Everything About the Danube River
Mentioned in innumerable songs and much traveled, no river in the world flows through so many countries on its way to the sea as the Danube. This mighty river covers an astounding 2,889 km (1795 miles) from its source in Germany to the Black Sea. The Danube’s course from west to east takes it through ten countries (Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Moldova, Bulgaria, and Ukraine), and as Europe’s lifeline it unites a wide variety of peoples, religions, and cultures into a harmonious whole. The diverse, sometimes idyllic, sometimes nearly mystical landscapes that line its banks are shrouded in myth and legend.
The entire history of Central Europe was written on its banks, and the centuries-long exchange between peoples and cultures left behind traces that can still be experienced today. The Danube is lined with witnesses to the past: imposing monasteries and magnificent castles and palaces.
But not only the centuries-long encounters among the peoples of the Danube region are worth a closer look. Over the course of history, a wealth of cultural treasures was left behind by the legendary rulers of Europe as well, from Marcus Aurelius and Frederick Barbarossa to the Habsburgs. Thanks to an international cooperation among tourism organizations and shipping companies, visitors can embark on an enchanting journey along this historic travel route with all its splendid buildings and artistic treasures on the “Road of Emperors and Kings”, which leads from medieval Regensburg via Passau and Vienna to Budapest, the Hungarian capital. Pristine river landscapes such as the picturesque Danube wetlands and spectacularly beautiful pastoral spots like the Wachau Valley, as well as the countless opportunities for excursions to cities and towns both ancient and modern, make this journey an unforgettable experience.
Waltzing the Blue Danube
When travelling along the Danube, whether it is by bike, car or boat, the following attractions should not be missed:
Linz – European Capital of Culture 2009
Culture in Linz is extraordinarily diverse. There’s interactive art in the virtual worlds of the Ars Electronica Center, which recently moved into a fabulous new facility. On the opposite bank of the Danube, masterpieces of the 19th and 20th centuries are on display in the striking glass-and-steel Lentos Museum of Art. A day filled with culture and art can be rounded off with a delicious “Linzer Torte” the cities famous sweet dish!
Benedictine Abbey of Melk
The Abbey of Melk is located at the entrance to the World Cultural Heritage Region Wachau where it has formed a spiritual and cultural hub of Austria for more than 900 years. Today, you can stroll through a modern abbey museum and learn about its history and present activities. The marble hall and the library are especially worth seeing, and the abbey church forms a true masterpiece of Baroque art.
The Ruin and Abbey Church of Dürnstein
Famous for the imprisonment of the English king Richard Lion Heart, the Ruin of Dürnstein is a popular sight in the Wachau region. On your way up to the ruin, you are rewarded with extraordinary views over the Danube and its vineyards. The Abbey Church of Dürnstein is well-known for its blue-white tower, the unique artwork showing the suffering of Jesus Christ, and the tabernacle at the altar with 44 images of the life of Jesus.
Krems is a lively little town renowned for its inner city and dynamic art scene. Its central, artistic hub is the “Kunstmeile Krems” including the famous art gallery, Austria’s only museum for caricature and numerous restaurants and bars. Wine enthusiasts should definitely visit the wine museum as well as participate at a guided wine tour called “WEIN.SINN.”
Excursion Cruises on the Danube
The first Austrian shipping company, named DDSG, was founded in 1829. By 1880, the DDSG was the world's largest river shipping company, with a fleet of more than 200 steamboat ships and about 1000 cargo tubs.
Nowadays, the company offers a great variety of one-day cruises along the Danube: from sightseeing and evening cruises, to special themed cruises such as the Heurigen Cruise, which is dedicated to music and culinary delights. One of the gems offered by DDSG, the Wachau Valley cruise is not to be missed. It passes the historic town of Krems and visits Dürnstein, with its famous Ruin and the Abbey Church. Have a glass of wine while observing the picturesque landscape and learning more about Austria’s biggest Benedictine Abbey, “Stift Melk”. For those who look for a speedy adventure, the DDSG offers hydrofoil cruises from Vienna to Budapest, and vice versa.
For more information on DDSG river cruises, please visit www.ddsg-blue-danube.at
Savour the Culinary Danube
The Danube is not only known for its culture, landscape and beautiful nature, it is also famous for its culinary delights and therefore a top address for gourmets. All in all, the Danube has to offer a great variety of Austrian specialities; and these are our culinary Danube highlights:
Linz is not only well-known for having been Europe’s Cultural Capital in 2009, it is also famous for its sweet temptation the Linzer Torte. It is considered the oldest known cake in the world, as it was already mentioned by name as early as 1653. This cake, made out of shortcrust and hazelnuts and filled with tasty red current jam, goes well with an Austrian coffee.
Making a good “Most” - a typical Austrian kind of juice pressed from fruit – is just as demanding as making a good wine. In the Lower Austrian Mostviertel region, pears for “Most” are picked, washed, and pressed by hand. After several weeks in fermentation barrels, this precious “cuvee” of fruit wine is then bottled. Gourmets appreciate the pear “Most” for its tangy taste and fruit aroma.
The mild climate and fertile soil of the Wachau Valley not only produce outstanding white wines; they are also perfect for fruit-growing. When the apricots are ripe, this Lower Austrian region becomes a dumpling paradise. Apricot dumplings are traditionally made with either potato dough, cream puff pastry or curd-cheese dough, which is wrapped around the fruits. After cooking, the dumplings get rolled in browned bread crumbs and sprinkled with powdered sugar.
In July, the Wachau valley glows in deep orange hues: it is time for the apricot harvest. These apricots are used to designate many traditional types of food and drinks. The well-known Wachau apricot Schnapps can be recognised by its intensive aroma of ripe fruit. Gourmets describe this beverage as an especially fine drink.
Fish from the Danube
The Danube is famous for its delicious freshwater fish, such as the carp, rainbow trout, pike, and the sturgeon. So why not having a tasty fish with a glass of Austrian wine? Along the Danube you will definitely find the appropriate atmosphere in one of numerous restaurants.
Vienna is the world’s only metropolis with its own wine-growing industry, boasting some 700 hectares of vineyards. The most popular whites are "Gemischter Satz", “Riesling” and “Weissburgunder”, while a favourite red is “Zweigelt.” The best place to enjoy them is at the typical wine taverns called “Heuriger.”