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The Blue Danube River Cruise with Budapest Extension - MS Oscar Wilde

The Blue Danube River Cruise with Budapest Extension - MS Oscar Wilde

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The Blue Danube River Cruise with Budapest Extension - MS Oscar Wilde

11 Days

Visiting: Budapest, Esztergom, Bratislava, Dürnstein, Salzburg, Vienna

Tour operator:

Riviera Travel

Tour code:

RCDOBX

Trip Styles:

River Cruise

This tour is no longer available

Tour Overview

Explore this magnificent imperial city, its iconic Gothic Parliament Building and the superb National Gallery with its impressive collection of Hungarian masterpieces plus medieval Visegrad and the delightful Royal Palace at Godollo, before venturing out into the desolate beauty of Hungary's Great Plain. Stepping aboard you will appreciate the superb surroundings of your floating luxury hotel for the next seven nights with spacious and well-appointed cabins or suites, private bathrooms and meticulously prepared fine cuisine.

From Budapest, we slip our moorings and head on our journey north to Esztergom spending the morning exploring its historic centre, which once was Hungary's capital, before continuing westwards to the beautiful old town of Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. Navigating through Lower Austria we then reach the romantic town of Dürnstein, where Richard the Lionheart was imprisoned, having been shipwrecked on his return from the crusades. After we visit the remarkable monastery in Melk, with its 200m long Emperor's Gallery, lined with portraits of Austrian emperors.

Soon we arrive in Linz where we take the short drive to Salzburg. During the guided tour of the old town we will see the imposing fortress Hohensalzburg towering over the city and of course the birthplace and residence of Mozart, Salzburg's most famous citizen.  On our way back eastwards we will reach classical Vienna, home of Strauss and many great composers. This city offers up so much wonderful architecture as well as a host of other things to see including the Spanish riding school.

Finally, river cruising into Hungary, we arrive back in imperial Budapest, straddling the picturesque Danube. After a guided tour of this palatial city we spend the evening on board, where the Captain hosts another spectacular dinner, an excellent finale to this most exceptional and relaxing cruise.

Discover more of majestic Budapest's imperial past and the 19th-century grandeur of the Habsburg Empire. Delve into the charming, old-world atmosphere of medieval Buda, stroll along the broad boulevards of elegant Pest and venture into the scenic Puszta, Hungary's Great Plain, on this superb three night extension.

Highlights

  • Happy by day two or we'll bring you home with a full refund

  • Tour the most historic towns and cities along the Danube, including guided tours of Vienna, Durnstein, Budapest and Bratislava.

  • Visit Esztergom Basilica and Melk Abbey.

  • Explore Salzburg or Linz with an expert guide on a tour of the town's most interesting sights.

  • Immerse yourself in the local culture with a Hungarian folklore show on board.

  • Enjoy a classical Live music performance on board with stunning views of Vienna.

  • Click here to see our departures exclusively for solo travellers

  • Seven nights on board in your choice of luxury cabin or suite, with river views 

  • Three nights in an excellent, centrally located hotel in Budapest

  • Seven visits and tours during the cruise including guided tours in Vienna, Salzburg or Linz, Durnstein, Budapest and Bratislava

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Itinerary

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Day 1

Location: Budapest

You fly to Budapest, where a coach takes you to your cruise ship. The dedicated crew are there to welcome you on board, ensuring you settle into your extremely comfortable, well-equipped cabin and familiarise yourself with this first-class floating hotel. There’s always a sense of expectancy and excitement on the eve of a cruise and, after an excellent dinner in the stylish restaurant, conversation is sure to revolve around the delights ahead.

Day 2

Location: Esztergom

Overnight we have cruised upstream to Esztergom, one of Hungary’s oldest towns, a royal capital during medieval times and today the seat of the country’s archbishop. We have a guided tour of the famous neoclassical basilica, standing sentinel over the Danube on the border with Slovakia, and boasting one of the world’s largest altarpieces and a wealth of priceless religious artefacts.



