Rhine, Main & Danube Discovery

Rhine, Main & Danube Discovery

15 DAYS FROM AMSTERDAM TO VIENNA

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: Amsterdam (Embark)

Arrive at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. If your cruise 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 ship.
Note: For Arrival, Departure and Transfer details, please visit Uniworld.com/transfers. For Port Location details, please visit Uniworld.com/ports.

Day 2: Cologne

Today you’ll experience the many treasures of Cologne on a stroll that will take you to the Old Town, an area rich in history and architecture, featuring 12 Romanesque churches and stunning remnants of the town’s medieval past.

Cologne walking tour with Old Town visit

As you walk through the narrow lanes of the Old Town, you’ll find it hard to believe that more than 70 percent of the city was destroyed by bombs during WWII. Much of the rest of Cologne has since been rebuilt in modern styles, but this area was painstakingly restored, leaving rows of colorfully traditional houses surrounding Cologne’s most striking architecture. The Romanesque Groß St. Martin had to be rebuilt after the bombings, but it maintains the same old-world grandeur of the Renaissance-era Town Hall and the famous Cologne Cathedral.

After an introduction to this neighborhood, you’ll have the opportunity to explore on your own. We’d recommend entering the Cathedral to see its impressive art collection, beautiful stained-glass windows and, of course, the Shrine of the Magi.

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

Day 3: Rüdesheim

Your floating hotel arrives in Rüdesheim, one of the most charming ports of call in the Rhine Valley. This city has a long history going back to Roman times and is famous for the Drosselgasse, a narrow, bustling lane of shops and wine bars, as well as its impressive Niederwald Monument.

Rüdesheim walk with local treats

Follow your guide through the cobbled lanes of Rüdesheim while you hear about the vibrant life of this old and fascinating town. Walk down the famously quaint Drosselgasse alley and taste Rüdesheim’s hallmark treat—coffee splashed with brandy and topped with whipped cream.

Rheinweinwelten visit - The best Rhine Rieslings

Enjoy a wine tasting at your leisure with a visit to Rheinweinwelten in Rüdesheim, a local treasure trove of wines that is sure to impress. Try some of the best Rhine Rieslings as you explore a series of 14 wine cellars. This experience can be enjoyed at your own pace and is not guided. There is, however, ample literature and information in each room about every bottle of wine.

"Let's Go" hike from Rüdesheim to Assmanshausen

This fun excursion combines several of the area’s attractions. Start by hopping into an aerial cable car and soaring above the vineyards to the Niederwald Monument, which looks out over the entire Rheingau wine region. From the heights above the river, you and your local expert will hike down through vineyards to the picturesque riverfront village of Assmanshausen (which is lauded for its red wine), where you’ll rejoin the ship.

Note: The gondola to Niederwald Heights is covered but not heated. Cars are open on the sides, and it is recommended that you dress warmly.

Day 4: Miltenberg

The perfect German town calls for a day full of quintessential German experiences. Resting on the left bank of the Main, Miltenberg is classically quaint with its charming squares, farmland, biking and pedestrian paths, impressive castles and one of Germany’s oldest inns.

Miltenberg walking tour with Brotzeit

Nestled between the Rhine and the mountains along its banks, this town has changed little since the 17th century. Explore its iconic half-timbered architecture as you roam Miltenberg with your local guide, taking some free time to shop. Along the way, we’ll stop at the Rathaus—or Town Hall—for a traditional Brotzeit snack and welcome drink.

When our time in Miltenberg ends, we’ll move on to Bürgstadt, a winegrowing community about an hour’s walk away. You’ll have the opportunity to either hop on a bus or join a nature walk to reach this town.

Day 5: Würzburg

The opulent Würzburg Residence, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, offers a true sense of the region’s history through the European Renaissance. It even contains the world’s largest ceiling fresco by Tiepolo. Visit the Residence and its carefully restored gardens or get outdoors and enjoy a scenic hike around Festung Marienberg, a prominent landmark that was previously home to a long line of prince-bishops.

“Let’s Go” hike to Festung Marienberg

Perched on a hilltop high above the city of Würzburg, Festung Marienberg is visible from seemingly every direction. Lace up your sneakers and wind your way up to this beloved landmark. As you make your way to the top, you’ll enjoy the scenery of the Main’s left bank and views of enchanting Würzburg below. It was here that the first church north of the Alps was built in 704 AD, followed by 13th-century fortifications and several additional structures. The fortress was expanded and renovated numerous times during the Renaissance and baroque periods, giving it its own unique flair.

