Gems of the Danube River Cruise

  • Trip Type: River Cruise
  • 8 Days | Budapest to Nuremberg
  • Group Size: Max 169

Expedition Details


From Gothic Hungarian spires to imperial Viennese treasures, discover the fairytale scenery and legendary landmarks of Central Europe. Aboard the Scenic Amber, cruise the fabled Danube River from Budapest through Austria's stunning Wachau Valley to Nuremburg. Explore gilded palaces and meticulously manicured gardens in Vienna and Salzburg; bike past charming red-roofed villages laced with lush vineyards; and witness the tapestry of medieval, Renaissance, and Roman architecture woven through old-world Europe.

Trip Highlights

  • Join a National Geographic expert to explore five UNESCO World Heritage sites, including Austria’s Wachau Valley, the Bavarian town of Regensburg, and the medieval Czech gem of Český Krumlov.
  • Take a specially arranged tour of Vienna’s renowned Museum of Natural History and get an inside look at its meteorite exhibit, co-curated by a National Geographic grantee.
  • Get hands-on instruction from a National Geographic photographer, and capture a unique angle on iconic cityscapes from Budapest to Salzburg.
  • Enjoy a private classical concert in the gilded halls of Vienna’s Palais Liechtenstein.

Itinerary - 8 Days

Day 1 — Budapest, Hungary

Arrive in Budapest and embark the Scenic Amber. Enjoy a welcome dinner on board, complete with views of the city glittering under the night sky.

Day 2 — Budapest or Szentendre

Discover the two distinct sides of this Hungarian capital—the cobbled hills of Buda and the grand boulevards of Pest, linked by eight stately bridges that span the Danube. Climb historic Castle Hill to see the Royal Palace and see Matthias Church, the stunning setting for the coronations and weddings of the Habsburg royalty. Alternatively, explore Budapest through the lens of its Jewish history; hike the Buda Hills that rise beyond the city center; or venture to the charming riverfront town of Szentendre, home to a thriving artist colony.

Day 3 — Vienna, Austria

Cruise the Danube toward Vienna, tracing the border of Hungary and Slovakia before crossing into Austria. Relax in the lounge in views of colorful waterfront towns and hilltop fortifications. This evening arrive in Vienna for a private concert in the gilded halls of the Palais Liechtenstein, featuring the music of celebrated Austrian composers Strauss and Mozart.

Day 4 — Vienna or Bratislava, Slovakia

Choose from among several excursions today. Stay in Vienna to visit Schönbrunn Palace, the baroque summer residence of the imperial family. You may also choose to take a guided tour of the Museum of Natural History for an inside look at its meteorite exhibit, co-curated by National Geographic grantee Ludovic Ferrière. Or opt to peruse the galleries of the Belvedere Museum, home to the world’s largest collection of Gustav Klimt paintings, including “The Kiss.” Alternatively, visit Bratislava for a guided tour through the cobbled streets of the old town. Venture into St. Martin’s Cathedral, a massive Gothic structure built in the 13th century on the site of a Romanesque church, and see the simple Church of the Poor Clares.

Day 5 — Melk, Austria

Glide into Austria’s lush Wachau Valley and dock at Melk for a tour of its Benedictine abbey, one of the world’s most magnificent baroque buildings. Or take a more active excursion, cycling along the Danube from Melk to Dürnstein or hiking to the hilltop ruins of a medieval castle. Or visit a local winery for a guided tour of the cellars and vines, followed by a tasting of the region’s celebrated Grüner Veltliners and Rieslings. This evening, sip sundowners in a beautiful location in the Wachau Valley.

Day 6 — Salzburg or Český Krumlov, Czech Republic

Today, choose between excursions to two World Heritage sites. Explore Salzburg, strolling the storybook streets of the Old Town and visiting the Schloss Mirabell and its stunning manicured gardens.  Or head to the Czech town of Český Krumlov— a labyrinth of cobblestoned streets with medieval, baroque, and Renaissance houses; lively cafés; and hidden squares. Alternatively, venture to the historic salt mines outside of Salzburg and learn about the life and work of the miners.  

