Wind your way past medieval landscapes on this classic Danube River cruise discovering historic cities like Munich, Salzburg, Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest… and experience the 2020 Oberammergau Passion Play with the Tauck Difference!
Along the "river of kings"... medieval castles and Gothic cathedrals... charming riverside villages... the Imperial treasures of the Habsburgs... lush Wachau valley vineyards... the music of Mozart... It happens once, every ten years… when, as they have for nearly four centuries, the citizens of a little village in the Bavarian Alps come together to create a unique and moving performance event that travelers the world over come to see… On this cruise, you become part of the experience when you witness the power and pageantry of the Oberammergau Passion Play! Attend a private Imperial evening with dinner and music at a palace in Vienna... a wine tasting in Dürnstein... spend a day in Mozart's Salzburg or medieval Cesky Krumlov... discuss contemporary issues and historic events in Slovakia with a resident expert... and enjoy evenings of cultural entertainment on and off your riverboat. In Vienna, see the Imperial apartments at the Hofburg or tour opulent Schönbrunn Palace. Admire frescoes, stained glass windows, and stunning architecture as you spend a night in Munich and two nights in Budapest in city-center hotels, checking out remarkable bridges, cathedrals, museums, and grand Habsburg palaces... it's a Blue Danube River cruise to remember!
Tour begins: 6:00 PM, Kempinski Hotel Corvinus Budapest. A transfer is included from Budapest's Ferenc Liszt Airport or Keleti train station to Kempinski Hotel Corvinus Budapest. Budapest has acquired quite an excellent reputation for cuisine; tonight’s special welcome cocktail reception and dinner is at the grand Akadémia Club in the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Meet your fellow travelers and Tauck Directors and learn about the upcoming days ahead.
Budapest is split into "Buda" and "Pest" by the Danube River. This morning, explore the Pest side of the city on a tour including City Park and Heroes’ Square – bounded by some of the finest architectural works in Hungary – and a special visit to the opulent State Opera House, opened in 1884, with its royal boxes, gilded vaulted ceiling, exquisite murals and three-ton chandelier. Later, you have a choice of a themed walking tour that focuses on the Hungarian Revolution and includes the Parliament building, the Embassy and St. Stephen’s Basilica; a guided visit to Dohány Synagogue; or a guided bicycle tour in Budapest. In the afternoon, you'll have an opportunity to visit one of Budapest's famed public spas, if you wish. The afternoon and evening are free for you to pursue what interests you most in Budapest, as you get set to cruise the Danube tomorrow.
Head up to Castle Hill, a UNESCO World Heritage Site overlooking the Danube on the Buda side of the city, for sightseeing and lunch at a local café. See Fisherman’s Bastion, with its Neo-Romanesque design, and admire the stained glass windows and centuries of history in the 14th-century, late-Gothic Matthias Church (may be closed on some days due to services). Board your riverboat this afternoon in Budapest, and meet your crew at the welcome reception followed by dinner this evening, as you begin to cruise the Danube River aboard ms Joy or ms Savor, bound for Bratislava, Slovakia.
Our resident expert takes you inside contemporary Slovakia and Bratislava for a look at the region's politics, economy, religion, social order, preservation and emergence of the arts. After lunch aboard the riverboat, you'll have a choice of exploring Bratislava's cobblestoned, vehicle-free historic city center on a walking tour – seeing 17 centuries of history eloquently chronicled in its 13th-century Old Town Hall, Baroque Habsburg-era palaces, the Opera House, Slovak Philharmonic Hall, and St. Martin’s Cathedral – or setting off on a bicycling excursion through the city's "Iron Curtain Area." Back on board the riverboat, dinner tonight introduces you to a glimpse of daily life in Slovakia with a taste of regional cuisine and an a performance by a talented troupe of Slovak dancers.
Your riverboat arrives overnight in Vienna, Austria, where an introductory tour of this former capital of the old Habsburg Empire – and its grand boulelvard, the Ringstrasse – precedes a walking tour focusing on your choice of either medieval Vienna or the Jewish district of old Vienna, or on a bike ride in the city. The rest of the day is yours to explore this famous city as you please. Later, nothing compares to the royal treatment and pageantry you’ll experience tonight at our private Imperial Evening in the opulent Palais Pallavicini, a private Baroque palace in Vienna that film buffs may have spotted in the 1940s film noir classic The Third Man. Welcome cocktails and dinner precede an unforgettable spectacle of beautiful ball gowns and a musical performance celebrating the legacy of Mozart.