Würzburg Residence visit with Court Gardens

This incredibly lavish 18th-century palace was created under the auspices of two Schönborn prince-bishops, Lothar Franz and Friedrich Carl, who brought enormous knowledge and passion, as well as a budget for the best, to the project. Over the course of 60 years, they fostered the creation of a 300-room palace that contains jaw-dropping baroque art. The magnificent grand staircase boasts the world’s largest ceiling fresco, painted by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. Portions of the building were damaged by Allied bombing in 1945, but, fortunately, most of the historic furnishings had been stored off-site and key rooms were unharmed, so you can see the original and matchless artwork, gilding and statuary. Check out both the spectacular Hall of Mirrors and the imposing Imperial Hall, which boasts a large oval dome and 20 half-columns. Even the gardens have been restored, right down to the topiary fruit trees in the kitchen garden, which are re-creations of the trees grown there in the 18th century.

Note: Visitors may not take photos or videos or carry backpacks inside the Würzburg Residence.

Day 6: Volkach

Your day brings you to Volkach and the heart of the Franconian wine country. It’s a region full of overwhelming natural beauty, rooted communities, marvelous flavors and villages that have been making wine for countless generations. Explore the town and its surrounding countryside.

Heart of Franconian Wine Country “Village Day”

This picture-perfect region is cradled in the curve of the Main’s breathtaking horseshoe bend, wrapping itself around sprawling vineyards, rare wildflowers, countless fruit trees, verdant landscapes and quaint villages. Choose between one of four immersive tours of the Franconian wine country:

  • Bike past the many vineyards of Volkach on your trip to “Wine Island”, stopping for some refreshments before ending your tour with a nostalgic ferry ride.
  • Paddle through the Mainschleife nature reserve by canoe, enjoying the beautiful landscape around you from an exciting new angle.
  • Learn about the role of winemaking in Volkach as you meet a couple local vintners, sampling their house wines during your visit.
  • After appreciating panoramic views of the wine country, take part in a chocolate-paired wine tasting at the “Art of Chocolate” factory.

Day 7: Bamberg

Bamberg in its entirety is not only described as beautiful but has often been regarded as one of Germany’s most attractive settlements, with its ravishing architecture, intersecting canals and rivers, and charming stores and restaurants, all framed by rolling hills.

Bamberg walking tour

Now a pleasant city with a lively student population and a world-famous symphony orchestra, Bamberg was the center of economic and political life for a huge swath of Central Europe in the Middle Ages. Spared WWII bombing, the entire heart of historic Bamberg is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The medieval layout of the city remains intact, along with 2,000 historic buildings; it is yours to explore today. In the splendid late-Romanesque Imperial Cathedral you will find the only papal tomb in Germany, that of Pope Clement II (who was the bishop of Bamberg before he became pope), as well as the tomb of Emperor Henry II (who established the bishopric). Near it are two magnificent palaces: The Old Palace, the late-Gothic imperial residence, sits across from the New Residence, where the 17th-century prince-bishops lived, separated by a lovely rose garden. Cross the cobblestone footbridge to the Old Town Hall, which is adorned with colorful frescoes, and ramble along the narrow lanes lined with picturesque half-timbered houses.

“Let’s Go” treetop hike

Venture into the Steigerwald Nature Reserve to experience the forest from a completely different perspective—high up in the treetops. A wooden pathway winds around the trees, then spirals upwards to culminate in a 41-meter tower. At the end of this walkway, you’ll find yourself high above the forest, enjoying spectacular views of the countryside.

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

Day 8: Nuremberg

Enjoy a day of leisure exploring beautiful and historic Nuremberg.

Day 9: Nuremberg

The archetypal medieval German city, Nuremberg was once the unofficial capital of the Holy Roman Empire, housing many German kings in the Kaiserburg castle complex. Later, this city became the epicenter of the Nazi party. When the end of WWII left Nuremberg almost completely leveled, it was chosen to be the site of the war crimes tribunal—the Nuremberg Trials. Now, most of the city has been restored, including the old castle.

Nuremberg city tour with WWII Rally Grounds 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—and the half-finished Congress Hall.