The castle is also worth exploring; it was the seat of government until the Ottomans invaded in the 16th century. Nestling below are myriad atmospheric churches resonating with the enchanting sounds of choir; this is the best of provincial Hungary and is little changed since Habsburg times. As you enjoy your first lunch on board we gently leave Esztergom in our wake, affording a fascinating opportunity to compare the different landscapes, towns and villages of Hungary on one river bank and of Slovakia on the other.

Day 3

Location: Bratislava

This morning we explore Slovakia’s fast-emerging capital city, Bratislava, on a guided tour. Until recently swathed in the drab uniformity of Communism, the city has rekindled the splendour of its imperial past in its beautifully restored Old Town. Equally impressive is the imposing 17th-century castle commanding expansive views across the Danube.



This afternoon we cruise into Lower Austria, a peaceful, bucolic region and home to some of the country’s best wines. By now the stresses of everyday life seem distant as you absorb the ever-changing scenes we pass: children playing on the river banks, young couples strolling arm in arm like generations before them, vignerons carefully pruning their vines, and cobbled quaysides lined by half-timbered buildings, teeming with life. You’ll marvel as the Captain skilfully navigates the ship along the serene river and through locks whose mechanisms never cease to fascinate, as we cruise towards Dürnstein while enjoying another superb dinner.

Day 4

Location: Dürnstein

Durnstein is known principally for the ice-blue tower of its abbey, which dominates the view, and the castle where Richard the Lionheart was imprisoned in 1192 after being shipwrecked on his return from the crusades. This morning we take a guided walking tour to explore this memorable city further. Set on a rocky outcrop high above the river, the castle is now ruined, but it’s easy to imagine England’s legendary monarch seething with frustration far from home, while waiting for his family to raise funds to pay his ransom.



After lunch you visit the remarkable Melk Abbey. Nothing quite prepares you for your first sight of this enormous honey-coloured building, standing resplendent above the surrounding countryside. Originally a castle, it was gifted to the Benedictine Order in the 11th-century and, although reconstructed in Baroque style during the 18th century, it has remained a monastic school and monastery ever since. The Abbey is renowned for its 214-yard-long Emperor’s Gallery lined with portraits, many fine rooms and an ornate library. After we re-join the ship, dinner is served during the final part of our cruise upstream through the pretty Nibelungengau, immortalised in the music of Wagner. 

Day 5

Location: Salzburg

Reaching Linz, you will have the choice to stay in the city and take a guided walking tour, exploring its charming baroque old town. At its heart you’ll see one of the finest squares in Austria, lined by grand pastel-coloured facades with an impressive central Trinity Column of white marble, crowned by a gilded sunburst. There’s also the fortress-like castle, built high above the city by Emperor Friedrich III, now a museum housing a fine collection of nineteenth and twentieth-century artworks. 



Alternatively, we drive to Salzburg, once an independent state whose archbishops turned it into one of the most sophisticated cities north of the Alps. Dominating the skyline is one of Europe’s largest stone fortresses, the Hohensalzburg, while beneath its walls church domes and spires rise from the delightful Altstadt, or Old Town. Then there’s the wonderful Hellbrunn Palace and the splendid formal gardens of the Mirabell Palace – a must for horticulture fans. 



This morning, discover some of the city’s main sights in the company of an expert local guide, then you’re free to explore as you wish. Everywhere there are sights associated with the city’s most famous resident, Mozart, who played the harpsichord aged three, composed rudimentary music at five and wrote his first opera when he was 11! 



Please note lunch is not included on this full day excursion to Salzburg; however, the ship will offer a packed lunch. We return to the ship for another splendid dinner. 