Day 7 — Regensburg, Germany

Set at the confluence of the Danube, Naab, and Regen Rivers, Regensburg once served as a free imperial city of the Holy Roman Empire. On a guided visit, see the town’s splendid Gothic cathedral, 12th-century stone bridge, and the Porta Praetoria—the ancient Roman city gate. Alternatively, tour the historic Kuchlbauer Brewery and its whimsical tower—a tribute to modern art. Or take a local ferry across the Danube Gorge to Weltenburg Abbey, home to the world’s oldest monastic brewery. Explore the abbey, then head to the courtyard and sip on a pint of their popular Weltenburger Kloster Barock Dunkel.

Day 8 — Nuremberg

Arrive in Nuremberg and transfer to the airport to catch your flight home.

Optional Extension

Related Trips

This trip is offered in partnership with Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours.

Special Offer

Book by June 30, 2018 and receive round-trip economy airfare between the U.S. and Europe for $395 per person on any 2018 departure, and $495 per person in 2019. Offer is subject to availability and valid for new bookings only, and may not be combined with other promotions. Please call for details.

National Geographic Expert

Krista Rossow

Krista RossowFor more than a decade, Krista Rossow has worked as a photographer, photo editor, and educator for National Geographic. She began her career as a photo editor at National Geographic Traveler magazine, where she shaped compelling stories from world-class imagery. In her freelance career, she has shot feature stories as a contributing photographer for Traveler in South Africa, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Japan, and various U.S. cities. She regularly judges Instagram contests for @NatGeoTravel and photo edits for National Geographic Books. Krista sees the camera as a tool for understanding new cultures, meeting the locals, and exploring the natural world. She travels with National Geographic Expeditions teaching photography around the world–from the Galápagos Islands, Patagonia, and Morocco to Alaska, Antarctica, and the Arctic. She enjoys photographing throughout Europe as well, and spent a year after college in Bavaria exploring the quaint villages, stunning castles, and art-filled cities of Southern Germany and Austria. Her images are represented by National Geographic Creative. 

Krista will join the following departure:

Aug 01 - 08, 2019



  • Oct 11 - 18, 2018
  • Aug 01 - 08, 2019

Expedition Cost

Jewel Deck
Standard Suite (E) $4,195
Standard Suite (D) $4,410

Sapphire Deck
Balcony Suite (C) $5,195
Balcony Suite (BA) $5,345
Balcony Suite (BB) $5,445
Deluxe Balcony Suite (BD) $5,495
Junior Balcony Suite (B1J) $5,670
Junior Balcony Suite (BJ) $5,695

Diamond Deck
Balcony Suite (A) $5,395
Balcony Suite (PA) $5,445
Balcony Suite (PP) $5,495
Deluxe Balcony Suite (PD) $5,795
Junior Balcony Suite (RJ) $6,045
Royal Balcony Suite (RR) $6,795
Royal Panorama Suite (RP) $6,995

Jewel Deck
Standard Suite (E) $4,745
Standard Suite (D) $4,960

Sapphire Deck
Balcony Suite (C) $5,745
Balcony Suite (BA) $5,895
Balcony Suite (BB) $5,995
Deluxe Balcony Suite (BD) $6,045
Junior Balcony Suite (B1J) $6,220
Junior Balcony Suite (BJ) $6,245

Diamond Deck
Balcony Suite (A) $5,945
Balcony Suite (PA) $5,995
Balcony Suite (PP) $6,045
Deluxe Balcony Suite (PD) $6,345
Junior Balcony Suite (RJ) $6,595
Royal Balcony Suite (RR) $7,345
Royal Panorama Suite (RP) $7,545

Prices are person, double occupancy. Airfare to Budapest and return from Nuremberg is not included in the expedition cost.

Activity Level

Light or Moderate

Travelers can choose between a light or moderate activity level. For a light level of activity, they should be in good health and comfortable walking or standing for extended periods of time. Daily activities may include city walking tours, visits to sites, game drives on bumpy roads, or easy hikes.

For a moderate level, travelers should be prepared for multiple hours of physical activity (e.g. hiking, kayaking, biking) each day.

Click here for a description of all activity levels.