Viking Grand European Tour: The Ultimate 15 day Guide

If you are planning to book your Viking Grand European Tour 15 day cruise, look no further. This comprehensive guide will give you all the information to have the best cruise possible. One of the best features of this fifteen day itinerary is that you get both a Danube River Cruise and a Rhine River Cruise, all in one. Viking offers a plethora of European itineraries to choose from, but I am biased and will say this one was fantastic. There are so many wonderful stops along the rivers and so much history and beauty to see in each port. What is even better is that each day brings something new.

Viking Grand European Tour: port stop Passau

Passau, Germany

As a seasoned ocean cruiser, I did not know what to expect on a river cruise, but I am so glad I got to go on one. There are not many similarities between ocean and river cruises but they all have their special qualities. I think what I found to be one of the best incentives of the smaller river cruise was that you never got lost among the people. All the staff know who you are, they know what you like and don’t like, if you have allergies, etc. The staff is superior on Viking and they are going to make sure you have the best trip you could ask for.

Viking Grand European Tour: Viking Baldur

Cruising The Danube

Viking Grand European Tour: Know Before You Go

Viking Grand European Tour

Würzburg’s Bishops’ Residenz

  • deciding on an itinerary – for the Viking Grand European Tour 15 day cruise, we opted to go Budapest to Amsterdam but you can go Amsterdam to Budapest as well. We chose this route specifically because of a desire to have more time in Budapest to explore the city more in depth
  • choosing a room – I can’t stress enough that having a balcony room is the best way to go. You spend a lot of time on the rivers and you can easily sit on your balcony and watch all the cute towns, castles, and so forth pass you by. Grab a wine and watch the sun go down or a coffee and watch it rise
  • dining – there is set dining times on board and they rarely change. Since this is a small river cruise, there is one actual restaurant that almost everyone dines at within the same time frame. There is a smaller area up from the restaurant that allows a few people to dine in for dinner, however the menu is the same.
    • tables are shared during dining and this is an excellent way to meet new people and make new friends on board. You do not have to sit in the same spot everyday and are free to dine around. We sat in every section available to try all the servers during our Viking Grand European Tour
    • there is a coffee, tea and water bar that usually has baked goods like cookies or muffins available
    • most of your dining is done onboard unless your excursion is longer and provides a meal or you opt to eat in the ports. I highly recommend trying some of the local food in the ports.
      • in Budapest – Hungarian goulash
      • in Vienna – sachertorte, schnitzel and strudel
      • in Germany – pretzels, sausage, beer, and sauerkraut
      • in The Netherlands – stroopwafle
  • after you book log in to “MyVikingJourney” – set up your account so that you can access your itinerary, book excursions, find documents and make sure everything is done prior to boarding, see the ports, add enhancements for your trip, and much more
  • booking excursions – it is said that excursions fill up before departure, and I did notice that some were full months before. You can book them right in your MyVikingJourney account online, including the free ones, and you will be set to go
  • cruise information – Viking will send out luggage tags and a book with all your cruise info in it well before the cruise starts. In the book you will find everything you need to know about the ship, port guide with tours, and questions you may have, etc
  • getting to the dock – if you opt not to explore cities on either end of the trip at your own leisure, you can arrange transportation with Viking to and from the airport in both directions from the beginning and end of your river cruise
    • since we came into Budapest early, we had to get to the river on our own. In the booklet that Viking sends out before your cruise, it shows where the boat should be. It is in one of three spots on the Danube close to each other. There is a number and email address you can contact if need be
  • embarkation – getting to the dock was easy and when we arrived we walked onto the ship with our luggage where one of the staff took it to our room. We checked in and made it to our room within minutes. Since there are no scheduled tours the day of, we went back out into Budapest to explore on our own
  • dress code – casual. Most of your time is out in ports exploring and you want to be comfortable, especially on cobblestone and uneven terrain in older buildings. For dinner you are free to get dressed up but it is not the rule
  • WiFi – speeds may vary in various areas and ports, but it is available on board and included in your stay
    • Because I needed to be able to work while I was away, I brought my WiFi hotspot to use while I was out in ports and it worked perfectly.
  • currency – how much to bring and where to exchange: there is not an ATM on board, and thus you should bring cash with you. I brought $400 Euros and that was plenty. I was able to use my Visa in many of the ports as well for shopping or extra dining
