Fairytale Bavaria & Danube Cruise
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Bavaria's magnificent castles, mysterious forests and magical mountains are the backdrop to this majestic tour. Discover this historic kingdom, including Neuschwanstein Castle and the Bavarian Zugspitze Mountain Railway, from our base in charming Fussen. This tour is operated by our sister company Great Rail Journeys.
We meet at London's St Pancras International this morning in time for the Eurostar service to Paris. Here we cross the city and catch the local train to Stuttgart for a night at the Maritim Hotel.
This morning we journey via Ausburg to Füssen by rail, where we will spend the next two nights at the Luitpold Park Hotel.
This afternoon we enjoy an excursion to two of the finest Bavarian castles, beginning at honey-coloured Hohenschwangau Castle before visiting glorious Neuschwanstein Castle. The most famous of all King Ludwig II's castles, Neuschwanstein bristles with towers and spires, and was the inspiration for Walt Disney's Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disney World. The building is a fantastic imitation of a medieval castle, which was equipped with some revolutionary modern conveniences for its time, such as running water, flushing toilets and a warm air heating system. Construction of the castle began in 1869 and ended in 1892, although the work was never actually completed. Built into the mountains and standing proudly above the surrounding forests, its turrets and halls are resplendent white against a backdrop of green.
Today we ascend the tallest mountain in Germany, the noble Zugspitze. To reach the summit, we first board the remarkable Zugspitze Railway. The line takes us from the charming Bavarian town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen on an 11-mile journey to the peak of Germany's highest mountain - overcoming a height difference of 2,897ft. On leaving Garmisch-Partenkirchen, the scenery becomes ever-more dramatic, with the spiky, snow-covered peaks towering over dense patches of woodland below.
After pausing at Eibsee station, our journey continues into the mountains, using a series of wide curves to gain height. Zugspitze Railway then passes through Höllental or 'Hell Valley' named for its dramatic slopes and narrow gorge that made climbing the mountain difficult. We then run through an area thick with pine trees before disappearing onto a long tunnel built to protect the railway from the most extreme weather. We emerge near the summit of Zugspitze, where the views out over Bavaria and Austria are incredible. The final leg of this journey is taken by cable car. On our descent back down, we stop at beautiful Lake Eibsee before returning to Füssen.
On Day 4 we drive to Munich for the train to Budapest, where we meet the Amadeus Queen or Silver II. Later take in the illuminated sights as we sail around the city. We are also treated to a performance from a local Hungarian folk band in the lounge.
This morning we enjoy a guided coach tour, introducing us to Budapest's main sights. We pass impressive buildings and monuments on both sides of the Danube, including the neo-Gothic Parliament building, the magnificent State Opera House and St Stephen's Basilica, Budapest Castle, Matthias Church and Fishermen's Bastion. We return to the ship for lunch, after which you have some free time before we begin cruising to Bratislava, passing through the splendid Danube Bend along the way. This section of the river has a long and fascinating history and from the sun deck or panoramic windows in the bar, you'll be able to see castle ruins, churches, pretty houses hidden in the hills and dense forests.
We moor up in the afternoon of Day 6. After lunch, we set out on a guided coach tour of the Slovakian capital. Located in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains, Bratislava straddles the Danube which neatly divides the city into two parts; the Baroque Old Town (Stare Mesto) and the new city. This picture-postcard destination boasts historic Gothic buildings, several universities, a wealth of museums and galleries, and a refreshing cosmopolitan atmosphere. The historic centre features delightful cobblestoned roads, pedestrianised plazas, 18th century rococo buildings and street cafés galore. Following our excursion, we return to the ship for another delicious 5-course dinner.
We arrive into glorious Vienna for a comprehensive sightseeing tour. This is a chance to relish in Austria's Imperial heritage, one full of tradition and rich in architectural, artistic and musical heritage. Tonight a real treat awaits us on board, where after dinner we are joined by musicians from the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra for an exclusive, private recital.
Today we reach Austria's Wachau Valley, a famous wine-making region. We arrive in the idyllic village of Dürnstein where you have free time. As we sit down to lunch on board, we begin cruising along the Wachau Valley, a scenic area with vineyards rising up from the river, picturesque riverside towns, and commanding fortresses. We then journey by coach to Melk Abbey, enjoying entrance to this 11th century Benedictine Abbey.
On Day 9 we disembark in Linz, where you have a choice of excursions. You could head into the countryside for a day amidst the spectacular Austrian lakes. Make stops in UNESCO listed Hallstatt, one of Austria's most photographed villages thanks to its traditional, pastel-coloured houses perched between the mountains and Hallstättersee Lake, as well as Mondsee. This pretty town is set on the lake of the same name and its most famous sight is the 15th-century parish church, which featured in 'The Sound of Music'. Otherwise, travel by coach to Salzburg, via Mondsee, one of Austria's most famous cities and known as the birthplace of Mozart. A guided sightseeing tour reveals the city's renowned Baroque architecture, a well-deserved UNESCO World Heritage site. We rejoin the ship in Passau.
Regensburg is our port of call this morning, which we explore on foot. This medieval town contains many buildings that testify to its history as a trading centre which had a huge influence on the whole region from the 9th century onwards. Back on board tonight, we attend the Captain's gala dinner, a chance to don our evening wear and celebrate our cruise experience. On Day 11 we disembark after breakfast to start the journey back to the UK by rail.
Please note: This tour may be suitable for reduced mobility passengers, please call for further information.
Magnificent castles, mysterious forests magical mountains and cruise the blue Danube