The Danube is the second-longest river in Europe and flows throughout many of the eastern & central European countries, offering cruise-goers a chance to see and experience different cultures, languages, and activities. Each port - from the tiny villages to the giant metropolises - has its own unique charms and adventures in store. These are some of our favorites:
Explore one of the most important cities in Germany’s Bavaria region. The 900-year-old Nuremberg Castle fascinates travelers and the Alstadt (Old Town) is home to even more fascinating sites, like Notre Dame and Town Hall. Step back to the time of World War II, when Justice Palace and the Nazi Parade Grounds were the center of attention in Nuremberg. If you travel in December, you’ll see the Hauptmarkt plaza, where the traditional Christmas markets bring vibrant colors to the city.
Prague, Czechia (Czech Republic)
In the center of central Europe is the stunningly beautiful city of Prague, where you can find sites like the Rudolfinum National Museum, Wenceslas Square, the Hundertwasser Dancing House, and the 1,000 year-old Prague Castle in the Old Town alone, which helped this area earn a spot as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A mix of architectural styles can be spotted throughout the city, including Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo and Art Nouveau.
As you cruise the scenic Wachau Valley, you will arrive in the heart of Austrian culture, where classical music legends Beethoven & Mozart composed much of their work, thus giving the city its nickname “The City of Music.” A tour of the city will take you to such medieval sites as Schönbrunn & Hofburg Palaces, which housed the royal families for centuries. Stop in the Grinzing neighborhood if you want to get an authentic taste of the local flavors and cuisine.
Another Austrian gem, the town of Melk is most noted for its impressive Benedictine Abbey. Over 900 years old, this is one of the biggest and oldest Baroque monasteries in Europe. Active travelers can follow their tour of the Melk Abbey with a leisurely guided bike ride through the Wachau Valley. Just south of town, travelers enjoy tranquil strolls through the gardens around Schallaburg Castle.
Baroque architecture highlights the popular Old Town of Slovakia’s capital city, Bratislava. Here, you’ll find treasures like St. Martin's Cathedral, Mirbach Palace, and the Old Town Hall. If you’re up for a hike, a scenic climb into the Little Carpathians will take you to Bratislava Castle, where you can get the best panoramic vistas of the whole city.
The capital city of Hungary is uniquely positioned, straddling the Danube River. On one side are the valleys & hills of Buda and the opposite shore are the flatlands of Pest. Top sites in this expansive cultural center include the Baroque landmarks of Gödöllö Palace & Buda Castle, the well preserved Old Town of Buda, and the thermal swimming pools at the Gellert Baths. A leisurely walk or bike on Margaret Island is also a nice way to spend an afternoon.
The recent history of eastern Europe comes alive in the Croatian town of Vukovar, where explorers will learn about the Yugoslav Civil War of the 1990s and tour the Ovcara Memorial & Cemetery. The city is also home to age-old vineyards that have perfected their wine-making process. Once considered one of the prettiest towns, explorers will see the devastating impact of civil war.
Novi Sad, Serbia
Perhaps one of the most important cities in Serbia, this multi-ethnic town is the center of much of the country’s finance, culture, and industry. This diversity makes it a fascinating place to visit. In town, visitors will see the neo-Renaissance city hall, a Gothic Revival church, and the Petrovaradin Fortress, which is now over 300 years old. Most tours also visit sites like the 16th century Krusedol Orthodox Monastery and the neighboring small town of Sremski Karlovci.
The Serbian capital city hosts a full slate of activities for active travelers, including fascinating sites like Kalemegdan Fortress, the Serbian Orthodox Temple of St. Sava, and the Marshal Josip Broz Tito mausoleum. Brandy connoisseurs will enjoy the flavors of the Quburich Distillery. And Ada Ciganlija Island is a great place to explore on a guided bike tour.
The town of Vidin adds a bit of flair to Bulgaria, with such sites like Belogradchik & Vidin Castles and Baba Vida Fortress. These strongholds have been carefully restored and preserved to give visitors a peek into Bulgaria’s medieval past. If you want to try the local gastronomy, go for some yogurt or the Banitsa pastry.