Day 6

Location: Vienna

For many, today’s visit to Vienna will be one of the highlights of the cruise. The city’s very name provokes images of elegance, fine music, wide boulevards, Baroque architecture and a rich tapestry of peoples who were drawn here from all corners of Europe. For 200 years until the First World War, Vienna was the cultural centre of Europe and many of the showpiece buildings, galleries, aristocratic palaces and magnificent churches you see today were built to reflect its imperial status.



The city’s most iconic monument is the breathtaking Saint Stephen’s Cathedral, whose striking multicoloured roof and huge Gothic South Tower dominate the skyline. There’s also the colossal Hofburg, the former royal court that is now home to a collection of museums, the Crown Jewels and the Spanish Riding School, and where the Vienna Boys’ Choir performs. Then there are the lavish Imperial Apartments and an outstanding collection of relics of the Holy Roman Empire, including, allegedly, the sabre of Charlemagne himself. The Kunsthistorisches Museum, which contains the world’s fourth largest collection of paintings, is just across the road.



This morning we have a tour with a local guide offering insights into why Vienna is one of Europe’s great capitals – the seat of the Habsburg emperors and home to some of the world’s finest classical composers, including Beethoven, Brahms, Mozart and, of course, a whole family of Strausses. During the afternoon you’re free to explore as you wish. Take a stroll in the Prater, notable for the huge Ferris wheel that features in several Cold War spy thrillers. Or, for something quite different, visit the Schönbrunn Palace, a former royal residence now housing a range of world-class museums and galleries. Perhaps, though, just take a stroll through Vienna’s atmospheric side streets, enjoy a coffee and a slice of delicious Sachertorte in one of the extraordinarily ornate coffee houses, or admire the skill of the street entertainers and even the occasional opera singer.



This evening we’ve arranged truly the ‘icing on the cake’: no visit to Vienna is complete without a live musical experience, so after dinner we have a classical recital on board. To hear this exquisite music played in the city of its creation makes a wonderful finale to the day.

Day 7

Location: Budapest

Enjoy a leisurely morning as we cruise majestically through Hungary’s peaceful pastoral landscape towards Budapest. After lunch we enjoy a sightseeing tour of this captivating city, which truly lives up to its reputation as the ‘Pearl of the Danube’. The twin cities of Buda, built around the hilltop fortress, and Pest, with its wide boulevards, were fought over through the centuries. The Ottomans ruled here for 150 years before being ousted in the late 17th century, but their legacy lives on in the many thermal baths fed by hot springs, giving rise to Budapest’s other sobriquet  – the ‘City of Spas’. After the end of Ottoman rule, Budapest became an imperial city of the Habsburg Empire, attracting great cultural and commercial wealth.



Castle Hill is Budapest in microcosm: two churches, seven museums and a theatre among streets and squares with their own special atmosphere and a dramatic view across the river to the awe-inspiring neo-Gothic Parliament Building. Budapest’s endless galleries, museums, outstanding Art Nouveau architecture and excellent shopping offer a fittingly elegant end to your Danube cruise. This evening’s Gala Dinner closes with a Hungarian folklore show, giving you time to bid farewell to your travelling companions and reflect on all the inspirational places, sights and sounds you have experienced on a truly ‘imperial’ cruise.

Day 8

Location: Budapest

We leave the ship and return to the dramatic Danube Bend to explore some of the region’s hidden gems. First we visit the medieval town of Visegrad, renowned for its historic Royal Palace and fantastically preserved citadel. The palace, now beautifully restored, was originally built by King Charles Robert in the 14th century when he decided to move the royal court to Visegrad from Budapest. It was abandoned after the Ottoman conquest and lay buried for centuries under mud washed down from the surrounding hills until a chance discovery by an archaeologist in 1934 helped identify the building’s location. You may wish to visit the palace, gardens and remarkable royal chapel featuring a stunning gilded wooden ceiling before enjoying a tasty lunch. There’s also a chance to visit Solomon’s Tower, a 13th-century hexagonal keep housing a museum with fascinating Gothic and Renaissance discoveries excavated from the town. 



