The Danube river flows from Germany through Eastern Europe where it empties in to the Black Sea. One of the most popular rivers to cruise along, we give you the highlights of this amazing journey.
The port of Budapest is set in a UNESCO World Heritage site and it’s not hard to see why, this cultural hub has many interesting things to do and see. Buda Castle has to be top of that list, dating back to the 13th century but the Baroque style is now what it’s most famous for. Head also to the Jewish Quarter and discover The Great Synagogue, the largest Jewish house of worship outside of New York, and admire the great rose window and museum inside. The city also has many intricate and beautiful old bridges and a covered market which you will want to explore.
Budapest also has an abundance of hot springs – so a visit to a thermal baths is a must. There are several options to choose from – Turkish-style, art-nouveau and the locals claim ‘taking the waters’ is popular to help cure ailments or just to relax and unwind in this historic city.
Slovakia only gained it’s independence in 1993, so the city is a perfect mix of classic and contemporary. The castle which sits proudly in it’s centre, white and flanked by four large towers, wouldn’t be out of place found the pages of a fairytale. The climb up to the towers are tough, but are worth it for the most amazing views across Bratislava.
Enter the Old Town via the last surviving Medieval gateway and you are treated to baroque palaces and a bustling square which lends to it’s popular café culture that has emerged, with plenty of places to eat, drink and take in the sights.
Known as ‘The Pearl of Wachau’ Durnstein is considered to be one of the most picturesque and beautiful villages in Austria. Richard the Lionheart was famously imprisoned at the castle here by King Leopold V at the end of the third crusade and you can hike up to the ruins high above the bank and be rewarded with amazing views of the valley.
Also a must-see is the old Augustinian monastery with it’s famous blue tower, which now serves as the local parish church and is another perfect example of baroque design. However, you cannot possibly visit Durnstein without sampling the local wine in one of it’s many vineyards and taste the local apricots, cleverly incorporated into delights such as strudels, dumplings and even brandy.
Birthplace of Mozart and setting of the musical, The Sound of Music, Salzburg is another UNESCO World Heritage site and dominated by it’s churches, castles and palaces, renowned for it’s Baroque beauty.
Visit the vast Salzburg Dom and see the Romanesque font in which Mozart was baptised and walk the halls of the Princely Residence and admire artwork from the 16th century onwards. If you appreciate a gorgeous garden, you will also want to make sure you visit the Mirabell Palace with gardens completed by baroque master builder Lukas von Hildebrandt.
Boasting over 4,000 cultural events, you’re sure to find something to delight the senses with one of the most impressive back drops of scenery along the Danube, but if you’re around in the summer, the most famous of these the Salzburger Festspiele is the glittering jewel in the calendar, with concerts, opera and theatre performances taking place.
Vienna’s history dates back to 1 AD, when the Romans first established a military camp there but the city as it’s known today is the legacy of the Habsburg monarchy and the Hofburg palace comprises of some of the most stunning examples of architecture of the age, none more impressive than the Schloss Schonbrunn, the opulent summer palace which has 1,441 rooms and you can take a Grand tour through 40 of these rooms.
If you’re an art buff than you won’t want to miss the The Kunsthistorisches Museum which rivals The National Gallery, The Louvre and The Hermitage, yet doesn’t see the same sort of footfall which means you can admire the Habsburg collection in relative peace. If you want to shop, head to the Ringstrasse which is maze of independent stores offering some amazing wares and you can also find some beautiful bars and cafes along here too.
Have you visited the banks of this beautiful baroque wonderland? If you have, share your favourite spots with us in the comments.