Cruise the Danube
Where culture and nature intertwine
A cruise on the Danube is a journey through history. It’s a channel through landscapes. A passage through cultures.
A cruise on the Danube is nothing short of wondrous.
Europe's second-largest river runs for over 1700 miles, passing through 10 unique countries and a spectrum of beautiful cities. The river itself is a UNESCO Heritage Site, and it's easy to see why. Home to over 5000 species of animals, birds and plants and flanked by either lush greenery or striking architecture, it really is a sight to behold. When it comes to exploring the countries on the Danube, there really is an endless number of things to see, do and explore.
Our Danube River Cruises stop off at the seven countries below (amongst others).
Let the voyage begin.
Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria
The Danube originates in Germany's Black Forest – a magical place of majestic evergreens, sprawling meadows and chiselled valleys. Germany itself is a country of great variety. Urban skylines and unexpected natural beauty co-exist harmoniously, creating a beguiling blend of the modern and traditional. Dreamy forests and fairytale castles work with striking gothic architecture and post-war tower blocks to build an unmistakable, confident character. Sharing borders with nine other nations, it's also home to Europe's largest economy.
From country landscapes to city sights
Peppered with scenery, Germany is popular with hikers, cyclists and even skiers. Go mushroom-foraging, hit the beach, explore the Bavarian Alps, take to one of many off-road cycle routes or go canoeing – this country is a veritable playground for anyone who loves the outdoors.
Then, there are the cities. Germany’s main cities, Berlin, Cologne, Munich and Hamburg are packed with history at every turn, as well as excellent shopping spots and nightlife. However, go off the beaten track to some lesser-known cities, and your wanderlust will thank you.
From Christmas trees and festive markets to Oktoberfest and Snow White, traditional German culture is more present worldwide than you may have noticed.
Germany has played a pivotal role in the history of Europe, and has struggled with national pride for a long time due to its past. Today, however, to celebrate being German is to celebrate diversity and strength.
Times have changed, and Germany now owns discussing and dealing with its past. There is even a word in German which translates as "coping with the past": vergangenheitsbewältigung.
German travel tips
Germans can be quite direct. Don’t take it personally!
A lot of places are still cash‑only
Lose something on your walk through the park? Re-trace your steps. Germans are a helpful bunch, and may just have hung your lost item on a tree branch so you can find it easily.
Lots of shops close on Sundays.
Punctuality is taken seriously here, so expect things to run right on time.
Must-see Danube River attractions in Germany
Discover the enchanting cities of Passau, Regensburg and Nuremburg on a Danube River cruise.
Passau: one of Bavaria's oldest cities
Often referred to as the "City of Three Rivers", Passau hosts the confluence of the Inn, Ilz and Danube. This is the spot where the three rivers swirl together – the white, black and teal hues are mesmerising.
Climb Veste Oberhaus
This fortress was built back in 1219, and houses a museum, youth hostel, restaurant and open-air theatre. It offers remarkable views of the city.
Take in local history at the Roman Museum
Notice how Italian-looking this city is? The Romans ruled here for over 400 years. Learn more at this museum.
Make time for chocolate
A local favourite since 1903, Café Simon is the best place to indulge in cake, coffee and of course, the area’s most delicious chocolate.
Regensburg: Bavaria's original capital city
Wander the Medieval centre
It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city square, Haidplatz, was once the scene of jousting tournaments.
Visit St Peter’s Cathedral
A majestic example of southern German Gothic architecture. Don’t miss it.
Explore Altes Rathaus
Easy to spot, this is the bright yellow old town hall, and is home to a fascinating history. There’s even a dungeon with an interrogation room and authentic torture devices.
Marvel at St Emmeram’s Basilica
The interior of this ornate church will take your breath away. Don’t forget to look up at the beautifully-painted wooden ceiling.
Nuremburg: Bavaria's second-largest city
This castle was powerful back in the days of the Roman Empire. Walk up to the observation platform for panoramic views of the city.
Visit the Nuremberg Trials Memorial
The courtroom where high-ranking Nazis were brought to justice after WW2 is still used today, so you’ll need to visit between sessions. You can take an audio tour on Saturdays, or visit the museum on the courtroom's top floor.
Discover Albrecht Dürer’s House
Albrecht Dürer, one of Germany’s greatest painters, lived in this imposing timber framed townhouse between 1509 and 1528. Standing at five storeys high, it was restored after the war and eventually reopened in 1971.
Stop by the Stadtmuseum Fembohaus
This interesting museum will take you on a whistle-stop tour through Nuremburg’s cultural history. The building itself is a sight to behold, too.
