Any retiree will tell you they’ve either been themselves or they know someone who has gone on a river cruise in Europe. River cruising has certainly taken the world by storm in recent years. For those of us who have been around for a bit longer than others, cruising is a great way to take all the stress out of travelling. I think European river cruising, in particular, is here to stay.
The journey on the water between Budapest and Amsterdam is one of the most popular cruises around and for good reason.
What makes it so popular is the sights and landscape along the way. There’s a treasure trove o9f UNESCO World Heritage Sites and a cruise between Budapest and Amsterdam takes you to five countries in 15 days.
The list of countries I’ve visited rose to include the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary all in the same trip.
Most river cruising itineraries will include touring in Budapest but it’s certainly worth spending a few extra days in Budapest. The capital of Hungary is a fascinating place. There’s the National Opera House and historic Heroes’ Square, Castle Hill, Fishermen’s Bastion and Matthias Church.
The scenery between Budapest and Vienna is lovely, especially in autumn when the leaves are golden. It’s actually quite exciting when the ship pulls away from Budapest and you realise you’re cruising along the Danube (which is far from blue).
Vienna is a stately city that is easy to get around. Your cruise will probably include a bus tour of the city but if you like exploring, this is one city that is quite easy to explore on your own. There are beautiful cathedrals, museums and churches. The city is packed with wonderful Viennese cafes that serve strudel and other delicious goodies. Read this post to find out how to spend 48 hours in Vienna.
Another popular shore excursion which most cruise ships stop at is Melk in Austria. The 900-year old Benedictine monastery is absolutely stunning. It has some of Austria’s finest Italian baroque architecture and a wonderful medieval library. Melk also has a small cobblestone village with local shops.
In Germany, cities along the water include Passau, Regensburg, Nuremberg, Bamberg, Wurzburg, Koblenz, Middle Rhine and Cologne. You’ll pass by hilltop castles along the Rhine, the stunning Lorelei Rock named after a legendary Rhine Maiden who lured sailors to their demise.
One highlight is visiting Marksburg Castle, which is the only Rhine fortress left. While in Cologne, you take a stroll through Old Town past St. Martin’s Church and visit the Dom which is Germany’s largest cathedral and it is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Kinderdijk in the Netherlands is a UNESCO World Heritage Site where you can sample Dutch cheese and jenever, which is distilled juniper liquor.
Amsterdam is a fun city to explore, with quirky neighborhoods, museums and vibrant nightlife.