While the Volga is Europe’s largest river by length, it’s the Danube River that’s the true star of the continent. Passing through Central and Eastern Europe as it travels to the Black Sea, the Danube River is one of Europe’s most culturally significant, as well as undeniably beautiful, passages of water.
Whether you’re embarking on one of many luxurious Danube River cruises or just viewing the river from one of the beautiful cities it passes through, try to remember these six interesting facts about the Danube as you travel through its water.
It Passes Through Ten Countries
While the Volga River is Europe’s longest, it’s thoroughly beaten by the Danube in the field of geographical significance. While the Volga runs solely through Russia’s central regions, the Danube passes through ten different countries as it runs from the south of Germany all the way to the Black Sea.
The Danube begins in Germany’s famous Black Forest region, before traveling into Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, and Serbia on its way through Eastern Europe. Moving through Eastern Europe, the river forms the northern border of the Balkan region, traveling into Croatia, Bulgaria, Moldova, and Ukraine before ending in Romania.
It’s Europe’s Second Longest River
What Europe does big, Russia does bigger. While the Volga is undoubtedly Europe’s largest and longest river, the Danube is the continent’s second longest body of fresh water. From its beginnings in Germany to its end at the Black Sea, this remarkable river runs for almost 1,800 miles before discharging on the Romanian coastline.
Running from Central Europe to the continent’s most eastern extreme, the river is an excellent look into the continent’s geography. Enjoy a lengthy journey that’s far more culturally diverse and interesting than what the continent’s first largest river can offer as you travel almost 1,800 miles across Europe.
It’s Passes Through Several Beautiful Cities
London has the Thames. New York has the Hudson. Cairo has the Nile. The Danube, on the other hand, is shared by several of Europe’s most interesting cities. Over the course of its 1,800 mile journey, the Danube flows through the center of Vienna, the historical core of Bratislava, the division of Budapest, and the heart of Belgrade.
While other river cruises might offer incredible scenery or unique rural landscapes, few can match the cultural relevance of the Danube. View some of Central Europe’s most remarkable cities as you travel along the continent’s most cultural river.
It Supplies Europe With Drinking Water
Historically, the Danube was one of Europe’s most important trade routes, linking the economies of many Central and Eastern European empires. Today, it’s a source of fresh drinking water for millions of people that reside in Germany, Austria, and many parts of Romania.
While sections of the Danube have suffered from pollution over the years, the river is remarkably clean for a major transportation route. As you travel downriver, take a look at the deep, dark blue river with your own eyes to appreciate its importance, both as a leading former trade route and a valuable modern water source.
It Was Once a Top Steamboat Cruise Destination
Almost 200 years ago, Austria founded Donaudampfschiffahrtsgesellschaft. As well as boasting one of the most remarkable names in European history, the company offered a unique and – at the time – valuable service: steamboat shipping services, traveling down the Danube River.
Over time, the DDSG – as it was known by most – had over 1,200 ships transporting everything from fabrics to food down the Danube. In later years, the focus switched from shipping services towards tourism, with numerous steamboat tour operators setting up shop beside the Danube’s rich blue waterfront to offer river cruises.
It’s Home to Over One Million Swans and Ducks
As well as providing drinking water to millions of Europeans, the Danube is a source of life for millions of swans and ducks. An area of incredible ecological diversity, the Danube region is home to tens of thousands of animals and insects, including a total of over one million swans, geese, and ducks.
Whether you’re visiting for the incredible landscapes or the charming cities, you’ll no doubt be amazed by the Danube’s ecological offerings. Watch as swans float by, colonies of great white pelicans fly overhead, and groups of beavers craft incredible structures along the banks of the river.