TUI European Icons 2020 River Cruise
This itinerary leaves no stone unturned, as you travel across Europe ticking off pinch-yourself landscapes, Bavarian towns and buzzing cities, like Amsterdam, Vienna and Budapest.
You’ll kick off your adventure in the energetic Dutch capital. Here, the crowning glory is its Holy Trinity of museums. Within the same area, you’ve got Rijksmuseum, which houses around seven million pieces of art, as well as a library crammed with over 35,000 books. After, wander over to the Van Gogh Museum, or check out the works of Warhol at Stedelijk. You can continue exploring into the evening, since your staying in Amsterdam overnight.
You scratched the surface of Amsterdam yesterday. Today, it’s time to dig even deeper. Do as the Dutch do and hop on a bike, or take a tour on one of the city’s canal boats. The Jordaan neighbourhood is worth a look. There’s usually some sort of market going on, as well as quirky boutiques, Anne Frank House and a floating museum devoted to all things houseboats. Early afternoon, you’ll say your goodbyes to the city.
Cologne’s the first German city on your list. Here, the twin-spired cathedral is the biggest draw. It’s worth climbing the 509 steps in its tower to see the cityscape from above. Alternatively, you can get the perfect snapshot from Cologne’s cable car. Those with a sweet tooth, meanwhile, should head straight for the Chocolate Museum, where you can see chocolates being made, gawp at a chocolate fountain and design your own bar for a little extra.
Your next city is on a smaller scale. You’ll spend the morning in Koblenz, which marks the start of the spectacular Rhine Valley. Here, it’s all about absorbing the surrounding scenery – think castles, vineyards and a meeting of two rivers. You’ll move on before midday to reach Rudesheim by late afternoon. This place is a prime example of a traditional German town, with timber-framed houses and cosy wine taverns. The ship will leave later tonight.
You won’t be getting off the ship today. Instead, it’s all about the views. You’ll split off from the Rhine and continue your journey along the Main, which weaves across the heart of Germany. This is a stretch of river that’s known for its storybook-style castles and beautified Bavarian villages. Unspoilt landscapes aside, you’ll also pass through Frankfurt, where the river banks are lined with parks and lofty skyscrapers.
By morning, you’ll arrive in Wurzburg. This place is often dubbed the Pearl of the Romantic Road – a route favoured by honeymooners, which winds through Medieval villages and Bavarian towns. If Wurzburg is a pearl, then its opulent palace is the jewel in the town’s crown. You’ll get a morning here, so it’s worth heading straight for Wurzburg Residence to check out its famous frescoes, grand staircase and immaculate gardens.
All the Bavarian stereotypes are present and correct at your next stop, Bamberg. You’ll have from midday to evening to explore this photogenic town. You’ll want to do a loop of the UNESCO protected old town. The town hall is one of the most photographed spots. It’s a building of two halves – one side’s traditional and half-timbered, the other’s covered in murals. After your wander, you can refresh with a beer from one of the breweries.
You’ll pull into Nuremberg bright and early, giving you time to see all its sights. Lots of Nuremberg’s Medieval buildings have been painstakingly restored, after the World War Two bombings. A shining example of this is the castle, which was the residence of every German king and emperor from 1050 to 1571. Fast forward a few centuries and you’ve got Nuremberg’s other must-sees, which revolve around the former Nazi Party rally grounds and the Nuremberg Trials courthouse.
As you edge closer to the Danube, you’ll spend the morning in Kelheim, which is surrounded by abbeys, nature reserves and a scenic gorge. And its hilltop’s christened by an eye-catching neo-Classical monument. By evening, you’ll reach Regensburg. This Medieval masterpiece is home to a twin-spired cathedral and a 12th-century stone bridge. On the outskirts of town sits Walhalla, which looks like it’s been lifted from the Greek history books, but celebrates German kings, dukes and painters.
