Top 10 Highlights of our Amsterdam to Budapest Cruise by

Top 10 Highlights Of Our Amsterdam To Budapest Cruise

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There are multiple ways to travel from Amsterdam to Budapest – planes, trains, buses and cars can be used to quickly get from Point A to Point B. That said, an Amsterdam to Budapest cruise isn’t about getting from one place to another – it’s about the journey. Europe river cruises between the two cities feature scenic landscapes, historic riverside towns, hill-topping castles and medieval churches.

We abandoned our usual independent travel style and embarked on a Viking Grand European Tour to make the journey. Traveling by boat on an Amsterdam to Budapest Cruise allowed us to sit back, relax and savor the sights (and – yes! – the food, too).


Amsterdam To Budapest Cruise

Our scenic Amsterdam to Budapest cruise made stops in 14 cities, traversed five countries, sailed on three rivers and one canal. We could ramble on endlessly about our Grand European River Cruise, but we have whittled our incredible experience aboard an Amsterdam to Budapest cruise into a list of top 10 highlights.  


Viking Grand European Tour

Sailing into Budapest aboard Viking Magni Longship

One of the best things about Viking Amsterdam to Budapest river cruises is the ease of access to some of the most well preserved medieval cities in Europe. Spending 15 days on a Rhine Main Danube river cruise, travelers see some of the most magnificent European sights. 


Viking Grand European Tour Itinerary

Wondering where 15 Day Viking European Tours take passengers on the route between Amsterdam and Budapest? Here is a rundown on the facts about our Viking Magni River Trip.

  • Countries: The Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Slovakia (no stops), Hungary
  • Cities: Amsterdam, Kinderdijk, Cologne, Koblenz, Miltenberg, Wurzburg, Bamberg, Nuremberg, Regensburg, Passau, Melk, Krems, Vienna, Budapest
  • Rivers: Rhine, Main, Danube Rivers
  • Canal: Main-Danube Canal

Viking Amsterdam to Budapest River Cruise Map.

Note: Grand river cruises in reverse – from Budapest to Amsterdam – make most of the same stops, although some cities may vary due to port congestion or river levels.


Highlights of our Amsterdam to Budapest Cruise

Golf, Herb Garden and Shuffle Board on Sundeck of Viking Magni Longship

Our Top 10 experiences on our 15-day European cruise are listed in chronological order.


#1 Kinderdijk Windmills – The Netherlands

One of 19 Kinderdijk Windmills, The Netherlands

Windmills are an iconic symbol of the Netherlands – and at Kinderdijk (near Rotterdam) there are 19 preserved windmills that date to the mid-1700s. The windmills at Kinderdijk, which are still functioning, were designated a UNESCO Heritage Site in 1997. The trip to Kinderdijk was the first of several shore excursions on our Grand Viking European tour.

Looking out a window inside a Kinderdijk Windmill, The Netherlands

On our guided walking tour, we learned how the bonnet mills (windmills where only the top swivels) pump water from the lower canals to higher ground. We were also able to explore the interior of the windmill to see the inner-workings and how the small, odd-shaped space once housed a family.

Kris at Kinderdijk Windmills, The Netherlands

*Visiting the Kinderkijk Windmills was an included excursion on our Viking River Cruise Amsterdam to Budapest.


#2 Nijmegen – Netherlands

The New Bridge in Nijmegen, Netherlands

Nijmegen wasn’t a stop on our Viking Cruises Grand European Tour, but we made certain to be on the top deck of the Viking Magni for personal reasons when we sailed through the city…and it wasn’t just because it’s a stunning sight!

In 2015, we spent nearly 3 months in Nijmegen as housesitters for the most wonderful family. We stayed in their home over the Christmas period with their sweet dog, quickly connecting with the owners and the community.

Nijmegen Netherlands River View

When we told our friends that we would be sailing through Nijmegen on our Europe tour from Amsterdam, they told us to look for them on the riverside. We consulted the always-helpful crew regarding the exact time we would be passing through Nijmegen and they kept us informed throughout the day. More on our brilliant Viking crew later!

