Experience an incredible variety of medieval towns and imperial cities, from quintessential Bamberg to classical Vienna, with their wealth of cultural treasures plus the world-famous scenery of the dramatic Rhine Gorge. This fifteen-day river cruise takes you on an amazing journey from Cologne in the heart of the Rhine valley to Vienna and finally Budapest on the banks of the Danube. Your floating accommodation will be one of the most luxurious vessels cruising the inland waterways of Europe. You will be suitably impressed with the high quality, sumptuous accommodation and simply delicious cuisine in such stylish and relaxing surroundings.
Our journey south takes in so many incredible visits and sites starting in Koblenz and then onto the picturesque town of Boppard, continuing through the stunning Rhine Gorge and onto beautiful Rudesheim, one of the most famous wine towns on the Rhine. Next, we cruise to Mainz and then along the river Main to Miltenberg, one of Germany’s best-preserved medieval villages.
The river cruise continues towards Wurzburg situated at the head of Germany’s ‘Romantic Road’ where we have a walking tour and time to visit the amazing baroque palace. Next day it’s onto Bamberg, quite simply one of the most beautiful small towns in Europe and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Having seen so much we are still only at our halfway point on our river cruise. Next we berth in Nuremberg for a guided tour of this historic city, probably most remembered as the location of the trials at the end of WWII. From here we pass through the Main-Danube canal to the picturesque river Danube, one of the most romantic and beautiful rivers in the world, and our first stop, Regensburg.
Over the next five days we take in so much that Bavaria, Austria and Hungary can offer. We stop in Passau and then onto Melk and culminate our time in Austria in classical Vienna, home of Strauss and many great composers. This city offers up so much wonderful architecture as well as a host of other things to see including the Spanish riding school.
Cruising into Hungary, we soon arrive in imperial Budapest, straddling the picturesque Danube. After a guided tour of this palatial city we spend the evening on board, where the Captain hosts another spectacular dinner, an excellent finale to this most comprehensive and yet relaxing cruise.
You fly to Budapest from where a coach will take you to the ship. The dedicated crew will welcome you on board, ensuring you settle into your comfortable and extremely well-equipped cabin and familiarise yourself with the ship, your first-class floating hotel. There’s always a sense of expectancy and excitement on the eve of a cruise, and after an excellent dinner in the stylish restaurant, conversation is sure to revolve around the delights ahead of you.
Our cruise begins in this most beautiful of imperial capitals, which straddles the great river, and we have the whole day to enjoy it. Dominated by its castle, Budapest has been called ‘Little Paris of Middle Europe’ and, with its truly magnificent skyline of soaring spires and grand domes, it’s not hard to see why. Today, Budapest is a collage of ruins from Roman times, Turkish baths from the Ottoman Empire, palatial buildings, Baroque churches and some quite sensational architecture from the Art Nouveau era – all wrapped up in a wonderful atmosphere, enhanced by the unique sound of Hungary’s music and language.
We enjoy a guided tour seeing the main sights such as the iconic Parliament Building, a huge and palatial neo-Gothic building, which dominates the river bank with its striking central dome and lofty spires. You will have the rest of the day free to explore this majestic city and, with a host of fine museums and galleries on offer, you will be spoilt for choice. Alternatively, you might want to wander the ancient streets of the Castle District while you enjoy panoramic views of the city, stroll down elegant Andrassy Avenue or visit the spectacular Central Market Hall, where you can find everything from traditional foods to handicrafts.
During tonight’s excellent dinner, we leave beguiling Budapest behind as our ship glides away from her moorings and our voyage of adventure begins.
Awakening to the gentle lapping of the water and the colourful valley sides slipping effortlessly past your cabin window, there really is no other holiday experience quite like it. Sit back in one of the deck chairs on the sun deck and soak up the tranquillity and spectacular scenery in all its panoramic glory – now you’re really on holiday!
During lunch we’ll arrive in Slovakia’s fast-emerging capital city, Bratislava. Until recently swathed in the drab uniformity of communism, the city has shrugged off its greyness, rekindling the splendour of its imperial past, so evident in its beautifully restored Baroque old town. We enjoy a guided tour after which you are at leisure. Wander the winding streets to the main square, where you will find the former old town hall, now housing a museum dedicated to the history of the city and where you may climb the tower for some lovely views. Equally impressive is the great 17th-century fortress, which dominates the city with its commanding and expansive views across the Danube. Or head for the Primatial Palace with its fabulous Hall of Mirrors and rare collection of 17th-century English tapestries. For something less strenuous, perhaps enjoy a freshly ground coffee or homemade lemonade in one of the many bars or cafés.
Reconvene with your fellow travelling companions in the elegant restaurant to enjoy tonight’s dinner as we slip our moorings once again.
