A river boat sailing on the Danube in front of the illuminated Hungarian Parliament

Home » The 10 Best Budapest River Cruises and Boat Tours in 2024 (Personally Tested)

The 10 Best River Cruises and Boat Tours in Budapest (Personally Tested)

Last updated: Feb 22, 2024

Portait image of author, Adam Dimitrov.

Author: Adam Dimitrov — Budapester, Hungarian & City Expert/Guide

Logo of Legenda City Cruises.

🏆 Editor's #1 Choice

✔️ tested by author

⏳ In a hurry and want a recommendation you can't go wrong with?

  • Best all-around sightseeing cruise in Budapest.
  • Welcome drink and complementary lemonade.
  • Best audio guide in the city.
  • Weather-proof waiting area.
  • Modern, large, and spacious ship.
  • Comfortable chairs and great views.

Are you feeling overwhelmed by the plethora of boat tour options in Budapest? 

Then let me help you choose the best boat tour for you, with the best guide on the topic in existence.

To give honest and accurate recommendations on the best river cruises in Budapest, I decided to personally test the most popular cruises of every major cruise company in Budapest, backed up with photos and details and even a video .

That's seven companies and a dozen cruises tested!

As the person with the most boat tour laps on the Danube under his belt, I have handpicked the 10 best river cruises in Budapest from my many voyages based on their exceptional quality, uniqueness, or value for money. ‍

Every cruise has different strengths and weaknesses, so I have curated this list that caters to almost everyone's needs.

Moreover, I have made browsing these cruises easier for you and added informative FAQs to my article containing valuable insights to help you choose the best river cruise for your preferences.

💡 Note for large groups (+20 guests): If you're organizing a trip for a larger group of guests, contact me if you have any questions.

Disclaimer: This website uses affiliate links. I get paid a small commission if you purchase anything through my links. It costs you nothing and makes my job of creating high quality articles financially sustainable. Cheers!

Best River Cruises in Budapest in 2022

Cheapest: Mahart's Sightseeing Cruise

Best Value: Mahart's Sightseeing Cruise

Most Complete: Mahart's Sightseeing Cruise

Best Dinner Cruise: Mahart's Sightseeing Cruise

Best Party Boat: Mahart's Sightseeing Cruise

Best Vibes: Mahart's Sightseeing Cruise

Summary & Comparison — Top 10 River Cruises in Budapest

budapest travel by boat

Reviews calculation: I am using the total review count of the activity from GetYourGuide, Tripadvisor and Viator.

Boat Tour Itinerary & Landmarks

Blue = Attractions, Orange = Meeting Points, Colored Layers = Itineraries

💡 Tip: Remember that the decorative city lights are turned off at 23:00 from Mar 26 to Oct 29 (daylight savings time) and at 22:00 from Oct 30 to Mar 31 (standard time).

To truly immerse yourself the breathtaking beauty of the city , there's no better way than embarking on a river cruise. During such cruises, you'll be treated to a captivating array of iconic landmarks and attractions in Budapest , including:

  • Hungarian Parliament
  • Buda Castle
  • Matthias Church
  • Fisherman’s Bastion
  • Gellert Hill/Citadella
  • Gellért Spa
  • Budapest University of Technology and Economics
  • A host of historic bridges, including the Széchenyi Chain Bridge, Margaret Bridge, Liberty Bridge, and Petőfi Bridge
  • Margaret Island
  • Palace of Arts
  • National Theatre

Most cruises follow a circular route between the southern end of Margaret Island at Margaret Bridge and just south of Liberty Bridge. This route covers most of the significant landmarks mentioned above in Budapest.

Offbeat Landmarks

budapest travel by boat

South of Liberty Bridge are two nice-to-see-but-not-obligatory landmarks, the National Theatre (below) and the Palace of Arts (above), which are as beautiful as the Parliament and Buda Castle.

Some cruises, like Legenda, Hungaria Koncert and Silverline, have a complete itinerary that includes these offbeat landmarks. ‍ ‍

budapest travel by boat

Types of River Cruises in Budapest

By time of day.

The Hungarian Parliament at night.

Daytime Cruises

  • During the summer, daytime cruises are a great way to beat the heat and take a break. Standard sightseeing cruises typically run from 10 am to 10 pm.

Sunset Cruises ‍

  • You can turn any cruise into a sunset cruise by booking it specifically for that time. To time your cruise accurately, search Google for "Budapest Sunset Time + Date".

‍ Evening & Night Cruises ‍

  • The city's main attractions are illuminated 30 minutes after sunset . Take an evening or night cruise for a chance to see the stunning illuminated sights of Budapest.

By Drink Type

A glass of prosecco and a laid table on Rubin Group's booze cruise.

Prosecco Cruises

  • ‍ Welcome drinks on cruises usually come in 80ml glasses and offer a selection of sparkling wine, prosecco spritzer, mineral water, and soft drinks.

Cocktail Cruises

  • ‍ This cruise offers  3 cocktails , while the other includes  2 cocktails and a folk show .

Beer Cruises ‍

  • You can choose between two beer cruises. The first offers unlimited draft beer and a pizza of your choice , while the second includes 5 craft beers with a folk show .

