View of Hungarian Parliament from Danube river cruise
Esztergom Basilica along the Danube River in Hungary
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Danube River - Best Tours & Trips 2019

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.
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Travel Style

Trip Type Trip Type Classic Tour Groups are between 25-60 people, typically ~30-40. Usually there will be many opportunities to split off and enjoy meals and excursions in smaller groups. This is the most economical way to travel, saving up to 40% versus booking the same itinerary yourself.
Small Group Guided Experiences Small groups are usually defined as between 10 and 24 travelers, often less. If you're the kind of person who enjoys more intimate experiences and personal service this is a good choice. All else being equal you will pay a premium for this style vs a larger group tour.
River Cruise These vessels are smaller than most ocean cruisers, limiting which amenties are available. Passenger counts can vary. One of the biggest advantages of a river cruise is the ability to dock at smaller ports and local villages.
Small Ocean Cruise Small ship cruises usually have a max passenger count of 500. The primary purpose of these trips is to spend time off the vessel in local ports (e.g. Mediterranean) or experiencing nature (e.g Galapagos or Antarctica). Cabins can vary from budget to luxury.
Private Tour Private tours give you the undivided attention of a guide, and often involve special access to sites and unique experiences not available to larger groups. This is a great option for families, couples, and small friend groups. Expect to pay a bit more for the extra service.
Independent Package A travel company plans your itinerary and arranges all the logistics including lodging, local activities, and transportantion. You have the flexibility of a solo trip while still getting the convience and time savings of expert planning. Get 90% of the benefits of a tour, without a guide.
Vacation / Holiday Package Similar to a self guided tour, this usually involves a home base, such as a hotel or resort, with packaged activities and day tours as a part of the stay.
Large Ocean Cruise This is the "floating city" experience, with multiple ways to enjoy your vacation aboard the ship as much as on land. Ships are multiple floors, provide several activities, culinary, and shopping options. They often make fewer stops and have less time available for shore excursions.

Itinerary Focus

Lodging Level Lodging Level Camping Typically involves most nights sleeping in tents (sometimes permanent tented sites) or in rustic cabins and lodges.
Basic - 2 star You'll stay in no-frills, but clean and comfortable, hotels or guesthouses. A 'Basic' trip might also involve a few nights of camping.
Value - 3 star Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels.
Premium - 4 star 3 to 4 star western hotel equivalents. While not all lodging will be 'luxury' they will be quite comfortable by western standards.
Luxury - 5 star The highest level of comfort and service. All accomodations are in four or five star hotels, boutique lodges or high-end homestays.

Price From*

$ 346 $ 10,000+

Price Per Day

Trip Length

Countries

Physical Level Physical Level Very Easy Minimal walking - motor vehicles available for all major parts of trip.
Easy Normal generally flat walking in urban or suburban environments.
Moderate Walking or physical activity half to most of day - no carrying equipment.
Strenuous All or most of day hiking or biking, hills included.
Extreme Very challenging all day hiking and backpacking carrying significant equipment.

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Solo Friendly Solo Friendly Good for Singles Trips that specifically cater to travelers looking to meet other singles.
No Single Supplement Trips where single supplement is usually not required for solo travelers.

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Top Danube River Experiences and Attractions

Top Danube River Experiences

Seeing Budapest from the deck of a Danube river cruise

Exploring the city of Vienna

Biking with a small group tour along the Danube River

Enjoying the scenic views of the Wachau Valley

Discovering the historic town of Regensburg, Germany

Wine tasting in historic wine regions along the Danube River


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Danube River Trip Reviews

71 Danube River Tour Reviews - Summary 96% Recommend

4.5 out of 5
Excellent 48
Great 17
Average 3
Disappointing 2
Terrible 1
Value
4.5
Guide
4.6
Activities
4.6
Lodging
4.6
Transportation
4.5
Meals
4.6

Tour Reviews Write a Review

Danube River Cruise with Dracular's castle

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0

We thought the trip was excellent. The river boat was good and the people on the boat were VERY gracious. I loved the size of the river boat. Our TD, Dusan J, was excellent. Would have loved for him to stay with us the whole trip. He left after the cruise and we had another one for mountain portion of the trip. He was OK but I can't remember his name. He was very knowledgeable about the area. It would be better if you kept same one for all of the trip. I will take another river cruise with smarTours.

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Operator SmarTours

Cycling the Danube???

