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Austria, Switzerland and Rhine River Cruise 2022

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We start our comprehensive tour across the border in the Austrian capital and city of music, Vienna, before we journey to magical Salzburg and on into Switzerland. It might be a relatively small country surrounded by its larger neighbours but Switzerland certainly offers a feast of sublime sights and experiences for the visitor – spectacular scenery, magnificent alpine lakes, snow-capped mountain peaks, lush rolling green meadows and a mixture of medieval old towns, country villages, and modern sophisticated cities. Highlights are many and include the Matterhorn, Jungfrau and a journey on one of the most famous trains in the world, the Glacier Express. To finish the tour, we join our river ship for 7 nights cruising on the Rhine enjoying the fairy-tale sights and romantic twists and turns en route to Amsterdam.

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Imperial Vienna for a 3-night stay
  • Salzburg, Zermatt, Geneva, Interlaken, Lucerne – all 2-night stays
  • Journey up both the Matterhorn and Jungfrau peaks
  • Glacier Express Railway
  • Cruise the Rhine for 7 nights from Basel to Amsterdam

RHINE RIVER CRUISE:

  • Our home for the 7 nights cruising on the Rhine is the stylish and elegant “Amadeus Queen” catering for up to 162 guests. Features include:
  • River-view staterooms with drop-down panoramic window
  • Gourmet cuisine with complimentary regional wines served at dinner
  • A full sightseeing programme of sightseeing and walking tours en route (note excursions are not included in tour cost)
  • On-board entertainment
  • Spacious public areas including lounge and bar and sun deck

Tuesday 09 August                  Home – Dubai

Late this afternoon, we report to the airport and join the flight to Dubai.

 

Wednesday 10 August            Dubai         (D)

We arrive in Dubai early this morning and after clearing Customs and Immigration formalities, we are met and transferred to our hotel for a two-night stay. There is time to rest up after the flight until mid-afternoon when we visit the Palm Jumeirah – one of the world’s most daring developments. Jutting out into the Arabian Gulf, this man-made archipelago was built in the shape of a palm tree, with a 3-mile-long trunk and a fan of fronds lined with luxury villas and five-star hotels. From water parks and wildlife encounters to beach clubs and restaurants, there is an array of different activities on offer. One of the first things that strike you when visiting the Palm Jumeirah is its size. This giant archipelago is visible from space and the outer crescent is more than 10 miles long. Afterward, we visit the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world at 160 stories high. We travel to the observation deck which will provide you with a breath-taking unobstructed 360-degree view of the city, desert and ocean. We return to the hotel where we have dinner this evening.

 

Thursday 11 August                Dubai         (B,D)

This morning we take a sightseeing tour of the city – a fascinating historical excursion which takes you to the magnificent Jumeirah mosque and past modern palaces sprawled along the coast. In Bastakiya, see the old wind-towered houses built by wealthy merchants and the 150-year old Al Fahidi Fort. We continue our journey coach to the gold and spice souks, where we see bustling alleys with the aromas of the numerous spices and dazzling jewellery. Next up, we visit the area of La Mer – a new area nestled between Pearl Jumeira and the upcoming Jumeira Bay. There is time to explore this artsy community and to get some lunch at one of the trendy cafes before we  return to the hotel to relax & freshen up prior to our evening activity – a four-wheel drive excursion over rolling dunes deep into the heart of the desert. Watch the sun cast its orange glow over the shimmering sand and enjoy dinner and entertainment under the stars in Bedu tents.

NB: For those who may have been to Dubai previously, there is the opportunity to join a tour to Abu Dhabi today, in place of the arrangements above. Price is available on request.

 

Friday 12 August                    Dubai – Vienna        (D)

A midday transfer to the airport where we join the 6 hour flight to Vienna. On arrival, we are met and transferred to our hotel for a 3-night stay. The remainder of the day is left free to rest up before we get together for dinner this evening.

