand-made ice cream—perhaps you’d like a taste of the day’s flavor, which might be pear and crème brulee? Belgrade is passionate about two soccer teams, Partizan and Red Star, and about street art, so naturally the two come together on the walls of buildings. Partizan’s partisans commissioned portraits of famous Partizan fans—but you’ll see that Red Star’s fans have tagged some paintings. In the Skadarlija neighborhood, drop by an eclectic antique shop, and near the Parliament building, meet the charming young women who run a restaurant in a hidden villa courtyard. At the Kalenic green market, a jam-maker lets you in on some of her secret ingredients, and on Gavrilo Princip street, visit a family-owned candy shop that stills makes Turkish delight by hand.

*Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences can be added to a booking up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date if space allows. Some venues are limited in the number of guests they can accommodate. Guests can book onboard (space permitting) and pay in Euros. Pre-booked Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are refundable up to 48 hours prior to the cruise/tour start date–if inside of 48 hours they are non-refundable. Select Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences require a minimum number of participants and are subject to cancellation (with full refund) if minimum is not met. Gratuities are included. Masterpiece Collection Optional Experiences are non-commissionable. Prices are subject to change.

Day 14: Golubac, Cruising the Iron Gates

Head ashore to explore a Paleolithic site and an extraordinarily well-preserved medieval fortress. All along the way, history lines the banks of the river. Keep an eye out for Trajan’s Plaque, which the ancient Romans erected to commemorate the road they anchored in the steep cliffs above the water, and Golubac Castle, built in the 14th century and attacked successively by the Serbs, Magyars and Turks.

Lepenski Vir archaeological park and Golubac Castle

Lepenski Vir is one of the largest and most significant prehistoric archeological sites from the Stone Age, located on the Danube. It was once the epicenter of one of the most highly developed prehistoric cultures, with complex social relations and even rudimentary urban planning. The discovery of this prehistoric settlement has changed the image experts once had about the early Stone Age, expanding scientists’ knowledge about human communities that walked the earth millennia ago.

Later, you’ll visit Golubac Castle, one of the best preserved medieval fortresses in Europe, a powerhouse that has loomed over the Danube for centuries.

Unwind onboard as you cruise the breathtaking Iron Gates, an 83-mile-long (134-kilometer-long) stretch of scenic gorges that were cut through the Carpathian and Balkan mountains over eons by the Danube River. These gorges, which act as a natural border between Serbia and Romania, are among the most dramatic and beautiful sights in all of Europe. This was one of the swiftest and most dangerous stretches of the river before two dams were built: Iron Gate I and Iron Gate II. Construction on the dams began in 1964 and took 20 years to complete; they have dramatically altered the area’s landscape, raising the water level by 114 feet (35 meters) and drowning several islands and villages.

Day 15: Cruising the Danube River, Vidin

Vidin is a port town on the Danube that once played an important role in medieval Bulgarian politics, as the great fortress Baba Vida attests. It’s your base for an unusual excursion today—a visit to the fascinating Belogradchik rock formations. Or you can head to a local’s home to bake a traditional Bulgarian dish called banitsa.

Belogradchik red rock valley

Drive through the scenic Bulgarian countryside to Belogradchik, a small town in the foothills of the Balkan Mountains, not far from the Serbian border. After some light refreshment at a local hotel, you’ll be ready to explore the astonishing rock formations nearby, which are over 200 million years old—and have inspired nearly as many legends! Many of the strange wind- and weather-hewn shapes have names, such as Adam and Eve, the Bear and the Castle. The outcroppings formed a natural defense for the town that was enhanced with man-made fortifications over the centuries. Whether you choose to hike with a local expert to the top of the path or not, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views. Your return will take you past some sights that highlight Vidin’s mixed heritage: the Orthodox cathedral, the Turkish mosque, the Konak (the 18th-century headquarters of the Turkish police) and the cruciform barracks (which date to the 1790s). The final stop will be Baba Vida, whose stern 10th-century stone walls were built on the site of a Roman watchtower.

Banitza home baking experience

Day 16: Rousse

Bulgaria’s foremost Danube port, Rousse is sometimes called “Little Vienna” for its elegant 19th-century mansions and public buildings. You may choose to see some of the town after venturing to a pair of historic monasteries or spend the day visiting two historic hill towns.

Veliko Tarnovo and Arbanassi with authentic Bulgarian lunch

Twice the capital of Bulgaria—before and after the Ottomans conquered the nation—Veliko Tarnovo climbs steep hills above the Yantra River, topped by the ruins of Tsarevets, the stronghold where Bulgaria’s kings ruled between 1185 and 1393. The remains of the great stone walls and towers that you see formed the historic heart of the Second Bulgarian Empire. History lives in this town, as a quick look at the wares for sale in Samovod Marketplace will show you: Handicrafts are all made by local artisans using ancient, medieval or Renaissance technologies. You’ll have time to peruse the exceptional local pottery and textiles there before heading to Arbanassi, home to six amazing 17th-century stone churches, each one decorated with colorful and intricate frescoes. Learn something of the multicultural history of this fascinating town at the Ethnographic Museum and visit the UNESCO-designated Nativity Church, where murals of the Nativity, the Last Judgment and the zodiac brilliantly blend religious and humanist iconography. At another of the churches, Holy Archangels Michael and Gabriel, you’ll hear the otherworldly singing of an Orthodox choir in a short concert. Your day’s adventure includes a traditional three-course Bulgarian lunch, complete with live folk music.

