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The Leader in Small Ship and River Cruising Worldwide

Worldwide Discovery at Extraordinary Value Since 1958

2016 Old World Prague & the Blue Danube

Sold out in 2016 , Join us in 2017

ABOARD OUR PRIVATELY OWNED 140- TO 164-PASSENGER SHIPS DESIGNED FOR AMERICAN TRAVELERS

Budapest, Hungary • Bratislava, Slovakia • Austria: Vienna, Durnstein, Melk • Prague, Czech Republic

Trip Experience

Watch travelers explore Budapest, Bratislava, and Prague on walking tours of each city.

Trip Itinerary

Get more information about your detailed itinerary, like optional tours and exclusive Discovery Series events.

Program Director

Get an inside look into Program Director Tereza Libichova's life outside of guiding.

Program Director

Find out why Istvan Pinter thinks the Hospital in the Rock and Market Hall are must-sees when in Budapest.

Trip Extension: Poland

See travelers exploring Krakow and Warsaw, including a visit to Auschwitz, on their optional extension.

Courtesy Small World Productions
Prague and Budapest

Join travel expert Rudy Maxa to discover the Old World splendor on display in Prague and Budapest.

Courtesy BBC.com Travel
The Heart of Prague Pumps Lager

Toast to pilsner, and learn about the famous pale lager that has satisfied Czech beer fans since 1842.

©2014 The New York Times
36 Hours in Vienna

Discover the modern food scene, imperial heritage, and artisanal offerings that await in Vienna.

Courtesy Regina Fraser, Pat Johnson and Kathy Monk
Poland – Warsaw and Krakow: Sophisticated Sister Cities

Join the Grannies on Safari for a preview of the cultural delights on display during our trip extension to Poland.

Courtesy Small World Productions
Salzburg and the Lakes District

Accompany travel expert Rudy Maxa to Salzburg, and sample the sights you can experience on our optional tour.

Courtesy Andras Deak
Budapest, Belvárosi, Nagyboldogasszony, Plébánia

Embark on a bird's-eye-view tour of the commanding "Queen of the Danube," in this incredible drone-shot film.

Courtesy CNN
The Best Puppet Show in Prague

Local artists show off their favorite spots in Prague—from a marionette workshop to a pub.

Courtesy CNN
Europe's Creative Hub

See how Berlin’s modern scene thrives alongside its ever-present history through the eyes of creative locals.

Courtesy CNN
Berlin's hidden charm

From concert halls to currywurst stands—Berlin’s locals show you their favorite side of the city.

Sold out in 2016 , Join us in 2017
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Itinerary Overview

This Danube River Cruise Tour follows in the footsteps of the Habsburgs, showcasing the historic European river port cities of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire—among central Europe’s most riveting destinations. Among this trip's unique included features are a tour of Austria’s renowned Melk Abbey, charming Durnstein, dramatic Bratislava, Slovakia—a destination often missed by American travelers—and included tours of such scenic capitals as Prague, Vienna, and Budapest. You'll also enjoy free time to explore these unforgettable locales on your own. Round out your Central European River Cruise Tour with our exclusive Discovery Series events and a selection of optional tours. 

Day-to-Day Itinerary

  • 3 nights from only $595

    Experience Budapest, the lively capital of Hungary and both the political and cultural heart of the nation. Full of monuments to its past, it is also a place of contemporary arts and culture, cafes and restaurants, and museums and galleries—all enhanced by the presence of the mighty Danube.

    View Extension Itinerary
  • Fly from one of several U.S. gateway cities to Budapest, Hungary.

  • View Budapest from aboard the MS Adagio

    Arriving in Budapest, you'll be met at the airport by a Grand Circle representative and transferred to your ship.

    Gather in the early evening and mingle with your fellow travelers. Throughout your Danube River Cruise Tour, you'll enjoy “Port Talks” every evening. Your Program Director will describe the approaching port area and town prior to arrival so you can prepare for the next day's tour and any free time you may have at the next port-of-call. Tonight you'll learn a bit about Budapest before enjoying dinner aboard ship. Then enjoy a scenic cruise as the ship crosses from the Buda side of the Danube to Pest.

  • After breakfast, set off on a tour of Hungary’s lovely capital, situated on both sides of the magnificent Danube River. In Buda, on the western bank of the Danube, you’ll see Castle Hill, encircled by ramparts that protect the massive castle complex. Destroyed during World War II, the palace has been restored, approximating its original splendor, and it is now a vast museum complex, where remains of the original structure are displayed.

