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Viking Longship Radgrid on the Seine in Paris (Photo: Viking)

Discover the Diverse Flavors of Europe's Capital Cities on a River Cruise

Viking Longship Radgrid on the Seine in Paris (Photo: Viking)
Sara Macefield

Jul 12, 2024

Read time
7 min read

Sponsored by Viking

European river cruises are sometimes famously described as floating city breaks. Nowhere lives up to this premise more than the Rhine and Danube rivers, which carve a path through the beating heart of some of the Continent's most remarkable metropolises.

The Danube, in particular, flows through an impressive procession of stately country capitals which makes cruising along this waterway a gift for anyone wanting to tick off several marquee destinations in one sailing. Elsewhere, the Elbe and the Seine also boast their own capital attractions.

Viking's European river cruises help to bring these cities to life where, in addition to coach and walking tours, they offer a fascinating range of immersive explorations guaranteed to help guests discover the authentic character of each capital and its country.

Jewish Heritage and Skillful Horsemanship in Budapest

A Viking Longship Docked in Budapest (Photo: Viking)

The Hungarian capital, dubbed the Queen of the Danube, lives up to its regal moniker with the Gothic Parliament building and Fisherman's Wharf lookout beautifully illuminated at night, making this one of the most dramatic vistas on any river.

On an included Viking tour of Budapest, explore haunting Jewish history that takes guests through the city's Jewish Quarter. This area is dominated by the Dohany Street Synagogue which stands out not only for its ornate interior, but its grand size that makes it Europe's biggest synagogue and the second largest in the world.

Alternatively, learn about the renowned bravery of Hungary's horsemen, which comes to the fore on a farm tour that showcases their riding skills handed down generations. Another steadfast tradition visitors can tap into is relaxing in the restorative powers of Budapest's thermal waters at one of its traditional spa baths.

Baroque Palaces and Craft Beers in Bratislava

Bratislava's Michael's Gate. (Photo via Shutterstock).

Leafy squares and Baroque palaces mark out the atmospheric pocket-size capital of Bratislava that sits on the banks of the Danube.

Its compact layout lends itself to Viking's walking tours to the rose-colored Archbishop's Palace and the ornate Grassalkovich Palace, where the president resides. History weighs heavily on the Gothic St. Martin's Cathedral, the setting of coronation for Hungarian royalty for more than 250 years.

Where better to celebrate Slovakia's thriving brewing industry than at a beer-tasting and dinner?  Start at a medieval pub tucked into the heart of the Old Town to sample its craft beers before moving on to the Klastorny Pivovar or Abbey Brewery for a meal of traditional fare — washed down with local brews.

Classical Concerts and Ornate Palaces in Vienna

A masterful mix of historical and cultural riches, underpinned by glorious classical music, artistic treasures and a wealth of elegant architecture, makes Austria's capital the prized jewel of Danube cruises.

Explore the magnificent Schonbrunn Palace on one of Viking's Vienna excursions. The summer residence of the Hapsburg dynasty, Schonbrunn was built to rival the grandeur of Paris's Versailles. Or you could inject a musical theme at a special Mozart and Strauss concert. Alternatively, opt for one of Viking's Privileged Access experiences featuring works by the same composers with musical prodigy Alma Deutscher who acts as conductor and violinist. Guests wanting to embrace the Viennese lifestyle can put on their dancing shoes to learn the traditional Viennese waltz and tour Mozart's apartment in the city.

Keep the music flowing with a fascinating behind the scenes tour of the Vienna Boys Choir's base Wiener Sangerknaben or enjoy another behind closed doors experience at the legendary Spanish Riding School to meet the world-famous Lipizzaner stallions.

An Art Colony and Urban Oasis at Belgrade

The Bohemian Quarter in Belgrade (Image: Viking)

Sitting at the confluence of the Danube and Sava rivers, Belgrade is one of Europe's oldest cities and was also the former capital of the state of Yugoslavia. As such, it has a tumultuous history that has seen the so-called White City, destroyed and rebuilt 20 times over the centuries.

Descend to the city's depths on a Best of Belgrade Viking excursion that takes visitors into wine cellars constructed out of labyrinthine tunnels dating from Roman times. Learn about the Naïve Art movement on a visit to the Pannonian Basin outside the city where the Kovacica Art Colony can be found.

