Rising in Germany’s Black Forest in the west, to the Black Sea in the east, the Danube River has witnessed the rise and fall of nations, been an important trade route and served as the northern border for the Roman Empire.
The river was immortalised by Strauss, featured in Jules Verne’s novel The Danube Pilot, and today flows through 10 modern European states, from Germany to Romania.
It may not be as renowned as the Rhine, but as South Africans set their sights on Eastern Europe as a value-for-money tourist destination, the Danube and iconic cities that line this expansive waterway are gaining in popularity, says Teresa Richardson, The Travel Corporation South Africa MD.
“Hungary, Slovakia and Croatia are among those countries that South Africans have become increasingly interested in visiting because of the value-for-money travel experiences and depth of experiences on offer,” says Richardson.
The difference between exploring the Danube by land and by river, is that with the latter your ship delivers you to the heart of smaller towns and cities that you would ordinarily not visit as part of a guided holiday on land. “On the Uniworld journey, the Danube is the star of the show. By land, it’s the landscapes and cities this river has fostered over the centuries.”
Here’s why the Danube should be on your wish-list:
The Imperial City makes a fitting beginning or end of your encounter with the Danube. A city with incredible musical legacy, Vienna is renowned for its palaces, famous residents and expansive art collections. Stroll through Old Town stopping for coffee and a slice of Sachertorte, visit the Schönbrunn Palace or attend a performance in one of the city’s many extraordinary venues.
This former capital of Bavaria, Regensburg was home to a long line of dukes, kings and bishops. It is the largest medieval old town north of the Alps and has an iconic skyline which you can spend the day exploring, with a stop for lunch at one of the many restaurants and beer gardens which feature traditional Bavarian cuisine.
Buda and Pest straddle the Danube, each exuding their own distinctive character. Hungary’s capital earns its reputation as the Paris of the East due to its alluring architecture and vibrant youthful atmosphere.
This 30km stretch along the Danube offers glorious riverine landscapes and charming villages. Just a short hop from Vienna, visitors will encounter centuries-old vineyards, ancient monasteries and castles.