The Danube River is one of the best ways to see old Europe. You experience 10 countries on one waterway, and every single one is unique.

From the iconic cities, UNESCO world heritage sites, concert halls and delicacies, the Danube River offers plenty to see and do.

Thanks to Strauss, delicious chocolate cake and being the longest river in Europe, quite a few tourists take to the Danube.

But the good news is there is so much to see, if you know where to go, you can avoid the crowds. We’ve found six unique experiences on the Danube that will make your holiday memorable.

Budapest, Hungary

The octagon central pool at Veli Bej
The octagon central pool at Veli Bej.

The bathhouses of Budapest on the Danube River are so popular that going to one might feel like visiting an amusement park. But there are undiscovered ones hidden around the city if you want a more intimate experience. Head to Király Baths, which the Turkish built away from its hot spring and within the city walls, so that in case of war, bathing could carry on uninterrupted. The small and cozy bath has centuries-old walls with endearing communist/retro atmosphere. A visit to recently renovated Veli Bej, one of the oldest baths in the city, might also entice you. The new additions harmoniously blends with the old as the glass-roofed arcades seamlessly connect the Turkish domes and ogee arches. You can also find newly fitted modern steam rooms and saunas there.

Osijek, Croatia

Kopacki Rit Nature Park
Boardwalk in the Kopacki Rit Nature Park.

In the Croatian riverside town of Osijek sits Kopacki Rit Nature Park, which is often referred to as the Amazon of Europe. The park is a 15-minute drive from the city and covers 92-square miles of the Danube floodplain. The wetlands are home to more than 2,000 animals including herds of deer and wild boar, and more than 300 species of birds.

Vienna, Austria

Taste the iconic Viennese dessert.

The capital city of Austria is known for being a major destination for classical music lovers. But it is also home to Sachertorte, a chocolate cake invented by Austrian Franz Sacher in 1832 for Prince Wenzel von Metternich. Cut into a dense chocolate cake with a thin layer of apricot jam on top, coated with dark chocolate icing and traditionally served with unsweetened whipped cream. Treat your sweet tooth with a dessert fit for royalty. Ok, there are a few cake shops around. But don’t let that stop you indulging.

Pecs, Hungary

Colourful roofs tiled with Zsolnay ceramics
Colourful roofs tiled with Zsolnay ceramics.

If you walk around Pecs, you won’t miss the colourful tiled roofs in the city. They come from world-famous Zsolnay factory that was founded in 1853. Head to the Zsolnay Museum to learn the region’s history of cutting edge porcelain manufacture and design in the 19th Century. See for yourself the secret eosin glaze that was used by Zsolnay to have porcelain appear iridescent and metallic. You can also visit the Zsolnay Cultural Quarter, a repurposed ceramic factory, to see their colourful tiles adorning the roofs and take part in the vibrant cultural life.

Passau, Austria

Where the three rivers meet in Pussau.

This city houses St. Stephen’s Cathedral, home to the largest organ in Europe. If time allows, get on the Danube Bike Trail, and treat yourself to a panoramic view of the “City of Three Rivers,” where the Danube River, the Inn and the Ilz converge. The Bike Trail will take you to Linz and on to Vienna in one direction. The return route to Passau, is where cyclists can enjoy a unique view of the Danube River.

Belgrade, Serbia

Sip a variety of fruit brandies.

Sail to the less travelled lower Danube River to taste Serbia’s traditional fruit brandy. The potent liquor, which is 40 per cent vol. alcohol on average, is called Rakija or Rakia. The plum and pear based variety is commonly found but it can also be made with apricot, apples and even bananas. Sip it at bars or restaurants, or even hunt down a bottle at the local markets. After all, if you ask a Serbian what the best kind of Rakija is, they’ll reply: homemade.

For the best Danube River cruises, click here