This morning, you awake in Vienna, a truly elegant city and one of the real gems of Central Europe, conjuring up an image in the mind of culture, ornate architecture, elegant cafés, aristocratic palaces, imposing cathedrals and everywhere, the romantic music of the great composers. To be fair the reality is little different and as capital of the Habsburg Empire, which held sway over much of Central and Eastern Europe for centuries, there is an absolute wealth of things to see. At its heart is the lovely Saint Stephen’s Cathedral with its dazzling patterned roof of glazed tiles, then the awe-inspiring Hofburg Palace, now home to the crown jewels and relics of the Holy Roman Empire, the Vienna Boys’ Choir and the famous Spanish Riding School. This morning we will have a guided tour to discover this wonderful city, while the afternoon is free for you to further explore.
This evening after dinner, to celebrate the city’s wonderful legacy, we have arranged a classical recital on board by a quartet of talented musicians. To hear this exquisite music whilst in the city of its creation makes a wonderful finale to the day.
As our cruise ship navigates the picturesque Wachau Valley, we arrive this morning in Melk for our visit to the enormous Benedictine Abbey, situated on a striking and resplendent rocky bluff above the town. This extraordinary building was originally a castle, which was subsequently bequeathed to the Benedictine order in the 11th century and has been a monastery ever since. Reconstructed in full Baroque style during the 18th century, the abbey has many fine rooms and a stupendous library with 100,000 priceless volumes, including many intricate medieval manuscripts. After lunch is served, we cruise upstream towards the German border. Synonymous with breathtaking scenery of course, this wonderful section of our fascinating journey is still something of a secret however, so sit back and relax as the Captain skilfully navigates us through the narrowing valley.
After tonight’s dinner, retire to the lounge for your favourite digestif to reflect on all you have seen so far.
This morning we have left Austria behind, and our first German port of call is the picturesque town of Passau, sitting at the confluence of three rivers: the Danube, the Inn and the Ilz. For centuries, the rivers ensured that Passau was a significant centre of trade, particularly for Central Europe’s precious Bohemian salt. This morning is free to meander through the Altstadt’s tight lanes, tunnels and archways decorated with an Italianate flourish and built by the powerful prince-bishops. See the beautifully baroque Saint Stephen’s Cathedral, where the world’s largest cathedral organ sounds, before returning to the ship in time for lunch followed by an afternoon’s scenic cruising.
Please note: when cruising from Passau to Mainz, the main part of the sun deck is closed due to low bridges.
Our ship moors in the delightful town of Regensburg. Originally a Roman garrison guarding the most northwesterly point of their empire, the town is dominated by its cathedral, the finest in Bavaria. Thankfully spared war damage, Regensburg is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it is a joy to explore this historic gem. Stroll along the iconic Stone Bridge and meander through the ancient centre; see the Altes Rathaus, the town hall with its great Gothic hall, where many of the great events in Germany’s history were solemnised, and be enchanted by the wonderful ambience of the place. Indeed, Regensburg calls itself Germany’s best-preserved medieval city, and it is hard to argue as you wander through the glorious winding streets and alleyways.
Relax on board this afternoon as we cruise on to our next destination, leaving behind the Danube, one of the most famous and beautiful rivers in the world.
Now cruising on the Main-Danube Canal, we call at the historic Bavarian city of Nuremberg, where history buffs will be fascinated by its associations with the Second World War as the site of many pre-war Nazi rallies and later, the International War Crimes Tribunal. What is less well-known is that Nuremberg is regarded as the capital of Germany’s First Reich, the era that lasted 1,000 years and was central to the trade routes and power of the Roman Empire. Today its picture-perfect streets and stunning landmarks, such as the beautiful Gothic Church of Saint Lawrence, can only enchant the visitor and there is plenty to admire about this historic city.
This morning, we have a fascinating guided tour taking in the city’s great ramparts and many fine historic buildings from Nuremberg’s Imperial Age, including the enormous Kaiserburg Castle, Craftsmen’s Court and the market square with its exquisite fountain that resembles a Gothic church tower.
Today we visit Bamberg, quite simply one of the most beautiful small towns in Europe, easily on a par with Prague and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The masterpiece you see today on our guided tour began its artistic journey in the 11th century, when Emperor Heinrich II planned a capital as grand as Rome and selected Bamberg as the location for this, sited on seven lush green hills like its inspiration. Although it never became as large as Rome, it has a wealth of fine historic buildings for its size. See the striking multi-spired cathedral, wander the fascinating tangle of lanes in the pretty old town lined with tall merchants’ houses, and explore the picturesque canal paths reminiscent of Venice, before returning to the ship for another delicious lunch.
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast and relax on board this morning before we arrive and moor in Würzburg, a Bavarian city situated at the head of Germany’s ’Romantic Road’. A former seat of the Prince-Bishops, their truly magnificent Residenz is one of Europe’s finest Baroque palaces, constructed to compete with the greatest courts of the day, such as Vienna and Versailles, which in artistic terms they more than succeeded in doing.
After enjoying a guided tour, the rest of the afternoon is at leisure, allowing you to further explore this picturesque UNESCO World Heritage Site, renowned for its art, architecture and delicate wines.
This morning, our journey brings us to Wertheim, one of those towns which is a joy to stumble across because it’s still relatively unknown on the mainstream tourist trail. Nestling beautifully at the confluence of the Main and Tauber, it’s a patchwork of twisting alleys and superb panoramic viewpoints with a ruined russet-walled 12th-century castle looming high above.
