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Avalon Waterways Reviews – 17 Day River Cruise Zurich to Budapest

Avalon Waterways Reviews – 17 Day River Cruise Zurich to Budapest. Christmastime Zurich to Budapest.

17 day river cruise Zurich to BudapestRiver Cruise Description
What better way is there to experience the Christmas holiday season than on this magnificent Avalon River Cruise vacation from bustling Zurich to Budapest. Enjoy guided sightseeing in Strasbourg, Würzburg, Bamberg, Nuremberg, Munich, Vienna and Budapest. Other highlights include: excursions to Germany’s historic Black Forest; to Heidelberg for a visit to the red sandstone castle, and to Rüdesheim in the heart of Rhine wine country, a visit to the elegant Benedictine Abbey of Melk, and a chance to sample some of the outstanding beers that Germany is famous for. You’ll have opportunity to stroll through and explore the many Christmas markets, where you can sample some tasty holiday treats, smell the festive aromas, shop for locally crafted Christmas ornaments, and delight in the traditional holiday cheer, which abounds during this holy season. This year, celebrate the holidays in style on this remarkable and unforgettable cruise.

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River Cruise Itinerary

Day 1 Arrive in Zürich, Switzerland–Transfer to Basel (Embarkation)
Welcome to beautiful majestic Switzerland. (Dinner) NOTE: Flights into Zürich must arrive before 3 p.m. and guests must be on board the cruise ship by 5 p.m.

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Day 2 Breisach, Germany. Excursion to the Black Forest

The gateway to Germany’s BLACK FOREST region, located at the foot of Kaiserstuhl Mountain on the French-German border, is Breisach an area of unrivaled natural beauty with its thick pine forests. Local residents gave the area its name because the forests are so dense they described them as black. There’s no better setting for this time of year to visit the region. You are greeted by curls of smoke coming from the chimneys of the traditional Black Forest houses with their long sloping roofs, suggesting images of warm, festively decorated interiors. The most popular products from this region are Black Forest ham, cherry cake, and cuckoo clocks. This afternoon there’s free time in Breisach to visit the popular Christmas market – or you may choose to join an exciting excursion to Colmar in France’s Alsace region. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 3 Strasbourg, FranceEurope waterway Prague
Strasbourg is situated on the border of France and Germany, and delightfully blends the cultures of both countries. As capital of the Alsace region and seat of the Council of Europe and European Parliament, it is, without a doubt, an extremely important city that manages to retain its historic appeal and charm. In fact, on your GUIDED WALKING TOUR you will discover Europe at its most ultimate. Visit the enormous red-sandstone GOTHIC CATHEDRAL with its outstanding ancient murals, stained-glass windows, and fascinating astronomical clock, as well as the enchanting
LA PETITE FRANCE district, home to half-timbered houses, quaint shops, inviting bistros, and a waterfront promenade. Also spend time exploring Place Kléber, a large historic square in the heart of the city, and Place Gutenberg in the heart of medieval Strasbourg, which features a statue of the inventor of the printing press. Dating back to 1570, the traditional Christmas market is one of the oldest and finest in Europe. Located around Place de la Cathédrale and Place Broglie, its centerpiece is a giant Christmas tree. As you stroll through the festively decorated and illuminated streets you can’t help but notice the alluring aromas of mulled wine, sweets, spice cakes, and biscuits – a truly extraordinary atmosphere! This afternoon, an optional excursion into the Alsace wine region is available. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

European waterways cruises parisDay 4 Excursion to Heidelberg, Germany
Today an excursion takes you to famous Heidelberg, home to the oldest university in Germany – founded in 1386. Visit the imposing ruins of ancient HEIDELBERG CASTLE, towering majestically over the city and considered among one of the most important Renaissance structures north of the Alps. You’ll also see the famed GREAT VAT, the “World’s Largest Wine Barrel.” At nearly 23 feet high and 28 feet wide, the cask holds more than 58,000 gallons of wine and has a dance floor built on top of it! At this time of year, an ice rink is set up at the foot of the castle, and merchants in the marketplace offer Glühwein, Bratwurst, and other tasty treats.
The Christmas market itself is scattered over five town squares, and you’ll find a wide variety of crafts and regional delicacies. There is plenty of free time to shop for festive Christmas decorations and gifts. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 5 Frankfurt. Excursion to Rüdesheim
After breakfast this morning, a comfortable motor coach ride takes you to the quaint little village of Rüdesheim, an perfect example of a Rhine Valley wine town. A visit to SIEGFRIED’S MECHANICAL MUSICAL INSTRUMENT MUSEUM is a one-of-a-kind experience! Afterward, we’ll offer you a SPECIAL TREAT and then there’s free time to explore even more of this beautiful place. This time of year, the entire town transforms itself into one large Christmas market. Presentations of products and specialties from a number of nations will make your shopping spree an adventure all its own. You’ll be amazed at the vast variety of shops offering such an array of Christmas presents and decorations. You will marvel at Europe’s largest nativity scene with life-size figures taking center stage in the Market Square. In the afternoon you’ll return to Frankfurt. (Breakfast, Dinner)

