Danube cruises are the perfect way to explore one of the Europe's most iconic rivers, the beauty of which was famously honoured by the Austrian composer Strauss, when he wrote his celebrated waltz The Blue Danube in 1866. As well as Austria, the river passes through Germany, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Moldova, Ukraine and Romania, beginning its 1,770 mile journey in Germany’s Black Forest, in the town of Donaueschingen, where the Brigach and Breg Rivers meet. From there, it flows east through Central and Eastern Europe, taking in a number of memorable capitals, before emptying into the Black Sea after passing through the Danube Delta.
Danube cruises vary and often explore different areas of the river and there’s a large number cities which feature on different itineraries, but the two cities which feature most regularly are two of Austria’s historic capital Vienna and Hungary’s Budapest.
A mainstay of Danube cruises, Vienna is famous for its baroque architecture and a tour of its historic centre is a river cruise excursion must. This World Heritage Site is home to such memorable buildings as the celebrated Opera House, Hofburg Palace, the Town Hall and the truly spectacular St Stephan’s Cathedral. A little out of the city is Schonbrunn Palace, a popular attraction where you can explore 40 fascinating rooms and the palace’s beautiful gardens.
The Danube is responsible for creating the ‘Buda’ and ‘Pest’ sides of Hungary’s memorable capital, as it passes directly through the city. Explore the cosmopolitan ‘Pest side’ and uncover many of the city’s most ornate and historic buildings, such as the Parliament Building and The Hungarian State Opera House. It’s also where you’ll find Chain Bridge, which is the first bridge ever built over the Hungarian section of the Danube. The focus on any excursion to the Buda side of the city is the medieval Castle Hill area, home to the charming 19th century folly Fishermen’s Bastion and the historic Matthias Church, where the country’s kings were crowned.
Elsewhere on the Danube...
The Danube passes through or close by many other countries and cities on its journey, but one key city close to its point of origin is Bavaria’s capital Munich, where you’ll be able to explore the city’s key highlights such as the Olympic stadium and Nymphenburg Palace. You’ll also be able to discover Serbia’s beautiful capital Belgrade, Germany’s Passau - where the Inn and Ilz Rivers join the Danube, scenic Melk, home to a charming Benedictine abbey and Regensburg, one of the best preserved medieval cities in Europe.
Before it ends its epic journey, the Danube passes through the Danube Delta, the second largest and best preserved of Europe’s deltas and a World Heritage Site. The area is the continent’s best-preserved delta and is home to 2,200 square miles of rivers, canals, marshes and the highest concentration of bird colonies in the whole of Europe. In fact, the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve has the third largest biodiversity in the world, exceeded only by Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and the Galapagos Islands Archipelago off Ecuador.