During lunch, we cruise around some of the many meandering bends which so characterise the River Main and arrive at the beautiful small town of Miltenberg. Developing through the Middle Ages under the powerful protection of the nearby castle, surrounded by walls, it is one of Germany's best-preserved medieval villages. Its colourful half-timbered houses and market square, with an octagonal Renaissance fountain, are atmospheric reminders of times past.
Today there’s ample time to relax on board – why not catch up on some reading in the lounge or make an appointment with the on-board hairdresser before our ship arrives at the fascinating town of Mainz, situated at the confluence of the rivers Main and Rhine. An important Roman city for over 450 years, with the largest amphitheatre north of the Alps, it is home to the magnificent Romanesque Saint Martin’s Cathedral and the fine Saint Stephen’s Church, where light flickers through beautiful, blue stained-glass windows featuring intricate biblical figures – a masterpiece by the great artist Marc Chagall. Mainz’s most famous son is Gutenberg, father of modern printing, and there’s an excellent museum housing a reconstruction of his workshop and two original 1455 Gutenberg Bibles, among the earliest books ever printed. The afternoon is free for you to explore.
Later this evening we call at Rüdesheim, a true Rhine wine town with many famous wines available to sample as you wander the quaint backstreets so typical of the area. After dinner, why not take a stroll along the Drosselgasse to sample a small Asbach – the locally distilled brandy.
We spend the morning moored in Rüdesheim, and during lunch you experience one of the real highlights of your cruise as we sail through the spectacular Rhine Gorge. Here the valley narrows, the current is swifter and the towering valley sides soar 600 feet, crowned at every tortuous turn by the precarious ruins of castles, which once held sway over passing mariners. We pass rocky outcrops and around endless twisting bends to the famous Loreley Rock, where legend has it that enchanting maidens lured unsuspecting sailors to watery graves.
It’s not long before we arrive in Boppard, ‘Pearl of the Rhine’; wonderfully situated on a sweeping meander, it really is one of the most attractive villages in the Rhineland. Its delightful stone quayside is lined by boats of all descriptions against a backdrop of archetypical half-timbered buildings and cobbled streets, all surrounded by Germany’s finest Roman walls. There will be some time at leisure before dinner to enjoy discovering this delightful spot. We arrive in in Koblenz later this evening.
This morning, we take a guided walk to explore the twisting streets and picturesque squares of Koblenz’s old town, which is dominated by its immense fortress overlooking the confluence of the Rhine and the Moselle.
This afternoon, sink into a comfy chair in the lounge and enjoy our last stretch of cruising as we make our final passage into Cologne in the shadow of the magnificent Gothic cathedral, for which the city is so famous. It is a truly staggering building, which took 600 years to build and has the most intricate stained glass in Europe.
During the Captain’s Dinner this evening, you’ll enjoy the delicious specialities of the places we have visited, as you recall the sights you have seen and the people you have met on this exceptional cruise through the heart of Europe.
After breakfast, it’s time to say goodbye to your crew and transfer to the airport for your flight home, or to Brussels for the Eurostar service to London St Pancras International.
Prices are per person, based on two people sharing a twin cabin with a limited number of single cabins available on all decks, at the relevant supplement. The price includes full board from dinner on your day of arrival until breakfast on your final day; if you choose to travel with us on any of the full day excursions by coach, a packed lunch will be provided. Anyone choosing to stay on the ship may of course have lunch in the restaurant; morning/afternoon tea and coffee; all visits and excursions as mentioned in the brochure, airport transfers, coach travel as mentioned, travel to and from port of embarkation and the services of a Riviera Travel Cruise Director and Concierge.
While we include everything you might need in our prices, we never charge for something you might not. If you prefer to pre-order your drinks, you can purchase our drinks package which offers a selection of drinks during lunch and dinner.
Simply relax and when it’s time to dine in the restaurant, take your pick from a range of: draught beer; non-alcoholic beer; soft drinks; juices; red, white and rosé house wines; and wine recommendations from the menu by the glass.
If you choose not to purchase a drinks package, there is a vast selection of drinks on board each ship available for individual purchase. To see an example bar list please see our dining information.
Drinks packages must be purchased by all guests in the same cabin or suite, and do not include drinks from the bar. To book the drinks package please call the reservations team.
All transfer times listed here are approximate, and dependent on traffic. If you have a question regarding transfer times please don't hesitate to contact us.
|Airport or train station||Ship location||Transfer time|
|Cologne Airport||30 mins|
|Brussels Station||3 hrs 30 mins including comfort stop|
|Budapest Airport||Budapest||45 mins|
We want to ensure you make the correct choice before you book your holiday with us. If you have any concerns regarding the suitability of the holiday due to reduced mobility we would encourage you to call us to discuss these concerns. General information on mobility in connection with our tours can be found here.
Low Locks & Bridges
Due to locks and low bridges along this stretch of river, the rear main part of the sun deck will be closed between Mainz and Passau. The other outside areas in front of the lounge, the lido bar and the lower section of the sun deck in front of the wheel house are still accessible.