Cruise through five European counties as you journey along some of the continent’s most scenic rivers; the Danube, Main and Rhine. Experience the picture-perfect landscapes and fabled scenery aboard the elegant Scenic Ruby. From grand cities and castle-crowned river valleys to history-engulfed medieval towns, explore Europe during a memorable 15-day expedition cruise. Venture from Hungary to Austria, Slovakia to Germany and enjoy exquisite cuisine, picturesque sights and the very best excursions all alongside a National Geographic expert and photographer.

Trip highlights

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.

Itinerary - 15 Days

1-2 Budapest, Hungary

Arrive in Budapest and embark the Scenic Crystal. 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; or descend into the Hospital in the Rock, a subterranean military hospital used during World War II.

3-4 Vienna, Austria

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, Beethoven, 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.
This evening arrive in Vienna for a private concert in the gilded halls of the Palais Liechtenstein, featuring the timeless music of celebrated Austrian composers Strauss and Mozart. (B/L/D)

5-6 Melk, Austria

Glide into Austria’s lush Wachau Valley and dock at Melk for a tour of its Benedictine abbey. Or pay a visit to Artstetten Castle, the final resting place of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and meet with direct descendants of the family who still live in the castle. Alternatively, choose a more active excursion, cycling along the Danube from Dürnstein to Melk, or hiking to the hilltop ruins of a medieval castle. Spend the next day in Salzburg, featured prominently in the classic Hollywood musical The Sound of Music. Enjoy a tour of this picturesque town—the birthplace of Mozart—then transfer to a beautiful chalet in the hills outside of the city. After a traditional Austrian lunch here overlooking scenic alpine valleys, we’ll watch The Sound of Music come to life with an unforgettable performance of popular songs from the film.

7-9 Regensburg, Germany/Nuremberg/Bamberg

Cross into the German state of Bavaria and sample the region’s celebrated beers on a visit to the historic 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 or try your hand at baking traditional ginger bread. Take a guided walk along Bamberg’s enchanting medieval streets.

10-11 Würzburg / On the Main

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 our National Geographic photographer.

12-13 Rüdesheim am Rhein/Cologne

Ride into Rüdesheim am Rhein on the Winzerexpress mini-train, then enjoy a guided visit through Siegfried’s Mechanical Music Cabinet; or opt to hike or ride 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 local beers.

14-15 Amsterdam, The Netherlands

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, opt for a bike ride through the outskirts of the city, or head to Zaanse Schans in the countryside to see rural houses and iconic Dutch windmills. Depart for home on our final day.

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