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Vienna, Bohemia & Treasures of the Danube

Resort:
Operator: Riviera Travel
Destination: Austria, Germany
Price From: £1599.00

Overview

Take a stroll along Vienna’s grand boulevards, admiring its magnificent Baroque architecture and dazzling palaces, before soaking up the historic atmosphere in one of the city’s legendary cafés over coffee and cake as the Viennese have for centuries – here in one of the most elegant capitals in the world. Immerse yourself in its remarkable cultural heritage: with priceless art collections, superb museums, world-famous orchestras and the opera, you’ll be spoilt for choice.

Then there’s a chance to truly unwind as our exquisite ship takes you on a journey of discovery along one of the most famous waterways in the world, the mighty Danube, which snakes its way between the vine-clad slopes of the picturesque Wachau. Wander the ancient twisting streets of some of the most quintessentially charming towns in the region: breathtakingly medieval Regensburg with its soaring Gothic cathedral and picture-perfect Český Krumlov, set amidst a fairy-tale Bohemian landscape of rolling hills, glittering mountain streams and shimmering lakes. Discover the famous abbeys at Göttweig and Aldersbach, one of the most important Baroque churches in southern Germany, and lose yourself amongst the quaint jumble of houses in delightful Passau and bustling Linz with its fascinating Roman past before we return to glorious Vienna – a spectacular finale to a truly exceptional cruise.

Itinerary

DAY 1 – ARRIVAL IN VIENNA

You fly to Vienna, where a coach takes you to your river cruise ship,
moored in this spectacular city. On arrival the professional friendly crew
welcome you on board as you familiarise yourself with the ship and
settle in to your cabin. Reconvene with your fellow travelling
companions in the bar before tonight’s excellent dinner in the elegant
restaurant.

DAY 2 – VIENNA

The Viennese have a reputation for ‘Gemütlichkeit’, quite literally
‘cosiness’, and there can be fewer European capitals more supremely
nostalgic or elegantly civilised than Vienna. The imperial grandeur of its
magnificent architecture speaks for itself – awash with dazzling palaces,
grand avenues fringed with fine baroque facades and a majestic
cathedral amongst a tangle of historic streets. Home to world-class art
collections, museums, orchestras and opera, its cultural heritage is
equally extraordinary with countless composers such as Mozart, Strauss
and Haydn, all inextricably linked to this ‘City of Music’. Like so many
other European cities, Vienna has been fought over since Roman times,
with varying tribes throughout the centuries leaving their mark, until the
arrival of the Habsburgs in 1278, who despite two Turkish sieges then
ruled for 640 years. During its golden age, which ended in 1918 with the
collapse of the empire, Vienna became a cultural centre and the city’s
coffee houses were crammed with artists and intellectuals from all over
Europe. The first foreign capital to fall to the Nazis during World War II,
then remaining under allied occupation for the following decade, today
Vienna serves as one of the headquarters of the United Nations.
Surprisingly compact, at the heart you’ll find the colossal landmark
Gothic Saint Stephen’s Cathedral with its striking multicoloured roof.
Former royal court of the Habsburgs, the vast Hofburg, now a complex
of excellent museums and galleries, also houses the crown jewels and
the world-famous Vienna Boys’ Choir and Spanish Riding School. On our
guided tour we will see some of the many sights and enjoy an insight
into Viennese life with our local guide. There’s some free time to explore
under your own steam before returning to the ship for lunch.

This afternoon our cruising commences, so head up on to the sun deck
to take in the glorious views from the comfort of a sun lounger as we
get our first tantalising glimpses of the lush green slopes of the Danube
Valley, sprinkled with sleepy little towns – clusters of red roofs swarming
around a pretty baroque church spire. Wooded hills give way to wide
fields of maize and sunflowers, and the carefully tended terraces of the
region’s vineyards, famed for their wine. During tonight’s dinner we
arrive in the medieval town of Krems, after which retire to the lounge to
enjoy a live classical recital.

DAY 3 – KREMS

We take the short drive to visit the hilltop monastery, Göttweig Abbey –
its brick-red onion-shaped domes and vast white walls a striking sight
amidst the thickly forested verdant slopes. Majestically sited with far

reaching views down into the valley below, the original building was
destroyed by fire in the eighteenth century and rebuilt in baroque style;
on our guided tour we will see the impressively decorative staircase – up
which Napoleon is said to have ridden his horse, exquisite frescoes,
impressive staterooms plus other precious artworks and treasures
from Abbey’s private collection. As lunch is served in the ship’s
restaurant, just sit back and enjoy the exceptional views from the
panoramic windows. We are cruising through the Wachau, one of the
most stunning stretches of the Danube as it snakes its way between the
vine-clad hills, passing the tiny walled town of Dürnstein with its
beautiful blue and white baroque church and the spectacular mustard

the yellow monastery at Melk, teetering on a granite slab high above the
mighty river; so spend a lazy afternoon enjoying the ship’s facilities –
perhaps book an appointment with the onboard hairdresser or just
find a shady spot on deck and watch the riverbanks, laced with swathes
of apricot trees, slipping by. Evening falls on this wonderful landscape
and thoughts turn to what might be on the menu this evening; there’s
time to chat with your travelling companions over an aperitif before the
chef serves tonight’s excellent dinner.

