By Hank Schrader, USMA ’71, Europe Destination & Europe River Cruise Expert
If you could get the absolute best of European Rivers on one cruise, my choice would be the Magnificent Europe 14 day river cruise on AmaWaterways. This voyage goes from Amsterdam to Budapest along the Rhine to the Main River, then to the Main-Danube Canal, and finishes on the upper Danube. The cruise combines the best of the two most popular river cruises in Europe—the 7 day upper Danube and the 7 day Rhine. We have never sailed this exact route but have sailed to every destination on this cruise. 14 day cruises are awesome—we have taken one that we designed ourselves. We created our own special cruise by combining two back-to-back cruises on the same rivership—we did this in 2015 while escorting two different groups. The point is that 14 day river cruises are very good and an experience we would highly recommend from personal experience. So, let’s learn more about the best 14 days on Europe’s rivers—the Magnificent Europe 14 Day River Cruise!
The route starts in Amsterdam and ends in Budapest or starts from Budapest to Amsterdam. Cruises start in May and end in August—there are 6 scheduled for 2018 along with a special Christmas cruise starting December 21, 2018. Here are the ports, highlighted by our photos.
This capital city is ringed by canals, has famed gabled buildings, there are more bicycles than you can even imagine—it is one unique place. Combine this with a free spirit of the residents and you will long remember this special town.
Cologne has been a town for over 2,000 years (it used to be a Roman outpost), is the 4th largest city in Germany and is famous for its cathedral. The two 510 foot high spires dominate the skyline of Cologne and it holds the relics of the Magi. Cologne Cathedral is Germany’s most visited building. We also liked the town squares, where some of Germany’s best Christmas markets fill the squares during the Advent season.
Rhine Gorge & Rüdesheim, Germany
The 65 kilometer Middle Rhine Valley on the Rhine River is the best sailing route you will ever find in Europe. There are 30 or so castles, steep river banks and it is simply breathtaking!
After that most scenic stretch, you will visit Rüdesheim, famed for its coffee drink flavored with Asbach brandy, the winding, narrow, Drosselgasse Lane, its fine Riesling wines and a generally friendly, welcoming village.
Miltenberg & Wertheim, Germany
Miltenberg is one of the best preserved medieval cites on the Main River. The colorful half-timbered houses are magnificent. A walk to the town square is a wonderful experience.
Later that day, you will visit Wertheim, known by its nickname as “Little Heidelberg”, and get to see the narrow lanes of this village. Wertheim is located at the confluence of the Tauber and Main Rivers. The two top attractions are the castle and its medieval town square.
Wurzburg has several unique architectural buildings, but is most famous for the Residenz Palace. The gardens of this palace and interiors are magnificent. This Bavarian town also is a famous wine region.
Bamberg is a 1,000 year old town with really interesting buildings. The most famous are the town hall, built in the middle of a river and its beautiful cathedral. It is built on seven hills and is located where the Regnitz and Main rivers meet. It is also home to a smoky flavored beer.
The old walled city of Nuremberg is one of my favorite places in all Germany. It has an impressive castle, is crisscrossed by a river and has some cool old buildings. The central market square, with its, beautiful fountain, is another great place to see. It is also famous for its Christmas markets.
The town of Regensburg is located on the northern most point of the Danube River. It started out as a Roman town, has a medieval bridge the crusaders crossed on their way to the Holy Wars (which is guarded by an impressive watch tower), and has a good old town area. Anne’s favorite hat maker is here, so we find this one of our favorite Bavarian towns.
Built on a tapering peninsula of land, the old town portion of Passau is right on the German and Austrian borders. Three rivers join here—the Danube, the Inn, and the Ilz. On the high banks of the Danube, a fortress dating back to the 1400’s, overlooks the old city center. There are several impressive churches worth a visit.
Melk & Dürnstein, Austria
Melk is famous for its impressive, huge abbey. It was built in the 11th century.
Later as you cruise through the other great scenic waterway of Europe, the Wachau Valley, you will arrive in the charming village of Durnstein.
The blue tower of the Abbey, the cute little shops and the castle ruins on the hillside, make this a favorite of many river cruisers.
The capital city of Austria, once the capital city of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, is a city of impressive palaces, great museums and good food. It is also known as a town of great composers of classical music and many go to concerts in this city while on their cruise.
The capital city of Slovakia is a fun place to visit. Located at the border of Austria and Hungary, this is one of the newer countries of Europe (it declared independence in 1993). For much of its history it was either in the Austro-Hungarian Empire or a part of the Czechoslovakia. The symbol of Bratislava is the fortress that overlooks the city. It is also known for its whimsical bronze figures, which delight cruisers in the old town area.
By far the most impressive city on the Danube, Budapest, the capital of Hungary, is a town we love to visit. It is really two towns—the high town of Buda that overlooks the banks of the Danube and Pest on the flat land. They are united by several bridges but the Chain Bridge is the most important and is a symbol of the city. Both have some awesome structures—among them Buda Castle and Fisherman’s Bastion (Buda side) and the Parliament building (Pest side). Once you visit, you will want to come back.
The Bottom Line
This is a great cruise—it will provide memories of a lifetime. You will be amazed at how much there is to see in these five countries. We hope this will inspire you to give us a call (Hank 713-397-0188) or send me an email (email@example.com) so we can help you visit Europe on a river cruise and help you: Savor life . . . make memories . . . visit Dream Destinations! Your journey begins here!