Vienna by Boat
The Danube River, Europe’s longest, originates in Germany, flows through 10 countries, and empties into the Black Sea. One of the best ways to experience this natural beauty is by taking a boat cruise along its path.
With an assortment of cruises offering unique waterway experiences, there is no limit to the ways in which you can enjoy this breathtaking river. There are year round cruises as well as seasonal outings, and on some ships, an opportunity to be the captain! Whether catching a moonlight trip, a picnic outing, or a city cruise, Danube boat cruises have much to offer.
Vienna Danube Boat Cruise >>
Danube Boat Cruise for 1-2-3 hours in Vienna
Sailing the Danube on any number of sightseeing boat rides is a wonderful way to experience Vienna. A one hour, breathtaking tour on the canal banks offers views of Vienna’s beautiful architecture and its many districts.
A two hour hour cruise allows you to see Vienna’s greenery starting at the Schwedenplatz, sailing towards Vienna’s planetarium and observatories, through the Freudenau Lock and Marina yacht harbor, ending at the Reichsbrucke bridge, next to St. Francis of Assisi's church.
A three hour cruise allows you to enjoy more of Vienna, as well as the musical delights that help to define the city.
Danube Boat Cruise with Dinner
No boat ride would be complete without featuring some of Vienna’s finest culinary artistry. Consider this: A buffet dinner complimented by the best Viennese wines, musical accompaniment played softly in the background, and the warmth of summer’s air on your skin, as you savor the sparkling brilliance of a city in lights.
With a tour of Vienna’s sites, this enchanting boat ride offers class and culture, as well as fine dining and sophistication. An evening cruise along the Danube gives you a nautical glimpse into the city’s past, a look into its modern accomplishments, and a glance into future possibilities.
Cruise outside Vienna - Visit the Wachau Valley
There is opportunity to enjoy the water during the day, if you prefer that to an evening cruise. Coursing along the river during daylight towards the scenic Wachau Valley for example, invites tourists to see the flourishing greenery surrounding Vienna’s vineyards, churches, and baroque structures.
Vienna to Wachau Full-Day Danube Boat Cruise >>
While the landscape calls to you in Wachau Valley, castles and gilded architecture beckon you in Linz. The Lentos Museum along the river is but one of the attractions that puts Linz on the map and makes visiting such a treasure. In addition, the Brucknerhaus concert hall on the riverbank makes the Danube a premier waterway.
Articles of interest
Vienna Danube River Cruises
10 best danube river cruises visiting vienna for 2024-2025, magna on the danube - budapest to vilshofen, the legendary danube, gems of the danube, danube waltz, classic prague & danube delights, the beautiful blue danube, christmas on the danube, the romantic danube - cruise only, christmastime on the danube (westbound), a taste of the danube with 2 nights in budapest & 2 nights in vienna (westbound), 10 best luxury danube river cruises to vienna for 2024-2025, 10 top-rated danube river cruise ships to vienna for 2024-2025, vienna cruising tips & travel guide, top things to see and do in vienna.
- Schönbrunn Palace – an expansive palace that served as the summer home for the royal family; although it was the summer residence, its relevance as a Baroque landmark in Austria's architectural and cultural history sets it above most other buildings in Vienna.
- Hofburg Palaces – built in the 13th century, it has been the imperial seat for more than 800 years
- Grinzing – this neighborhood is most famous for its taverns, where you will experience a true flavor of the region as you sample its delicious locally grown and crafted wines and beers.
Top things to see & do in Budapest
Top things to see and do in austria, european rivers, when to visit europe: seasons & temperatures, cruising europe christmas markets, european cruise: when to go, best time to visit austria, best vienna danube river cruise lines for 2024-2025.
- AMA Waterways - an all-inclusive river cruise provider that offers gorgeous itineraries to European destinations like the legendary Danube River, passing via Vienna, Austria. Sail in maximum luxury aboard the MS Amamagna , double the width of classic European river ships, with more than 50% ultra-spacious suite accommodations with full balconies.
- CroisiEurope - Europe's market leader in river cruising, explores the mythical capitals of Vienna, Bratislava, and Budapest in a single voyage, the great classic for discovering the splendors of the Blue Danube aboard the river ships MS France , MS Beethoven , and MS Amacerto .
- Emerald Waterways - explore the delights of the Danube with carefully crafted EmeraldPLUS and EmeraldACTIVE excursions, world-class dining experiences, and staffs' in-depth knowledge. Journey onboard the Emerald Sky and Emerald Sun , two of its six Star-Ships cruise the Danube rivers.
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Vienna Boat Tour: Cruise the Danube River with these Day Tours
Let’s help you choose the right Vienna boat tour for your trip!
The Danube River runs through Vienna, but because it doesn’t cross right through the Innere Stadt or District 1, which is the old town, it can be easy to miss.
Between the palace, cathedral, museums, art galleries and famous cafes, you could very easily come to the end of your trip in Vienna and realize, you haven’t yet walked along the Danube Canal, let alone the Danube River!
So if you want to cruise the Danube, you’re going to have to be proactive and book a tour. But which one should you pick and where should you cruise?
When it comes to picking a Vienna boat trip, there are no shortage of options. You can take a day trip to Bratislava and then travel back by boat, spend the day exploring the Wachau Valley vineyards on a cruise, enjoy a boat tour with dinner and live music, try out a private e-boat and so much more.
So we’re going to help you figure out which of these Vienna boat tours is right for you! Let’s narrow it down.
My Top 3 Picks: Vienna Boat Tour
Vienna to Bratislava Tour by Bus and Boat
✅ Day trip to Bratislava
✅ Full-day tour
✅ Plenty of time for exploration
Wachau Valley Day Tour with Wine Tasting
✅ Scenic boat ride
✅ Great summer tour
✅ Visit wineries
Heurigen Cruise with Viennese Songs and Buffet
✅ Viennese songs
✅ Buffet dinner
✅ Sunset views
Best Vienna Boat Tour
1. vienna to bratislava tour by bus and boat.
⭐️ RATING: 4.2/5 Stars | ⏳ TOUR LENGTH: 11.5 hours | ✅ Book it!
This Vienna boat tour is an exciting one because it takes you all the way to Bratislava, Slovakia! That means you can add another European country to your list!
On the way to Bratislava, you travel by bus. This is a 1-hour journey aboard a coach bus.
Once you arrive in Bratislava, you will meet a local guide who will take you on a guided walking tour of the old town. The tour will last about 2 hours and afterwards, you’ll have additional time to explore Bratislava on your own and perhaps retrace your steps to some of the attractions that most interest you.
A few attractions not to be missed in Bratislava’s old town include:
St. Martin’s Cathedral, a Gothic cathedral that’s been the site of many coronations; Michael’s Gate, the only gate that has been preserved in the city; the Bratislava Fortifications, the last remaining stretch of the medieval city walls; and Roland Fountain, a fountain topped by Knight Roland who was the legendary defender of the city.
I would suggest making time to visit Bratislava Castle. Built in the 9th century and modified many times over, this 4-towered castle sits perched on a hill overlooking the Danube River.
It’s a beautiful walk to the top offering nice views over the Old Town, plus you also have the Slovak National Museum and the Baroque Gardens on the north side.
You’ll also have plenty of time to try Slovak food during the day. I really enjoyed a restaurant called Modrá Hviezda which is set in a cave at the foot of the castle hill. It’s a pretty unique dining experience so ask to be seated in the back if there’s room.
