The Danube River is one of the world’s most spectacular natural features and is arguably one of Europe’s most amazing places to visit. It is the second longest river in Europe and stretches 2850 kilometres eastwards through ten countries, from Germany to Ukraine and into the Black Sea. This magnificent waterway has known several names according to the regions it passes through.
For instance, its known as Donau (Germany), Dunaj (Slovakia), Duna (Hungary), Dunav ( Serbia, Croatia and Bulgaria), Dunarea (Romania),and Dunay in Ukraine. The Danube has also historically been named “The Ister” by Greek sailors in the 7th Centry BC, and Danuvius by the Roman soldiers whose empire bordered the Danube to the South. You can bring out your best inflatable kayak and cruise along, viewing all the sites.
Some historical facts have endowed the Danube with a rich history, including its name given by the famous Greek historian Herodotus. Aptly nicknamed the “King of the European rivers”, he was undeniably awestruck by the magnitude and beauty of the river. Other personalities that have been associated with the river include the last King of Dacia, Decebalus, whose statue imposes from a rock sculpture 42.9 meters in height in the Romanian section, and Johann Strauss, who composed the famous waltz, 'The Blue Danube’ in 1867. Consequently, the song became a symbol of class in Austria Vienna. Perhaps it may also be important to note that the maiden riverboat trip was made in 1830 from Vienna to Budapest.
The Danube River’s entire stretch is littered with amazing sights that beg for a return trip. You will keep returning with your inflatable kayak to see the sites firsthand without paying a lot for boat trips. Some sights have been recreated to honor history, such as the 'Shoes' on the Budapest side of the Danube Promenade. It's a creation of film maker Can Togay and sculptor Gyula Pauer, whose goal it was to remind tourists of the horrors suffered by the Jews who were massacred by the Arrow cross fascist militiamen in Budapest.
Another amazing sight is the Rhine Gorge, which proceeds the Danube and is a 65 kilometre stretch between Koblenz and Bingen. It is also a UNESCO world heritage site since 2002. In the heart of Vienna, one falls in love with the magnificence of the Schonbrunn Palace, a world heritage site since 1996. This 1,441 room Baroque palace is a former imperial summer residence originally owned by Roman Emperor Maximilian II in 1569. It has become a major attraction due to its rich history and beautiful gardens. You can paddle along the Rhine Gorge with a friend in your 2 person kayak, discovering bodies of water to the side as well. There will be so much to see!
In Slovakia, it is imperative for a site-seeking enthusiast to visit the Bratislava Castle overlooking the Danube. In Hungary, there is a 3000 year old Roman outpost in a town named Aquincum, and at the Danube’s entrance to Romania stands the famous Iron Gates or Portile de Fier. As it pours into the Black Sea, it forms a huge wetland area known as the Danube Delta, which is a one of kind 2100 sq. mile wildlife reserve hosting more than 300 different species of birds and more than 160 species of fish.
The Danube is perhaps the only river in the world that has such a huge background of events and is shared by several cultures. The scenery it provides is simply breathtaking, and everyone will be looking forward to their next visit!