18 Day Germany, Switzerland & Austria with Danube River Cruise (Monarch Empress)
18 days with Gate 1 Rating: Deluxe
River Cruise Itinerary
DAY 1, Sunday - Depart for Germany Depart for Frankfurt, Germany.
DAY 2, Monday - Arrive in Frankfurt Arrive in Frankfurt and transfer independently to your hotel in nearby Mainz or Darmstadt. The remainder of the day is on your own to rest and relax. In the evening at approximately 6 PM, an orientation meeting with your Tour Manager introduces you to the delightful program that lies ahead, followed by a Welcome Drink and Dinner with your fellow travelers. We recommend that you select flights which arrive in your destination no later than 4 PM on Day 2 of the itinerary, or earlier if possible. (Dinner)
DAY 3, Tuesday - Rhine River Cruise & Heidelberg City Tour The morning begins with a cruise on the scenic Rhine. See stunning vistas of hilltop castles, terraced vineyards, and villages of timber-framed houses along the course of the river. Pass the mighty Lorelei rock rising vertically from the waters named for the siren "Lorelei" who bewitched sailors passing by. In Heidelberg, home to the oldest university in Germany, view the imposing red sandstone ruins of Heidelberg Castle originally built in the 12th century. This hilltop Gothic masterpiece has encountered turbulent times but still stands as a dominant symbol of the city. Balance of the day is at leisure in Heidelberg to discover the enchanting alleys and lanes in the Old Town with its small gardens, museums and lovely galleries. (Breakfast)
DAY 4, Wednesday - Black Forest Head south on a scenic drive through the Black Forest region, an area of unrivaled natural beauty with its dense forests of thick pine trees. Nestled in the forest, you will see some of the charming traditional homes with their long sloping roofs. Continue on a drive to Schaffhausen, surrounded by vineyards. Here, you will see the thunderous Rhine Waterfalls; one of Europe's largest and most powerful. Then, on to beautiful Lucerne, with its pristine lakeside setting and gorgeous mountainous panorama. Spend two relaxing nights here in the center of the Swiss Alps. (Breakfast, Dinner)
DAY 5, Thursday - Full Day in Lucerne A full day to explore the heart of central Switzerland. Begin the day at the inspiring Lion Monument, one of the best-known monuments in the country, created in remembrance of the heroic death of Swiss guard killed in 1792. Continue to the 14th century medieval Chapel Bridge one of the oldest covered wooden bridges in Europe, forming the centerpiece of Lucerne's townscape. Later, time to shop for chocolate, watches and the famous Swiss and German cuckoo clocks or sip coffee at an outdoor cafe. In the afternoon, there is an opportunity to join the exciting optional tour to Mount Pilatus. Ascend the world's steepest cogwheel railway which winds up through lush meadows and sparkling mountain streams to the summit of Mt. Pilatus at nearly 7000 feet. After admiring the splendid panorama, descend by aerial cableway and return to your hotel. (Breakfast)
Optional: Mount Pilatus Tour (PM)
DAY 6, Friday - Neuschwanstein Castle This morning drive through glorious Alpine scenery to visit Bavaria's "Mad" King Ludwig's fantasy castle of Neuschwanstein perched high above the valley below. This is one of the most visited castles in Germany and a symbol of idealized romantic architecture. Among the castle's finest rooms are two magnificent halls with extravagant decorations dazzling in gold and blue. Cross into Austria via the mighty Fern Pass and journey to Innsbruck, the Tyrolean "capital" of the Austrian Alps. (Breakfast, Dinner)
DAY 7, Saturday - Full Day in Innsbruck Steeped in centuries of colorful history, Innsbruck features fine examples of Imperial splendor. Journey back in time with an array of splendid architectural gems from the Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Neoclassical period. On your orientation tour, stop at the Golden Roof, overlooking a bustling square in the heart of historic Innsbruck and the St. James Cathedral, a spectacular example of Baroque architecture. Innsbruck has also hosted two Olympic Winter Games (1964 and 1976). See the famous ski jump used in the Winter Olympics. Join the afternoon optional tour to charming Seefeld with Carriage Ride. Tonight, experience an authentic Tyrolean evening on the optional tour featuring a varied entertainment program including folk music, Tyrolean dances and yodeling. (Breakfast)
Optional:Seefeld with Carriage Ride (PM) Optional:Tyrolean Evening with drinks
DAY 8, Sunday - Salzburg City Tour After breakfast, travel to Salzburg. This baroque jewel was the birthplace of Mozart. The guided walking tour takes you to view the house where Mozart was born, as well as to the squares and gardens of this beautiful city, crowned by the 11th century Hohensalzburg Fortress. The city is also known for the singing von Trapp family and the setting for the film, The Sound of Music. More time to explore charming Salzburg, or participate in the optional excursion into the surrounding countryside to the ruins of Obersalzberg, once a mountain retreat for senior Nazi SS officers. Then, transfer to special motor coaches adapted for the scenic mountain climb and ascend to Hitler's notorious "Eagle's Nest.”* (Breakfast, Dinner)
*Austrian Alps & Sound of Music Tour is offered when Eagle’s Nest Tour is not available during April, May, and November.
