Lists! > Ten Places on the Danube
10 Places to go on the Danube River
This list is built as the companion for last month's list of 10 Places on the Rhine. The Danube River originates in the Black Forest region of southwest Germany, and from there it winds it way through several countries. The capital cities of Vienna, Bratislava, and Budapest owe much to this great river, but there are plenty more cities that call the river its home. Here are 10 such places (again, sorted by location, not by preference).
Ulm is the first major city on the Danube, which is known as the Donau in Germany. The city is famous for its Cathedral, shown here, but also a fabulously decorated Town Hall and numerous archaeological digs that provide testament to the city's old Roman past.
Ingolstadt is easily forgotten as a major site on the Danube. This small city has a beautiful white castle (pictured) called the Neues Schloss and several prominent churches. It also doesn't have the tourist kitsch that sometimes engulfs other locales.
The ancient Roman city of Ratisbon still lives on in total splendor in the form of Regensburg, one of Bavaria's greatest cities. The huge downtown is constantly active, and its spring and fall festivals are worth attending.
I happened upon this wonderful town during my Christmas market adventures in 2002 and have yearned to return. A beautiful market square with this tower in the center and colorfully painting buildings on both sides, Straubing was about as pretty as Bavarian towns come.
As the Danube reaches the Austrian border, it is joined by the massive Inn River coming up from Innsbruck -- and from thereon the Danube becomes mighty, and occasionally dangerous. Passau has seen its share of huge floods, most recently in 2002. On most other days, however, Passau is a beautiful and sleepy like confluence town with lots to see.
Finally leaving Germany, the first major city the Danube encounters in Austria is Linz. By this point, the Danube has turned mighty with the infusion of the Isar, Inn, Salzach, and Traun Rivers, now cutting a major path through the mountains. Linz's market square is massive and very colorful, and has a rainbow of churches. It's riverside district is also an abstract art museum (which I poked fun at in a previous list).
You won't actually see the Danube from downtown Vienna -- the majority of the city is well set off from it -- but the influence of the Danube is very much present. The mighty river plays host to one of the great imperial cities with some of the most impressive architecture and beautiful markets in the world. Vienna is a regular on my Lists because I love the city so much!
By comparison, the smaller capital city of Slovakia (known in Austro-Hungarian times as Pressburg) is very much a river city, with the famous Bratislava Castle perched directly over the Danube much like the similar Marienburg Castle looms over the Main in Wuerzburg. The Slovak capital is a wonderful destination, particularly with Slovakia joining the EU in the spring of 2004.
After the Danube shares the border of Slovakia and Hungary for a stretch, it then takes a sharp turn to the south toward Budapest. Along the way are several towns with a Roman past -- the town of Aquincum harbors the remains of a 3000-year old outpost, for example. Near there is the town of Szentendre, a pleasant Hungarian town that is a popular excursion for the locals. It sits on high ground above the artificially-leveed Danube River, and is a great place for souvenir shopping.
The final stop on our Danube tour is the Hungarian capital of Budapest, in the virtual geographic center of the country. Budapest is an incredible city with the Chain Bridge and Buda Castle toward the west, and the great shopping and museums in the east. Worth a whole weekend visit.
(c) 2003, 2004 Tom Galvin