Danube River Cruise
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9 Fabulous Stops On Avalon Waterways Danube River Cruise (Active & Discovery)

Prague To Budapest — Bookended With Prague

Cruising on a luxury ocean liner, floating along on a river cruise ship, or sailing around the harbor on a catamaran, I love being on the water. When we decided to join Avalon Waterways on the Upper Danube River cruise, I was delighted. New countries to check off my bucket list: Czechia, Austria, and Hungary along with some new stops in Germany — I’m in.

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Active & Discovery on the Danube with 2 Nights in Prague (Eastbound)

Danube River Cruise
Sailing The Danube

Avalon Waterways offers many of it’s European river cruises with the Active & Discovery optional excursions. Instead of the typically get-on-the-bus and see the sights itinerary, you can hike, bike, walk longer, and delve deeper into a culture or region to gain a more indepth perspective during your trip.

We added two nights in Prague, because I am all about bookending my trips. Visit 9 Reasons To Bookend Your River Cruise to see why it is the best way to travel.

1. Prague, Czechia

Danube River Cruise
Astronomical Clock, Prague, Czechia

The Old Town in Prague is stunning. It is everything you would expect from a city with deep traditions and historic sights. The beautiful medieval Astronomical Clock in the center of Old Town is the central meeting point for travelers and locals alike. The Twelve Apostles perform a beautiful procession across the clock on the hour between 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.

Prague is known as “The golden city of one hundred spires” because of its beautiful cathedrals and all their pointed spires. There is so much history and architecture to experience. Two nights in Prague makes for a very quick visit. The Old Town is charming, the beer culture is fun, and foodies will love the influx of new chef driven restaurants.

The best way to get to know a city is through its food culture. I love taking food tours whenever I visit a cuisine diverse area. Sometimes it is a neighborhood roundup, other times, like it Prague, it is a full city experience. I highly recommend, a tour with Taste of Prague, it was entertaining and filled with copious amounts of excellent cuisine.

More About Prague

A short pictoral video of the highlights of Prague.

2. Nuremberg, Germany

Streets lined with half-timbered homes in the Old Town hemmed in by the medieval castle wall imparts a charming, quintessential German village. Wander along Karolinenstraße, Old Town’s pedestrian shopping hub. Shop at well-known international brands along with small souvenir shops. It is the perfect spot to enjoy a beverage while people-watching.

Of course, know for the WWII Nuremberg War Trials, and history buffs will want to tour the Documentation Center Nazi Party Rallying Grounds. A massive complex with a Zeppelin field, a stadium, marching field, and assembly hall.

3. Roth, Germany

Danube River cruise
Roth, Germany

The charming little Bavarian town of Roth is filled with half timber houses, delightful shops, and unexpected art installations. The Schloss Ratibor, a medieval castle that was built in the 14th century, still has an impact on the town. Homes and pathways are built into the medieval fortress wall imparting a fairytale feel to this gem of a village.

Stroll the pathways that meander above the town square and you will discover beautiful gardens and pretty vistas as you wind you way through the village neighborhoods. It is a wonderful spot explore and simply get lost.

4. Kelheim, Germany

Danube River Cruise
Sail on the Danube to Weltenburg Abbey

Cruising the upper Danube is made possible through an extensive system of channels and locks. One of the top excursions for me was to take a ferry along the true Danube River (not one of the channels) on the way to Weltenburg Abbey. The scenery along this pristine section of waterway was breathtaking. Robed in fog as the journey began, as it lifted, it revealed dramatic cliffs cutting across the cloud studded skyline.

Danube River Cruise
Weltenburger Barock Dunkel

Every brew connoisseur needs to take the trip to Weltenburg Abbey. The Benedictine Abbey of St. George is a functioning monastery in the heart of Bavaria. Home to the Klosterschenke where guests can sample salty Bavarian pretzels and sip the world famous Weltenburger Barock Dunkel dark beer. The abbey brewery lays claim to being the oldest abbey brewery in the world still in operation. The rich, dark Dunkel offers a hearty beverage that will make you flush with joy. You will be secure in the knowledge, this was one of the highlights of your visit.

5. Regensburg, Germany

Danube River Cruise
Porta Praetoria, Regensburg, Germany

At the confluence of the Danube, Naab, and Regen Rivers sits the Bavarian city of Regensburg. The medieval Old Town is filled with beautiful buildings and ancient architecture. The Porta Praetoria dates back to 179 AD by Emperor Marcus Aurelius as part of the Castra Regina. It is the only remaining Roman gate in all of Germany.

The pretty Old Town is home to wonderful shops that will keep you occupied all afternoon. It was the first place I ever saw fur lined Birkenstock sandals – who knew? Gaze fondly at Christmas shops with iconic German ornaments, linen shops, beer stein purveyors, and all the wonderful artisan collections you could spend hours perusing.

