13 Photo Highlights from a Grand European Tour

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13 Photo Highlights from a Grand European Tour
A trip to Europe brings to mind strolling quaint cobblestone streets. On a river cruise, you get that and more—the chance to meander along storied waterways, soaking up the view as you go deep into the European countryside. That’s part of the appeal of sailing with Viking River Cruises, known for its Scandinavian-style intimate ships and a Culture Curriculum of onboard lectures, tastings, and performances. The knowledgeable travel designers of Tully Luxury Travel , founded by Mary Jean Tully back in 1987, are especially partial to Viking’s Grand European Tour. It sails the Rhine, Main, and Danube Rivers on an iconic voyage from Amsterdam to Budapest—with 12 included sightseeing tours and plenty more optional excursions and immersive activities. Full speed ahead!
Sponsored by Tully Luxury Travel
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    Amsterdam, The Netherlands
    After boarding the Viking Longship, you have the afternoon to get acquainted with Amsterdam before setting out on your Grand European Tour. You might take a leisurely bike ride along picturesque canals lined with gabled mansions; admire the country’s homegrown talent at the Van Gogh Museum and Rijksmuseum; or see what’s in bloom at the Bloemenmarkt.
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    Kinderdijk, The Netherlands
    You know you’ve reached the UNESCO World Heritage-listed village of Kinderdijk when you spy its iconic 18th-century windmills. The Viking itinerary includes an informative guided tour of these mills and a chance to learn from the families who live in and maintain them.
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    Cologne, Germany
    The twin spires of Northern Europe’s largest cathedral rise high over the historic heart of Cologne. It was a seven-century labor of love, begun in 1248. You’ll visit this Gothic masterpiece as a part of a two-hour walking tour included in the river cruise itinerary. Tastings and dinner at Old Town brewhouses and a tour of the country palaces built for the prince-archbishops of Cologne are additional excursion options.
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    Koblenz, Germany
    Koblenz has a strategic—and enchanting—location at the confluence of the Rhine and Moselle Rivers. You’ll pass hilltop castles along the way, however only Koblenz’s Marksburg Castle has the distinction of having never been destroyed. In addition to touring the castle, you have the option to go wine tasting in the Moselle Valley to the south.
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    Miltenberg, Germany
    After the Rhine River, Viking continues by sailing along the Main through the Spessart region. You’ll disembark in Miltenberg, which looks like the setting of a fairy tale, with its two castles, half-timbered houses, cobblestone streets, and 500-year-old Weinhaus—the place to sample hearty regional favorites and generous pours of beer.
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    Wurzburg, Germany
    It was good to be the Wurzburg prince-bishop, as you’ll discover on a tour of his residence, a lavish baroque palace with Venetian frescoes and gilded ceilings and columns. You’ll also have time to wander Old Town’s streets, with stops at the market square and Romanesque Cathedral. Rejoin the ship for dinner and enjoy an enriching culinary experience, savoring authentic regional specialties.
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    Bamberg, Germany
    Continuing east toward the Czech border, you’ll reach Bamberg, a noted center of the 18th-century Enlightenment (Hegel once called it home). Today, it’s a lovely place to while away an afternoon, taking in medieval landmarks such as the striking Town Hall, built on a double-arched bridge spanning the Regnitz River.
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    Nuremberg, Germany
    Famously associated with the Nuremberg Trials, this Bavarian city has a complex history. It’s been the site of Nazi party rallies, a magnet for artists and German kings, and a toy-making hub. As you’ll see on the included tour offered by Viking River Crusies, a meticulous reconstruction of the city’s castle and old churches—badly bombed at the end of World War II—has restored its past luster.
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    Regensburg, Germany
    You’re sailing the blue Danube by the time you reach Regensburg, whose medieval Old Town many be the best preserved in all of Germany. Case in point: Its 16-arch Old Stone Bridge has been carrying traffic since the 12th century. You can join a walking tour courtesy of Viking, attend a local sausage-making class or make a whirlwind day trip to Munich.
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    Passau, Germany
    Passau, where the Danube and two more rivers meet, has a 14th-century Town Hall and other landmarks that rival those already seen on this itinerary. But only Passau can claim Europe’s largest pipe organ. You’ll marvel at it within St. Stephen’s Cathedral and have the chance to attend an organ concert while in port. You’re right by the German-Austrian border—so close that you could opt to spend the day in Salzburg, the alpine setting of The Sound of Music film.
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    Melk, Austria
    Towering above the Danube, Melk Abbey is a 900-year-old Benedictine monastery famed for its library of medieval manuscripts. (The original 12th-century building was destroyed in a fire.) On an included tour, you’ll visit its imperial rooms and ornate church. Later in the day, you have the option to visit wineries in the surrounding Wachau Valley.
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    Vienna, Austria
    After touring some of Europe’s most charming riverside towns, you’ll disembark in Vienna for two days of big-city culture and energy. You’ll visit the Austrian capital’s most storied sights, including the Opera House, Hofburg Palace, and St. Stephan’s Cathedral. You also have some down time to explore Vienna or take advantage of immersive activities arranged by Viking, from a Viennese waltz lesson to an art workshop inspired by Klimt.
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    Budapest, Hungary
    Last stop, Buda and Pest! The Danube splits the Hungarian capital in two, with worthy attractions on each side. Optional excursions include experiencing the city’s restorative thermal baths, exploring its Jewish heritage, and browsing for local specialties at the Grand Market. You’ll enjoy a traditional Hungarian dinner onboard the ship and have the chance to swap stories with fellow passengers before your Grand Tour comes to an end.