2021 Daily Itinerary for the Danube Christmas Markets Cruise

The Christmas Markets in front of the Vienna Town Hall - thought to be the largest in Europe, possibly in the entire world.

This is the day by day itinerary for our 2021 “Danube Christmas Markets” cruise and is in three parts.

1.  The blue section immediately following details the optional pre-tour extensions in Budapest and optionally also Prague, prior to the main cruise portion.

2.  The green section in the middle is the main cruise

3.  The blue section at the bottom is the optional post-cruise extension to Zurich.

The main page explaining the cruise and with the joining form is here.

Possibly Sunday 5 December : Leave Home

You can choose your preferred airline, flights, and class of service for your flights to and from Europe.

If you’re flying from North America to Europe, you probably have an overnight flight.

So you’d start your journey today, in order to arrive into Prague tomorrow.

NOTE :  Of course, you might choose to fly earlier or later, either to Prague, or to join the pre-cruise in Budapest, or to anywhere else in Europe at any time.  You can choose as much or as little of the pre-cruise option as you wish.

Let us know how you’d best like to enjoy some time in Europe before the actual cruise, and we’ll suggest what to do and when and how.

Possibly Monday 6 December : Arrive Prague

One of my most favorite cities in Europe, Prague's skyline is amazingly impressive. This looks over the Vltava river to St Vitus' Cathedral and the Castle.
Our hotel is just behind the church. In the foreground is part of Prague's main Christmas Market.

Based on past tours, we’ve found most people like to have three nights in Prague.  This suggested pre-tour itinerary works on that basis, but you can arrive later or earlier, of course.

If today is your arrival day, then depending on your flights, you’ll probably arrive somewhere between mid/late morning and mid/late afternoon.  We can arrange an airport pickup with a private car and English speaking driver if you wish.

You’ll be spending your time in Prague in a lovely central city historic hotel, full of charm and character.

Tuesday 7 December : Prague City Tour

We'll walk down from the cathedral and across the bridge. It isn't actually as far as it looks, and of course, is all downhill.
A traditional Prague market delicacy - a pastry slowly turned to cook over charcoal, and served in hollow spiral cylinders. Yum!

Today we include a half-day city tour in the morning, showing you around the historic heart of this glorious city, taking you up to the castle and cathedral, then walking back down, over the Vltava (aka Moldau) river on the famous Charles Bridge (built in 1402), and into the city center again, and, if you wish, returning to the hotel.

The afternoon is free to stroll around, take in more of the ambience, the Christmas markets and ethnic delicacies of course, and perhaps even a touch of shopping.

Wednesday 8 December : Prague

Grand buildings line the stately streets of Prague.
Dinner tonight is at U Zlate Konvice in a medieval cellar, with live music and local delicacies.

We’ve left this day free, so if you wanted to, you could enjoy a full-day or half-day tour out of Prague, or otherwise fill in the day any way you choose.

If you want to visit both Český Krumlov and Salzburg next Tuesday (when you have to choose one or the other) then today would be a good opportunity to do a day tour down to Český Krumlov.

Lots of other choices abound, both themed tours within the city, or tours out into the countryside.  We can help you choose, of course.

This evening we’ve a special treat, and one of the favorite parts of our Prague stays – dinner in a traditional cellar restaurant, located opposite the famous Astronomical Clock, and complete with a gypsy band playing traditional gypsy music.

Thursday 9 December :
From Prague to Budapest; or
Arrive into Budapest if starting in Budapest

The Budapest Parliament building, facing out onto the Danube river.

Today we’ll transfer from Prague to Budapest.

Depending on our group size, we might do this by coach or possibly by train.  Both ways are interesting and pleasant.

Friday 10 December : Budapest

Looking across the Danube to the Fisherman's Bastion.
The Central Market Hall - a great place to go for "real" paprika, and many other foodstuffs too.
The Széchenyi Medicinal Bath in Budapest is the largest medicinal bath in Europe, with 18 mineral water hot pools.

Budapest is a grand city, befitting its status as co-capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  We’ll enjoy a city tour this morning to show you some of the city’s highlights, including going up to the Fisherman’s Bastion above the Danube River; a great place for photos.

Maybe this afternoon you’d like to go to one of the hot mineral baths that Budapest is famous for, or alternatively, of course, enjoy the several wonderful Christmas Markets in the city center.

Saturday 11 December : From Budapest to Vienna, via Bratislava

The central city square in Bratislava and its Christmas market.

Today we’ll travel the surprisingly short distance from Budapest to Vienna.

Again, depending on the size of our group, we might go by train or coach.  If traveling by coach, we’ll include a stop in Bratislava, capital of Slovakia, for lunch.

