River Cruising is becoming a very popular and quickly becoming an alternative to Ocean Cruising. The ships are smaller, therefore allowing navigation into the little tiny ports through inland waterways that Ocean liners could never fit into. You cruise the river sometimes stopping at 4-5 different ports a day, right into the center of the cities or villages.
Considered the heart and soul of Central Europe, the majestic Danube River is over 1,700 miles long and travels through ten countries. From its origin in Germany’s Black Forest, to where it empties into the Black Sea, history has been made all along the shores of this scenic river, and rising from its banks are some of Europe’s most glorious cities.
Here’s what to expect from the cities you’ll encounter on a Danube River cruise.
Known as the City of Three Rivers, Passau is a charming historic trading town. Walk along cobblestone streets, explore narrow alleyway with Italianate arches and listen to the rich cords of the largest pipe organ in Europe at St. Stephen’s Cathedral. Then head to the Glass Museum to feast your eyes on over 13,000 pieces of handcrafted artwork.
Bratislava is the heart of Slovakia. The Old Town district is renowned for its Baroque architecture and splendid structures such as Bratislava Castle, Devin Castle and Holy Savior Jesuit Church. You can also enjoy the beautiful gothic green and gold of St. Martin Cathedral, the impressive Novy Most Bridge, and the 14th-century fortifications at Michael’s Gate, one of the only surviving medieval gateways.
Immerse yourself in Vienna’s culture and atmosphere with a tram ride around the Ringstrasse that loops around the center of the city. Vienna’s architecture is the focal point with exquisite structures such as the Imperial Palace, Parliament and the Vienna State Opera. Or visit Schönbrunn Palace, the Versailles of Vienna, erected in 1778 and graced by formal gardens, Grecian statuary, the world’s oldest zoo and Roman ruins.
In Belgrade, Serbia’s bustling capital city blends Roman fortresses and stately cathedrals with a lively and upbeat atmosphere. Walking around the famed Kalemegdan Fortress, you’ll encounter stalwart walls that loom over the Old Town and impressive medieval gates enclosing Orthodox churches. To truly get a feel for the people, head to the Zeleni Venc market to find homemade treats like pickled chilies, honey, rakija (a fruit brandy) and other fresh foods.
Vidin is a picturesque Bulgarian port. A favorite stop here is the Belogradchik Fortress, built right into the striking Belogradchik Rocks. See the fortress’s amazing construction, begun in Roman times and greatly extended by Bulgarian tsars and the Ottomans, and enjoy breathtaking views. You can also explore Vidin’s city center, Orthodox churches and the ruins of the city’s once-grand synagogue.
Keep in mind that River cruising is not just for “seasoned” travelers. Adventures by Disney has partnered with AMA Waterways to allow for child friendly river cruising, and “U” by Uniworld is geared towards the Millennial traveler ages 21-45.
So weather you’re into Culture, a Foodie, a Historian, Grand-parent, Parent, Child, or Single/Solo traveler River cruising just may be the right cruise for you.