  • tipping – you can opt to pre-pay your tips online before you sail or Viking will charge you $15 per person, per day on board and it will be charged to your account at the end of your cruise
    • additionally, we tipped our housekeeper and servers for going above and beyond
  • pre/post trip travel – I would highly recommend coming in at least one day early to get adjusted to the time difference and do a little exploring before your trip starts on the ship. You can do a couple days in Budapest exploration on your own or in part with the cruise. I came into Budapest early and stayed at the Ritz Carlton, which is a great luxury hotel that is central to a lot that Budapest has to offer.
    • the pre/post trip destinations are a great way to extend your trip and see more that those cities have to offer.
      • I did not extend my trip in Amsterdam because I was short on time, but I have also been to the city before. If you get a chance to see the Amsterdam tulips, I highly recommend it. The W Hotel in Amsterdam is also a wonderful luxury property with easy walking access to attractions.
  • purchase insurance – travel insurance is a necessity to protect you and your trip as you never know what could happen
  • disembarkation – Viking makes this process as seamless as possible. In your Viking Daily the day before everyone leaves the ship, they have an entire page with each room number on it letting you know what time to have your luggage outside your door and when your ride is leaving (assuming you are using Viking for a post tour or to the airport). Additionally, the last day on board there is a talk about how everything works. It was extremely easy and we had no issues at all.
    • example: we had arranged to go directly to the airport. Our luggage was due outside our door at 8:30am and our ride was there at 9:30 am. We were take to the airport in Amsterdam and Viking staff on the ground helped with our bags and checking in for our flights.
  • elevator – there is an elevator on board. The only floor it does not go to is the very top deck
  • 110/220 volt outlets & USB ports in each room – you do not have to pack converters if you do not want to. I packed a power bar because I have so many items that need to be charged and wanted to make sure we had plenty of outlets available
  • things that are not on board – medical services, a store for toiletries, medications, room service, spa
  • laundry – this service is available on board and priced very nicely! We did not pack for cold weather and it was cold and rainy a lot of our trip, so we needed to have our warmer wear washed a few times. It was always back same day or within 24 hours
  • shop on board – there is a small shop in the reception area that sells items like jackets, fleeces, postcards, napkin holders, books, etc
  • postcards – you can buy stamps from the front desk AND they will mail out your postcards for you
  • ship layout – the ship has 4 floors for passengers to utilize
    • first floor is all rooms
    • second floor is rooms, reception, the store, and the restaurant
    • third floor is rooms, the lounge, library, coffee and tea stations, Aquavit Terrace
    • fourth floor is the rooftop and you will find a walking track, shuffleboard, putting green, herb garden, and smoking area
  • smoking – the fourth floor has a designated smoking area.
    • when the rooftop closes for a portion of the trip, they bring smoking to the third floor on the balcony
  • viking daily – each night your housekeeper will leave  Viking Daily in your room that includes all the information you will need to know for the next day. You will find information on the port, what time each tour departs, places of interest in case you opt not to take tours, if there are buses provided by Viking into the city center, meal times (a few times it was different), weather, arrival and departure, if there is evening entertainment, a daily nautical term, “on this day” in history section, and so much more
  • on board amenities:
    • daily printed newspaper headlines from a variety of countries
    • WiFi
    • complimentary water and umbrellas during tours
  • motion sickness – i rarely felt the boat move unless we were in locks, but even then, it was not anything like an ocean cruise. It would be a small movement or so and then we would carry on. I barely felt the ship move at all when we were cruising down the river
  • language – all staff and tour guides spoke in English
  • quietvox for tours – in your stateroom there is a quietvox for each passenger to take on tours. It comes with a left earphone only (bring headphones if you have trouble hearing on your left side) and when you meet with your tour guide they will activate it so that you can hear them on your tours

Viking Grand European Tour: Life on Board

This was one of the most asked questions I received from my viewers. To be honest, you spend about 50% of your time in ports exploring and the other 50% on board eating meals, sleeping, showering, and utilizing free time. I purposely booked my tours on top of each other to maximize my time in ports. If there were days where i could do a morning and afternoon or even an evening excursion too, I almost always did it. By doing this, I cut some of my time on board down in favor of seeing more of the cities.

