Majestic Rivers of Europe Wine Cruise: Castles, Cathedrals & Fairytales - 2022

14-night river cruise with Mainz, Cologne, Rüdesheim, Heidelberg, Wertheim, Marktheidenfeld, Würzburg, Bamberg, Nuremberg, Regensburg, Passau, Vienna, Budapest
  • The Danube River along the shore of Budapest, featuring the grand Parliament building
  • Europe Wine River Cruise with Castles and Cathedrals including Cologne, Rüdesheim, Heidelberg, Würzburg, Nuremberg, Regensburg, Passau, Vienna, and Budapest
  • All FREE Single Supplements Are Sold Out
  • All Reduced Single Supplements Are Sold Out
FREE Solo Space
Solo Friendly Supplements
Save up to $3,698 per couple with FREE international airfare on select departures.
Further immerse yourself by adding a extension to your journey

Why cruise one European river when you can experience the three most majestic — the Rhine, Main, and Danube — on one single, seamless, deluxe voyage? Our Majestic Rivers of Europe Wine Cruise brings you through the most scenic stretches of Germany, Austria, and Hungary, presenting you with all the iconic attractions (including nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites) and cultural experiences that make this part of the Old World so memorable. Absorb the sophistication of Vienna, the city that gave birth to the modern world’s greatest movements of art, architecture, music, psychology, and more. See the great Gothic cathedral towns of Cologne, Würzburg, and Bamberg. Admire the legendary castles along the Rhine, and wander around fairy-tale villages of half-timbered houses.

As if those experiences weren’t intoxicating enough, you’ll also savor the region’s renowned wines during onboard tastings, visits to local cellars and vineyards, and at wine parings with your included nightly dinners. But that is not the only way we’ve enriched your itinerary . . . Your journey includes an impressive 32 included features and Cultural Connections that let you try out local traditions for yourself. Visit Vienna’s Kursalon for classical music, then learn how to waltz from a pro. Learn about the traditional artisanal industries that still inform village life during your time in charming Marktheidenfeld. Get your oompah on in the beer gardens and wine bars of Rüdesheim, Cologne, and Bamberg. Best of all, enjoy all this while unpacking only once, your deluxe Vantage river cruise ship serving as a floating hotel.

The icing on the cake is your two optional trip extension opportunities: Add a visit to Paris or to Bratislava & Prague to make the most of your time and your value.

If you’re interested in this itinerary and want to revel in even more Cultural Discoveries and immersive experiences, check out our combination river cruise Grand European River Cruise. Explore more and save.

Mainz to Budapest

Close All

DAY 1:

Fly to Germany

Today, fly overnight to Frankfurt, Germany. You can also begin your journey earlier with an optional pre-trip extension to Paris.

DAY 2:

Enjoy the Mainz attraction

Today, you’ll land in Frankfurt. If you purchased your airfare from Vantage, a Vantage representative will meet you and arrange transfer to the pier, where you will board your Deluxe river ship and officially begin your European river cruise. Get settled into the rhythm of your cruise, unwinding with your first "Cocktail of the Day" selection in the lounge.

Culinary Feature:

  • “Cocktail of the Day” selection from your ship’s bartender (throughout the duration of your cruise)
Vantage Onboard Enrichment:
  • Morning yoga and stretching, offered throughout the duration of your cruise
  • Optional early risers’ breakfast in the Captain’s Club, offered throughout the duration of your cruise
  • Chess, shuffleboard, track, spa, and other amenities

Included meals:


DAY 3:

Cologne walking tour and Kölsch beer tasting

Begin the day with an early risers’ breakfast or a little morning yoga. After breakfast, you’ll set out to discover Cologne. The city was founded in the first century and became the seat of Roman rule. Germany's fourth largest city, Cologne preserves many fine medieval structures, including Romanesque churches, the city hall, and three of the city's 12 medieval gates.

Your walking tour features the Romanic Museum, and the old City Hall, which incorporates a building that was once part of Cologne’s medieval synagogue. It was taken over in 1424 when Cologne’s Jews were expelled, but today a glass pyramid protects the antechamber that led to the ceremonial baths or Mikwe, which was built in 1170. Your Cologne walking tour concludes in the grand plaza of the massive, twin-spired Cologne Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The current building's construction began in 1248, and it took 632 years to complete it. Your city tour ends here and you may return to the ship with your group; or if you prefer, you can go inside the cathedral on your own to see the gilded Shrine of the Three Magi, which is said to contain the remains of the three kings of the Christmas story fame.

During your city tour, you’ll pop into the brewery to taste this town's famous Kölsch beer, a classically dry and herbaceous ale that is only produced here in Cologne. “Prost!” (cheers!)

