Our Danube River Cruise Itinerary
Is a Danube River Cruise for you? Learn what destinations can be visited when sailing this legendary river. In September of 2022, my husband and I sailed on a Danube River Cruise on Avalonwaterway. I think after you read this, you will want to take your own trip to experience these exciting destinations.
Let me start by saying that it was supposed to rain every day of our trip. The forecast was not favorable, and I checked multiple sources. All in all, we only had one rainy morning and two rainy afternoons (one of which we just stayed on the boat so not a big deal), so we were very lucky to experience such lovely weather on our trip. Do not ever be discouraged leading up to a trip if the forecast is not favorable, just pack accordingly and hope for the best – you might get the best!
Our trip started in Budapest. I have been wanting to go there for a while, but especially after I planned a surprise engagement for a client in 2020. I studied the city in even more detail to help plan the perfect proposal, but that trip was unfortunately canceled due to COVID. I knew exactly what I wanted to do there:
1. Visit the ruin bars
2. Visit Castle Hill
3. Visit a thermal bath
We did not accomplish any of those things – not a single one! It is important to remember to roll with the punches when traveling. We headed to the ruin bars on a Saturday night and were not expecting them to be as popular as they are – the lines were massive. We ended up going to a bar next door and meeting an American who was staying with a friend in Budapest and recommended another ruin bar farther away. We went there, but Rob had forgotten his ID, and we were asked for it. Apparently, his graying hair and my laugh lines were not enough proof of our ages. We ended up at a rooftop bar which was beautiful, but we stayed out too late. We woke up early the next day for a walking tour, but it started drizzling in the afternoon, and we could just not motivate ourselves to leave our Panorama Suite which allowed us to gaze at The Danube from the comfort of our window facing bed! Luckily, I will be back in March (work trip referenced above), so I will make sure to do ALL THE THINGS then!
Luckily, we did a scenic sail as we left and saw some of the big sites … in the rain! Here is a little video of that experience. And here is a video of the most memorable moment from our walking tour …
Our next stop was Bratislava. I think my biggest take away from Bratislava was being surprised how beautiful the old town was. When I think communism, I think of prefab blocks of apartment buildings. However, this capital city is quite lovely and has more of a town feel than a capital city. We really enjoyed our time here.
A friend of mine had recommended a post-communist tour of Bratislava in an old communist Skoda car. Our tour guide runs the business with his brother. His stories of growing up during communism and using his antenna to watch western television from Austria which was only 2 miles away and right outside of his window were fascinating. He also carried items from the tour in an old bag from the travel agency his parents worked during communism so obviously that was interesting to me! I learned that while Yugoslavia was technically behind the Iron Curtain, it had some of the more lenient policies and many people would vacation there to then escape. To think, travel agents once were a key to freedom!
Undoubtedly, Vienna was our busiest stop. The architecture in Vienna is so impressive, I could have walked around for hours more, if it wasn’t for the rain … our morning in Vienna was the soggiest time of our trip, but we made the most of it. Luckily, Avalon Waterways keeps umbrellas onboard so we made good use of them! Here is a snippet of what we saw that morning. Luckily, the rain subsided in the afternoon which made our food tour much more enjoyable, click here for a peek at that experience. We ended our evening at a classical concert that featured the work of Austria’s most notable composers such as Mozart, Schubert, and Strauss. The performers made the experience fun, which I really was not expecting. It was such an enjoyable evening, and I am so glad we opted for this experience.
Dürnstein & Melk
A small, central European medieval town, the architecture of Český Krumlov has remained intact over the decades. The town was not always a tourist destination. We enjoyed a walking tour in the morning and our guide informed us that when he arrived to the area in the 1970s, it was full of nomadic people. Needless to say, they did not really have a connection to the town and it was not well taken care of. In the 1970s, things started to change, but it was not until after the fall of communism that the town was named a UNESCO world heritage site in 1992.
From there, we wandered through the cobblestone streets while listening to the stories of our guide. We made our way to the castle and was released to explore it on our own and was given advice on where to get the most authentic dumplings in town. In case you were not aware, the areas of Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, and perhaps further afield, love dumplings. Not sweet dumplings or Asian dumplings, knedlíky are traditional Czech dumplings which use a dough similar to bread dough. They’re boiled and sliced, and served with a variety of traditional Czech dishes. I remembered liking them last time, so I enjoyed them again but Rob opted for schnitzel and delicious potato salad, as well as liquid bread aka beer! We could have opted for dining along the river in the sun which was very tempting, we opted for authentic, very authentic …
We spent the rest of the day wandering around and shopping for a perfect souvenir for the boys that we never found! With so many nooks and crannies, Český Krumlov is the perfect town to wander around. It was the perfect ending to our perfect day!