If you have never taken a river cruise before, one of the very best options for first-timers is the Romantic Danube itinerary with Viking River Cruises.
Perfect for first-times or seasoned river cruisers, Viking offers voyages that are destination focused and carefully crafted – a perfect mix of cosmopolitan and smaller ports designed for travelers with an interest in geography, culture and history.
With Viking River Cruises, you'll experience the panoramic views, baroque architecture, UNESCO World Heritage Sites and medieval cities all while cruising the smooth waters of the Danube. Julie Freeh, one of our most well-traveled advisors, enjoyed the unforgettable Romantic Danube itinerary and recounts her experience below:
What did you enjoy most about the cruise experience?
I really loved cruising the river! Calm waters, interesting cultures and docking right in the heart of cities made this one of the top cruise experiences I'd ever had. I’d never been on a river cruise, so all it was very . interesting, especially going through the various locks along the river. One of my favorite nights was the Taste of Germany night, complete with a German Buffet including Bavarian pretzels, mugs of beer and accordion music. So authentic and festive.
Tell us about the ports/cities you visited with this itinerary.
We had part motorcoach, part walking tour. On the motorcoach we drove past the Nazi Party Rally grounds. It was chilling to think of what took place many years ago. We visited the Kaiserburg Castle and Old Town on a walking tour - a medieval walled city with cobblestone streets. So much culture and character can be seen everywhere, with beautiful flowers hanging in the windows and a town square with old shops and delicious treats.
All of the shops in the town were closed because of All Saints Day but we went on the walking city tour. We were able to get into the St. Peter’s Cathedral where mass was going on. There were lots of beautiful stained glass windows that took my breath away. Thankfully, the Historic Sausage House was open where we had the best sausages ever, complete with sauerkraut and mustard - definitely one of the most delicious highlights of the trip.
Right where the three major rivers meet, we did a walking tour though the old city. We visited the Town Hall with its gorgeous ceilings and walls, and then St. Stephen’s Cathedral which houses the largest pipe organ in Europe with over 17,000 pipes. Truly, it was amazing to see. We salso topped at the famed Heidi and Peter’s Ladl Cuckooclocks to purchase a 'dirndl' for my friend’s granddaughter and a wooden Christmas tree. They will even ship these handmade treasures home for you!
We stayed on board this day while most everyone else went to the Gottweig Abbey. Even on ship we enjoyed the gorgeous scenery of majestic castles, green hills and tiny towns. Simply spectacular views! We met up with everyone in Krems and then participated in an Apple Strudel demonstration that evening back on the ship.
There is just so much to see in Vienna! It felt like I was watching a tennis match, turning my head back and forth to see everything on both sides of the street during our motorcoach tour. Once we got off and started walking, it was much easier to appreciate everything around you. We saw the Opera House, the Hofburg Theater, Hapsburg Palace and St. Stephen’s Cathedral. A highlight for me was our excursion at the Spanish Riding School with the world-famous Lipizzaner stallions. We even got up close to one of them as they were walking into the nearby stables.
Nothing beats sitting on the front of the river boat early in the morning to watch the arrival into Budapest. That morning view was truly a highlight of the voyage. The chain bridge, Parliament building and Gresham Palace looked so close we could touch it…simply magnificent! A passenger on my cruise proposed to his girlfriend in this amazing spot, right in front of us. It was just beautiful. They don’t call it the Romantic Danube for nothing!
Went we went ashore later that day, we saw the Szechenyi Baths, explored Heroes’ Square, (pay no attention to the peddlers or they’ll hound you forever), went into Mattias Church and walked through the market to buy paprika, one of the region's most famous exports.
What shore excursions did you go on? Which ones would you recommend?
I did all of the free excursons that Viking offered. Each one was fantastic. Other passengers raved about the Munich excursion, which I missed, but that's a reason to go back and see more.
What are your top 3 pieces of advice for someone going on a similar trip?
- Take time to go see the "shoes on the Danube", a beautiful memorial to the Jewish people who were forced to remove their shoes before being shot and dumped into the Danube in WW 2.
- The rooms are small, so I would try to do the balcony cabin if you can afford it.
- Try to do a later flight or stay an extra night in Budapest and fly home the next day - it's such an amazing city that deserves a few extra days to enjoy.
What did you like most about Viking River Cruises?
The friendliness of the staff. When the World Series game was on in the middle of the night, they allowed us to keep the party going and even let us be our own bartenders after the crew clocked out! Super fun and so awesome that they trusted the guests to do something like this - that would never happen on any other cruise line.
Contact Julie about this vacation
- (520) 232-5544
- [email protected]