We ordered pork chop covered in crushed walnuts with a honey-mustard sauce and a side of roasted potatoes, and duck cooked in a wine sauce with forest mushroom and potato pancakes.
After enjoying your day trip to Bratislava , you’ll make your way down to the pier to board the boat to Vienna. You’ll travel aboard the Twin City Liner, which is a catamaran. The journey time back to Vienna is 1.5 hours.
Bring your passport on this boat trip as you are entering another country and you may be required to present it.
- You get to visit another country
- Full-day activity
- Plenty of time for solo exploration
Check Prices and Availability!
2. Wachau Valley Day Tour with Wine Tasting
⭐️ RATING: 4.8/5 Stars | ⏳ TOUR LENGTH: 9 hours | ✅ Book it!
This day trip to the Wachau Valley isn’t a full-day boat tour, however, it does include a boat tour segment in the itinerary when you do this trip during the summer months!
You’ll start the day leaving Vienna and travelling by van down narrow countryside roads deep into the heart of the Wachau Valley.
Along the way, your driver and guide will teach you all about the history of wine-making in the region which dates back to the time of the Romans!
During the tour, you’ll get to taste a variety of dry and fruity white wines from the Wachau Valley and sample other local delicacies like apricot jams and liqueurs.
If you take this tour during the summer months (technically mid-May to mid-October), you’ll be able to enjoy a boat ride on the Danube River from Spitz to Melk. Since this isn’t possible during the winter months, this activity gets replaced with a guided tour of Melk Abbey.
Once you arrive in the medieval town of Dürnstein, you’ll get free time to explore. The castle ruins are an important attraction in the area since this is where Richard the Lionhearted was once held prisoner.
Finally, you’ll get to visit a heuriger , which is a traditional family-run Austrian wine tavern. Here you’ll enjoy a wine tasting!
You can browse more wine tours in Vienna here.
- Great way to explore an Austrian wine region
- Visits beautiful medieval towns
- Scenic boat ride during the summer months
3. Heurigen Cruise with Viennese Songs and Buffet
⭐️ RATING: 4.1/5 Stars | ⏳ TOUR LENGTH: 3 hours | ✅ Book it!
This Vienna boat tour down the Danube River is an opportunity to enjoy live music with an Austrian dinner.
During the cruise, you circle Vienna’s 2nd district which offers scenic views of the illuminated skyline. You get to see landmarks like the Danube Tower, the Danube Plate, and the DC Tower.
Plus, you can also see historic buildings such as the Anniversary Church, the Ringturm and the Rossauer Barracks.
The performance is all Viennese Heuriger music. If you’re wondering what that is, you’re not alone! Heuriger refers to a wine tavern, so these are traditional songs played mainly on guitars and accordions which add to the merriment of the place.
Dinner is served buffet style featuring classic Viennese dishes.
- Get to listen to traditional wine tavern music
- Scenic views of Vienna
- Buffet dinner featuring Austrian cuisine
4. Floating Dinner Vienna: Private Dining Experience on Danube
⭐️ RATING: NEW! | ⏳ TOUR LENGTH: 1 hour | ✅ Book it!
If you’re looking for the most unusual Vienna boat ride, this one here might be it!
This is a very unique setup where you get your own e-boat Island. Picture something like a round floating deck complete with comfortable patio furniture and a palm tree.
Dinner is served before the cruise and includes a main course meal, either Viennese Schnitzel or a vegetarian option, and one bottle of red or white wine.
You then begin your e-boat sail down the Danube River, but it’s not as tricky as it sounds. The e-boats are extremely easy to drive using a joystick control.
If you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind boat cruise in Vienna, this one fits the bill.
- Unique boat experience
- Get your own private e-boat island
- Viennese Schnitzel and wine for dinner
5. Vienna: Sunset Barbecue Cruise with Fireworks Display
⭐️ RATING: 4.3/5 Stars | ⏳ TOUR LENGTH: 3.5 hours | ✅ Book it!
This Vienna boat cruise takes place aboard the MS Kaiserin Elisabeth.
During the tour, you’ll get to enjoy the Danube River from a unique perspective as well as iconic landmarks like the Donauplatte, the Danube Tower, and the Millennium Tower.
This cruise also features live Heuriger music which creates a very lively environment with the musicians encouraging participation from the public.
Dinner is BBQ served buffet style and the grand finale is a beautiful fireworks display to end off the evening.
- BBQ dinner buffet
- Live Austrian wine tavern music
- Fireworks display while cruising the Danube River
Choosing a Vienna boat tour
So what’s the best Vienna boat tour, you ask?
As you’ve seen, there are all sorts of different options: you can enjoy a river cruise on the Danube River with dinner and live music, a scenic cruise through the Wachau Valley wine region, a private tour on your own e-boat island, or a boat tour coming back from Bratislava to Vienna.
You have lots of choices and hopefully, this blog post has helped you narrow it down to the right one for you!
Read More about Austria:
- 10 Delectable Vienna Food Tours
- 10 Vienna Restaurants to Visit
- 5 Best Vienna Bike Tours
- Where to Eat in Salzburg
- Must-Try Tyrolean Dishes
- Sachertorte: Vienna’s Famous Dessert
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Vienna River Cruise Guide: A Warning, And 5 Best Boat Trips
February 2024 Vienna River Cruise : Much like choosing a restaurant, cruising the Vienna Danube opens up a confusing choice. Do you prefer lush scenery over contemporary architecture? Enjoy the thrill of high speed transport or rather an elegant cruise ship, or chilling in a tiny ‘Zille’? One thing is for sure: You need to be selective to enjoy a boat ride on Donau.
Why Not All Vienna River Cruises Tick The Box
Contrary to Johann Strauss’s Danube waltz and most boat tour operators, the Danube river in Vienna isn’t always as scenic as you may expect, let alone of blue color. Unlike in Budapest, the Danube does not cross the city center. Instead, it separates the 2nd district Leopoldstadt from the 21st district of Floridsdorf. This means that a city cruise on the Danube usually introduces guests to the industrial charms of Handelskai in Leopoldstadt, and the contemporary high-rise buildings of Donau City on the Floridsdorf side. Hence, most city cruises include the more central Danube Canal, which highlights more landmarks. If you consider a Vienna river cruise, just adapt your expectations and go for a short evening cruise with soft light.
If you ask me, the best location for a truly scenic Danube river tour is UNESCO World Heritage site Wachau Valley. A top alternative is to travel to Bratislava, where you can choose between a majestic Danube cruise along the whole Vienna stretch to Bratislava, and an exciting high speed catamaran whizz. Here is my boiled down guide to the best boat trips on the Donau.
1. Wachau boat trip
2. Electric Sofa Boat On The Old Danube
3. City Evening Cruise
4. Kayaking On The Old Danube
One of the best ways to experience the OId Danube along with tiny Gänsehäufel island, a lake shore café and the weekend log cabins of local residents is kayaking. During this private tour your certified open-water lifeguard will take you to the best spots. Between May and September the water is perfect for a swim, so do take your swimsuits with you. Find out more.
5. Quick Vienna To Bratislava Boat Ride
Definitely, we found we had more than enough time in Bratislava to do sightseeing. Read my story about our catamaran ride and mini danube cruise .
Vienna to Budapest
Note: The Vienna river cruise hydrofoil service has been suspended. There is a six hour Danube cruise that takes you from Vienna to Budapest and back on a high speed hydrofoil. This is the fastest of all boat trips between the two cities. It is a good option for people who want a day cruise on the Danube and visit Budapest. Added benefit: You are free to explore both cities at your own speed and taste. Go here for a review and more information on the hydrofoil Vienna – Budapest .
