Great Cities of the Danube (Linz to Linz)


Travel by Coach
2 Included Excursions
  • Admire Vienna’s elegance and culture
  • Marvel at Budapest’s Gothic architecture
  • Explore Bratislava’s charming Old Town
  • Visit classical Salzburg

A majestic cruise through the valleys, vineyards and scenery that make the Danube so special. From the elegance of Vienna, with its many sights from the glorious Hapsburg era, to the ancient splendour of Bratislava and stunning Budapest. Immerse yourself in some of the heartland of Europe’s most magical capitals while enjoying the friendly atmosphere of the MV Esmeralda.

Stretching for over 20 miles, the Wachau Valley is found along the Austrian part of the Danube River, cruising between Krems and Melk. This valley is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list, for its architecture, settlements and agricultural land, which show how this medieval landscape has evolved harmoniously over time. 

On the route of this beautiful valley, the passing scenery includes romantic towns and villages, impressive vineyards, historic castles and medieval ruins. Two of the famous and most spectacular sights include the baroque monastery in Durnstein and the Benedictine abbey in Melk.

This Holiday is Great For

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  • 46x44-icon-nature
  • 46x44-icon-city
  • 46x44-icon-culture
  • 46x44-icon-history
  • 46x44-icon-scenery


Day One - Hull to Rotterdam
Pick up locally and transfer to Hull where we take the overnight ferry to Rotterdam. (D)

Day Two - Rotterdam to Rhineland
After disembarking from the ferry we’ll travel overland from Rotterdam to an area in the Rhineland region of Germany where we check in for the night and enjoy an evening meal (B,D)

Day Three - Rhineland to Linz, cruise to Melk
After breakfast we travel to Linz to join the MV Esmeralda. Explore the ship and meet fellow travellers over dinner this evening. We cruise to Melk overnight. (B,D)

Day Four - Melk to Vienna
This morning is spent at Melk, famous for its magnificent Benedictine Abbey and renaissance castle. Enjoy time exploring at leisure, or why not join our optional excursion to visit Melk Abbey? This afternoon, we sail onwards to Vienna, where you can enjoy an optional evening Mozart and Strauss concert. (B,L,D)

Day Five - Vienna to Budapest
The morning and afternoon is devoted to the magnificence of Vienna. Dinner on-board this evening as we sail to Budapest. (B,L,D)

Day Six - Budapest to Bratislava
Enjoy breakfast and head to the Sun Deck for our arrival in beautiful Budapest. We moor for the day, ready to discover one of Europe’s most interesting capitals with an included city tour. We sail overnight to Bratislava. (B,L,D)

Day Seven - Bratislava to Durnstein
We spend the morning cruising to Bratislava. Discover the Old Town dominated by the impressive castle. Join our Panoramic Bratislava optional this afternoon. Then set sail and cruise through the night to Durnstein. (B,L,D)

Day Eight - Durnstein to Linz
We arrive in Durnstein this morning with an included transfer. Enjoy an afternoon sailing to Linz, arriving before midnight. (B,L,D)

Day Nine - Linz
A day to discover Linz’s beautiful cathedral and enjoy our included transfer to the classical city of Salzburg. (B,L,D)

Day Ten - Linz to Rhineland
We arrive in Linz early morning and disembark. We then travel back to a hotel in the
Rhineland region where we’ll check into a hotel and enjoy an evening meal. (B,D)

Day Eleven - Rhineland Area to Rotterdam
We travel to Rotterdam to embark our overnight ferry back to the UK with dinner included. (B,D)

Day Twelve - Hull to Home
After breakfast, we disembark the ferry in Hull and continue home. (B)

MV Esmeralda

The hugely popular MV Esmeralda is our largest River Cruise ship, and this exclusively-chartered vessel is perfect for Europe River Cruises exploring some of the most beautiful scenery. Discover wonderful landscapes during our relaxing Danube River Cruises, and relax on-board, making the most of the Esmeralda’s excellent facilities. 

With her comfortable lounge areas and attractive decor, the MV Esmeralda is sure to be the perfect home from home just our scenic River Cruises. You’ll be able to travel in style and comfort as we make our way along one of the world’s most enchanting rivers, discovering mesmerising attractions, towns and cities. And, this year, we have even more departures to choose from! 

Enjoy delicious meals on-board the MV Esmeralda, including buffet breakfasts, three-course lunches and four-course evening meals, as well as exciting gala dinners! When the weather’s nice, you should absolutely spend some time on the sun deck, where you’ll find sun loungers and a shaded area from which you can admire the ever-changing scenery. You can also make your way to the lounge, with its comfortable leather couches and plush chairs. 

You’re sure to make lots of new friends during our relaxing River Cruises on-board the MV Esmeralda, and in the evening you’ll be able to chat with your new companions over a drink or two at the bar. Or, for those feeling more energetic, you could always dance the night away along to our talented on-board keyboardist! 