Optional:Eagle's Nest Tour (PM) Optional:Austrian Alps & Sound of Music Tour
DAY 9, Monday - Explore Munich This morning, continue to Munich. Arrive at Marienplatz square, cultural center of the city, dominated by the gothic New Town Hall housing Munich's world-famous Glockenspiel, which dates back to 1908. This colorful mechanical clock has life-size figures that dance to music with shows several times a day. In the afternoon, a guided city tour takes you past the Olympic Stadium situated in the heart of Olympia Park in northern Munich built as the main venue for the 1972 Summer Olympics. Then, visit the stunning Nymphenburg Palace with its gorgeous baroque facade, once summer residence of Bavarian rulers. Driving through the city, you see countless museums, galleries, palaces and impressive historic monuments. A free evening perhaps to visit one of the famous beer halls! (Breakfast)
DAY 10, Tuesday - Full Day in Munich A full day to enjoy Munich with its plethora of shops and restaurants and to explore at leisure. Tonight, toast your final night in Munich with a delicious dinner at a local restaurant. (Breakfast, Dinner)
DAY 11, Wednesday - Embark in Regensburg Time this morning for last minute sightseeing, or shopping in Munich before the early afternoon departure to Regensberg. Arrive at the port for embarkation. After arrival formalities, time to relax on board. Tonight, meet your Cruise Director and enjoy a gala welcome dinner as it sets the mood for your delightful river cruise. (Breakfast, Dinner)
DAY 12, Thursday - Regensburg City Tour This morning, explore Regensburg, one of Germany's largest and best preserved medieval cities, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The guided walking tour highlights the city's stunning architecture as you view the Old Town Hall, Dom St. Peter and the Porta Praetoria, gateway to an ancient Roman fort built in 179 AD. Marvel at beautiful churches and one of the oldest stone bridges crossing the Danube. Return to the ship for lunch or spend the afternoon at leisure discovering the delights of Regensburg on your own. In the afternoon the ship will set sail for Passau. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
DAY 13, Friday - Morning in Passau Dock this morning in 2500-year-old Passau, known for its pastel patrician houses, cafes, cobblestone lanes and riverfront promenade. Passau is a Bavarian town with a mix of Roman, Italian Baroque and Gothic architecture. In the early evening continue sailing for Melk. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
DAY 14, Saturday - Melk Abbey Disembark in Melk this morning for a guided tour of the historic Benedictine Abbey, considered one of the finest examples of Baroque architecture in Europe. View the Abbot's chambers, the Kaiser's walk and the lavish library. Then, return to the ship and continue cruising through the scenic Wachau Valley. This Afternoon, arrive in the village of Durnstein, one of the prettiest towns on the Danube. Free time to stroll this quintessential village in the heart of the Wachau wine district. Walk along medieval cobblestone streets revealing 16th-century town houses and wine taverns. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
DAY 15, Sunday - Vienna City Tour Your morning tour of romantic Vienna introduces you to this Imperial city with its legendary opulence and elegance. Drive along the famed Ringstrasse, Vienna's main boulevard lined with magnificent Baroque palaces, parks and monuments. View the lavish Hofburg Palace, and the impressive Vienna Opera House. Continue to majestic St. Stephen's Cathedral and the Parliament building. Enjoy the afternoon at leisure, or, join the optional tour to the magnificent Schonbrunn Palace, once summer residence of the Hapsburgs. Visit the gorgeous baroque apartments and stroll through the world-famous manicured gardens. Tonight, perhaps take the opportunity to attend an evening of Viennese culture in the "City of Music" at an optional concert performance of the classical masterpieces of Mozart and Strauss, two of Vienna's most famous citizens. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Optional: Schonbrunn Palace Tour (PM) Optional: Classical Viennese Concert (PM)
DAY 16, Monday - Bratislava City Tour This morning, enjoy the tranquil scenery as you sail along the scenic Danube. At noon, arrive in Bratislava, capital of Slovakia, a mix of modern and Baroque architecture. This capital city is among the youngest in Europe, yet retains a rich history dating back more than 2000 years. Walk along the cobblestone lanes of the historic town center; view St. Martin's Cathedral, coronation site of the kings of Hungary, the 13th century Old Town Hall and the Franciscan church. Time to explore this colorful city on your own before returning to the ship for dinner as you sail for stunning Budapest. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