About The Danube River
In Vienna, the Danube was regulated in the 1870ies to prevent Austria’s capital from being flooded. The original Danube bed was transformed into the Old Danube (Alte Donau), now a lake. South of it, the new Danube river bed was created. The long and narrow Danube Island (Donauinsel) separates the Danube from the New Danube (Neue Donau). Explore the best places on the Wiener Donau in my Vienna Danube insider guide.
Map Of Vienna Danube From Wachau To Budapest
The river danube map below highlights the area between the Wachau Valley and Budapest . Click on the placemarks below for more information about the marked cities and areas.
go to Wachau Valley Tour Review – Wine And Danube visit Wachau Tour – Wine Tasting And Danube Biking find out about a Burgenland Wine Tour – Wine Tasting Near Vienna check Vienna Wineries – Heuriger Guide and Map by Two Natives go to Seegrotte Tour Review – Europe’s Largest Underground Lake for easy sightseeing go t Vienna Sights by Car – What To See On A Private Sightseeing Tour explore Vienna Travel Planning – Trip Planning and Travel Consulting by Vienna Unwrapped
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A Magic Night At A Vienna Summer Opera: Klosterneuburg
Vienna Summer Opera. When Viennese opera houses close for the season an open air opera …
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Danube Cruises from Vienna
A cruise adventure starting in Vienna is a great way to see Danube. We have 44 tours that range from 3 days up to 24 days. The most popular time for tours from Vienna is September, which has the most cruise departures.
44 Danube cruises from Vienna with 131 reviews
8 days - Imperial Danube (Vienna - Budapest - Vienna, MS Crucestar 4*)
I wanted to write this review because there wasn’t a lot of information / reviews available when I booked this cruise. I’m hoping to give future cruisers some insight. We booked this cruise based on itinerary and a fantastic price during a sale. Shore excursions: We pre-booked excursions at the time of booking, but unfortunately the excursions couldn’t go ahead. They needed a minimum of 15 English speakers to be able to run the tours. With only 17 English speakers onboard, everyone needed to have signed up, which was never going to happen. The operator refunded our pre-payment (after sending them a prompt). Most of the passengers were Spanish or Mexican and had the numbers to go on tours. Starting location in Vienna: We weren’t told until a couple of days before the start of the cruise where the starting point would be. The Crucemundo Crucestar was docked at location quite a distance from the city centre, but very easy to get to. It was roughly a 45 minute tram ride and then a 10-15 minute walk along the Danube. Checking in: The check-in process was super easy. As we approached the ship, a crew member took our bags to the lobby. We gave our names and passports to the front desk. We were given key cards. The health questionnaire we were told to complete pre-boarding wasn’t collected. Next step, we pointed out our bags to another crew member who then grabbed them and escorted us to our cabin. Cabin: we liked our cabin on the middle deck. It was very compact, but perfectly functional. The windows weren’t the floor-to-ceiling ones you get on the more expensive cruiselines, but were still quite large, were openable and gave us a great view. There wasn’t much storage space available, so we ended up not unpacking and leaving our open suitcases under the bed, pulling them out like drawers when needed. The bathroom is tiny; the shower is triangular-shaped, but the shower curtain never stuck to us when showering and the water pressure / temperature was good. Also, the bathroom never flooded. Noise from adjacent cabins was never an issue. Our room attendant was lovely. Welcome reception: drinks and nibbles were available on the first evening. We were introduced to the crew. This is when we found out that the entire crew is Ukrainian and mostly women. There were 60 Spanish-speaking passengers and they were provided with someone to translate everything said in English. Doing the math, our ship was only half full, which meant the ship never felt crowded. Meals: all meals were held in the dining room at set times. We were assigned a table and were told to stick to the same table for every meal (luckily we had great table-mates). The reason for this is because at dinner each evening, you are given the menu for the next day’s lunch and dinner and you’re asked to make your choices then, so the kitchen staff knows how many of each dish to make and whether or not any dietary requirements need to be catered for. They did a decent job with accommodating dietary requirements. Sometimes it meant eating fruit salad as the gluten-free option, while everyone else was eating cake, but there was always something. Gluten-free bread was available; I never had to ask for it after the first night; it would always just appear. The food was always good, but not local to the places we were visiting. We asked why that was and were told that they received too many complaints. Evening entertainment: there was a resident DJ on board and one night there was a staff performance night. One of the ladies was a truly awesome singer/entertainer. Cruise director: the value of a great cruise director is evident when things go wrong. Unfortunately, we had things go wrong on this cruise. River cruise ships often tie up to each other when docked. Such was the case in Vienna. There was a ship tied to ours; when that ship was leaving, their mooring line got tangled up in our thrusters, meaning neither ship was going anywhere. This was Day 2 of our cruise. We ended up spending an extra day in Vienna while they tried to disentangle the ships. Not a problem, since there’s lots to see in Vienna. On Day 4, there were still issues, so we were bussed to see Melk and Durnstein. Unfortunately, this meant missing cruising through the Wachau Valley (my main reason to book this cruise) and seeing Linz, but a free tour of Melk Abbey for us English speakers! They even provided us with a substantial brown bag lunch for the day. On the evening of Day 4, we found out that our ship was fixed and we were back on schedule. As an added bonus for our inconvenience, our ship did a night cruise in Budapest to see the lights. It was a fantastic night accompanied by free shots of a local liquor. Thank you to our cruise director Yaro for making sure we had a great cruise. Excursions: when our shore excursions were cancelled, I booked us on “free” walking tours (tip-based tours) in Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest. We especially liked the one in Bratislava by Discover Bratislava (no bookings required – just show up at the start time). Except for Vienna, all other moorings were close to the city centres. Closing thoughts: The staff were wonderful. Although they must’ve been worried about what was happening at home, they were always professional. If you’re a non-Spanish speaker, be prepared to do your own thing – not a problem for us. Yes, I would definitely cruise with Crucemundo again (if they have another too-good-to-resist sale).
The beautiful blue Danube (port-to-port cruise)
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A Taste of the Danube with 2 Nights in Vienna (Eastbound) 2024
Having been on several cruises in prior years NOTHING came even close to Avalon River cruise! Can't wait go on our next.
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Reviews of danube cruises from vienna.
This tour was wonderful. Hit all the highlights. Definitely recommend.
The tour was very good, the crew were excellent, very helpful, approachable and informative and always available. The tours were great and the Danube is wonderful to cruise on. The food was of excellent quality but the fact that there was no choice on the menu was poor and we feel there should have been an earlier sitting for dinner, and lunch could have been a buffet. The accommodation was adequate but the shower was totally inadequate. We enjoyed the cruise
There have been 2 different packages for excursions. We took both and it was a success. You can also see the cities on your own, but I prefer to be taken, shown and explained everything. Most of the guides were very good, with lots of interesting information. I would like to have more quality wine in the bar.
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- Danube River Cities: Everything You Need to Know
- Deutsch: Donau Kreuzfahrten ab Wien
- Français: Croisières Danube au départ de Vienne
- Español: Danubio Crucero desde Viena
- Nederlands: Donau Rondreizen die beginnen in Wenen
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Danube river cruises.
Coursing through Germany, Austria, Hungary and seven other countries all the way to the Black Sea, the Danube is the soul of Central Europe. Join us along these culture-rich banks, whose scenic vineyards, ancient monasteries and elegant cities have inspired travelers for centuries.