However, life on board is just as you would expect. Lots of eating, hanging out with fellow passengers, playing games, watching sunrise and sunsets, relaxing with a cocktail, reading books, watching TV, walking laps on the rooftop – you could really do anything. I would highly recommend taking it easy on board and enjoying your down time. Its a very nice experience to go out into ports each day and learn about the places you visit and then have a wonderful place to come home to with cooked meals and friendly faces. A lot of people talked about their day and the excursions they went on or self exploration.

Everyone on board was very friendly, staff included. It becomes more of a friend atmosphere because the group is so small and you are together for fifteen days.

Staterooms:

The Viking Baldur offers 95 staterooms over five categories to include: 2 Explorer Suites, 7 Veranda Suites, 39 Veranda Staterooms, 22 French Balcony Staterooms, and 25 Standard Staterooms.

Viking Grand European Tour stateroom

Veranda Stateroom

During our time on board our Viking Grand European Tour, we stayed in a Veranda Stateroom, room 221. Here is what was included in our room:

  • size was about 205 square feet
  • full size veranda offering river views and floor to ceiling glass doors
  • king size bed or option for two twins
  • reading lights for each side of the bed
  • 2 nightstands with drawers
  • vanity area with mirror and outlets
  • additional sitting chair in room
  • 40″ TV programmed with a location map, movies and TV shows
  • 110/220 volt outlets & USB ports
  • telephone, safe, refrigerator, hair dryer & individual climate control
  • private bathroom with heated flooring, glass shower and anti-fog mirror
  • premium Freyja® toiletrie
  • spacious wardrobe and drawers
  • twice daily housekeeping
  • water replaced daily
  • free WiFi
  • robes and slippers available upon request

We found our room to be of good size for this adventure through Europe. We opted for the two twin beds and slept pretty well each night. When we arrived, we unpacked our suitcases and they fit easily under our beds as to not take up any of the space in the room. The closet and drawer space was plentiful for our needs and we even had room to spare.

Viking Grand European Tour stateroom

Welcome Gift From Viking

The bathroom was a nice size for a cruise room. Our housekeeper cleaned it twice a day, leaving us fresh towels and toiletries when needed.

Everyone on board our cruise was watching “Downton Abbey.” Viking was kind enough to put the entire series on the TV for everyone to binge watch during their trip. I could overhear conversations about the show throughout the cruise and everyone seemed to love it.

We had the BEST housekeeper! He brought us snacks when we requested them and he was just the sweetest.

Viking Grand European Tour: Dining on Board

Viking Grand European Tour dining

Dinner Table

One thing that I really loved about the dining on board this Viking cruise was the consistency in dining times, knowing what to expect and the always changing regional menus.

Available 24/7 are two coffee and tea stations outside of the lounge. You can help yourself to a variety of teas, coffee drinks, flat and sparkling water, and there was usually pastries, cookies or something of that nature in the baskets to snack on. Often, the pastry chef would make baked goods that were local to the region. I remember when we were in Kinderdijk stroopwafles were made and they were the absolute best!

Breakfast was essentially the same everyday. From 6-11 continental breakfast was available on the Aquavit Terrace and a buffet and sit down hot breakfast was available in the dining room from 7-10am. The breakfast menu never changed and included items like french toast, eggs Benedict, pancakes, etc. The buffet always had an omelette and egg station, hot meats, breads and pastries, yogurts, fresh fruits, and so much more.