DAY 17, Tuesday - Budapest City Tour Your morning tour begins on the Pest side of the city; view the Parliament, City Park and Heroes Square. Cross to Buda to see the Royal Palace, Matthias Church and the graceful medieval architecture along the cobbled streets. Explore the city's wonderful shops and cafes this afternoon on your own. Tonight, enjoy a lavish Captain's Dinner on board. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
DAY 18, Wednesday - Depart Hungary This morning, your vacation ends. Disembarkation will end at 9:30 am. (Breakfast)
All This Included
16 nights accommodations
River port charges of $190 per person
Cruise & hotel porterage
34 meals: 16 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 12 dinners
Cruise director & activities host throughout cruise
Tour manager in Germany, Switzerland & Austria
Services of local guides in all major cities
Services of English-speaking tour manager & cruise director
Shore excursions per itinerary
Entrance fees per itinerary
Comfortable wireless earphones for enhanced touring during excursions
River Cruise Features & Amenities
Gala Welcome Dinner and Farewell Dinner
Wine and beer with dinners
Locally inspired recipes
Early riser breakfast in addition to buffet breakfast
Late night snack
Complimentary basic Wi-Fi access
Self-serve coffee and tea station
Lounge serving premium spirits
Non-smoking ship interior
Shore excursions conducted exclusively in English
Accommodations on this Tour
Mainz: Hilton Mainz
Darmstadt: Maritim Hotel Darmstadt
Heidelberg: Crowne Plaza
Lucerne: Grand Europe Hotel or Hotel Monopol Luzern
Innsbruck: Grauer Baer Hotel
Salzburg: ARCOTEL Castellani Salzburg or Hotel NH Salzburg City
Munich: Four Points by Sheraton Munich Central
Cruising: Cabin onboard Monarch Empress
Land/Cruise only price does not include arrival/departure transfers.
Due to physical constraints and space limitations, wheelchairs and walkers are not allowed on motor coaches and/or river cruises.
While sailing with Monarch Cruises, passengers are subject to the cruise's Terms & Conditions.
The Hilton Mainz has a very limited number of twin rooms, and availability cannot be guaranteed. A roll-away bed will be provided in a double room when a twin room is required and not available.
Know Before You Book - High & Low Water European river cruising has gained in popularity for very good reason. It's a relaxing and convenient way to experience Europe while enjoying the comfort of a deluxe ship. However, before making the decision to reserve your vacation, please be aware of potential conditions which may impact your cruise. While most of the time river cruises operate exactly as planned, weather conditions may result in high or low water levels which impact a ship's itinerary and, on occasion, render a ship unable to sail at all. On very rare occasions, other events such as heavy fog, a damaged lock, or an incapacitated vessel blocking the river, may impact a sailing. These events typically occur with little or no notice. In the event that a cruise is partially or completely impacted, the itinerary will be operated by deluxe motor coach, accompanied by a Tour Manager, with overnights in hotels. The itinerary will include as many of the originally scheduled sightseeing features as possible, considering the travel time and distances required, as well as meals. While it is not possible to recreate the more leisurely comforts of sailings, we will endeavor to provide a comparable itinerary. These alternative services will be provided at no additional charge.
This moderately active trip covers a fair amount of ground each day. Expect from three to four hours walking every touring day. The pace is moderate, however you will encounter some uneven surfaces, stairs, steps and significant slopes. There is a potential for a small number of sailings to be impacted by river water levels, or other factors which may impact safe navigation. This may cause part or all of the cruise itinerary to be operated by motor coach and may also involve hotel accommodations. Some hotels in Lucerne are built in the traditional local style and have no air conditioning. During heat waves, these hotels can become uncomfortable. The visit to Neuschwanstein Castle includes a long, steep hike up and down the hillside in order to reach the castle. Inside the castle, there will be a climb of 165 steps and a descent of 118 steps. This is a Classic program.
Please ask your Vacations To Go travel counselor for more information.
Terms and Conditions
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.