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Highlights of danube river cruises.
A Danube River cruise unveils Europe’s rich and dramatic history. Glittering cultural capitals, lush vineyards, magnificent monasteries and endless scenic splendor line the river’s banks. Here are some sample highlights you will see with Viking:
- Enchanting Passau, set where three rivers meet
- Lush vineyards of the Wachau Valley
- The baroque splendor of Melk Abbey
- Vienna’s elegant architecture
- The splendid Benedictine Abbey of Göttweig
- Scenic beauty of the picturesque Danube Bend
- Budapest’s stunning Chain Bridge and Parliament Building
- Soaring cliffs of the scenic Iron Gate
- Romania’s rural culture and rich folklore
- Belgrade’s impressive Kalemegdan Fortress
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Discover the Danube metropolis on board of the MS Wien
Relax on board and look at the passing shore landscape and sights such as the Danube Tower, Millennium Tower, Ringturm, Spittelau district heating plant, Urania observatory and much more!
Food freshly prepared on board
Enjoy vienna from a different perspective, experience the seasons on the ship.
Schedule Grand Danube River Cruise 30.03. – 03.11.2024, daily
Grande Danube River Cruise on the danube canal and on the danube river
You can enjoy the danube river and the danube canal on board of the MS Wien
Experience Vienna from the water
Enjoy a cruise on board while our captains take care of your safety on board
Restaurant on board
Let yourself in our Viennese on-board restaurants – under the direction of Roman Loos – indulge in culinary delights. We offer you a varied range of food and drinks at moderate prices. The dishes are freshly prepared on board and the schnitzel is knocked, breaded and deep-fried directly at our restaurant.
At any time of the year you have the opportunity to let the shores pass by in a relaxed way
€ 29.50 / per person Grand Danube Cruise (Route A or B )
€ 42.00 / per person grand danube cruise (route a + b or b + a ).
Half Route, Duration Route A: 2 hours, Route B: 1,5 hours Round Trip, Duration: 3,5 hours
RESTAURANT ON BOARD
Onboard catering Loos Restaurant on board
Air conditioner on board
Announcements explanations of the main attractions
Children: 0-9 years: free | 10-15 years: -50% discount Seniors: 20% discount | Monday to Friday Groups: 10% discount from 20 persons tour guide free of charge, every 21st person free of charge People with disabilities: 20% discount (only with ID) also for 1 accompanying person
The tour starts at the ship station Vienna / City at Schwedenplatz and leads past the observatory Urania, through the “green Vienna” with the forests of the Prater. After the Freudenau lock , the ship drives along the Danube Island, passes a granary that has been converted into a hotel and the Ernst Happel Stadium to Reichsbrücke station
Starting at Reichsbrücke station we will show you “modern Vienna” with the Skyline of the Donauplatte, the Danube Tower and the Millennium Tower . We reach the Nussdorf lock system via Danube Canal , where you can experience “historical Vienna” and interesting architecture: The tour ends in the city center of Vienna at Schwedenplatz station .
Ready to go?
Secure your tickets now!
Combine your boat trip with an additional offer at sensational prices!
from € 41,00 per person
SHIP + SCHNITZEL
Pork schnitzel with parsley potatoes freshly prepared on board.
from € 37,00 per person
SHIP + APPLE STRUDEL
Apple strudel with whipped cream + hot drink of your choice in addition to the boat trip.
from € 44,00 per person
SHIP + LUNCH
Combine your city walk with a short break.
Shipstation vienna / city schwedenplatz.
Shipstation Vienna / City 1010 Vienna Franz-Josefs Kai 2 U1, U4 | Metro station “Schwedenplatz” underground car park
Schifffahrtszentrum Vienna / Reichsbrücke
Schifffahrtszentrum 1020 Vienna Handelskai 265 U1 | Underground station “Vorgartenstraße” Paid APCOA parking lot
Experience Vienna by boat!
A boat trip is always exciting and varied. Whether during a lock process or while driving. Our captains ensure that your tour runs smoothly.
Here you will find the answers to important questions about our cruises in Vienna.
Where can I buy tickets?
Tickets are available at our landing piers in Vienna and in the Wachau. You can also conveniently purchase your tickets via the online shop and print them out at home as Print @ Hom e tickets.
personally | at all ticket counters in Vienna or Wachau in the online shop | https://shop.ddsg-blue-danube.at by email | [email protected] by phone | +43 1 588 80
Can I take my bike on board?
It is not possible to transport bicycles on our ships in Vienna
Is there food on board?
All of our ships see themselves as floating restaurants. In Vienna, the Roman Loos company can pamper you with Viennese delicacies. Please choose from our extensive food and drink menu.
Are your ships air-conditioned?
The temperatures on our ships are always pleasant. Our ships are equipped with air conditioning.
children 0–9 years free of charge 10–15 years 50% discount
Seniors 60plus: 20% reduction Mon-Fri (from 60 years or with a pensioner ID)
groups 10% discount from 20 people Tour guides free, every 21st person free
Are the ships wheelchair accessible?
Wheelchairs must be registered for all journeys. You can find information on wheelchair-accessible ships and moorings under the following link and in the folder “People with special needs”.
In the case of boat trips with included bus transfers, transport for wheelchair users is unfortunately not possible.
Smoking on board?
The restaurant area is a smoke-free zone for all boat trips. Smoking is possible on the sun deck.
Table reservations for group bookings and menu orders possible. Otherwise free choice of seats.
Can i take dogs on board.
Dogs travel with us for free. However, a muzzle and leash are essential! Unfortunately, dogs cannot be transported on boat trips with included bus transfers.
Discover the “ Queen among Europe’s rivers ” with the DDSG Blue Danube. The Danube is the most sung about river, it crosses a world cultural heritage, glides majestically between vineyards, breaks through rock massifs, offers imaginative views and a lot of variety. For the curious and first-time visitors as well as for “repeat offenders” and connoisseurs.
Dinner Cruise oder City Cruise
Entspannte Atmosphäre auf Donauwellen
Schiff + Schnitzel
Gemütliche Auszeit am Wasser.
Beste Entspannung und schönste Aussicht
bei der DDSGBl
Steht Ihnen zur Verfügung. Schiff ahoi!
Cruising the World One Port at a Time
A Day in Vienna on a Danube river cruise
By: Sherry Laskin · Updated On: September 8, 2022
Visit Vienna for one day or overnight before or after your cruise.
Planning a Danube river cruise ? If it begins or ends in Vienna, definitely add a couple of overnights to experience this expansive, bustling city. If you only have one full day, here are my suggestions to experience as much of Vienna (or “Wien” in Austrian) as possible. This city is truly a magnificent jewel in the crown of European capital cities.
If overnight, stay at a hotel within walking distance to almost everything . Any hotel near the Vienna State Opera (Vienna Opera House) is perfect. The Grand Hotel Wein is a landmark luxury hotel and a stone’s throw from the Opera House.
Another favorite of mine, a little more eclectic and right in the heart of the Graben pedestrian zone, is Pension Nossek. Situated between St. Stephen’s Cathedral and the Hofburg Palace in an old-fashioned elevator building (the kind with the manual-closing elevator door), its location is superb. Not luxurious, but clean, friendly and comfortable. And besides, Mozart slept here. Well, at least that’s what is says on the bronze plaque inside the foyer.
Graben pedestrian zone. Shop til you drop. Walk til you can’t walk anymore. Within only a few blocks of this vehicle-free zone, you’ll find many of Vienna’s notable or historic landmarks. Stroll up and down the smaller side streets for some wonderful little cafes and boutiques.
