Forever immortalized in Johann Strauss’ "The Blue Danube” waltz, Europe’s Danube river, and the countryside through which it winds, are as beautiful as the music. By taking a cruise on the Danube, you can see and explore European capitals, medieval towns, stately castles, rolling hills and vineyard-lined valleys.
Europe’s second-longest river takes a 1,800-mile path from Germany’s Black Forest to the Black Sea. On the way, it flows through or along the borders of 10 countries. Depending on the amount of time you have, you can sail a large or small portion of the Danube. You can also combine a Danube cruise with a cruise of the Rhine river or the Black Sea. Or, combine your Danube cruise with a land-based stay in Vienna, Budapest or one of the other cities along the way.
Budapest, Hungary, is often called the Queen of the Danube. The city’s lovely architecture and many historic sites offer wonderful sightseeing. You may choose to focus on hilly Buda, on the river’s western bank, and its historic castle complex. Or, visit the Pest side of the river to explore shops and cafes along the spacious boulevards – and, don’t miss the gorgeous Parliament building.
Vienna, Austria, is another capital city you’re likely to visit on a Danube cruise. This center of theater, opera and classical music is also prized for its museums, universities and public gardens. Stop in one of the many cafés to sample some of the finest cakes and desserts in the world, such as Sachertorte’s famous combination of chocolate cake and apricot jam.
A cruise of the Danube also provides the thrill of realizing the dream of Charlemagne. In 793, the European emperor had an idea for a waterway that would connect the Main, Rhine and Danube Rivers in a way that enabled continuous river travel from the North Sea to the Black Sea. Completed in 1992, the Main-Danube canal stretches 106 miles and includes 16 locks. Along the way, many ships stop in Nuremburg, Germany, the second-largest city in Bavaria. Castles that tower over the city, elaborate churches and a walled Old Town provide lots of sightseeing opportunities. Nuremburg also played a significant role in World War II – the Nazi Party rallied here, and its leaders faced an international tribunal at the Palace of Justice during the Nuremberg Trials.
The Danube offers wonderful river cruising during the summer, but also in the winter. During the holiday season, you can browse several of Europe’s famous Christmas Markets along the way. Imagine spending a delightful afternoon strolling among market stalls filled with beautiful handcrafts and the enticing smells of gingerbread and other sweets. To find out how you can do exactly that, talk with Cruise Holidays.