Ask Harriet: Great Rivers of Europe optional tours

Optional tours are a great way to expand your discoveries while letting us take care of the planning and details of your free time when on vacation. This month’s question from 2-time traveler Suzy Rathke of Sun City, Florida, is about our most popular River Cruise.

Q: I’m looking forward to The Great Rivers of Europe and we would greatly appreciate any comments about the various optional tours that are offered. Thank you.

A. Hi Suzy,

I'm happy to share insight about opportunities to maximize your cultural and sightseeing opportunities. Our optional tours offer plenty of opportunities to delve more deeply into the arts scene, enjoy architectural insights, or enjoy some local specialties on The Great Rivers of Europe.

If you want to venture off your River Ship and see the beautiful Danube Gorge aboard a smaller river craft, I recommend the Bavaria: Baroque & Beer tour. Enjoy the ornate Baroque beauty of Weltenburg Monastery—featuring Germany’s oldest abbey—and sample centuries-old beer recipes at the world’s oldest monastic brewery.

Or, enjoy Melk Abbey and its thousands of scholarly volumes, elegantly frescoed interior, and scenic cliffside perch, and hear about its history as a fortress and monastery on our Melk Abbey tour.

If you like strolling Europe’s small cities and villages, opt for our full-day excursion to the 14th century town of Rothenburg, featuring a guided tour of its preserved fortifications and time to explore on your own afterward. You’ll also enjoy an included lunch for a real “taste” of local culture.

Architecture and music buffs may learn more about what are considered by classical-music fans some of the best concert halls in the world on Musical Vienna. You’ll enjoy a concert (which varies depending on your departure date); and a wonderful, in-depth look at these beautiful buildings, most of which are on the Ringstrasse, the historic road lining the Austrian capital’s historic gems.

While some travelers prefer unstructured free time, I find myself regretting not taking advantage of every opportunity for discovery—after all, you never know when you'll be returning to a place again! For The Great Rivers of Europe optional tours, you can reserve your space by speaking with your Program Director when you embark your River Ship. I hope you enjoy your cruise.

How have optional tours enhanced your Grand Circle trips? Please share your travel reflections with me at