    Later, cross the Danube and see Heroes’ Square, with its Millennial Column set off by equestrian statues of historic ninth-century Magyar conquerors. The adjoining colonnade displays more statues of kings, dukes of Transylvania, and liberty fighters who influenced the history of Hungary. 

    Following lunch onboard, enjoy free time in Budapest to explore on your own. Perhaps you'll visit the Church of Our Lady, formerly used for the coronations of Hungarian kings. Its popular name of Matthias is in recognition of the Renaissance king who ruled in the 15th century and whose heraldic sign—a raven—is displayed on one of the towers of the church. Dating back to the 13th century, the structure is an interesting mix of architectural styles used during reconstruction of the building at different times in its history. Note that during the 150-year Turkish occupation of Hungary, the church served as Eski Djami (Old Mosque) for the Turks. Inside the church you can view art of Bertalan Szekely and Karoly Lotz, 19th-century Hungarian painters.

    Tonight, enjoy a Captain's Welcome Dinner.

  • Enjoy the morning at leisure to continue exploring Budapest, or choose to join an optional tour to discover the fascinating Hospital in the Rock. Connected to underground caves below Castle Hill in Buda, this hospital that tended to scores of sick and wounded during World War II, and again during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. It was even concerted into a nuclear fallout shelter during the Cold War. Today, it is a museum, with wax figures in period clothing and vintage medical equipment giving visitors a feel for the intensity of the work performed here.

    Then, return to the ship for lunch on board and begin your Central European River Cruise towards Bratislava. As you do, you'll enjoy scenic views of the historic city of Esztergom, along with riverside views of the remarkable 16th-century basilica that stands near the banks of the Danube.

    Tonight, learn about a few of the cherished customs of Central Europe, passed down through the generations, through the lens of your Program Director's personal experiences during an exclusive Discovery Series discussion.

  • Explore Slovakia's capital city Bratislava

    Arrive in Bratislava this morning. After breakfast onboard, you'll enjoy an included walking tour of Slovakia's capital, the famous Danube city with a picturesque setting at the foot of the Little Carpathian Mountains. Once the capital of Hungary, Bratislava has a history going back to Celtic and Roman times. The Slavs settled here in the fifth century under their ruler Bretislav.

    Under Hungarian rule, the city was called Pozsony. Its German-speaking settlers called it Pressburg, and since 1918 it has been called by its Slavic name: Bratislava. Your tour of the city features the Old Town, the historic heart of Bratislava, where you view beautiful St. Martin's Cathedral, built in the 14th and 15th centuries. Walk through the pedestrian zone to Michael's Gate with its 15th-century tower, offering excellent views of the city.

    You'll also stroll by the Old Town Hall and the Neo-classical Archbishop's Palace. In the Palace's Hall of Mirrors, Napoleon and the Austrian Emperor Francis I signed the historic Peace of Pressburg after the battle of Austerlitz in 1805. Bratislava is dominated by its massive square castle, which was a favorite residence of the Habsburg Queen, Maria Theresa, and other aristocrats whose lovely houses cluster in the old town below the castle.

    After your walk, visit a local school supported in part by Grand Circle Foundation for an exclusive Discovery Series event. If you visit on a day when the school is not in session (weekends or during summer and national holidays), you'll partake in an alternate exclusive Discovery Series discussion about Bratislava's next generation. Then, immerse yourself further in local life when you visit the home of an area family for a Home-Hosted Visit complete with coffee and cake.

    Tonight, enjoy dinner onboard with your fellow travelers.

  • 36 Hours in Vienna

    Discover the modern food scene, imperial heritage, and artisanal offerings that await in Vienna.

    After breakfast, set off on an included tour of Vienna, Austria, including the Ringstrasse—Vienna's grand main boulevard—one of the many achievements of the Emperor Franz Joseph. In 1857, the Emperor ordered the demolition of the ancient city walls, which were no longer needed as fortifications and were impeding the growth of the city. In their place was constructed an elegant 2.5 mile-long boulevard, encircling the city center. The Neo-classical buildings along the Ringstrasse bring together all the greatest architectural styles in an exuberant celebration of all that seemed possible during the Industrial Revolution.

    Our stroll continues along the city sidewalks, passing by the well-known Imperial Palace, home to many generations of the Habsburg family, and the renowned Spanish Riding School.

