Thinking about going on a river cruise? The Danube river may offer the perfect introduction.
For many British holidaymakers looking to try out this type of holiday, a trip following the Danube often proves to be a memorable river cruising experience, offering that perfect blend of new exciting experiences without having to travel to a far flung corner of the world.
The great Danube river is Europe’s second longest river. Flowing through central Europe, some of the continents greatest cities can be found on the banks of this glorious river.
Taking in some fantastic countries including Germany and Hungary, we take a look at 10 excellent destinations you can encounter during a river cruise voyage following the Danube river.
1. Bratislava, Slovakia
Slovakian capital Bratislava rests on the border with Austria and Hungary.
In a country characterised by fairy-tale castles and flowing landscapes, Bratislava is no exception.
Bratislava Castle, former home of the country’s rulers, is a national symbol.
Standing out in the landscape, the castle is white with an orange roof. Turrets on all four corners of the castle offer fantastic views of the city.
Today, visitors can explore the castle and learn more about the country’s past when taking time out at the Museum of History, housed within this Slovakian landmark.
Close to the city’s Old Town, the ruins of Devin Castle stand out like thorns on the skyline.
Strategically built at this location due to the fantastic views available that look out onto the Danube River, the ruins are one of the city’s most popular attractions.
Perched some 200 meters above the ground, the castle was destroyed under infamous Napoleon’s orders.
Portions of the ruins can be explored by visitors, although sections are closed off due to stability concerns.
Dating back to around the 15th century, St. Martin’s Cathedral was once where Royalty were crowned by the church.
Once frequented by royalty, the church is now one of Bratislava’s most popular tourist attractions.
This Gothic Church features some beautiful ornate windows that stand out thanks to their colour.
The Most SNP is a cable bridge that carries a spectacular guest – a UFO. Thankfully identified, this UFO observation deck houses a restaurant and bar where guests can wine, dine and look out at the beautiful city of Bratislava.
Bratislava’s Old Town Hall is a popular landmark with tourists. Within the Town Hall you will find the Bratislava City Museum, the oldest museum in the city.
Here, visitors can take in the splendour of the Old Town Hall’s interior and soak up some great exhibitions, including some insight into the justice system employed during the Middle Ages.
Looking for a spot of culture? Pay a visit to the Slovak National Theatre.
Host to some fantastic musicians over the years, the Slovak National Theatre is a fantastic venue to take in a performance. The building, dating back to the 1800’s, was designed by Austrian architects.
2. Budapest, Hungary
Cosmopolitan city, Budapest, capital of Hungary, is split in two by the powerful blue Danube river.
When in this glorious city there are a whole host of great attractions to take in.
Enjoying UNESCO-listed World Heritage Status, Buda Castle is one of the city’s most popular attractions.
A palace complex, Buda Castle dates back to the 12th century.
Known around the world for its beauty, Buda Castle and the Castle district can be explored on great, informative walking tours.
Be sure to set some time aside, tours can take up multiple glorious hours. Some can even be done by Segway.
The city’s most iconic landmark, a visit to the Hungarian Parliament Building is a must.
One of the world’s largest Parliament buildings, the Parliament building is a wonderful piece of Gothic architecture.
When not in session, tours of this grand building are available.
Visitors can explore the former House of Lords and get up close to the Hungarian Crown Jewels.
Great views of the city can be observed from close to the Parliament building.
Close by, you can walk across to the other side of the city on either the Chain Bridge or Margaret Bridge.
Dating back to the 19th century, the Fisherman’s Bastion, beautiful lookout towers, offer some of the best views in the city.
Said to resemble the famous Walt Disney Pictures logo, the towers can be explored on some of the longer tours available from nearby Buda Castle.
Recently renovated, St. Stephen’s Basilica is one of the most important cultural buildings in Budapest.
The biggest church in the city, St. Stephen’s is a stunning building.
Nearby, visitors can stop for a coffee at one of the café’s found in St. Stephen’s Square.
Bit of Trivia – The church is home to the mummified hand of St. Stephen himself!
