Written by Eva Salokar
From the Black Forest of Germany to the Black Sea, the Danube is a vital lifeline that pulses through the heart of Central and Eastern Europe. The Danube is not only Europe’s second longest river, but it flows through ten different countries and more than a dozen languages are spoken on its banks. Imagine the variety in food, architecture and history that goes with each of these languages and cultures.
My family is from Hungary, so the Danube is near and dear to my heart. My first river cruise along the Danube was an exciting experience to say the least. I started in Vienna with a tour through the Black Forest and a visit to Baden Baden, where the casino is absolutely breathtaking. The countryside drive was stunning and full of castles along the way. We then boarded our Avalon River cruise to float down to Melk, where old country charm is sure to have you shopping in quaint stores, and don’t miss a visit to Melk Abbey. Then off to Durnstein, where you walk through a quaint town with homemade liquors and pastries that delight. Take a hike up to the Kuenruger Castle, it’s a steep hike but so worth the views of the town and river from the top! The iconic Stift Durnstein Abbey Church can also been explored, and is worth it.
My last stop was Budapest, and let me tell you, what a gorgeous city by day and night. Don’t forget to take a night Danube cruise along the themes for spectacular views of the Parliament, Buda Castle the bridges along the way. This night cruise will leave you breathless and never wanting to leave. There are many sites to take in, including Fisherman’s Bastion, St. Stephens Basilica, Castle Hill and so much more. Take a stroll to Margaret Island for a nice break from the city, lush gardens, a singing fountain and lots of photo opportunities. Also, check out the thermal baths at Széchenyi Spa, the largest public bath in Budapest with 18 indoor and outdoor pools for an interesting and relaxing experience.
Hungarian food offers mouth-watering spicy dishes, rich stews and sauces, hearty soups, and yummy desserts. You should try the “palacsinta”, a crepe with a variety of different fillings. My favorite is the cottage cheese filling! Also, you must visit the Great Market Hall, if you love fresh goods, people watching, shopping or just sightseeing, this is an amazing place to do that. If you don’t like crowds I would suggest going early in the morning.
All in all, the Danube River has so much to offer, and no matter what route you take, you will never be disappointed!