Our friends waving to our ship from the riverside in Nijmegen, Netherlands

As we passed through Nijmegen, we spotted our friends under the Waalbrug Bridge. We stood on the side of the ship shouting “Halllllooooo” to our friends and they shouted back to us. It was incredible (but a bit confusing to some of our fellow passengers!), to see their smiling faces and waving arms as they wished us well on our journey.


#3 Cologne Beer Tour – Germany

Cologne Skyline and Cathedral, Germany

Kolsch is the beer of Cologne, Germany…and when in Cologne, one must drink Kolsch (and don’t even mention Altbier or Dusseldorf)!

Kobe waiter carrying tray of Kolsch beer in Cologne, Germany

We joined an entertaining Cologne pub crawl, which included a hearty pre-drinking classic German meal of pork, kraut and potato salad. With the proper base, we bar hopped to six brew houses to sample fresh Kolsch beer straight from the barrel.

Bartender pouring Kolsch Beer at brew house in Cologne, Germany

The production of Kolsch beer is limited to breweries located within 50km of Cologne, which must meet strict requirements to carry the name ‘Kolsch’. In the taverns, waiters – called kobes – carry a two-tiered tray of beer, replacing any empty glasses with full ones. Only when we placed a coaster over our beer did they stop leaving more. So…how many did we have? We lost count, prost!

Stange glasses and tray, Kolsch Beer in Cologne, Germany brew house

*The Cologne Beer Tour was an optional excursion (additional fee charged per person) organized by our Viking Cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest.


#4 Rhine River Castles – Germany

Marksburg Castle on Romantic Rhine River in Germany

When we sailed into the Middle Rhine – or Romantic Rhine, as it is often called – it was like slipping into a fairytale of castles and vineyards (all the best fairytales include vineyards, if you ask us!).

Rheinstein Castle on Romantic Rhine River in Germany

The Rhine River castle cruise is between the cities of Koblenz and Bingen, where the Rhine River meanders through a valley of vine-covered hills – their grapes already hand-harvested and leaves turning yellow during our mid-autumn tour. Mighty castles sat loftily on the hilltops, strategically built for defense, power and regulation over waterway trade.

Reichenstein Castle on Romantic Rhine River in Germany

Our day began with a visit to the well-preserved Marksburg Castle and our afternoon was spent lounging on the top deck of the boat as we cruised down the Rhine River, passing by more than 20 hillside and island castles – some more elaborate than others, some pristine, some crumbling…and a few still occupied by the current owners.

Hillside vineyard in autumn on Romantic Rhine River in Germany

Find a list of castles on the Rhine cruise here.

*The Marksburg Castle tour was an included excursion on our Viking Grand European River Cruise.


#5 Wurzburg – Germany

Old Stone Bridge with Saint sculptures in Wurzburg, Germany

Not too big, not too small, not too touristy, but with plenty of sights, Wurzburg ranks as the favorite city we visited on our scenic cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest – and we were very pleased to have had a full day to explore!

Marienberg Fortress in Wurzburg, Germany

After touring the majestic palace – the Wurzburger Residenz, which is stark on the outside but with an incredibly artistic Baroque interior – we spent the afternoon discovering the rest of the city on our own.

Medieval gate at Marienberg Fortress in Wurzburg, Germany

We hiked through the vineyards to the impressive Marienberg Fortress, took in city views of the skyline (which is punctuated by the steeples of 42 churches) and joined the late afternoon crowds gathering on the Old Stone Bridge for a glass of Franconian wine.

View of Marienberg Fortress from Veranda Stateroom on Viking Cruise

When it was time for our Viking Longship to cast off, we took in the last view of the fortress from our stateroom balcony and were bid farewell by two curious (hungry?) swans. Does it get more picture-perfect than that?!

*Touring the Bishops’ Residenz was an included excursion on our Viking Grand European Cruise.


