As an inspiration to many, the majesty of the Danube and its great cities nestled along its route has been the creative trigger for great works of literature, art and music. This enchanting river presents the most romantic and scenic way to travel between central and eastern Europe and a week-long cruise, from Vienna to Budapest aboard MS Serenade 1, provides a lovely relaxing opportunity to do just that. It perfectly combines three exceptional capital cities - Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest - with the beautiful Danube scenery that unfolds as you sail, including the Wachau Valley, whilst stopping in charming towns along the way.
Titan’s VIP door-to-door travel service collects you from your home, for your journey to London Heathrow Airport and a direct, scheduled British Airways flight to Vienna. On arrival, transfer to embark MS Serenade 1 (4T). Light refreshments will be available on arrival, with time to settle in before a welcome cocktail and Captain’s gala dinner this evening.
Day 2 - Dürnstein - cruising Wachau Valley - Melk
Our first port of call is Dürnstein, cited as one of the country’s most beautiful towns. This morning you may choose to explore this small town at leisure or take an optional orientation walk to learn of a history, which includes tales of Richard the Lionheart who was captured on his return from a crusade and held in Dürnstein Castle, now sitting in ruins. Being surrounded by gently sloping vineyards, there will be an opportunity to visit a local vineyard for a wine tasting. We cruise through Austria’s scenic UNESCO-listed Wachau Valley, a particularly pretty stretch of river, to reach the sleepy town of Melk, dominated by its resplendent Benedictine abbey, which we will visit as an included excursion. The impressive Baroque monastery holds a particularly impressive church embellished with gold, marble and many frescoes.
Day 3 - Passau
Enjoy a morning of scenic cruising as we wind our way to Passau, the town built on the confluence of the rivers Danube, Inn and Ilz. Spend your afternoon in Passau discovering the city at leisure or on an optional guided walking tour. Through its Old Town, the 17th century creation of Italian Baroque masters, cobblestone streets take you up to St Stephen’s Cathedral, home to the world’s largest cathedral organ.
Day 4 - Linz - Vienna
Spend your morning discovering Linz, a city that combines its heritage with a healthy interest in the future. You may consider choosing to spend your morning on an optional walking tour of the city, taking in one of the most important collections of Austrian art history and folklore at the Schlossmuseum, or visiting the Ars Electronica Centre, a ground-breaking museum full of innovative ideas and perceptions. Our cruise continues over lunch, arriving in Vienna this evening.
Day 5 - Vienna - Bratislava
Vienna is one of Europe’s most beautiful cities with a rich culture of arts and music, and proud to be able to list a large number of highly esteemed composers as past inhabitants, including Mozart, Brahms and Schubert. We embark on a city tour by coach that will introduce you to the fine Baroque churches, palaces and concert halls before continuing our cruise across the border into Slovakia. We dock in its capital, Bratislava, tonight.
Day 6 - Bratislava
For this morning we have included a tour of Bratislava on the city’s tourist train. See the lovingly-restored Old Town and the imposing Bratislava Castle (Hrad), which towers over the city. With a total of eleven kings and eight queens crowned within the castle’s white walls, and a communist legacy, the city has a full history. The last leg of scenic cruising commences this afternoon.
Day 7 - Budapest
You have the choice to spend the day exploring Budapest at leisure, or to take an optional tour of this fascinating city. With many monuments reflecting its long history, from Roman, Turk and Ottoman occupation, as well as riverside promenades, flea markets and antique shops, there are many to choose from. Tonight, enjoy the Captain’s farewell gala dinner on board, followed by evening entertainment.
Day 8 Budapest - London
Disembark this morning and join an excursion to the Royal Palace of Godollo. The second largest baroque castle in Europe is the former summer residence of Emperor Franz Josef I and his wife Queen Elisabeth. This grand building has recently been used as a retirement home and barracks for Soviet troops, but 32 rooms, including the royal suites, reception rooms, chapel and theatre; are now restored with incredible detail, filled with original royal furniture and lit by gilded chandeliers hanging from beautiful stuccoed ceilings. The surrounding park is also impressive. Later, we transfer to Budapest Airport for a direct, scheduled British Airways flight to London Heathrow. On arrival you will be met and guided to your Titan vehicle, for the journey home.