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

Day 10: Regensburg

The nearly 2,000-year-old history of Regensburg begins with a Roman fort in 90 AD, from which Regensburg grew into the large and prosperous trade center that it became in the last few centuries of the Medieval period. This long history has been excellently preserved through Regensburg’s iconic architecture—particularly its many Gothic and Romanesque churches and Patrician houses.

Regensburg walking tour

People have been describing Regensburg as “old and new” for a thousand years. A single structure perfectly illustrates this: Porta Praetoria, the gate built by the Romans during Marcus Aurelius’s reign. The gate and adjacent watchtower have been incorporated into a much newer building, but the plaster has been removed to reveal the ancient stones laid so long ago. As you walk through the cobbled lanes of the UNESCO-designated Old Town, the city’s 2,000-year history is similarly revealed: the Stone Bridge that made Regensburg a 12th-century trading powerhouse, the Gothic town hall where the Imperial Diet met for three centuries, the 13th-century fortified patrician houses, and the spectacular Cathedral of St. Peter, whose magnificent 14th-century stained-glass windows alone are worth your walk. You’ll have free time to explore on your own; it’s very hard to get lost in Regensburg because the spires of the cathedral are visible all over town, so don’t hesitate to roam. The historic quarter not only boasts almost a thousand beautiful old buildings but also many cozy pubs and some great shopping—and the ship is docked conveniently close, so it’s easy to drop your treasures off and go back for more.

“From Hops Field to Beer Stein” farm visit

Hops vines grow up their strings in a field tower almost twice a person’s height. They’re grown for their flowers, which add a distinctive flavor to beer—but the fields they grow in add a distinctive flavor to the hops. You could call it terroir for beer, and you can delve into hops cultivation and hops brewing today. Travel through Bavaria’s Holledau region, the largest hops growing district in the world, and meet an enthusiastic ambassador of hops growing and beer making. She will give you a quick and lively history of hops in Germany—including Bavaria’s law governing the making of beer, which has specified since 1560 that the only ingredients permitted in beer are water, barley and hops—and lead you on a tour through the growing fields her family owns, followed by a craft beer tasting in the cozy barn turned beer hall. It’s a delicious way to get to know a fascinating aspect of the international farm-to-table movement.

Revved engines

Tour BMW’s state-of-the-art facility with an expert guide and see how their cars are produced from start to finish. Put on your safety goggles and factory coats and watch how massive conveyors lift the 3-series BMW up to be welded by computer-controlled robots. This tour offers a captivating look at the production of “the ultimate driving machine.”

Day 11: Straubing, Deggendorf, Vilshofen

Nestled between Regensburg and Passau sits a town surrounded by the foothills of the Bavarian Forest, Deggendorf. Journey deep into the alluring Bavarian Forest National Park, Germany’s first national park, and discover outdoor leisure at its best. In Straubing, uncover the Bavarian town’s deep-rooted love for all things food and drink. Amid its bustling town center lined with shops, offices, pedestrian areas and restaurants serving up traditional German food and beer, is a city with a fascinating story.

Day 12: Vilshofen, Passau

A new day brings new experiences in the “City of Three Rivers,” Passau, where the Danube, Inn and Ilz rivers join together, at one time bringing an influx of wealth and culture into the region.

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. Stephen’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 grand new residence for the bishops themselves. As a result, these splendid structures aunt 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: The waters of each one are a different color. Because it’s built on a peninsula between the Danube and the Inn, the city has flooded often over the centuries; you can see high-water marks on many buildings (2013 saw the worst flooding in 500 years). 

Ilz River splash

Enjoy an afternoon on the water with the chance to try out rowing, canoeing or paddle-boarding on the Ilz River, nicknamed the “Black Pearl,” due to the moors and bogs at its river basin that give the water a mesmerizing black color. The Ilz is a paradise for kayakers and paddle boarders alike and allows people of all experience levels to have fun here.

Treasure hunt trek

Join a local geocaching guide on a unique discovery of Passau’s historical and hidden spots. Pay close attention to clues and hints as you make your way from one station to the next, uncovering important historical information about your current location. Each station also includes a special activity for kids.

Pedal Passau

Head out on a cycling excursion on the famous Danube Bike Trail, venturing through Passau, Engelhartszell and other fascinating locales. This flat pathway hugs the river and offers spectacular views of Germany’s lush scenery. The Danube Bike Trail is one of Europe's largest, following stretches of the Danube in Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary.

