The Danube River is one of Europe’s most in-demand destinations when it comes to river cruising. Stretching from Germany to the Black Sea, it is known as Europe’s longest non-Russian river, traversing ten stunning countries including Austria, Croatia, Germany, and Slovakia. 

Once primarily an economic route, the Danube now draws tourists and cruisers from around the globe to visit and explore its storied waters and riverside capitals like Vienna, Bratislava, Belgrade and Budapest.

Tauck Cruises sails through Danube
Tauck Cruises sails through Danube River.

Linking the Black Sea and the Atlantic via an ingenious Bavarian canal system, this 2859.8-kilometre waterway can accommodate even colossal vessels. Cruisers get to marvel at the beauty and grandeur of the river. From Bavarian valleys to Balkan mountainscapes, via immersive and enriching voyages through the heart of Europe.

The continent-crossing Danube provides both lifeline and muse to communities along its banks. Cruising its course allows guests to experience immersed encounters with Old World capitals and timeless rural vistas.

Cruise lines that visit the Danube River

Various river cruise lines offer itineraries for 2024 that include exploring Danube on the list. AmaWaterways is offering a 8-night ‘Romantic Danube’, 7-night ‘Magna on the Danube’, and a 5-night ‘Majestic Capitals of the Danube’ sailings. On the other hand, Avalon Waterways has a number of Danube itinerary offerings including the 8-day ‘Danube Dreams’, 6-day ‘Danube Symphony’, and the 8-day ‘Legendary Danube’. 

Tauck has also lined up an array of itineraries to discover Danube’s majesty via 12-day ‘The Blue Danube’, 8-day ‘Heart of the Danube: Bavaria to Budapest’, and 8-day ‘Blue Danube: Family Riverboat Adventure’ voyages. 

Furthermore, boutique cruise line Uniworld River Cruises also highlights several Danube cruises such as the 8-day ‘Enchanting Danube’, the 15-day ‘Grand Central Europe’, and a 10-day ‘Delightful Danube & Prague’. Moreover, Viking River Cruises also has its list of Danube itineraries including the 8-day ‘Romantic Danube’, 15-day ‘Grand European Tour’, 8-day ‘Danube Waltz’, and the 23-day ‘European Sojourn’

What to visit

A journey down the storied Danube reveals the rich history and culture of Central Europe through iconic capitals and charming villages. In Prague, travelers can admire the Spanish Synagogue’s radiant mosaics then leave their mark on the John Lennon Wall. Budapest entices cruisers with an array of notable UNESCO World Heritage sites from the stunning museums and palaces located at Castle Hill, to the famed Chain Bridge, to the majestic Budapest Opera House. On the other hand, Kaleidoscopic murals inside Melk Abbey overlook Austria’s Wachau Valley wine region.

Once a medieval trade hub, Regensburg charms with twisting alleys dotted by lively taverns filled with folks dancing to oompah bands. The sprawling Bratislava Castle epitomizes Slovakia’s blend of Gothic, Baroque and Socialist-era architecture. Beyond the outdoor cafes of Passau’s old town lies the towering St. Stephen’s Cathedral and its massive pipe organ.

Bratislava Castle
The Bratislava Castle along Danube River.

Riverside capitals like Vienna and Belgrade reveal their long, layered histories through well-preserved sites. Buda Castle, Fisherman’s Bastion and Matthias Church allow visitors to vividly imagine Budapest’s medieval past. The contemporary Lentos Art Museum juxtaposed with the Brucknerhaus concert hall demonstrates Linz’s dual reverence for tradition and modernity.

Shore excursions to look forward to


Budapest’s main highlight for an excursion is a guide tour in the city. Here, guests get to know the unique sides of both Buda and Pest. The Royal Palace of Buda, Matthias Church, and the Chain Bridge are just some of the stunning landmarks guests can marvel at during the tour. 

Since most Danube cruises start at Budapest, major lines like AmaWaterways, Avalon Waterways, APT, Scenic, Viking River Cruise, and Uniworld offer excursions to this place. 


Dürnstein sits in a UNESCO World Heritage Site designated region and is famed for being one of the uniquely stunning places in Europe. Guests get to have the opportunity to walk along the cobblestone streets and visit wine taverns as well as century-old homes. 

AmaWaterways, APT, Avalon Waterways, Scenic and Uniworld cruise lines visit this place. 


In Melk, the top excursions are a tour of the imposing Benedictine Abbey, the town’s most famous monastic site, or a scenic bike ride along the Danube River to the charming village of Dürnstein known for its apricots, ruins, wineries and blue church.

Cruise lines like APT Travelmarvel, AmaWaterways, Avalon Waterways, and Scenic offer itineraries to this destination.

Dürnstein, Danube
AmaWaterways passess through the stunning village of Dürnstein.