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0

My son and I cycled from Vienna to Budapest in early June. We had a great time. The accommodation was fabulous all the way and the cycles were high quality. The map and other information was very helpful and although we didn't need it, help would have been at hand if anything had gone wrong. Most of the cycling we did was on quiet roads or cycle lanes which made us feel fairly safe. My only warning to prospective cyclists on this holiday is just to point out that not much of it is actually along the Danube, probably because there just isn't a decent path going along it I guess. Our highlight was Gyor. Never heard of it? We hadn't either but it's a real gem. Bratislava is really charming and Budapest is a city built on a grand scale. Vienna? We weren't so impressed. Just a little bit too la di dah for our taste but a city you have to see especially if like us you are big fans of "The Third Man." Yes, the wheel is still there and yes we did go on it. You have to, right?
Getting to the end. This is strictly cycling for beginners, but that is what we were and it was a relief to get home unharmed.

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Operator Exodus Travels

Close to Perfect!

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0

I just came back from a bike tour to Czech Republic, Germany and Austria. Everything was very well organized and planned. Nothing is perfect but this active/adventure vacation was very close to it, at least in my opinion and expectations! I will do it again.

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Operator VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations

Incredible experience

5.0
  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0

Incredible experience sailing on the Grand European tour from Amsterdam to Budapest! Just wonderful! The tours were interesting, and most allowed for adequate free time to explore the areas visited. But the staff! Beyond compare.

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Operator Viking River Cruises

CYCLING THE DANUBE - VIENNA TO BUDAPEST

4.0
  • Value 4.0
  • Guide 4.0
  • Activities 4.0
  • Lodging 4.0
  • Transportation 4.0
  • Meals 4.0

A relatively easy cycle ride on cycle paths and mainly quiet roads, accommodation and bicycles excellent. Whilst we were not by the Danube as much as we'd expected, particularly when we were, the scenery was fantastic.  
The final days cycling which involved 3 ferries across the Danube and, for us, a ferry trip from Szentendre to Budapest ( we were advised by the local Rad Reisen rep to do this rather than cycle into Budapest)
We stopped at Lipot and went to open air thermal baths and these were excellent- remember swimming costumes that day
 
 

Self guided so no leader but the representative from Rad Riesen covered all important details at the beginning

Suggest an extra night in Vienna at the beginning and 1 or 2 nights in Budapest at the end
For us, the airport bus would have been better than the recommended train route to the hotel in Vienna
Take swimming costumes for Lipot.
Beware that differences between Exodus trip notes and information from Rad Riesen can lead to confusion especially when negotiating routes out of towns.
In particular, we were advised to take the train from Tata to Koragom and then cycle along the north of the Danube in Slovakia to Estergom rather than following the route advised by Exodus that day. We were also advised to catch a ferry into Budapest from Szentendre. The instructions for finding the tickets were not very clear.
 

Overall, very good value holiday and, in particular the bikes and accommodation were fine
We have been on several Exodus holidays and intend to go on more
 

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Operator Exodus Travels

Danube Riover Cruise

4.0
  • Value 4.0
  • Guide 4.0
  • Activities 4.0
  • Lodging 4.0
  • Transportation 4.0
  • Meals 4.0

We are now on our way home from this wonderful Danube River cruise. I would like to sum up our experience on the Little Prince as outstanding. This trip turned out to far exceed our expectations. The crew and cruise director (Duschan) were terrific. Dining room staff and food quality was excellent. Kitchen staff and our waiter Liviu went out of their way to accommodate the kosher requirements of our table. Tour guides in most locations were very knowledgeable and spoke good english. Our only criticism was the air conditioning in the cabin and dining room. The cabin was very hot and humid and nothing could be done by the staff. We will highly recommend SmarTours to our friends.

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Operator SmarTours

Danube River Tours and Travel Guide

Danube River Attractions & Landmarks Guide

Danube River youtube video

The beautiful 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.

A Danube River Cruise

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.

Sailing the Danube in Far Eastern Europe

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.)

Cities along the Danube River

As one of the longest rivers in Europe, The Danube flows by some truly incredible cities and towns. Because of this, you can expect a lot of variety when it comes to routes, port calls, and excursions. You’ll be sure to find the right Danube cruise itinerary for you interests; though a love of European history is fairly common among those who choose Danube river cruises.