Day 13: Weissenkirchen, Melk

Start your day in the heart of the Danube’s Wachau Valley, strolling through Weissenkirchen’s idyllic wine village while sampling mouth watering apricot treats. Named for its white church that dominates the landscape, the city is flanked by vineyard-lined hills, historic houses and beautiful courtyards. The Melk Abbey is a baroque monastery and sits atop a rocky formation overlooking the Danube.

Weissenkirchen village walk with wine tasting

You’ve seen the apricot orchards along the river banks; now taste the fruit. Begin with an easy walk to Weissenkirchen, which may be the prettiest village in the Wachau—and that’s saying quite a bit. Named for its famous white church, Weissenkirchen is simply picture perfect. Its centuries-old wine estates, houses with colorful flower boxes, lovely gardens and apricot orchards make for a wonderfully idyllic setting between the river and the mountains. Stroll through the town with your guide, stopping at a farm store where local growers display their products, such as wild boar salami, cheeses, jams and traditional poppy-seed sweets. Apricots contribute their essence to many products: jams and brandy, of course, but also chocolates, honey, mustard and chutney, so your stop should be full of fun flavors. Stay in the village and explore a bit on your own or, if you’re up for a hike, join a group on a hike up through the vineyards. A stairway at the church will take you past the ancient cemetery and up to the hiking trail that leads through vineyards planted with Riesling and Grüner Veltliner grapes. You’ll enjoy expansive views over the river valley as you approach your resting point, where you can sample some Wachau wines as your guide explains the qualities that make these vintages unique. Your next treat is an easy walk back to the ship; instead of a reverse hike, you can comfortably stroll back into the village via a different route, passing many small vintners along the way.

Melk Abbey with library visit

The Babenbergs, a great medieval ducal family that controlled a wide swath of Austria before yielding to the Habsburgs, were the first to erect a castle on the hill above Melk, which they subsequently gave to Benedictine monks. These monks, some 900 years ago, turned it into a fortified abbey—and the greatest center of learning in Central Europe. Their library was celebrated far and wide (and still is; Umberto Eco paid tribute to it in his best-selling novel The Name of the Rose). Medieval monks there created more than 1,200 manuscripts, sometimes spending an entire lifetime hand-lettering a single volume. Today the library contains some 100,000 volumes, among them more than 80,000 works printed before 1800. This beautiful complex, completely redone in the early 18th century, is a wonderful example of baroque art and architecture, and the views from its terrace are spectacular. As you walk through the abbey’s Marble Hall with your guide, look up at the ceiling fresco painted by Paul Troger: Those classical gods and goddesses represent Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI, allegorically bringing his people from dark to light and demonstrating the link he claimed to the original Roman Empire.

After your tour of the abbey, you’ll have time to explore Melk on your own, or you can take the motorcoach back to the ship.

Day 14: Vienna

On this day, explore the “City of Waltzes” and dive into its vast artistic legacy with your choice of tours. The city is known for its imperial palaces, famous residents and expansive art collections. See the Musikverein, a beautiful concert hall that is home to the Vienna Philharmonic. Or discover Viennese history at the World Museum Vienna, renowned for its collection of Habsburg family treasures.

Magical history tour

Watch as history comes alive on this exploration of the city at the interactive multimedia venue Time Travel Vienna. Discover Vienna’s eventful history in a unique way; Time Travel Vienna features a 5D cinema, animatronic wax figures, rides and multimedia shows equipped with extraordinary sound and light effects. After, you’ll embark on a humorous and expertly-led walk around the city that will bring you to the historical masonries of the St. Michael monastery.

Schönbrunn royal experience

Learn more about the everyday life of the imperial family at the “Schloss Schönbrunn Experience” Children’s Museum. Dress up as a prince or princess, learn the secret language of fans, play with imperial toys or set the table for an imperial dinner. Schönbrunn Palace, the former summer residence of the Habsburg rulers, is a stunning 1,441 room Baroque palace that’s revered as one of the most important architectural and historical monuments in the country. Marvel at its over 300 years of history that reflect the changing tastes of former monarchs and wander through its vast gardens.