We spend the rest of the day in picturesque Szentendre. Nestling below the rolling hills behind, this charming riverside town has a lovely Baroque square lined with brightly painted facades and pretty churches. Described as the ‘Montmartre of the Danube’, the rich, rusty reds and warm orange and yellow hues of its handsome townhouses dazzle in the rosy light. This is the perfect spot to while away a lazy afternoon, exploring the Old Town’s delightful maze of cobblestone streets. 



We return to Budapest where we stay for the next three nights, with breakfast, at the centrally located Courtyard by Marriott Budapest City Centre. The rooms are decorated in a contemporary style and superbly appointed.

Day 9

Budapest is truly a magnificent city – an alluring collage of palatial buildings and grand churches with dramatic spires and magnificent domes straddling the vast waters of the Danube. Numerous foreign powers have ruled here, reflected in the city’s eclectic architectural mix. However, the greatest influence on its architecture was Hungary’s union with Austria in 1867, which initiated growth up to the First World War. This resulted in some sensational buildings in a range of styles, including the elegant Art Nouveau Gellert Hotel and its thermal baths, resplendent with majolica tiles and colourful mosaics.

The iconic Parliament Building – the world’s third largest – was also built during this period. Constructed in neo-Gothic style and arguably grander than our own Houses of Parliament, it dominates the riverbank with its striking central dome and spires soaring into the sky above. Its cathedral-like interior is breathtakingly ornate, with fabulous frescoes, stained glass and mosaics. During an included tour, we’ll see the Domed Hall, home to the Hungarian Crown Jewels, the 16-sided Central Hall with its stunning gilded ceiling and intricate carvings, and the astonishing Golden Staircase. 

We'll then visit the Palinka Museum to learn about the production and consumption of this traditional fruit brandy and its special role in Hungarian culture. We'll also enjoy a tasting experience in which a team of experts and pálinka sommeliers will introduce you to the distillates they hold in the highest regard. Enjoy some of their finest choices and gain insight into the consumption of palinka and the secrets of its distillation. 

This afternoon is at leisure. Why not enjoy lunch in the Great Market Hall, a vibrant hub of Hungarian culture, history, and cuisine. Built in 1897, the neoclassical facade and brightly coloured roof hall are a must-see for travellers visiting Budapest - you can spot its roof tiles from across the city skyline. Inside the market, you’ll find a vast array of dining options and local products, from fresh produce and meats to traditional handicrafts and souvenirs. From here, you can explore the area or take a short walk back to our hotel and take advantage of the hotel facilities.

Day 10

Today, we'll visit the impressive National Gallery, which is located in Buda Castle and includes a phenomenal collection of Hungarian masterpieces spanning the centuries as well as a crypt containing tombs of several members of the Habsburg dynasty. We enjoy a visit to this world-famous collection and then a short orientation walk of the surrounding area.

The rest of the day is at leisure to explore this fantastic city and its multitude of cultural attractions.

Perhaps, spend more time here in the Castle District admiring its panoramic views of the city and exploring its tiny winding passages, Gothic arches and colourful houses, mostly dating from the 17th to 19th centuries. Don’t miss the wonderful Matthias Church, where shafts of light from the intricate rose windows pierce the darkness, illuminating the splendid altar and statues to great effect.

Day 11

Today we transfer to the airport for our flight home.