1. Budapest - Almost every Danube river cruise stops in Budapest. This city is a delightful hodgepodge of edgy youthful bars, classic museums, active outdoor options, historical sites, and family friendly activities. Don’t miss Great Market Hall, especially if you’re shopping for gifts and souvenirs, and many shore excursions will include Gellert Hill - a short but very uphill walk - for wonderful panoramic views over the city.

2. Vienna - Beautiful Vienna has everything you could be looking for from a classic Western European city. With buildings awash in white and gold, palaces, parks and tree-lined cobblestoned streets, and known for opera, theater, and classical music, Vienna is like a fairytale. Danube river cruise excursions in Vienna may often include concerts.

3. Bratislava - Slovakia’s capital, Bratislava presents visitors with a unique culture and history. On the Danube’s banks, between Austria and Hungary, this relatively new capital (Slovakia became a country in 1993) is a unique amalgam of ancient and modern influence. Port stops in Bratislava usually last about a half day - the cities main attractions are easy to see in that amount of time.

4. Belgrade - Serbia’s capital, Belgrade is an ancient city with a lively nightlife, edgy art scene, and many unique historical sites. Belgrade may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it sure is an unforgettable destination.

5. Ulm - Highest church steeple in the world? Check. Ulm is a small, quirky city in Bavaria, right on the banks of the Danube. The steeple is available to climb, and if your legs can stand it, you’ll be rewarded with amazing views! Aside from the church, you can wander the parks or enjoy a leisurely afternoon taking in the picturesque river from a cafe.

Choosing Your Danube River Cruise Line

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 »

Top Danube River Travel Companies

Things to Know Before You Go

Danube River cruises and tours are available in a variety of lengths, either focusing on a specific section of the river or covering the entire distance. You will often see an itinerary listed as “Westbound” or Eastbound”. This can be helpful when determining your pre and post cruise activities.

The average length of a Danube River cruise is between one and two weeks. Longer Danube River cruises often also visit the Black Sea and a few other rivers in Europe - you’ll see so much of Europe in comfort gliding along the water, and only unpack once!

Many shorter departures along the Danube include cycling excursions, such as those with Butterfield and Robinson. If you travel on a Danube River cruise that’s 6 days or less, chances are you’ll begin or end in Budapest, Hungary visiting three or four other countries along either an Eastbound or Westbound route.

What to Wear on a Danube River Cruise

The Danube is one of the largest rivers in Europe, both by length and width. Given this, it will always be slightly cooler on the boat than on the shore.

Light layers should suffice for most of the year, heavier outerwear for the winter when it will commonly be snowing. Christmas markets are a very popular wintertime activity in Europe and many Danube River Cruises operate during this time, visiting markets along the way.

While most river cruises don’t have strict dress codes, they do cater to an older audience more likely to dress up for dinner.

Danube River Weather

The weather on the Danube is generally mild, though expect to encounter a lot of microclimates as you travel, regardless of the length of your trip. Since you’ll be passing through numerous countries and regions, it’s difficult to pinpoint an easy weather pattern.

The Danube is a popular destination year round - you have the joyous and magical Christmas markets in the wintertime, the lovely springtime with flowers blooming and sunshine peeking through, summertime when it’s warm and small towns and villages vibrant with tourists, and the fall when you can see beautiful changing leaves along the shore and up in the hills.

Weather on the Danube River in August

August is universally one of best months to travel. This is when you’ll find some of the best weather (in the northern hemisphere at least), and the crowds are not quite as heavy as the peak summertime months of June and July, but not so dissipated that certain activities and destinations are shut down to tourism.

In Europe and along the Danube, August is an ideal month, with temperatures ranging from the mid 60s to the mid 90s fahrenheit.

Weather on the Danube River in September

Like August, September is one of the more ideal times to travel. Even less crowds than August, and the weather is usually still warm, but not blazing hot. Expect lows in the 50s especially at night, and 60s and 70s during the day (fahrenheit). You also might get to see some early changes in nature from your cruise deck.

Weather on the Danube River in March

In March, expect the weather on the Danube River to be a bit nippy, though not unbearable. You will be spending time outside though, on the viewing deck, out on the water. So definitely bring a warm jacket so you can spend more time outside. Temperatures will be in the 40s and 50s, mid 30s at night.

All Danube River cruises, tours, and packages. Find the best guided trips and expert planned vacation and holiday packages. Average rating of 4.5 for all Danube River trips.

199 trips from 52 tour companies with 71 reviews

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