We promise to take good care of you during our MV Esmeralda River Cruises - we can’t wait to welcome you on board!



Ship Gallery

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The Local Area

Included Excursions

Full Day: Salzburg Transfer

We enjoy an included transfer into Salzburg, spending the day exploring this beautiful city. Visit Mozart’s birthplace, Mirabell Palace, and much more.


Imperial Budapest

Join us on our guided tour of this historical city, which is actually two cities astride the Danube. Our excursion takes us by coach on a visit to both.

On the Pest side, we see St Stephen’s Basilica, Vajdahunyad Castle and Heroes’ Square, which is dominated by the impressive Millenary Monument, home to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

We then cross to Buda and the Castle District, where we find the seven-hundred year-old Matthias Church, one of the jewels of Budapest. We also see the famous Fisherman’s Bastion, which offers great views over the city.

The city is home to the largest medicinal bath in Europe (Szechenyi Medicinal Bath) and the third-largest Parliament building in the world, once the largest in the world. The city also contains the third-largest church in Europe (Esztergom Basilica) and the second largest Baroque castle in the world (Godollo).



Optional Excursions

Classical Salzburg

Join us on our excursion to explore the elegant city of music and the birthplace of Mozart. On our guided walking tour we see the Cathedral, St Peter’s Abbey, Mozart Square, the glorious Mirabell Gardens and the imposing Hohensalzburg Fortress.

Admire Nonnberg Convent and the famous Getreidegasse - a busy shopping street in the Old Town section of Salzburg. The house at no. 9 Getreidegasse is the place where Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born and where he lived until the age of 17. Following our guided tour, we enjoy some free time to explore this wonderful city before heading back to the ship in time for dinner.


Discover Vienna

Join us for an amazing tour of Vienna, allowing us to discover this splendid city for ourselves. Our coach tour will begin as we travel past Vienna’s large park, the Prater, admiring views of the famous Ferris wheel and then on to the State Opera House, also seeing the Fine Arts and History Museum.

We will also see the stunning Hofburg Palace during our city tour, along with the Parliament building, the Town Hall and the Burg Theatre. Making our way to St. Stephen's Cathedral in the city centre, we will disembark our coach and enjoy a walking tour of Vienna. We will stroll along the Graben, one of Vienna’s most famous streets.

After our walking tour, we return to our coach and begin our return journey, taking in the famous buildings by painter and architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser, stopping to admire the unique Hundertwasserhaus.   


Panoramic Bratislava

Bratislava is a beautiful city, with a number of fantastic views to be seen across the city. On this tour we will visit some of these and see great sights while learning something of the history of this great Danube city. We’ll travel to the Slavin war memorial, at the top of a hill, from where you can see much of the city and beyond as well as seeing this solemn and impressive memorial to the Slovakian and Russian war dead. We’ll also head closer to the centre of the city for close up views of the old town, castle, pretty St Martins Church and the iconic UFO Bridge, the symbol of the city.


Majestic Melk Abbey

Stift Melk (Melk Abbey) is a Baroque-era masterpiece, located above the town of Melk on a rocky outcrop overlooking the river Danube. Part palace, part monastery and part opera set, Melk is a magnificent vision thanks greatly to its upward-reaching twin towers. Capped with baroque helmets and cradling a 208-foot-high dome, this abbey is a true Baroque masterpiece.

Our tour of the abbey includes the Imperial rooms, Marble Hall, and the balcony, which offers fine views of the river. It’s likely that Napoleon probably used this room as a lookout when his headquarters were based in Melk for his campaign against Austria.

We also see the magnificent library, with more than 100,000 books, nearly 2,000 manuscripts, and a superb ceiling fresco by the master Paul Troger; the Marmorsaal, whose windows on both sides enhance the ceiling frescoes; and the glorious Stiftskirche (abbey church) of Saints Peter and Paul, an exquisite example of the Baroque style.

Following the tour you can enjoy some free time to wander around the abbey’s park with its impressive Baroque garden, the recently restored northern bastion. Or you may just wish to sit and relax in the abbey’s restaurant with a coffee and admire the beautiful views.



Mozart and Strauss Concert

Vienna is undoubtedly Europe’s musical capital, and this excursion will give us the opportunity to enjoy the music of two of Austria’s favourite sons. Sit back and relax as we listen to the music of Johann Strauss, the Waltz King, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the infant prodigy.

We make the short journey by coach to the concert hall for an evening full of Viennese charm, with the lilting sound of waltzes, polkas, arias and duets, as well as operetta and piano concerto melodies. Accompanied by excellent opera vocalists and our enchanting ballet soloists, Vienna's classical music reveals itself as a living firework display for all the senses taking us back to the days of old Vienna for a truly unforgettable evening.