Muse to countless composers and writers over the centuries, the Danube River is the heart of Central Europe - and it will surely capture your own. Alongside your favorite person in the world, you can sail these legendary waters through Germany, Austria, Hungary and more, soaking up medieval villages, hillside-clinging vineyards and elegant cities. Today, I take a peek at the most romantic things you can do along the Danube.
Take a Romantic Stroll in Budapest
Budapest is built up around the Danube, so taking a hand-in-hand stroll alongside this storied waterway is one of the most authentic local experiences you can have. Start on the Pest side of the city at the Hungarian Parliament, passing the famous Shoes on the Danube monument. Continue across the 1800s stone suspension bridge, the Chain Bridge, which will deliver you to the Buda side of the city. Explore Buda Castle and Castle Hill, where you’ll enjoy swoon-worthy views. If the walk back is too much, hope on Tram 2 that runs right along the Danube back to your starting point. Later, cozy up with your loved one over a glass of Hungarian Tokaj wine or herbal tea.
The Vigado Concert Hall, exploring Castle Hill and strolling along the river.
Visit Český Krumlov in the Czech Republic
This adorable mountain town is a favorite for those who wish for an intimate, off-the-beaten-path destination. Soak up the medieval atmosphere as you visit the 13th-century castle, marked by Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque elements. A peaceful history over more than five centuries has helped keep the architectural heritage of the town intact. Climb 162 steps to the Castle Tower, standing guard over the city in all its marbled pink glory. The views extend for miles, including the unique pattern of the Vltava River snaking through the city center.
Český Krumlov is an off-the-beaten-path destination
Take a carriage ride through Vienna
One of the most romantic ways to enjoy Vienna is via a horse-drawn carriage ride - and if you really want to up the ante, you can opt for a “riding diner,” during which you’re whisked through town with a glass of champagne in hand, passing majestic castles and famous landmarks, while enjoying a delightful meal. Whichever carriage ride option you choose, you’re sure to see the Hofburg (Imperial Palace), the Vienna State Opera, the Parliament building and Stephansdom (Saint Stephen’s Cathedral).
The Erzherzog Karl Equestrian Statue and horse-drawn carriages are two of many things I saw in Vienna.
Explore Dürnstein, Austria
Toast to your loved one in Dürnstein in Austria’s Wachau Valley, a village of colorful riverside buildings and the ruins of a medieval castle. Learn about King Richard the Lionheart and his imprisonment in the castle, then go a bit more lighthearted and take a boat ride to one of the local beaches, while enjoying charcuterie and local Riesling. And don’t miss apricot anything - the Wachau area is known for its prized apricots and you’ll find apricot dumplings, strudel, brandy and more.
The ships dock right at the sidewalk. From there I walked into town and found this farmer pruning his apricot trees, along with a view of the castle where King Richard the Lionheart was imprisoned.
If you and your favorite travel companion are big history buffs, you’ll adore Slovakia’s capital, Bratislava. From the historic Old Town Hall to the Bratislava Castle (now home to the Museum of History), there is much to love. Visit the three-nave Gothic 15th-century church, site of countless coronations. Pop into the Primate’s Palace, a Classicist building from the 18th century that now houses an incredible collection of English tapestries from the 17th century. Later, wine and dine to your heart’s content on the Eurovea waterfront, a promenade, shopping center and theater square all in one.
Čumil and Schöner Náci are both landmark sculptures I found while strolling through Bratislava.
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