The Less Visited Banks of this River are Packed with Treasures
The Danube is famously stunning, from the UNESCO-heralded Wachau Valley to the legendary artistic riches of Vienna. But it’s the less famous locales along this mighty waterway that offer an intriguing twist to a journey on its currents. Venture east of Budapest – in contrast to many more traditional routes going westward – toward where the river flows into the Black Sea, and you’ll find a fascinating array of colorful culture and striking scenery. Here are four of the many highlights, both vibrant and serene, that will pique your curiosities and take your breath away on Crystal River Cruises’ Eastern Danube cruises.
The embodiment of rising from literal ashes, this little town has reemerged with a new glory – one that has earned its nickname of “The Hero Town.” Its relatively recent history of battle and strife from the conflict between the Croats and Serbs in the early 1990’s has largely overshadowed its long multicultural heritage that thrived since 2000 B.C. Today, you’ll find peaceful riverside landscapes that contrast the remnants of war that still color the city, and the inextinguishable spirit of the town that shines through at the Vučedol Museum of Culture and Castle Eltz.
Unabashedly cool, Belgrade offers grit and glamour in every corner of the city squares. Its history is worn proudly on its streets, not confined only to the well-curated walls of museums. Explore the complex Habsburg heritage and Ottoman influences of the “White City” and marvel at the contrast of its socialist and communist history and wildly progressive future. Beyond the city limits is an invigorating quest with a spectacular payoff – Avala Mountain. Hike to this forested summit for a sweeping perspective on the captivating city where the Danube meets the Sava.
Nicknamed the “Borderless City,” Pécs openly welcomes visitors with its warmth, both in climate and charm. Home to Croatians, Serbians, Germans, Hungarians and several others, it’s not the most famous destination in the region, but it should be. From Mohács, enter this enchanting 2010 European Capital of Culture and brace yourself for ancient treasures and baroque buildings of yesteryear, as well as bustling revitalized areas like the Zsolnay Cultural Quarter and Kiraly Street, where cafes and shops abound.
The Iron Gates
No chains, no locks. These “gates” refer to an impressive gorge that divides the Danube. To the north of the gorge lies Romania and to the south, Serbia, with towering cliffs that rise up to 1,000 feet over the waterway in between. Those cliffs provide an ethereal, if imposing, beauty, and have centuries of stories to tell if they could talk. Some of those stories are etched in their surfaces, chronicling pivotal historical points and figures. Look for the carved face of Romanian hero Decebalus and commemoration marker of Roman Emperor Trajan from 2,000 years ago. Caves, monasteries and other markers of the past add mystique to this fascinating passage.
Explore these treasures of the Eastern Danube – and more – aboard Crystal Mozart, Crystal Ravel and Crystal Mahler in 2019 and 2021.