    After returning to the ship for lunch, the balance of your day is free for relaxing or exploring on your own. You may want to stroll through the old Jewish Quarter to see the only Viennese synagogue to have survived the 1938 Kristallnacht.

    Perhaps you'll explore Austria's capital aboard a fiaker. These horse-drawn carriages have been in business since the 17th century, and your driver will show you the sights and delight you with Viennese anecdotes. You'll also find out for yourself whether or not it's true that drivers whistle strains of Mozart's beloved Magic Flute as they conduct passengers through the city.

    After an early dinner onboard, enjoy free time on your own. Or, join us tonight for an unforgettable optional excursion to one of Vienna's famed concert halls, where you'll be enchanted by the classical Austrian music of Strauss and Mozart.

  • See Schonbrunn Palace on an optional tour in Vienna

    This morning, discover more of Vienna's charms on your own.

    Or, join us for an optional tour of the expansive summer estate of Habsburg royalty, Schoenbrunn Palace (whose name means “beautiful spring”). Featuring 1,400 rooms, meticulously maintained gardens, and an architectural legacy that stretches back to the 17th century, the palace is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Your visit includes a tour of palace highlights and free time to spend exploring the palace's stunning park and gardens.

    As you cruise this afternoon, learn the secrets of Apfelstrudel during an exclusive Discovery Series baking demonstration—and sample the delicious pastry hot from the oven. Then tour the galley to see where your chef creates his sumptuous meals.

    After dinner tonight onboard, relax with your fellow travelers.

  • View Melk Abbey while touring Austria

    This morning you will disembark and visit the picturesque city of Durnstein, which is said to take its name from both the area's rocky terrain and the medieval castle overlooking the town proper (the German words duerr and stein mean “dry” and “stone,” respectively).

    In the late twelfth century, Britain's King Richard the Lionheart was held captive in this castle by Duke Leopold V, an Austrian noble who had fought alongside the king during the Crusades—and who was reportedly seeking retribution against Richard for slighting him during the siege of Acre.

    Return to the ship later this morning and enjoy the stunning scenery moving past your eyes while cruising along one of the most beautiful parts of the Danube—the Wachau Valley. This UNESCO World Heritage Site consists of a landscape of sculpted hills and medieval towns built along the river.

    You'll arrive in Melk in the mid-afternoon to discover the historic, 900-year-old Baroque Melk Abbey on an included tour. This magnificently ornate structure has a long and storied history. Strategically situated on a steep, cliffside perch, Melk Abbey's earliest incarnation was as a Roman border post. Later, it served as a tenth-century Babenberg fortress. It became a Benedictine monastery in 1089 and earned a distinguished reputation for medieval scholarship. Its library includes more than 70,000 books and 2,000 manuscripts, chiefly from the ninth through the 15th centuries.

    The Abbey houses a remarkable cherub-filled library of thousands of books and manuscripts, and 365 windows—one for every day of the year. The interior of the Abbey's church is a kaleidoscope of red, orange, and gold—with a magnificent carved pulpit and shimmering ceiling frescoes. During your tour, you'll get the chance to observe and explore up close, learning more about Melk Abbey's fascinating story.

     

  • Discover Linz on your own today, or set off on a full-day optional excursion to Salzburg, the beautiful medieval city where the musical genius Amadeus Mozart was born. Those who remain forever enchanted by the film classic The Sound of Music may feel like they've been here before, as many of the movie's scenes were shot here.

    Your day begins with a scenic two-hour motorcoach ride, during which you'll take in the picturesque Austrian countryside. Nestled along the border of the Alps, Salzburg has been settled for thousands of years and remains a center of culture and education to this day, with three universities and a thriving arts community. It is also rich with historic churches, palaces, and castles.  

    The city's skyline is dominated by the imposing Hohensalzburg fortress and adorned by the delicate Baroque steeples of its churches. On your walking tour, you'll view many of Salzburg's historic landmarks and discover the charm of Salzburg's romantic lanes, picturesque alleyways, and wrought iron guild signs.

    After lunch at a local restaurant, you'll have free time to explore on your own. You might want to visit the small museum in the house where Mozart was born in 1756, located on the Getreidegasse in Salzburg's Old Town. And, while in Old Town, be sure to take in the magnificent Salzburg Dom, where the great composer was baptized. Spend time in some of the city's many museums and galleries, or explore Schloss Mirabell, whose enchanting gardens were constructed by the Baroque master builder Lukas von Hildebrandt. Perhaps you will view the Felsenreitschule, an impressive Baroque theater that is today the home of the Salzburg Festival, or the city's beloved Schloss Hellbrunn, whose Wasserspiele section is home to a series of unique fountains and water-powered displays.

