Viking River Cruises Danube Waltz Highlights

From capital cities to small, historic towns, our Danube Waltz highlights give you a sneak peak at one popular European Viking River Cruises itinerary. We enjoyed this fabulous trip on the Viking Freya, a few months after our Romantic Mediterranean trip and before our Midnight Sun cruise with Viking Ocean Cruises.

We looked forward to learning how the river and ocean cruises would differ as we explored beautiful cities of Europe and the lovely Wachau Valley.

Viking River Cruises, Viking Longship

This was our first river cruise, and we were happy to discover that our Veranda Stateroom would be a cozy, compact, and very comfortable “home” for our eight day voyage. The king-size bed, desk and tiny sitting area were enhanced by the large, sliding glass doors to the veranda. Stretching the width of our room, the glass brought in welcome light and beautiful views during our journey.

Longship Veranda Stateroom; photo credit: Viking River Cruises
Longship Veranda Stateroom; photo credit: Viking River Cruises
Viking River Cruises stateroom bath
Viking River stateroom bathroom

Common spaces on the ship included a large Dining Room and Lounge, and the smaller Aquavit Terrace with indoor and outdoor seating for casual meals and relaxing. The top deck offers a lovely open space with seating, games, and a walking track for taking in the views and relaxing, as long as the weather cooperates.

Viking Freya in Burdapest
Viking Freya docked in Budapest
Viking River Cruises upper deck games
Viking River upper deck games
Outdoor seating Viking River
Outdoor seating Viking River Cruises
Entertainment in lounge Viking River
Entertainment in the lounge, Viking River Cruises

Follow the link above to learn more about the Viking Longships used on all of the river cruises. McCool Travel note: that beautiful view of the Freya at the link above is taken in Dürnstein, visited on this Danube itinerary.

See our article if you are trying to decide between a Viking Ocean or Viking River cruise.

Viking River Cruises Danube Waltz Highlights

The Danube Waltz river cruise visits five countries over eight days, with both included and optional tours available to explore the cities and countryside along the journey. The itinerary is offered in both directions; we sailed from Passau, Germany to Budapest, Hungary, adding on our own pre- and post-stops in Berlin/Prague and Budapest (extensions can also be booked through Viking).

Passau, Germany

Day one of your cruise is really a partial day, allowing time to reach, board, and explore your ship and relax with a meal and a drink on board. You also have the option to join a guided Welcome Walk through the streets of Passau.

On day 2, you begin the full Viking experience with a walking tour of Passau. The included tours in every port are one of the important reasons Viking Cruises are a fantastic value. We highly recommend joining every complimentary tour you can, just be sure to note the level of activity required, especially if someone in your group has mobility issues.

Just after lunch it was time to cast off and begin our trip down the Danube. The fun of river cruising was immediate as we pulled away from town, headed under a low bridge, passed gorgeous scenery, and entered our first lock on the way to Linz, Austria.

Leaving Passau Viking River
Leaving Passau on the Viking Freya: Danube Waltz highlights
Exiting a Danube lock Viking River
Exiting a Danube lock Viking River Cruises

Linz, Austria or Český Krumlov, Czech Republic

Docked in Linz, Austria, it was time to make a choice. Viking offered an all-day, included tour of the medieval town and Unesco World Heritage site, Český Krumlov in the Czech Republic. Alternatively, we could join a two-hour excursion in Linz, Austria, visiting the town square, Austria’s largest church, and other highlights of the “capital of Upper Austria.”

One of us was not feeling well and we opted to stay in Linz. It was nice to explore town at an easy pace, then spend time relaxing on board. At night, we heard wonderful stories about the trip to Český Krumlov from fellow Viking cruise passengers. The April weather, however, was not cooperating and everyone was a bit stunned by on-and-off snow-showers and freezing cold temps.

Main square Linz Austria Viking River
Main square Linz Austria: Danube Waltz highlights

>>> Please also see Viking Star Dining Options That Will Blow Your Mind

Melk, Dürnstein, and the Wachau Valley

This turned out to be my favorite day of river cruising. The day began with a tour of the stunning Melk Abbey and a lovely walk back to our ship.

Touring Melk Abbey Viking River
Touring Melk Abbey with Viking River Cruises
Melk stairway Viking River
Melk Abbey stairway

Next, we relaxed and snapped pictures on a narrated cruise through the Wachau Valley, one of the four Unesco World Heritage Sites visited on our itinerary. A stop in the picturesque town of Dürnstein, allowed for a short but steep hike to the castle ruins, for stunning views of town and the valley.

