One of the longest rivers in the world, the Danube stretches from its point of origin in Germany all the way to the Black Sea, passing through or along ten countries on its way.
A staple of European trade for centuries, as well as being a significant territorial marker of the Roman Empire, the river’s influence on history throughout the years cannot be overstated.
But outside the Danube’s importance to its surrounding countries, it also features some of the most picturesque views open to see along its 2850km length.
Here are some of the amazing sights that can be seen down the river.
Budapest – Hungarian Parliament Building
The Danube runs directly through Budapest – one of the most popular locations in all of Europe for those looking for stunning scenery.
The capital of Hungary and it’s most heavily-populated city, Budapest has a deep history dating back to its occupation by Celts and Romans.
An unmissable piece of prime imagery is the beautiful Hungarian Parliament Building, also known as the Parliament of Budapest named for its location.
Set directly on the banks of the river, the building was opened back in 1902 and is classed as the largest building in the country.
At night, the parliament is lit up and looks like a mythical golden castle and can been seen for miles around.
Its distinctive neo-gothic style remains a favourite among locals and tourists alike and is regularly ranked as one of the most visited sites in Hungary.
Vienna – Belvedere Palace
The largest city in Austria, Vienna is home to some of the most recognisable and iconic views in Europe and is home to a large section of the Danube river.
Thanks to its impressive architecture and its significance in history, being the birthplace of many classical music masterpieces, the city centre was named an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001.
One of the most impressive sights in Vienna is the Belvedere Palace, found on the large Belvedere complex in the centre of the city.
Construction on the palace began in or around 1717 on the orders of Prince Eugene who had already completed numerous other construction projects at the site.
It has been home or temporary residence to countless important historical figures over the centuries, including most notably Archduke Franz Ferdinand, whose assassination is widely recognised as the catalyst that sparked the First World War.
A must-visit stop for history lovers and architecture fans.
Bratislava – UFO Observation Deck
Bratislava is the capital city of Slovakia and is another capital which plays host to the Danube, with the river splitting the city directly down the centre.
Of all the iconic sights there are to see in the city, there is perhaps none more interesting or unusual than the ‘UFO Observation Deck.’ Yes, you read that right!
Found on the Most SNP bridge, which crosses the Danube, the Observation Deck is an aptly named piece of architecture, given its unique flying saucer shape.
The unique structure acts as an observation deck, offering a three-hundred-and-sixty degree panoramic view of the glorious surroundings (including the Danube, of course), as well as a restaurant!
Definitely one for the view hunters!
Romania – Iron Gates
One of Earth’s great natural wonders, the ‘Iron Gates’ are a set of tall, limestone cliffs overlooking the border between Serbia and Romania.
When travelling by water, you will be dwarfed by the sheer size of the natural rocky formations and, if you look close enough, you might be able to spot a number of engravings on certain rock faces. Specifically, what has become known as Rock sculpture of Decebalus.
This incredible feat of artistry acts as quite the welcoming sight to visitors and can be quite startling at first.
The face of Decebalus, the last King of Dacia who is famed for defying the Roman Empire, was carved into the rock face over a period of ten years between 1994 and 2004.
In fact, the original plan was to carve the head of an opposing Roman Emperor on the Serbian side of the river to help cement Decebalus as a mythical figure of rebellion against oppressors, but Serbia declined.
A wonderfully unexpected piece of modern art, created with the help of nature.
Austria - The Great Loop
It may go by various names depending where you are or who you speak to, but the Danube’s ‘Great Loop’ is on the checklist of anyone planning to travel down this mighty river.
Why? It’s simply one of the most picturesque sights in all of Europe, possibly even the world.
As the Danube passes through upper Austria, the river bends at such a tight angle it has turned into a prime tourist (especially cycling tourist) destination, presenting the ideal wide-angle photo opportunity.
Few other major large rivers in the world ever end up being shaped this way. In fact, the Great Loop is the only river bend of its kind in Europe.
If you’d like to find out more about all the incredible Danube cycling holidays Freewheel Holidays has to offer, check out our holidays here.