“Do as the Locals Do” Rousse walking tour with Ivanovo and Basarbovo Monasteries

Walk through the woods of Rusenski Lom, a protected region that is home to a wide variety of rare birds, among other wildlife, to Ivanovo Rock Monastery—once an enclave of more than 40 churches and chapels that the devout built inside caves above the Lom River Valley. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is famous for its beautiful and well-preserved 14th-century murals.

Your next destination, the Basarbovo Rock Monastery, is the only rock monastery where monks still live and worship today. Climb the narrow rock stairway to the 15th-century cloister, which is cut into the limestone cliffs high above the Lom River, and take a look at the arresting frescoes. You’ll also spend some time in Rousse, a city with an easygoing, gracious feeling. Freedom Square, a huge open plaza, takes its name from the Freedom Monument, which soars from the center of the square; the stately Belle Epoque buildings surrounding the square attest to the city’s prosperity in the 1890s. Stroll along wide, tree-lined Alexandrovska, the main pedestrian street that links the city’s many attractive squares, encountering such landmark sights as Rousse’s grand theater, the city museum and the first movie theater (it opened in 1896).

In the evening, a special Captain’s Farewell Reception and Dinner will be prepared for you.

Day 17: Giurgiu (Disembark), Transfer to Bucharest

This morning, you’ll disembark the ship in Giurgiu and drive through the countryside to Bucharest, where you’ll enjoy a panoramic city tour or walking tour in the old Lipscani district. Tonight, you’ll relax in the comfort of a luxury hotel located in the heart of the city, Romania’s capital and its cultural and economic center.

“Do as the Locals Do” Bucharest walking tour

“Give a penny for the Athenaeum.” Back in the 1880s, this was the theme for the fundraising campaign that resulted in one of Bucharest’s most beautiful and most beloved buildings: the Romanian Athenaeum. Ordinary citizens, not wealthy patrons of the arts, contributed their pennies and built a jewel-box concert hall with perfect acoustics, which they cherish to this day: It’s called the spiritual and artistic heart of the nation. Start to explore the Bucharest locals love right here with a look at the stately neoclassical home of the George Enescu Romanian Philharmonic Orchestra, and continue to Revolution Square, perhaps best known for the moment when Nicolae Ceausescu climbed into a helicopter on the roof of the Central Committee building and fled Bucharest in 1989. Stroll past the elegant shops in the neighborhood, as you head to Lipscani, the restored old quarter. Just a few years ago this neighborhood was all but a shambles; now it is a lively social center. Here you’ll find everything from a famous beer hall to a spectacularly renovated bookstore, as well as the city’s oldest surviving church and the remnants of the Old Princely Court, where the Wallachian rulers—including Vlad the Impaler—lived in the 15th and 16th centuries. Your walking tour ends at Hanul Lui Manuc, built two centuries ago as an inn and recently restored, where you will take a seat in the tree-shaded courtyard and relax over some favorite local appetizers—perhaps some stuffed mushrooms and a variety of sausages.

Bucharest panoramic highlights tour

Bucharest began as a fortress in the 15th century, a warlike origin that set the tone for its turbulent history. It saw glory days as the summer residence of the Wallachian princes and was burned to the ground by the Ottoman Turks; then Austria-Hungary and imperial Russia fought over it for a century. After Wallachia and Moldavia united to form Romania in the mid-19th century, Bucharest enjoyed a prosperity that was reflected in its extravagant architecture, some of which miraculously survived WWII bombing and Communist building programs. You’ll see Bucharest’s very own Triumphal Arch, which is modeled after the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, and Victoria Boulevard, lined with chic shops and handsomely restored pre-war buildings—and sites where protests brought down Ceausescu’s regime in 1989. These days Bucharest enjoys a lively and eclectic cultural scene, hosting international arts festivals and concerts, and a measure of prosperity apparent in its busy cafés and thriving street life.

Day 18: Bucharest

On today’s agenda—a guided tour of the infamous Ceaușescu Mansion. Venture to the opulent former residence of Romania’s former leader Nicolae Ceaușescu, where you’ll have a guided tour. It’s been more than a quarter of a century since deposed Romanian president Ceaușescu and his wife Elena were executed by a firing squad on Christmas Day in 1989, but now you can roam the opulent 80-room residence where the couple once lived, situated on 3.5 acres of grounds in one of Bucharest’s most desirable neighborhoods.

Ceausescu's Palace: the Dictator's private mansion

The opulent former residence of Romania's former leader, Nicolae Ceausescu, is nestled in one of Bucharest’s most desirable neighborhoods, where you’ll enjoy a guided tour of this impeccable mansion. Thirty years have passed since deposed Romanian President Ceausescu and his wife Elena were executed by a firing squad on Christmas Day in 1989, but now you have the chance to roam the breathtaking 80-room residence where the couple once lived, which had been closed to the public since that fateful day. Get a glimpse into the extravagant lifestyle that Romania’s final dictator and his family enjoyed during a time when most Romanians were suffering, surviving only on food and fuel rations. Marvel at the striking interior, designed by Romanian artists with the influence of Baroque, Rococo, Rocaille, medieval Romanian, and Renaissance styles. See the precious gifts receive by Ceausescu during his reign from famous heads of states, like Charles de Gaulle and Elizabeth II, still sitting proudly on display.

Day 19: Bucharest

Check out of your hotel this morning. If your cruise/tour package includes a group departure transfer or if you have purchased a private departure transfer, you will be transferred to Bucharest Henri Coandă International Airport for your flight home.

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