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Imagine 15 magical days along the Rhine, Main and Danube Rivers. From Holland’s windmill-studded tulip fields to Germany’s fairy-tale castles, from the engineering marvel of the Main-Danube Canal to the picturesque vineyards of Austria’s Wachau Valley, this epic voyage presents the highlights of Holland, Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary. Savor a decadent Sachertorte in a Viennese café and panoramic views of imperial Budapest—and along the way, discover the legend of the Lorelei, the ancient art of glassblowing, the music of Mozart and more.
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Budapest, Hungary’s capital, is bisected by the River Danube. Its 19th-century Chain Bridge connects the hilly Buda district with flat Pest. A funicular runs up Castle Hill to Buda’s Old Town, where the Budapest History Museum traces city life from Roman times onward. Trinity Square is home to 13th-century Matthias Church and the turrets of the Fishermen’s Bastion, which offer sweeping views.
Vienna, Austria’s capital, lies in the country’s east on the Danube River. Its artistic and intellectual legacy was shaped by residents including Mozart, Beethoven and Sigmund Freud. The city is also known for its Imperial palaces, including Schönbrunn, the Habsburgs’ summer residence. In the MuseumsQuartier district, historic and contemporary buildings display works by Egon Schiele, Gustav Klimt and other artists.
Melk is an Austrian town on the River Danube, west of Vienna. It’s known for the 11th-century Melk Abbey, a vast monastery built high above the town. Gold statuary adorns its domed Abbey Church, and the huge library houses medieval manuscripts. The Marmorsaal is a baroque hall with a ceiling fresco and red marble walls. South of Melk, gardens surround Renaissance Schallaburg Castle, which hosts cultural exhibitions. ―
Passau, a German city on the Austrian border, lies at the confluence of the Danube, Inn and Ilz rivers. Known as the Three Rivers City, it’s overlooked by the Veste Oberhaus, a 13th-century hilltop fortress housing a city museum and observation tower. The old town below is known for its baroque architecture, including St. Stephen’s Cathedral, featuring distinctive onion-domed towers and an organ with 17,974 pipes.
Regensburg, a Bavarian city on the Danube River in southeast Germany, is known for its well-preserved medieval core. The 12th-century Stone Bridge, a 310m-long icon with 16 arches, crosses the river to the old town. The 13th-century Regensburg Cathedral, a twin-spired Gothic landmark, is home to the Regensburger Domspatzen choir. Walhalla, a Parthenon replica just east of the city, honors illustrious Germans.
Nuremberg is the second-largest city of the German state of Bavaria after its capital Munich, and its 518,370 inhabitants make it the 14th-largest city in Germany
Bamberg is a town in northern Bavaria, Germany, laid out over 7 hills where the Regnitz and Main rivers meet. Its old town preserves structures from the 11th to 19th centuries including the muraled Altes Rathaus (town hall), which occupies an island in the Regnitz reached by arched bridges. The Romanesque Bamberg Cathedral, begun in the 11th century, features 4 towers and numerous stone carvings.
The Würzburg Residence is a palace in Würzburg, Germany. Johann Lukas von Hildebrandt and Maximilian von Welsch, representatives of the Austrian/South German Baroque style, were involved in the construction, as well as Robert de Cotte and Germain Boffrand, who were followers of the French Style.
Wertheim is a town in southwestern Germany, in the state of Baden-Württemberg with a population of around 23,400. It is located on the confluence of the rivers Tauber and Main. Wertheim is best known for its landmark castle and medieval town centre.
Koblenz, spelled Coblenz before 1926, is a German city on the banks of the Rhine and of the Moselle, a multi-nation tributary. Koblenz was established as a Roman military post by Drusus around 8 B.C. Its name originates from the Latin cōnfluentēs, meaning ” confluence”.
Cologne, a 2,000-year-old city spanning the Rhine River in western Germany, is the region’s cultural hub. A landmark of High Gothic architecture set amid reconstructed old town, the twin-spired Cologne Cathedral is also known for its gilded medieval reliquary and sweeping river views. The adjacent Museum Ludwig showcases 20th-century art, including many masterpieces by Picasso, and the Romano-Germanic Museum houses Roman antiquities.
Kinderdijk is a village in the the Netherlands’ South Holland province, known for its iconic 18th-century windmills. Its water-management network features 19 mills and 3 pumping stations, plus dikes and reservoirs that control flooding in the polder (low-lying land). Waterways, footpaths and bike trails crisscross the area, leading to the main visitors center and museums in preserved working windmills.
Amsterdam is the Netherlands’ capital, known for its artistic heritage, elaborate canal system and narrow houses with gabled facades, legacies of the city’s 17th-century Golden Age. Its Museum District houses the Van Gogh Museum, works by Rembrandt and Vermeer at the Rijksmuseum, and modern art at the Stedelijk. Cycling is key to the city’s character, and there are numerous bike paths