Europe is a land of music. From its legendary composers to its iconic cities, you can find its musical past and present around every corner. Its very geography summons melodies to mind, like the Danube or the forests of Germany, making a journey through it a unique musical adventure.
A river cruise on the Danube is the ideal choice for such a journey, taking you through some of the most legendary musical cities and countries along its route. You’ll even be able to enjoy live recitals from a classical quartet onboard our Cruise the Heart of Europe trip, bringing the beautiful landscapes to life around you.
From Cologne to Budapest, this route truly provides one of the best river cruises in Europe.
Germany’s greatest artery passes through one of its biggest cities, Cologne, marking the starting point of a great journey. The Rhine Gorge, a World Heritage Site, takes you through a fantasy landscape of medieval castles perched high on the cliffs and forests clinging to the valley sides. This magical landscape was an inspiration and the setting for Wagner as he wrote the last opera of his Ring cycle, Gotterdammerung.
A stop-off at Rudesheim further along the Rhine allows you to visit the Siegfrieds Mechanishces Musikkabinett, a fascinating museum of mechanical musical instruments from across three centuries. You’ll see everything from self-playing pianos to pipe organs and gramophones, with live demonstrations and plenty of information from knowledgeable guides.
From the historical city of Mainz, the birthplace of the printing press, the Main opens up into a new landscape as it gently curves around green forests and picturesque medieval villages. Wurzburg offers a perfect vision of a medieval city with soaring spires and 18th century palaces. It’s also home to Germany’s oldest musical conservatory, founded in 1797.
Some of Europe’s most beautiful and historically significant cities can be found along the Main, including Bamberg, Nuremberg, and Regensburg, where the Main joins the Danube.
Passau is Germany’s last city along this journey, but home to one of its most impressive musical treasures. The colossal St. Stephen’s Cathedral is home to the largest cathedral organ in the world, with a staggering 17,000 pipes. As if that wasn’t enough, St. Stephen’s can produce a stunning sound with its eight enormous bells.
The jewel in the musical crown of Europe is Vienna, known as the City of Music. Among its musical luminaries are counted Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, and Mahler, along with many more. Its opera houses ring with the sound of Viennese classics from Strauss and Mozart, while the streets are filled with arias and concertos sung and played by future stars from the many musical universities and schools.
A couple of beautiful capitals conclude this epic journey, as the Danube passes through Bratislava, Slovakia’s capital, and Budapest, capital of Hungary. Budapest has a rich musical culture, boasting seven concert halls and the Hungarian State Opera House, home to the preeminent Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra. The city’s diverse musical traditions are matched by its diverse and beautiful architecture, from the dramatic citadel to the breathtaking Hungarian Parliament building.