Subject: Danube River cruise

In response to my query, a member wrote to me because he's having trouble with posting, so I'm quoting his reply so anybody could benefit


While I've never taken a Danube/Donau cruise, I have spent a good deal of time along the Danube and in Wien (3 bicycle trips from Passau to Wien along the riverfront) so can speak to the town and landing issues.

Most of the boat landings I saw, with the exception of Melk, are within walking distance of the towns. Passau, Aschach, Grein, and other points in the Wachau wine-growing region are. In a few instances you may have to walk a bit uphill to get to the town, especially in the Wachau (as the small towns are maybe .5-1K up the hill to avoid the floods).

Melk is a different story. I remember seeing two different ship landings, one on each side of the river. I believe the main one is on the left bank, away from the Melk side. In any event, it's several kilometers from the riverbank up a very steep hill (trust me, I've ridden it on a bike!) to the abbey, and a bit further to the town itself. This is probably one place I'd take advantage of the bus tour. Plus, you'll probably have an arranged tour of the abbey and not have to worry about waiting to get in or get on a tour.

Also, I'm not sure where the ship docks in Wien, but I'd be amazed if there wasn't public transportation to the Altstadt within walking distance of the docking area. If you haven't been to Wien before, it has a good system of street cars/trolleys and U-bahn subways that can pretty much get you where you want to go.

>From what I've seen, the trip downstream is pretty speedy, with the relaxing days being when you are heading back up to Passau. If it were me, I'd consider taking the train from Passau to Wien, sightseeing there, then taking a ship or hydrofoil from Wien to Budapest (downstream) to get the river feeling. After time in Budapest, take the train back to Wien and then catch the ship on it's return to Passau upstream. This way you get to maximize your touring time in Wien and Budapest while still enjoying the river cruise along the Danube. I think the scenery would get a bit old if you did the cruise both ways.

Passau, too, is actually a nice town and worth maybe a half-day of touring. They usually offer organ concerts in the city cathedral, which is purported to have the world's largest pipe organ. I believe the free concerts are at noon each day. And, of course, you must view Passau's famous three-river corner, where the Danube, Salzach and Ilz (I think) all come together. It's a pretty sight, as the rivers each have their own water color and for a little while you can see the three water streams as they mix together in the Danube. I forgot to mention Linz. The ships dock right near the old town, on the right side of the river (downstream). Be sure to walk down and visit the cathedral, which is pretty nice. In the area around the cathedral is a small pastry shop that was the original creator of the famous Linzer Torte. Make sure to get some... it's very good! Linz itself doesn't have too much to see, apart from the cathedral (I think WW II may have done all its old buildings in). They have a technology museum, too, The city market square, though, is quite nice. A yellow train tram tour leaves from the square regularly, and is probably worth taking for an overview of the area. Brian Wasson Philadelphia, Pa./USA

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Best regards Paolo Trieste, Italy