A wonderful waltz with the Danube’s drift, this classic cruise goes with the flow from Austrian Melk and Vienna to Slovakia’s capital, Bratislava; and sails the natural, national border to Hungary, to visit the Puszta prairie, beautiful Budapest, and Esztergom’s Basilica
For all 2024 bookings made by 31 October 2023, deduct £60 per person
Day 1 - Vienna
Day 2 - Melk / Dürnstein
Day 3 - Bratislava
Day 4 - Kalocsa / Puszta
Day 5 - Budapest
Day 6 - Esztergom
Day 7 - Vienna
Day 8 - Return Flight
Cruising in the contemporary style and comfort of the MS Beethoven, which sails mostly at night to maximise your sightseeing time ashore, this delightful Danube tour is a leisurely passage through history and the Habsburg Empire. It begins with perhaps the most beguiling miles of the river, those that run eastward across Austria, along Slovakia’s southern edge, and into Hungary. Our highest point on the river is Melk, its ancient abbey clinging to the cliff-side for nine centuries and boasting a lavish library, lit by a window for each day of the year. The route downstream is through the UNESCO listed Wachau Valley, sprinkled with historic towns and sculpted hills, and passing Dürnstein Castle, on its rocky ridge, as the Danube sweeps and swirls to Bratislava, its atmospheric Old Town clustered beneath massive fortress ramparts. Now the river forms the national border, drifting between bucolic banks and swerving south to Kalocsa for the timeless landscape of the Pannonian Plains; and our return upriver takes us to Budapest, lining both banks with character and culture; under the shadow of Esztergom’s grand Basilica; and back to innately elegant Vienna, its music, grandeur and palaces encapsulating the spirit of the river.
5 UNESCO Heritage Sites
Jules Verne Representative
Day 1 Fly from London Heathrow to Vienna and transfer to the MS Beethoven to embark on your seven-night cruise. Join us for a welcome drink and introduction to the crew. Cruise to Melk. (D)
Day 2 Early arrival in Melk to visit the magnificent Benedictine abbey, dominating the riverbank. Founded in the 11th century, its marble hall, world famous library, and 18th century Baroque façade stand on the early medieval foundations, continuing almost a millennium of monastic life on this spot. Cruise along the enchanting Wachau Valley to visit old-world Dürnstein, awash with charm, renowned for its Riesling wines, and named for its ancient hilltop castle, where Richard the Lionheart was held captive. Enjoy a pre-dinner Jules Verne drinks party, and sail across the Slovakian border to the country’s capital, Bratislava. (B, L, D)
Day 3 With a foot on each bank of the Danube; Hungary meeting its southern boundary and Austria its western; and streets of modern architecture contrasting with the characterful labyrinth of the Staré Mesto (old town); Bratislava provides its own counterpoint. A morning tour of the city includes the massive castle, for breathtaking views over the Danube and the city; Michael’s Gate, the only city gate surviving from the Middle Ages; the old City Hall, and the Art Nouveau buildings surrounding the central square. Sail south to pretty Kalocsa on the Danube’s left bank, famed for the 4,400-pipe organ of its grand cathedral. (B, L, D)
Day 4 An excursion by road takes you to the protected plains of the Puszta prairie, and visits a ranch to see the traditional horsemanship of the ‘gulyas’ (Hungarian cowboys), fine-tuned in a truly entertaining show of skill by both human and equine performers. Cruise back upstream to Budapest. (B, L, D)
Day 5 Divided by the Danube, with Buda’s hills on the west bank and Pest’s broad avenues on the fairly flat east, Hungary’s captivating capital is brimming with beautiful architecture. A morning tour shows you its highlights; the Mathias coronation church, Royal Palace complex, Hungarian National Gallery, and the bastions and townhouses of the castle area in Buda; and the parliament, opera house, and 19th century grand boulevards of vibrant Pest. Afternoon at leisure, perhaps to take the funicular from Chain Bridge to Buda Castle, stroll in the park on Margaret Island, or visit the city’s quirky Rock Church created in Gellért Hill caves. This evening, enjoy a folklore show aboard. (B, L, D)
