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Setting sail from Budapest
Budapest is one of Eastern Europe's most appealing cities, a vibrant and welcoming capital that straddles the Danube. The history of Budapest has been somewhat turbulent - ransacked by the Mongols in 1241, occupied by the Ottoman Turks for over a century, and almost flattened by the Soviets in 1945 - but plenty of older buildings survive, including the imposing Parliament and iconic St Stephen's Basilica. Although a pedant might point out that Budapest has only really existed since 1873; up until then the city's two distinct halves, Buda and Pest, were separate towns.
If you are a music lover, you can’t miss a performance at the Opera House – affordable, and great music in a wonderful building.
Bratislava, Slovakia’s quaint little capital, straddles the Danube close to the border with Austria and Hungary. The compact old town is the best place to begin your exploration, before heading up to the hilltop castle for commanding views of the city and surrounding countryside.
Formerly the centre of the Habsburg Empire, Vienna is as grand a European capital as you can imagine, jam packed full of thrusting, bombastic buildings that stand as a reminder of Austria’s glorious imperial heyday.
Krems sits on the river Danube at the eastern end of the beautiful Wachau Valley, surrounded by vineyards. It’s an attractive old town, with pretty cobbled streets and a good selection of galleries and museums, as well as some excellent restaurants.
The riverside village of Melk is best known for its spectacular abbey, a Baroque masterpiece that dominates the landscape. A Benedictine abbey was first established here in 1089, and the 18th century reconstruction that you can see today is still a working monastery.
Austria: Linz (Salzburg)
The city of Linz is included on river cruise itineraries due to its proximity to Salzburg, which is where you’ll most likely be headed. Salzburg’s Altstadt attracts millions of visitors every year with its fairytale skyline of domes and spires, and the city is renowned as both the birthplace of Mozart and the setting for ‘The Sound of Music’.
The pretty Bavarian town of Passau, situated close to Germany’s border with Austria, enjoys a unique setting at the confluence of three rivers: the Inn, the Ilz and the Danube. The narrow cobbled streets of the handsome old town, the Altstadt, are quite delightful.
Originally founded by the Celts and later an important Roman settlement, Regensburg is one of Bavaria’s lesser known gems. Situated on the northernmost bend of the Danube, it’s a friendly and laid back city, with an exceptionally well preserved medieval centre.
Arriving in Nuremberg
Nuremberg, Bavaria's second city, first pops up in the history books in 1050 as a stronghold of the Franks, and later became the unofficial capital of the Holy Roman Empire. Nuremberg was also the centre of the German Renaissance, although in the 20th century it became associated with the Nazis; huge rallies were held here, and Nazi officials were later tried and convicted at the Nuremberg Trials. Happily Nuremberg has bounced back from these dark days, and nowadays the city is a tourist magnet thanks to the beautifully restored old town, Christmas markets and excellent beer.
Nuremberg is completely rebuilt so has a bit of a Disneyesque feel to it. But this was a key centre for Hitler, so turn your back on toytown and visit the Documentation Centre (excellent exhibit) and Zeppelinfeld, where most of the big Nazi rallies took place.
Your home from home
Crystal's 'Rhine Class' vessels offer a welcoming range of lounges and facilities, with spacious and beautifully decorated staterooms.
What we love
The Crystal River Cruises difference is all in the pace of life - slowed down itineraries, plenty of overnights in port, and leisurely hours on board to make the most of the captivating scenery. Add to that the highest crew to passenger ratio on any European river cruise vessel, with crew trained to Crystal's usual high standards, and you have a winner.
|Crew||85 Crystal-trained European Staff|
|Style||A relaxed pace with specially curated shore excursions, and Crystal's usual high standards on board.|
|Year Launched||2017 (Crystal Bach & Crystal Mahler) / 2018 (Crystal Debussy & Crystal Ravel)|
Tailor-make your trip
Our favourite hotel in Budapest
We like the Hotel Palazzo Zichy on the Pest side of the river, which used to be the residence of Count Nándor Zichy.
A taste of Hungary
If you’re a wine lover, you really should visit the world’s oldest classified wine region, known for its sweet Tokaji aszú dessert wine.
Where to stay in Nuremberg
We like the Drei Raben (Three Ravens) in the rebuilt old town.
Explore Nuremberg's rich history
Nuremberg's medieval might and significance as part of the Holy Roman Empire becomes clear in a visit to the Kaiserburg.