YOU CAN CRUISE THROUGH EIGHT COUNTRIES ON A DANUBE RIVER CRUISE:
“The Queen of Europe’s rivers, the Danube is rich in history and enveloped in an aura of legend and myth”.
Rising in the mountains of Germany’s Black Forest, the Danube (Donau in German) winds its way through romantic gorges and vineyard-clad valleys, flowing by castles, monasteries and picturesque, medieval towns and villages, surging through most of Central Europe to eventually flow into the Black Sea. The German poet Friedrich Hölderlin called the Danube a “refreshing, melodious river, sometimes foaming with high spirits, at other times dreaming serenely”.
It is Europe’s second longest river and flows through eight countries – Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Croatia, Hungary, Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania – an ideal highway to explore this region.
Often combined with Rhine cruises
River cruises on the Danube are frequently combined with Rhine cruises, and it is possible to travel from the English Channel to the Black Sea via the Main-Danube Canal which joins the two waterways (see our Amsterdam-Budapest river cruise for a taster).
The Main-Danube Canal begins in Germany at Bamberg, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993, and flows past Nuremberg, where you can see the Imperial Castle and the Justice Palace, where the the War Crimes Tribunal sat in 1946.
Many other highlights on the Danube
Other highlights as you cruise down the Danube are the Danube Gorge and Weltenberg Abbey, the world-famous Benedictine Monastery in Melk, Austria; the Wedgewood-like Stiftskirche of at Dürnstein, the Schönbrunn Palace and Prater Park in Vienna, Austria; Bratislava Castle in Slovakia; and St. Stephan’s Basilica and the Fisherman’s Bastion in Budapest, Hungary.
Continuing to the Black Sea, you pass the legendary Petrovaradin Fortress at Novi Sad, the Kalemegdan Fortress and the world’s largest orthodox church, St Sava, in Belgrade, before braving the Iron Gates, a spectacular gorge that runs between the Carpathian and Balkan mountains, forming the boundary between Serbia and Romania. The Black Sea Canal and the riviera resort city of Constanta are usually featured, and many tours end up in Bucharest, where you can check out the Royal Palace and take an excursion to Bran Castle in Transylvania, built in 1377 and reputed to be Dracula’s favourite pièd-à-terre…
Danube river cruises are a great way to see some of the best features of Europe, highlighting centuries of art, history and culture while enjoying some of the best wines and cuisines from the varied countries through which you sail. For those who do not have time for long holidays, it’s possible to do shorter cruises on the Danube, say from Budapest to Passau or Vienna to Budapest.
OUR ADVICE: The main river cruise operators such as Uniworld, Viking, Scenic Tours, AmaWaterways, and Avalon all offer cruises on the Danube and many have their latest ships plying this river. There are also many tour aggregators offering cruises on the Danube and if you are choosing a cruise with any of them, concentrate on the ship you want to travel on and the route you want to travel (of course, there’s also price!). Be sure to check out our “Things to watch for” page too!