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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Top Danube River Attractions

Hungarian Parliament, Budapest

Opera House, Vienna

Salzburg, Austria

Arc de Triomphe, Romania

Belgrade, Serbia

Melk Abbey, Austria

Mirbach Palace, Bratislava

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Must See Danube River Attractions

1. Budapest, Hungary

Budapest Hungary along the Danube River

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.

2. Vienna, Austria

Vienna Austria lit up at night

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.    

3. Passau, Germany

Passau Germany top Danube River Cruise attraction

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.

4. Bratislava, Slovakia

Visiting Bratislava Slovakia on a Danube river cruise

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.  

5. Melk Abbey, Austria

Melk Abbey top Danube River cruise attraction in Austria

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.

6. The Iron Gates

Carved face along the Iron Gates gorge on Danube River

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!

7. Esztergom Cathedral, Hungary

Esztergom Cathedral in Hungary along the Danube River

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.

8. Regensburg, Germany

Medieval city Regensburg Germany

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.

9. Amsterdam, Netherlands

Canal of Amsterdam with river cruise and bikes

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.

10. Danube River Cruise

Danube river cruise

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.

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
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