    You'll return to Linz in the late afternoon. Tonight, gather with your fellow travelers for a special Captain's Farewell Dinner.

  • View the soaring towers of Prague

    This morning, disembark in Linz and begin your transfer to Prague in the Czech Republic. Along the way, you’ll stop in the medieval town of Cesky Krumlov, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, for an included lunch at a local restaurant.

    You arrive in Prague in the late afternoon and check into your hotel. Your evening is at leisure. Dinner tonight is on your own.

  • Explore Prague's Golden Lane

    After breakfast, we set out to explore Prague. During the reign of Charles IV, King of Bohemia and Moravia, Prague was the seat of the Holy Roman Empire. Later, it was the vital center of the Habsburgs. While other European capitals were leveled during World War II, Prague survived virtually intact.

    You'll visit Stare Mesto, the Old Town, with its many wonderful Gothic and Baroque buildings, and see the famous 15th-century astronomical clock at the Old Town Hall. Every hour, crowds assemble below to watch Christ and the twelve Apostles appear at two little windows above the clock face, followed by the skeleton of Death tolling the bell. You'll also walk across the city's famed Charles Bridge, a 15th-century structure spanning the Vltava River that functions as a makeshift performance and gallery space for musicians, artists, dancers, and more.

    After lunch on your own, you can choose to spend some more time in the early afternoon exploring Prague at your own pace, or return to your hotel by subway, accompanied by your Program Director.

    Tonight you’ll enjoy dinner on your own.

  • Prague and Budapest

    Join travel expert Rudy Maxa to discover the Old World splendor on display in Prague and Budapest.

    Enjoy the morning at leisure to explore Prague on your own. As it was during the zenith of the Bohemian kingdom, Prague still ranks as the thriving center of the country, with an artistic community reminiscent of Paris in the 1920s. Here you'll find one of Europe's most notable Jewish quarters, world-class museums and cathedrals, and architectural masterpieces that span a thousand years.

    Or, join an optional tour to Terezin, which served as a transit point to the Nazi death camps and the site of the "ghetto-camp" of Theresienstadt. Many of the people sent here were among Europe’s most gifted composers, writers, and artists—and the works they created as inmates serve as a permanent memorial to all those who lost their lives.

    Tonight, join your fellow travelers for a Farewell Dinner at a local restaurant.

    • Meals included:

    After breakfast, you'll be transferred to the airport for your flight home. Or begin your post-trip extension in the Highlights of Poland or Dresden & Berlin, Germany.

  • POST-TRIP EXTENSION:
    Berlin & Dresden, Germany

    5 nights from only $895

    Discover two of Germany’s best-loved cities: Dresden, a city risen from the ashes of World War II to reclaim its place as an intellectual and cultural center, and Berlin, the imperial capital turned epicenter of the Third Reich whose eventual liberation affected us all.

    View Extension Itinerary
  • POST-TRIP EXTENSION:
    Highlights of Poland: Warsaw & Krakow

    5 nights from only $995

    Immerse yourself among the highlights of Poland, and discover all that Warsaw and Krakow have to offer. Explore the history and charm of Warsaw’s Old Town on an included city tour, discover Krakow’s rich architecture and culture with your expert Program Director at your side, and with your fellow travelers, pay a memorable—and moving—visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Auschwitz.

    View Extension Itinerary
  • 5 nights from only $895

    Discover two of Germany’s best-loved cities: Dresden, a city risen from the ashes of World War II to reclaim its place as an intellectual and cultural center, and Berlin, the imperial capital turned epicenter of the Third Reich whose eventual liberation affected us all.

    View Extension Itinerary
  • 5 nights from only $995

    Immerse yourself among the highlights of Poland, and discover all that Warsaw and Krakow have to offer. Explore the history and charm of Warsaw’s Old Town on an included city tour, discover Krakow’s rich architecture and culture with your expert Program Director at your side, and with your fellow travelers, pay a memorable—and moving—visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Auschwitz.

    View Extension Itinerary
  • Fly from one of several U.S. gateway cities to Prague, Czech Republic.

