Highlights of the Danube

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The Danube waters wind their way through more countries than any other river on Earth and have thus brought a host of thriving cities to its shores. The highlights of the Danube are among the most compelling for travelers around the world. Take a look at some of the most popular attractions in a few well-known towns along the river.

Budapest

The Hungarian capital of Budapest, chosen as one of the most attractive and idyllic cities in the world by major publications, including Forbes and Condé Nast Traveler, is a frequent stop for travelers sailing along the Danube. Originally two cities — Buda, on the western bank of the River Danube, and Pest, on the Eastern bank — they have since grown together to form the beautiful city that lures millions of people to its streets each year. Along with a range of historic monuments, Budapest’s stretch along the Danube, Andrássy Avenue and the Buda Castle Quarter were named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987, for significant cultural value and its examples of many well-preserved architectural styles. Whether you choose to walk its cobblestone streets or take the Millennium Underground Railway (the world’s second-oldest metro), you’ll be sure to have a blast exploring its many things to do in this sprawling city.

For one of the brightest highlights of the Danube, head to the Castle District’s Hungarian National Gallery. Buda Castle houses a spectacular collection of Hungarian and international art dating all the way back to the 11th century and includes prolific examples of the best Gothic and Renaissance art in the country. Learn about Budapest’s storied past from the artists’ points of view, including oil paintings of St. Stephen and the marble statues sculpted by Renaissance masters. Worried about misinterpreting the artist’s intent? Don’t worry — each artwork has a plaque detailing its information in English.

Vienna

Another capital city is among the highlights of the Danube. Vienna, Austria, is the most populous city along the river, offering plenty of opportunity for adventure. The friendly locals and alluring winding streets throughout the city entice visitors to explore.

Many famous landmarks are prominent in the region, the most well-known of which is St. Stephen’s Cathedral. Construction of the cathedral spanned 400 years with continual add-ons ordered to be built by later kings. Those with an eye for art may notice the prominent, semi-circle arches of Romanesque architecture combined with the cross-style floorplan, widely associated with the later Gothic style. The result is a beautifully-constructed house of worship, best known for its multicolored roof and chorus of bells that chime throughout Vienna. 

Fun fact — Beethoven realized he was going deaf after seeing birds fly out of bell tower, without hearing the cathedral’s bells toll.

highlights of the danube

Prague

No list of highlights of the Danube would be complete without mentioning the many cultural sights of Prague. The “City of a Thousand Spires” has stood for millennia, evident from its near-intact collections of architecture, including Romanesque, Rococo and Art Nouveau, among others. One of the most recognized landmarks of the city is the Prague Castle in the Hradčany district. Doubling as the office of the Czech Republic President, this castle has stood since the 9th century and is the world’s largest castle complex. It’s also home to the Czech Crown Jewels, but don’t expect to see them on display. They’re safely locked away in an undisclosed room within the castle. The Royal Garden, St. Wenceslas Vineyard and a variety of greenhouses are all found on the sprawling grounds, which makes this the perfect place to spend the day — or week — exploring.

Would you like to see the highlights of the Danube firsthand? The best way to travel the Danube is on an Avalon Waterways cruise. Speak with one of our cruise specialists today to learn more.