With a cast of thousands and a legacy that encompasses nearly four centuries, experience the extravagant, once-a-decade Passion Play, held in the quaint Bavarian village of Oberammergau. Our custom itinerary blends remarkable history with stunning scenery, featuring a five-night deluxe cruise along the Danube River, two nights in the idyllic Bavarian Alps and two nights in Munich. Visit four countries—Hungary, Slovakia, Austria and Germany—where highlights include the delightful cities of Budapest, Vienna, Bratislava and Salzburg. Pre- and post-tour extensions to Budapest and Munich are also planned.
Days 1 and 2
Depart the U.S. for Budapest, Hungary’s historic capital. Upon arrival, embark your exclusively chartered, deluxe, small river ship, and attend the Captain’s Welcome Reception and dinner. (r,d)
Austrian‑born, nevertheless the “most Hungarian Habsburg,” Archduke Joseph is credited with creating in Budapest an imperial capital that rivaled Vienna. The embankments of the centuries‑old twin cities of Buda and Pest, facing each other across the Danube, and the famous Buda Castle Quarter are a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. Begin your tour in Pest to see the iconic, neo-Gothic limestone Parliament Building, built between 1884 and 1904 on the river’s banks. Pass through Heroes’ Square and admire the monuments honoring the Magyar chiefs who conquered Hungary in A.D. 896. See the 19th‑century, neo‑Renaissance Hungarian State Opera House, one of the most beautiful performing arts venues in
the world. Cross the imposing Chain Bridge linking river‑level Pest to the hills of Buda. Visit the late‑19th‑century, neo‑Romanesque Fisherman’s Bastion on Castle Hill with commanding views of the city. Nearby, explore the Gothic‑style St. Matthias Church, where Charles I, the last Habsburgian ruler, was coronated in 1916. Reboard the ship for lunch and depart Budapest. (b,l,d)
Bratislava is nestled in the foothills of the impressive Carpathian mountain range; beautifully restored since the end of the Cold War, Slovakia’s charming capital depicts 21st‑century life amid its 1,000‑year‑old history. On a guided tour of the Old Town, walk among a sampling of central Europe’s finest medieval, Renaissance and 19th‑century architecture. Visit the Romanesque, 14th‑century Cathedral of St. Martin and the elaborate Primatial Palace, and see St. Michael’s Gate, Bratislava’s oldest preserved medieval fortification, originally built in 1300. Enjoy time at leisure in Bratislava before cruising through Austria’s fertile Donau‑Auen National Park. (b,l,d)
Former seat of the Habsburg Empire, Vienna’s historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage open‑air museum of splendid Baroque architecture. Enjoy a panoramic tour featuring its famous Ringstrasse,
showcasing the impressive Vienna State Opera House and Hofburg Palace. Visit the iconic, Gothic‑style Stephansdom (St. Stephen’s Cathedral). After lunch on board the ship, visit the UNESCO World Heritage‑designated Schönbrunn Palace and Gardens, the lavish summer estate of the imperial Habsburgs. It was here that a six‑year‑old Mozart first performed for Empress Maria Theresa and her
daughter, Marie Antoinette, the future queen of France. Enjoy time to stroll the sprawling, English‑style gardens. (b,l,d)
This morning, cruise the Danube’s fabled Wachau Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where terraced vineyards blanket hillsides dotted with the haunting ruins of medieval castles. Arrive in Melk and visit the impressive 900‑year‑old Benedictine Abbey, an Austrian Baroque masterpiece by Paul Troger. Showcasing
stunning 18th‑century ceiling frescoes and priceless relics, this beautiful kirche (church), houses the perfectly intact, multi‑panel, 16th‑century altarpiece by Danube School master Jörg Breu the Elder. A prestigious center of scholarship throughout the Middle Ages, the abbey’s library is today a repository of 100,000 medieval manuscripts. Enjoy lunch and an afternoon of engaging lectures on the ship before the Captain’s Farewell Dinner. (b,l,d)
Passau, Germany/Salzburg, Austria/Oberammergau, Germany
Disembark in Passau, where three legendary rivers converge—the Danube, Inn and Ilz. Transfer to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Salzburg, the setting for several scenes in The Sound of Music. Explore the Alter Markt, the city’s old marketplace, where burghers’ houses date back to the Middle Ages; see the
17th‑century Salzburg Cathedral, a fine example of Italian‑style Baroque architecture; and savor a local lunch. Walk through Mirabell Gardens and St. Peter’s Cemetery—one of the world’s oldest and most beautiful cemeteries. Enjoy time at leisure to stroll the picturesque arcades of Salzburg’s famous pedestrian lane, Getreidegasse. Continue through the scenic Bavarian Alps to a charming hotel near Oberammergau. Dinner is included in the hotel this evening. (b,l,d)
Oberammergau Passion Play
The pastoral village of Oberammergau is synonymous with the great Passion Play produced here only once every 10 years. Walk the streets of Oberammergau and admire the charming frescoed murals adorning
the walls and façades of the village buildings. This afternoon, experience one of Europe’s oldest and most venerable dramatic traditions. From specially reserved seats, enjoy the 2020 Passion Play, featuring a
cast of thousands—all local residents—and extraordinary stage sets. During intermission, enjoy a dinner of traditional Bavarian fare. (b,d)
After breakfast, depart for Munich. En route, stop at King Ludwig II’s fairy‑tale Neuschwanstein, one of the world’s most photographed castles and the Romanesque Revival inspiration for Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle. Lunch is included. (b,l)
History comes alive in the 800‑year‑old city of Munich, Bavaria’s historic capital, known for its artistic culture and unique beauty. Visit the 17th‑century, Baroque Nymphenburg Palace, birthplace of King Ludwig II and former summer residence of Bavarian royalty, and stroll through the palace’s exquisite gardens. Enjoy the Munich walking tour featuring the Königsbau (King’s building) of the Residenz,
the former royal palace complex. Stroll down elegant Maximilianstrasse and see the world‑famous,
16th‑century Hofbräuhaus, a three‑floor beer hall, and lively Viktualienmarkt, the city’s daily open‑air market. In Marienplatz, marvel at the grand neo‑Gothic façade of the New Town Hall, and see the famous Glockenspiel’s life-sized figures performing the traditional Coopers’ Dance. Enjoy an afternoon at leisure before attending the Farewell Reception in the hotel this evening. (b,r)
Munich/Return to the U.S.
After breakfast, continue on the Historic Bavaria Post‑Program Option or transfer to the airport for
your return flight to the U.S. (b)
Hungarian Tradition in Budapest Pre-Program Option
Budapest’s majestic hills and artistic, bohemian avenues are sure to captivate you. Visit the stately, Gothic Revival‑style Parliament Building, one of Europe’s oldest legislative buildings and Hungary’s largest, and enjoy an excursion into Hungary’s great, protected Puszta (plains), for an expert display of master horsemanship and a traditional regional lunch—an authentic and unforgettable experience. Enjoy river-view accommodations for two nights in the Five-Star InterContinental Budapest.
Historic Bavaria Post-Program Option
Continue to enjoy the quintessential Bavarian gemütlichkeit (friendliness) of Munich and explore its multifaceted culture. Tour one of the most renowned art collections in the world at the Pinakothek museum. Tour the poignant grounds of the nearby Dachau Memorial Site. Enjoy a hearty, traditional Bavarian dinner and a unique ambiance at the famous, Gothic-style Ratskeller Restaurant. Accommodations are for two nights in the deluxe Hotel Bayerischer Hof, located in the heart of Munich.
Pre- and Post-Program Options are available at additional cost. Details will be provided with your reservation confirmation.