View of Hungarian Parliament from Danube river cruise
Esztergom Basilica along the Danube River in Hungary

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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Top Danube River Experiences and Attractions

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Danube River Trip Reviews

Danube River Tour Reviews - Summary
96% Recommend

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


Does Not Recommend

Misleading and often just plain dishonest. October 2018


European sojourn

  • Value 1.0
  • Guide 3.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 3.0
  • Transportation 1.0
  • Meals 3.0
We paid for a 3 week luxury river cruise but received a large group bus trip across Europe with many days of packing and unpacking. I called our Viking representative when we received an email message just 2 days prior to departure that mentioned a possibility of problems with low river levels. I was assured that everything was "normal" In reality, as we learned later from ship personnel, nothing has been normal for at least 3 months. About 2 weeks prior to departure, we received by mail, lovely personalized booklets describing all the details of our voyage on the Viking Lif, which we were to board in Russe, Romania. Instead, we boarded the Viking Aegir but not at Russe, because the Danube was too low. Instead we rode buses upstream to a port on the Romanian side directly opposite our first scheduled stop at Nikopol, Bulgaria. We had a beautiful cruise through the Iron gate gorge, but after three more scheduled stops in Bulgaria, Serbia, and Croatia, our voyage was terminated in Mohacs, Hungary, an unscheduled place two days short of reaching Budapest. So we were herded into buses for a 1.8 hour ride each way to our scheduled stop at Kalocsa. The next day we retraced the journey to Kalocsa and continued an extra 1.5 hours to reach Budapest. We lost the entire morning in Budapest and spent the night at the Marriott hotel. The next day we lost the entire afternoon in that city because we had to take a 4 hour bus ride to Vienna. Where we were put aboard the Viking Embla. Our voyage on that ship ended two steps later at Passau Germany. After a day in Passau we went upriver for a short distance and it seemed that we had entered the canal to take us to the Main river. But much to our surprise, it was a dead end channel for an industrial port. We spent two days there with our balcony room moored tightly against another Viking ship so there was nothing to look at but the scenery at that site was even worse than looking at someone else's window and the balcony was unusable anyway due to the unpleasant odors at that site. The pattern continued with a long round trip bus ride the next day to our scheduled stop at Regensburg and a 3 plus hour trip the following day to Nuremberg where we finally boarded the Viking Lif. A crew member told us that the Lif had not traveled east of Nuremberg for 3 months. We sailed from Nuremberg to scheduled stops in Bamberg, Wurzburg, and Werthiem and then our voyage terminated for good at an unscheduled port in Mainz. Once again we endured a long round trip journey to our next scheduled stop at Koblenz, followed by a 10 plus hour bus trip (with lunch and a walking tour in Cologne) to Amsterdam and a night in a hotel. Despite a promise that our bags would be in our rooms (they did take great care to provide us with tags so they could easily keep our bags organized) all the baggage was dumped in the hotel garage and it took a good 15 minutes of searching to find it and then take it to our rooms ourselves. There is much more, but it would only be more descriptive of the misery of this trip. We know Viking didn't cause the low river levels, but they did not need to lie to us and make us suffer because of it. Read more

Operator Viking River Cruises



Not a vacation and adventure October 2018


Cycling The Danube: Vienna to Budapest

  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
Incredible journey through forests, farms, hamlets and cities! Truly the
greatest way to experience a new culture.
Spending 10 quality days with my daughter exploring this beautiful part of
the world.

We were self guided

Make sure your GPS is up to date and your phone is charged. Maps and
directions can be challenging at times, many roads have no signs and
kilometer markers on your bike will be off as soon as you make a single side
trip or wrong turn. GPS got us back on track multiple times.

Research the towns along the way. Many are spectacular and we didn't leave
enough time to explore them.

Read more

Operator Exodus Travels



Cycling the Danube??? October 2018


Cycling The Danube: Vienna to Budapest

  • 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?
Read more

Operator Exodus Travels



Beautiful scenery, safe cycling October 2018


Self-Guided Cycling on the Danube: Passau to Vienna

  • Value 4.0
  • Guide 4.0
  • Activities 4.0
  • Lodging 4.0
  • Transportation 4.0
  • Meals 4.0
The vast majority of this trip is in cycle paths separated from road traffic
with some lightly trafficked roads and only very occasional roads with
significant traffic, and even then you are usually separated from them by a
barrier of some type: in fact, if none of the above applies, you're probably
'lost' although that, too, is really difficult to do as the river is hard to
lose and the signage is excellent! A large proportion is on a Euro cycle path
from the Black Sea to the Atlantic and it is very well maintained: UK
councils could learn a thing or two about maintaining safe cycling
environments from the Austrians. The scenery is at times spectacular and
varies from day to day as the river meanders across Austria. The
accommodation we got was generally very good and there was usually somewhere
good to have dinner in the evening. Lunch stops were a bit thin on the ground
but we usually found somewhere. The bicycles were heavy but in very good
nick: the route is mostly flat and any slight downhills outnumber the uphills
- which often related to gaining the altitude required to cross over the
bridges over the river rather than anything else. There are churches in
abundance, from big to small and most towns have a schloss (castle). There
are some spectacular monasteries and when you get to Vienna, it is clear that
it was the centre of the world for quite a long time with monuments and
buildings to show for it! The distances are manageable - on the last day, you
can get a train to cut the distance down to about 50 km but we decided to
cycle from Krems to Vienna (about 90 km) and we survived!
The abbey at Melk is very impressive, and the old castle (ruins) at
Hinterhaus are worth a visit for the view (takes about 30-40 minutes off
saddle to walk up to it just before Spitz).

Not applicable

Read more

Operator Exodus Travels



Excellent trip October 2018


Self-Guided Cycling on the Danube: Passau to Vienna

  • Value 5.0
  • Guide 5.0
  • Activities 5.0
  • Lodging 5.0
  • Transportation 5.0
  • Meals 5.0
This is an easy ride; and the route is varied and very attractive. Virtually
none of the cycling is along roads with motor traffic; and I appreciated how
the sign-posted Danube cycle path diverted, from time to time, away from the
river bank to go through fields, woods and quiet villages. The hotels,
baggage transfers and logistics worked very well. I was impressed by the
quality of the accommodation -- and its variety.
The steep valleys and remoteness on the first two days. The Donauschlinge
resort at Schloegen is lovely.

Not applicable.

If you don`t have a GPS app or device, be wary of the (sometimes thin)
written instructions for getting into and out of some of the towns, as
supplied by the Radreisefreunde local organisers. You are given maps as well
as written directions, at the briefing meeting at the beginning. The maps
were generally excellent; but they don`t always correspond to where you`re
staying (they provide for multiple overnight accommodation alternatives --
and in some cases none of those apply to your particular itinerary). I found
difficulty getting out of Melk on the right track; and into the right place
in Vienna on the final day. However, overall, navigation was easy and

Read more

Operator Exodus Travels

Danube River Tours and Travel Guide

Danube River Attractions & Landmarks Guide

Danube River youtube video

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.

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." 

Related Trips & Tours

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