Below are the best places to visit on the Danube River. Cruises along this river lead to historical sites, quaint villages and beautiful Old World cities on a route through 10 countries.
Many Danube itineraries start in Nuremberg, an impressive medieval city in Germany. Built on a rocky hill, Imperial Castle was one of the most important castles of the Holy Roman Empire during the Middle Ages and provides great views. The city was the location of the Nuremberg war crimes trials in 1945 and 1946, and local guides show travelers the Palace of Justice, where the trials took place.
In Passau, Germany, you may be treated to a concert on the 17,974-pipe organ in St. Stephen's Cathedral. Passau also has some fine examples of Gothic and Baroque architecture.
Originally a Celtic settlement and then a Roman garrison, Regensburg is a cultural hub in eastern Bavaria. Here you can see the old Roman gate, explore the well-preserved medieval center and stand upon the 12th-century Old Stone Bridge. The Wurstkuchl (Sausage Kitchen) is one of Germany's oldest restaurants.
Many Danube River itineraries include an excursion to Salzburg in Austria, where you can seek out the yellow building where Austrian composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born in 1756 and stroll through the manicured gardens of Mirabell Park, used in the filming of "The Sound of Music."
During a port call in Melk, many passengers head for the Benedictine abbey that sits high above the town on granite cliffs. The monastery was founded in 1089; be sure to check out the stunning ceiling frescoes, the large library filled with nearly 16,000 books and the terrific views from the terrace.
Austria's Wachau Valley is one of the most attractive stretches of the Danube, lined with terraced vineyards and picturesque villages like Durnstein, centered around the pretty blue and white tower of an abbey church.
In Vienna, attractions include Hofburg Palace, St. Stephen's Cathedral and the Ringstrasse, a broad avenue lined by stately buildings. Your itinerary may offer the opportunity to attend an optional concert of classical music in the Austrian capital.
Bratislava in western Slovakia is the only national capital that borders two other countries, Austria and Hungary. It has an attractive Old Town, Baroque palaces and a massive white castle with a red roof sitting above the Danube.
The Hungarian capital of Budapest is divided by the Danube. River cruise passengers usually visit the Fisherman's Bastion, a large terrace that overlooks the city and river, as well as the ornate parliament building and Heroes Square, one of the city's most popular sites.
Belgrade, Serbia's capital, is one of Europe's oldest cities, perched at the confluence of the Danube and Sava rivers. Top sites include its fortress, the 1920s-era Royal Palace and Knez Mihailova -- the pedestrian-only, main shopping street. Upon leaving Belgrade, Danube riverboats sail through the Iron Gates, a spectacular gorge that forms the boundary between Serbia and Romania.