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

Day 15: Vienna (Disembark)

Disembark the ship. If your cruise package includes a group departure transfer or if you have purchased a private departure transfer, you will be transferred to Vienna International Airport for your flight home.
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: Vienna (Embark)

Transfer from Vienna International Airport to your ship. If your cruise package includes a group arrival transfer or if you have purchased a private transfer, you will be greeted by a Uniworld representative and transferred to the ship.
Note: For Arrival, Departure and Transfer details, please visit Uniworld.com/transfers. For Port Location details, please visit Uniworld.com/ports.

Day 2: Vienna

On this day, explore the “City of Waltzes” and dive into its vast artistic legacy with your choice of tours. The city is known for its imperial palaces, famous residents and expansive art collections. See the Musikverein, a beautiful concert hall that is home to the Vienna Philharmonic. Or discover Viennese history at the World Museum Vienna, renowned for its collection of Habsburg family treasures.

Magical history tour

Watch as history comes alive on this exploration of the city at the interactive multimedia venue Time Travel Vienna. Discover Vienna’s eventful history in a unique way; Time Travel Vienna features a 5D cinema, animatronic wax figures, rides and multimedia shows equipped with extraordinary sound and light effects. After, you’ll embark on a humorous and expertly-led walk around the city that will bring you to the historical masonries of the St. Michael monastery.

Schönbrunn royal experience

Learn more about the everyday life of the imperial family at the “Schloss Schönbrunn Experience” Children’s Museum. Dress up as a prince or princess, learn the secret language of fans, play with imperial toys or set the table for an imperial dinner. Schönbrunn Palace, the former summer residence of the Habsburg rulers, is a stunning 1,441 room Baroque palace that’s revered as one of the most important architectural and historical monuments in the country. Marvel at its over 300 years of history that reflect the changing tastes of former monarchs and wander through its vast gardens.

Day 3: Weissenkirchen, Melk

Start your day in the heart of the Danube’s Wachau Valley, strolling through Weissenkirchen’s idyllic wine village while sampling mouth watering apricot treats. Named for its white church that dominates the landscape, the city is flanked by vineyard-lined hills, historic houses and beautiful courtyards. The Melk Abbey is a baroque monastery and sits atop a rocky formation overlooking the Danube.

Melk Abbey with library visit

The Babenbergs, a great medieval ducal family that controlled a wide swath of Austria before yielding to the Habsburgs, were the first to erect a castle on the hill above Melk, which they subsequently gave to Benedictine monks. These monks, some 900 years ago, turned it into a fortified abbey—and the greatest center of learning in Central Europe. Their library was celebrated far and wide (and still is; Umberto Eco paid tribute to it in his best-selling novel The Name of the Rose). Medieval monks there created more than 1,200 manuscripts, sometimes spending an entire lifetime hand-lettering a single volume. Today the library contains some 100,000 volumes, among them more than 80,000 works printed before 1800. This beautiful complex, completely redone in the early 18th century, is a wonderful example of baroque art and architecture, and the views from its terrace are spectacular. As you walk through the abbey’s Marble Hall with your guide, look up at the ceiling fresco painted by Paul Troger: Those classical gods and goddesses represent Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI, allegorically bringing his people from dark to light and demonstrating the link he claimed to the original Roman Empire.

After your tour of the abbey, you’ll have time to explore Melk on your own, or you can take the motorcoach back to the ship.

Weissenkirchen village walk with wine tasting

You’ve seen the apricot orchards along the river banks; now taste the fruit. Begin with an easy walk to Weissenkirchen, which may be the prettiest village in the Wachau—and that’s saying quite a bit. Named for its famous white church, Weissenkirchen is simply picture perfect. Its centuries-old wine estates, houses with colorful flower boxes, lovely gardens and apricot orchards make for a wonderfully idyllic setting between the river and the mountains. Stroll through the town with your guide, stopping at a farm store where local growers display their products, such as wild boar salami, cheeses, jams and traditional poppy-seed sweets. Apricots contribute their essence to many products: jams and brandy, of course, but also chocolates, honey, mustard and chutney, so your stop should be full of fun flavors. Stay in the village and explore a bit on your own or, if you’re up for a hike, join a group on a hike up through the vineyards. A stairway at the church will take you past the ancient cemetery and up to the hiking trail that leads through vineyards planted with Riesling and Grüner Veltliner grapes. You’ll enjoy expansive views over the river valley as you approach your resting point, where you can sample some Wachau wines as your guide explains the qualities that make these vintages unique. Your next treat is an easy walk back to the ship; instead of a reverse hike, you can comfortably stroll back into the village via a different route, passing many small vintners along the way.