Rising some 200 metres above the Danube, Gellert Hill is a popular tourist stop.
Named after a bishop who was thrown to his death from the hill, Gellert Hill is in geological terms, a dolomite rock.
This rock is so big it acts as a perfect viewing platform.
From here, you can plan the next steps on your tour of the city.
3. Krems, Austria
Krems in Austria is just under 50 miles from capital Vienna. Resting on the banks of the Danube, the city is a popular stop during river cruise itineraries.
The town marks the beginning of the famous Wachau Valley, known throughout the world for its historic wine production.
Krems takes advantage of its location.
Within the city, there are a fantastic range of wine taverns where you can sample, then sample again, the fantastic local produce.
Close to Krems, many visitors to the area allocate time to go and visit the Gottweig Abbey.
A working Benedictine monastery, Gottweig Abbey has held UNESCO World Heritage status since the early 00’s.
A museum is open to visitors. Here, you will be able to take in some of the Abbey’s grand decor and an imperial staircase.
A stop by Krems River offers a great opportunity for a scenic stroll.
Eventually, the Krems river flows into the superior Danube.
Kunsthalle Krems, found close to the river, is a great Art museum where you can wander around at your own pace in the company of an audio guide.
4. Linz, Austria
Close to the Czech border, Linz is one of the largest cities in Austria.
Linz is a great stop as you follow the Danube, offering plenty of sights and experiences.
The Ars Electronic Center may just catch your eye as you depart your cruise ship.
The building is often lit up in bright blue light, standing out amongst the crowd on the water’s edge.
Celebrating electronic innovation and art, the museum presents a great range of exhibitions, some interactive, that highlight technological developments and shine the spotlight on societal issues connected with technology.
A trip up Pöstlingberg via tram is a great experience with a rewarding finale.
The Pöstlingberg tram is one of the steepest trams in Europe and its vintage carriages have been modernised with tourists in mind.
Fantastic viewing windows have been added that open up some amazing views as you travel up the hillside.
At the summit, there is a valuable viewing platform that looks out across the city.
Opened in 2003, the Lentos Art Museum is one of the most important museums in Austria.
A popular attraction, guided tours are available that take you through the museum and offer some background on key exhibits and works of art.
Close to Linz lies the Mauthausen Memorial.
The site of a former Nazi concentration camp, visitors can now visit a museum and memorial dedicated to remembering the site’s tragic past.
One of the main sites in Austria used as a camp by the Nazi regime, the former Mauthausen concentration camp can be toured and visitors can explore some exhibitions that shed light on the crimes committed here.
The Mariedom or New Cathedral is one of the largest churches in Austria.
A relatively new addition to the city, the church dates back to the early 1920’s. Visitors can climb the church’s protruding spire, sitting over 10 metres above the ground.
5. Nuremberg, Germany
Northern Bavarian gem Nuremberg is a city with a long and distinguished history.
Dominated by Medieval architecture, Nuremberg is prime example of Bavarian architecture.
Nuremberg Castle is a symbol of the city. Built in the Middle Ages, the Imperial Castle is one of the most famous landmarks in Bavaria.
After a series of renovations, the castle is now a popular attraction, featuring a fantastic permanent exhibition designed by Bavarian Palace Department and Nuremberg museums.
In this exhibition, visitors can learn about the history of the castle and also the history of the surrounding area.
The region of Bavaria has a long history with toys. Learn about Nuremberg’s toy industry, dating all the way back to Medieval times at the Toy Museum.
Located in the city’s Old Town area, the museum has a lot of exhibitions to take in, including a huge model railway town and track.
St. Lawrence Church is one of the most important churches in Nuremberg.
A key part of the city’s skyline, the church can be found in the heart of Nuremberg.
Slightly eerie, Nuremberg can also offer visitors the opportunity to visit Medieval Dungeons.
Found under Nuremberg’s City Hall, the dungeons contain a number of cells and an extremely unpleasant looking torture chamber, complete with rusty chains.