Back on board, the Captain invites you to a Welcome Reception and Dinner, featuring some sparkling sekt, Germany’s champagne-style wine. Join shipmates later in the evening for onboard entertainment.

Included Feature:

  • Walking tour of Cologne
Cultural Connections:
  • Kölsch beer tasting
  • Evening entertainment in the lounge
Biking Opportunity:
  • Enjoy this scenic path along the iconic Rhine River, with terrific views of Cologne Cathedral and the Hohenzollern Bridge, during this easy 5-mile route. Click here for details

Included meals:

Breakfast, lunch & dinner

DAY 4:

Rhine Valley views; Rüdesheim personalized for you

Look forward to an eventful day of scenic highlights and cultural discovery. Then, it’s all hands on deck as your ship winds through the Upper Middle Rhine Valley — a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Studded with historic castles and beautiful gorges, it is a sight you can only truly appreciate from the river. A highlight will be your sighting of the famous Lorelei, a steep slate rock that makes a soft, murmuring sound under certain conditions. It used to be the site of many shipwrecks, and a legend sprang up about a lovely, golden-haired maiden who would sit atop the rock combing her hair and singing a song that lured sailors too close to the rock . . . and into perilous waters.

When you arrive in cheerful Rüdesheim, you'll have your choice of three tours. The first is a cable car ride to the historic Niederwald Monument, which overlooks the Rhine Valley and commemorates the unification of Germany in the late 19th century. Or, choose a mini-train ride to Siegfried's Musikkabinett, an amusing museum dedicated to self-playing music and its instruments. Your third choice of tours is a wine hike, where you’ll pop into different Weinstuben to sample three different regional vintages.

Included Features:

  • Scenic sailing of the UNESCO-listed Upper Middle Rhine Valley with commentary
  • Your choice of tours in Rüdesheim: Cable car ride to Niederwald Monument, a mini-train ride to Siegfried's Musikkabinett, or a wine hike in Rüdesheim

Cultural Connection:

  • Evening of dance with Party Dance Duo (solo friendly)

Included meals:

Breakfast, lunch & dinner

DAY 5:

A full day in romantic Heidelberg

Disembarking in Frankfurt, you’ll set off for a full-day excursion to Heidelberg, a red-roofed town on the Neckar River that is home to Germany’s oldest university.

Enjoy panoramic views from the plaza of imposing Heidelberg Castle. You'll also see the famed Heidelberg Tun, an immense wine barrel, now empty, with a capacity of some 58,000 gallons. It would seem the immense volume was warranted, judging by the numerous old student pubs, cafés, and beer gardens that line Heidelberg’s charming alleys. You’ll sample local food at an included lunch in a local restaurant, then have some free time to explore here on your own. Perhaps you’ll poke into the old student jail (the Studentenkarzer), where drunk or unruly collegians were temporarily locked up. It was considered a badge of honor to spend time here, and you can still see the graffiti scribbled by 19th-century “inmates.” After your touring, you’ll transfer to Aschaffenburg, where your ship is waiting.

After dinner you can enjoy the musicianship of four string virtuosos performing classical and contemporary favorites.

Included Feature:

  • Full-day excursion to Heidelberg with Heidelberg Castle and lunch at a local restaurant
Cultural Connection:
  • Evening entertainment in the ship’s lounge

Included meals:

Breakfast, lunch & dinner

DAY 6:

Village life and a BBQ lunch in Marktheidenfeld

This morning your ship arrives in charming Wertheim, a picturesque town set at the confluence of the Main and Tauber rivers. You’ll enjoy a brief walking tour to admire its medieval treasures and 12th-century castle before setting off on your choice of four different village life experiences.

The lovely half-timbered village of Marktheidenfeld boasts several traditional industries, and today you’ll choose which one to explore. You can visit the local paper factory, a forge where traditional blacksmithing is done, or a local château whose owner will show you his antique piano and klavier collection. Your fourth choice is a visit to a family-owned winery, where you’ll sample some lovely Franconian vintages. After your choice of tour concludes you’ll enjoy a German-style barbecue or “grill party,” with traditional live music. Back on the ship, enjoy a German lesson with your Cruise Director.

Vantage Exclusive:

  • German-style BBQ with traditional live music
Included Feature:
  • Tour one of four traditional German industries in Marktheidenfeld: Visit the local paper factory, a forge where traditional blacksmithing is done, a local château, or a family-owned winery
Cultural Connection:
  • German lesson with your Cruise Director

Included meals:

Breakfast, lunch & dinner

DAY 7:

Würzburg tour and wine tasting inside the Residenz

Arriving in Würzburg, set out on a half-day tour of the Würzburg Residenz, a spectacular Baroque European bishop’s palace castle that was designed by the visionary architect Balthasar Neumann. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the Residenz grounds are ideal for strolling, and you’ll have time to do so before transferring back to the ship for lunch. Your tour includes a visit to the Residenz’s wine cellar where you will enjoy a tasting and talk conducted by an experienced sommelier.