Viking Grand European Tour dining breakfast

Yogurt

Viking Grand European Tour dining

French Toast

Lunch went from about 1230-2pm each day on board and was a buffet style plus a menu. You could mix and match items from the buffet and the menu. On the buffet you would find build your own salad items, a new pasta station everyday, fresh fruits, side items and salads, etc. The menu was different each day (with the exception of the cheeseburger and hot dog always being available) and always had items like soup, sandwiches, burgers, etc. Additionally, you could get dessert everyday at lunch and it was new everyday. Lunch was actually my favorite meal on this Viking Grand European Tour. I loved how creative chef was with the soups and pastas!

pasta

Pasta

Viking Grand European Tour dining

Salad Bar Toppings

Viking Grand European Tour dining

Bread

Dinner started at 7pm almost every single night and went until about 9pm. Everyone pretty much came between 7-730. At 715 there would be a few tables available in the Aquavit Terrace for dining that had the same menu as the restaurant. Dinner was a sit down meal where one side of the menu never changed and offered items like salmon, chicken and steak. The other side of the menu had a daily regional offering (for wherever we were) and other chef selections.

Viking Grand European Tour dining

Appetizer

Viking Grand European Tour dining

Pork

Viking Grand European Tour dining

Stroopwaffle Dessert

Viking Grand European Tour dining

Plum Dessert

dining room

Aquavit Terrace

There was one night on board where there was a dinner buffet of German and Austrian food and the entire dining room was set up so fun. Some of the staff was dressed in traditional clothing, tables were set up with pretzels and charcuterie. beer was being passed, and everything was so perfect. Don’t miss this fun event on board.

Things to note about dining:

  • there is no dress code
  • tables are shared in 6+ seating arrangements
  • you do not have to sit at the same table for every meal
  • meal times are fixed and you can find them each day on the Viking Daily
  • beer, wine and soft drinks are included in your lunch and dinner. Additionally, if you find a local wine in port that you love, you can bring it with you to a meal and there is no corkage fee
  • bread and butter is on the table for lunch and dinner each day. Chef mixes it up so you get to try a variety of breads and rolls
wine

Wines at Lunch and Dinner

One thing I don’t want to leave out is how fantastic the servers are. We made a point to sit in every server groups section just to get to know the staff a little bit. By the end of the cruise everyone knew us by name and our preferences for beverages and food at each meal. The staff does a really great job at getting to know you and what you like/don’t like – which is pretty impressive since they turn the boat over twice a month.

On one of the last nights on the ship the chef let everyone take a quick tour of the kitchen so they could see how all the magic happens behind the scenes. I highly recommend stepping in briefly just so you get a feel for it.

Downtime on the Viking Grand European Tour:

While each day brings a great new adventure on this Viking Grand European Tour, you will have downtime each day to relax and get ready for the next day. I would say to approach this trip with excitement for exploration but also appreciation for the slow relaxation. Some days in ports you could be on a tour for just 2 hours and leave, which gives you a lot of time back on board.

One of the many highlights of the Viking Baldur was the rooftop deck. There was a walking deck, shuffleboard, putting green, herb garden, and plenty of seats both covered and uncovered to watch the world go by on the river. I would strongly argue the sunrise and sunset views were the best and should not be missed.

Additional items on board:

  • library
  • board games
  • computer center
  • seating areas to hang out
  • lounge with a bar
  • TV pre-loaded with movies and TV shows
  • occasional nightly entertainment (music, glass blowing, etc)
Viking Grand European Tour: library on board

Library

chairs on the Viking Baldur

Seating Area

I would highly recommend bringing a book or two to give yourself something to do when you are not out exploring. There is a small library but they may not have what you want. Personally, I brought books and card games. I even got some other guests to play cards with us when we were sailing.

During the downtime on board when you are sailing to your next port, you will go through many locks. A lot of them are overnight but you will see some during the day too.

