Thinking of a river cruise in 2020? Here are 6 European gems you can look forward to on a cruise along the Danube this autumn.
While the Danube may be blue, the surrounding landscapes and picturesque cities that sit on its banks are glowing with vibrant colours throughout September and October.
Not only is the scenery a glorious array of orange, gold, copper and red, but at this time of year, the tourist hot spots are quieter, allowing you to experience the cities on your cruise itinerary to their full potential.
The Danube is the second-longest river in Europe, flowing through 10 different countries and 4 capital cities – more than any other river in the world! A cruise on this spectacular river is sure to delight, as you sail peacefully along, stopping to encounter some key European points of interest.
We’ve handpicked our top 6 highlights of an autumnal Danube river cruise itinerary, starting with the iconic Budapest.
Often referred to as the ‘Pearl of the Danube, Budapest is a culture lover’s dream. The city offers tourists a whole host of galleries and museums, as well as popular sights such as Castle Hill and the opulent Hungarian Parliament building, which houses the Hungarian Crown Jewels.
September is the perfect month for exploring the Hungarian capital city on foot, with temperatures averaging around 23°C. Should you start to feel tired from a successful day of sightseeing, you can opt to relax in the city’s natural hot springs spa – one of the largest in Europe.
The Slovakian capital, Bratislava, boasts a beautifully restored historic Old Town. Strolling through the charming streets, there is much to see, including the Old Town Hall and Roland Fountain.
The city’s most famous landmark is its stunning historic castle, located on a hill looking down upon the Old Town and directly above the Danube river.
Bratislava also holds wine grape harvest festivals in autumn, with events celebrating traditional winemaking. Or maybe you’d prefer to time your trip to coincide with Oktoberfest, where you’ll be able to sample the region’s craft beers?
Autumn is the perfect season to visit Salzburg, most notably the birthplace of Mozart.
The weather in September is pleasant, with temperatures averaging around 20°C. Head to the city in October and although colder, this is the month with the least number of rainy days.
Highlights of a sightseeing tour of Salzburg include Mirabell Palace with its formal gardens, bound to be spectacular at this time of year, and the charming old town.
A visit to Vienna is, for many, a river cruise high point. This captivating city is home to some key landmarks renowned for their awe-inspiring architecture, such as St Stephen’s Cathedral, Hofburg Palace and the Vienna State Opera.
A stroll along Vienna’s elegant boulevards is enjoyable all year long, but particularly so in the autumn months, especially if you have time to explore the botanical gardens or the park at Schönbrunn Palace.
Capital of Serbia, Belgrade, is a bustling city with a rich history.
An itinerary highlight on a river cruise from Budapest to the Black Sea, key sights to visit are the stunning domed Temple of Saint Sava, one of the largest Orthdox Churches in the world, and the Belgrade Fortress, built on the confluence between the Danube and Sava rivers.
6. Iron Gates Gorge
From Belgrade, the Danube flows eastwards through the Iron Gates Gorge, one of the most scenic sections of the river.
Passengers will spot of the last king of Dacia – a huge carving of a face in the cliffside. This forms part of the dramatic limestone cliffs that make up the boundary between Romania and Serbia – a key spot for some breathtaking views.