Castles and convents Viking River
Castles and convents Viking River cruising
Towns and vineyards Viking River
Towns and vineyards in the Wachau Valley with Viking River Cruises
Durnstein Austria Viking River
Dürnstein Austria and the Wachau Valley: Danube Waltz highlights

Finally, we headed out for an optional Winery Tour and Tasting where we sampled delicious wines from the vintner who supplies all of Viking River Cruises complimentary wines. It was a day full of beauty and fun that delivered the quintessential river cruise experience we had dreamed of.

Austrian wine tasting tour Viking River
Austrian wine tasting tour with Viking River Cruises

Vienna, Austria

We had packed our day in Vienna with one included, and two optional tours, so we were a little concerned we had overcommitted. Fortunately, the tours were engaging and not too taxing, and the day offered a nice combination of learning and fun. During the morning city tour we were lucky enough to see Lippizaner stallions at the famous Spanish Riding School walk right past us.

Lippizaers Vienna Austria Viking River
Lippizaners Vienna Austria

In the afternoon, our optional tour of the Schonbrunn Palace introduced us to the opulent life of the Hapsburg Dynasty.

Schonnbrun Palace, Vienna Austria, Viking River
Schonbrunn Palace, Vienna Austria
Schonnbrun Palace Gardens Viking River
Schonbrunn Palace Gardens, Vienna Austria

And in the evening, we drank and laughed through a Heurigen Evening—an Austrian tradition celebrating the bottling of the season’s wines. Others from our cruise were off to an evening of Mozart and Strauss with the famed Vienna Residence Orchestra.

Heurigen Evening Viking River
Heurigen Evening with Viking River Cruises

Bratislava, Slovak Republic

The only national capital that borders two countries (Austria and Hungary) was a complete unknown to us and we were excited to learn more during our included city tour. Our guide gave us a wonderful introduction to this lovely city, while also sharing insights about how life had changed since the break-up of the Soviet Union. The city has a sense of humor too, as is evident in the popular “Man at Work” sculpture near the town center.

Bratislava, Slovak Republic, Viking River
Bratislava, Slovak Republic
Man at Work sculpture Bratislava Viking River
Man at Work sculpture Bratislava

Budapest, Hungary

Our pre-cruise documents described a scenic cruise through the Danube Bend on our way to Budapest. Sadly, we sailed during the night so we missed what may have been another cruising highlight. It’s important to remember that Viking, like all cruise companies, will adjust itineraries as needed due to weather, changing schedules, and river conditions.

On our last full day on the Viking Freya we joined the “Active Tour” of Budapest, which included quite a bit of walking, plus rides on a funicular, bus, and tram. The active tour option was available most days, but you had to sign up quickly the night before, as they could only accommodate 20 people. In general, the active tour covers less ground but in more depth.

Active Budapest tour Viking River
Active Budapest tour with Viking River Cruises: Danube Waltz highlights
Central Market Budapest Viking River
Central Market, Budapest Hungary
Matthias Church Budapest
Matthias Church, Budapest Hungary

Fortunately, Viking added an evening cruise during our night in Budapest which gave us a chance to sail past beautifully lit buildings like the Budapest Parliament. We absolutely loved our stay in Budapest, and were happy that we had planned additional post-cruise days in the city.

Budapest Parliament building at night
Budapest Parliament from the Viking River Cruise: Danube Waltz highlights
Viking Freya sign Viking River Cruises
Viking Freya at night, Viking River Cruises

McCool Travel tip: extend your vacation by spending some extra time at the destinations before and after your Viking river cruise. Here are some things to do in Budapest we did after our Danube Waltz Viking cruise.

Our Danube Waltz highlights have reached an end. It was hard to say goodbye to our wonderful crew, new friends, and our cozy Viking Freya stateroom, but we hope to return for another Viking River Cruise soon and learn more Viking cruise secrets.

We were guests of Viking Cruises aboard the Viking Freya. For more information, follow Viking Cruises on FacebookTwitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Article by Julie McCool, whose Northern Virginia travel site helps locals and visitors find fun places to explore, dine, drink, and play in the Virginia, Washington DC, and Maryland area. Follow Fun in Fairfax VA on FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram

From capital cities to small, historic towns, our Danube Waltz highlights give you a sneak peak at one popular European itinerary with Viking River Cruises.

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7 thoughts on “Viking River Cruises Danube Waltz Highlights”

  1. Pingback: Top Cities to Visit in Europe in 2020 - Jetting Around
  2. I’ve travelled down the River Mekong on a Viking River Cruise and am currently looking to follow that with a second river cruise. Thanks for the details you’ve provided here.

  3. I have visited about half the spots on this cruise but I would love to take one of these cruises one day. On the bucketlist. Glad you got to see Bratislava – almost no one knows much about it but my brother moved there 15 years ago and I go often to visit. It has quite a charm once you get to know it.

  4. wow!!! This place is very articulate. You guys really brings me to a fantasy land. I guess you have a wonderful adventure.

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