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

Day 4: Engelhartszell, Passau, Vilshofen

A new day brings new experiences in the forest-lined district of Engelhartszell. Experience Germany’s great outdoors by biking along the Danube River. Arrive in the afternoon at the “City of Three Rivers,” Passau, where the Danube, Inn and Ilz rivers join together, at one time bringing an influx of wealth and culture into the region.

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. Stephen’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 grand new residence for the bishops themselves. As a result, these splendid structures aunt 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: The waters of each one are a different color. Because it’s built on a peninsula between the Danube and the Inn, the city has flooded often over the centuries; you can see high-water marks on many buildings (2013 saw the worst flooding in 500 years). 

Pedal Passau

Head out on a cycling excursion on the famous Danube Bike Trail, venturing through Passau, Engelhartszell and other fascinating locales. This flat pathway hugs the river and offers spectacular views of Germany’s lush scenery. The Danube Bike Trail is one of Europe's largest, following stretches of the Danube in Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary.

Ilz River splash

Enjoy an afternoon on the water with the chance to try out rowing, canoeing or paddle-boarding on the Ilz River, nicknamed the “Black Pearl,” due to the moors and bogs at its river basin that give the water a mesmerizing black color. The Ilz is a paradise for kayakers and paddle boarders alike and allows people of all experience levels to have fun here.

Treasure hunt trek

Join a local geocaching guide on a unique discovery of Passau’s historical and hidden spots. Pay close attention to clues and hints as you make your way from one station to the next, uncovering important historical information about your current location. Each station also includes a special activity for kids.

Day 5: Deggendorf, Straubing

Nestled between Regensburg and Passau sits a town surrounded by the foothills of the Bavarian Forest, Deggendorf. Journey deep into the alluring Bavarian Forest National Park, Germany’s first national park, and discover outdoor leisure at its best. In Straubing, uncover the Bavarian town’s deep-rooted love for all things food and drink. Amid its bustling town center lined with shops, offices, pedestrian areas and restaurants serving up traditional German food and beer, is a city with a fascinating story.

Day 6: Regensburg

The nearly 2,000-year-old history of Regensburg begins with a Roman fort in 90 AD, from which Regensburg grew into the large and prosperous trade center that it became in the last few centuries of the Medieval period. This long history has been excellently preserved through Regensburg’s iconic architecture—particularly its many Gothic and Romanesque churches and Patrician houses.

Regensburg walking tour

People have been describing Regensburg as “old and new” for a thousand years. A single structure perfectly illustrates this: Porta Praetoria, the gate built by the Romans during Marcus Aurelius’s reign. The gate and adjacent watchtower have been incorporated into a much newer building, but the plaster has been removed to reveal the ancient stones laid so long ago. As you walk through the cobbled lanes of the UNESCO-designated Old Town, the city’s 2,000-year history is similarly revealed: the Stone Bridge that made Regensburg a 12th-century trading powerhouse, the Gothic town hall where the Imperial Diet met for three centuries, the 13th-century fortified patrician houses, and the spectacular Cathedral of St. Peter, whose magnificent 14th-century stained-glass windows alone are worth your walk. You’ll have free time to explore on your own; it’s very hard to get lost in Regensburg because the spires of the cathedral are visible all over town, so don’t hesitate to roam. The historic quarter not only boasts almost a thousand beautiful old buildings but also many cozy pubs and some great shopping—and the ship is docked conveniently close, so it’s easy to drop your treasures off and go back for more. 

“From Hops Field to Beer Stein” farm visit

Hops vines grow up their strings in a field tower almost twice a person’s height. They’re grown for their flowers, which add a distinctive flavor to beer—but the fields they grow in add a distinctive flavor to the hops. You could call it terroir for beer, and you can delve into hops cultivation and hops brewing today. Travel through Bavaria’s Holledau region, the largest hops growing district in the world, and meet an enthusiastic ambassador of hops growing and beer making. She will give you a quick and lively history of hops in Germany—including Bavaria’s law governing the making of beer, which has specified since 1560 that the only ingredients permitted in beer are water, barley and hops—and lead you on a tour through the growing fields her family owns, followed by a craft beer tasting in the cozy barn turned beer hall. It’s a delicious way to get to know a fascinating aspect of the international farm-to-table movement.

