The Danube is the second-longest river in Europe and Continental Europe’s most popular river for cruising. Meandering through or between the borders of ten countries, the river originates in the Black Forest of Germany and weaves its way through the capital cities of Austria, Slovakia, Hungary and Serbia, returning home to the Black Sea through Romania and the Ukraine, touching also Croatia, Bulgaria, and Moldova along the way.
From from the rise and fall of the Roman Empire, to the imprisonment of King Richard the Lion-Heart and the setting of The Sound of Music, the Danube is thoroughly charged with historic and cultural energy. Whether you’re interested in music, architecture, ancient dynasties or bratwurst, these six cities seen while cruising along the Danube river will leave you in awe of lifetimes past.
- Nurembourg, Germany – Known as the infamous headquarters of the Nazi Party during the 1930’s, the city was destroyed during World War II, and has since been restored to reflect it’s historic significance. Cruisers can visit several renowned sites and tour the medieval city, as well as experience the world’s largest Christmas Market during the month of December.
- Regensburg, Germany – The oldest city on the Danube, Regensburg is home to Germany’s oldest restaurant, Alte Wurstküche, which it situated right on the river and is an ambient spot to enjoy a beer and a bratwurst. Regensburg is also home to a Cathedral from the 13th Century that is regarded as one of the best examples of Gothic architecture in Europe, as well as the ancient Roman gates of Porta Praetoria, built in 179 AD, which are still standing to this day.
- Salzburg, Germany – While docked at Passau, an optional land tour is available to visit Salzburg, the famous birthplace of Mozart and setting for The Sound of Music. Passau itself is home to St. Stephen’s Cathedral and the world’s largest church organ, with 17,774 pipes.
- Vienna, Austria – After floating through the ruins of Wachau Valley, where King Richard the Lion-Heart was once held prisoner, the Danube opens up into Vienna, the capital city of Austria, where Mozart, Beethovan and Strauss all composed their greatest masterpieces. Notable sites to visit include the imperial summer palace of the Habsburgs, built between 1696 and 1713; the famous Vienna Boys’ Choir in the Imperial Chapel; as well as Hotel Sacher to sample their famous Sacher Torte.
- Bratislava, Slovakia – From 1525 to 1784, Turkey occupied Hungary and a large portion of the Danube’s center basin, so the kings and archbishops of Hungary lived in exile in an enormous castle towering over Bratislava. While the original was obliterated in 1811, a replica has been rebuilt in its place.
- Budapest, Hungary – The beginning or end point of many Danube river cruises, Budapest was once known as the “Queen of the Danube” when Hungary was three times the size it is today. Before uniting as the capital city of Hungary in the 19th Century, Buda and Pest were two distinct cities, the energy of which can still be felt today – Buda has retained much of its Middle Age charm with its cobblestone streets and Gothic buildings, while on the opposite side of the river, Pest has evolved into a thriving city center with pedestrian shopping streets and the Great Market Hall, known for its delicious local food and unique souvenirs.
Danube river cruises vary in duration from 4-5 days to several weeks, and cruise vacations are available that include the Danube river, as well as other rivers in Europe, such as the Rhine and Main. For more information on river cruises along the Danube, or other river cruises around the world, contact your River Cruise Experts at 1-800-737-8100, or get in touch with us on Facebook.