Selected as one of the "10 Best River Cruises" by Fodor's Travel! And a two-time winner of "Top River Cruise Line" for families, as voted by the readers of Travel + Leisure! There is no better way to experience the heart of Europe with your family than on a leisurely Tauck Bridges Danube river cruise aboard ms Esprit, ms Joy or ms Savor. Unpack only once as you travel from Budapest, Hungary, to Slovakia, Austria and Germany, enjoying action-packed shore excursions specially designed for families. Play medieval games on a visit to Devin Castle in Slovakia. Soar over Vienna on the Riesenrad (giant ferris wheel) in the Prater, the city's famous amusement park. Learn how to make strüdel aboard the riverboat. Visit Schönbrunn Palace, which Empress Maria Theresa and her daughter Marie Antoinette once called home. Go bicycling along the Danube and discover magical secrets - and "The Sound of Music" locations - at Schloss Hellbrunn in Salzburg. End your family's fun Danube River tour in Passau, Germany, where you'll make your own tasty marzipan creation! Disembark your riverboat in Vilshofen.
Day 1: Arrive Budapest and board your riverboat
Tour begins at 2:00 PM in Budapest, Hungary. A transfer is included from Budapest's Ferenc Liszt Airport or Keleti train station right to the gangway, where you'll drop off your luggage aboard ms Savor or ms Joy. Your 7-night cruise begins with a sightseeing tour of the city. Budapest is divided by the Danube River into two sections, Buda and Pest, which before the 19th century were independent cities; you'll learn about the city's turbulent history and see iconic sites such as Heroes' Square and Fisherman's Bastion. Board your riverboat, settle in, and meet fellow families at the welcome reception followed by dinner aboard the riverboat tonight.
Day 2: Bratislava, medieval games & more in Slovakia
If you think that you'll spend the first day of your journey tromping through musty museums and dusty cathedrals, think again! After a morning spent cruising the Danube along Hungary's border with Slovakia to Bratislava, get set for an exciting day. Head outside the city to the partially restored ruins of Devin Castle, perched high above the confluence of the Morava and Danube rivers. Explore the castle and enjoy a trip back to the Middle Ages with a knight tournament and medieval games, a fencing show, medieval dancing and more. Return to Slovakia's ancient capital for a fun interactive walking tour that includes a scavenger hunt through Bratislava, which harbors more than 17 centuries' worth of stories to tell; you'll have time this afternoon to do some exploring on your own, too. Back aboard the riverboat this evening, enjoy a cookout dinner on the Sun Deck (weather permitting) and Slovak cultural entertainment... completing one day (of many) on your Danube River tour that your family will never forget!
Meals: B, L, D
Day 3: Vienna, Schönbrunn Palace & a special Imperial Evening
Whether you call it Wien (as the Austrians do) or Vienna, this grand Imperial city is famous as the former capital of the Habsburg Empire and much more. A sightseeing tour views magnificent boulevards like the Ringstrasse, beautiful gardens and parks, and Vienna's famed architecture. Discover what royal life was like during a guided visit to the huge - it has 1,441 rooms! - Schönbrunn Palace, the permanent summer residence of the Austrian Imperial Family, the Habsburgs, from Empress Maria Theresa's time in the 18th century until 1918. Once, only the Imperial family (which included future French queen Marie Antoinette, who grew up here) was allowed to walk through the garden Maze. Today, it's your turn; look for its hidden secrets! Tonight brings another highlight on your Danube river tour - a visit to the Palais Pallavicini, a traditional private Baroque palace in the heart of Vienna, for an Imperial Evening. Welcome drinks are followed by a special dinner and some extraordinary Viennese entertainment in a grand ballroom for a wonderful night of family fun.