Energetic guests can take to two wheels to discover the capital on a Viking biking tour that follows the banks of the Sava River. You'll pass the modern center and out to quieter residential neighborhoods towards Ada Lake, known as an urban oasis, where locals go to escape.

A Wealth of Architectural Riches in Bucharest

The astonishing Palace of the Parliament, Bucharest, Romania (Photo: Viking)

Romania's capital stands out for its wealth of elegant French-style boulevards, Art Nouveau architecture and ornate gardens. One building that has to be seen to be believed is the giant Palace of Parliament, the world's largest civilian building reputedly containing 3,000 rooms.

Formerly the residence of dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, Viking guests in Bucharest can explore this cavernous building, which took 13 years to build and still contains treasures and personal items dating from his rule. Another fascinating spot included on tours takes visitors to Revolution Square to see the balcony where Ceausescu gave his final speech before being arrested and executed. The narrow cobblestone streets of the Old Town give a sense of the capital's past with neo-baroque buildings and atmospheric restaurants, while the outdoor Village Museum contains an interesting collection of traditional dwellings from across the country.

Medieval Treasures and Folklore Evenings in Prague

Prague Czech Republic (Image: Viking)

The captivating capital of the Czech Republic is one of the biggest draws of Viking river cruises along the Elbe, even though it sits on the Vltava River. However, its relative proximity makes the city a natural add-on to Elbe sailings with guests spending a couple of nights at one of the city's hotels before or after their cruise.

This gives more time to explore the so-called City of a Hundred Spires on tours that delve into its Jewish heritage and the many medieval glories contained in the UNESCO-listed Old Town. It's here that Viking guests can witness the famous Tyn Church and its 15th-century Astronomical Clock that bursts into life every hour. Viking guests can also enjoy a Privileged Access tour to the Lobkowicz Palace and its precious collections of paintings by the grand masters and precious musical masterpieces that include original Beethoven manuscripts.

Get a taste of colorful Czech culture at a fun-filled Prague folklore dinner of food, dance and wine and soak up the magical evening ambience on a Viking nighttime walking tour.

Culinary Flavors and Historical Grandeur in Paris

Eiffel Tower Paris by Night (Photo: Viking)

As one of the world's most celebrated cities overflowing with cultural and historical riches, France's atmospheric capital is one of the undisputed highlights of Viking's Seine River cruises, where most Seine River cruises begin or visit.

Explore one of the city's historic quarters on a foodie walking tour to sample a host of French culinary treats at a renowned chocolatier or bakery and sample a selection of locally cured meats and cheeses. Marvel at the out-of-this-world extravagance of the famed Palace of Versailles, set in gloriously elaborate grounds, that was home to French royalty, and admire the enigmatic Mona Lisa and other treasures of the Louvre before a traditional Parisian three-course dinner at a local brasserie.

There's nowhere better to admire the breathtaking night-time illuminations of the City of Lights than taking an open-air evening cruise along the Seine that showcases the twinkling spectacle of the Eiffel Tower along with a host of the city's other monumental sights.

Wartime Memories and Cultural Creativity in Berlin

Berlin (Photo:William Perugini/Shutterstock)

The German capital is a vibrant hub of culture and creativity underpinned by a fascinating history of wartime turbulence and the triumph of reunification that led to the city's rebirth.

A night-time Viking tour celebrates the magnificence of its old and modern architectural wonders with the majesty of the Brandenburg Gate and spectacular glass-domed Reichstag Parliament building. A dinner cruise brings similar views with other highlights such as the Charlottenburg Palace and the famous Kurfurstendamm shopping street.

Viking guests can learn haunting stories about the city during the Cold War when it was split between East and West, separated by the infamous Berlin Wall, and visit the former headquarters of the infamous Stasi secret police, now a museum.

Discover hidden gems on a bike ride that explores some of the lesser-known areas of the former East Berlin that illustrate its intriguing past or visit a microbrewery that sits under the train tracks of the Hackescher Markt S-Bahn where diners can enjoy a dinner and samples beers as trains clatter overhead.

Updated July 12, 2024
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