German cuisine: eat like a local
Hearty, wholesome and moreish, German food works wonders for the soul.
Due to being protected under EU law, this local sausage can only be produced in Nuremburg. Seasoned with marjoram, they are usually served with sauerkraut, potato salad and horseradish.
Black Forest gâteau
A classic for a reason. This rich chocolate sponge cake is usually made up of several layers of sponge sandwiched with whipped cream and a rich cherry filling. Kirschwasser, a clear cherry brandy, is traditionally added to the sponge.
Beer is a huge part of German culture. In fact, Germany is home to over 1200 breweries. There’s also a 500-year-old Germany Beer Purity Law stating that only hops, barley, yeast and water can be used to make beer here – so you can enjoy your pint additive-free.
Served with a dollop of curry ketchup, currywurst is delicious sausage that is steamed then fried. Usually served with a side of fries.
Austria is traditional elegance intertwined with modernity. Stunning Alpine scenery begs to be explored, while the Baroque streets of Vienna will leave you in a state of wonder. Yet, within all this country’s perceived grandeur, a feeling of contemporary cool is rising. It really is an exciting time to visit Austria.
From country landscapes to city sights
The land-locked country of Austria is a sight to behold. As with many countries on the Danube, Austria is a tale of two halves - with bustling urban cities such as Vienna, Linz and Salzburg found alongside fairy-tale valleys and mountainous Alpine ranges. One such Alpine village, Hallstatt, was reportedly the inspiration for the animated city in Disney's Frozen. It certainly looks fit for a princess!
Whether you want to wander the streets of historic Vienna, or partake in some winter sports in Innsbruck, Austria has something to offer all visitors passing through their journey along the Danube.
Austria's most famous ruling house, the Habsburgs, were big advocates of the arts. Their influence therefore hugely impacted Austria's rich music and art heritage.
Known as Europe's musical capital, several famous composers (including Mozart and Johann Strauss) have learned, composed, taught and played music in Vienna.
Austria also has a big outdoor sports scene, and boasts several world-class athletes.
Austrian travel tips
Pack for all weather – there are plenty of thunderstorms in summer, and snow sometimes makes an appearance during the spring.
Austrians are generally quite conservative, yet relaxed and sociable.
Tipping is basically compulsory in Austria. Aim to tip about 10% of your bill.
Austria is well-equipped for cyclists. There are plenty of bike rental shops if you’d like to explore on wheels.
Must-see Danube River attractions in Austria
Explore majestic Vienna and dynamic Linz.
Vienna: a proud capital city
Visit Schönbrunn Palace
Containing 1,441 rooms, this magnificent Baroque palace is one of the country’s key monuments. Learn its history on a guided tour.
Stop by St. Stephen’s Cathedral
A true symbol of Vienna and one of the country’s most important Gothic structures, St. Stephen’s is an absolute must-visit. The almost 500-ft tall tower offers fantastic city views.
Stroll through the green Prater
This sprawling park covers six million square meters. Brimming with beautiful trees and water features, it’s also home to the Wurstelprater theme park, which dates back to 1766. Its Ferris wheel is one of the city’s most popular attractions.
See famous art at the Belvedere
The Kiss (Lovers) by Gustav Klimt is undoubtably the most famous Austrian painting, and you can see it in the flesh in the Upper Belvedere. Be sure to visit the museum within this historic complex (a UNESCO World Heritage), too.
Sip a coffee at Café Central
The Viennese coffee house is an institution, and Café Central is one of the city’s most opulent places to indulge in some coffee and cake. Previous patrons include Klimt, Trotsky and Freud.
Linz: a modern gem
Be amazed at the Ars Electronica Centre
Also known as the Museum of the Future, this spectacular building showcases some fantastic technology and interactive displays. Discover everything from virtual ping pong to captivating satellite images of the planet.
Ride the Pöstlingbergbahn
This charming old railway takes one of the steepest journeys in the world to the top of Postlingberg. Witness unparalleled scenery before hopping off at the top to explore.
Visit the Main Square
One of Austria's largest enclosed squares, the picture-perfect Hauptplatz is well worth a visit. Depending on the day, you may stumble across a market or festive event.
Hit the shops on Landstraße
This is one of Austria's best shopping spots. Find all your favourite brands, as well as interesting independent shops. You can pick up some souvenirs, or treat yourself to a special keepsake.
Stop by the open air gallery
Linz harbour plays host to over a hundred pieces of graffiti created by artists from around 50 nations. Take a guided tour and create your own piece of art at the end.
