In August my husband and I took our first river cruise! As Viking Cruises is one of the most popular cruise lines with my clients – we chose to try them first. About a month before – I booked us a last minute journey on the Danube from Budapest to Passau. We had 6 port stops and visited 4 countries on this Upper Danube itinerary.
As I’ve heard so many terrific things about Budapest – we decided to stay a couple extra days here before our cruise departed. So glad we did – as it’s now one of our favorite cities! Click here to read more about all the fun we had and things to do in Budapest!
Bratislava was the first stop on our river cruise and the capital of Slovakia. It has a lovely old town to explore, great views from the hilltop castle, and interesting history to learn at the Blue Church (and its not to miss tile work!). These are all easily walkable to from where the river boats dock in the city center. I also recommend sampling some local Slovak food. Halusky is a nice choice that’s similar to Italian gnocchi.
What an amazing city! One day isn’t enough to experience everything it has to offer – but we tried our best. 🙂 We climbed to the tower of St. Stephens Cathedral for the panoramic views, wandered the grounds of the Imperial Palace, gazed at the famous Vienna Operahouse and ate ginormous schnitzel at the famous Figlmuller restaurant. After walking 9 miles, sweating a few gallons and tasting all the local fare – we had the best day in Vienna!
The only wet and overcast day of our trip added a nice ambience to our cruise through the picturesque Wachua Valley. The hilly landscape of this Unesco site between Melk and Krems (in Austria) is dotted with monasteries, small villages, vineyards and orchards. This is the perfect morning to hang out on the top deck of your river boat and watch the world go by… as you enjoy a river cruise’s version of a “sea day”.
A highlight of this port stop is an included Viking tour to Gottweig Abbey. Perched on a hillside, with sweeping views of the Danube – this Benedictine Monastery is a fascinating place to visit. We learned some of the history of Gottweig, tasted its on site produced wines, and admired the frescos above the imperial staircase.
Docking close to the city – we enjoyed our walk along the Danube to the old town area. After exploring and admiring the architecture my husband and I decided to walk up to the Pilgrimage church on the other side of the river. Even living in the mountains of Colorado… this ended up being a bit more of a hike than we anticipated (luckily my flip flops held up! 😉 ). I earned every bite of that famous Linzer torte I sampled at the top!
The last stop on our Viking river cruise was in the Lower Bavaria area of Germany; in Passau. It lies at the confluence of the Danube, Ilz and Inn Rivers near the Austria and German borders. What a gorgeous village! Again, we got our exercise in Passau as we meandered through the old buildings and walked along the rivers. We also couldn’t resist a mug of German beer! Wanting to see more of the countryside – we opted for a farm tour offered by Viking. We visited a family owned farm about 20 minutes outside the city. It was a treat tasting their home made yogurt and cheese from their dairy cows.
We thoroughly our first river cruise on Viking River Cruises! I highly recommend a Danube cruise for a “taste” of Europe.
Until the next adventure – bon voyage!