River Cruising Through the Heart of Europe

Europe is a big old place. And visiting is always an interesting experience, as it contains so much to see and do, but it is impossible to see everything in one go, and traveling every now and again can put a dent in your wallet, so many people opt for the sure thing: river cruises through the heart of Europe. They are a great way to travel through the old continent at a leisurely pace, while exploring the culture of every country you visit. The Danube River, for instance, offers some of the most fascinating routes, taking you from the heart of Western Europe to the oriental part of the Balkans, amongst others.

Grand Danube Imperial River Cruise

The Grand Danube Imperial river cruise, is a great way to do that. This 7 day cruise starts and finishes in the historic city of Vienna, in Austria. This is one of the most fascinating capitals in Europe, the heart of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire that defined much of what it means to be European. Famous for its apple strudels, Vienesse cocoa and coffee culture, as well as being home to some of the most spectacular architecture you’ll see, Vienna will enthrall you. The next stop is Melk. This Austrian town in the Wachau valley is famous for the grand Benedictine monastery of Melk Abbey, built in baroque style. Walk around and explore this scenic little gem at your pace, and hop on board for the next stop which is Linz, the 3rd largest city in Austria, with the Danube cutting right through it. Pretty and walkable, with a fine arts and culture pedigree, it is a mere 30km from the Czech border. Moving on to Germany and the city of 3 rivers, Passau, you’ll get to know what is commonly known as the ‘Venice of Lower Bavaria’. It is one of the oldest cities in Germany, with a 2,200 year old history and a religious background that sees a fair share of pilgrims. Going back to Austria and the riverside castle town of Durnstein, with its medieval fortress standing sentinel on one side, you’ll get to see the place where King Richard the Lionheart was imprisoned. This 900-strong town is scenic as it intriguing. Moving east to Budapest, in Hungary, our guess is you’ll fall in love with one of Europe’s architectural marvels. The whole city is carpeted by jaw-dropping buildings from hundreds years back and a fin de siècle ambiance that is hard to find anywhere else. The penultimate stop is Bratislava, in Slovakia. Situated near the Austrian and Hungarian border, and straddling both the Danube and Morova rivers, it is pretty and gothic and really atmospheric, with outstanding architecture and an easy vibe. Day 7 of the cruise finds you back in Vienna.

Grand Danube Oriental River Cruise

If you want to experience something more oriental we suggest the Grand Danube Oriental river cruise. This one is slightly longer, lasting 11 days and taking you to 7 countries in total. This river cruise starts, again, in Vienna, and here you get a couple days to spend waltzing around and exploring this magnificent city. Day 3 is spent in Bratislava, while next day you alight at Budapest and get two days to walk around. We suggest a visit to Margarita island right in the middle of the Danube, between Buda and Pest. Moving on to Vukovar, in Croatia, on day 6, gives you ample time to soak in the checkered history of this seaside town, while day 7 is spent in the Serbian city of Novi Sad. Belgrade (Serbia) is up next on the itinerary, and what a treat it is. This is the capital of Serbia and one of the most fascinating cities in Europe. Walk around and mingle. Saving the best for (almost) last, you’ll want to be out on deck when approaching the next stop on day 9. The Iron Gates that divide Serbia and Bulgaria is a visual oddity that fits right in there with Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings, with the steep, verdant gorge that is peppered with medieval fortifications on both sides, and the narrow river bend that ambles upstream something out of middle earth. The next stop is Vidin, in Bulgaria. This 40,000 strong enclave is pretty. Look out for the ruins of Baba Vida fortress and St. Panteleimon church. Finishing this river cruise in the Romanian port town of Turnu, gives you the chance to visit Sucidava fortress as well as the rest of the medieval town.

River Cruising Through the Heart of Europe

This year, get the most out of your vacations is Europe. Go river cruising.

Previous reading
North Greece with Fly and Drive
Next reading
Winter Islands in Greece: Crete & Santorini