  • Explore Prague's Old Town Square and view Tyn Cathedral

    Arriving in Prague, you'll be met at the airport by a Grand Circle representative and transferred to your hotel. Depending on your arrival time and hotel check-in policy, you may not be able to check into your hotel immediately upon arrival. Your Program Director will advise you of your check-in status and activity schedule for the day when you arrive.

    You have the balance of the day to relax after your overseas flight. You may want to join your Program Director for an orientation walk to get better acquainted with the area around your hotel. Celebrate your arrival in Prague and beginning of your Danube River Cruise Tour with a Welcome Drink and a short orientation briefing, and get acquainted with your traveling companions and your Program Director. This evening, enjoy dinner on your own.

  • Prague and Budapest

    Join travel expert Rudy Maxa to discover the Old World splendor on display in Prague and Budapest.

    After breakfast, we set out to explore Prague. During the reign of Charles IV, King of Bohemia and Moravia, Prague was the seat of the Holy Roman Empire. Later, it was the vital center of the Habsburgs. While other European capitals were leveled during World War II, Prague survived virtually intact.

    You'll visit Stare Mesto, the Old Town, with its many wonderful Gothic and Baroque buildings, and see the famous 15th-century astronomical clock at the Old Town Hall. Every hour, crowds assemble below to watch Christ and the twelve Apostles appear at two little windows above the clock face, followed by the skeleton of Death tolling the bell. You'll also walk across the city's famed Charles Bridge, a 15th-century structure spanning the Vltava River that functions as a makeshift performance and gallery space for musicians, artists, dancers, and more.

    After lunch on your own, you can choose to spend some more time in the early afternoon exploring Prague at your own pace, or return to your hotel by subway, accompanied by your Program Director.

    This evening, savor a special Welcome Dinner at a local restaurant.

  • Explore Prague's Golden Lane

    Enjoy the morning at leisure to explore Prague on your own. As it was during the zenith of the Bohemian kingdom, Prague still ranks as the thriving center of the country, with an artistic community reminiscent of Paris in the 1920s. Here you'll find one of Europe's most notable Jewish quarters, world-class museums and cathedrals, and architectural masterpieces that span centuries.

    Or, join an optional tour to Terezin, which served as a transit point to the Nazi death camps and the site of the "ghetto-camp" of Theresienstadt. Many of the people sent here were among Europe’s most gifted composers, writers, and artists—and the works they created as inmates serve as a permanent memorial to all those who lost their lives.

  • View scenic Cesky Krumlov while cruising through the Czech Republic

    After breakfast at your hotel, transfer to Linz, Austria. Along the way, and prior to crossing the border into Austria, enjoy a walking tour of Cesky Krumlov—a medieval town and UNESCO World Heritage Site—followed by an included lunch at a local restaurant.

    Embark your ship in Linz late this afternoon. Then, gather to mingle with your fellow travelers. Throughout your Central European River Cruise, you'll hear “Port Talks” every evening. Your Program Director will describe the approaching port area and town prior to arrival so you can prepare for the next day's tour, and so you'll be able to make the best use of your free time at the next day's port-of-call.

    After this evening's Port Talk, enjoy the Captain's Welcome Dinner.

  • See Hohensalzburg fortress located in Salzburg

    Discover Linz on your own today, or set off on a full-day optional excursion to Salzburg, the beautiful medieval city where the musical genius Amadeus Mozart was born. Those who remain forever enchanted by the film classic The Sound of Music may feel like they've been here before, as many of the movie's scenes were shot here.

    Your day begins with a scenic two-hour motorcoach ride, during which you'll take in the picturesque Austrian countryside. Nestled along the border of the Alps, Salzburg has been settled for thousands of years and remains a center of culture and education to this day, with three universities and a thriving arts community. It is also rich with historic churches, palaces, and castles.  

    The city's skyline is dominated by the imposing Hohensalzburg fortress and adorned by the delicate Baroque steeples of its churches. On your walking tour of Salzburg, Austria, you'll view many of the city's historic landmarks and discover the charm of Salzburg's romantic lanes, picturesque alleyways, and wrought-iron guild signs.