What's Included

  • Prices are per person, based on two people sharing a twin cabin with a limited number of sole occupancy;cabins available on all decks, at the relevant supplement. The price includes: All meals on board (except one lunch if choosing the Salzburg excursion) - from dinner on your day of arrival until breakfast on your final day - including welcome cocktails and the Captain's dinner. Complimentary on-board tea and coffee All visits and excursions as mentioned Airport transfers Coach travel as mentioned Travel to and from port of embarkation The services of a Riviera Travel cruise director and concierge

  • Prices are per person, based on two people sharing a cabin and hotel room. Sole Occupancy;cabinsooms are available at the relevant supplement. The price includes:; All meals on board (except one lunch if choosing the Salzburg excursion) - from dinner on your day of arrival until breakfast on your final day - including welcome drinks and the Captain's dinner. Complimentary on-board tea and coffee All visits and excursions as mentioned Airport transfers Coach travel as mentioned Travel to and from port of embarkation The services of a Riviera Travel cruise director and conciergeExtensionThe price of this extension is per person based on two people sharing a twin room. Single rooms are subject to availability at the relevant supplement. The price includes: Three nights in a hotel in Budapest Daily breakfast An expert tour manager

Check out our Q&As

  • How long has the tour company been trading?

    For almost 40 years

  • I have reduced mobility; can I still travel?

    We want to ensure you make the correct choice before you book your holiday with us. If you have any concerns regarding the suitability of the holiday due to reduced mobility we would encourage you to contact us to discuss these concerns

  • Do I require travel insurance?

    It is a condition of booking that you carry suitable travel insurance.

  • What is my luggage allowance?

    You will receive details of your luggage allowance with your final travel documents, which are sent approximately 10 days prior to your date of departure.

Reviews of this operator

David Clarke (Google Reviewer)  

This review is for the...

08-Aug-2023

This review is for the italian Lake Como trip Aug 1-8 Wow what a trip. Riviera from start to finish were excellent the booking and help line answering questions were very good and clear. The travel booklet you get is laid out that it is simple to read and follow with step by step info from booking in to flights to meeting the guides. Our guide Matt Purse was just the best guide and real credit to Riviera with his knowledge and straight forward approach to running the trips. Matt kept us informed and told us all the sort of info you want to know without going over the top....This chap should teach other reps ..thank you so much. The coaches they use are all clean and well equipped with usb chargers and have aircon. The places chosen to visit were well researched even down to where coaches park or drop you off. The Bernina Express was the highlight for our family and matts photo tip was welcomed. The only down point was the hotel,a little dated and evening meal in main restuarant was a bit of a let down. I think we were lucky with our room on level 7 and with balcony as the walls are very thin and noise travels. We would book again with riviera

Barbara Shillaker (Google Reviewer)  

I have been on three...

11-Jan-2024

I have been on three trips with Riviera Travel so far, with two more booked during 2024. Highly recommended. Excellent tour guides. Great program of visits. Great hotels used.

Mrs Bodnarec (Google Reviewer)  

Thankyou Riviera and all the...

28-Apr-2024

Thankyou Riviera and all the staff on the William Wordsworth Danube River cruise. My husband and i have just travelled on the Danube to celebrate my husbands 60th and we had such a lovely experience. We were younger than most of the travellers but we met so many lovely people so this wasnt a problem. The staff were so lovely and professional. The service we experienced was so high. The boat was beautiful, the food amazing and the excursions were informative and well managed. I would definately recommend riviera as a company. In fact we are now considering their Japan holiday.

Valerie Pascoe  

We would go again in a heartbeat

22-Jan-2022

Oh my goodness, what a relief it was to actually get away! Full marks to all at Riviera for keeping us up to date before our trip and for the help so cheerfully and patiently given with the extra admin that Covid brought our way. We felt totally safe with the measures taken on board, thank you very much for this. Without exception, Staff were fantastic and our every need was attended to. The additional Covid testing ran smoothly, organised by our Riviera Reps. The guided tours were most interesting: the guides very knowledgeable and more importantly, interesting to listen to. We loved this trip and would do it again in a heartbeat. Thank you again Riviera, you were FAB!

Chris Wilson (Google Reviewer)  

Second escorted tour with this...

25-Jul-2022

Second escorted tour with this company. Did 5 days in Iceland tour. Everything went smoothly, excellent tour guide, Per. Extremely knowledgeable and interesting guy. Very friendly too. Highly recommend. Just let down by the room given at the hotel, but I guess the travel company doesn't have control over this.