Viking Grand European Tour: Itinerary

On this 15 day Viking Grand European Tour, there are 12 ports of call that the Viking Baldur stops in and offers excursions. On the last day of the itinerary, you can go home, or stay in the city the boat docks in. With this itinerary you are essentially getting two cruises in one as you experience both a Danube River Cruise and a Rhine River Cruise. Viking does offer more than one ship that does this itinerary and it goes both ways. For our itinerary we went Budapest to Amsterdam, but it is also offered Amsterdam to Budapest as well. Below is the itinerary we were on:

  1. Day 1: Embark in Budapest, Hungary – boarding and overnight
  2. Day 2: Budapest, Hungary
  3. Day 3: Vienna, Austria – arrive in the evening
  4. Day 4: Vienna, Austria – full day in port
  5. Day 5: Scenic cruising Wachau Valley AND Melk, Austria
  6. Day 6: Passau, Germany
  7. Day 7: Regensburg, Germany
  8. Day 8: Main-Danube Canal AND Nuremburg, Germany
  9. Day 9: Bamberg, Germany
  10. Day 10: Wurzburg, Germany
  11. Day 11: Wertheim, Germany AND Scenic Cruising: Main River, Spessart
  12. Day 12: Middle Rhine Scenic Cruising AND Koblenz, Germany
  13. Day 13: Cologne, Germany
  14. Day 14: Scenic cruising Waal and Merwede AND Kinderdijk, The Netherlands
  15. Day 15: Disembark in Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Each day when the ship docks in a new city, before you get off the ship there are things you should get at the front desk:

  • your personal badge – which lets the staff know you are not on the ship. You turn this back in when you get back. This is how they know who they are missing.
  • a card that gives you a letter and a number (example: 20H) this lets you know what tour you are on. A lot of days there are many tour guides and buses and this helps you to stay with your guide and on the right boat.
  • maps are often available of the cities at port with highlights that include: popular attractions, post offices, restrooms, taxi, etc.
  • bottled water is available before you leave each day before your tour.
  • umbrellas are available each day before your tour.

Danube River Cruise: Ports of Call

Viking Grand European Tour:

Viking Baldur in Port

Many great stops were were on this Danube River cruise portion of the trip. Below are the stops and tours that were available. Please note that some of these may be seasonal and excursion offers may change. I am just putting them out there to give you an idea of what to expect.

Budapest

You will spend the first 2 days in Budapest. On the first day you will be allowed to check in on the ship at 3:00pm local time. There are no excursions offered on the first day but you are free to roam the city as you wish. I recommend booking tickets in advance to see the Hungarian Parliament inside and visiting the most beautiful cafe: New York Palace Cafe.

Viking Grand European Tour: budapest

Parliament at night

Since the boat does not leave on the first night and does leave the second day during the day, for to hours in the evening the boat will leave dock and cruise past Parliament so that you can see it all lit up from the Danube. I found this to be a wonderful first night on the boat.

Viking Grand European Tour: Budapest

Hungarian Parliament

On the second day in Budapest it is a full day, so you will see options for morning, afternoon and night. You can book tours during all three slots, just make sure there is no overlap. Here are the tours offered:

  • Panoramic Budapest (Included tour) – this is a bus and walking tour of the city
  • Hungarian Horseman – on this tour you will travel to horse country and experience a farm and horsemanship
  • Dohány Street Synagogue & Jewish Budapest – exploration of Budapest’s Jewish History 

  • Budapest Thermal Bath – this is a must do while in Budapest. The city is famous for its baths. *We did this tour and I HIGHLY recommend it. This is a great way to really relax before the trip gets full ahead.

  • Grand Market: Taste of Hungary – this tour is an exploration of Budapest’s Grand Market Hall
  • Budapest Castle Hill City Hike – on this tour you will visit Castle Hill, walk across Chain Bridge, ride the funicular, Royal Palace, Matthias Church, the Fishermen’s Bastion, and finish at Grand Market Hall

  • Life Behind the Iron Curtain – take a ride in a Trabant and explore the communist past of the city 

Viking Grand European Tour

Thermal Bath Excursion

Vienna

Schönbrunn Palace

Schönbrunn Palace

You will arrive in Vienna in the late afternoon and stay about a day and a half in the city exploring. I highly recommend a Vienna City tour of sorts – whether you book all or some excursions through Viking, this city should not be missed.

Day one of Vienna excursions:

  • Mozart & Strauss Concert – visit the Vienna Residence Orchestra for a special concert 

Day two of Vienna excursions:

  • Panoramic Vienna (included tour) – this tour of the city is included with your cruise and you will learn about the Hapsburg dynasty, marvel at the gorgeous architecture and see the Hofburg Palace, Gothic St. Stephen’s Cathedral, and the Vienna State Opera concert hall.