 

Saturday 13 August                             Vienna     (B)

On this morning’s tour, we drive along the Ringstrasse, pass the State Opera House, the Jewish Quarter and stop at Heldenplatz (Heroes Square) in front of the Hofburg Palace, once the winter residence of the Austrian royal family and now the residence of the Austrian President. We leave the coach for a walk through to St Stephens Cathedral, the iconic heart of the city. There is time for lunch – you must visit a traditional Viennese coffee house – before this afternoon’s visit to the Schonbrunn Palace, perhaps Europe’s most impressive palace complex. 640 years of Hapsburg monarchy ended here in 1918 with the abdication of the last monarch and the start of the Austrian Republic.

 

Sunday 14 August                               Vienna      (B,D)

Today has been left entirely free for you to enjoy Vienna at your leisure. Maybe visit one of the many galleries and museums, perhaps a tour of the Spanish Riding School, enjoy the elegant shopping “strasses” of the Old City, or just sit at an outdoor café and watch the world go by. This evening, we enjoy all things Viennese with a superb dinner at the Orangerie at Schonbrunn Palace including a concert of Viennese classical music with works by Johann Strauss and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. A wonderful finale to our stay in Vienna.

 

Monday 15 August                  Vienna  – Salzburg    (B.D)

Leaving Vienna, we enjoy a leisurely cruise along one of the most scenic parts of the Danube. At Melk, we visit the abbey, one of Europe’s most beautiful sights, which has been home to Benedictine Monks for over 900 years, notwithstanding the Reformation, and the occupations by Napoleon and the Nazis. The abbey of today is 18th century baroque with the major restoration completed in 1996. We continue our journey through the beautiful Salzkammergut lakeland to the pretty lakeside town of Mondsee where we visit the Basilica of St Michaels which featured in the wedding scene of the Sound of Music. From there it’s a short drive into Salzburg where we stay for 2 nights.

 

Tuesday 16 August                  Salzburg       (B)

Salzburg is picturebook Austria, the city of music, whether it be Mozart or Julie Andrews. This morning, we take a walking tour of the UNESCO World Heritage town starting at Mirbell Gardens then across the river to the Old Town, past Mozart’s birthplace and down the Getreidegasse with its popular shops and into Residenz Square with its magnificent forecourt and fountain. This afternoon, we leave the city for a spectacular mountain drive to the so-called “Eagle’s Nest” (Kehlsteinhaus), built as a teahouse for Adolf Hitler on Kehlstein Mountain at an elevation of 6,017 ft / 1,834 m. The site can only be reached by taking the special bus to the  elevator shaft set deep in the mountain. Once at the top, the views are magnificent and there is time to explore the rooms which resonate with history.

 

Wednesday 17 August            Salzburg – Innsbruck – St Moritz     (B,D)

Leaving Salzburg, we enter the Austrian Tyol, a majestic and enchanting landscape that is sure to excite the senses. At its heart is the regions capital, Innsbruck, presided over by the magnificent Hapsburg palace and baroque cathedral. We take a stroll through the ancient and narrow lanes to see Emperor Maximillian’s Golden Roof, the symbol of the city  which covers the gothic bay built to celebrate his wedding circa 1500AD. We then continue across the border into Switzerland along the alpine valley past deep blue lakes and forests overlooked by high mountain peaks. Our destination for the overnight stay is the chic resort of St Moritz, the leisure playground for the rich and famous in both winter and summer.

 

Thursday 18 August                St Moritz – Andermatt  (Glacier Express) – Zermatt (B,D)

We continue our journey by coach enjoying the spectacular alpine scenery before we reach Andermatt and join the Glacier Express, one of the world’s most famous trains. Sit back in first class comfort in the panoramic cars for an afternoon journey offering unrestricted views of rugged cliffs, pristine forests, deep gorges, rolling meadows, clear lakes and typical mountain villages.. Our destination is the vehicle-free mountain resort town of Zermatt where we stay for 2 nights.

 

Friday 19 August                    Zermatt – Matterhorn Excursion      (B)

Zermatt lies at the foot of the Matterhorn, perhaps the world’s most famous mountain, and is surrounded by majestic peaks. This morning, we join the cable car for the trip up the Matterhorn. From the summit, enjoy the incredible views of the ice-bound Swiss Alps and the magnificent panorama of the highest peaks in Switzerland / Italy / France. On our return, there is time to enjoy the traffic-free village shops. This evening, maybe dine at one of the many Swiss restaurants around the town.