Danube River Cruise
Sausage and Sauerkraut

When it is time to stop for a nibble, you must visit the historic Wurstkuchl for homemade sausages, sauerkraut, and a beer. Snag a table along the river with a view of the 12th century Stone Bridge and dine on a traditional meal with a stunning view. The Worstkuchl has been serving up the same recipes for over 500 years — they must be doing something right.

6. Saltzburg, Austria

Danube River Cruise
Residence Fountain

Beautiful Saltzburg, birthplace of Mozart, is guarded by the formidable Hohensalzburg Fortress as it sits high above the city. The Old City, filled with architectural gems, is the perfect spot to wander and explore. Be sure to make it up to Residenzplatz Square where the Residence Fountain takes center stage. Four magnificent horses rise above a rocky base where three dolphins support Triton spouting water from his conch shell trumpet. It is a magnificent work of art and perfect for a photo opp.

Danube River Cruise
Mirabell Gardens

The stunning sculpted Mirabell Gardens is a lovely green space in the center of the city. Stroll tree lined alee’s, gaze at sculptural garden beds, or meander along a wooded path, it is a lovely spot for a quiet moment.

7. Mondsee, Austria

Danube River Cruise
Basilika St. Michael

The scenery in “Sound of Music” is what many Americans associate with Austria. Snow Capped Mountains, flower covered meadows, beautiful architectural buildings encircling the entire von Trapp Family story. You will find that and more with a visit to Mondsee.

A guided tour of the movie scenes is a fun way to bring the movie to life. The Basilika St. Michael is the movie set for the wedding of Georg and Maria von Trapp, however, The von Trapps were actually married in the church at Nonnberg Abbey — the abbey where Maria served as a novice.

8. Vienna, Austria

Danube River Cruise
Sailing Into Vienna

Spending two days in Vienna was a precious gift. There is so much to explore, one short day is not enough time. Be sure to be on the top deck when you cruise into Vienna, it offers a lovely panoramic view and worth getting up early to view.

Danube River Cruise

A stop at the 5-star Hotel Sacher in Vienna was at the top of my bucket list. Dominating the river bank, the hotel is the epitome of European luxury. Without a reservation, it took some pleading to secure a hightop for two — all we wanted was coffee and a slice of the iconic Sachertorte. The dining room, filled with elegantly dressed guests and we were in tourists clothes with hefty backpacks, but they let us in. It is one of those precious memories, so fun and unexpected and we had a delightful time.

Danube River Cruise
Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna

Another must explore spot in Vienna is Schönbrunn Palace, the summer home of the Habsburgs. Grand and gilded, the palace is filled with precious works of art, period furnishings and elaborate decorations. The Grand Hall, once filled with courtiers, is now a place for curious tourists to contemplate the lives of wealthy European royalty.

9. Budapest, Hungary

Danube River Cruise
Hungarian Parliament Building

River cruise ships tie up along the river in Budapest where they offer panoramic views of the ornate Hungarian Parliament Building.

Danube River Cruise
Shopping In The Castle District

Make your way up to the Castle District, perched high above the city. Here you will find the Castle Museum, Hungarian National Gallery, government buildings, wonderful little shops, and a few cafes. The Castle District is the heart beat of Budapest’s history.

The Best Time To Take A Danube River Cruise

Depending on what your preferences are, most of the year is a great time to cruise the Danube River.

July and August are high tourist seasons in Europe. Everything is open and there is a lively atmosphere. It can be a hot and crowded time to visit, albeit festive. Also the river is unpredictable and can be too low for the ship to sail. When that happens, the ship staff works diligently to make your vacation as seamless as possible. There may be ship swaps, bus excursions, and other creative ways to route passengers to and from their desired excursions.

The shoulder seasons — spring and fall — are also lovely. The weather can be cool and there will most likely be a rainy day or two. However, it is a small price to pay for less crowds.

A Christmas Market Cruise on the Danube River is on my bucket list. All the charming lights, festive decorations, and unique gifts make for a fun adventure. Enjoying the Christmas traditions during your cruise itinerary makes for a culturally interesting journey.

Eastern Europe River Cruises And Medieval Towns Along The Danube River

Danube River Cruise
Avalon Artistry II

Reaching beyond your home and exploring another continent, will broaden your outlook while crafting cherished memories. Charming medieval old towns, thriving cities filled with a mix of historic traditions and modern living are fascinating to explore. As travelers, each region imparts a piece of knowledge and helps us discover a world we want to make better.

I am looking forward to exploring the lower Danube River, it’s on my bucket list as one of my next Europe river cruise destinations. The lower Danube River cruise starts in Germany and pass through Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, and Croatia. Now that is a list of interesting countries to explore.

Happy Travels,



Danube River Cruise


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Don’t forget to download my free packing list! It’s the perfect jumping off point to get your adventure started.Visit my YouTube Channel: Bucket List Travel Destinations. Travel With Sandi around the world to destinations perfect for seniors and the people they love as travel companions.

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