#6 Passau – Germany

St. Stephen's Cathedral across Inn River in Passau, Germany

At the confluence of three rivers – the Inn, the Danube and the Ilz Rivers – is the picturesque town of Passau, Germany. The center of the city is squeezed onto a narrow peninsula – on which the highest point is St. Stephen’s Cathedral.

Hill-top Veste Oberhaus Fortress, Passau, Germany

The dominating white church is topped with (now green) copper onion domes that can be seen from afar. The interior is extravagantly decorated (in the Baroque style, of course), yet it is the organ that steals the show. With 17,974 pipes, 233 stops and four carillons, it is the fifth largest organ in the world.

Baroque interior and organ at St. Stephen's Cathedral in Passau, Germany

After a tour of the town and church, we set off on our own to stretch our legs and seek out vantage points around Passau. On both sides of the peninsula – across the rivers Danube to the north and Inn to the south – hills rise above the historic old town.

We crossed the Danube and hiked the trail leading to the prominent 13th century fortress, Veste Oberhaus, which overlooks the meeting point of the three rivers and the pretty city below. Across the Inn River, we wound our way through the neighborhood to the staircase leading to the humble pilgrimage church, Paulinerkloster Mariahilf.

Veste Oberhaus Castle, Passau, Germany

Still keen to see more of the town, we crossed the Innsteg pedestrian bridge and strolled the riverside promenade around the tip of the peninsula back to our awaiting Viking longship.

*Passau city tour – with church interior – was an included excursion on our Grand European Viking Cruise.


#7 Melk Abbey – Austria

Melk Abbey sits above the town of Melk, Austria

The grandiose and commanding Melk Abbey sits on a rocky cliff above the Danube River and the town of Melk. Since the 11th century, the palace-turned-abbey has been continuously run by Benedictine Monks.

Baroque Garden Pavilion at Melk Abbey in Austria

The Imperial Rooms – just a few of the nearly 500 rooms in the abbey – have been transformed into a modern museum filled with artifacts and state-of-the-art displays. Our tour of Melk Abbey also allowed us to step inside the decorative Marble Hall, the incredible library with 80,000 leather-bound books lining the shelves and the over-the-top Baroque church.

Courtyard in Melk Abbey in Austria

*The Melk Abbey Tour was an included excursion on our Viking River Grand European Tour.


#8 Wachau Valley – Austria

Blue Abbey and Burguine Durnstein castle in Wachau Valley, Austria

The Wachau Valley – from Melk to Krems – bears similar landscapes to the Romantic Rhine. We sailed through the valley under a blanket of gray clouds that seemed to match some of the dilapidated castles and sleepy towns nestled along the riverside.

Quaint church and hillside vineyards in Wachau Valley, Austria

The mystical Wachau passage, splashed with hues of orange and yellow from autumn leaves, was almost surreal. We were charmed by the fanciful scenes: soaring steeples rising from a cluster of dwellings and backdropped by golden vineyards.


#9 Taste of Austria Dinner

Father/Son Duo play Accordion and Guitar at Taste of Austria Dinner on Viking Amsterdam to Budapest Cruise

When the Viking Magni crew entered the lounge for our daily pre-dinner chat wearing lederhosen and dirndl, we knew it was going to be a festive evening. Then the entertainment arrived – a man with an accordion and his son with a guitar. And, then, the feast began.

Grilled Sausages on buffet at Taste of Austria dinner on Viking Amsterdam to Budapest Cruise

The meals on our Viking Grand European cruise, especially the dinners, were an extravagant affair (more on the food in a minute), but none compared to the boisterous celebration at the Taste of Austria Dinner.

Austrian Spaetzle at Taste of Austria dinner on boar Viking Amsterdam to Budapest cruise

The elegant dining room was transformed into an Austrian tavern. Tables covered in red-checkered tablecloths were laden with soft pretzels, local meats and cheeses.

Festive Taste of Austria dinner on Viking Amsterdam to Budapest cruise

Rather than being served, we rounded the buffet counter that was piled high with grilled and slow-cooked meat: Kasekrainer – an Austrian sausage stuffed with cheese, Wiener Schnitzel and roasted pork knuckle were among our top choices. Spaetzle – Austrian’s decadent version of mac and cheese – was another savory item on the buffet that we couldn’t resist trying.

