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CRUISES

PHOTOESSAY – City highlights of a Danube River cruise

July 13, 2014
Viking Freya

A Danube River cruise offers travelers a unique opportunity to get a glimpse of cities to which they would like to return.

Viking Freya

Viking Freya

During the course of our 8-day Viking Danube River Cruise, we were able to visit six cities in three countries. Many would argue, rightfully so, that it was hardly enough time to experience the richness of cities with hundreds of years of history and tradition. We would not disagree. We tend to prefer slow travel without the pressure of feeling rushed—staying days, weeks or months rather than hours.

On the other hand, there is no other way someone can see so much expeditiously as on a river cruise, where going from place to place often occurs while passengers are comfortably asleep in their cabins. No time is wasted packing and unpacking, or checking in and checking out.

We coupled our Viking Danube River Cruise with a 3-day pre-cruise stay in Budapest where we dug a tiny bit deeper. With the combination of bus and walking tours, we were able to see and learn about five other cities to which we hope to return one day for more in-depth discovery.

These are some of the city-by-city highlights of our cruise:

Budapest, Hungary

The stunning architecture of Pest, including the Central Market Hall designed by Samu Pecz and major monuments, such as Heroes’ Square. On the Buda side, winding cobblestone streets of the medieval Old City, murals inside Matthias Church, and panoramic views from turreted Fisherman’s Bastion.

Central Market Hall in Budapest

Central Market Hall in Budapest

Fisherman’s Bastion in Budapest

Fisherman’s Bastion in Budapest

Heroes' Square in Budapest

Heroes’ Square in Budapest

Vienna, Austria

Half-day tour highlighting art, music and architecture, including Hofburg Palace (a seat of government since 1279), St. Stephan’s Cathedral, the iconic Reisenrad Ferris wheel, and the State Opera House. During “free time,” we tasted original Sacher tortes at the Sacher Hotel while others took optional tours to Schonbrunn Palace. Using public transportation, we accompanied the chef to buy cheeses and wines at the outdoor Naschmarkt.

Sacher Torte in Vienna

Sacher Torte in Vienna

Mix of traditional and modern architecture in downtown Vienna

Mix of traditional and modern architecture in downtown Vienna

Melk, Austria

Toured a 900-year-old Benedictine abbey (now a school) perched on a cliff overlooking Austria’s wine country.

Courtyard of the Melk Abbey

Courtyard of the Melk Abbey

Melk, Austria

Melk, Austria

Passau, Germany

Where the Danube, Ilz and Inn rivers meet, once the center for the medieval salt trade, we visited a church housing Europe’s largest pipe organ.

Pipe organ in St. Stephen's Cathedral

Pipe organ in St. Stephen’s Cathedral

Mural on Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall) in Passau

Mural on Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall) in Passau

Regensburg, Germany

Walked inside the walls of one of Europe’s best-preserved medieval cities with time for lunch on our own at a beer garden.

Home of Pope Benedict XVI’s brother in Regensburg

Home of Pope Benedict XVI’s brother in Regensburg

Sausage plate at beer garden in Regensburg

Sausage plate at beer garden in Regensburg

Nuremberg, Germany

Home of German gingerbread, watched the city prepare for Christmas Market and visited the site of the Nuremberg Trials. On an optional tour, a local historian took us to the World War II Documentation Center, site of the Nazi Party rallies, perhaps the most emotionally stirring stop.

Congress Hall beside Nazi Party Rally Grounds in Nuremberg

Congress Hall beside Nazi Party Rally Grounds in Nuremberg

Gold metalwork of Schöner Brunnen (the Beautiful Fountain)

Gold metalwork of Schöner Brunnen (the Beautiful Fountain)

[This is the second part of an article on river cruising, portions of which appeared in the Chicago Tribune.]

Also see: Boomers Going with the Flow: A Viking Danube River Cruise.

Have you ever taken a river cruise? 


Previously on More Time to Travel:

Disclosure: Our cruise was hosted by Viking River Cruises but any opinions expressed in this post are our own.

  • Reply
    Lois Alter Mark
    July 13, 2014 at 5:32 pm

    I SO want to do this trip! Pictures are gorgeous!

  • Reply
    Marilyn Jones
    July 13, 2014 at 7:12 pm

    Simply breathtaking. Such a beautiful photo essay!

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      July 13, 2014 at 9:30 pm

      Thanks! Because the boat moves slowly, it’s great for photography.

  • Reply
    Brittany Ruth
    July 14, 2014 at 2:16 am

    Great info! I’ve been looking into this cruiseline because I live near Regensburg. I also live close to Nurnberg and Passau so I’ve seen these cruises coming in and out of port. They look really fun. I thought they would be cheaper than traditional cruiselines so I looked it up and they actually don’t appear to be any cheaper.

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      July 14, 2014 at 8:43 am

      This one was quite upscale and included all of the shore excursions. You might check out come of the other lines I mentioned in the article.

  • Reply
    Jeff Titelius
    July 14, 2014 at 7:26 pm

    Beautifully done my friend! I know this cruise well and your photos are exquisite, especially the Gold metalwork of Schöner Brunnen (the Beautiful Fountain). Stunning post!

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      July 14, 2014 at 7:30 pm

      What a wonderful compliment coming from someone as knowledgeable as you, Jeff! Thanks!

  • Reply
    Mike
    July 15, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    Irene, I don’t know who is drooling more looking at that sausage plate – me or Phoenix ha, ha!! That looks AMAZING! That is so cool that you were able to accompany that chef for shopping. And for cheese no less! The slow, unpressured travel itinerary would be perfect for me as well. Great post! 🙂

  • Reply
    Sheryl
    July 15, 2014 at 4:00 pm

    Although I don’t like cruising and am of the seasick-variety, a river cruise might be in order in the future!

  • Reply
    Lauri Wakefield
    July 15, 2014 at 6:52 pm

    I love how you detailed your trip, Irene. I love the pictures! Did you take them yourself? You really did a great job putting this article together with the things you chose to highlight. I love it!

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      July 15, 2014 at 6:58 pm

      Thanks for stopping by, Lauri. My husband does most of the pictures. Thanks for your kind words!

      • Reply
        Lauri Wakefield
        July 15, 2014 at 7:12 pm

        You’re welcome, Irene! Your husband really takes nice pictures. It makes such a difference. 🙂

        • Irene S. Levine
          Reply
          Irene S. Levine
          July 15, 2014 at 7:16 pm

          I’ll pass on the compliment but I would be tickled if he wrote a few blog posts:-)

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