Flowing through the heart of Budapest, the Danube is the lifeline of the Hungarian capital, as well as its geographic center, separating the hilly Buda district on the west bank from the bustling Pest on the east bank. The striking waterfront is also part of Budapest’s UNESCO World Heritage–listed treasures, home to landmarks such as the Szechenyi Chain Bridge, the Liberty Bridge, Buda Castle Hill, Matthias Church, the Hungarian Parliament Building, and Margaret Island.
A Danube River cruise is a highlight of many Budapest sightseeing tours, and options include lunch or dinner cruises, wine-tasting cruises, and moonlight cocktail cruises. Alternatively, head out of the city to explore the scenic towns of the Danube Bend, including Esztergom, Visegrad, and Szentendre, before cruising back to Budapest along the river.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Boat tours operating on the river include panoramic cruise ships, amphibious coaches, and private small boats.
- Cruises typically last one to two hours.
- Bring warm clothing if traveling on an open-air boat—it can get chilly, especially at night.
- Most boat cruises are wheelchair accessible, but it’s best to check in advance.
How to Get There
Wherever you are in the city, it’s easy to get to the riverside. The most popular stretch of the river runs between the Green Bridge and Margaret Island. Cruises leave from both sides of the river, with most piers located close to the Chain Bridge.
When to Get There
Danube River cruises run regularly year-round, but for the most atmospheric views, opt for a sunset sightseeing cruise or a night cruise. For an unforgettable experience, book a Christmas cruise and admire the waterfront illuminations as you tuck into a festive onboard lunch or dinner.
Cruising Along the Danube
The Danube is Europe’s second longest river, running for 1,785 miles (2,872 kilometers) from the Black Forest region in Germany to the Black Sea on the east coast of Romania. In total, it passes through an incredible 10 countries and four capital cities. Multi-day cruises to and from Budapest are a popular choice, particularly in the summer and holiday seasons, with destinations such as Vienna and Salzburg in Austria, Passau and the Wachau Valley in Germany, and Bratislava in Slovakia.