Pouring beer for Taste of Austria Dinner on Viking Amsterdam to Budapest Cruise

Instead of wine, the wait staff delivered glasses of beer to the tables, just like the kobe in Cologne. And, we ended the meal Austrian-style: with a shot of Schnapps.


#10 Sailing into Budapest – Hungary

Spires and dome of Budapest Parliament Building in Hungary

On our second to last night on our Viking Longship – during our cruise from Vienna to Budapest – I woke before sunrise. I stepped out onto the balcony to find the boat shrouded in thick, swirling fog. As first light shone on the horizon, the fog hovered just above the water and burrowed in villages.

A Viking Cruise longship in Budapest, Hungary

Shortly after sunrise, the air still thick with moisture, we approached Budapest. Even though it wasn’t clear, I climbed to the top deck for 360-degree views of the city. As we sailed under the Margaret Bridge into the heart of Budapest, the remaining mist was quickly evaporating; it was as if the city was being unveiled just for our arrival!

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BONUS: Life On Board Viking River Cruises

Tables at bow of Viking Magni longship on Amsterdam to Budapest Cruise

As first-time river cruisers and incredibly independent travelers, one of our biggest curiosities before our Viking Cruise was what life on board would be like. As it turns out, spending time aboard was a highlight of our Amsterdam to Budapest cruise.

It wasn’t one specific element that made time on-board so stellar, but the experience in its entirety – from the room to the food to fellow passengers to the absolutely outstanding crew.


Rooms on Viking River Cruises in Europe

Welcome fruit and wine in Veranda Stateroom, Viking Magni Longship, Amsterdam to Budapest cruise

Our Veranda Stateroom, while not spacious, was well-designed to best utilize the space we had – as was the ship itself. We sailed on the Viking Magni longship, a ship built with specifications intended to sail European rivers. The ship can carry up to 190 passengers (plus 50 crew members), but with ample community and outdoor space – the entire upper deck and bow of the ship – it never felt crowded on board, not even during meals.


Food on Viking Cruises in Europe

Dinner of Herb Provencale Rack of Lamb on Viking Amsterdam to Budapest Cruise

And speaking of meals on the Viking river cruises in Europe, dining on the ship was spectacular. My favorite three-course dinner: truffle scented chicken cassoulet, herb Provençale rack of lamb and a chocolate brownie drizzled with white chocolate sauce accompanied by creamy pistachio ice cream. From presentation to portion-size to palate, we were impressed.

Plates of smoked salmon for breakfast on Viking Amsterdam to Budapest cruise

In addition to the decadent chef-prepared meals (available for breakfast, lunch and dinner!) – we had plenty of dining choices, which is one of the things we liked best about our Viking Amsterdam to Budapest cruise.  

Beef Brisket main meal on Viking Amsterdam to Budapest cruise

We could choose where to eat our meals: the dining room, lounge or terrace. Furthermore, we had a choice of which table and with whom we wanted to dine, allowing us the opportunity to mix and mingle with fellow passengers.

Pistachio ice cream with brownies dessert on Viking Amsterdam to Budapest Cruise

It was the passengers – and especially the crew – that truly made our experience truly memorable. We were amazed at how complete strangers all boarded a ship and by the end of the 15-day river cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest, good friends disembarked.


For more information about the Grand European Tour from Amsterdam to Budapest, visit Viking River Cruises website


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We want to know: Have you taken a scenic cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest? Are you thinking about taking a Viking River Cruise Grand European tour? Leave us your comments and questions below! 


Our Viking River Cruises Grand European Tour was sponsored; but be assured, our opinions are genuine.


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Top Highlights Amsterdam to Budapest Cruise by

30 thoughts on “Top 10 Highlights Of Our Amsterdam To Budapest Cruise

  1. Ana Victoria Heatley

    My husband and I would like to make a cruise from Ámsterdam to Budapest next year. A 15 day tour during May or September. I would like you to send me all available Information. Thank you, Ana Victoria Heatley and Antonio Ramírez.

