Danube Holiday Markets
Arrive at Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport, where you will be transferred to the ship.
FEATURED EXCURSION: Budapest city tour with Christmas Market
Explore Budapest, an enchanting city often referred to as the “Queen of the Danube.” Made up of two parts—Buda, the hills, and Pest, the flat lands—the city is divided by the Danube. It’s an architectural dream, as you’ll discover on your city tour. Visit the UNESCO World Heritage-designated Castle Hill district and see dramatic vistas from the 19th- century Fisherman’s Bastion. In the center of it all is the Christmas Market on Vörösmarty Square, where you’ll get to shop for traditional Hungarian wares and delightful holiday treats, such as spiced wine and cinnamon-spiced gingerbread. Only the finest Hungarian craftsmen are invited to participate in the market, so you can be assured of finding unique and beautifully made gifts. Among the special features of the market are a six-foot Advent wreath and a hand-carved manger, part of a Nativity scene that includes live animals. Savor traditional honey cakes with spiced wine or aromatic coffee as you stroll and shop. In the evening, enjoy a Captain’s Welcome Reception and Gala Dinner.
FEATURED EXCURSION: Bratislava walking tour with Christmas Market
The heart and soul of Slovakia, Bratislava is full of surprises that are yours to uncover on your walking tour of the historic downtown area, which concludes at the Christmas Market. While Bratislava’s very first Christmas Market was only established in 1993, Slovakians have quickly embraced the holiday traditions of their Austrian and Hungarian neighbors, filling stalls with distinctive local folk art.
FEATURED EXCURSIONS: Choice of Vienna city tour with Winter Palace of Prince Eugene visit and Christmas markets or exclusive “Taste of Christmas” walking tour and Mozart and Strauss concert at a Viennese palace
This regal city becomes even more dazzling during the holidays. Vienna is a treasure trove of secular and sacred gems, many of which you will see during your panoramic city tour. Travel stately Ringstrasse and see St. Stephen’s Cathedral, where Mozart was married in 1782. Then visit the principal staterooms of Prince Eugene’s magnificent Winter Palace, a stunning example of baroque architecture. Afterward, take in two Christmas markets with your guide. Austria’s most famous Christmas Market, with over 140 wooden huts, is set in front of City Hall. You will also visit a smaller but equally charming Christmas Market at Freyung Square, which has taken place every winter since 1772. Or ramble through Old Town Vienna on an exclusive “Taste of Christmas” tour. Venture down the city’s famous shopping streets, the Graben and Kohlmarkt, where you’ll see the wonderful confectionary treats on display in Café Demel’s windows, and continue on to the Am Hof and Freyung Christmas markets. Savor some vanillekipferl, Austria’s most famous cookie, and other seasonal goodies. In the evening, celebrate the spirit of Mozart and Strauss at a concert in a classic Viennese palace.
FEATURED EXCURSION: Göttweig Abbey with private organ recital
Beautiful Benedictine Göttweig Abbey boasts a spectacular hilltop location on the eastern edge of the famed Wachau Valley. Though the abbey was founded more than nine hundred years ago, it was “modernized” following a fire in 1718, when it was transformed into a vast palace with interiors that are a monument to baroque art and design. Explore its baroque glories and listen to a private organ concert in the beautiful abbey church. After lunch, enjoy a scenic cruise through the breathtakingly beautiful Wachau Valley, a 19-mile stretch of the Danube between Krems and Melk. This ravishing region—with steep, densely wooded slopes on the south side of the river and a mixture of crags and south-facing vineyards on the north—has been declared a World Heritage Cultural Landscape by UNESCO. Dotted along the banks are small historic towns and winemaking communities.
Note: The organ concert may take place in a different location if the Göttweig Abbey visit falls on a Catholic holiday.
FEATURED EXCURSIONS: Choice of full-day Salzburg with walking tour and Christmas Market or Linz and Steyr with Christmas markets
Spend the day in Salzburg, starting with a walking tour of Old Town. View the magnificent Salzburg cathedral, inspired by St. Peter’s Basilica, and visit Salzburg’s Christmas Market, located around the cathedral and at the foot of the Hohensalzburg Castle. A true feast for the senses, the market features the warm aroma of spiced wine and Austrian pastries, the sights and sounds of holiday performances, and the bright colors of traditional handcrafts.
Or you may opt to explore the beautiful towns of Steyr and Linz. The unique ambiance of Steyr shines brighter than ever during the holiday season, when brass bands, storytellers, and choir performances add to the enchantment of the Christmas Market in Old Town.
In Linz, two delightful Christmas markets are linked by the main shopping thoroughfare—with a truly spectacular light show connecting them. Begin at the Hauptplatz and follow the illuminations down the Landstrasse to the Volksgarten, where you’ll find animated displays of fairytale scenes.
FEATURED EXCURSION: Passau walking tour with Christmas Market, and gingerbread-making and floral-decorating demonstrations
Baroque Italian flair overlays the medieval Old Town of Passau. Your tour takes you past St. Stephan’s Cathedral, the New Residence, and Town Hall to the spot where three rivers converge in the city. At Passau’s Christmas Market, set against the glorious backdrop of St. Stephan’s Cathedral, you will find unique crafts, including Bavarian-style miniature houses and glass ornaments. As an added treat, you will attend a gingerbread-making and floral- decorating demonstration. In the evening, enjoy a Captain’s Farewell Reception and Gala Dinner.
Disembark the ship in Passau and transfer to Munich Airport for your flight home, or extend your stay in the golden city of Prague.