Day 6 Miltenberg
Visit the picturesque Bavarian village of Miltenberg, a cultural gem nestled along the banks of the Main River behind medieval defensive walls and towered gates. This afternoon’s GUIDED WALK will acquaint you with the town’s delightful Marktplatz (market square), which features a Renaissance-era fountain and stunning half-timbered buildings along cobblestone lanes, and Haus zum Riesen (the giant’s house), one of the oldest inns in Germany. And last, but not least, you’ll enjoy the gothic splendor of the Merchant Hall. Later in the day you’ll continue your cruise on the Main River to romantic Würzburg. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 7 WürzburgWaterways European River Cruise
Würzburg, known as the “Pearl of the Romantic Road,” is surrounded by beautiful sloping hills covered with well-manicured grape vineyards.
The city will make an eye-opening first impression with imposing Fortress Marienberg perched high above town and the 15th-century Alte Mainbrucke (Old Main Bridge). On your GUIDED SIGHTSEEING TOUR, visit the elegant baroque BISHOP’S RESIDENZ, home to the largest ceiling fresco ever painted. During the afternoon you are free to explore the beautifully decorated streets on your own. You can visit the Christmas markets, or perhaps join an optional excursion to medieval Rothenburg where you can try a Schneeball (snowball), a local specialty not at all suitable for a diet! (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 8 Bamberg
Your cruise will stop at medieval Bamberg, known for a former residence of one of Germany’s most powerful imperial dynasties. Today it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Your GUIDED WALKING TOUR takes in its historic center, including the great 13th-century Romanesque cathedral and the intriguing Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall) – built on an island in the middle of the Regnitz River when the bishop refused to give the townspeople land for a town hall! At this time of year, Bamberg is lavishly decorated for Christmas and especially interesting are the many nativity scenes built by local citizens and exhibited throughout the village. Enjoy the Christmas market, where, in addition to candles and holiday decorations, you’ll find large variety of regional delicacies such as gingerbread and nut bread. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 9 Nuremberg
Some 90 percent of Nuremberg’s Old Town suffered extensive damage from devastating bombings and the ravages of WWII. This ancient city, however, has since been restored to the glory it once knew as the unofficial capital of the Holy Roman Empire. You might choose a GUIDED SIGHTSEEING TOUR and marvel at this thousand-year-old city’s medieval fortifications, gothic churches, and the Kaiserburg (Imperial Castle). Or you may decide to join a more specialized “NUREMBERG RALLY GROUNDS” tour. The Old Town, as you might expect, is illuminated with festive lights and decorations, and the Christmas market is one of the most famous in the world. You’ll find some 200 merchant stalls offering traditional wares, including Nuremberg Lebkuchen (spicy gingerbread), baked goods and sweets, and every kind of Christmas decorations and ornaments you can imagine. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

European avalon waterways cruises parisDay 10 Nuremberg. Excursion to Munich
After a wonderful breakfast, you’ll drive to Munich, where a local expert will gladly show you the historic sights of the Bavarian capital. You’ll see an inspiring mix of historic buildings and impressive architecture, the Olympic Stadium, 1,000-foot-high Television Tower, Nymphenburg Palace, MARIENPLATZ in the historic heart of the city with both the Old and New Town Halls, and the gothic Frauenkirche. Later, You’ll have some free time to explore Nuremberg on your own. The traditional Christmas market is a treat for your senses. It’s located on the Marienplatz, where aromas of toasted almonds, roasted chestnuts, and gingerbread fill the air. In keeping with the season, you’ll hear the strains of alpine Christmas music coming from the town hall. At the nearby Rindermarkt, you’ll find the Kripperlmarkt, one of the largest markets in Germany specializing in mangers and other nativity scene accessories. And if you are a beer drinker you should not leave Munich without paying a visit to its famous Hofbräuhaus for a stein of their best beers! You will return to your ship in the late afternoon. (Breakfast, Dinner)

