Central and Eastern Europe have some of the most spectacular landscapes, castles, churches, war memorials and interesting cultures and the best way to see it is on a Danube River cruise!
Germany - On one end of a Danube River cruise is the beautiful medieval city of Nuremberg where you can see the Imperial Castle, their famous town wall and the Market Square with its' legendary fountain. They have a guided tour of their most significant WWII sites, including the Nuremberg Trials Memoriam.
You can savor some of their specialties including bratwurst, Rotbier (red beer) and Lebkuchen (gingerbread). Regensburg is your next destination where you’ll cruise through the man-made Main-Danube Canal.
In Regensburg, you can take a guided walking tour of one of the best-preserved medieval cities of Germany. You’ll see all the architectural highlights, including the Old Town Hall and the Porta Praetoria. You won't want to miss the old Bavarian specialties including their beer, sausage, and pretzels.
Another opportunity for touring in Regensberg is to take a bike ride to the Walhalla Memorial where you can see the neoclassical Parthenon-like white marble temple.
Then you cruise on to Passau, where you can enjoy a walking tour on cobblestone streets to see some wonderful Gothic and Italian Baroque style architecture along with St. Stephen’s Cathedral. There are also some more physical tour options such as a guided bike tour along the Danube, or a guided hike up to the Veste Oberhaus Fortress.
Austria - The next stop is the scenic town of Melk, Austria which is famous for the massive baroque Benedictine monastery. This abbey contains the remains of Austria's first ruling dynasty.
You have the opportunity to join a guided bike tour that will take you through the lovely Wachau Valley or consider a walking tour on the cobblestone streets of Dürnstein to take in the famed Baroque church tower, Stiftskirche. After those activities, you then sail past the vineyards of the Wachau Valley.
Of course, no visit to Austria is complete without time in "The City of Waltzes”, that is Vienna. You can't miss either the majestic Opera House or the former Imperial Palace of the Habsburgs and then you can tour the historic city center and visit St. Stephen’s Cathedral. A guided bike tour to Klosterneuburg Monastery is a great option for anyone seeking something more active as well.
Hungary - Budapest, the capital of Hungary, is considered the Queen of the Danube. The name of this city represents the Buda side which is hilly and the Pest side which is flat. One can enjoy a visit to the Great Market Hall and hike up to Castle Hill for breathtaking views of the city. One of the most memorable moments of Budapest is an illumination cruise past the brightly lit Parliament buildings.
Traveling further through Hungary the next stop is Puszta, known as the Great Hungarian Plain. You can tour a genuine Hungarian farm (csárda) operated by world-champion carriage-drivers. They will treat you to a fantastic performance of horsemanship and then afterwards you can enjoy a traditional lunch and appreciate their warm hospitality.
After Puszta, Mohács is next where you’ll enjoy a scenic morning cruise past a town sprinkled with magnificent churches, including the 18th-century Baroque Protestant church, the Roman Catholic church (1776), the Serbian Greek Orthodox church, the votive church (1926), and the Avas church with its bell tower. You’ll then cruise on to Pécs, a 2,000 year old city founded by the Romans. Pecs is a city with a lot of historic architecture including the Christian Necropolis, St. Peter’s Basilica, with its catacombs; and Széchenyi Square. If you're a wine connoisseur, there's also one of Hungary's oldest red-wine-growing regions established more than 2,000 years ago that is the Szekszárd wine region.
Croatia - Vukovar, Croatia is a lovely Baroque city that is situated at the banks of the Vuka and Danube Rivers. It is known for the valor of the brave Croatian civilians and volunteers during the 1991 war with Serbia. A city tour includes important war landmarks such as Ovčara Memorial and Eltz Castle or if you prefer wine tasting you can go to Ilok, a center of wine production since Roman times. There, you can sample their famous Grasevina, Traminac and Frankovka wines.
Serbia - Once back on board, Novi Sad is next, where you're able to go on a walking tour of Dunavski Park and also Stari Grad, the Old Town center. More active options include a guided biking or hiking tour. In the evening you can visit Petrovaradin Fortress.
Next is Belgrade, Serbia’s capital, with a city tour that includes the Kalemegdan Fortress and the Serbian Orthodox Temple of St. Sava. There are then three intriguing choices for excursions to consider. One includes a visit to the Royal Palace, the official residence of the Serbian Royal Family and a tour of the House of Flowers, the mausoleum of Marshal Tito, who became the first President of Yugoslavia. Another includes enjoying a taste of the region including sampling Serbian plum brandy, Šlivovitz, and delicious local delights at the Quburich Distillery. The final option of the three includes a more active adventure on a guided bike tour of the area.
Romania - The Iron Gates is next with a full day of scenic cruising passing through one of Europe’s most awe-inspiring natural wonders. There at the Iron Gates, the Danube winds through a series of breathtaking gorges between the Carpathian and Balkan Mountains.
Bulgaria – The next stop is Vidin, one of Bulgaria’s oldest cities. Baba Vida Fortress is the largest preserved medieval castle in Bulgaria. One of Bulgaria’s natural wonders, Belogradchik, is where you can hike around its spectacular rock formations. Or alternatively, you can view a demonstration of the making of traditional Bulgarian yogurt and even have a go at making Banitsa pastry in a local home. As always, there's an active option to bike through Vidin to the Fortress.
Bulgaria’s ancient capital, Veliko Tarnovo, has a medieval fortress and multiple orthodox temples. Alternatively, you can go to Rousse, known for its 19th- and 20th-century Neo-Baroque and Neo-Rococo architecture, and then following that, visit the Rock-Hewn Churches of Ivanovo with frescos revealing exceptional artistry of 14th-century paintings.
As you can see with this Danube River itinerary, you cover so many different countries and cultures with some phenomenal scenery. If you don't have enough time for both the Western and Eastern Danube, you can always consider just one branch at a time. Or alternatively, you can include the Western part of the Danube with another great option such as The Rhine River, which often gets combined with the Western Danube.
There are many great river cruise companies out there and this one relays the itinerary for one of Amawaterways as an option. Another great place to visit near the western part of the Danube is the wonderful city of Prague in the Czech Republic. Since Prague isn't located on the Danube though it must be reached by air in most cases as an extension to a river cruise.
If you're interested in this river cruise or any others, please don't hesitate to connect with me as I'd be very happy to help you find your perfect cruise and ideal itinerary