    After lunch at a local restaurant, you'll have free time to explore on your own. You might want to visit the small museum in the house where Mozart was born in 1756, located on the Getreidegasse in Salzburg's Old Town. And, while in Old Town, be sure to take in the magnificent Salzburg Dom, where the great composer was baptized. Spend time in some of the city's many museums and galleries, or explore Schloss Mirabell, whose enchanting gardens were constructed by the Baroque master builder Lukas von Hildebrandt. Perhaps you will view the Felsenreitschule, an impressive Baroque theater that is today the home of the Salzburg Festival, or the city's beloved Schloss Hellbrunn, whose Wasserspiele section is home to a series of unique fountains and water-powered displays. You'll return to Linz in the late afternoon.

    Enjoy dinner onboard ship this evening.

  • This morning, enjoy an included excursion to the historic, 900-year-old Baroque Melk Abbey. This magnificently ornate structure has a long and storied history.

    Strategically situated on a steep, cliffside perch, Melk Abbey's earliest incarnation was as a Roman border post. Later, it served as a tenth-century Babenberg fortress. It became a Benedictine monastery in 1089 and earned a distinguished reputation for medieval scholarship. Its library includes more than 70,000 books and 2,000 manuscripts, chiefly from the ninth through the 15th centuries.

    View Wachau Valley from aboard the MS Bizet

    The abbey houses a remarkable cherub-filled library of thousands of books and manuscripts, and 365 windows—one for every day of the year. The interior of the abbey's church is a kaleidoscope of red, orange, and gold—with a magnificent carved pulpit and shimmering ceiling frescoes.

    Then, after lunch onboard, relax and enjoy the stunning scenery moving past your eyes while cruising along one of the most beautiful sections of the Danube—the Wachau Valley. This is a landscape of sculpted hills and medieval towns built along the river.

    Alight later this afternoon in the Austrian town of Durnstein, where you'll disembark for an included tour of this picturesque city, which is said to take its name from both the area's rocky terrain and the medieval castle overlooking the town proper (the German words duerr and Stein mean “dry” and “stone,” respectively).

    In the late twelfth century, Britain's King Richard the Lionheart was held captive in this castle by Duke Leopold V, an Austrian noble who had fought alongside the king during the Crusades—and who was reportedly seeking retribution against Richard for slighting him during the siege of Acre.

    We enjoy dinner onboard ship this evening.

  • 36 Hours in Vienna

    Discover the modern food scene, imperial heritage, and artisanal offerings that await in Vienna.

    After breakfast, set off on an included tour of Vienna, including the Ringstrasse—Vienna's grand main boulevard—one of the many great achievements of the Emperor Franz Joseph. In 1857, the Emperor ordered the demolition of the ancient city walls, which were no longer needed as fortifications and were impeding the growth of the city. In their place was constructed an elegant 2.5-mile-long boulevard, encircling the city center. The Neo-classical buildings along the Ringstrasse bring together all the greatest architectural styles in an exuberant celebration of all that seemed possible during the Industrial Revolution.

    Our stroll continues along the city sidewalks, passing by the well-known Imperial Palace, home to many generations of the Habsburg family, and the renowned Spanish Riding School.

    After returning to the ship for lunch, the balance of your day is free for relaxing or exploring on your own. You may want to stroll through the old Jewish Quarter to see the only Viennese synagogue to have survived the 1938 Kristallnacht.

    Perhaps you'll explore Austria's capital aboard a fiaker. These horse-drawn carriages have been in business since the 17th century, and your driver will show you the sights and delight you with Viennese anecdotes. You'll also find out for yourself whether or not it's true that drivers whistle strains of Mozart's beloved Magic Flute as they conduct passengers through the city.

    After an early dinner onboard, enjoy free time on your own.

    Or, join us tonight for an unforgettable optional excursion to one of Vienna's famed concert halls, where you'll be enchanted by the classical Austrian music of Strauss and Mozart.

  • See Schonbrunn Palace on an optional tour in Vienna

    This morning, explore more of Vienna at your Leisure. Or, join us for an optional tour of the expansive summer estate of Habsburg royalty, Schoenbrunn Palace (whose name means “beautiful spring”). Featuring 1,400 rooms, meticulously maintained gardens, and an architectural legacy that stretches back to the 17th century, the palace is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Your visit includes a tour of palace highlights and free time to spend exploring the palace’s stunning park and gardens.

    As we sail this afternoon, you'll learn the secrets of Apfelstrudel during an exclusive Discovery Series shipboard baking demonstration—and sample the delicious pastry hot from the oven! You are then invited to tour the ship’s galley to see where the chef creates your wonderful meals.

    You'll arrive in Bratislava this evening. Dinner tonight is onboard.