Begin your tour of Vienna at the Palace. Head over to Schonbrunn Palace. By taxi or public transportation, it’s easy to find but far to walk if you are staying near St. Stephen’s Cathedral. You can get to Schonbrunn Palace on the follow public transport:
Underground: U4, Schönbrunn station Trams: 10 and 58, Schönbrunn station Bus: 10A, Schönbrunn station
Schonbrunn Palace Dating from the middle ages as a monastery and a hunting estate, it is the imperial Habsburg family that really gave it the royal once-over. With the addition of palatial buildings and furnishings in the 1600’s, converted into a summer palace by Empress Sisi, Schonbrunn Palace stayed in the family until Emperor Franz Joseph died in 1916. Two years later the palace and other royal buildings were expropriated by the Austrian government.
The grounds are beautifully kept, including the immense and uber-fragrant Rose Garden. Pay the paltry sum of a few euro and take a guided tour. Purchase your tickets online and avoid the long queues inside.
Once you’ve toured this spectacular palace, retrace your steps back to the center of the action inside the city.
Spanish Riding School We’ve all heard of the world famous “dancing” Lipizzaner horses…well this is where they reside. For twelve euro admission, on Tuesdays through Saturdays, you can watch these muscle-bound horses and their trainers practicing their routines in daily workouts.
The programs begin at 10am; the same time that the tour buses are unloading and packing into the arena. By 11:30 most of the tour groups have suddenly vanished, seating closer to the ground level is available and the horses have already warmed up and moving in spectacular form. If you’re in the city for a couple of days,I’d suggest that you purchase your ticket the day before you intend to go and arrive just before 11am. An hour of watching the musical workout is enough time to soak in the ambiance and appreciate this traditional performance.
St. Stephen’s Cathedral You don’t have to be religious to be in awe of this red marble sepulchral which took nearly fifty years to build. Starting in 1359, the cornerstone was set in place by the ruling Habsburg (who else?) Duke Rudolph IV. Without a doubt, this is Austria’s most notable Gothic structure with a Romanesque style interior. Housed within and toured only with a guide, are hundred of important art treasures. If you need some exercise, climb the 343 stairs to the tower-keepers room. Check first though, as the cathedral in undergoing extensive exterior renovation.
The Natural History Museum Opened 1889, it was named the Imperial Natural History Museum and housed the Hapsburg’s immense collection of just about everything you can imagine, from gemstones to taxidermy to butterflies. Today the collection of over 25 million artifacts includes such irreplaceable items such at the 25,000 year old tiny statue of a woman, named Venus of Willendorf (found in the Wachau Valley) and a skeleton of the diplodocus dinosaur.
The Natural History Museum is one of the top 10 museums in the world. Open: Thursday – Monday 9am -6:30pm, Wednesday 9am – 9pm, closed Tuesday.
Sample traditional local cuisine While wandering around the central Graben area, be sure to sample the tidbits that are associated with Vienna; wiener schnitzel and sachertorte. While traditional wiener schnitzel is a breaded and fried veal or pork cutlet, you may order it made with chicken instead. If you’ve been wandering around the Graben streets and get hungry, I’d recommend Restaurant Levante and Il Tempo Bistro, both on Wallenstrasse. Nothing fancy, a bit crowded at lunchtime with mostly locals, they both offer light and standard lunch fare at reasonable prices.
Sachertorte is probably the most famous of the Viennese culinary specialties. A chocolate cake created in 1882 by Franz Sacher and was later perfected by Franz’s son, Eduard at the Demel bakery. Soon the nearby Hotel Sacher also served the Sachertorte. The battle for claim to use the phrase, ” Original Sachertorte” was finally settled in 1963 and now only the Hotel Sacher can claim title to the “Original Sachertorte.” Demel’s lays claim to a signature chocolate mark bearing the name of the Eduard Sacher, the inventor’s son who brought the cake to internation attention.
Take a spin on the Riesenrad ferris wheel. Not for the weak at heart, this revolving attraction is located just outside of the city center and really not a convenient walking distance from the Graben zone. The ferris wheel is part of the Prater amusement area with beautiful walking paths, lagoons and picnic tables. Originally built in 1897 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the reign of Empereror Franz Joseph I, it was burned to the ground in WWII and rebuilt shortly thereafter. It is the oldest ferris wheel of its kind still in use today. If you try it, you are in for some of the most beautiful views of Vienna.
Rent a car or hop a train and head to Salzburg , Regensburg or Miltenberg Day-tripping from Vienna sends you to wonderful medieval towns, castles from the middle ages and alpine vistas with snow-capped peaks. Grab a train schedule or rent a car for a day, pick a direction and just go.
All river ships that ply the Danube stop in Vienna. Some have longer stays than others. For example Amawaterways , will overnight and run dedicated shuttle buses to/from the city. If your river cruise visits for the day, like this one with Viking River, take advantage of their complimentary shore excursion in the morning and go out on your own in the afternoon.
Choose a Danube river cruise that includes Vienna and you’re in store for a fabulous experience in the Imperial City.
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About Sherry Laskin
I'm the editor and creator of CruiseMaven.com, a solo traveler cruising the world on waves and wheels, collecting recipes along the way. I hope my articles and photos entertain, advise and inspire you to travel the world without flying. Take a breath...stop for a local meal and a glass of wine along the way.
March 17, 2012 at 12:02 pm
Hi Barbara, Thanks for taking the time to leave your suggestions. I’ll try your dining suggestions on my next trip. Bratislava is another good day trip…and the speed boats that I’ve seen look like they would be fun.
Very helpful comments, thanks again.
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Updated on September 8, 2022 by Sherry Laskin
AmaWaterways Danube River Cruise Review
The writer was hosted.
It was a warm, sunny day in September and I had just finished a guided walking tour in Bratislava, Slovakia. This charming waterfront city was our second port stop on a seven-night AmaWaterways Melodies of the Danube River cruise onboard AmaSonata. After the tour, my sights were set on a dip in the swimming pool on the ship’s sundeck. The pool became my go-to place after each excursion that week. Amazingly, few people took advantage of the pool so I usually had it to myself. But the pool was just one of many amenities and services that made this AmaWaterways river cruise an enjoyable one.
The Melodies of the Danube itinerary began in Budapest (Hungary) and traveled to Bratislava (Slovakia), Austria (Vienna, Weissenkirchen – Ybbs – Grein, and Linz); and Germany (Passau to Vilshofen). Pre-cruise land options in Budapest and post-cruise extensions to Prague can be added to the cruise for an additional fee.
Rudi Schreiner, AmaWaterways’ co-founder and president, Kristin Karst, the line’s co-founder and executive vice president, and the late Jimmy Murphy launched the cruise line in 2002. After years of working at other existing river cruise companies, Schreiner and Karst leaned into their own European background, passion for good food, wine, wellness programs, and the idea of freedom of choice to introduce innovative features for the family-owned and operated AmaWaterways. Their goal was to offer a well-rounded healthy and active river cruise experience that included hiking and biking excursions.
“They wanted to have a river cruise that incorporates all these things,” said Brenda Kyllo, the godmother of AmaSonata.
On my cruise, I had the pleasure of sailing with Brenda, who said that Rudi and Kristin spend 50 percent of their time sailing on the ships, interacting with and getting feedback from guests and crew.
The result? Healthy food and active excursions have attracted a younger crowd, lowering the average age of their guests to about 55 to 65 (about 10 years younger than previously). In addition, with a minimum age of 4 years for sailing with AmaWaterways in Europe, the cruise line is seeing more young people and multi-generational families on their river cruises.