In the morning, you’ll reach Passau, which nudges up to the Austrian border. You should peer inside its Italian-inspired cathedral. The Baroque basilica was rebuilt by Italian architect Carlo Lurago in the 17th century and its elaborate marble interior will remind you of the churches of Rome. It’s also home to a huge organ – one of the biggest in the world – with over 17,000 pipes. Tonight, you’ll make the crossover to Austria, docking in Linz.
Austria’s on the agenda today, as you visit former European Capital of Culture, Linz. This city is the epitome of old meets new. And you can rise as early as you like to get a head-start on sightseeing. The biggest church in Austria, the Mariendom, is right here, as well as an imposing riverfront castle. The river banks are also sprinkled with some uber modern museums – one dedicated to art, the other to the future.
Today, it’s time to suss out Austria’s extravagant capital. This place goes on a serious charm offensive, with fine architecture, horse-drawn carriages for cabs, and ornate coffee houses. The ship won’t leave until tonight, which means you can plan a full day of sightseeing. Hofburg and Schonbrunn palaces are high on most tourists’ to-do lists. But there’s also a museum housing Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss, a retro amusement park and an impressive cathedral.
You’ll move countries today, as you swap Austria’s capital for Slovakia’s first city. Bratislava is a medley of styles. The old town is Medieval and Gothic. A Renaissance castle sits on its hill. And a futuristic bridge spans its river. Speaking of the latter, you can take a lift to the observation deck of the UFO Tower to get a better look at Bratislava from above. In the afternoon, you’ll start your journey to Hungary.
Hungary is the last country on your list. And you’ll spend your time in its culture-vulture capital. In Budapest, there are two sides of the river to explore. One’s got a castle full of Hungarian art and a turreted fortress. The other’s dominated by a Gothic Revival Parliament Building, the UNESCO-ticked Heroes’ Square and a quirky Jewish Quarter. You can spend the evening getting to know its open-air ruin bars and restaurants.
You can’t leave Budapest without ‘taking the waters’. The ancient phrase relates to the 125 thermal springs, which feed the city’s popular thermal baths. Spend the time before your flight unwinding in hot, mineral-rich waters, surrounded by historic architecture. You can also grab a bite to eat from the huge Central Market Hall, where traders tout fresh fruit and veg downstairs, while steaming bowls of goulash are prepared upstairs.
|04 October 2020||£2,379|
- Upgrade to All Inclusive from £196pp
- Direct flights from a range of UK airports with 20kg luggage allowance
- 14 nights on board TUI Isla or Maya
- Airport transfers - to and from your ship
- Full board plus - breakfast, lunch and dinner
- Tea, coffee and juices with breakfast
- Wine, beer and soft drinks at lunch and dinner
- Barbecues on deck (weather permitting)
- 1GB of Wi-Fi per cabin, per week
- £120 excursion credit, per person, per 7 days
- All tips and port charges
- Amsterdam city tour with canal cruise
- Edam and Zaanse Schans: Windmills and Cheese
- The garden of Europe: Keukenhof
- Cologne city tour
- Cologne's breweries with sightseeing
- Rudesheim wine tasting
- Wurzburg by city train
- Bamberg city tour
- Mountains and places in Franconian Switzerland
- Nuremberg city tour
- Beer cellar tour and tasting
- Nazi party rally grounds tour
- Weltenburg Abbey, beer tasting & boat cruise
- Walking tour of Regensburg
- Bavarian boat cruise, beer & baroque town tour
- Walking tour of Passau
- Linz by train
- Walking tour of Linz
- The sounds of music in Salzburg
- Post Lindberg panoramas
- Sounds of Vienna: an evening in concert
- Heurigen experience
- Schönbrunn Palace
- Vienna city tour
- Bratislava city train tour
- The great Hungarian plain
- Dinner and dancing in Budapest
- Budapest city tour
- Visit a Slovak home
- Nuremberg city shuttle
- Bamberg city shuttle