From Bratislava to Budapest, Danube river cruises take you to a range of storybook-perfect European destinations. The Danube passes through a whopping 10 countries as it flows along its 2,888-kilometre journey, starting with its source waters in Bavaria before emptying into the Black Sea in Romania. Go wine tasting in the Wachau Valley, enjoy the art and music of cultural hotspots like Passau and Vienna or get out into the mysterious wilds of the Black Forest, all part of the beautiful scenery. This is Old World Europe at its finest!
River Danube Cruises
Vienna, Austria - River Danube
Budapest, Hungary - River Danube
Bratislava, Slovakia - River Danube
Passau, Germany - River Danube
Regensburg, Germany - River Danube
Belgrade, Serbia - River Danube
Bucharest, Romania - River Danube
Melk, Austria - River Danube
There’s an air of refinement in Vienna, once home to Mozart, Beethoven and Strauss. Soak in a bit of culture by visiting the Museums Quartier district, where you can view works from the likes of Gustav Klimt. Don’t miss a trip to the Hofburg palace complex, home to the Habsburg monarchy. See the famous Lipizzaner stallions perform at the Spanish Riding School or hear the Vienna Boys’ Choir at the Imperial Chapel.
Old meets new in bustling Budapest, divided in half by the Danube. Take the funicular up Castle Hill to the Old Town of Buda, where you can enjoy panoramic views of the city below. For jaw-dropping architecture, take in the famous Parliament building and Hungarian State Opera House. This ‘Pearl of the Danube’ is a top choice for browsing through markets, soaking in bath houses and enjoying the buzzing nightlife.
From Gothic St Martin’s Cathedral to Baroque Bratislava Castle, there’s a mix of building styles to admire in Slovakia’s charming capital city. Bratislava’s old town is pedestrian-only, dotted with lively bars and eateries. It enjoys a beautiful natural setting, with rolling vineyards and the forested landscapes of the Little Carpathian Mountains. This makes it a top draw for wine fanatics and sporty types alike!
Nicknamed the City of Three Rivers, Passau sits at the intersection of the Danube, Inn and Ilz. This charming Germany city lies close to the Austrian border, offering a pedestrian-friendly old town to explore with its open-air cafes. Hike up to the Veste Oberhaus fortress to get a view of the town and rivers below. And don’t miss a lunchtime concert from Europe’s largest pipe organ at Stephen’s Cathedral!
This pretty city is the oldest on the Danube, making it the perfect spot to soak in centuries of culture. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Regensburg boasts a gorgeous medieval Old Town and imposing Gothic Cathedral. Have a wander over the 12th-century Old Stone Bridge, take a look at the classic columns of the Parthenon-styled Walhalla monument, or just sit back and enjoy a stein of Bavarian beer with your sausages.
This intriguing Serbian capital city blends centuries of history with a modern buzz. You’ll see remnants of the city’s past inhabitants at every turn, with Roman ruins snuggled up next to Byzantine churches. Visit highlights like the Belgrade Fortress, Kalemegdan park and zoo, and Church of Saint Sava. Take a stroll down Knez Mihailova, a pedestrian walkway lined with historic buildings, coffee houses and eateries.
Used as a launching pad for exploration of the wilds of Transylvania, Bucharest offers plenty of charm all its own! Don’t miss a chance to see the sprawling Palace of Parliament, which features 1,100 opulent rooms. This Romanian capital also features a buzzing nightlife scene in the historic Lipscani district, along with former palace of Vlad the Impaler. And for a moment of tranquillity, head to Herastrau Park.
Enjoy the quiet charms of Melk, a picture-perfect town in the heart of Austrian countryside. Melk Abbey is renowned for its cavernous library, and a trek up to this Benedictine church rewards you with panoramic views of the Wachau Valley! There’s a lovely park outside with a pavilion and café. Additional highlights include the Renaissance décor of Schallaburg Castle, and Baroque stylings of the Abbey’s Marble Hall.
The Danube region holds a special charm throughout the year, but you’ll find most river cruises take place during the summer months. July, August and September are particularly popular for their blend of sunny weather and ideal river conditions. The high waters of spring’s rains have receded by this point, and you can sun yourself on deck. However, November and December cruises hold particular appeal if you want to see the region’s storybook villages and enchanting cities all decked out for the holidays! Visit Christmas markets and find something special for everyone on Santa’s list this year.
There’s something for everyone on a Danube cruise, whether you’re a city person or more of an outdoorsy type! You’ll get to soak in all the history and fine architecture of cities like Vienna and Budapest, whilst admiring the inspiring landscapes of the Black Forest and Bavarian countryside. A highlight of any cruise is the 90-degree turn around the Danube Bend, after which you’ll head to Bratislava with its Baroque palaces and cobbled streets. And don’t forget about the sleepy vineyards and ruined castles of the Wachau Valley in Austria, a photographer’s dream come true with its swoon-worthy beauty.
Danube cruises vary in length, with some covering just Germany, Austria and Hungary and others extending all the way to the Black Sea. Fortunately for British citizens, all of these itineraries fall within the EU boundaries, with shorter itineraries all within the free-and-easy Schengen Region. So what’s the bottom line for you? UK passport holders won’t need a visa for any of these itineraries, so don’t worry about pesky paperwork! Just be sure that your passport is up to date, and you’re good to go.
Dining in the Danube region is one of the major highlights of any visit. You can have breakfast in Vienna and dinner in Budapest! There are delicacies to enjoy in each port along the way, from poppy-seed strudel in Budapest to the famous golden-friend wiener schnitzel in Vienna. Tuck into a plate of pork sausages with plenty of mustard and sauerkraut when you’re in Bavaria, and indulgently sweet pralines in Passau. Bratislava’s ‘kapustnica’ cabbage soup will warm you up in winter with its sausages, mushrooms, and smoked meats, while Austria’s coffee and cake shops offer deliciously decadent pastries.
Budapest, River Danube
In Budapest you have Buda Castle, the iconic Hungarian Parliament building, Thermal baths and St Stephen’s Basilica - There’s alot to see and do that it will be difficult to pack everything into a 1 day!
Hopkins, Snettisham, 6th Nov 2017
This was our first river cruise and did we enjoy it? You bet we did right from the moment we arrived on board the MS Emile Bronte until we had to say a sad farewell to the crew and all the new friends
Jeffrey, Wingrave nr aylesbury 15th Oct 201
Wonderful river boat cruise on the Danube & Rhine from Budapest to Amsterdam with Travel Marvel Jewel. Beautiful and spacious ship with comfortable lounge and dining room.