Note: Departure November 23: while the Avalon Illumination will be festively decorated and the Christmas spirit already prevails on board and in most cities, Christmas markets will not be open until this cruise reaches Vienna. The optional excursion to Salzburg on day 4 will be included.
Day 1 Arrive in Nuremberg, Germany (Embarkation)
Welcome to Germany! This afternoon board your river cruise vessel. Before dinner, meet your crew for a welcome reception.
Day 2 Nuremberg
Although 90% of Nuremberg’s Old Town suffered extensive damage during WWII, much of it has been restored to the glory it once knew as the unofficial capital of the Holy Roman Empire.This morning, choose a GUIDED SIGHTSEEING TOUR and marvel at this thousand-year-old city’s medieval fortifications, extraordinary gothic churches, and the Kaiserburg (Imperial Castle), or join a more specialized “NUREMBERG RALLY GROUNDS” tour. The Old Town is illuminated with festive lights, and the Christmas market is one of the biggest in Germany, featuring 200 stalls selling traditional wares and foods. After your free time at the Christmas market, a shuttle bus service will be at your disposal to take you back to the ship (departure 7 December only). (B,L,D)
Day 3 Regensburg
This morning, during a relaxing morning sailing, enjoy an ONBOARD LECTURE about Christmas traditions. After lunch, arrive in Regensburg, Dating back to the time of the Celts around 500 BC, Regensburg is one of Germany’s best preserved medieval cities. Established during the Holy Roman Empire and the only German city not bombed during WWII, Regensburg has at least 1,300 listed buildings of “historic interest.” Architectural highlights of your GUIDED WALK include the Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall), built in the 13th century, and Porta Pretoria, gates to an ancient Roman fort built in 179 AD. Wander through the city’s lanes and alleys to discover the many mansions with high towers. Wealthy families built these towers to emphasize their status and wealth during the Middle Ages, and many still remain today. Walk across the 12th-century Steinerne Brücke (Stone Bridge), the oldest of its kind in Germany. Grab a beer and enjoy an included SNACK at the Historische Wurstküche (Old Sausage Kitchen), one of Germany’s oldest restaurants. During free time explore on your own or visit the Regensburg Christmas markets, including the ones hosted by Thurn and Taxis Palace The tempting aromas of mulled wine, sweet roasted almonds, sausages, and gingerbread create an unforgettable atmosphere (departure 7 December only). Before dinner we’ll introduce you to some of Germany’s FAMOUS BEERS! (B,L,D)
Day 4 Passau
Uniquely located where the Inn, Ilz, and Danube Rivers converge, Passau is a maze of narrow cobblestone streets lined with beautiful patrician houses.. Take in the highlights of the “City of Three Rivers” on an included GUIDED WALK. Afterward, set sail for Linz, where you arrive in the evening. Alternatively, you might like to join a full-day optional excursion to Salzburg to see some of the sites from “The Sound of Music,” find out how mice caused the composition of the famous "Silent Night" Christmas carol, and learn how the Austrians celebrate Christmas. (B,L,D)
Day 5 Melk, Austria–Vienna
This morning, enjoy an included GUIDED VISIT of Melk’s magnificent 11th-century BENEDICTINE ABBEY, one of Europe’s largest monasteries. The abbey houses an ornate library with over 80,000 printed books and 2,000 manuscripts. You’ll be captivated by the splendor of the church with its frescoed ceilings, stunning high altar, marble statues, and 210-foot-high cupola. The view from the terrace over the Danube and surrounding countryside is breathtaking! Then, cruise through the picturesque Wachau Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and enjoy a special onboard Austrian COOKIE TASTING. Pass the magnificent baroque Stiftskirche with its blue façade, the landmark of Dürnstein.before arriving in Vienna this evening. Known as the “City of Music,” Vienna inspired the creative genius of Mozart, Beethoven, and Strauss. An optional concert is available tonight. (B,L,D)
Day 6 Vienna