DAY 4 – PASSAU & ALDERSBACH

Overnight we have made steady progress upstream and on rising this
morning, draw back the curtains to another captivating view – a scenic
landscape peppered with idyllic little towns and ancient riverside castles
against a hilly backdrop. Enjoy a leisurely breakfast before heading up
on deck to witness our arrival in Passau, ‘Town of the Three Rivers’;
uniquely situated where the Danube meets the rivers Inn and Ilz, an
imposing citadel watches over the colourful jumble of quaint houses,
baroque churches, palaces and spires, rising from the water’s edge.
There will be time to wander the old town, exploring its network of
winding streets, and picturesque squares, quaint shops and cafés,
swarming around the impressive cathedral with its magnificent ornate
frescoes and the gothic-style town hall with its lovely decorative clock
tower.

This afternoon we visit the attractive town of Aldersbach,
principally famed as the site of a former Cistercian abbey. Earliest
records show the abbey was founded in 1127 and well regarded for its
religious discipline became widely influential and went on to flourish for
more than six centuries until the secularisation of Bavaria in the early
nineteenth century when the buildings were sold, and the church
converted to serve the local parish. We enjoy a guided tour seeing the
breathtaking interior of one of the most important baroque churches in
southern Germany, with its flamboyant stuccowork, intricate gold-leaf
and elaborate ceiling frescoes and learning more about the monks who
made their life here. We’ll also visit the abbey’s historic brewery and
museum.

DAY 5 – REGENSBURG

Our ship reaches the northernmost point of the Danube and the
delightful city of Regensburg, a former Roman garrison town and
Germany’s ‘medieval miracle’. After a leisurely breakfast, we enjoy a
guided tour through the twisting streets of the old town, admiring the
warmly painted facades of the picturesque houses, the wondrous gothic
cathedral and old town hall with its lofty eight-storey tower, and the
hefty stone remains of a Roman gateway that once marked the city’s
northern entrance. Afterwards, enjoy some free time exploring under
your own steam; take a stroll over the iconic thirteenth-century bridge
and take in the view, much as it has been for centuries, before retiring
to a cosy, tucked away café to enjoy the enchanting ambience of this
historic place. You’ll have worked up an appetite so return to the ship
for lunch as our elegant ship smoothly commences our return cruise
into Austria. Spend the afternoon at leisure on board; perhaps in the
lounge with newly-made friends or up on deck enjoying the views as
fortified castles and ancient churches idly drift by. There will be ample
photo opportunities as we cruise through the iconic natural wonder of
the Danube Loop, where the water spectacularly carves its path in an
almost 360-degree bend flanked on all sides by steep lushly forested
slopes. Evening falls and our chef serves up tonight’s excellent dinner in
the relaxed ambience of the ship’s restaurant, after which retire to the
bar to enjoy the relaxed tones of the onboard pianist whilst sipping
your favourite digestif.

DAY 6 – LINZ OR ČESKÝ KRUMLOV

Dawn breaks and we reach vibrant Linz, the capital of Upper Austria.
Straddling the banks of the river, the Romans recognised its
geographical importance at the crossroads of the Danube Valley and the
old salt road into Bohemia and today it is still a significant port. You may
wish to remain in the city and join our guided tour as we wander
through the old town, stopping to admire the elegant merchants’
houses encircling one of the finest squares in Austria. There’s the grand
regional parliament building plus a host of interesting little churches
and, surveying the river below, the vast fortress-like castle now housing
a museum with various historic exhibits and artworks, plus the modern
art museum or for technology enthusiasts there’s the remarkable Ars
Electronica.

Alternatively, you may choose to join our excursion to the beautiful
the medieval town of Český Krumlov, in the heart of scenic Bohemia, amidst
a fairytale landscape of rolling hills, tumbling mountain streams and
glassy lakes, with a wonderful mountain backdrop. On arrival, we enjoy a
guided tour of this UNESCO World Heritage Site, nestling on the banks
of the Vltava River: the magnificent castle, set in extensive gardens,
dating back to medieval times with one of the best preserved baroque
theatres in the world perches high above a jumble of terracotta roofs
below. There will be time to wander the shady tangle of alleyways,
discovering tiny shops tucked away, soaking up the atmosphere of this
truly magical place before we return to the ship in time for dinner.
Please note lunch is not included on this full-day excursion to Český
Krumlov, however, the ship will offer a packed lunch.

DAY 7 – VIENNA

The end of our journey may be in sight but there’s still plenty more to
enjoy during the final stretch of cruising, so head up on deck to enjoy
the invigorating air and soak in the last spectacular river views once
more. During another superb lunch, you can tweak those final plans as
to how you intend to spend the rest of the day. For art lovers, the
renowned Kunsthistorisches Museum is a must; containing the fourth
largest collection of paintings in the world. You might choose to return
to one of the Hofburg’s museums, perhaps the Imperial Treasury,
containing the Habsburgs’ crown jewels or take a stroll in the Prater
with its huge famous Ferris wheel. There’s a spot of window-shopping to
enjoy along the chic boulevards of Graben and Kohlmarkt and don’t
forget to leave time to indulge in the Viennese institution of a coffee in
one of the beautiful atmospheric cafés where you can sit and watch the
world go by over a slice of Sachertorte. Alternatively, you might choose
to join our visit to Schönbrunn, the Habsburgs’ splendid summer palace.
Your included entrance allows you into the dazzling staterooms, with
their wealth of priceless artworks, furnishings, stunning parquet floors,
exquisite china and tapestries plus the family’s impressive royal
carriages and an audio guide helps to give you a fascinating insight into
the lives of this powerful dynasty. Take a stroll through the charming
formal gardens, admiring the beautifully tended flowerbeds and neatly
clipped hedges. Tonight, as a fitting finale, the magnificent Captain’s
Dinner is served, after which retire to the lounge one last time, to share
memories of this magical cruise with newly-made friends.

 

DAY 8 – RETURN HOME

Transfer to the airport for your return flight to the UK.