Fancy going on a holiday cruise? Of course you do. Often the best way to see the world is from the water. Cruises in the Far East are a great way to explore the various cultures, races and languages in Asia, and cruising is always a popular way to experience Oceania and Europe.
In this guest post, we’ll take a look at a cruise trip on the famous Danube River in Europe…
Europe’s second longest river spans a whopping 10 countries on its travels from Bavarian Germany to the Black Sea. The subject of popular imagination, countless postcards and one very famous Austrian waltz, this is also the river that has seen the rise and fall of empires, from the Romans to the Hapsburgs.
With around 2,000 years of history to get through, you might think a river cruise along the Danube would leave you an exhausted mess, but if you’re looking to tour the heart of old Europe without having to swap hotels every few days, this is a pretty sound option. Many operators, including the likes of Viking River Cruises, offer tours of this beautiful region.
Tours can start at almost any point along the 1,780 mile waterway and usually last for anything from a week to 15 days. Whether it’s big-name cities, charm-filled towns or wine regions that take your fancy, there’s probably an itinerary for you.
The meat of the journey from north to south lies around the borders of Austria, Hungary and Slovakia. This is where you’ll find the glorious cathedrals, crag-mounted castles and more pastries and coffee than you can manage. Set off a little further upstream, however, and Germany’s Black Forest won’t disappoint, with the southern town of Passau a popular starting-point, complete with a dramatic fortress of its own.
The countryside of Austria is also a treat for wine fans, taking dramatic visuals from the Wachau Valley as your back-drop to a good few days around medieval outposts such as Melk and Krems. Most tours will follow up with a stop at Vienna, and with the multitude of Baroque confections here – both architectural and edible – it’s a stop worth making.
A short sail over the border, the Slovakian capital Bratislava has its own brand of Bohemian chic, with quirky shops and a lively café scene to complement all those pastel façades and turrets. But it’s the so-named “Queen of the Danube” that remains the highlight for most cruisers. Budapest is built across the water in two halves, and with the panoramic views of the Chain Bridge, Parliament and winding river bend from Castle Hill, it’s not hard to see why.
Journeys can easily be extended to take in the sights of Eastern Europe, where the Lower Danube takes you through ancient Croatia and Serbia.
Drifting through the soaring limestone cliffs at the Iron Gate is some of the best scenic cruising you could ask for. The river then carves a path along the border between Romania and Bulgaria, giving you access to less-visited places like Vidin, Veliko Tarnovo and Bucharest.
Whichever stretch of the Danube takes your fancy, there are definitely perks to cruising Europe in your own mobile hotel. Companies such as Viking River cruises use vessels a fraction of the size of your average ocean liner, so you’ll only be sharing the voyage with a couple of hundred fellow travellers, rather than a thousand. With meals on-board and plenty of downtime for doing some exploring of your own, touring the continent by boat is a much more chilled experience all-round.