Cruising the Legendary Rivers of Europe

On your 15 day cruise, explore a region steeped in the history of ancient trade routes. Today the rivers of the Rhine, Main and Danube meander through forested hillsides, romantic towns and vineyards.

15 Days
Budapest to Amsterdam
From (USD)
$ 8,395
Dates & Pricing

2019 Budapest > Amsterdam

Experience the cultural treasures and enchanting landscapes of five European countries as we cruise along some of the continent’s most scenic rivers: the Danube, Main, and Rhine. On board the elegant Scenic Ruby, glide from stately cities to medieval towns, and explore castle-crowned river valleys blanketed in grapevines. Encounter relics of Europe’s greatest empires—from the Romans and Austro-Hungarians to the Dutch—and delve into World War II history in fascinating cities like Nuremberg, Salzburg, and Budapest. Along the way, savor the continent’s culinary delights and rich musical heritage.
Tour Map
Tour Code:
STC
Duration:
15 days
Departure City:
Budapest
Return City:
Amsterdam
Mark Baker

National Geographic Expert (May 29-June 12 departure)


Meet Mark Baker
Mark Baker is a freelance journalist and travel writer based in Prague. He has written articles on the Czech Republic and Austria for National Geographic Traveler magazine. Mark has also authored more than a dozen guidebooks on Eastern and Central Europe for publishers such as Lonely Planet, Frommer’s, and Fodor’s, and has written for BBC World News, the Wall Street Journal, and Wanderlust. Before embarking on a freelance career, Mark worked as a correspondent for The Economist Group, Bloomberg News, and Radio Free Europe. When he’s not traveling, Mark teaches courses in journalism and Central European history at Anglo-American University in Prague.

National Geographic Photographer (May 29-June 12 departure)

Meet Dave Yoder
Dave Yoder is photojournalist focusing on human interest projects. Yoder was born in Indiana, but grew up on the foot of Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, where he kept pet monkeys and mongooses. Most recently, he has been living in Europe for over a decade. As a contributing photographer to National Geographic and National Geographic Travelermagazines, his assignments have included the August 2015 cover story on Pope Francis and the Vatican, photographing a lost city in the Mosquitia jungle of Honduras, the high-tech search for a lost Leonardo da Vinci painting, uncovering the architectural mystery of the Brunelleschi Cupola in Florence, and documenting the largest ground-based telescope (ALMA) in Chile’s Atacama Desert. Dave has photographed numerous travel stories in Europe, including a Budapest to Vienna project for the New York Times. National Geographic Traveler assignments have taken him to places such as Ireland, Rome, Sardinia, and Milan as well as to Abu Dhabi, Istanbul, and beyond. He also has taught workshops in Prague and Paris. Yoder’s photo essay on bounty hunters was exhibited at the famed Visa Pour l'Image in Perpignan, France, and his work has appeared in other worldwide publications, such as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Time, Newsweek, and Forbes.

15 Day Itinerary

  1. Day 1 - Budapest, Hungary

    Arrive in Budapest and embark the Scenic Ruby. Enjoy a welcome dinner on board, complete with views of the city’s grand buildings glittering under the night sky.

    Meals Included: Dinner

  2. Day 2 - Budapest

    Discover the two distinct sides of this Hungarian capital—the cobbled hills of Buda and the grand boulevards of Pest, linked by eight stately bridges that span the Danube. Climb historic Castle Hill to see the Royal Palace and Matthias Church, the stunning setting for the coronations and weddings of the Habsburg royalty. Alternatively, choose to soak in one of the city’s traditional bathhouses, or descend into the Hospital in the Rock, a secret subterranean military hospital used during World War II.  If you wish, set out on a guided walk in the Buda hills, hiking up to Lions Rock.

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  3. Day 3 - Vienna, Austria

    Cruise the Danube toward Vienna, tracing the border of Hungary and Slovakia before crossing into Austria. Relax in the lounge in views of colorful waterfront towns and hilltop fortifications.

    This evening arrive in Vienna for a private concert in the gilded halls of the Palais Liechtenstein, featuring the timeless music of celebrated Austrian composers Strauss and Mozart.

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  4. Day 4 - Vienna or Bratislava, Slovakia

    Choose from among several excursions today. Bike between Vienna’s magnificent palaces, parks, and cathedrals on a guided cycling tour; or tour the Schönbrunn Palace, the baroque summer residence of the imperial family and a World Heritage site. You may instead choose to take a guided tour of the Museum of Natural History for an inside look at its meteorite exhibit, curated by a National Geographic grantee. Alternatively, visit Bratislava for a guided tour through the cobbled streets of the old town.

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  5. Day 5 - Melk, Austria

    Glide into Austria’s lush Wachau Valley and dock at Melk for a tour of its Benedictine abbey, one of the world’s most magnificent baroque buildings. Or take a more active excursion, cycling along the Danube from Dürnstein to Melk or hiking to the hilltop ruins of a medieval castle. Or visit a local winery for a guided tour of the cellars and vines, followed by a tasting of the region’s celebrated Grüner Veltliners and Rieslings.

    This evening, sip sundowners in a beautiful location in the Wachau Valley.