6. Passau, Germany
Found in the south of Germany, Passau is close to the Austrian border.
Here, three rivers converge together – The Danube, IIz and the Inn river. This has led the city to become known as the ‘Three Rivers City’.
Veste Oberhaus, an ancient fortress, dominates the skyline of Passau. Once offering protection to foreign invaders, the castle is now the city’s most popular tourist attraction.
Upon first glance, with trees and other greenery long having taken over the hillside, the castle suddenly emerges from the hilltop.
Magnificently preserved, the castle has exhibitions on display that include a look at some terrifying Medieval weaponry.
Passau’s Alstadt or Old Town is a great place to soak up some Bavarian atmosphere.
Hours can be lost exploring the old heart of the city.
Featuring some narrow, cobbled alleys, you may just find your feet taking you to the market stalls that pop up in the town square.
7. Vienna, Austria
Austria’s capital, Vienna can also be found on the banks of the Danube.
A cultural hotspot, Vienna is famous for its music, events and nightlife.
Many famous musical composers have called Vienna, ‘The City of Dreams’, home, including Beethoven and the great Mozart.
Former Royal Summer residence, Schönbrunn Palace is a grand palace with some fantastically maintained gardens.
The Palace is a feast for the eyes. Featuring some beautiful interiors, tours of the Palace will leave you speechless.
This UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site lives up to the billing. It is a truly the definition of a grand palace.
Outside, the gardens, open to the public for over 200 years, are wonderfully maintained and provide a great setting for a stroll.
The palatial complex known as the Hofberg, is a collection of grand apartments that once housed royalty.
Now containing a series of museums, visitors can gain an insight into the life of the Imperial family, particularly Empress Elisabeth, affectionately known as ‘Sisi’.
The Belvedere, another palatial building in this grand city, is a must visit on your tour of Vienna.
Consisting of two palaces set in stunning surroundings, the Belvedere is one of the great European landmarks tourists flock to each year.
Visitors are in for an art-filled treat. The complex houses some magical works of art, and pays tribute in particular to the great Austrian painter Gustav Klimt.
8. Melk, Austria
The famous city on the Danube, Melk is best known for its striking hilltop abbey.
A key attraction in the region for holidaymakers stopping briefly during river cruise holidays, Melk Abbey is one of Austria’s most famous historical landmarks.
First constructed back in the 11th century, the Abbey sits high above Melk.
Included within a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, the abbey is still the home of Benedictine Monks.
During a visit to the Abbey visitors can enjoy an on-site museum and are welcomed by the sight of grand halls, a stunning church and centuries-old library.
A key focal point, the Abbey’s long Emperor’s Gallery is one of main Abbey highlights.
9. Salzburg, Austria
Close to Austria’s border with Germany, the city of Salzburg is popular excursion destination for holidaymakers travelling along the Danube.
Once an independent state, Salzburg is rich in history and offers plenty of eye-catching sights and experiences.
Visitors to the city are often welcomed by the memorable sight of Fortress Hohensalzburg.
Alternative notable highlights also include the lavish 17th century Mirabell Palace, the domed Salzburg Cathedral and for classical music fans – Mozart’s Birthplace.
Salzburg’s Old Town is rather spectacular. Contrasting with some other notable European cities, the old Town here is packed with buildings resting close to the water’s edge that have some great towering spires rising out into the city skyline.
An essential place to visit for anyone with even the slightest interest in horticulture, Mirabell Palace’s wonderfully-kept gardens are a real treat for visitors to enjoy.
10. Dürnstein, Austria
Best known for its magical blue tower found right on the edge of the danube river, Durnstein also strong historical links to the UK.
Once upon a time, the famous Briton Richard the Lionheart was imprisoned in a castle overlooking Dürnstein.
Found after being shipwrecked, Richard was taken up to the confines of Burguine Castle that today lies in ruins.
Surrounded by the beauty of the famous Wachau Valley, scaling the heights around Durnstein provides visitors with fantastic views of one of the most beautiful and highly-regarded regions on the planet.