Austrian cuisine: indulge yourself
Sweet tooth? You'll love it here
The people of Linz claim this to be the oldest cake in the world. It's made of crumbly pastry containing ground nuts, with a jam filling and lattice design.
The Austrian emperor Franz Joseph I was a big fan of this delicious shredded pancake, so they named it after him.
Thin sheets of pastry, apple and hot vanilla sauce come together in a match made in heaven. Available at any traditional coffee house.
This famous chocolate cake is one of Vienna's most famous specialties. There is much dispute around who invented the original (ask any Viennese local) – but don't get involved in the politics! All versions of this delicious torte are divine.
Not all Austrian cuisine is sweet. This classic breaded meat cutlet is traditionally made with veal, but you'll see plenty of pork, chicken and turkey variations too.
Slovakia is a powerhouse of natural beauty. Sharing borders with Poland, the Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary and Ukraine, it’s easy to reach from anywhere on the continent. A respect for tradition thrives alongside buzzing city life. In the countryside, wondrous castles grace already charming landscapes of vast mountains and glistening waterfalls. A rare travel experience awaits.
Slovakia sits at the heart of Europe, so has been influenced by both eastern and western cultures over the centuries.
The population is diverse – you will notice a large Hungarian population here. Past rulers (the Czechs, Hungarians and Austrian Hasburgs) have heavily influenced the unique culture that intrigues visitors daily.
Slovakian travel tips
Prepare for very cold winters and very hot summers, but know that this country is beautiful whenever you visit.
Keep your eyes peeled for castles – there are more than 100 of them in Slovakia.
Slovaks can appear quite reserved, but this is just because they value their privacy.
Slovaks value the healing properties of a good spa session. The country is home to 23 spa towns.
Must-see Danube River attractions in Slovakia
Experience a charismatic capital city.
Bratislava: the "Beauty on the Danube"
Explore Bratislava Castle
This huge, striking building is a symbol of the city. Discover the Museum of History inside and climb up the 47-metre-high crown tower for fantastic views.
Step back in time at St. Martin’s Cathedral
This impressive Gothic building has been a church since the 15th century. You can find it just below Bratislava Castle.
Take in the views from UFO Tower
Visit this iconic building for panoramic views over the Danube and beyond. You can also enjoy a meal at 95 metres high.
Seek out the Blue hurch
This Catholic church is like nothing you’ve ever seen before. An Art Nouveau masterpiece, it’s painted in baby blue and white.
Roam the Old Town
Pass through St. Michael’s Gate – one of the oldest buildings in the city – into Bratislava’s Old Town. The charming main square is worth stopping to appreciate. It’s home to the Old Town Hall, which houses the country’s oldest museum.
Visit Matej Krén Passage in Palffy Palace
Created by artist Matej Kren, this installation gives the illusion made from books gives the impression of infinite space. Not to be missed.
Slovakian cuisine: comfort food personified
Nourishing, comforting, and packed with flavour.
Dumplings with sheep cheese
If you only have time to try one meal while in Slovakia, this should be it. It’s the national dish, and is best served with a sprinkling of smoked bacon pieces and sausage.
Enjoyed as part of a traditional Christmas dinner, this soup is also popular as a starter at any time of year. With paprika, black pepper and garlic, it packs more of a punch than its name suggests.
Usually enjoyed in winter with a mug of mulled wine, these are delicious cakes made with sugar and cinnamon. You can now buy them with ice cream stuffed inside, making them the perfect summer treat, too.
Fried cheese with fries and tartar sauce
As indulgent as it sounds, especially when savoured with a glass of beer. The cheese in question is usually Edam, and your meal should be served with pickles on the side.
Around a third of the Danube’s total length lies in Hungary. In fact, when it comes to the Danube River, Budapest, the capital city, is often called "Queen of the Danube". The whole country is brimming with architectural wonders, with Roman ruins, Baroque churches and Art Nouveau bathhouses punctuating towns and cities. There’s something electric about the atmosphere in Hungary, and the Danube could well be its source. And when it comes to exploring Hungary, cruises on the Danube offer a wonderful way to get around.
Hungary is very proud of its folk heritage, with folk arts and crafts still being produced to this day. Folk, popular and classical music have also been influenced by Hungary over the years.
In general, though, Hungarian culture differs quite enchantingly across the country.
Hungarian travel tips
Strike up a conversation with a local if you can. Hungarians are a generally proud, friendly and honest bunch.
Avoid clinking beer glasses. Austrians once celebrated their victory over Hungary, and so Hungary vowed to never clink beer glasses for 150 years. That time has passed, but many people uphold this tradition.
