The Danube River cuts through the cultural heartland of Central Europe, originating in Germany’s Black Forest and flowing 1,720 miles through nine other countries before pouring into the Black Sea.
The former frontier of the Roman Empire and a key medieval trade route, the river is strung with historic towns and grand Habsburgian cities, and winds through landscapes of vineyard-planted hills, pastoral meadows and craggy mountains. In this neck of the woods, fairytale castles and storybook villages are ten a penny. And there’s no better way to see it all than from the water.
Danube River cruises combine the calm tranquility of a life in a slow lane with a chance to see all the local highlights. Frequent stops will take in some of Europe’s finest Baroque streetscapes, imperial palace complexes and art collections. Perhaps the biggest cultural draw is the region’s remarkable musical heritage, with classical music icons such as Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn, Schubert, Brahms and Johann Strauss II (the composer of The Blue Danube waltz) connected to this part of the world. When you have had your fill of culture, you can retire to the comfort and quiet of your private cabin.
Walk in the footsteps of musical virtuosos in Vienna
See the gold and chandelier-adorned interior of the State Opera House and visit composer Bartók’s former home in Budapest
Visit the impeccably restored Melk Abbey, a UNESCO-listed Baroque complex
Explore photogenic Salzburg, the birthplace of Mozart and a key filming location for The Sound of Music
Take a walking tour around the charming cobbled lanes of Prague
Located in Prague’s picturesque Malá Strana (Lesser Town) district, just a six-minute walk from Charles Bridge, the Nicholas Hotel Residence has just nine rooms and suites. It’s located within an old Rococo palace and though the interior has been given a modern makeover, period features such as timber beams, oak floors and vaulted ceilings, ensure it retains its historic charm.
If you think Hungarian cuisine is all hearty peasant fare, be prepared to be surprised at Michelin-starred Onyx in Budapest. The restaurant delivers refined, updated twists on Hungarian specialties, such as goose liver and oxtail consommé, and offers a wonderful wine menu with lots of interesting regional selections.
Sip aperitifs, enjoy dinner and attend a classical concert in a private Viennese neoclassical palace that isn’t open to the general public.