Days 1 & 2 Vienna, Austria - Embark
Layered and elegant, with elements of cozy and grand, musical and visual might be the best way to characterize Vienna—or one of many ways, as this imperial city surely can inspire endless lines of poetic descriptions. Once the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and forever known for its distinguished roster of composers who either were born or lived and worked here—including Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert, both Strausses, Liszt and Brahms—Vienna finds itself at the very center of European culture, even as it sits near the border of the Czech republic, Slovakia and Hungary. Turn to a blank page to memorialize your own impressions of this grand city, remarking on its manicured gardens, ornate architecture—especially that of the famed Ringstrasse—intimate bistro pubs called beisln and a certain flourish that can only be called Vienna. Overnight on day 1.
Day 3 Danube Scenic Cruising - Melk Austria
Best known for its fortified baroque Benedictine monastery, Melk Abbey, the town of Melk boasts an assortment of smaller gems. Among them, the city’s riverside location, serene and regal with a ribbon of wooded groves giving way to the lovely village. Cobbled lanes and a petite size make for a pleasant stroll with a chance to discover its 16th-century Town Hall, or Rathaus, in the center of town, and Haus am Stein, or House at the Rock. Built in the 15th century, the vine-covered abode is Melk’s oldest building.
Days 4 & 5 Linz, Austria
Named the European Capital of Culture in 2009 and added to the roster of UNESCO Creative Cities as a City of Media Arts in 2014, Linz embraces the present and future, even as it remains reverential to its past. There is much to be proud of: Here on the gentle curve of the Danube, Linz rose to power as a political and economic hub for the Holy Roman Empire. Trade and influence extended in all four directions, from Hungary and Germany to the east and west and Poland and Italy to the north and south. Later, Linz sparkled as a city of the Habsburgs, the last home to German Emperor, Friedrich III. The city’s layout reflects its history, with an ancient medieval center encircled by neoclassical, neo-baroque and neo-Renaissance neighborhoods, a kind of tree-rings of age and architectural styles. Highpoints of old traditions and impressive landmarks include the Linzer torte, dating to 1653 and thought to be the oldest cake in the world, and St. Martin’s church, the oldest church in Austria. Overnight on day 4.
Day 6 Passau, Germany
At the confluence of the Danube, Inn and Ilz rivers, Passau is also situated at a meeting of cultures. The town began as a Roman settlement, enjoying the rising tide of influence as the largest bishopric in the Holy Roman Empire and enduringly vibrant as a hub for various trade and manufacturing pursuits, including salt, swords and ideas. Experience Passau’s charm as you the wander the cobbled streets of Old Town, gaze upon arched bridges and Italianate manses and encounter magnificent St. Stephen’s Cathedral and the New Bishop’s Residence. Overnight in Passau.
Day 7 Passau, Germany - Vilshofen an der Donau, Germany
A skyline graced by the spire of a historic church and the arch of a more modern bridge reveals the essence of Vilshofen’s appeal: A meeting of past and present. The meeting of three rivers—the Vils, the Wolfach and the Danube—deepens that appeal. This small city is as attractive as it is accessible, inviting cycling expeditions on its pretty paths and hikes in the neighboring Bavarian forest. Vilshofen respects its centuries-old past as it preserves old, cobbled lanes and such landmarks as its tower, located on the town square, and the Church of Saint John. A staging of spectacular annual events, including the floating Christmas market and “Donau in Flammen,— or “Danube in Flames,— the exciting fireworks display that bursts over the riverside promenade in July, brings a celebratory spirit to the city. Some would say that a festive spirit persists no matter the season, thanks to not only the calendar of events but the daily chance to experience the city’s parks, museums and eateries.
Day 8 Krems, Austria
Situated at the confluence of the Danube and Krems rivers 43 miles west of Vienna, Krems marks the beginning of the Wachau Valley (if traveling upstream) and showcases a true crisscross of old and new. The Steiner Tor, or Stoney Gate, combines architectural styles, with its original 15th-century construction later refashioned into a fanciful Baroque style. Putting the old and new literally side by side is a preserved length of the old city walls, which is snugged up against a newer chrome-and-glass section – similar in height and purpose, and entirely different in appearance and feel. Putting the new within the old are the designer shops housed in the regal 18th-century buildings of the Altstadt. In the upper Old Town, you’ll find one of the oldest parish churches in Lower Austria. Old traditions also stand the test of time: In cozy heurigen, or wine bars, wine is consumed with a relaxed conviviality. Storybook beautiful in its steep-roofed architecture and Danube setting, Krems is perhaps neither old nor new, but timeless.
Day 9 Bratislava, Slovakia
Slovakia’s capital city may be the country’s buzzing political and economic center, but it is also a historic gem that stirs the imagination. A maze of narrow, cobblestone streets wind around colorful 18th-century buildings, and shade-covered sidewalk cafes beckon weary—or simply hungry—travelers to linger over a meal and enjoy people watching. Museums, cathedrals and palaces are edifying locales to spend some time, while photography buffs will want to snap images of the medieval castle that looms over the city with a majestic grace. For those looking for more contemporary sights, Bratislava boasts a pulsating modern art scene, as well as some outstanding examples of Communist-era architecture.
Days 10 & 11 Vienna, Austria - Disembark
Layered and elegant, with elements of cozy and grand, musical and visual might be the best way to characterize Vienna—or one of many ways, as this imperial city surely can inspire endless lines of poetic descriptions. Once the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and forever known for its distinguished roster of composers who either were born or lived and worked here—including Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert, both Strausses, Liszt and Brahms—Vienna finds itself at the very center of European culture, even as it sits near the border of the Czech republic, Slovakia and Hungary. Turn to a blank page to memorialize your own impressions of this grand city, remarking on its manicured gardens, ornate architecture—especially that of the famed Ringstrasse—intimate bistro pubs called beisln and a certain flourish that can only be called Vienna. Overnight on day 10 and disembark on day 11.
Sail the magnificent Danube on a holiday voyage wrapped in all-inclusive luxuries of the Crystal Experience; relish the storybook magic of Europe's Christmas Markets ashore, and the merriment of the season on board.
Farm-to-table dining featuring Crystal’s innovative and acclaimed six-star cuisine with regionally-inspired menus
Unlimited fine wines, champagnes, premium spirits, beers and unlimited soft drinks and bottled water in-suite
24-hour room service, including selections from Waterside Restaurant
The only river cruise line to include European Butler service for every room category
The only all-suite river ships in Europe; every suite featuring a king-size bed, most with walk-in closets and double sink vanities
High-tech in-suite amenities including bedside iPad directory
All gratuities, shipboard and shoreside included
Complimentary airport transfers between the airport and the river ship on days of embarkation and disembarkation
Unmatched collection of multiple Complimentary Crystal Adventures® ashore in each destination: cultural, active and overland options
Complimentary, unlimited Wi-Fi/Internet
Complimentary use of Atlanta eBikes
Complimentary Crystal Signature Event on every itinerary
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