 

Saturday 20 August                 Zermatt – Geneva     (B,D)

This morning we take the train to Taesch back to our coach and then continue our journey westwards. On reaching the northern arm of Lake Geneva, we stop at Chillon Castle, an architectural jewel which for over 1,000 years of history has inspired artists and writers, from Jean-Jacques Rousseau to Victor Hugo and Lord Byron. We then continue on to Montreux which, as well as its beautiful lakeside setting and vineyard backdrops, is well known for its annual international jazz festival. There is time for a stroll along the promenade before we continue our journey through to Geneva for a 2 night stay.

 

Sunday 21 August                               Geneva      (B)

Geneva is certainly an international city being home to many international organisations including Red Cross and United Nations agencies. In the course of our morning tour, we see their headquarters as well as the old town and the parks and gardens including the lakeside English Garden where the famous floral clock is located. We finish the tour with a cruise on Lake Geneva offering great views of the Jet d’Eau fountain which is symbolic of the city. The afternoon is at leisure.

 

Monday 22 August                  Geneva – Bern – Interlaken     (B,D)

From Geneva, we travel north to the lakeside city of Lausanne, home to the International Olympic Committee and many other sporting organisations.  The city’s skyline is dominated by the grand gothic Cathedral. Leaving Lake Geneva, we turn north to the city of Berne, the Swiss capital and once voted Europe’s most floral city. We enjoy a walking tour through the well-preserved old town as well as magnificent views from the Rose Garden. The last leg of our journey takes us to Interlaken, our “between the lakes” home where we stay for 2 nights.

 

Tuesday 23 August                  Interlaken – Jungfrau      (B)

On today’s excursion, we travel along Grindelwald Valley following the Lutschine River to Lauterbrunnen at the head of the valley of waterfalls where we see the Staubbach Falls plunge 300m. Then we take the cogwheel train ride to the summit of the Jungfrau, the “Top of Europe” at 3,470m, for magnificent views of the world of eternal ice and snow. An absolutely spectacular day.

 

Wednesday 24 August            Interlaken – Lucerne   (B,D)

From Interlaken, it is a short run through to Lucerne, skirting the shores of Lake Brienz and over the Brunig Pass. At Lucerne, our local guide joins us for a sightseeing tour of the city. We see the impressive Lion Monument dedicated to the Swiss Guards who protected the French Royalty during the French Revolution. Another feature is the city’s symbol, the covered wooden Chapel Bridge spanning the Reuss River, unique because of its interior paintings dating back to the 17th century, many of which have been restored following the 1993 fire. We overnight in Lucerne and enjoy a special Swiss meal at a local restaurant.

 

Thursday 25 August                Lucerne – Zurich – Basel       (B,D)

Join Rhine River Cruise

A leisurely start this morning for the short drive through to Zurich. On arrival we meet up with our local guide who will show us the historical and cultural highlights of the city. We see the Swiss National Museum, Opera House and the Old Town and take the ferry for the scenic crossing of the lake to marvel at the grand architecture of the Fraumunster Church. We finish with the cable car ride to Felsenegg for sweeping view over the city and to the alps. After lunch, we travel through to Basel where we join the river ship “Amadeus Cara” which will be our home for the next 7 nights. This evening, we are welcomed aboard with cocktails and dinner.

 

Friday 26 August                    Cruising – Strasbourg, France     (B,L,D)

This morning we dock at Strasbourg (France) for the day. The city has been heavily influenced by both France and Germany and this has contributed to its unique appearance. The charm of the old city (“Petite France”) contrasts with the splendour of the buildings inspired by German architecture. There is the option to join an afternoon excursion into wine country and the Alsace region famous for its white wines and in particular the Riesling.

