The Danube River

The Danube River is the longest river in Europe, running almost 1,800 miles from the Black Forest to the Black Sea – it flows by eleven countries. My husband Tom and I traversed its route from Regensburg and Passau (last weeks’ post) through the lovely Wachau Valley, and cruised from Vienna to Budapest (then we take the train back to Vienna – more pictures coming in the weeks to come). Because of canals, the North Sea (at the port of Rotterdam ) is now connected via the Rhine, the Main and the Danube Rivers to the Black Sea.

Canal connecting Main River to Danube

Canal connecting Main River to the Danube


Once a northern border of the Roman Empire –  called the Danubius (in German it is the Donau) – it was also the northern border of the Ottoman Empire for centuries. Its location made it important from earliest times and its beauty makes it one of the most romantic rivers in the world. The river attracted the Vikings and the Romans the Mongols and the Turks and has been center player in European history on through the Hapsburg Dynasty to the present.

Danube at Regensberg

Danube at Regensberg

The Old Stone Bridge (Steinerne Brücke)was built 1135-1145  during the early centuries of the Holy Roman Empire and was the only crossing of the Danube for 800 yrs. The Crusaders used it to cross the mighty river on their way to the Holy Land.


Old Stone Bridge

Old Stone Bridge (

The building attached to the gate is the “Salt store.”  Regensburg’s monopoly on salt made it  rich during the Middle Ages.


View of Regensburg from under the bridge

View of Regensburg from under the bridge

The Holy Roman Empire (HRE) was a huge amalgamation of territories in central Europe that developed (900’s) during the Middle Ages and continued until its dissolution in 1806.  Bavaria was part of this Empire (which my history teacher liked to point out was neither holy nor Roman) of which Charlemagne was the most famous emperor. The Hohenstaufens and the later the Hapsburgs were both HRE rulers; the Hapsburgs later became the Austro- Hungarian Empire (Marie-Theresa (1772-1807),  her daughter Marie-Antoinette  and Archduke Ferdinand  were all Hapsburgs) .

A folding smokestack allows this vessel to slip under the bridges

A folding smokestack allows this vessel to slip under the bridges


Below the lovely town on Passau on the Danube near the southern German border.

PAssau wfrnt ps -e 157

Passau waterfront


The sights along the Danube River are spectacular  (wait until you see the Budapest waterfront next week). Below is an ancient castle downstream in Austria’s Wachau Valley.

Castle nr wien ps_0346

A castle on the Danube River near Melk, Austria.


Next week Vienna and – if room – Budapest.  Someday I want to visit other rivers of Europe since they are cradles of civilization and history and this journey has been extraordinary.  Plus rivers can be so soothing (unless they are in flood!).  Have you been to the Danube or tried fashioning a trip around a river?


7 thoughts on “The Danube River

  1. What a glorious trip, Cinda. Gorgeous countryside and spectacular pictures.
    I did do a trip — a houseboat trip down the Thames a few years back — and although I found the countryside lush and inviting, I found the locks we had to maneuver through on our own to be more than challenging and wholly unnerving as it was a spectator sport to watch folk who were not knowledgeable in the art of boating attempt to handle tying and untying of their homes (the floating boats) about every hour or hour and a half of cruising river time. Frustrating. And I looked like an idiot, because I knew nothing.
    Character building to be sure.


    • Hi Shelley – Thanks for reading and commenting.
      We did a barge on canals in Normandy a few yrs ago and only the first lock was challenging – then we got the hang of it. Maybe English locks are harder (or did you have your children with you?). I would do the France trip again in a heartbeat! I loved floating down the water and deciding to tie up where ever we fancied; stop for bread at a boulangerie and move on whenever we wanted – without having to pack! 🙂


    • For such a polite and orderly nation I am surprised that Germans don’t queue – then it is everyman for himself!


    • Address everyone (except friends) as Herr or Frau “Last Name” and use the polite “Sie.” Greet shopkeepers with “Guten Tag” or Gruss Gott” and an “Auf Wiedersehen” on leaving. I had the impression that public profanity is considered more than rude (I was told it could even result in civic penalties).
      Buying Eurail Passes before arriving in Europe will be cheaper – but perhaps everyone knows this. A pass doesn’t save any money if you are only planning 1-2 train trips.
      Tip waiters directly (it is not left on the table) by asking them to round it up – or for larger amounts specify ~ 10%.
      In Austria and Germany the services charges are included but extra tipping is starting to be expect in some larger (touristy) establishments esp. in Austria – I’m sure they are appreciated in smaller inns etc. too, where cash is preferred (and often credit cards are not accepted). We read that hotel maids get no tip but we left something anyway to be on the safe side. Hope this is what you were looking for.


  2. I took the pictures during fair skies whenever possible. However, now that you mention it, we were lucky: it seemed to rain mostly at night or when we were in route in some vehicle with protection!


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