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Must See Danube River Attractions
When people think of the Danube River, one of the first things to come to mind is probably an image of Budapest. This is certainly one of the most famous views - with the enormous Hungarian parliament lit up in gold hue from the setting sun.
Almost all Danube River cruises will visit Budapest - it’s a major tourist and cruise hub with tons of things to do. You might visit the Grand Market Hall for some souvenirs and classic Hungarian food, or visit the somber yet educational Terror Museum.
Everyone who visits Budapest should definitely take a walk over one of the 5 main bridges that span the Danube. When you get to Pest, take an invigorating walk up Gellert Hill for fantastic views of the city on Buda, and many unique hidden details of Fisherman's Bastion.
Vienna is the epitome of European class and grace. You simply feel like a part of Vienna’s long and storied history as a hotbed for enlightened intellectualism, progress, and (albeit mainly upper crest) culture.
Cobblestoned streets lead you by tiny cafes, bright green parks, gorgeous churches, and statues dedicated to the rockstars of classical music that have kept Vienna on tourist trails for centuries. Mozart, Beethoven, and Brahms have all lived and worked in Vienna and their legacy is point of tremendous price for the city.
Horse lovers should definitely try and see a traditional Lipizzaner show. This balletic form of riding is stunning to watch, and unique to only a few schools around the world.
The beautiful city of Passau, known as the “Three Rivers City” is a very common starting point for many Danube River cruises. Visitors should definitely not miss a visit to the incredible Veste Oberhaus. This stunning structure dates back to the early 13th century, when it was constructed as a fortress.
It’s positioning perfectly fits the role and today travelers can still walk up to the observation tower for amazing views over the city. The Vest Oberhaus also houses a museum. Passau is home to a popular university and the city is abuzz with young life, creating a vibrant mix of modern and ancient.
Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia, which is a relatively new country, only formed in the 1990s after the fall of the Soviet Union. Situated right on the Slovakian border, Bratislava is home to stunning architecture. From the buildings to other cultural nuances such as traditional dress and cuisine, many different cultural influences are at play.
One of the biggest draws in Bratislava is St. Martin’s Cathedral. Built in the 1200s over a cemetery with unknown lengths of catacombs, one of which is open to the public, the cathedral is a popular tourist attraction. Notable for being the coronation church for the kingdom of Hungary for nearly 3 centuries, you can also see St. Stephen’s crown, as well as stunning stained glass artwork.
Viewing Melk Abbey from the viewing deck of your Danube River Cruise is definitely one of the highlights! This beautiful Benedictine monastery is set apart from any large nearby towns or cities, standing alone atop a forested hilltop - like something out of a medieval fairy tale.
The Baroque architecture is incredibly extravagant, and many intricate details make the abbey impressive on both a grand and miniscule scale. Brightly colored in yellows and golds, the abbey will stick out in you photographs even if the famous Austrian clouds make their presence known.
On the border of Serbia and Romania, you will pass through the Iron Gates. Though they sound like something out of a Tolkien fantasy, The Iron Gates are actually the name given to a gorge, around 80 miles long, they feature unique rock formations and hillsides with ruins of old castles and strongholds.
Some of the oldest human civilizations in Europe, dating back to the Paleolithic era lived in this area, so the land exposes remnants of many centuries of different cultures, both clashing and living harmoniously. Keep an eye out for the face of Decebalus, the Dacian King, carved into one of the many sheer rock faces you’ll pass by!
Right where the Danube turns south heading toward Budapest, on the border with Slovakia, is where you’ll find beautiful Esztergom Cathedral. Not a stop on all Danube River cruise itineraries though it really should be. Another incredible example of old world architecture, and of course an impressive pipe organ - which at one time was the largest in Hungary. The structure has gone through numerous iterations, it’s first construction dating back to the 11th century.
The oldest city on the Danube definitely warrants a stop along your journey. Just about an hour west of Passau, Regensburg is known for having strong medieval roots, many structures still standing today. Travelers can’t miss a walk across the Stone Bridge, built in the 12th century and featuring a staggering 16 arches spanning the river. This bridge leads you to Old Town, where classic old Bavarian and European charm is visible everywhere.
There’s a reason this area has been designated an UNESCO World Heritage site. There is much to explore in Regensburg from stunning churches to quaint town squares. Take your time to take in this ancient city, once an important seat of the Holy Roman Empire, somehow brilliantly balancing its place in the ancient and modern world.
Many Danube River cruises end or begin in Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands. This lovely city is charmingly European and effortlessly enjoyable to explore. Hop on a canal tour or take a cycling trip to see the city as a local, popping in cafes for a pastry and coffee along the way. If you’re visiting in the tulip season, be sure to have you camera ready for the vibrant colors, the flowers picturesquely situated against windmills in the background.
Art lovers seek out Amsterdam the same way classical music lovers seek out Vienna. Van Gough and Rembrandt were famous residents and there are many beautiful museums dedicated to their works. Another famous resident of Amsterdam of course was Anne Frank. Try to book your tour of her home well in advance and arrive early - lines are famously long at this historical attraction.
Take in all this and more when you join a Danube River cruise. There are many different durations to choose from, and you can enjoy the lovely sites go by with a glass of supreme European wine in hand. Your river cruise on the Danube will offer the opportunity for several land excursions, including letting you explore smaller villages and towns off the beaten path, as well as those firmly on the tourist route.
River cruises are small and maneuverable, able to traverse narrower byways and dock at less busy ports than those open to Small Ship cruises. Enjoy this unforgettable way to see the European heartland along perhaps it’s most famous river: the Beautiful Blue Danube.
70 Danube River Tour Reviews - Summary
Misleading and often just plain dishonest. October 20181.0
Operator Viking River Cruises
Not a vacation and adventure October 20185.0
greatest way to experience a new culture.
Spending 10 quality days with my daughter exploring this beautiful part of
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.
Operator Exodus Travels
Cycling the Danube??? October 20185.0
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?
Operator Exodus Travels
Beautiful scenery, safe cycling October 20184.0
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).
Operator Exodus Travels
Excellent trip October 20185.0
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.
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
Operator Exodus Travels
The title of the trip was appropriate. October 20184.0
easy. The route was varied and interesting; opportunities for eating and
drinking were many. The quality of hotels was good, though only two provided
tea or coffee making facilities in the room. The bikes were well-maintained,
but are rather heavy, so it was a good job the route was mostly flat. There
were no bottle cages provided, which made stopping for water a bit of a faff!
Overall, a very enjoyable week.
too many to mention.
not applicable as it was self-guided.
Make sure you have ridden a bike a lot in recent times. Savlon helps with
saddle soreness. Learn a bit of German, particularly to do with food and
drink. Being able to read a map is essential if you miss the direction signs,
though they are generally pretty clear.
I don't think so.