 

Saturday 27 August                 Cruising – Speyer & Mannheim        (B,L,D)

This morning we are in Speyer, one of the oldest German cities with a beautiful old town. The cathedral, just a short walk from the river, has loomed large and powerful over the city for 1000 years. Continuing downstream during lunch, we reach Mannheim, where you may opt to take part in an excursion to Heidelberg, one of Germany’s most beautiful cities. The ensemble of the old town, castle, River Neckar and the surrounding hills has inspired artists and poets alike.

 

Sunday 28 August                   Cruising – Mannheim – Rudesheim – Koblenz     (B,L,D)

Two charming stops await you today. In the morning, arrive in Rüdesheim, a town well known for its winemaking, especially Riesling wines. Nearby, Siegried’s Mechanical Music Cabinet with its historic automated musical instruments is a delight. We depart at lunchtime, to cruise the most beautiful section of the river – the legendary Upper Middle Rhine Valley. The view from the sun deck, of the myth-enshrouded Lorelei, is sure to be a highlight of your cruise. Shortly thereafter, we arrive in Koblenz, one of Germany’s oldest and most beautiful towns, where you can end the day with a leisurely stroll through the city.

 

Monday 29 August                  Cruising – Koblenz – Cochem       (B,L,D)

The vessel departs Koblenz in the early hours, and makes a detour along the Mosel River to the most  romantic part of the valley and the little town of Cochem. The magnificent Reichsburg castle is situated high above the town, dominating the landscape. Down below, the village with its narrow streets, half timbered houses, and numerous restaurants are an ideal setting to taste the wines of the region. Back on board dinner is served as the journey continues to Cologne.

 

Tuesday 30 August                  Cruising – Cologne     (B,L,D)

The morning sees us in the city of Cologne, one of Germany’s largest cities and capital of the Rhineland. See the magnificent cathedral whose twin spires dominate the city on the optional walking tour, or explore the city at your leisure. In the old town, much of which was destroyed during WWII and rebuilt afterwards, there are many cafes, shops and taverns and the city abounds with museums of all descriptions.  Back on-board mid-afternoon as we continue cruising downstream towards Holland.

 

Wednesday 31 August             Cruising – Hoorn         (B,L,D)

Around lunchtime, we dock at the historic northern town of Hoorn. An optional excursion is available around North Holland and on to the great city of Amsterdam, concluding with a canal cruise. Shops and cafes dot Hoorns 17th-century town centre, which is anchored by the main square. The harbour features the Hoofdtoren, a 16th-century tower and one of the last defences in in North Holland that have been preserved. Visit the Westfries Museum, displaying paintings of the Westfrisian Golden Age. Return to the ship this afternoon for our last night aboard.

 

Thursday 01 September                      Amsterdam     (B,D)

It’s time to disembark this morning and farewell captain and crew. We have a coach and guide waiting to meet us and take us on a special visit to the 200-year-old Rijksmuseum, one of the most famous museums in the world and home to many masterpieces by such people as Rembrandt, van Dyck, Vermeer and many others. The museum has undergone a major reconstruction over the past decade and only reopened in 2013. After our guided tour, we check into our hotel for an overnight stay. This evening, we enjoy our final dinner in Europe together.

 

Friday 02 September               Amsterdam – Dubai      (B)

Time to farewell Amsterdam and Europe this morning as we are transferred to the airport in time to join our lunchtime flight to Dubai. Arrival time is late evening and overnight accommodation is reserved at the airport.

 

Saturday 03 September                       Dubai – Home

Time for the last leg of our journey on our flight home.

 

Sunday 04 September                          Welcome Home.

Arrival time is mid-morning.

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  • "Maher do put together excellent tours and once you pay there is very little other extras, just personal expenses. I have done 4 different tours. I enjoy river cruises. Usually in a different place each day. The cruise director was excellent. Did different things at night which got all the passengers involved."

    Heather K

  • "10/10 perfect cruise, excellent food, service, accommodation, great staff and entertainment. Excellent itinerary that included all the important tourist attractions. Loved the trip - would recommend Maher Tours to others."

    Peter and Carol W

  • "The size and composition of the tour party from tour leaders Annie, tour guides, and the travellers was very good. All about the same age and compatibility amongst the tour party was excellent."

    Doug M

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