The best five hikes to do on a European river cruise

The Best Five Hikes on a European River Cruise

One of the best ways to experience Europe is by hiking through these well-trodden lands. Be met by picturesque scenery dotted with ancient hilltop castles, or stroll through vineyards laden with luscious grapes.
Love to explore on foot? Here are our top five favourite hikes to do whilst on a European river cruise.

1. Hike to Dürnstein Castle, Austria

Positioned within the World Heritage Site of the lower Austrian Wachau region, Dürnstein Castle was built between 1140 – 1145, before being demolished and left in ruins in 1645. The castle is best known for holding England’s King, Richard the Lionheart prisoner in 1192 – 1193 by the Austrian Duke Leopold V. Legend suggests that the English King was allowed travelling singers (troubadours) to entertain him during his imprisonment. His faithful minstrel, Blondel began his search for his king, singing a song only the two of them knew from castle to castle. It wasn’t until Blondel reached Dürnstein Castle that he sang a refrain which the King continued. Richard the Lionheart was eventually released upon ransom payment of 150,000 silver marks.
Explore the historic ruins of Dürnstein Castle as you walk up through the quaint old town, lined with cobblestones, before following a steep, narrow path littered with uneven rocks and surrounded by forest and vineyards. A 20 minute hard climb will see you at the top where you can walk around the remaining walls and turrets of this romantic ruin. However, the real reward is the sensational views of the Wachau Valley, the meandering Danube River and the pretty old town with its iconic blue and white Abbey. 
Hike to Dürnstein Castle during the 15 day Splendours of Europe River Cruise
Hike up to the ancient Dürnstein Castle, Austria

2. Guided hike to Black Forest, Germany

Situated in South West Germany, the beautiful Black Forest was named after its great canopy of towering pine trees, that is so dark and dense, even the sun can’t penetrate the forest floor. Known for its elegant cuckoo clocks, Brothers Grimm fairytales and half-timbered houses with pretty flower boxes lining windows and balconies, the Black Forest is completely charming.
Explore on foot as you walk along leafy forest trails, following the bubbling Ravenna stream through this mysterious forest. Cross wooden footbridges, pass moss-lined rocks and admire cascading waterfalls, including the Great Ravenna Fall plummeting 16 metres and the Little Ravenna Fall at 6 metres high. At the end of your walk, sample the region’s famous ‘Black Forest Cake’ at a charming German-style inn. This well-earned chocolate sponge cake, sandwiched with two layers of whipped cream and sweet cherry syrup, is decorated with rich, dark, fresh cherries on top and is heaven on a plate.
Experience the Black Forest during the 8 day Jewels of the Rhine river cruise.
Enjoy a guided hike through the Black Forest, Germany

3. Guided hike to Bratislava Castle, Slovakia

Dominating Bratislava’s skyline is Bratislava Castle, an iconic landmark of Slovakia’s capital city and a must visit attraction. Built in the 9th century, perched high on a hilltop above the snaking Danube River, Bratislava Castle has been rebuilt numerous times over the centuries, from Gothic, to Renaissance and eventually settling on a Baroque style in the 18th century. Hike the four kilometres up to the whitewashed castle with four towers and enjoy picturesque views over the old town, the Danube River and UFO Bridge from the Panorama Terrace. The beautiful Baroque garden inside the castle area is also worth a visit, with a well-manicured garden and a small pond in the centre.
Hike up to Bratislava Castle whilst in Slovakia during the 15 day Splendours of Europe river cruise or on the 8 day Danube Delights river cruise.
Enjoy a guided bike to Bratislava Castle, Slovakia

4. Active Walk Through the Vineyards, Tournon, France

Whilst in Tournon, France, enjoy an active walk through the vineyards and explore the historical sites along the way. Today, Tournon is home to two remaining towers belonging to the old city wall, which once was armed with 12 towers. Admire the 16th century Pierregourde Tower and Hospital’s Tower, built under the command of Claude de la Tour Turelle, the countess of Tournon. From here, hike up to the lofty, yet picturesque vineyards. If arriving during summer, walk amongst the tall, green vines, with luscious red grapes, ready for picking. Admire the panoramic views of the surrounding landscape and quaint towns of Tournon and Tain L’Hermitage below, positioned along the snaking Rhône River.
On the way back to the town, pass by Tournon Castle, built from local granite rock between the 10th – 16th centuries. Nestled along the Rhône River, this medieval castle once provided excellent protection for the town. Today, it houses the Musée de France since 1927, complete with rich collections from the Renaissance period until the present day.
Enjoy an Active Walk through the Vineyards of Tournon, France during the 8 day Sensations of Lyon and Provence River Cruise.
Enjoy an active walk through the vineyards, Tournon, France

5. Guided Hike to Buda Hill, Budapest, Hungary

Rather than taking the funicular or bus up to Buda Hill to explore the historic Castle District of Budapest, stretch your legs with a guided hike, taking in many of the sights on the Buda side of the river. Walk up Buda Castle Hill to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Castle District for incredible views across Pest and the Danube River. From here, explore Holy Trinity Square, home to the iconic 15 metre Holy Trinity Statue built in 1713 to celebrate the end of the plague. Continue through the old town and admire Matthias Church, a late Gothic Roman Catholic Church, well known for its musical performances and spectacular architecture. Another highlight on the walk includes Fisherman’s Bastion, recognised by its fairytale white towers and turrets and a photographer’s paradise. Walk across to Gellért Hill, standing 140 metres tall and one of the best places for panoramic views over Budapest. Pass by the Gellért Thermal Baths, a popular place for a spa in the therapeutic waters, whilst at the front of the Citadel, the Statue of Liberty is a symbol of Budapest, commemorating the liberation of Hungary from Nazi rule.
Enjoy this hike 3.5 hour hike during the 15 day Splendours of Europe river cruise.
Hike up Buda Hill and enjoy picturesque views of the Danube River in Budapest, Hungary
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