Day 1Arrive in Prague, Czech Republic
Welcome to Prague, capital of the Czech Republic. This fascinating city straddles the Vltava River with domes, cupolas, spires, and pinnacles highlighting its skyline. The remainder of the day is free to start exploring.
Prague is a 1,200-year-old city preserved in time, and, unlike other Central European capitals, it was not bombed during the 20th-century wars. To explore the “Golden City”, CHOOSE YOUR ACTIVITY:
- Participate in an URBAN HIKE characterized by stunning views of the city, steep cliffs and woods – and all this a few minutes from the crowded city center; or
- Join a conventional GUIDED TOUR during which a Local Guide shows you its best-known treasures, such as the Old Town’s Astronomical Clock, built in 1410 and once the envy of all of Europe; HRADČANY CASTLE GROUNDS; St. Vitus Cathedral; and the Charles Bridge, the oldest bridge in Prague.
Later browse the shops for hand-cut crystal or art books. Mix with the locals in Wenceslaus Square, an important meeting point and where people demonstrated against the communist regime; or watch performers on Charles Bridge. And if that is not enough to keep you busy, how about joining one of a variety of optional excursions: a microbrewery tour, focusing specifically on local mini-breweries which produce really unique beers, varying in color, and taste and the overall drinking experience; or participate in a cooking class which introduces you to typical Czech cuisine. Maybe an e-bike tour around the city is more to your liking and tonight we can even offer you the “Dark Shadows of Old Town” tour. (Breakfast)
Day 3Prague–Česky Krumlov–Linz, Austria
Today, we leave Prague as we travel south to the charming city of Česky Krumlov, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here, time seems to have stood still. GUIDED SIGHTSEEING gives you an overview of this medieval jewel. In the late afternoon, arrive in Linz. (Breakfast)
Day 4Linz (Embarkation)
A European Capital of Culture, Linz, Austria’s third-largest city welcomes you with open arms and plenty to see and do. This morning, CHOOSE YOUR ACTIVITY:
- Join a GUIDED CITY WALK or
- A contemporary HISTORY TOUR during which your guide reveals what life was like in the city during WWII and how Linz just managed to escape becoming a divided city like Berlin
- The more active might enjoy a CASUAL HIKE across to Mount Pöstlingberg.
Then there’s free time for shopping, exploring on your own, or joining an optional activity. How about a cooking class so you can dazzle your friends back home with an authentic Linzer Torte, the world’s oldest known cake? This afternoon, board the AVALON LUMINARY, and after a mandatory safety exercise, meet your friendly crew and fellow shipmates at a WELCOME RECEPTION. (Breakfast, Dinner)
Day 5Engelhartszell–Schlögen Oxbow Scenic Cruising–Linz
As you slept, your ship arrived in the pretty market town of Engelhartszell near the German border. Step ashore and CHOOSE YOUR ACTIVITY:
- visit the stunning rococo ENGELSZELL ABBEY to tour its brewery, explore its SENSORY GARDEN—complete with stone labyrinth, herb garden, and vineyard—and attend a TASTING of locally produced cheeses and beer brewed by the Trappist monks, or;
- join a fun GUIDED HIKE along the route that smugglers took during World War II, when a tightly controlled border existed between Austria and Germany.
Back on your ship, an excellent lunch of Bavarian specialties will leave you energized and ready to join an exhilarating HIKE ALONG THE DANUBE. Fresh air and incredible vistas await as you watch the Avalon Luminary pass through the Schlögen Oxbow, a particularly beautiful horseshoe-shaped curve of the river. In Aschach, rejoin the ship, which returns to Linz for the night. This evening, optional theater or music excursions are available—or you can mingle with the locals at a fun pub crawl! (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Arrive this morning in Mauthausen, with evidence of human habitation dating back to the Neolithic Age. Here, we let you place your own personal stamp on your day as you CHOOSE YOUR ACTIVITY:
- take a GUIDED BIKE TOUR to an ancient Roman border defense fort dating back to the 2nd century AD. Visit the museum dedicated to the site, with military weaponry, accounts of daily life, ceiling frescoes, sacred art objects, and more;
- visit the 9th-century ST. FLORIAN MONASTERY, an architectural rival to Melk Abbey. While exploring, you may meet one of the monks (when available) or attend a short music recital, or;
- join a heart-wrenching tour of MAUTHAUSEN CONCENTRATION CAMP, one of World War II’s largest and most brutal Nazi work camps.