Revved engines

Tour BMW’s state-of-the-art facility with an expert guide and see how their cars are produced from start to finish. Put on your safety goggles and factory coats and watch how massive conveyors lift the 3-series BMW up to be welded by computer-controlled robots. This tour offers a captivating look at the production of “the ultimate driving machine.”

Day 7: Nuremberg

The archetypal medieval German city, Nuremberg was once the unofficial capital of the Holy Roman Empire, housing many German kings in the Kaiserburg castle complex. Later, this city became the epicenter of the Nazi party. When the end of WWII left Nuremberg almost completely leveled, it was chosen to be the site of the war crimes tribunal—the Nuremberg Trials. Now, most of the city has been restored, including the old castle.

Nuremberg city tour with WWII Rally Grounds 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—and the half-finished Congress Hall.

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

Day 8: Nuremberg

Enjoy a day of leisure exploring beautiful and historic Nuremberg.

Day 9: Bamberg

Bamberg in its entirety is not only described as beautiful but has often been regarded as one of Germany’s most attractive settlements, with its ravishing architecture, intersecting canals and rivers, and charming stores and restaurants, all framed by rolling hills.

Bamberg walking tour

Now a pleasant city with a lively student population and a world-famous symphony orchestra, Bamberg was the center of economic and political life for a huge swath of Central Europe in the Middle Ages. Spared WWII bombing, the entire heart of historic Bamberg is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The medieval layout of the city remains intact, along with 2,000 historic buildings; it is yours to explore today. In the splendid late-Romanesque Imperial Cathedral you will find the only papal tomb in Germany, that of Pope Clement II (who was the bishop of Bamberg before he became pope), as well as the tomb of Emperor Henry II (who established the bishopric). Near it are two magnificent palaces: The Old Palace, the late-Gothic imperial residence, sits across from the New Residence, where the 17th-century prince-bishops lived, separated by a lovely rose garden. Cross the cobblestone footbridge to the Old Town Hall, which is adorned with colorful frescoes, and ramble along the narrow lanes lined with picturesque half-timbered houses.

“Let’s Go” treetop hike

Venture into the Steigerwald Nature Reserve to experience the forest from a completely different perspective—high up in the treetops. A wooden pathway winds around the trees, then spirals upwards to culminate in a 41-meter tower. At the end of this walkway, you’ll find yourself high above the forest, enjoying spectacular views of the countryside.

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

Day 10: Volkach

Your day brings you to Volkach and the heart of the Franconian wine country. It’s a region full of overwhelming natural beauty, rooted communities, marvelous flavors and villages that have been making wine for countless generations. Explore the town and its surrounding countryside.

Heart of Franconian Wine Country “Village Day”

This picture-perfect region is cradled in the curve of the Main’s breathtaking horseshoe bend, wrapping itself around sprawling vineyards, rare wildflowers, countless fruit trees, verdant landscapes and quaint villages. Choose between one of four immersive tours of the Franconian wine country:

  • Bike past the many vineyards of Volkach on your trip to “Wine Island”, stopping for some refreshments before ending your tour with a nostalgic ferry ride.
  • Paddle through the Mainschleife nature reserve by canoe, enjoying the beautiful landscape around you from an exciting new angle.
  • Learn about the role of winemaking in Volkach as you meet a couple local vintners, sampling their house wines during your visit.
  • After appreciating panoramic views of the wine country, take part in a chocolate-paired wine tasting at the “Art of Chocolate” factory.

Day 11: Würzburg

The opulent Würzburg Residence, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, offers a true sense of the region’s history through the European Renaissance. It even contains the world’s largest ceiling fresco by Tiepolo. Visit the Residence and its carefully restored gardens or get outdoors and enjoy a scenic hike around Festung Marienberg, a prominent landmark that was previously home to a long line of prince-bishops.

“Let’s Go” hike to Festung Marienberg

Perched on a hilltop high above the city of Würzburg, Festung Marienberg is visible from seemingly every direction. Lace up your sneakers and wind your way up to this beloved landmark. As you make your way to the top, you’ll enjoy the scenery of the Main’s left bank and views of enchanting Würzburg below. It was here that the first church north of the Alps was built in 704 AD, followed by 13th-century fortifications and several additional structures. The fortress was expanded and renovated numerous times during the Renaissance and baroque periods, giving it its own unique flair.