A choice of sightseeing this morning features a tour of the Habsburgs’ Schönbrunn Palace, an architectural masterpiece and Austrian cultural treasure, or the amazing Imperial Apartments at the Hofburg, Austria’s official presidential residence. Then, shuttles are at the ready to bring you back to the riverboat before we cruise the Danube River through Austria's Wachau Valley; glide past castles and abbeys to medieval Dürnstein, where you'll arrive late this evening.
Wake up in Dürnstein for a closer look at its 16th-century Baroque houses and 13th-century Romanesque church on a walking tour along cobblestone streets; you may also choose to tour a local monastery, or take a bicycle ride. Enjoy some free time in this charming riverside town, perhaps taking an invigorating climb up the steps to the ruins of Kuenringerburg, a hilltop castle above the town where Richard the Lionhearted was held for ransom during the Crusades. Sample the fruits of the Wachau Valley vineyards during a wine tasting at an authentic Austrian tavern. Back aboard, you'll continue to cruise the Danube River through the Wachau Valley, Austria's lush wine-growing region that was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its well-preserved medieval landscapes, to Linz; after the Chef's Signature dinner onboard, enjoy a show put on by members of the riverboat crew.
Your boat stays docked in Linz today, with a choice of how you spend your day – full-day excursions to Salzburg (Austria), or Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic, or remaining in Linz. A setting for The Sound of Music, a Salzburg walking tour explores Old Town, Mirabell Gardens, and Mozart’s birthplace.; enjoy time on your own to have lunch and experience the sights as you wish. Alternatively, travel to Cesky Krumlov; graced with an incredibly well-preserved medieval heritage and charming ambiance, the town has earned its coveted designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its historic importance and physical beauty. A walking tour takes you to part of Krumlov Castle; it’s worth climbing the many steps to see firsthand the medieval, Renaissance and Rococo design found inside, along with the stunning views of the town below. A third option today provides an opportunity to remain in Linz for time explore as you please on your own before returning to the riverboat for dinner.
Wake up this morning in Engelhartszell, a pretty town on the Danube in Upper Austria. After a visit to a local private home (and a taste of local cake, sweets and coffee), you'll have a choice of a walking tour of town including 18th-century Engelhartszell Abbey and Danube World, or a guided tour of the Jochenstein Lock on the Danube, through which ships navigate through the Wachau Valley. Following lunch aboard the riverboat, you may, if you wish, join us for an optional bicycle excursion along the Danube (a fairly rigorous bike ride, for experienced cyclists only). Take in the views from the sun deck, lounge, or the windows of your outside cabin as your riverboat glides into Germany, bound tonight for your final destination, Vilshofen; enjoy a farewell reception followed by dinner onboard this evening.
The cruise portion of your trip concludes when you disembark your riverboat in Vilshofen and travel overland for a two-night stay in Bavaria's Oberammergau region, in anticipation of tomorrow's spectacle of the once-a-decade Oberammergau Passion Play. Settle into your hotel and enjoy the afternoon and evening as you please.
Begin the day with a walking tour of the village of Oberammergau this morning with a local guide, followed by some free time to explore as you please. Early afternoon marks the beginning of one of Europe's most beloved and venerable traditions, the 2020 performance of the Oberammergau Passion Play (or Passionsspiele) depicting the story of the Passion of Christ. In the 1630's, as the plague raged throughout Europe, the people of Oberammergau vowed to perform a play about the life of Jesus Christ every ten years if they were spared from the epidemic... and they have kept their promise. Enjoy Tauck's premier seating – in the best category available – for the performance, beginning early afternoon; following a dinner break, the play continues into the evening. An English libretto is provided to enhance your enjoyment of this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Depart the Oberammergau region and travel to the famed Bavarian city of Munich for an overnight stay. Embark with your local guide on a city sightseeing tour this morning that introduces you to many of Munich's iconic sights, perhaps viewing the Marienplatz, Old Town, the Altes Rathaus, the rebuilt Frauenkirche and St. Mary's Column. The remainder of the afternoon is free to explore Munich as you please. Join us this evening for a farewell reception and dinner to cap an extraordinary Oberammergau experience with Tauck!
Tour ends: Munich, Germany. Fly home anytime. A transfer is included from Westin Grand Hotel Munich to Munich Airport or Munich Hauptbahnhof train station. Please allow a minimum of 3 hours for check-in.
Note: Rows highlighted in green below are guaranteed departures
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