  • Schönbrunn Palace – On this tour, visit the magnificent home of the Hapsburg Dynasty, built to rival the sprawling Château de Versailles in France.
  • Imperial Vienna – learn the Waltz, have a glamorous lunch and stroll the grounds at Schönbrunn Palace
  • Heurigen Dinner – enjoy a Heurigen Dinner and experience this years wine at a local vineyard 

  • Behind the Scenes at the Lipizzaner Stallions – visit this Spanish riding school and see world-famous Lipizzaner stallions!

Melk

Melk is a shorter destination visit with only two tours offered on this Viking Grand European tour.

  • Melk Abbey (included tour) – you will see this masterpiece of Baroque time soaring above the Danube. Spend your excursion exploring this landmark. 

  • The Abbeys of Göttweig & Melk – explore both Abbey’s on this tour. This includes Melk Abbey and Göttweig.

Melk Abbey

Melk Abbey

Melk Abbey Ceiling

Melk Abbey Library

Melk Abbey Staircase

Passau

Viking Grand European Tour passau germany

Passau

Passau is the first of the beautiful cities in Germany you will explore on this Viking Grand European Tour and is one of Bavaria’s oldest cities.

  • Passau Walking Tour and Organ Concert (included tour) – you will meet your guide for a walk through Passau and your tour ends at St. Stephens Cathedral where you will see an organ concert with Europe’s largest pipe organ.
  • Salzburg Highlights – if you are interested in the movie “The Sound of Music” then this tour is for you!
  • Hike The Passau Hills -this is an exploration of the city of three rivers by foot – it is a demanding activity
  • Bavarian Cruise & Baroque Town of Sharding – you will visit sharding by bus for a walking tour and then board a boat for a cruise on the Inn River with pretzels, cheese and beer. Please note you need to cross a small suspension bridge to get to the boat and there is an unpaved path and stairs to get aboard the boat. We assisted many guests and others were willing to help as well. **Our boat was running late due to locks so our tour guide took us up to the top of the Fortress for the most magnificent views of Passau.
  • Bavaria by Bike – this is a demanding 2.5 hour bike tour
  • Passau Flightseeing – soar above Passau in a private chartered plane and see the city and rivers below

Regensburg

Viking Grand European Tour regensburg germany

Regensburg

Regensburg is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the best preserved medieval towns in Europe.

  • Regensburg Walking Tour (included) – this is a 1.5 hour walking tour that will show you the Old Stone Bridge, a stroll through the city and learn about the history. **We abandoned the tour about half way through because we saw cuckoo clocks in a window and decided to go shopping.
  • Munich Highlights – this 8.5 hour tour takes you to the Bavarian Capital
  • Sausage Making Class – this 4 hour class will teach you to make weisswurst!
Viking Grand European Tour:

Regensburg

Nuremburg

Nuremburg

Nuremburg

Nuremburg was one of my favorite stops on the Viking Grand European Tour but also holds a lot of dark history around WWII.

  • Nuremburg Through History (included tour) – this 4.5 hour tour is both driving and walking. You will see where Nazi rallies were held and the Nuremburg trials. Then you will visit the old city that is still enclosed by its walls (of which you can walk up to)
  • Surviving the War: Art in Nuremburg – this easy 3 hour tour showcases the underground chambers were art was stored during the war. Additionally you will go to the old town for more exploration.
  • Nuremburg and World War Two – some of the places you will visit on this tour include: Zeppelin Field, Congress Hall and Courtroom 600 where the Nuremburg Trials took place.
  • Gingerbread Making Class – learn to make this delicious treat that the locals have been making since the 14th century!

Bamberg

bamberg on the Viking Grand European Tour

Bamberg

Bamberg was one of the most colorful towns we visited on the Viking Grand European Tour. We took the included walking tour and eventually just walked about 5 miles on our own exploring the city and grabbing sausages for lunch.

