- Alongside a National Geographic expert, explore 11 UNESCO World Heritage sites, including medieval Bamberg, the Wurzburg Residenze, and the Gothic cityscape of Budapest.
- Meet National Geographic grantee Ludovic Ferrière at Vienna’s Museum of Natural History for a behind-the-scenes look at the meteorite exhibit he co-curated.
- With guidance from a National Geographic photographer, frame classic European scenes, from the canals of Amsterdam to the Alpine meadows surrounding Salzburg.
- Enjoy a private concert in the opulent halls of Vienna’s Palais Lichtenstein and a medieval feast at enchanting Marksburg Castle, perched high above the Rhine.
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 or Scenic Opal, 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. As we sail these storied waterways, enjoy the freedom and flexibility to tailor the itinerary to your interests, choosing from a variety of available excursions at each port of call—and benefit from the insights provided by the National Geographic Expert and the National Geographic photographer who accompany us on the journey.
Arrive in Budapest and embark the Scenic Opal. The next day brings several options for discovering Budapest. Take a guided hike to Lion's Rock in the Buda Hills; set out on a walking tour of the city; soak in a traditional bathhouse; or descend into the Hospital in the Rock, a subterranean military hospital used during World War II.
Scenic Opal for the entire voyage
Cruise to Vienna, arriving in time for a private evening concert in the gilded halls of the Palais Liechtenstein. Sip sparkling wine as you take in the timeless music of Strauss and Mozart. Choose from among several excursions the following day. Meet National Geographic grantee Ludovic Ferrière at Vienna’s Museum of Natural History for a behind-the-scenes tour of the meteorite exhibit he co-curated. Or opt to take a bicycle tour of Vienna, explore Schönbrunn Palace with a guide, or cross into Slovakia for a visit to Bratislava.
Glide into Austria’s lush Wachau Valley and dock at Melk for a tour of its Benedictine abbey. Or take a more active excursion, cycling along the Danube from Melk to Dürnstein, or hiking to the hilltop ruins of a medieval castle. There is also the option for a tour and tasting at a local winery. Spend the next day in Salzburg, featured prominently in The Sound of Music. We’ll see the film come to life during an exclusive music and dance performance amid the hills surrounding town.
Cross into the German state of Bavaria and sample the region’s celebrated beers on one of two excursions: a tour of the historic Kuchlbauer Brewery or a visit to Weltenburg Abbey, home to the world’s oldest monastic brewery. Today’s active options include a walk through Regensburg’s charming medieval center or a bike ride to the Walhalla memorial. In Nuremberg, tour the city’s World War II sites, bicycle along Ludwig Canal, or try your hand at baking traditional ginger bread. Take a guided walk along Bamberg’s enchanting medieval streets.
Enjoy a guided tour of Würzburg’s 18th-century Residenze—one of Germany’s most magnificent baroque buildings. Or choose to ride along the Romantic Road to the postcard-perfect town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Spend the next day soaking in spectacular scenery along the Main River as we drift to our next destination. Attend talks given by our National Geographic expert, and head to the sundeck to practice landscape shots with a National Geographic photographer.
Ride into Rüdesheim am Rhein on the Winzerexpress mini-train, then enjoy a guided visit through Siegfried’s Mechanical Music Cabinet before hiking or riding a cable car to the Niederwald Monument. Feast on medieval fare at enchanting Marksburg Castle, perched above the Rhine. The next day, disembark in Cologne. Tour the city and its twin-towered cathedral, enjoy an exclusive behind-the-scenes visit to the Neanderthal Museum in nearby Mettmann, or stay on board for a tasting experience featuring western German cuisine.
See timeless Amsterdam from the water during a canal cruise, and hear from our guide about its history as a center for art and seafaring trade. Alternatively, enjoy a guided visit to the Rijksmuseum, or opt for a bike ride through the outskirts of the city. You may also choose to explore historic street markets, or head to Zaanse Schans in the countryside to see rural houses and iconic Dutch windmills. Depart for home on our final day.
- Prague Extension4 days from $995
Having survived throughout the centuries with much of its architecture intact, Prague is considered one of the best-preserved medieval cities in Europe. Gain firsthand insights into the city’s turbulent history as you explore the cobbled streets that wind beneath the baroque domes and Gothic spires that grace the stunning skyline.
Arrive in Prague and settle into our centrally located hotel.
Trace centuries of history on a guided tour through this “city of a hundred spires.” Get acquainted with spacious plazas and magnificent cathedrals as you wind your way along the cobbled streets of the Old Town. Visit the lively Old Town Square, a focal point of the 15th-century conflict between the reformist Hussites and the ruling Roman Catholics, and see the statue commemorating Jan Hus, the religious reform leader and Czech national hero who was burned at the stake for heresy. Gaze up at the impressive Astronomical Clock, and catch its festive hourly performance. Later, choose to explore through the lens of its communist history, or step into the 12th-century Strahov Monastery, known for its extensive art and library collection. Gather this evening for a traditional Czech feast.
Set out to explore Prague at your leisure. Consider a visit to the historic Jewish Quarter, where the synagogues, museums, and cemetery tell an unforgettable story of struggle and perseverance. Cross the iconic Charles Bridge to see St. Vitus Cathedral and the courtyards and palaces that make up Prague Castle, the largest ancient castle in the world. Or delve into Prague’s modern history in Wenceslas Square, where citizens gathered during the Velvet Revolution to first demand, and then celebrate, the end of communism.
After breakfast, transfer to Nuremberg for your cruise.