Be aware of your spending. Hungarian Forints convert to around 300 for every pound, making the note denominations rather large. This can make it easy to accidentally tip too much!
Must-see Danube River attractions in Hungary
Find Hungary’s beautiful capital city on a Danube River cruise.
Budapest: grandeur incarnate
See the Parliament Building
Best viewed from across the Danube, this is one of Hungary’s largest buildings, and was built in the Gothic Revival Style. Guided tours are available.
Visit the Shoes on the Danub Bank
Conceived by film director Can Togay, this stirring memorial is designed to honour those killed by fascist Arrow Cross militiamen in Budapest during WWII.
Enjoy a drink at the Faust Wine Cellars
There are over 22 Hungarian wine regions. Located beneath Buda Castle, this is a wonderfully atmospheric place in which to taste some Hungarian wine.
Sink into a thermal bath
Szechenyi Bath is the most famous of Budapest’s thermal baths. It’s over 100 years old, and is also one of the biggest natural hot spring spa baths in Europe.
Discover the Invisible Exhibition
Ideal if you’re looking for something a little off the beaten track in Budapest, this tour is intended to give you an idea of what life is like for a completely blind person.
Stop by a ruin bar
Pop-up bars in Budapest’s old Jewish quarter, these are fun, fascinating places to explore – even if you don’t fancy staying for a drink!
Hungarian cuisine: rich sophistication
Think traditional, homecooked perfection.
A delicious meat stew garnished with paprika and other spices. It dates back to Medieval Hungary. Rumour has it that Budapest Bistro serve the best goulash in the capital.
A tasty sponge cake layered with chocolate buttercream and topped with caramel. Gorgeous to look at and even better to eat.
This dish is so Hungarian that it can’t actually be translated into English. It’s essentially a cross between a stew and a soup, and is like a hug in a bowl.
This deep-fried flatbread is a treasured Hungarian favourite. It’s usually eaten with garlic sauce, cheese and sour cream.
Serbia, Romania & Bulgaria
Our Danube River Cruises don’t stop there. There are three countries on the Danube left to journey to.
Serbia is all warm hospitality and rugged landscapes. The capital, Belgrade, is the perfect setting for riverside drinks and relaxation.
Visually striking, it boasts a captivating blend of socialist tower blocks and opulent Art Nouveau architecture.
Top three things to see in Belgrade
- The Museum of Yugoslavia and the House of Flowers
- Kalemegdan Fortress
- The Church of Saint Sav
Top three Serbian foods
Far-reaching hills and rocky mountains make up Romania’s astonishing landscape. The capital of Bucharest is packed with enough parks, museums and cafes to entertain – but it’s this country’s history and character that will hold your attention.
Romania is also where we reach two key points of interest on the Danube.
The Iron Gates
This dramatic gorge forms part of the boundary between Serbia and Romania. It’s a breathtaking part of the crossing. On the Romanian side of the gorge lies the Iron Gates natural park, while the Derdap national park lies on the Serbian side.
The second-largest river delta in Europe, this well-preserved delta is a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site, and thus home to a colourful array of wildlife. In fact, the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve is home to the world’s third largest biodiversity (there are more than over 5,500 species of flora and fauna).
Nature and history interlace with ease in Bulgaria. Its golden beaches beckon sun-seekers year after year, and yet there are still several unspoilt, undiscovered coves. There are also seven mountain ranges here, making it a popular destination for skiers, hikers and mountain bikers. Our cruise will take you to the elegant city of Rousse (or Ruse).
Three facts about Rousse
- It’s Bulgaria’s fifth-largest city
- It hosts a mesmerising array of Neo-Baroque and Neo-Rococo architecture from the 19th and 20th centuries
- It’s Bulgaria’s biggest river port
The sound of the Danube
Creativity must be fed with vision, and what could be more inspiring for an artist than the sublime River Danube?
Long called "the River of Kings", it’s little surprise that the Danube has motivated musicians, poets and writer for centuries. When it comes to music, some of the world’s most cherished melodies were sparked from its shores of countries on the Danube.
Some of the composers who have lived by the Danube
- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
- Johann Strauss II
- Franz Liszt
- Antonin Dvorak
The Blue Danube
Perhaps the most famous piece of music inspired by the famous river is The Blue Danube by Johann Strauss II. It’s a well-known waltz that was first performed in February 1867 at a concert in Vienna. Words were initially added to the song, but Strauss removed them and made it purely orchestral for the 1867 Paris World’s Fair to much acclaim.
A voyage through music
Join us on a music-themed cruise on the Danube to learn more about this river’s powerful influence.