Day 6 An early arrival in picturesque Esztergom gives you time to explore the historic town. Founded in 972AD, it was the national capital until the 13th century and, for over a thousand years, has been the seat of the Hungarian Roman Catholic church. Among countless heritage churches, the huge 19th century basilica was built, in neo-classical style, on the site of the country’s first cathedral, where the first king (St. Stephen) was crowned in 1000AD. The modern Maria Valéria Bridge crosses the river to Slovakian Sturovo. Gala Dinner on-board this evening. Cruise toward Vienna. (B, L, D)
Day 7 Arrive in Vienna, the capital of modern Austria and formerly of the Habsburg Empire, its historic centre a UNESCO World Heritage site; its parks and promenades lining the omnipresent Danube; and its regal façades and historic courtyards creating a picture-perfect city, in keeping with the soundtrack of classical music. A morning tour shows you city landmarks including the UNESCO listed Schönbrunn Palace, the summer residence of royalty. Later visit the imperial winter residence, the gloriously grand Hofburg Palace, much expanded since its 13th century origins; and finally, celebrate the city’s most famous son, Johann Strauss, with a palace concert of Viennese music. (B, L, D)
Day 8 Transfer to Vienna airport for the return flight to London Heathrow. (B)
Cabins are available from 5pm on arrival and until 9am on departure (before/after this, luggage storage on board is possible).
Whilst the vessel carries more, the group size specified refers to transfers and excursions.
The programme may be altered due to navigational factors with locks, water levels or congestion at certain sites.
Launched in 2004 and refurbished in 2010 to a high standard, MS Beethoven is registered in France with a mainly European crew and announcements in French and English. For 20 years Jules Verne has been the main UK partner of the innovative French cruise company, CroisiEurope, established over 40 years ago, now boasting the largest European river fleet (over 40 ships), yet still operated by the same family.
All drinks, except premium brands are included throughout the cruise. Enjoy International and French cuisine with a choice of wines in an elegant one-sitting dining room. Breakfast is a buffet, lunch and dinner waiter service with the occasional buffet. The vessel sails mostly at night.
Reception, lounge bar with small dance floor, large sun deck, lift and WiFi (free/limited). 90 air-conditioned cabins with private facilities, hairdryer, safe, satellite TV and picture windows. 42 twin/double cabins (145 sq. ft.) on the Upper Deck, 27 twin/double cabins (145 sq. ft.) on the Middle Deck, 21 twin/double cabins (145 sq. ft.) on the Main Deck.
Spend two nights in this magnificent city to explore the imperial heritage which is housed in a fine array of museums and palaces. Stay at the 4-star Lindner Hotel am Belvedere. Breakfast daily.
Day 1 Transfer to 4-star Lindner Hotel am Belvedere for two nights.
Day 2 At leisure. (B)
Day 3 Return flight. (B)
A modern 4-star hotel right next to Belvedere Palace and a short distance from Schwarzenbergplatz and Graben. Restaurant, bar, gym, sauna and WiFi (free). 219 air-conditioned rooms with hairdryer, safe, mini-bar, tea/coffee making facilities and satellite TV.
per person in a twin/double Main Deck cabin
Austrian Airlines from Heathrow
For all 2024 bookings made by 31 October 2023, deduct £60 per person
Supplements per person
NO SINGLE SUPPLEMENT
Single supplement £565
Middle Deck £165
Upper Deck £195
Austrian Airlines Business Class – on request
Extension - Vienna
Lindner Hotel am Belvedere £270
Single supplement £125
Arrival or departure transfer add £35
Air travel and taxes, all port charges, transfers, 7-night cruise, full board and drinks on cruise vessel, excursions, Jules Verne Representative, local expert guides and representatives. If our specially negotiated airfares are unavailable at the time of booking, a supplement may apply.
Travel insurance, optional excursions, tipping, any government taxes or compulsory charges introduced after publication.
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