  • Explore Slovakia's capital city Bratislava

    After breakfast onboard, you'll embark on an included tour of Slovakia's capital, the famous Danube city with a picturesque setting at the foot of the Little Carpathian Mountains. Once the capital of Hungary, Bratislava has a history going back to Celtic and Roman times. The Slavs settled here in the fifth century under their ruler Bretislav.

    Under Hungarian rule, the city was called Pozsony. Its German-speaking settlers called it Pressburg, and since 1918 it has been called by its Slavic name: Bratislava. Your tour of the city features the Old Town, the historic heart of Bratislava, where you view beautiful St. Martin's Cathedral, built in the 14th and 15th centuries. Walk through the pedestrian zone to Michael's Gate with its 15th-century tower, offering excellent views of the city.

    You'll also stroll by the Old Town Hall and the Neo-classical Archbishop's Palace. In the Palace's Hall of Mirrors, Napoleon and the Austrian Emperor Francis I signed the historic Peace of Pressburg after the battle of Austerlitz in 1805. Bratislava is dominated by its massive square castle, which was a favorite residence of the Habsburg Queen, Maria Theresa, and other aristocrats whose lovely houses cluster in the old town below the castle.

    After your walk, visit a local school supported in part by Grand Circle Foundation for an exclusive Discovery Series event. If you visit on a day when the school is not in session (weekends or during summer and national holidays), you'll partake in an alternate exclusive Discovery Series discussion about Bratislava's next generation. Then, immerse yourself further in local life when you visit the home of an area family for a Home-Hosted Visit complete with coffee and cake.

    Tonight, enjoy dinner onboard with your fellow travelers.

  • Discover new friendships during a river cruise along the Danube

    Take in scenic views of the historic city of Esztergom, along with riverside views of the remarkable 16th-century basilica that stands near the banks of the Danube River, as you cruise to Budapest this morning. You'll also have the opportunity to learn about a few of the cherished customs of Central Europe, passed down through the generations, through the lens of your Program Director's personal experiences during an exclusive Discovery Series discussion.

    Arrive in Budapest, disembarking after lunch for a tour of Hungary's lovely capital, situated on both sides of the magnificent Danube River. In Buda, on the western bank of the Danube, you'll see Castle Hill, encircled by ramparts that protect the massive castle complex. Destroyed during World War II, the palace has been restored, approximating its original splendor, and it is now a vast museum complex, where remains of the original structure are displayed. Cross the Danube and see Heroes' Square, with its Millennial Column set off by equestrian statues of historic ninth-century Magyar conquerors. The adjoining colonnade displays more statues of kings, dukes of Transylvania, and liberty fighters who influenced the history of Hungary.

  • View Wachau Valley from aboard the MS Bizet

    Enjoy today at leisure to continue exploring Budapest. Perhaps you'll visit the Church of Our Lady, formerly used for the coronations of Hungarian kings. Its popular name of Matthias is in recognition of the Renaissance king who ruled in the 15th century and whose heraldic sign—a raven—is displayed on one of the towers of the church. Dating back to the 13th century, the structure is an interesting mix of architectural styles used during reconstruction of the building at different times in its history. Note that during the 150-year Turkish occupation of Hungary, the church served as Eski Djami (Old Mosque) for the Turks. Inside the church you can view art of Bertalan Szekely and Karoly Lotz, 19th-century Hungarian painters.

    Or choose to join an optional tour to the Hospital in the Rock. Connected to underground caves below Castle Hill in Buda, this hospital that tended to scores of sick and wounded during World War II, and again during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. During the Cold War era, it was outfitted as a nuclear fallout shelter. Today, it is a museum, with wax figures in period clothing and vintage medical equipment giving visitors a feel for the intensity of the work performed here.

    Tonight, gather with your fellow travelers for a special Captain's Farewell Dinner.

    • Meals included:

    After breakfast, you'll be transferred to the airport for your flight home. Or extend your stay in Budapest on our post-trip extension.

  • POST-TRIP EXTENSION:
    Budapest, Hungary

    3 nights from only $595

    Experience Budapest, the lively capital of Hungary and both the political and cultural heart of the nation. Full of monuments to its past, it is also a place of contemporary arts and culture, cafes and restaurants, and museums and galleries—all enhanced by the presence of the mighty Danube.

    View Extension Itinerary

Click below to read our Travel Planning Guide on Old World Prague & the Blue Danube

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