One of the beautiful things about travel is that you can see it through different lens with different itineraries and suppliers. CP Travel Ambassador Trey Moore lead a group to Europe aboard Viking on their "Danube Waltz" itinerary and it's safe to say, we don't want the song to end.
What was your favorite memory from this trip? I assembled and escorted a group of 8 couples who traveled together for the first time. The most cherished memory is simply seeing these couples bond and laugh together as friends while sharing a unique, bucket-list travel experience.
What specific cities and /or countries did you visit? Budapest, Hungary; Bratislava, Slovakia; Vienna, Krems & Linz, Austria; and Passau, Germany
Top excursions and landmarks/sites to visit: In Budapest, you MUST walk along Castle Hill to Fisherman’s Bastion and Matthias Church and see the Danube River and the city below. And sailing past the Hungarian Parliament building lit up at night is simply stunning. Bratislava is not a stopping point for some cruise lines, making it a more "authentic" port . . . very quaint and historic, a little gritty, with great beer halls. We had only one day in Vienna, certainly not long enough!
If you can spend an extra day or tag a couple of days at the beginning or end of your cruise, do so . . . so much to see.
In Krems, the highlight was the Benedictine Abbey of Göttweig. The abbey monks serve up great wine! In Linz, be sure to take the tram from Hauptplatz, the city’s main square, to Postlingberg Church, high on a hill overlooking the city. Or opt for a full day trip to historic Český Krumlov in the Czech Republic or to the moving Mauthausen Memorial, a notorious Nazi concentration camp.
The biggest surprise was our last stop of the cruise in Passau, Germany. Passau is known as the Dreiflüssestadt, the “City of Three Rivers", because the Danube, Inn, and Ilz all come together in a fairytale setting. The narrow streets of Passau take you through the Old Town and past traditional patrician houses and beautiful churches, all under the gaze of Veste Oberhaus, a 13th century fortress set across the river overlooking the city and housing a museum, youth hostel and restaurant.
Were there any standout restaurants or foodie must-haves on this trip? Every port along this stretch of the Danube River is known for its "cafe culture" where you can linger over coffee and desert for hours. Beer halls are also very popular. Be sure and experience both! Try the weiner schnitzel anywhere it is served in Linz. Enjoy a coffee and pastry at Cafe Konditorei Hagmann and the wine tasting at Göttweig Abbey in Krems.
How would you describe the people and culture of this destination? Any interesting cultural lessons? Hungarians take pride in their country and it was on full display when arriving in Budapest as they were preparing for elections. Throughout Austria, everyone we encountered were very friendly and "laid back". All port cities were welcoming of guests.
What is something people would be surprised to learn about this destination? English is widely spoken, but not so much that it distracts from "experiencing" a foreign destination.
Top 5 Tips and recommendations for this trip:
- Don't exchange currency for the Hungarian Forint. You won't need it unless spending a few days in Budapest. You'll get by using your credit card and a few Euros.
- Try to extend your time in Vienna by choosing a cruise that stays overnight or adding days at either end of your trip.
- Take all offered walking tours to get a good orientation of your port city, and then strike out on your own to explore like a local.
- Enjoy your breakfast and dinner aboard ship - you've paid for it. But try and experience local cuisine at lunch.
- If staying in port overnight, be sure and experience the authentic Austrian and German beer halls.
What makes this destination a must-see in your opinion? The history along the Danube River comes alive in the cities that dot the shoreline. From Medieval fortresses, to grand cathedrals, to remnants of German and Soviet occupation - you are enveloped in history. And the art and cultural that originated in this part of Europe is celebrated and on full display to be enjoyed by modern visitors.
Additional thoughts and insights? The Danube River is served by many cruise lines and it is a great destination for first-time river cruisers. My itinerary was Viking's Danube Waltz.
Looking to be a river cruise specialist yourself and discover the beauty of Europe? Contact a local Cruise Planners agent near you!