Castles on hilltops. Bustling metropolises. Bucolic vineyards. No river captures the breadth of the European river cruise experience like the Danube, which offers all these (and more) along one route stretching from Bavaria to the Black Sea. Options abound at every turn: Take a weeklong cruise, or extend your journey up to a monthlong expedition. Focus on a few regions that most interest you, or cruise the entire river. Stick close to the water, or go on excursions to farther-flung sites.
"The Danube has a lot of small-town charm and big-city interest—more variety than you'll find on other rivers," says Allison Walker, one of AAA's top travel agents. “River cruising suits every age and activity level. I have cruised with both my parents and my 20-something children. Cruisers can choose to take driven tours, easy walking tours, or sail and enjoy the sites. Or if a more active approach is preferred, hiking, or my personal favorite, biking, on a variety of excursions will satisfy every interest. It’s a great way to get out amongst the locals and the charming nooks and crannies of a village or larger town. ”
With so many choices, advice from experienced experts is invaluable. Read on for just a few highlights of Danube cruising, plus insights from Allison, who has 21 years of experience as a travel agent and has cruised the Danube three times with three cruise lines.