The Danube River runs through much of eastern and central Europe and is one of the most popular rivers in the world for a river cruise. It's up there with the Nile (although the experience is incomparable). The Danube River is large and navigable, it is the longest river in Europe proper (excluding the Volga of Russia). It flows from Germany's Black Forest (aka the Schwarzwald) and finally empties into the Black Sea. It has long been an important river, for hundreds of years it was the frontier of the Roman Empire. It passes through some of Europe's most stunning cities like Vienna and Budapest - and there are many great reasons to visit Budapest!


When To Go And What To Expect

Always the best time to visit Europe is in the summer as well as late spring and early autumn. The winter can be a bit dreary. In general, the only reason to visit in the winter is if you are going skiing in the Swiz Alps or to see the Northern Lights in the far north.

  • Record: The Danube River Runs Through 10 Countries - The Nile Is Next With 9
  • Length: The Danube Is 1,770 Miles or 2,850 KM Long
  • Number Of Capital Cities: 4

Those capital cities are predictably some of the most beautiful cities to see in the world. And so if you take a cruise down the Danube you can see old city after picturesque city.

The Capital cities along its banks include:

  • Vienna: Capital Of Austria
  • Budapest: Capital Of Hungry
  • Belgrade: Capital Of Serbia
  • Bratislava: Capital Of Slovakia

Other countries it passes through include Germany, Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova, and Ukraine. Other cities are linked to the Danube by their tributaries including Bucharest and Munich of Bavaria (Munich is on the Isar River tributary, And see here for your essential weekend guide to Munich). There are numerous other non-capital European cities lining its banks including Novi Sad in Serbia, Drobeta-Turnu Severin of Romania, Linz in Austria, Passau in Germany, and many more.

Related: 20 Photos Highlighting Why Budapest Is Europe's Hidden Gem

For thousands of years, the Danube has been the traditional trade route deep into Europe and a highway for travel. That is why cities in Europe are traditionally built on navigable rivers.

  • Length Navigable: 1,501 Miles or 2,415 KM

In fact, it is possible to navigate all the way through Europe from the Black Sea to the North Sea via the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal.

Take a cruise down the Danube and you will find much more than European cities. You will find a host of national parks, river wildlife, scores of castles and fortifications, and much more.

Some of the greatest tourist attractions along the Danube are the Wachau Valley in Austria, the Iron Gate in Serbia and Romania, the Danube Delta in Romania, the Naturpark Obere Donau in Germany, and more.

Planning Your Cruise

But of course one of the best ways to see the Danube and Central Europe is with a leisure cruise down the river. It is possible to find some ships going all the way from the Danube Delta as it empties into the Black Sea to Passau in Germany.

  • Peak Season: Some 70 Cruise Liners Are Meandering Up And Down The River

There are numerous tour companies to choose from. One example of a Danube River cruise is one from Budapest to Regensburg with Viking River Cruises. With this cruise, you will visit Budapest's Castle District and cross the famous Chain Bridge. Explore monasteries in Austria, spend two days in jaw-dropping Vienna, and visit various medieval towns.

  • Duration: 8 Days
  • Price: From $3,899
  • Dining: Onboard Beer, Wine, Soft Drinks With Lunch And Dinner
  • Excursion: One Complimentary Shore Excursion In Every Port Of Call
  • WiFi: Free (Naturally)
  • Visit: Visits to UNESCO Sites (There Are A Number Along The Danube)

Related: Travel From Prague To Budapest: 10 Stunning Tourist Pics That Prove "It Is All About The Journey"

Why Choose A Cruise?

Often when people tour Europe they want to see the different cities in Europe in a short period of time. Something like two days in London, two days in Paris, two days in Rome, two days in Barcelona, one day in Berlin, one in Amsterdam, etc. But this makes for a hectic schedule and half of your time is spent flying, at airports, with transfers, checking into new hotels, and arguing with Italian Uber drivers.

A river leisure cruise is the definition of leisure and relaxation. Here you get to see just as many cities without all the constant hassle. There is no comparing cruising up the river spotting old and abandoned castles along the way and listening to the birds, to sitting in a departure lounge or in a taxi sitting in traffic.

Additionally, many of the cities are built with the old centers of the cities directly on the river. Often when you berth, there is no need for a taxi at all. You are automatically in the old center.

Next: Live Like A Local: 10 Most Authentic Austrian Cafes in Vienna