In Nuremberg, the top shore excursion is a walking tour of the medieval Old Town. Here, visitors can explore Gothic churches, imperial sites, and the historic ramparts surrounding this once mighty walled city.

Cruise lines that offer itineraries to this destination are AmaWaterways, Avalon Waterways, Scenic, and Viking River Cruises


In Passau, top excursions include a guided walk through narrow old town streets and past patrician houses to St. Stephen’s Cathedral, home to Europe’s largest church organ, for an exclusive concert, or day trips to Salzburg, the Sound of Music setting, and a UNESCO-listed tour of Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic.

Major river cruise lines like AmaWaterways, Avalon Waterways, Scenic, Viking River Cruises, and Uniworld visit this place. 


In Regensburg, top medieval attractions on walking tours include St. Peter’s Gothic Cathedral, the 12th century Old Stone Bridge, and ancient Roman Porta Praetoria gate, built in 179 AD when the military camp turned city was founded to defend against Germanic tribes.

AmaWaterways, Scenic, and Viking River Cruises offer sailings to this destination. 


Most cruise lines that visit Vienna offer tour packages to the Schönbrunn Palace which is considered as one of the world’s most beautiful baroque architectural masterpieces. There’s also a tour of the famous Spanish Riding School where guests get to see Lipizzaner Stallions. Additionally, the Opera House and St. Stephen’s Cathedral can also be visited via these tours. 

AmaWaterways, APT, Avalon Waterways, Scenic and Viking River Cruises have lined-up itineraries for this destination.

Best times to cruise

The Danube is available for cruising all year round. Best time for cruising the famed river depends on the guests’ preferences. 

For cruisers who want a chilly experience while cruising the Danube, the Spring is the perfect time to sail. Although, it must be noted that in March and April, temperatures could go as low as 5-6 degrees. The month of May, on the other hand, is ideal for those who could tolerate the cold weather as temperature dips at 16-17 degrees at the lowest. Additionally, May to June weather is milder compared to the other months under Spring season. It is also during these months when different flora species begin to bloom and paint mountainscapes and landscapes with different vibrant colors. 

On the other hand, Summer is always a peak season for cruisers. This makes cruising more exciting as guests get to enjoy the sun and the planned outdoor and shore excursions. This season is also a time for festivals, and different vibrant celebrations along the Danube so expect much crowded places and higher prices. 

Meanwhile, for wine enthusiasts, Autumn is just perfect. Grapes harvest, wine tasting, vineyard visits are sure treats when cruising at this time of the year. Furthermore, for cruisers who want to experience different Christmas Markets and other holiday celebrations in the different cities along the Danube, Winter is the ideal date to cruise. This is a time when cruisers get to experience holiday in a winter wonderland. 

Vineyards along Danube River
The vineyards along the Danube River.

What to pack for the cruise

Packing for a river cruise takes consideration of the specific needs of the cruise and the destinations guests will opt to visit. Here’s a general packing list to help you prepare for your Danube river cruise:


Guests are always encouraged to bring comfortable and casual attire for daytime excursions, smart casuals, semi-formal or formal wear for evening events or dinners. Also, being mindful of the weather condition is a plus so guests would know whether to bring a light jacket or a sweater. 

In addition, shore excursions might have some swimming activities so guests must pack their swim attires. Also, packing a pair or two of comfortable shoes for tours and shore excursions is highly recommended.  

Travel Essentials

Pertinent travel documents such as passports, visa, IDs, credit cards, cruise itineraries, and travel insurance documents are important and must be part of the guest’s packed travel essentials. It will be convenient if guests have local currency with them.  


Cruising is also about capturing the best moments and memories, so guests are advised to bring their camera or smartphones. Bringing travel adapters and portable chargers is also advised. 

Medicines and Health Supplies

Bringing prescription medications with copies of prescriptions and first aid kits is always a must when cruising.  Packing personal hygiene supplies is also necessary. 

Daypack/Small Bag

It will always come in handy when guests have their daypacks or small bags that contain their essentials for the day especially during tours and excursions. 

Entertainment and other Miscellaneous

Packing your favorite books, tablet, or e-reader is advised especially during long-days cruise. A copy of a travel guide or destination maps are also recommended. In addition, guests are also encouraged to secure copies of important contacts aside from having them saved on their phones. Securing a copy of contact information of the cruise line, the vessel crew, and any of the local guides is also highly recommended. 

Guests are always encouraged to check the weather forecast for the specific time of the cruise and pack accordingly. 

Where to fly 

European river cruises usually start in Budapest where ships are docked on the PEST side of Danube. Vessels are homeported at Belgrad Rakpart Port usually between the bridges of Liberty and Chain. 

The Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport is the nearest airport which is located 16 kilometres from the Central Business District (CBD) and the cruise ports. Cruisers may take public transport systems, taxis, shuttles, mini-buses in going to the city center. 

On the other hand, it is always advised that guests include pre-cruise and post-cruise accommodations when booking for a cruise.