Three capitals, four different countries and one of the most exciting rivers in Europe: “Highlights of the Danube” is a brand-new and exciting route. Of course, our two travel experts, Sandra and Paula, curious about the trip, tried out the 8-day tour right away. In this article, Sandra describes what she liked best about it, and also includes a few tips on how to make the most of this special tour.Plan your trip
1. Passau: A perfect start
“We had glorious weather when we arrived in Passau by train the day before the ship departed. This beautiful historic city was our first stop on the trip and we had decided to stay overnight at a local hotel before the starting day. This gave us the opportunity to explore the city at our leisure, and it was absolutely worth it!
“We strolled through the streets of the old town and admired the half-timbered houses and St. Stephen’s Cathedral. Then our walk continued to the Dreiflüsseeck, where the Danube, the Ilz and the Inn flow together in the middle of the city. It’s a special sight! Later we went on to the other side of town. There, it’s worth visiting the Mariahilf Church and climbing up to the Veste Oberhaus, a medieval fortress, for a view of the entire city.
“I can only recommend everyone to come to Passau a day or more before departure to enjoy the city at your leisure. It also means less stress about your long journey, because then you won’t have to worry about missing the ship’s departure because of train or plane delays or traffic jams. When we went to the train station at 5 p.m. the next day to take the free transfer bus to the ship, we were already in vacation mode.”
2. The Primadonna: An extraordinary ship experience
“The Primadonna, our ship for this voyage, was an experience in itself. It has a very special construction. As a catamaran with two engines, its center section floats above the water and the reception area has a glass floor. If you look down, you can see the water flowing under your feet! The bar at the front of the ship is completely surrounded by windows and offers a fantastic view outside. The entire ship is spacious. All cabins are exterior and have a window with a view of the passing scenery. The cabins are accessed via a corridor that is open on one side and offers an unobstructed view of the light-filled atrium at the center of the ship. This conveys a spacious feeling.
“The restaurant was so large that we didn’t feel at all like we were traveling with 200 other passengers. The food deserves a special mention: it was simply gorgeous! Each morning we could choose what we wanted to enjoy for our four-course evening meal. At lunchtime there was either a three-course menu or a packed lunch for us to take along. No wish was left unfulfilled.”
3. Budapest: The pearl of the Danube
“Budapest is really a great city. Because we spent a full day here on the tour, we were able to explore the city at our leisure. First we did a three-hour city tour by bus. We could get off the bus wherever we wanted to go see the different sights more closely. And we learned a lot about the history of Budapest. Then we cycled through Pest, the flat part of the city, and visited Heroes’ Square, the Market Hall and the Parliament. On the other side of the Danube is Buda, where we climbed the hill to see Buda Castle and the palace complex. If you walk along the outside of it, you don’t even realize how big it is, but the palace is really a world in itself!
“We also made a detour to Margaret Island, in the middle of the Danube. It is a recreational area with parks, promenades, swimming pools and fountains. And when we left again in the evening, Budapest was beautiful. All the lights in the city shine, reflected in the river. A little goosebumps moment.”
4. Great bike tours: Relaxed exploring along the Danube
“The bike tours each day aren’t difficult because you’re always riding over flat terrain along one of the two riverbanks. The bike tours are unguided, so we cycled on our own at our own pace. Every evening the tour leader talks through the route for the next day and gives tips on where the most beautiful places are. We rode through many small towns and saw a lot of churches and cathedrals. And I also found Melk Abbey very beautiful.
“In Vienna, where there are excellent cycle paths, the route leads along the Ringstrasse, so it takes you directly past the most important sights, such as the City Hall, the Burgtheater and the Votive Church.
On the last day we went through vineyards and forests in Austria. That was also a very pleasant route.”
5. Szentendre: Atmospheric artists’ town
“In Hungary, I also found Szentendre surprising. The small artists’ town is very close to Budapest. Here you can stroll through absolutely beautiful winding streets. The historic houses are all painted in bright colors, which really makes you feel like you’re walking through a movie set. The boulevard is decorated with colorful umbrellas and there are many galleries, jewelry shops, restaurants, cafés and ice cream parlors. With the vibrant atmosphere in the streets and squares, time flies by!”
6. Bratislava: Beauty steeped in history
“During our city tour of Bratislava, we learned a lot about the city’s long and impressive history. The capital of Slovakia is not particularly big, but it is still very worth seeing. Many historical buildings did not survive the Communist era. Only the part inside the city walls, around the old castle, has been preserved. It feels like you’re stepping into another world. The atmosphere in the narrow streets is very cozy and from the scenic viewpoints you can see the entire city. Because everything is so compact in Bratislava, you can easily reach all the sights on foot.”
Fancy an unforgettable Danube experience?
Would you like to experience the highlights of the Danube yourself? Here you’ll find the detailed program of our 8-day bike and boat trip on the Primadonna. And of course, if you have any questions, feel free to contact our travel experts. You can reach us by phone at +1 (203) 814-1249. in the US or +31 20 72 35 400 elsewhere, or by email to [email protected]. We’re looking forward to hearing from you!Plan your trip