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A Danube river cruise is one of the best ways to see the heart of Europe. With two weeks, you can cover a lot of ground at a more leisurely pace - plus have the opportunity for longer shore excursions which will hit upon both the major cities and smaller attractions.
Day 1: Arrive in your beginning city. Many classic Danube river cruises begin in Budapest or Prague.
Day 2, Prague: Walk across the famous Chain Bridge, visit the Jewish Quarter and see the Old Royal Palace. Enjoy a local meal and overnight stay before taking a scenic drive to Budapest where you will embark your river cruise vessel.
Day 3-4, Budapest: Enjoy the day exploring the city. Take in the architectural marvel that is the Hungarian Parliament building, climb Gellert Hill, walk across any one of Budapest’s famous bridges, explore the Great Market Hall.
Day 5-6, Slovakia: Slovakia is a beautiful country, with massive green forests and hidden castles. Explore the capital of Bratislava and take in the sights from Castle Hill.
Day 7-8, Vienna: Sail from Prague to Vienna, where the cities strong music legacy will come alive. Visit the Opera House, enjoy a classic Viennese pastry as you walk the beautiful streets.
Day 9, Melk: Explore the Benedictine Abbey
Day 10-11, Passau: Optional day trip to Salzburg, or take a walking tour of the city
Another popular Danube River option is to travel east, where you will experience Romania, Hungary and Bulgaria, as well as some Balkan states, depending on the cruise line.
Day 1, Arrive starting city: Many eastbound Danube River cruises begin in Germany
Day 2, Passau: Take a walking tour and visit St. Stephan’s Cathedral.
Day 3, Salzburg: Take a day trip through the historic city and Sound of Music setting. Set said this evening to begin your Danube river cruise experience.
Day 4, Vienna: Learn the strong music legacy of the city. Visit the Opera House, enjoy a classic Viennese pastry as you walk the beautiful streets.
Day 5, Budapest: Take in the architectural marvel that is the Hungarian Parliament building, climb Gellert Hill, walk across any one of Budapest’s famous bridges, explore the Great Market Hall.
Day 6, Moacs: Still in Hungary, take a day excursion to Pecs with its extensive Turkish influence.
Day 7, Croatia: Enter Croatia and explore the beautiful city of Osijek, which has existed since Neolithic times.
Day 8, Serbia: Explore the city of Belgrade and Kalemegdan Fortress, Nicolas Tesla Museum
Day 9, Bulgaria: Veliko Tarnovo, see the royal castle ruins at Tsaravets Hill
Day 10, Vidin: Continuing through Bulgaria, see the Belogradchik Fortress,
Day 11-12, Romania: End your journey in beautiful Romania. Tour Bucharest, where you’ll see Royal Palace Square, Patriarchal Church, and the famous Arch of Triumph.
When you take a river cruise on the Danube, you are surrounded by impressive history from start to finish. Coupled with spectacular views of old and new Europe, it’s a trip that’s sure to inspire.
Day 1-2, Budapest: Take in the architectural marvel that is the Hungarian Parliament building, climb Gellert Hill, walk across any one of Budapest’s famous bridges, explore the Great Market Hall.
Day 3, Bratislava: Enjoy a walking tour of this fascinating, vibrant city, to see Mirbach Palace, and the St Martin Gothic Cathedral.
Day 4, Vienna: Explore the classical music heritage here. Visit the famous Opera House, Hofburg Palace, and tour the Spanish Riding School for a glimpse of the famous Lipizzan horses.
Day 5, Melk: Melk Abbey, wine tasting in the Dürnstein region. Discover the history of Richard the Lionheart.
Day 6, Passau: Tour St. Stephen’s Cathedral and see its main claim to fame: the largest pipe organ in Europe!
Day 7, Nuremberg: In your last stop, visit Zeppelin Field, the Palace of Justice, and explore ancient sites in Old Town.
The blue Danube, which flows for nearly 1,800 miles across ten countries, is one of Europe’s most romantic, enchanting waterways. With a variety of Danube River cruise lines offering a wide range of itineraries, how do you decide which is best for you? Stride helps you waltz through the entire process of comparing, choosing and booking the perfect Danube cruise to fulfill your fantasies.
For much of the Roman era and, later, the Ottoman Empire, the Danube River marked the northern border of their conquests. For the Greek historian Herodotus, the Danube was the “King of European Rivers.” For medieval tradesmen, the Danube was a vital lifeline linking otherwise isolated villages. For Viennese composer Johann Strauss II, the river offered inspiration for his Blue Danube Waltz, one of the most beloved pieces of 19th-century classical music.
For modern-day travelers, the Danube is known as one of the top river cruising destinations in the world. Stretching from the Black Forest to the Black Sea, a distance of 1,777 miles, the Danube is second in length only to Russia’s Volga among European rivers. But its allure as a romantic waterway ranks second to none.
By far the most relaxing and intimate way to view the Danube is by a river cruise. The key is to find a Danube river cruise that meets – or, ideally, surpasses – your expectations. Since Danube River cruising is so heavily oriented toward port stops – with sightseeing offered frequently along the routes – it’s crucial to decide which of its diverse regions you want to visit.
The popular Nuremberg to Budapest itinerary will entice you with the grandeur of Vienna – the jewel of Austria’s once-powerful Habsburg Empire -- and the beauty of Budapest, where the Danube slices through the heart of the city. Medieval-era towns – some still perfectly preserved – also adorn this route. The 12th-century-era village of Dȕrnstein in Austria’s Wachau Valley – where Richard the Lionhearted was imprisoned during the Crusades – and the nearby town of Melk, home to a restored 11th-century Benedictine Abbey, are two superb examples.
But don’t overlook the possibility of exploring deeper into Eastern Europe. Beyond Hungary, the Danube flows through or past Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova, and Ukraine, before emptying into the Black Sea. The Danube’s Iron Gate, a series of narrow, steep gorges bordering Serbia and Romania, rivals Austria’s Wachau Valley for sheer scenic glory.
It’s also possible to explore a number of less-traveled small towns as well as big cities – including Belgrade and Bucharest in this emerging region of Europe. (Since Eastern Europe is now experiencing rapid development, it’s a good idea to visit now.)
Equally important is to choose among the variety of Danube river cruise lines, each with its own style and appeal. Among the top choices, Viking River Cruises features the most ships and caters to English-speaking passengers age 55 and up; Scenic Cruises, Tauck, and Uniworld trumpet luxury, exceptional service and all-inclusive rates; AMA Waterways and Avalon Waterways are more budget-oriented but offer a wide range of itineraries, including Christmas market cruises; and Grand Circle, popular with American retirees, has a reputation for its excellent guides and shore excursions.
But there’s no reason to be daunted by the array of possibilities. Instead, relax and let Stride do the heavy lifting for you: we’ve laid it all out here for you to comparison shop for the Danube river tour of your dreams -- the one that will soon have you waltzing down the Danube to your own special rhythms.
Find more useful tips in our blog post "Top Ten Tips for Choosing a European Cruise Line."