We arrive at our ship, the lovely Amacerto, mid afternoon.  Time to unwind, then get ready for the start of the cruise in the early evening – please now skip down to the green section for details.

This is the end of the two pre-cruise options.  Please now scroll down to Saturday 11 December in the main cruise (green) section immediately below to continue the itinerary.

Friday 10 December (or earlier!) : Fly to Vienna

Chances are you'll be on an overnight flight from home to Vienna.

If you’ve decided to go straight to the cruise, then you’ll probably start your travels today with an overnight flight to Vienna, probably with a change of plane (or even two) en route.

We do recommend you leave home a day earlier, to arrive at least one day early, giving you some “just in case” margin for unexpected delays and challenges.

Saturday 11 December : Board Amacerto in Vienna

The lovely Amacerto gracefully slicing through the still waters of the Danube.
Christmas decorations on the Graben pedestrian precinct in central Vienna.

All going well, today should see you in Vienna, and arriving on board the Amacerto some time mid/late afternoon.

This evening sees the Welcome Cocktail Reception, followed by the first of the seven lovely multi-course dinners we’ll be enjoying on board.

If you’re not jetlagged, you might think about visiting one of the markets after dinner (depending on when the dinner on board finishes)

Sunday 12 December : A Day in Vienna

Sadly, it almost certainly won't snow while we're in Vienna. But how wonderful it would be if it did! This wide-angle picture shows the central area with St Stephan's Cathedral.
A horse-drawn carriage (a "fiaker") just off Vienna's main ring road.
The Opera House in Vienna. You'll have a chance to attend a concert this evening if you wish.

This morning we enjoy a tour around the center of Vienna, and of course, a visit to one or two of Vienna’s many Christmas markets too.  If you were with us in Budapest, you can decide which of the former twin capitals of the Austro-Hungarian Empire is the more impressive.  We like Budapest, but we love Vienna, which we feel has more style and grace, as befits the city that was the home of Johann Strauss, the “Waltz King”.

You then have the option of returning to the ship for lunch or staying in the city.

In the afternoon there’s an optional tour to Schonbrunn Palace, and in the evening there’s an optional visit to a concert in one of the many lovely palaces, where a small ensemble plays favorite Strauss waltzes and other light classical pieces.

Monday 13 December : Cruising via Durnstein and Melk

The breathtaking interior at the glorious Melk Abbey.
Durnstein, with the castle above, and vines on the right.
The enormous size of Melk Abbey - in the background, no less - dwarfs that of the township at its feet.

Today we have two stops during our cruising through the beautiful Wachau Valley of Austria.

The first stop is the small town of Durnstein, with the castle ruins above, being where King Richard the Lionheart of England was captured and held in 1193.  Durnstein is a lovely little town and in one of Austria’s wine growing areas.  You have a choice of three different tours while we’re in Melk, including a wine-tasting or going up to the castle ruins above the town.

In the early afternoon we continue on to Melk, renowned the world over for its stunning Abbey, the incredible library full of rare medieval manuscripts, and church with its extraordinary High Baroque style within.  No wonder it has been given World Heritage status.  Our visit to the Abbey will surely be one of your highlights of the cruise.

Tuesday 14 December : Linz and/or Elsewhere

The World Heritage designated medieval town of Cesky Krumlov.
Whether you associate Salzburg with Mozart or The Sound of Music, chances are you'll agree it is the nicest city in all Austria.

We arrive into Linz about 8am this morning.  After breakfast, you have several choices – do you want to spend a day in Linz, and possibly enjoy a side trip to beautiful Český Krumlov in the Czech Republic that afternoon, or do you want to do a day tour to Salzburg?

 There’s no wrong answer, just a glorious range of right answers, indeed all three locations – Linz, Český Krumlov, and Salzburg are World Heritage designated.

We can help you weigh up the options and implications, and whichever you don’t see this year, well, come back next year!

As was the case in Vienna, we also stay until midnight in Linz, so if you wish to dine/drink off-ship this evening, you certainly can.

Wednesday 15 December : Passau

The Amadolce in Passau.
An interior view of St Stephan's Cathedral, Passau, built in 1688. The organ has 17,974 pipes.
Brightly colored market stalls full of seasonal and general handicrafts are waiting to tempt you.

Passau is right on the border between Germany and Austria, and is where three rivers meet – the Inn, the Ilz, and, of course, the Danube.  It dates back 2,000 years and is noted for its Gothic and Italian Baroque architecture.

We have a generous six hours in Passau, and a choice of three tours in and around the city.  There is also time for your individual walking around as you wish, and of course, for the Christmas markets.