AmaWaterways has over two dozen luxury ships that sail the rivers of Europe, Asia, Africa, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Themed cruises include iconic Christmas markets , Blue Danube Discovery, Gems of Southeast Europe, and Grand Danube Cruise. Wine connoisseurs can discover the Taste of Bordeaux, and the Flavors of Burgundy (debuting in 2024), two of several river cruises in France.
Read More : Castles, River, and Delicious Italian Food in Germany
Sailing on AmaSonata
Built in 2014, the cruise ship has 82 outside cabins and cozy public spaces. There’s an elegant Panoramic Lounge for entertainment and programs, a comfortable library, three dining options, a sundeck with a heated pool and swim-up bar, a fitness center, and a spa and hair salon. In the reception lobby guests check in and out for excursions. There’s also a small gift shop.
I smiled as I walked into my spacious stateroom and saw that I had a private balcony and a sitting area by a French balcony (the doors open for fresh air). I also appreciated the large marble bathroom, a wardrobe with a full-length mirror, and a bed with luxurious linen and pillows. Amenities include a mini fridge, a hair dryer, free wifi, a desk, and a flat-screen TV (not that I needed it with the beautiful passing scenery).
River cruises offer an excellent opportunity to visit not only Europe’s majestic capitals of the Danube but also small medieval cities and towns. Each day there are several shore excursions to choose from. All are included in the cruise fare. And most are half-day so there’s time to discover port towns on your own or relax on the ship. And I loved that I could change my mind at the last minute and switch excursions.
I enjoyed chatting with Cesario Santos, the cruise manager, who was always available to offer tips for choosing excursions and planning our day in ports. “We try to come up with options for people. We’re very flexible,” he told me.
The front desk in reception was also helpful. When we were docked in Budapest, there was downtime in the afternoon and I was interested in visiting a thermal bathhouse. There were two within walking distance. The young woman in reception suggested the Ruda bathhouse (where locals go). I took her advice and spent two glorious hours soaking in pools in the bathhouse that dates back over 450 years.
Hungary’s capital (dubbed Queen of the Danube) is an exciting city to visit. It was my first visit to Budapest so I joined the guided city tour. We drove through the historic city center, stopped in Heroes’ Square, and later walked up numerous steps to Castle Hill. It was worth the climb to see Matthias Church (Coronation church of Buda) and Fisherman’s Bastion. From there, we had panoramic views of Budapest. I also did some souvenir shopping in the shops.
SheBuysTravel Tip : While docked in Budapest, be sure to shop for souvenirs and regional food items at the historic Great Market Hall.
Slovakia’s capital, Bratislava, is a pretty, waterfront city that’s walking distance from the ship. I took the guided tour and then explored on my own, stopping for a gelato on my way back to the ship. Public art includes a quirky “man in the street” statue.
Although there was a city bike tour available, I opted for the bus and walking tour that brought us to Vienna’s historic town. It’s a fun place to spend a few hours shopping and enjoying sausages stuffed with cheese. While there, Cesario rode up on his bike with a bag of Mozart (Mozartkugel) chocolates for us! I found a store that sells them and bought a bag of yummy chocolates to bring home.
The Wachau Valley is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with vineyards, apricot orchards, a little town, and castles. It’s also home to the Melk Abbey. I chose the excursion to the medieval town of Dürnstein on the banks of the Danube River. Narrow cobblestone streets are lined with boutiques, chocolate shops, and eateries. I bought a pair of earrings made with stones from the Danube River from a local merchant who said she makes all the jewelry in her shop.
At a small winery, we sat at long tables decorated with softly glowing candles for wine tasting, and later, apricot tasting.
Some guests opted for a hike to the Dürnstein fortress while others took a guided bike tour and pedaled about 15 miles along the romantic Danube River.
While docked in Linz, we had a choice to join a local walking tour or take a full-day tour of either Salzburg or Cesky Krumlov, in the Czech Republic. It was a difficult decision but I was excited to see Salzburg. Our first stop was in the small town of Mondsee, situated on the shores of Lake Mondsee. Our guide Julia told us that St. Michael’s Church was the site for the wedding in The Sound of Music.
After Mondsee, we left for Salzburg (the name means salt castle or city), Mozart’s hometown. We visited Mirabell Gardens, Old Town, Hohensalzburg Fortress (I rode the funicular to the top), and other top sites. Along the way, Julia pointed out locations where “The Sound of Music” was filmed. (I was surprised to learn that Austrians aren’t familiar with the movie title. Rather, it’s known as “The Trapp Family.”)
That evening we took in a Mozart & Strauss concert presented by the Hofburg Orchestra at the Hofburg Palace concert hall. It was a lovely way to cap off an enchanting stay in Austria.
This beautiful baroque city is surrounded by the Danube, Ilz, and Inn rivers. Known as the City of Three Rivers, Passau is a fun Bavarian city to explore. And since the ship is docked at the waterfront, Passau is easily accessible.
A group of us took a guided walking tour with Daniel, a Passau native and high school teacher. We walked along narrow cobblestone streets lined with cafes and bicycles (this is a university town, after all) to Old Town where St. Stephen’s Cathedral houses the largest organ in Europe.
Dining on AmaSonata
The cuisine was excellent and reflected each region we visited. For example, in Budapest, the chef prepared tasty goulash. Austrian and German dishes featured a variety of sausages, sauerkraut and potatoes. All the food is fresh – baked or made onboard. There is no processed food onboard and more grains are integrated into breakfast bowls.
We usually ate in the Main Restaurant, where guests dine together at large tables. But the restaurant also has cozy alcoves for small groups. In the Panoramic Lounge, a bistro breakfast and bistro lunch are available for a quick bite (especially handy in the mornings before excursions). An all-day tapas menu and afternoon tea are also available here. The Chef’s Table (at no additional charge) is a delight with a fixed menu. Guests can reserve the Chef’s Table upon boarding the cruise ship.
After dinner, we gathered in the Panoramic Lounge for port talks and entertainment. Some evenings featured Petar, the onboard musician, and other times regional performers. While in Budapest, the Hungarian Folklore Show featured local performers who came on board.
What’s Next for AmaWaterways
After the successful launch of the larger AmaMagna ship in 2019, AmaWaterways plans to increase its presence on Europe’s Danube, Douro, and Rhine rivers by 20 percent in the next two years. The company plans to introduce the AmaMagdalena and AmaMelodia on Colombia’s Magdalena River, and AmaLilia on Egypt’s Nile River.
To book an AmaWaterways cruise contact your travel advisor or visit AmaWaterways.com
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Danube River Cruise with Dinner and Viennese Songs in Vienna
- Buffet dinner
- Viennese Music
- Air-conditioned vehicle
- WiFi on board
- Restroom on board
- Alcoholic drinks (available to purchase)
- City Cruises Vienna - DDSG Blue Danube, Franz-Josefs-Kai 2, 1010 Wien, Austria Please arrive 30 minutes before departure and go to the DDSG Blue Danube ticket office to exchange your voucher for a ticket.
- Wheelchair accessible
- Stroller accessible
- Service animals allowed
- Near public transportation
- Infant seats available
- Confirmation will be received at time of booking
- Children must be accompanied by an adult
- Most travelers can participate
- Refunds will not be issued if tour/activity is missed due to late or non-arrival of cruise ship
- This tour/activity will have a maximum of 20 travelers
- For a full refund, cancel at least 24 hours in advance of the start date of the experience.
