The Danube is a river of two very distinct halves. Most itineraries focus on the upper half running from Vienna to Budapest. Because of the popularity of the more well-known Danube river cruises one might assume that there is not much to see south of the Hungarian capital. We’ve got to say: Far from it!
The lower Danube is a much quieter part which means that apart from some working barges and small wooden fishing boats, you have the Danube all to yourself (admittedly sharing it with your fellow passengers). Cities and villages give way to very dense forests which creates a growing sense of adventure for most passengers as you sail to the more unknown parts of your cruise: Romania and Serbia.
One highlight that is unique to a Lower Danube river cruise is the announcement of the captain that you have reached “zero kilometres”. This means that the Danube has reached its final destination after 2,860 km, flowing into the Black Sea. It’s quite a unique feeling.
Something else to look forward to is the so-called Iron Gate. It refers to the breath-taking mountainside of Romania and Serbia. The Danube slices through the mountains for over 134 km. We highly recommend getting comfortable so that you can enjoy the scenery as it’s one of the most memorable ones of the cruise.
There are some real discoveries to be made when you explore ports such as Belgrade in Serbia, Vindin in Bulgaria and Bucharest in Romania to only name a few. They’re destinations you might not have considered visiting over a long weekend but with a river cruise, you’re able to dive in and get to know the best parts of it. And you never know, you might want to go back and stay for a little longer.
Belgrade has a very diverse history which you can live and breath when visiting the capital of Serbia. It’s still the biggest and most influential city in the region. The architecture is very different from other European cities with its influences from Ottoman, Neoclassic, Art Nouveau all the way to Brutalism and Modern.
There are a few things that you need to do when you visit Belgrade: visit Kalemegdan which is the fortress of the city, walk along Knez Mihajlova, a lively pedestrian boulevard lined with coffee bars, restaurants, food stalls and fashion brand shops as well as visit the Cathedral of Saint Sava.
Bucharest is the capital of Romania which is also called the Paris of the East. Even though communist rule has taken its toll on some of the older parts of the city, there are still areas that are extremely beautiful and provide a glimpse why it got this nickname.
Bucharest is home to world’s biggest parliament building in the world. We highly recommend a tour which gives you an idea of how gigantic this building is.
Budapest is often referred to as the grand jewel of the Danube. It’s very easy on the eye with its beautiful baroque and art nouveau buildings but also very budget-friendly. It does tick all the boxes when it comes to city trips.
We recommend visiting the Buda Castle District of Budapest which is the medieval area of the city located on top of a hill within the remains of the Buda Castle Palace. It is home to some of the city’s top sites, one of which is Matthias Church. You’ll also want to make time to enjoy the views from Fisherman’s Bastion while in the Buda Castle District.