What to Pack for a Summer River Cruise in Europe

Packing for a river cruise is slightly different from packing for an ocean cruise. Since there’s no formal night, formal attire is not on the packing list. Being port-intensive, packing for the weather and your activities is key.

Passau, Germany

Passau, Germany. Photo courtesy of Viking.

Let’s look at a Danube River itinerary with Viking and see what we’ll need to pack based on the activities each day.

The Romantic Danube – 7 night Danube River Cruise from Budapest to Nuremberg

Day 1 Budapest, Hungary – Arrive in Budapest and embark the ship.  Wear comfortable travel clothes that breathe well and walking shoes during transit. You’ll have the afternoon to relax or explore on your own. If you have time, you may want to join a walking tour of Budapest’s covered market at Great Market Hall. This 3 story tall venue was established in 1897. For dinners onboard, wear smart casual attire, like you would at a country club or a 5-star land resort.

Day 2 Budapest, Hungary– Tour Budapest including the Castle District, the oldest part of the city and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Wear light clothing and comfortable walking shoes. Return to the ship mid-day to head to Vienna, Austria.

Day 3 Vienna, Austria – After breakfast, enjoy a half-day city tour highlighting the city’s architecture. After the tour, you can return to the ship for lunch and the rest of the day is free for you to explore on your own. Again, wear light clothing, but if you plan on entering any churches, please me mindful of the dress code. Usually, that means exposed shoulders are not acceptable and you’ll want to err on the side of caution by either wearing a shirt that covers your shoulders or covering it with a scarf while walking around. We also advise that shorts and skirts go past the knees. Capris and long pants or skirts are permitted and your safest bet.

Day 4 Melk, Austria – Your day starts with sailing through the beautiful Wachau Valley, another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Once you arrive in Melk, get a guided tour of the Benedictine Abbey, founded in 1089.  Again, dress for the weather with comfortable walking shoes, but remember, shorts and bare shoulders are not permitted in the abbey.

Day 5 Passau, Germany – Explore Passau’s Old Town on a guided walking tour which also includes visiting St. Stephan’s Cathedral, a 17th century baroque church containing what is considered Europe’s largest church organ. As you’ll be in a church, your attire this day should exclude short shorts and bare shoulders. You can enjoy lunch back on the ship or choose to stay in town for lunch on your own. The rest of the afternoon is yours to explore.

Day 6 Regensburg, Germany – Go on a guided walking tour of one of Europe’s best preserved medieval cities this morning. In the afternoon, the ship sails the Danube River to Nuremberg. You’ll want to dress for the weather and the walking. Be mindful of your attire as sights include 13th and 14th century churches as well as St. Peter’s Cathedral, the city’s landmark.

Day 7 Main-Danube Canal and Nuremberg – Enjoy a relaxing morning onboard your Viking ship as you cruise the canal connecting the Black Sea to the North Sea via the Danube and Rhine Rivers. Completed in 1992, it’s one of the largest engineering projects in history running 106 miles (171 km) long with 16 locks. Arrive in Nuremberg and tour Bavaria’s second largest city. Sights include the Zeppelin Fields, where the Nazi parades were held, and the Palace of Justice, famously known for the Nuremberg Trials.

Day 8 Nuremberg, Germany – Bid farewell to new friends after breakfast. Dress comfortably for this day of travel!

*Note, you don’t have to go on the included excursions and city tours. You’re free to explore on your own if you wish, but because these tours are led by local knowledgeable guides, it’s an excellent way to get the history and background and we highly recommend them! Optional tours, which are an additional fee, are available as well.

Suggested Packing List

  • comfortable walking shoes
  • smart casual clothes for dinner
  • shoes appropriate for dinner
  • light summer clothes including long pants, shorts and skirts (to enter religious sites)
  • light scarf (for women) to cover shoulders
  • light sweater or jacket for evenings
  • hat
  • sunscreen
  • toiletries
  • passport
  • travel documents including flight, hotel, and travel insurance information
  • euros
  • small day bag
  • swimwear

For more information on river cruises in Europe and all over the world, be sure to follow us on Twitter @RiverCruiseExp.

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