- You'll start at City Cruises Vienna - DDSG Blue Danube Franz-Josefs-Kai 2, 1010 Wien, Austria Please arrive 30 minutes before departure and go to the DDSG Blue Danube ticket office to exchange your voucher for a ticket. See address & details
- Pass by DDSG Blue Danube
- You'll return to the starting point
- Dettieblue 0 contributions River cruise No sightseeing on this cruise Nothing to see at all A TV screen showing very basic information Compared with the amazing and very informative tours we have covered in Vienna this is a complete waste of time Read more Written February 24, 2024
- Q3840VUandyp 0 contributions Sightseeing requires sights Entirely pointless. Stepped over motorway exciting puddles. Boat's nice, but wasted. I'm struggling to drum up the energy for 100 characters. Enervating. Read more Written February 1, 2024
- Edward R 0 contributions The best way to enjoy the Danube We spent five hours on the comfortable, if not the newest, boat. Fantastic scenery floated by while we enjoyed breakfast and coffee. The food is good and the service team is very attentive. Short information about the sailing places in German and English was just right. No music or excessive noise. We were traveling in October and there were few passengers. The short stop in Melk is just enough to go ashore for a while. And the magnificent monastery can only be seen from the water, so consider this not a sightseeing tour, but a relaxing one. We would like to repeat this trip in the spring. Read more Written October 25, 2023
- ALANC333 0 contributions Long time on the river We had a nice dry day in October to travel up and down the Danube and canal. The boat was spacious and served food and drinks. The views were very interesting and there was some commentary in both German and English, also an App available via the boat WiFi, which gave more details, albeit it changed in German half way through. It seemed like a long time to be travelling, although there are thing to see and a couple of locks which were very interesting. Not great for young children. Read more Written October 23, 2023
- Scenic15302679675 0 contributions Avoid at all costs Don’t book this cruise or any with this company. It was very disappointing and poor and we felt conned. We did the 90 minute Vienna River Cruise which turned out being 80 minutes of which only 20 is spent on the river. Almost 30 minutes is spent stationery between gates in a lock. The remaining part of the cruise is on the canal not the river passing graffiti and cars. You will see very little of Vienna from the boat on this cruise. In addition on this cruise you are not told that you get off the boat at a different place to where you get on it. It was a lovely sunny day but there are very few seats outside on deck and you can’t take drinks outside. It would perhaps be ok for 10 euros but for 25 euros it was awful. Read more Written October 12, 2023
- Dream40596294955 0 contributions Meh at best. Just a mediocre coffee shop with a view. Not very informative. Get onboard quickly because the senior citizens push and shove for the decent tables with a view. Staff not particularly friendly. Not worth the cost and time. Read more Written October 10, 2023
- DianaH3331 0 contributions Enjoyed the ride After reading many bad reviews, we were not sure we should do the cruise. But we booked the 75 minute cruise and really enjoyed it. It is a different way to see some of the city that you might not see any other way. The boat was nice and staff was friendly. It is a nice boat ride with food and drink available to buy separately. The audio told you about the few landmarks that we went by that where note worthy in German and English. There is a lot of graffiti art along the walls of the canal and some of it is very good. Read more Written October 8, 2023
- Vickie D 0 contributions Deep Locks Great crew who work hard. Great views and food. Good hosts. Guy with beard dark hair young works especially hard.greets you, ties up the boat and manages it through the locks. Read more Written September 13, 2023
- 64anniep 0 contributions Very underwhelmed The tour was very disappointing: no ability to have information on what one was seeing. Any recorded information was minimal and impossible to hear. After the fishing houses there was basically nothing to see for the next 1 and a half hours. Going through the lock was interesting if one has never seen such an engineering marvel but hardly worth two hours of being bored Read more Written September 13, 2023
- Constanze R 0 contributions Beware of ticket counter We (group of 6) wanted to book tickets at the ticket counter near Wellenspiel. Only tried to ask if there are any tickets left but since the ticket lady is the rudest person I‘ve met the „conversation“ escalated within seconds. End of story: we didn‘t buy any tickets. 2 minutes later another group of 4 went in …and out again talking about the rude lady. If they want to sell tickets, they should think about their choice of employees. Read more Written August 12, 2023
- Squirrelleeds7 0 contributions Don’t do it! Started off well. On time and seat on top deck. 20 minutes sailing down the Danube. Once we reached the canal we had to go downstairs while we navigated the lock but were told upstairs would reopen after the lock. 20 minutes or so to get through the lock stood cramped together downstairs, inside with people smoking. Once through the lock upstairs didn’t reopen so basically the remainder of the trip we were stood up inside looking at graffiti walls in the same cramped, smoky conditions. Complete waste of time and money. Read more Written August 2, 2023
- BizTravelAdvisor 0 contributions Some people should not work in tourism. Lady ticket agent was the only rude and nasty person we encountered all week in Austria. If it helps management identify 24 June 3:45 pm . Ticket kiosk was next to the sign in photo Read more Written June 24, 2023
- Elsa T 0 contributions Don’t do it!!! Terrible!! Don’t do it The first hour is spent on an ugly graffiti covered canal When we eventually join the main river we spend most of the time on locks We are stuck on one of these locks as I write this Also, coffee and food are awful. No complaints about the service Read more Written June 23, 2023
- Les P 0 contributions Best avoided We were fortunate that the boat was not overcrowded and the service was good. However, the trip down the “little Danube” is merely a trip down the canal alongside the real river, so not much to see. It is effectively an expensive floating café where you can enjoy a coffee or glass of wine and a slice of cake. There are far better locations in Vienna to do so. Don’t waste your time or money on this trip Read more Written May 12, 2023
- Kailey A 0 contributions No Waaayyy overcrowded. Impossible to find a place to sit, and we ended up at a dirty table that never got cleaned. Once we finally got our food (almost an hour after ordering) we weren’t given any silverware or napkins and had to scavenge from the remains of what people before us left. Read more Written May 9, 2023
More to explore in Vienna
Most Recent: Reviews ordered by most recent publish date in descending order.
Detailed Reviews: Reviews ordered by recency and descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as wait time, length of visit, general tips, and location information.
Danube River Cruise with Dinner and Viennese Songs in Vienna provided by DDSG Blue Danube
- Current Travel Information
- Travel Agency
Danube Classics Vienna 2024
Highlights of the Danube Cruise
A composition of culture and relaxation, history and indulgence..
From Vienna to Esztergom, Budapest, Bratislava, Krems, Melk and Engelhartszell (Passau) to Vienna.
Vienna has produced some of the world’s most famous composers: Mozart, Schubert, Beethoven – all of them were either born in the Austrian capital or lived here. Were they inspired by the Danube? Possibly, seeing as the river brought so many different cultures and ethnicities to the cities located on its banks. Vienna’s imperial grandeur, Budapest’s breathtaking examples of Hungarian art nouveau and Bratislava’s almost anarchic stylistic mixture of socialism and Baroque. And music is constantly in the air – those with two left feet will be pleased to know that it’s not all Viennese waltzes.
7 Fantastic UNESCO Sites To Experience On A Danube River Cruise
T he Danube is one of the most popular rivers in Europe for its natural beauty and the many castle ruins, monasteries, and palaces you can see while cruising along the river.
In fact, there are so many fantastic sites to see along the Danube, you would need months or even years to see them all. If you’re on a river cruise, as I was, you’ll have a week or maybe 10 days; therefore, I’ve chosen what I believe are some of the most visually splendid UNESCO sites as I experienced them on Viking’s Danube Waltz.