This afternoon, your ship passes through another breathtaking area, the Strudengau, popular among climbers and hikers for its enticing geological formations. Dock in Grein, a pretty country resort in the shadow of its castle. The GUIDED WALK includes a visit of the historic THEATER, the oldest in Austria still holding regular performances. Then, visit GREINBURG or CLAM CASTLE, where you will meet the owner. After dinner, don’t miss the spectacular views as we pass by Melk Abbey, perched high on a cliff above the river. The ship docks late tonight in Spitz. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Exciting activities abound today! CHOOSE YOUR ACTIVITY:
- PADDLE A CANOE on a guided tour down the Danube and along some of its tributaries, for a completely unique perspective of the river and riverbank villages;
- bask in the fresh air and incredible views on an easy guided BIKE TOUR from Spitz to Krems. Enjoy sightseeing in Dürnstein that includes the mesmerizing blue Stiftskirche, and enjoy a break to sample local specialties;
- join an interactive WINE WORLD EXPERIENCE with wine tasting, or;
- get a hands-on LOCAL ENCOUNTER that showcases production of regional fruits, vegetables, wine, or other products, depending on the season. A snack and beverage are included.
This evening arrive in Vienna, the “City of Music,” where you have free time to join an optional guided hike through the vineyards outside town, with a wine tasting and dinner at a Heurigen wine tavern. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Once the center of the mighty Habsburg Empire, this “City of Music” inspired the creative genius of Mozart, Beethoven, and Strauss—and will inspire you, as well! Waltz ashore and CHOOSE YOUR ACTIVITY:
- enjoy a BIKE TOUR that takes in the sights along the famed Ringstrasse and areas of Vienna inaccessible to buses and cars;
- slip on your sneakers and join a JOGGING TOUR that shows you the highlights as you run between sites;
- take a unique INSIDERS TOUR that features something different every day. It could be anything, from a visit to a musical instrument maker to a crash course on etiquette and protocol at diplomatic gatherings. You will meet locals, have the chance to prepare some food at a cooking class, and will enjoy other surprises as well, or;
- get a proper introduction to Vienna during a CITY SIGHTSEEING TOUR that includes an inside visit of Belvedere Palace to see Klimt’s celebrated Kiss.
Afterward, you have free time to explore on your own. Maybe stroll through the pedestrian Kärntnerstrasse, take a break for a piece of decadent Sachertorte, or join an optional excursion. Tonight’s onboard dinner pays a delicious tribute to the former Austrian-Hungarian Empire. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
A second full day in Vienna presents even more opportunities to immerse yourself in the magic. CHOOSE YOUR ACTIVITY for an experience most meaningful to you:
- wrap yourself in the peace of the city at sunrise during an EARLY RISER WALKING TOUR that includes breakfast at a Viennese café and an exclusive viewing of the Habsburg family’s private art collection at the Museum of Fine Arts;
- for a more leisurely start to your morning, skip the walking tour and onshore breakfast and simply join us for the MUSEUM VISIT, which includes time in the ITALIAN & DUTCH MASTERS GALLERY, or;
- perfect for military history buffs, begin with the MUSEUM VISIT of the Habsburg collection, then explore the MILITARY MUSEUM, commemorating the heroic past of the Habsburg Empire.
Tonight, enjoy a delectable dinner of Viennese specialties on board. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 10Visegrád, Hungary–Budapest
This morning, the Avalon Luminary passes by mighty Esztergom Basilica, coronation church of Hungary’s monarchs. Later, arrive in Visegrád, where another exciting day is on tap. CHOOSE YOUR ACTIVITY:
- cheer your favorite champion at a MEDIEVAL KNIGHTS TOURNAMENT at Visegráds Lower Castle, featuring targeting and fighting demonstrations by members of the St. George Knightly Order. During free time here, be sure to explore Palotaház, where stonemasons, smiths, potters, and paper-makers produce their traditional items using age-old techniques, or;
- spend your day in the great outdoors on a GUIDED HIKE through Danube-Ipoly National Park, home to eagles, falcons, bats, terrapins, fire salamanders, and other wildlife.
Later this afternoon, your ship arrives in Budapest, affording magnificent views of the beautiful Parliament Building. Prepare for an exquisite GALA FAREWELL DINNER featuring foods specially paired with just the right area wines or beers. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Day 11Budapest (Disembarkation)
One of Eastern Europe’s most dynamic cities, Hungary’s capital spans the Danube in a majestic way. Awaken refreshed and dig into a hearty breakfast before disembarking and deciding how you would like to explore. CHOOSE YOUR ACTIVITY:
- take an enjoyable, 2-hour WALKING TOUR that includes some “Fungarian” instruction of useful local words and phrases;
- join a GUIDED BIKE TOUR along the bike paths and car-free areas for a safe and enjoyable way to see the city’s most fantastic sights, or;
- see the best of Budapest on a CITY SIGHTSEEING TOUR featuring Heroes’ Square, Fishermen’s Bastion, Matthias Church, and an inside visit of the OPERA HOUSE.
Afterward, you have free time to shop for Hungarian paprika or handcrafted souvenirs, savor a piece of cream cake in the world-famous Gerbeaud Café, join an optional tour of Budapest’s limestone cave system or play nine holes of golf. (Breakfast)
Your vacation ends with breakfast this morning! (Breakfast)