Germany day trips: The Danube river

Germany day trips: The Danube river

by Jessica Zen
Stripes Europe

All aboard! Taking a river cruise down the picturesque Danube River offers passengers an ideal way to witness its many splendors even on a quick day trip!  


The strong, swift and incredibly lengthy Danube River spans and unites 10 countries, originating in Germany’s Black Forest and eventually spilling into the Black Sea in Ukraine. It is the second longest river in Europe and flows for around 1,770 miles through multiple European capitals, including Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest and Belgrade. The German section of the Danube begins in Donaueschingen and continues until it reaches Austria. Its landscape is incredibly diverse and includes wetlands teeming with plants, animals, lush forests and even historic city centers.

Danube River


The Danube Gorge is an enchanting sight along the river near the town of Weltenburg. It is so stunning that it was declared a natural monument by King Ludwig I for its idyllic beauty. The gorge was formed 80,000 years ago when the rushing river water ate away at the limestone. Today, the rocky bluffs create a stunning natural phenomenon.

Above the gorge sits Weltenburg Abbey, home to the oldest monastery brewery in the world. Founded by the monks of St. Columbanus, the abbey sits on Arzberg Mountain. Visitors can relax in the beer gardens here and enjoy regional delicacies while enjoying the striking surroundings.

Regensburg, the largest medieval town north of the Alps, serves as a port location for many international cruises on the Danube. This picturesque city is home to numerous historical sites such as the Gothic Dom (cathedral), the medieval stone bridge, Roman fortress remains, an “apotheke,” Germany pharmacy, from the early 1600s and the Gothic Villa Park, built by King Maximilian II of Bavaria. If your river cruise starts here, don’t miss the opportunity to explore all this city has to offer!    

Gothic Dom

In the center of Bavaria along the river rests Ingolstadt, perhaps famously known as the setting of the novel “Frankenstein” and the headquarters for Audi. Here you’ll find a medieval defensive wall, the Bavarian Fortress and several Gothic buildings.

Just before the Austrian border is Passau, known as Three Rivers City, as it is the confluence of the Danube, Inn and Ilz rivers. It is now a quiet university town but was once known for its excellence in sword and bladed weapon production during the Renaissance Era. Today, you can see several Baroque and Gothic structures in the city. Notable is St. Stephen’s Cathedral, which houses Europe’s largest pipe organ. It has 17,774 pipes, 223 registers and four chimes from five separate organs, which can be played individually or simultaneously.


With so many larger cities along the river, it’s easy to find a starting point for your cruise. Consider leaving from Regensburg, Kelheim, Passau or even going as far as Linz in Austria. Various cruise options exist, oftentimes offering regional delicacies on board or having a designated restaurant to visit at one of the stops.

Regardless of your starting point, let the path of the mighty Danube River take you on a journey of its bends, where you’ll discover some of Germany’s historic cities, view ancient natural wonders and experience the culture like you never have before.

The strong, swift and incredibly lengthy Danube River spans and unites 10 countries, originating in Germany’s Black Forest and eventually spilling into the Black Sea from the Ukraine.


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