A Danube river cruise is one of the most popular (along with the Rhine) and offers the luxury cruise traveller plenty of historical cities and smaller villages to enjoy. River cruises range from seven days and longer in duration as the Danube flows through 10 countries – Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, and Ukraine.
Here are our Top 5 ports and cities to visit on a Danube river cruise.
Your Danube river cruise will most likely either start or end in the storied city of Budapest. Originally two cities divided by the river, Buda on one side and Pest on the other – the city was unified in November 1873.
Highlights include the 19th-century Chain Bridge that connects the hilly Buda district with flatter Pest side, the Fisherman’s Bastion that offers stunning views over the river Danube (and your river ship), the famous and majestic Parliament building, St. Stephen’s Basilica, the Hungarian State Opera House and the bustling covered market place (great for paprika).
Vienna is the capital and largest city of Austria, and is often regarded as the City of Music, due to the noted musicians who have lived there – including Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, Johann Strauss I & Johannes Brahms. The more notable luxury river lines will often include a recital by the Mozart’s Boys Choir at the City Palace in Vienna.
Highlights include Schonbrunn Palace, Imperial Palace, State Opera House and the quirky Hundertwasserhaus.
Durnstein is a small and very picturesque town nestled right on the banks of the river Danube in the Wachau Valley and is an easy stroll from where your river cruise ship is docked. The town gained its name from castle Burgruine Durnstein that is visible on the hill overlooking the river, and with a good climb you can still visit the ruins. Durnstein is also famous for Richard the Lionheart being held captive there. The village is easy to stroll around, but be wary of narrow and steep streets.
Highlights include the castle, the local vineyards, views over the valley and locally produced liquor.
Passau is a large town situated at the confluence of three rivers – the Danube, Inn and Ilz, and is also known as the City of Three Rivers. The town is overlooked by the Veste Oberhaus, a hill top fortress dating from the 13th century, and St Stephan’s Cathedral, which is home of the world’s second-largest cathedral organ.
Highlights include St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Altes Rathaus, Passauer Glasmuseum and Veste Oberhaus
Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia and is easily accessible from the river bank of the Danube. Dominating the skyline is the Bratislava Castle, and your river boat will be docked underneath the Most SNP Bridge, which is also known as UFO Bridge, due to the circular observation deck situated on the southern bank. Be sure to spot Cumil, an unusual manhole cover which is also a bronze statue when you are wandering around the city!