Thursday 16 December : Regensburg

The glorious medieval city of Regensburg survived WW2 almost unharmed. It has several Christmas markets, including my favorite one of all the many I've visited.
The glorious medieval city of Regensburg survived WW2 almost unharmed. It has several Christmas markets, including my favorite of all the many I've visited.
King Ludwig's strange Valhalla monument just above the Danube.

We arrive into the glorious city of Regensburg, a major town dating back to the 9th century, and with World Heritage status, early this morning.

After breakfast we have a chance to tour the town and visit the markets, including my favorite of all the markets in Europe, at the Turn und Taxis Palace.

Another option is to go for a bike ride to the curious Valhalla temple, inspired by the Parthenon in Athens, and built by “Mad” King Ludwig (of Neuschwanstein Castle fame) between 1830-1842.

While you could lunch on the ship, maybe you could also eat instead (or, as well!) at the oldest continuously open restaurant in the world, the Sausage Kitchen, just a short walk from where the ship will be moored.

We leave Regensburg in the early afternoon, and soon afterwards also leave the Danube River, turning onto the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal that takes us up to Nuremberg.

Friday 17 December : Arriving into Nuremberg

Nuremberg's main Christmas Market is perhaps the most visited in all of Germany.
Due to WW2 damage, Nuremberg is a curious mix of old and new juxtaposed.
Sometimes the new buildings are designed to blend in harmoniously with their medieval surroundings.

We have a nice relaxing morning cruising along the Rhine-Main-Danube canal.

Early in the afternoon, Amacerto arrives into Nuremberg, and we’ll head into the city.  You’ve a couple of different afternoon tour opportunities, including a “foodies” tour that includes a chance to sample some local specialties.

We are moored in Nuremberg overnight, so if you wished to dine ashore or sample shore-side entertainment this evening, you certainly could.

Saturday 18 December : Cruise ends in Nuremberg

A view to the "Hangman's Bridge" in Nuremberg.
How many souvenir mugs have you collected from the different markets we've visited?
And, of course, shopping! What a wonderful opportunity this has been to buy gifts for everyone you know - and plenty for yourself, too!

Our lovely cruise ends this morning.  Because the ship arrived yesterday afternoon, you can leave as early as you need to if you have an early flight, or alternatively, stay for one last lingering breakfast before going to your next destination.

If you are continuing with us for the post-tour extension, please keep reading in the next blue section, below.

Please click here to return to the main page for more information about our 2021 Danube Christmas Markets Cruise, or continue reading for the optional post-cruise extension to Liechtenstein and Zurich, or click the golden up arrow on the right to jump to the top of this page.

Saturday 18 December : To Zurich, via Liechtenstein

Vaduz Castle, home of the Prince of Vaduz, on the hills above the major city in Liechtenstein, also called Vaduz.
A view out over Lake Constance, Switzerland's second largest lake, which also borders Germany and Austria.
The Limmat river runs through Zurich.

Here’s a wonderful extension, that includes a stop in the micro-state of Liechtenstein (pop 38,227).

We leave the ship after breakfast, and proceed south to Switzerland, traveling along the shores of the country’s second largest lake (Constance), passing through Austria briefly, and then entering Liechtenstein and stopping in the capital of Vaduz for lunch.

After lunch we continue on to Zurich, the largest city in Switzerland, on the shores of Lake Zurich.

Sunday 19 December : Zurich

The largest indoor Christmas market in Europe, probably in the world, is in Zurich.
Exploring Zurich's back streets and alleys reveals many charming scenes.

Today is a free day in Zurich.

You could visit the largest indoor Christmas Market in Europe, or enjoy other parts of this lovely city and surrounding countryside, or perhaps enjoy some shopping (but, beware, few bargains exist in Zurich!).

We’ll have a group farewell dinner at a traditional Swiss restaurant this evening.

Monday 20 December : Extension Ends in Zurich

You can fly on your choice of airlines from Zurich and on to your next destination, or back home again.

The extension ends this morning.  If you’re flying home, you’ll probably have a morning flight and arrive back into the US later today (because you’re flying west, the time zones change to reduce the apparent travel time).

You’ve still got the balance of the week before Christmas on Saturday.

Or, if you prefer, you could treat yourself to Christmas in Europe.  Let us know if you’d like some suggestions and extra assistance about where to go and what to do.

Please click here to return to the main page for more information about our 2021 Danube Christmas Markets cruise, or click the golden up arrow on the right to jump to the top of this page.

A small group of Travel Insiders enjoying an earlier Christmas Markets cruise on the Amacerto.
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