The Danube River reigns as the most popular European river for a river cruise - but most Danube River cruises focus on only the Upper Danube River from Germany to Hungary or the Lower Danube River from Hungary through Romania… so which one is right for you? Or perhaps you’d like to combine them. It all depends on what sites you’d like to visit and which experiences you’re hoping to have.
What to expect on a cruise of the Upper Danube River
The Upper Danube River is the most popular stretch of river in Europe for river cruises, and for good reasons - the history, culture, cuisines, and activities that you’ll come across here are perfect for travelers of all interests and ages.
in either Regensburg, Germany or Budapest, Hungary and visit the major attractions along the way:
- Regensburg is home to the Gothic St. Peter’s Cathedral, the 13th century Domplatz Town Hall, and Historiche Wurstkuchl (a 500-year-old tavern known for its bratwurst and beer).
- Budapest hosts the Hungarian Parliament Building, the neo-Romanesque St. Stephen’s Basilica, Holocaust Memorial Center, the Szechenyi Thermal Baths, Buda Castle, Castle Hill, and the cultural haven of Inner Pest.
- Passau has a beautiful 17th century Old Town worth exploration.
- Linz and Salzburg highlight the birthplace of classical composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
- Vienna boasts Schonbrunn Palace (with over 1400 rooms) and many high-culture destinations as well.
- Bratislava has its historic Stare Mesto (Old Town) and the Devin and Bratislava Castles.
Also be sure not to miss a visit to the 11th century masterpiece that is the Benedictine Melk Abbey, which active travelers might like to access on a 20-mile bike ride from Durnstein through the scenic Danube River Valley.
Don’t miss the Bratwurst in Regensburg, Wiener schnitzel and Sachertorte
(flaky chocolate cake) in Austria, Goulash (classic stew) in Hungary, or Potato Dumplings in Slovakia.
What to expect on a cruise of the lower Danube River
Connecting Eastern Europe to the Black Sea, the Lower Danube River has been a hub of commerce and culture for centuries and makes for a fascinating journey into Europe’s lesser known towns that were hidden behind the Iron Curtain for decades.
in either Budapest, Hungary or Bucharest, Romania to cruise to the major sites along the lower Danube River:
- Budapest is a port city for both eastbound Lower Danube cruises and the westbound Upper Danube cruises, so you’ll have plenty of time to explore this city on either cruise.
- Bucharest seems to embody a “Paris of the East” in design and atmosphere, including the impressive Palace of Parliament and the National Art Museum.
- Belgrade hosts the daunting and impenetrable Kalemegdan Fortress and St. Sava Church (the world's largest Orthodox cathedral).
- Vidin is home to the Rocks of Belogradchik, where nature has intricately carved these giant red rocks
If you’re looking for more adventure and intrigue, consider visiting the birthplace of the Dracula legend in Transylvania!
No cruise along the Lower Danube is complete without a healthy sampling of the local beers and wines and of course the meat-stuffed pastry known as banitsa
or the cevapcici
meat kabobs. Try cinnamon-sweetened chimney cakes, or trdelnik
, on the streets of cities in Czechia, Austria, and Hungary.
Combine the Upper and Lower Danube
(on the Grand Danube Cruise)
Can’t decide which section of the Danube sounds best? Why choose one when you can choose both?!
hosts a stunning 22-day itinerary starting with three days in Prague, Czech Republic before boarding the riverboat in Nuremburg, Germany to head east towards Bucharest, stopping in each of the major ports along the way.
Another way to see the whole Danube River without choosing the Grand Danube Cruise is to combine two cruises that visit each section of the river. Let us know
if you are interested in either of these options and we can help you plan an unforgettable trip of a lifetime on the Danube River.