During an onboard cooking demonstration today, try making and savoring the German tender rolled beef delicacy called rouladen.

Included Feature:

  • Half-day tour of the Würzburg Residenz with wine tasting
Culinary Feature:
  • Interactive cooking lesson in the Captain’s Club: Beef rouladen

Included meals:

Breakfast, lunch & dinner

DAY 8:

Altmühl Valley sailing and walking tour of Bamberg

While we cruise this morning, attend a lecture on the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal — one of Europe’s greatest engineering feats — and a glassblowing demonstration that introduces you to the artistry of this age-old craft. Later, we’ll pass through the locks of the canal and enjoy a day sailing through the lovely Altmühl Valley. Arriving in Bamberg, we'll embark on a fascinating walking tour of the historic center of town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After, enjoy some free time in Bamberg or join your Concierge for a pub crawl.

Learn how to make Swabian meat pockets during an on board demonstration this evening, a regional treat customary in southwestern Germany. Tonight’s delicious dinner onboard includes a pairing of four wines with insights on their local production.

Included Feature:
  • Walking tour of Bamberg
Cultural Connections:
  • On board lecture on the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal
  • A glassblowing demonstration
  • Wine pairing dinner on board
Culinary Feature:
  • Interactive cooking lesson in the Captain’s Club: Swabian meat pockets

Included meals:

Breakfast, lunch & dinner

DAY 9:

Explore WWII or medieval history in Nuremberg

This morning you'll have your choice of two city tours of Nuremberg. You can explore the city’s troubled past during a “Nuremberg and World War II” tour, which includes a visit to the Documentation Center, where many rallies took place. Alternatively, you can choose a “Medieval Nuremberg” tour featuring the grounds of Nuremberg castle, which date to the Holy Roman Empire, and the charming Hauptmarkt or market square.

In the afternoon you may return to Nuremberg on your own and visit the Toy Museum with your entrance covered by Vantage. Nuremberg is famous for its inventors and tinkerers, so this will be a delightful visit.

Included Feature:

  • Your Choice of Tours: "Nuremberg in WWII" or "Medieval Nuremberg"
Cultural Connection:
  • Onboard lecture on Bavaria - Germany's Special State
Culinary Feature:
  • Interactive cooking lesson in the Captain’s Club: Käsespätzle

Included meals:

Breakfast, lunch & dinner

DAY 10:

Regensburg: Roman architecture and Bavarian charms

Explore UNESCO-listed Regensburg today. This city has a history stretching back to the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, and you’ll get to know its heritage during a walking tour. Admire the impressive cathedral, as well as the famous stone bridge which was built in the 12th century. Later, back on the ship, enjoy some local entertainment by a Magic of Rhythm tap dance show.

Included Feature:

  • Walking tour of Regensburg
Cultural Connections:
  • Surprise creative performance
  • Evening onboard entertainment
  • Onboard Lecture: Germany in the 21st century during morning sailing
Biking Opportunity:
  • Explore Regensburg’s monuments and history, including the Walhalla Monument, during a moderate 14-mile route. Click here for details

Included meals:

Breakfast, lunch & dinner

DAY 11:

Music in picturesque Passau

Today, join a walking tour of Baroque Passau, known as the "City of Three Rivers" due to its location at where the Ilz and Inn meet the Danube. On your tour, enjoy an organ concert inside St. Stephen’s Cathedral. Back on board, join a local artist to learn how to capture the scenery with a brush, then take part in another cooking demonstration, during which you'll learn about Tiroler Gröstl.

Included Feature:

  • Walking tour of Passau
Cultural Connections:
  • Organ concert at St. Stephen’s Cathedral
  • Onboard painting lesson in the ship’s lounge
Culinary Feature:
  • Interactive cooking lesson in the Captain’s Club: Tiroler Gröstl
Biking Opportunity:

Note: In the event that the organ concert is not available, you will enjoy an organ concert in Regensburg (Day 10) instead.

Included meals:

Breakfast, lunch & dinner

DAY 12:

Cruise the scenic Wachau Valley plus, a musical Viennese evening

This will be a memorable day filled with stupendous scenery and music. Relax as your ship cruises the Danube River through the scenic Wachau Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Landscape. As you take in the romantic views of hilltop castles, ancient monasteries, and terraced vineyards, you'll cruise by the wine town of Dürnstein. In 1192, King Richard the Lionheart of England was imprisoned in the castle that looms above the town. Your Cruise Director will provide live commentary from the bridge.