  2. Sue

    My husband and I leave for Amsterdam in mid-Sept 2019. We cannot wait as it is our first river cruise and trip together in Europe. We look forward to seeing the sites and making new friends. Do you have any packing advice for this time of year. I’m not really sure if shorts and short sleeves or pants and jackets are needed more. To be safe we will bring both but I wish I knew more.

    • Hi Sue,
      How exciting! You will likely experience a full array of weather as we did in October, so your plan to bring all of the above would be our advice. Enjoy your amazing cruise!
      Sarah & Kris


    Hi can you tell me about weather , how cold it is and what would be best clothing to take. Were leaving on the Viking Baldur 24th October 2019 Amsterdam to Budapest, and then the extension to Prague.
    I don’t want to over pack..What would be you choice for the two weeks, our age is mid sixties…
    So looking forward to it especially after reading about yours…thanks Debbie

    • Hello Debbie,
      We’re excited to hear about your trip! We experienced a vast array of weather in our two weeks, and we would expect Prague in November to be chilly for sure. But alas, the weather has become anything but predictable! So, we think you’d be best to plan to dress in layers on the cruise and have a winter jacket for Prague. That probably means a bit of over packing, but you’d certainly want to be comfortable. Enjoy your travels!
      Sarah & Kris

  4. Tracy Quigley

    We sail from Amsterdam on September 1, 2019. We are so very excited. Thanks for the article. Love getting first hand information.

    Thank you,

    Kevin & Tracy Q.

  5. Roma mollins

    We are going end of October – mid November…Amsterdam to Budapest. Enjoyed your article. Keeping on my iPad to reference .

  6. Marie

    We are doing this same itinerary soon. We chose the same tour in Cologne, glad to see your remarks. What dates did you go, the scenery was beautiful!

  7. Tracy Quigley

    We sail 9/1/19 on Viking Baldur from Amsterdam to Budapest and we can’t wait!!! Thanks for the excellent article. You talked me into the optional beer tour in Cologne.

    • You’re welcome, glad we can help! You’ve selected a great ship for your cruise, and we think you’ll be in great care with your Maitre d’ Alvin and his wife Anesa! Please say hello for us:)
      Sarah & Kris

    • Hi Nicole,
      Great question! The scenery was just amazing from all sides, so the only thing we could think of is when you’re sailing into Budapest early in the morning the Parliament will be on the port(left) side. Enjoy your cruise!
      Sarah & Kris

  8. Steve L.

    My wife and I are scheduled for this Viking River Cruise next year (in the opposite direction). I enjoyed reading your experiences and will keep this article as reference as the trip approaches. I am even more excited for the trip now and just hope the river gods cooperate with the water level as recent river travelers there have had issues.

  9. Megan Indoe

    WOW we want to do this so bad! I can’t believe all the incredible stops along the way. The Rhine River castles are out of this world, well everything is. What an incredible way to enjoy slow travel with the scenery. I’m sold!

  10. What a fabulous cruise. So many of our friends have taken this cruise, but to have it showcased, is so impressive. We will definitely recommend this article to friends who are thinking of taking the cruise next year as you have highlighted so well the stops along the way.

  11. Reggie Sanchez

    Sarah: Wonderful article & trip. My wife Gail & I just did the same trip on Viking, but from Budapest to Amsterdam, Oct 21-Nov 4. In Cologne climbed the 533 steps at the Cathedral. Also the evening Beer tour. In Passaic, opted for the excursion to Salzburg as we didn’t know if or when we would back. You described the experience perfectly. Reggie Sanchez Coldwell Banker

    • Thanks Reggie! Our cruise was from Oct 22 to Nov 5 – so we passed somewhere along the route! (And, we almost opted for the route you took…we could have been on the same ship!) We heard great things about the Salzburg tour – and if we hadn’t have already been there, I’m pretty sure that is what we would have opted for it, too. Sounds like you enjoyed the cruise as much as we did! Cheers!

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