  • Bamberg Walking Tour – this 4.5 tour of the city is a moderate activity with a lot of walking. The medieval city center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and full of shopping, restaurants and charm. You will have free time to explore on your own.
sausage

Dining in Bamberg

Wurzburg

Viking Grand European Tour

Rothenburg ob der Tauber

This was my favorite port on the Viking Grand European Tour and we opted to take the day tour to Rothenburg ob der Tauber. I cannot recommend this tour enough!! The town is just stunning.

  • Wurzburg Residenz and Walk (included tour) – this is an included tour of the former residence of the Wurzburg prince-bishop. **Please note, no cameras are allowed in side.
  • Rothenbur ob der Tauber – toted as “Germany’s most beloved town” this day trip does not disappoint! This is an 8.5 hour tour that includes lunch, a walking tour and plenty of free time for shopping and self exploration
  • Hike the Wurzburg Hills – this demanding activity leads you to Marienberg Fortress and gives impressive views over the city

Wertheim

Viking Grand European Tour - wertheim tour

Schloss Mespelbrunn – Modern Aristocracy Tour

Wertheim is such a charming city to explore.

  • Wertheim Walking Tour (included tour) – this 1 hour tour is a great introduction to this charming city
  • Modern Aristocracy – fairy-tale castles and 21st century royalty. This 8 hour tour gives you privileged access to two German castles, a visit to Miltenburg and the most delicious lunch in Germany! We did this tour on the Viking Grand European Tour and loved it.
  • Wertheim Castle Hike – this demanding activity is a hike to the top to Wertheim Castle that offers sweeping views of the city below.
  • Wertheim by Bicycle – this 16 mile bike journey takes you through Tauber Valley from Wertheim to Freudenberg

Rhine River Cruise: Ports of Call

Koblenz 

Koblenz germany

Koblenz

We actually did not take a tour in Koblenz, but instead took the cable car that was right outside the boat up to the Fortress. Riding the cable car up you can see “Germany’s Corner” where two rivers converge. You can see the Rhine River and the Moselle River. Then we walked the city for about an hour and had a small meal in town.

  • Marksburg Castle (Included Tour) – this is the ONLY castle on the Rhine Valley that was never destroyed! Note that this is a demanding activity as the bus will only take you so far and then you need to walk up the rest
  • Ehrenbreitstein Fortress – the fortress you can see set up high on the hill across from the boat. On this three hour tour you’ll be able to explore the fortress and see incredible views of the city
  • Moselle Wine Tasting – on this tour you will explore small villages and see where some of the best Rieslings in the world come from

Cologne 

Viking Grand European Tour - cologne

Cologne

Cologne is the very last stop in Germany on this Viking Grand European Tour and it felt least like all the other cities we had been to. I was starting to get used to all the cobblestone and medieval architecture with Christmas shopping galore. But alas, Cologne is a fine city!

If you opt not to take any tours, you can go to the city in your own or the boat had buses taking people in to the old city a few times throughout the afternoon for self exploration and shopping. Additionally the boat was docked in a great spot by the bridge and many just walked across.

You could also get a taxi very easily to or from the boat.

  • Cologne Walking Tour (Included Tour) – this tour lasts two hours and has a heavy focus on the Gothic cathedral
  • Bruhl UNESCO Palaces – during this 4 hour tour you will explore 18th Century Residences
    • note – you can do both the included tour and this tour as they do not overlap
  • Top Of Cologne – this is a tour I WISH we had time for. You will go to the top of the Cathedral and you can see the city and Rhine River from above
  • Cologne’s Beer Culture Dinner – you will visit three brew houses and enjoy Kolsch from them all

Kinderdijk 

netherlands on the Viking Grand European Tour

Kinderdijk

goats

Molly and Millie

kinderdijk

Kinderdijk

The last and final stop on this Viking Grand European Tour, Kinderdijk, The Netherlands. The city is known for its 19 windmills that are from the 18th century, some of which are still lived in.

This is a very short stop and you do not have to take a tour here if you do not want to. The boat docks directly across from the path where the windmills are. There are a couple souvenir shops on the grounds if you are looking for postcards, trinkets, stroopwafles, etc.