Würzburg Residence visit with Court Gardens

This incredibly lavish 18th-century palace was created under the auspices of two Schönborn prince-bishops, Lothar Franz and Friedrich Carl, who brought enormous knowledge and passion, as well as a budget for the best, to the project. Over the course of 60 years, they fostered the creation of a 300-room palace that contains jaw-dropping baroque art. The magnificent grand staircase boasts the world’s largest ceiling fresco, painted by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. Portions of the building were damaged by Allied bombing in 1945, but, fortunately, most of the historic furnishings had been stored off-site and key rooms were unharmed, so you can see the original and matchless artwork, gilding and statuary. Check out both the spectacular Hall of Mirrors and the imposing Imperial Hall, which boasts a large oval dome and 20 half-columns. Even the gardens have been restored, right down to the topiary fruit trees in the kitchen garden, which are re-creations of the trees grown there in the 18th century.

Note: Visitors may not take photos or videos or carry backpacks inside the Würzburg Residence.

Day 12: Miltenberg

The perfect German town calls for a day full of quintessential German experiences. Resting on the left bank of the Main, Miltenberg is classically quaint with its charming squares, farmland, biking and pedestrian paths, impressive castles and one of Germany’s oldest inns.

Miltenberg walking tour with Brotzeit

Nestled between the Rhine and the mountains along its banks, this town has changed little since the 17th century. Explore its iconic half-timbered architecture as you roam Miltenberg with your local guide, taking some free time to shop. Along the way, we’ll stop at the Rathaus—or Town Hall—for a traditional Brotzeit snack and welcome drink.

When our time in Miltenberg ends, we’ll move on to Bürgstadt, a winegrowing community about an hour’s walk away. You’ll have the opportunity to either hop on a bus or join a nature walk to reach this town.

Day 13: Rüdesheim

Your floating hotel arrives in Rüdesheim, one of the most charming ports of call in the Rhine Valley. This city has a long history going back to Roman times and is famous for the Drosselgasse, a narrow, bustling lane of shops and wine bars, as well as its impressive Niederwald Monument.

Rüdesheim walk with local treats

Follow your guide through the cobbled lanes of Rüdesheim while you hear about the vibrant life of this old and fascinating town. Walk down the famously quaint Drosselgasse alley and taste Rüdesheim’s hallmark treat—coffee splashed with brandy and topped with whipped cream.

Rheinweinwelten visit - The best Rhine Rieslings

Enjoy a wine tasting at your leisure with a visit to Rheinweinwelten in Rüdesheim, a local treasure trove of wines that is sure to impress. Try some of the best Rhine Rieslings as you explore a series of 14 wine cellars. This experience can be enjoyed at your own pace and is not guided. There is, however, ample literature and information in each room about every bottle of wine.

"Let's Go" hike from Rüdesheim to Assmanshausen

This fun excursion combines several of the area’s attractions. Start by hopping into an aerial cable car and soaring above the vineyards to the Niederwald Monument, which looks out over the entire Rheingau wine region. From the heights above the river, you and your local expert will hike down through vineyards to the picturesque riverfront village of Assmanshausen (which is lauded for its red wine), where you’ll rejoin the ship.

Note: The gondola to Niederwald Heights is covered but not heated. Cars are open on the sides, and it is recommended that you dress warmly.

Day 14: Cologne

Today you’ll experience the many treasures of Cologne on a stroll that will take you to the Old Town, an area rich in history and architecture, featuring 12 Romanesque churches and stunning remnants of the town’s medieval past.

Cologne walking tour with Old Town visit

As you walk through the narrow lanes of the Old Town, you’ll find it hard to believe that more than 70 percent of the city was destroyed by bombs during WWII. Much of the rest of Cologne has since been rebuilt in modern styles, but this area was painstakingly restored, leaving rows of colorfully traditional houses surrounding Cologne’s most striking architecture. The Romanesque Groß St. Martin had to be rebuilt after the bombings, but it maintains the same old-world grandeur of the Renaissance-era Town Hall and the famous Cologne Cathedral.

After an introduction to this neighborhood, you’ll have the opportunity to explore on your own. We’d recommend entering the Cathedral to see its impressive art collection, beautiful stained-glass windows and, of course, the Shrine of the Magi.

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

Day 15: Amsterdam (Disembark)

Disembark the ship. If your cruise package includes a group departure transfer or if you have purchased a private departure transfer, you will be transferred to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol for your flight home.

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