Avalon Waterways is among the cruise lines that jumped in early to the trend toward offering more active ways to explore the rivers. A river cruise traditionally has been a slow-paced and dreamy way to relax and enjoy the villages and towns located along the wending waterways in Europe and Asia.
But we've been advocating for years for ways to break away from the pack and to inject a little excitement and vigor into these voyages.
Avalon Waterways offers great itineraries throughout the world, and we traveled on the line's ships in Myanmar on the Irrawaddy River and in Cambodia and Vietnam on a glorious Mekong River journey.
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Sailing with Avalon Waterways in Myanmar
Exotic Mekong River Cruise in Cambodia and Vietnam
Since launching this series of unfettered cruises, Avalon Waterways has expanded its offerings along the Rhine, Rhone and Danube Rivers. The line's Active & Discovery on the Danube itinerary is its most popular for 2020, so I wanted to show you how you might spend your days while traveling along our favorite European river.
Here is just one way you can enjoy Avalon Waterways' Danube itinerary in a way that fits your active travel lifestyle.
Day 1 Budapest: Arrive and navigate the area using the GPS-based, AvalonGO app to see and experience what the city has to offer in terms of restaurants, museums, markets and more.
Day 2 Budapest: See the sights from a different perspective by joining a bike tour along the city's bike paths and pedestrian areas. Then, transport to the city's historic past on a "Retro Tour" via Trabant car. Enjoy a Hungarian dinner onboard while enjoying a scenic cruise through the Danube Bend.
Other active options: A walking tour of Budapest or a cave-hiking adventure through the city's underground cave system.
Day 3 Visegrad: Wake up in this small castle town in Pest with stretching on the Sky Deck with the ship's onboard Adventure Host. Join a guided visit to the Medieval Knights Tournament at Visegrad's lower castle -- an excursion that features demonstrations by members of the St. George Knightly Order.
Other active options: Take a scenic hiking tour to Count Dracula's prison tower or enjoy a canoe excursion through the picturesque Bend region.
Day 4 Vienna: Take a tour of Vienna to get a behind-the-scenes look at the sights and attractions, including meeting residents and preparing Viennese food. Spend the evening at a private concert in this majestic city of music or spend the time walking the city on your own to further explore the authentic tastes of Vienna with schnitzel or Sacher torte.
Other active options: A guided biking tour along the famed Ringstrasse lets you discover hidden city highlights or take part in a sightseeing tour that includes a visit to the Belvedere Palace to see Gustav Klimt's renowned "The Kiss" painting.
Day 5 Vienna: Enjoy a morning walking tour of the city, which includes breakfast at a Viennese cafe and VIP access into the Kunsthistorisches Museum (one hour before opening). During the evening, join a guided hike through the vineyards surrounding the city and get a taste of a Viennese Heurigen (wine tavern) for dinner.
Other options: Immerse yourself in European history with a guided tour of the Habsburg family's private art collection or take a tour of the Museum of Fine Arts and the Military Museum.
Day 6 Krems to Grein: Paddle a canoe on a guided tour through Austria's wine country or grab one of your ship's bikes (yes, it carries a fleet onboard) for a picnic along the Danube River. Then, in Grein, see Burg Clam on a guided visit and meet the Count of Clam during your tour.
Other active options: Join a bike tour from Spitz to Krems with a stop in Durnstein or partake in an interactive "Wine World Experience" and wine tasting -- with a guided visit that showcases the region's production of fruits, vegetables and wine.
Day 7 Grein to Mauthausen to Linz: Take a guided walk of Grein, including its historic theater -- the oldest one in Austria still holding regular performances. In Mauthausen, join a sobering guided tour of the Mauthausen Concentration Camp, one of the largest and most brutal Nazi camps in WWII. This evening, mix with the locals in Linz on a pub crawl.
Other active options: Take a bike tour along the Danube to discover the fertile farmland or step back in time with a visit to the 9th century St. Florian Monastery, the largest in upper Austria and home to Augustine Monks.
Day 8 Engelhartszell to Schlogen Oxbow: Visit the stunning rococo-style Engelszell Abbey and sample the cheese and beer made by the resident Trappist monks. During the afternoon, join a scenic hike along the Danubeâs Schlogen Oxbow.
Other active options: Join a guided tour of the "House of the Stream" and walk across the Danube Power Station or plan for a scenic hike.
Day 9 Linz: Disembark for your journey home after a river cruise that leaves you feeling fit and refreshed.
"Our new Avalon Choice program has reinvented the river cruise experience with customizable 'Classic,' 'Discovery' and 'Active' options on every river cruise itinerary," said Pam Hoffee, managing director of Avalon Waterways. "Avalon's innovative Active & Discovery itineraries take that concept one giant step further with 'Classic,' 'Discovery' and 'Active' excursions to choose from every day. Our most robust and diverse itinerary is on the Danube River in 2020."
While all Active & Discovery cruises travel between Budapest and Linz, cruisers have approximately 30 customizable opportunities during this nine-day cruise. This means you can easily create an experience that suits your style or mood.
The vast majority of these excursions are included in your cruise fare.
Thanks for reading.
Remember to travel fit, travel happy and travel often.