Kathryn Jurin, GB  

Riviera South Africa tour - awesome

21-May-2021

Riviera have amazing holidays and tours to choose from. The one we chose was South Africa and wow! It turned out to be our best trip ever - incredible memories we will never forget. We’ve been all over the world which was because of all our experiences, this one was awesome. The organisation of the holiday, the guide and the travel was e cells that. The choice of hotels, meals, restaurants, trips was absolutely fantastic - very good quality and character - nothing bland or boring! The Riviera guide was permanently with us along with a South Africa guide and they were both extremely friendly, professional, informative and you could ask any questions you want! I would massively recommend this holiday/trip and when you’ve experienced it, you realise how reasonable the price is. We reflect on this trip a lot and thank you Riviera for giving us such a wonderful experience.

Trustpilot
Barry, GB  

Rhine Christmas markets cruise

09-Dec-2019

Just completed a 5 day trip on the Rhine. Our first river cruise and a tester for future cruises. The boat was well appointed and the cabin and public areas were spotlessly clean. The staff were attentive and contributed to the very relaxed atmosphere on the boat. The quality of the food surpassed that which we have experiened on sea cruises in recent years. I have written little because it was a faultless experience. We have booked a further cruise (in France) on the basis of our experience.

Trustpilot
Christine Hardy (Google Reviewer)  

Although most people seem to...

10-Mar-2024

Although most people seem to book and pay for their holidays online, because we live close by we prefer to make a personal visit. In my opinion if they are offering this as an option they should be better equipped to accommodate visits in person. We have not been on our river cruise yet, so can't comment on that yet.

Norma Patrick (Google Reviewer)  

Recently went on a tour...

18-May-2024

Recently went on a tour of the Deep South USA plus Texas. Before we set off on the trip we were informed that our trip On the Amtrak train would not be going ahead and we were given a £50 refund each. We were disappointed especially as there was no consultation beforehand and to only receive £50 each in compensation was poor. This was one of the reasons we had chosen Riviera Travel and may have considered another company had we been given the choice. Despite this we had a fabulous holiday, although we thought the tour guide was poor. There was no music played whilst we were traveling on the coach and when asked if more could be played we received a flat ‘no’. If we had relied on the tour guide all the time we wouldn’t have gone anywhere. However we ignored his comments that Nashville was ‘mad’ and went downtown and had the best night. All in all we had a wonderful holiday but it could have been better from Riviera Travel point of view. This is a very expensive tour and we thought the standard of hotels were very poor in some places. Probably would try a different tour company next time.

Barbara Parkes (Google Reviewer)  

Presently in Croatia staying at...

22-Sep-2023

Presently in Croatia staying at Arauana Hotel, supposedly a 4 star property, but wouldn't give it any star rating. Rooms are small and dirty. Wallpaper blistering. Meals served in a shed like lean-to. Food like warm, greasy and always self service. Second holiday with Riviera this year and neither at standard advertised. Have travelled with them previously and everything was fine, but standards have really dropped. Have booked a holiday with them next year and now dreading it. Certainly don't provide the standard advertised. We have never stayed in such a hovel and have visited youngsters in back packers accommodation which was far better than this supposedly 4 star accommodation. There are no indoor bars or lounges only a shed as a so called restaurant. Absolutely disgusting. Won't be boking with them again

Book with Confidence

  • Low Deposit

    Riviera Travel requires a minimum deposit of 500 GBP per person or the full booking value, whichever is less, with the final balance not due until 101 days before departure.

  • Cancellation Policy

    We don't charge a cancellation fee, here is a summary of riviera travel charges.

    Up to 101 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of deposit.

    At 100 days before tour starts: Forfeit 50% of booking price.

    At 60 days before tour starts: Forfeit 70% of booking price.

    At 30 days before tour starts: Forfeit 90% of booking price.

    At 14 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of booking price.

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