  • Kinderdijk Windmills (Included Tour) – this walking tour located directly across from where the boat docks, last two hours and explores this UNESCO site
  • Kinderdijk Windmills and Dutch Cheese Making – on this tour you will visit the windmills and a farm to see how cheese is made
  • Kinderdijk Windmills by Bicycle – this is the same as the walking tour except you will be on a bike
  • Kinderdijk by Vintage Barge – hop on board a 125 year old restored cargo vessel and see the windmills from the water. This tour also stops at the oldest windmill on site and you get a tour of the grounds and to go inside

Viking Grand European Tour: Packing Tips

While the rooms are comfortable and offer generous storage space, I would highly suggest not over packing. Pack just enough or for 3/4’s of your trip and plan to have laundry done on board. We brought two big suitcases, a carry on suitcase, and two bags. All of our luggage fit under the bed.

Currently I am traveling with Bespoke luggage from Globe-Trotter. I love the design elements of the Trolley Case and found it easy to pack, carry-on, the style is very luxurious and the suitcase is sturdy. Since the suitcase is hard side, I put all my electronics and all the breakable items I bought on the trip inside to get home. This worked out really well because I was nervous about breaking the glass items, but I knew they would be safe in there.

Here are my top packing tips:

  • check the weather before you go – our cruise had cold and warm weather, and therefore we needed to pack for both climates
    • it rained nearly everyday, so bring a rain coat and layers to be safe. We did not expect this, but weather happens. If you end up underprepared like we were, no worries, there is a small store on board with some clothing items and laundry service is very affordable and quick on the return (within 24 hours)
  • pack all your electronics, medication and a change of clothes in your carry-on in case there is luggage delay for some reason. You will want to have easy access to things you need should your luggage not arrive on time.
  • get comfortable tennis shoes as there is a lot of walking involved on this Viking Grand European Tour
    • but also pack 1-2 other pairs of shoes in case something goes wrong with the ones you are wearing and/or like variety
  • bring a camera to capture all the wonderful memories you are going to make. Believe me when I say, what you are going to see on this trip is magnificent!
  • bring a first aid kit and any medications you take or may need as there is not any available on board. I brought band-aids, Tylenol, Motrin, antibiotic cream, etc
  • binoculars for looking at high perched castles along the rivers and birds
  • bring a book or something to entertain yourself at night or on longer days cruising

Souvenirs to Buy on Your Viking Grand European Tour:

Before I left on this trip I did not plan to buy anything but that quickly changed. When I arrived in Germany I KNEW I had to have a cuckoo clock… and so started the shopping ..

  • cuckoo clock in Germany
  • ornaments from Kathe Wohlfahrt (found in some of the Germany ports)
  • stroopwaffles in Kinderdijk
  • hummel in Germany

Overall:

I really enjoyed my Viking Grand European Tour and so did my best friend. I think taking a trip like this is the best way to see multiple cities without having the hassle of having to pack, repack, get new hotels, and drive everyday somewhere new. The overall goal of a cruise is to introduce you to many places and let you decide where you would like to spend more time. For me, I fell in love with Budapest, Vienna, Rothenburg ob de Tauber, Regensburg, Bamberg, Miltenberg, and Nuremburg. I would absolutely LOVE to come during the holidays and to explore their Christmas markets and see more of the stuff I didn’t get to on this trip. Everyone says the Christmas markets are magical.

Because the ship has less than 200 guests on board, you get to know everyone in some way because the Viking Grand European Tour is 15 days long. Whether its by dining with them, being on tours with them or just in passing on the boat. I think this is a fantastic way to get to know people with like minded interests and to make long lasting friendships.

If you are on the fence about booking a Viking River Cruise, I think you should book it. I say try everything once, twice if you like it. I know this will not be my last Viking Cruise.

Wertheim, Germany

Wertheim, Germany

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Disclosure: I was a guest of Viking River Cruises, as always, opinions are entirely my own. 

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1 Comment

  1. May 19, 2019 / 10:18 pm

    The rooms look awesome and the meals look even better. Fabulous. If you cruise you may as well do it right. Viking definitely does it right. Fabulous post!

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