Meals: B, L, D
Day 4: Strüdel, the Prater & more in Vienna
Your family's day in Vienna begins with a fascinating tour of the catacombs beneath St. Stephen's Cathedral, once a burial ground for cardinals, royalty... and common folk afflicted with the Black Plague. Later, spend some free time as you please; the city boasts over 100 museums among its many historical and cultural attractions! Back aboard the riverboat this afternoon, activities include a demonstration in making real Viennese strüdel. Following dinner aboard the riverboat this evening, have some family fun at the world-famous Vienna Prater amusement park, featuring over 250 rides and attractions to enjoy. You'll find the Riesenrad, a giant ferris wheel (which film buffs will recognize from the 1940s film noir classic The Third Man); "extreme-speed" rides, merry-go-rounds and go-carts tracks; haunted houses and a fun house; and so much more. Tonight, your riverboat sails on to Dürnstein.
Meals: B, L, D
Day 5: Discover Dürnstein & bike along the Danube
When you wake up this morning, your riverboat will be docked in the pretty medieval town of Dürnstein, known for its 13th-century abbey and 16th-century houses along twisting, narrow, cobblestone streets. Take off on a leisurely bicycle tour* along the Danube River and through the countryside to a local village for some time on your own. Cycle back to Dürnstein, where you might want to hike up to the hilltop ruins of Kuenringerburg Castle, for terrific vistas of the town, river and surrounding vineyards. Within the walls of this very castle, England's King Richard the Lionhearted was held as a prisoner after the Third Crusade - although he probably couldn't enjoy the view like you can! Spend the afternoon cruising through the valley; tonight, polish off your vocals and take part in "The Sound of Music" karaoke as your family's Danube River tour continues.
Meals: B, L, D
Day 6: Tricky Hellbrunn Castle & Mozart's Salzburg
Once upon a time, there was a Prince Archbishop of Salzburg who really liked playing practical jokes... and was maybe a little bit crazy. His many guests were astounded both by the Baroque beauty they found at his home, Schloss Hellbrunn (or Hellbrunn Castle), and the tricks he played on them in his "pleasure grounds" filled with gardens, fountains and gadgets that were a kind of 18th-century animatronics. Whether or not his guests found his pranks as funny as he did is another matter... but today, you'll find out for yourselves what surprises Schloss Hellbrunn has in store... and you may be as amazed by what you experience as his guests were! You'll also find some locations made famous by the movie The Sound of Music, including the pavilion that was the setting for the song Sixteen Going on Seventeen. Later, discover how much there is to see and do in lovely, historic Salzburg, as you explore the hometown of composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart as you please. Join your Tauck Director for a stroll through beautiful Mirabell Gardens. Maybe you'll even find all 14 of the ancient drinking fountains scattered around the Old City... or have fun trying!
Meals: B, L, D
Day 7: Marzipan and more in Passau
After your riverboat arrives bright and early in pretty Passau, Germany, disembark for your choice of a walking tour of this Baroque Bavarian "city of three rivers" at the junction of the Ilz, Inn and Danube, a geocaching tour through Passau, or a guided bicycle ride along the Inn River. Learn how marzipan, a candy made from sugar and ground almonds in all sorts of very realistic shapes, is made - and try your hand at making your own tasty tidbit in the shape of a face, very popular in Passau. After lunch, join your Tauck Director for a walk to a nearby fortress, then spend some time exploring Passau as you please before reboarding the riverboat for your final night. You'll spend your final evening at our farewell cocktail party and dinner as the riverboat makes its way to Vilshofen and the conclusion of your family's Danube River tour.
Meals: B, L, D
Day 8: Journey Home
Tour ends: Vilshofen. Disembark your riverboat in Vilshofen; fly home anytime after 12:00 PM. A transfer from Vilshofen to Munich Airport or Munich Hauptbahnhof train station is included. Be sure to allow 3 hours for check-in formalities at the airport.
7-night river cruise, exclusive Imperial Evening palace event in Vienna, visit to Vienna Prater, bicycle ride along the Danube, castle games in Slovakia, lessons in making strüdel & marzipan, magical Hellbrunn Castle & "Sound of Music" sightseeing in Salzburg
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