Day 11 Nuremberg
Today you have a full day to explore the fascinating sights of Nuremberg at your leisure. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 12 Regensburg
Your cruise ship arrives in Regensburg today. This city dates back to the time of the Celts around 500 BC known as the Iron Age. Regensburg is one of best-preserved medieval cities in Germany. Established during the Holy Roman Empire and the only German city not bombed during WWII, Regensburg boasts at least 1,300 listed buildings of “historic interest.” Your GUIDED WALK is highlighted by Architectural wonders such as the Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall), built in the 13th century, and Porta Pretoria, gates to an ancient Roman fort built in 179 AD. Stroll through the city’s lanes and alleys and marvel at the many mansions with high towers. The rich families of the day built these towers to emphasize their status and wealth during the Middle Ages. Many of them have survived to this day. Walk across the 12th-century Steinerne Brücke (Stone Bridge), the oldest of its kind in Germany. Have a stein of beer and enjoy an included SNACK at the Historische Wurstküche (Old Sausage Kitchen), one of Germany’s oldest and most popular restaurants. Wander through the Christmas market and take in the wonderful and tempting aromas of mulled wine, sausage, and roasted almonds everything to create a memorable and vibrant pre-Christmas atmosphere during your visit. Before dinner you will be introduce to some of Germany’s FAMOUS BEERS! (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

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Day 13 Passau
This morning your ship will dock in Passau, uniquely located where the Inn, Ilz, and Danube Rivers meet, this marvelous place is known for its maze of narrow cobblestone streets lined with beautiful patrician houses. St. Stephen’s Cathedral, a masterpiece of Italian baroque architecture, houses one of the world’s largest church organs with an amazing 17,774 pipes. Take in the highlights on the included GUIDED WALK. Or, you might like to join an optional full-day excursion to Salzburg to see some of the famous “Sound of Music” sites, learn the truth about how mice caused the composition of the famous Silent Night Christmas carol, and experience how Austrians celebrate that Holy Day. Rejoin your cruise ship in the late afternoon. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 14 Melk, Austria–Vienna
This morning, enjoy an included GUIDED VISIT of Melk’s ancient 11th-century BENEDICTINE ABBEY, one of Europe’s largest monasteries. The gorgeous abbey houses a beautiful library with more than 80,000 printed books and 2,000 manuscripts. Words cannot describe the real artistic splendor of the church with its frescoed ceilings, stunningly high altar, marble statues, and 210-foot-high cupola. The view from the terrace of the abbey over the Danube and the surrounding countryside is breathtaking! Then, cruise through the picturesque Wachau Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Pass the majestic baroque Stiftskirche with its striking blue façade, the landmark of Dürnstein, before arriving in the famous “City of Music” – Vienna – this evening. This city inspired the creative genius of Mozart, Beethoven, and Strauss. An optional concert is available tonight if you are in the mood for some classic entertainment. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
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Day 15 Vienna
Austria’s magical capital, once the center of the mighty Habsburg Empire, is a fabulous showcase of gilded architecture. This is home to the extravagant Hofburg Imperial Palace complex with its famous Vienna Boys’ Choir and dazzling Lipizzaner stallions; the neo-renaissance Vienna Opera House; and awe-inspiring St. Stephen’s Cathedral – plus, countless other sights you’ll see on your GUIDED TOUR. Especially this time of year, visit the Christmas market in the town center. Savor the sounds and smells of holiday cheer, and be sure to enjoy a piece of decadent Sachertorte or Apfelstrudel in one of the classic coffee houses, which are the historic institutions that helped shape Viennese culture! You’ll depart for Budapest – Hungary’s exciting capital city – in the late afternoon. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)

Day 16 Budapest, Hungary
Eight ornate bridges – some even famous sights in and of themselves – span the banks of the Danube, which connect ancient Buda on one bank with Pest on the other. Europe River CruisesYou may even want to walk across Chain Bridge, built in 1849 and a symbol of Budapest, one of Eastern Europe’s most bustling cities. Whether you’re sightseeing, shopping for handcrafted embroidery or Herend porcelain, or basking in the coffeehouse culture over a rich cream cake in the famous Gerbeaud Café, Budapest’s unique energy is positively an allure to visitors. On your GUIDED SIGHTSEEING TOUR of the city, see Heroes’ Square as well as the massive hilltop castle complex with its exceptional Fishermen’s Bastion and 11th-century Matthias Church, the coronation spot of several Hungarian monarchs. Of course, you mustn’t miss out on the Christmas market at Vörösmarty Square where you are sure to find some unique and original gifts. Just follow the rich fragrant smell of fir, mulled wine and cinnamon – the atmosphere is captivating once all the sparkling lights are turned on at dusk! It’s a sight to behold. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
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Day 17 Budapest (Disembarkation)
While your vacation ends with breakfast this morning, please make note of the wonderful experiences you’ve enjoyed on your exciting River Cruise. Hopefully you have numerous personal photos and lasting memories of your journey to take home with you. (Breakfast)

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