This morning you can learn the secrets of making a perfect Austrian apple strudel during an onboard cooking demonstration. As your ship makes its way towards Vienna, you can also attend a presentation on that city’s famous musical heritage. Then, experience it firsthand during your exclusive, private visit to Vienna’s Kursalon, where an orchestra, singers, and dancers perform a wonderful classical concert. Later on board, come to the lounge where professionals from Viennese opera and music halls will teach you how to dance the waltz in true Blue Danube style. Tonight’s dinner will be further enhanced by a pairing and tasting of local wines.

Vantage Exclusive:

  • Exclusive, private concert at the Kursalon
Included Feature:
  • Scenic Wachau Valley sailing with live commentary
Cultural Connections:
  • Apple strudel making demo
  • On board lecture: Musical Vienna
  • Evening onboard entertainment
  • Wine pairing dinner on board

Included meals:

Breakfast, lunch & dinner

DAY 13:

Discover the historic heart of Vienna

This morning you’ll be introduced to the historic center of Vienna, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Your city tour takes you by coach and on foot across the famous Ringstrasse into the Innere Stadt, where you’ll see the Hofburg Palace, the Stephansdom Cathedral, the fashionable Graben area and its adjoining Kohlmarkt. The latter was once a coal market, but today, the only coal is of the highly compressed type, namely the diamonds that glitter in the streets many high-end jewelry shops. Your tour also features a visit to the Imperial Treasury in Hofburg Palace, which houses priceless jewels and regalia from the House of Habsburg, as well as religious artifacts from the Middle Ages. Back on board, the balance of the day is free.

This afternoon you may join your Concierge for a Viennese pub crawl. There will also be a cooking demonstration on Styrian pot roast.

Vantage Exclusive:
  • Panoramic city tour of Vienna, including a visit to the Imperial Treasury
Vantage Lifestyle:
  • Viennese pub crawl
Culinary Feature:
  • Interactive cooking lesson in the Captain’s Club: Styrian Pot Roast
Biking Opportunity:
  • Enjoy the architecture of Vienna, including panoramic sights of the city’s skyscrapers, during a medium 8-mile route. Click here for details

Included meals:

Breakfast, lunch & dinner

DAY 14:

Choice of tours in Vienna, afternoon sailing to Budapest

This morning you’ll have two included tour choices to discover more of Vienna. Come explore Schönbrunn Palace, a 1,441-room Baroque marvel that was the Habsburg’s summer home. Today it is a symbol of the city and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Your other choice is a visit to the Kunsthistorisches Museum (the Museum of Art History). It is Austria’s largest art museum and home to 2,100 objects that were part of the Habsburg’s collection.

You’ll be back in time for lunch on board. As your ship makes its way towards Budapest you will relax on board and look forward to tonight’s festive Farewell Dinner.

Included Feature:
  • Your choice of tours in Vienna: Schoenbrunn Palace or the Museum of Art History

Included meals:

Breakfast, lunch & dinner

DAY 15:

Discover the best of Budapest

Wake up in Budapest, which you’ll see this morning on a city tour. Almost the entirety of Budapest’s historic center has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and you’ll see the best of it as you visit City Park, Heroes' Square with its statues of Magyar chieftains, elegant Andrassy Avenue, the iconic Parliament building, and Castle Hill, where you’ll have free time and entrance to Fisherman's Bastion.

Your afternoon is free for you to explore. Perhaps you’ll visit a famous confectioner like Café Gerbeaud and join the perennial argument over who makes the world’s best Sachertorte. Maybe you’ll do some window shopping on Váci Utca, the pedestrian shopping zone. Or ask your Concierge to help arrange a visit to one of Budapest’s famous thermal baths, such as Széchenyi or Gellért.

Included Feature:

  • City tour of Budapest
Biking Opportunity:
  • Enjoy the most magnificent sites of Budapest, including Freedom Bridge, Chain Bridge, and the Hungarian Parliament Building during a medium-paced 9-mile route. Click here for details

Included meals:

Breakfast, lunch & dinner

DAY 16:

Disembark ship and return home

Transfer to the Budapest airport for your return flight home, or begin your optional post-trip extension to Bratislava and Prague.

Included meals:


Important Notice: The above day-by-day itinerary is preliminary and subject to change. If changes occur while on tour, you will be notified by your Cruise Director or regional expert. In addition, should there be an extreme change in water levels, Vantage will do everything possible to provide either the included excursion or an alternate excursion at Vantage’s discretion.

Please Note: Port times & itineraries are subject to change. Fluctuating water levels may affect itinerary.

Contact Vantage

CALL 1-800-322-6677

View Journey Map

Be prepared for
your journey with our
cruising essentials
Shop Now
Chat with an Expert
Promo Code: WB50500
Please provide this promotion code to your Vantage call center agent.