The two most popular European rivers are the Rhine and the Danube. If you have enough time for a two-plus week vacation, the 15 day river cruise will take you on both rivers. If you only have 10 to 12 days, I’d recommend sailing on the the Danube River first. Start in Budapest, the “Paris of the East” and end with Prague, “the City of a Hundred Spires,”.
Arrive a few days early to explore all that Budapest has to offer. Buda is on the right bank of the Danube River and Pest is on the left bank. These two cities were united in 1873. One highlight is the Turkish Baths. Turkey left it’s mark on Budapest having ruled there for 150 years in the 16th Century and discover the 1000 natural spring water sources. The Bath’s are considered medicinal and many residents have a Doctor’s prescription to visit them.
The cities you stop along the Danube differ on the cruise itineraries. If you can, select one that has a day excursion to Salzburg, Austria. If you’re like me and you’re a Sound of Music movie buff, you’ll be singing (hopefully in your head!) the entire 2 hour motor coach ride each way. Seeing the chapel where Maria got married and where she and the Von Trapp family hid from the Germans’s in the graveyard makes you want to sing even louder.
Another highlight along the Danube River is the 18 mile bike ride from Durnstein to Melk in Austria. It’s an easy bike ride. Your river ship will meet you in Melk just in time for you to explore the grand Baroque Melk Abbey built between 1702 and 1736.
Vienna, the “City of Music” has so much to offer. After touring the Schonbrunn Palace, the Imperial summer residence with 1441 rooms or attending a performance at the Spanish Riding School with famous Lipizzan horses, you’ll have to attend an evening private concert with Strauss and Mozart compositions that evening.
Your tour will end in Prague. Prague is a 2 hour motor coach trip from the Danube. It’s a fairytale city. Having sustained no damaged during World War II, the buildings remind me of Harry Potter’s world with Gothic churches and the medieval Astronomical Clock. It’s breathtakingly beautiful.
Having traveled around the world, including a dozen river cruises, a cruise on the Danube is one of my all time favorites!