Once the center of the mighty Habsburg Empire, Austria’s magical capital on the blue Danube is a showcase of gilded architecture. This is home to the lavish Hofburg Imperial Palace complex with its Vienna Boys’ Choir and dazzling Lipizzaner stallions; the neo-renaissance Vienna Opera House; and awe-inspiring St. Stephen’s Cathedral—plus, countless other sights shown to you by your LOCAL GUIDE during your included CITY TOUR. Alternatively, taste all the best flavors that Austria has to offer during Christmas time during our CULINARY WALKING TOUR. Then time to explore on your own - delight in the shops of the pedestrian Kärntnerstrasse, and be sure to take a break and enjoy a piece of decadent Sachertorte or Apfelstrudel in one of the classic Viennese coffee houses, historic institutions that helped shape Viennese culture! In the late afternoon, leave Vienna for Budapest. (B,L,D)
Day 7 Budapest, Hungary
Spanning the banks of the Danube, Budapest is one of Eastern Europe’s liveliest cities. Whether you’re seeing the sights, shopping for handcrafted embroidery or Herend porcelain, or basking in the coffee house culture over a rich cream cake in the renowned Gerbeaud Café, Budapest’s unique energy is positively palatable. On your GUIDED SIGHTSEEING TOUR, see Heroes’ Square as well as the massive hilltop castle complex with its remarkable Fishermen’s Bastion and 11th-century Matthias Church, the coronation spot of several Hungarian monarchs. Be sure to take note of the city’s eight bridges—many famous sights in and of themselves—which connect ancient Buda on the right bank with Pest on the left. You may even want to walk across Chain Bridge, built in 1849 and a symbol of Budapest. Perhaps visit St. Stephen’s Basilica; shop at the Great Market Hall and purchase paprika at one of its 180 vendor stalls; wander around the Royal Palace grounds; or stroll along Váci utca, the main shopping street. Don’t miss the unique Christmas markets that Budapest hosts every year during the Festive season. (B,L,D)
Day 8 Budapest (Disembarkation)
Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning. (B)
What entices you most about a river cruise through Central Europe? Does visiting historical sites pique your interest? How about architecture preserved from the 14th century or cities virtually untouched since Roman times? Maybe it’s walking down narrow cobblestone streets lined with beautiful patrician houses or enjoying Germany’s famous beers? From Nuremberg to vibrant Budapest, sail through a winter wonderland and revel in the Advent season as each town is festively lit and decorated, and Christmas markets selling traditional wares, abound.
Travel to Nuremberg, Germany, to board your ship, and visit this thousand-year-old city with a Local Guide. The Christmas market is one of Europe’s oldest—be sure to try the traditional gingerbread for which the city is famous. Next, reach Regensburg—the only German city not bombed during WWII. Here, you’ll taste some of Germany’s famous beers and sausages. Next stop is Passau, known for its narrow winding streets lined with patrician houses, and the magnificent Italian baroque St. Stephens Cathedral which forms a perfect backdrop for the delightful Christkindlmarkt. In Melk, visit Austria’s majestic Benedictine Abbey, and enjoy a traditional Austrian cookie tasting as you cruise through the wintry Wachau Valley to romantic Vienna. Here, where Christmas markets are scattered around the city, you may opt for a culinary walk through the markets to taste some of the local traditional specialties.
Your European river cruise vacation ends in Budapest, the capital of Hungary, with guided sightseeing and free time to explore one more Christmas market and buy last-minute gifts.
Captain’s welcome & farewell receptions with sparkling wine and canapés; Welcome dinner; Daily Afternoon Tea; Daily Night Fare; Farewell dinner; Complimentary sparkling wine with breakfast; soft drinks with lunch; and wine, beer, or soft drinks with dinner are included daily on board your vessel
Included excursions with Certified Local Guide; sightseeing as outlined in the day by-day itinerary; inside visits and special features are shown in UPPERCASE.
Deluxe cruise in an outside stateroom with hotel-style beds
Included shore excursions with Local Guide
Headsets for shore excursions
Complimentary Wi-Fi access
Personalized room options & excursions
The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines. Sorry, we are unable to offer air from countries other than the U.S. However, for those international customers who are able to arrange their own transportation to the trip origination city, we are able to offer the land/cruise portion of the package at the price quoted.