Notably, the Danube flows through two capital cities rich in UNESCO designations: Budapest and Vienna. It was not easy to narrow down the list for this article, and I know many worthy sites and experiences have been left out. Nevertheless, I hope you’re inspired to do your own exploration of fantastic sites along the Danube River.
What Is A UNESCO Heritage Site?
The United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is a designation protecting the cultural heritage of places and monuments around the world. There are even intangible UNESCO designations such as Vienna’s coffee house culture.
A key aspect of UNESCO is that it helps to foster appreciation for a people’s culture and heritage, and it supports awareness and conservation.
Budapest is one of Europe’s most romantic cities. The mix of architectural styles, broad city streets, and the many bridges crossing the Danube River create an old-world atmosphere that feels as if you’ve traveled back in time. And, in November 2020, Conde Nast Traveler included the banks of the Danube in Budapest in its list as one of the most beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
There are three main districts designated UNESCO Cultural Heritage Sites in Budapest: Buda Castle Hill, the banks of the Danube River, and Andrassy Avenue. The Danube River divides the city with Buda Castle Hill on the west side and Andrassy Avenue on the east side. The most beautiful views are anywhere along the river and from Buda Castle Hill.
1. Buda Castle Hill
Buda, on the west bank, is the older part of the city, perched about 500 meters above the river. It is less populated and there is a wonderful mix of medieval, Baroque, and 19th-century architecture. The Buda Castle was built in 1265, but later buildings were added during the Baroque period. In the past, the castle complex was the home of Hungarian kings. Today, it houses the Hungarian National Gallery.
Part of the Buda Castle complex is the 700-year-old Matthias Church, named for King Matthias, who ruled between 1458 and 1490. He was the most popular Hungarian king, and under his rule, the country experienced peace and prosperity. He is sometimes referred to as Matthias the Just and is said to have been a bit of a Robin Hood. Be sure to visit the interior of the church with its gold leaf treasure and ornate stained-glass windows. Matthias Church was the coronation church for many Austrian Emperors.
The Fisherman’s Bastion is a viewing area built to celebrate the 1,000th birthday of the Hungarian State. It is usually crowded with people so don’t be in a rush. It is by far the best place from which to view the river and the monuments on its eastern banks.
Pro Tip: Buda Castle Hill provides the best views of the Danube River and the Parliament Building. You may encounter some steps and a few mildly steep hills, but overall it’s not too strenuous. To get there, walk across the Chain Bridge then take the funicular up the hill. Or, you may hire a taxi to take you up. It’s worth it for the views. Allow at least a half-day for visiting the Castle District.
2. The Szechenyi Bridge
The Szechenyi Bridge is also known as the chain bridge. This iconic monument is spectacular any time but for the most magical experience, be sure to view it at night. Built in 1849, it was the first permanent bridge to connect the east and west sides of the city, and it is the oldest bridge in Budapest. The bridge was blown up during World War II by the retreating German army leaving only the towers. It was rebuilt and reopened in 1949.
Pro Tip: The chain bridge and all of the historical monuments along the river are exquisitely lit at night. It’s easy to see why Budapest is often referred to as the Paris of the east. Do make time to walk across the bridge at night and admire the city from a different perspective.
3. Parliament Building
The Parliament Building was built between 1885 and 1902 on the east bank of the Danube in neo-Gothic style. The building symbolizes the importance of Budapest as the capital of Hungary. The exterior is impressive with its many domes, spires, and statues of Hungarian horsemen, but the real treasure is the inside, which is decorated with 88 pounds of gold.
Pro Tip: If you do visit the interior of the Parliament Building, plan to spend at least 2 hours.
Before embarking on the Danube river cruise, what I knew about Vienna was that it was the home of Mozart (though he was born in Salzburg) and the Habsburgs. I had no idea that the historic center of the city is protected by UNESCO or that it was once the capital of the Holy Roman Empire and the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
What makes the city center fascinating is the layers of time exposed in the architecture and ruins that have been excavated. And of course, the history of the Habsburg Empire is seen everywhere, especially as you walk the Ringstrasse, or Ring Road, created in 1865 under the rule of Emperor Franz Joseph. At the time of its completion, it was considered quite chic to walk the Ringstrasse and possibly catch a glimpse of the Royals.
A few buildings of importance in the history and culture of Vienna include the Vienna State Opera, the Hofburg Palace (home of the Habsburgs), the gothic St. Stephen’s Cathedral, and many 19th-century buildings that were once residences. Altogether, it is an enchanting mixture that begs you to stay, and perhaps enjoy a Strauss Waltz or a classical music concert.
4. The Hofburg Palace
The Hofburg Imperial Palace was the home of Austrian sovereigns including the Habsburgs. The Habsburgs ruled for 600 years — from the 13th century until 1918. Like the city of Vienna itself, the Hofburg consists of many additions added over time. The original structures were built in the 13th century! I highly recommend a good guide well versed in the history of Austria to tour this important monument.
The buildings today house the Austrian government, however, the apartments and living quarters of Emperor Franz Joseph and Empress Elizabeth are open for tours.
Plan at least 2 hours to see the apartments, and if you want to visit other exhibitions at the palace, plan a half day.
Pro Tip: If you love all things equestrian you’ll want to at least walk by the stable of the Spanish Riding School where you may get lucky to see the Lipizzaner stallions in their stables. They are treated like royalty. You can purchase tickets for a tour or to watch a training session here.
5. Viennese Coffee Tradition
The Viennese coffee tradition has been designated a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage. You must not leave Vienna without having a coffee at one of the historic cafes . There are as many cafes as there are ways to enjoy your coffee. A few options are Cafe Ritter, one of Vienna’s oldest and most elegant cafes; Cafe Landtmann on the Ringstrasse; and Cafe Demel, once the cafe of the royal Habsburgs family. This is a very old and pretty cafe with seating indoors.
Pro Tip: In Vienna, you may linger as long as you like over your coffee. In fact, that is exactly what the Viennese do. Also, your coffee will be served on a silver tray with a glass of water on the side.
6. Gottweig Abbey
Gottweig Abbey overlooks the stunning Wachau Valley and the Danube. It is a working Benedictine monastery.
The original abbey was built in 1084 and became a Benedictine abbey in 1094. After a fire in the 18th century, the abbey was completely reconstructed in the Baroque style. Today, there are only 30 monks who live here. They maintain the grounds and work in the apricot orchard and vineyards. You can buy some of the apricot wine produced at the Abbey, as well as tour the extensive library and art collection.
Referred to as the Montecassino of Austria, Gottweig Abbey is a place of respite and provides a window into the monastic way of life.
7. The Wachau Valley
The Wachau Valley is most memorable for the breathtaking views of castle ruins, monasteries, and vertical vineyards that appear to be at 90-degree inclines. You will see the ruins of Durnstein Castle where King Richard of England, also known as Richard the Lionheart, was imprisoned. The Wachau also encompasses Melk Abbey and the Abbey at Durnstein, which you’ll see on the shore just below the ruins of the castle. Cruising the Wachau Valley is a highlight of the Danube River cruise.
Pro Tip: If there is one thing I wish I had known before embarking on the Danube River cruise, it’s that there is so much to see, a week is like a movie trailer — just enough to get you really interested in the main feature. It’s a good idea to book some extra days in one of your favorite cities, be it Budapest, Vienna, or another port on the river. Once you’re there, make the most of it!
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