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  6. Day 6 - Salzburg

    Spend the day in Salzburg, a baroque beauty brimming with old-world European charm. Take in views of wildflower-dotted meadows and snow-capped Alpine peaks and stroll the storybook streets of the old town, lined with lively shops and cafés. Salzburg features prominently in the celebrated 1965 movie The Sound of Music, and we’ll see the film come to life during an exclusive music and dance show with fantastic sets performed in the rolling hills above Salzburg. Enjoy a traditional Austrian lunch as you hum along to the movie’s beloved classics.

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  7. Day 7 - Regensburg, Germany

    A World Heritage site set at the confluence of the Danube, Naab, and Regen rivers, Regensburg once served as a free imperial city of the Holy Roman Empire. On a guided visit, venture into the medieval center to see its splendid Gothic cathedral, 12th-century stone bridge, and the Porta Praetoria—the ancient Roman city gate. Alternatively, tour the historic Kuchlbauer Brewery and its whimsical tower—a tribute to modern art. Or take a local ferry across the Danube Gorge to Weltenburg Abbey, home to the world’s oldest monastic brewery. Explore the abbey, then head to the courtyard and sip on a pint of their popular Weltenburger Kloster Barock Dunkel. If you wish, join a biking tour to Walhalla, a hall of fame of famous Germans honoring artists, politicians, scientists and more.

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  8. Day 8 - Nuremberg

    Threaded by medieval walls, crammed with half-timbered houses, and overlooked by an imperial castle, Nuremburg enjoys an abundance of charms—thanks in part to the meticulous reconstruction of the historic center following wartime devastation. The city also played center stage for German propaganda in the years leading up to World War II, and was the site of the historic trials where Nazi war criminals were brought to justice.

    Later, choose between touring the city’s World War II sites, bicycling along Ludwig Canal, or joining a cooking class.

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  9. Day 9 - Bamberg

    Disembark in enchanting Bamberg, where the entire old town has been distinguished as a World Heritage site. This architectural treasure sits where rolling hills descend into the Regnitz River valley, and is intersected by the serene flow of the Main-Danube Canal. Take a guided walk along Bamberg’s medieval streets to discover its colorful frescoes, covered bridges, and elaborate baroque buildings.

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  10. Day 10 - Würzburg

    Explore Würzburg, a city set at the junction of two ancient trade routes, and enjoy a guided tour of its 18th-century Residenz—one of Germany’s most magnificent baroque buildings and a World Heritage site. Or take a ride along the Romantic Road, winding through bucolic scenery and red-roofed towns en route to the postcard-perfect Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Walk the town’s medieval ramparts and snap photos of its sherbet-shaded houses before returning to Würzburg.

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  11. Day 11 - On the Main

    on board today as you take in the scenery along the Main River. From the comfort of the lounge, spy castles of all kinds, from medieval ruins intertwined with forest foliage to perfectly preserved Bavarian palaces. We’ll pass through the heart of Frankfurt before joining the Rhine in Mainz.

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  12. Day 12 - Rüdesheim am Rhein

    Ride into Rüdesheim on the Winzerexpress mini-train set out to explore the city or the surrounding Rheingau wine region.

    Enjoy a guided visit to Siegfried’s Mechanical Music Cabinet, home to elaborate self-playing musical instruments. Then get a bird’s-eye view of the Rhine on a cable car ride to the Niederwald Monument—built to commemorate the 1871 unification of Germany. Or set out on a hike amid the vineyards of the Middle Rhine Valley, another World Heritage-designated region.

    Soak up the enchanting ambience of Marksburg Castle during an unforgettable medieval feast featuring local wines.

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  13. Day 13 - Cologne

    Cruise through the Middle Rhine Valley to Cologne, a hub for visual arts and an architectural mosaic of Romanesque churches, modernist museums, and Gothic spires.

    Take a walking tour of the city and its World Heritage-listed cathedral, Or enjoy a guided visit to the Neanderthal Museum in nearby Mettmann, Alternatively, stay on board for a culinary experience.

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  14. Day 14 - Amsterdam, The Netherlands

    With its gabled roofs, squares cluttered with bicycles, and canal-lined streets, Amsterdam is bursting with unique character.

    See this timeless city from the water during a canal cruise, and hear from your guide about its fascinating history as a center for art and seafaring trade. Or enjoy a guided visit to the Rijksmuseum, named by National Geographic as one of the world’s “Top Ten Museums and Galleries.” Alternatively, opt to ride bikes through the outskirts of the city or head to Zaanse Schans in the countryside, where we’ll see historic rural houses and a cluster of Dutch windmills.

    Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  15. Day 15 - Amsterdam

    After breakfast, transfer to the airport to catch your flight home.

    Please note: Itinerary is subject to change.

    Meals Included: Breakfast

Tour inclusions

The National Geographic Difference
  • Alongside a National Geographic expert, explore 11 UNESCO World Heritage sites, including medieval Bamburg, the Wurzburg Residenz, and the grand Gothic cityscape of Budapest.
  • Sip wines and compare tasting notes from Austria’s Wachau Valley and the Rheingau region of Germany, and enjoy a pint from the world’s oldest monastic brewery outside Regensburg.
  • Enjoy expert insight from local guides during visits to Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum and Vienna’s Museum of Natural History, whose meteorite exhibit was co-curated by a National Geographic grantee.
  • A National Geographic photographer joins every departure and gives talks on board covering technical skill and artistry.

Pricing & Availability