Wine Cruises ‍

  • If you love wine, you can enjoy a special wine-tasting cruise . This cruise offers the opportunity to try seven different types of Hungarian wines , each with its own unique flavor and characteristics.

By Activity Type

The interior of Portum Lines Cruising's sightseeing boat with guests enjoying themselves.

Sightseeing Cruises ‍

  • These cruises offer best way to enjoy the beautiful cityscape of Budapest. Typically, these cruises will provide you with a welcome drink and offer the option to buy other beverages while onboard.

Dinner Cruises ‍

  • Enjoy a romantic candlelit dinner cruise with your partner, a buffet libre dinner cruise with a Hungarian folk performance, and more.

Booze & Party Cruises ‍

  • Have a blast on a  booze cruise with unlimited prosecco  or on a dedicated party boat.

Food Cruises ‍

  • Satisfy your foodie cravings with a lunch or dinner cruise . However, the quality of the food may be mediocre compared to restaurants.

Private Cruises ‍

  • Book a boat tour all four yourself, perfect for couples, families or groups.

1. Best Sightseeing Cruise Overall With Welcome Drink and Audio Guide

The illuminated Budapest Parliament at night, from the perspective of a Danube river cruise.

✔️ Best All-Around  — This cruise has it all for a complete sightseeing experience.

✔️ Welcome Drink  — Choose champagne, wine, beer, a soft drink, or mineral water.

✔️ Great Ship  — Modern, spacious, and well-kept, offering superb views from both decks.

✔️ Audio Guide  — Crystal-clear sound quality via headphones, and available in 30 languages.

✔️ Full Danube Curcuit  — Covers all the must-see and off-beat landmarks, from Margaret Island to the National Theatre/Palace of Arts.

✔️ Family Friendly - Generous discounts for children, including free tickets for ages 0-9 and 50% for ages 10-14.

❌  Pricy  — It's a bit more expensive than other cruises, but the added value makes up for it.

❌  Missing Free Lemonade  — It's not highlighted that the free lemonade is only offered in the summer season.

❌  Headphone Challenges and Hiccups  — The first pair didn't work, the second had a cable that was too short for my height (I'm 190cm), and the third functional pair lacked optimal comfort.

💡 Tip: All cruises have a generous cancellation policy , allowing a full refund if canceled 24 hours before the activity. Additionally, they offer a reserve now, pay later flexible payment scheme.

Legenda's river cruise offers a complete sightseeing experience with a  welcome drink  and an  audio guide in 30 languages.

Audio guide languages include: English, German, French, Italian, Croatian, Dutch, Hungarian, Hebrew, Arabic, Latvian, Finnish, Turkish, Russian, Portuguese, Estonian, Chinese, Thai, Romanian, Korean, Danish, Greek, Swedish, Slovenian, Japanese, Czech, Norwegian, Slovak, Polish, Lithuanian, Spanish.

Their  ship is modern and spacious , providing excellent views from both decks.

The  itinerary covers the iconic sights from Margaret Island to the National Theatre and Palace of Arts.

This cruise is  pricy but offers more value that backs up the higher price. The audio guide has clear sound quality through headphones but needs improvement in content quality and headphone comfort.

Overall, this cruise provides a  high-quality sightseeing experience with no major negatives , which is why it's number one on this list.

🎥 Video : Watch this Youtube video I made of Legenda's sightseeing cruise. 📷 Instagram : Check out reels and photos of Legenda City Cruises.

About Legenda City Cruises

Legenda is the oldest and most reputable cruise company in Budapest. They’ve been operating since (at least) 1990 and are still going strong.

Detailed Breakdown

Sightseeing & views.

The illuminated Budapest Palace and Buda side at night, from the perspective of a Danube river cruise.

  • Like on any boat tour in Budapest, the cityscape is breathtaking throughout the trip. The  best spot for sightseeing  on this cruise is the  top deck .
  • The cruise itinerary covers all of Budapest's landmarks, including the National Opera and the Palace of Arts.
💡 Tip:  For the best sightseeing and photo opportunities , choose a ship with large open-air decks that offer unobstructed 360° views like Legenda, Rubin Group, and Portum.

Legenda City Cruises' river cruise billboard.

  • The Gondola is a modern vessel that offers spacious seating, openable windows during the summer, a bar, an audio guide with headphones, and AC/heating.

The Weather-Proof Waiting Area

The interior of Legenda City Cruises' floating dock waiting area.

  • Legenda is the only company in Budapest with a floating dock & waiting area that completely shields you from the elements .

A variety of drinks in glasses being prepared on Legenda City Cruises' sightseeing cruise.

  • The cruise kicks off with receiving a complimentary welcome drink – choose from champagne, wine, beer, a soft drink, or mineral water. You also get to enjoy an extra free lemonade in the summer season.

The Lower Deck

The interior of Legenda City Cruises' sightseeing boat.

  • The lower deck has a cozy bar at the back, near the stairs to the top deck. Rows of comfy seats offer plenty of room to move about, and the large windows guarantee fantastic views .

The Upper Deck

The top deck of Legenda City Cruises' sightseeing boat.

  • It's spacious with unobstructed 360° views from every angle. Ideal for photography and soaking in the city's beauty. Blankets are available upon request.

The Audio Guide

The audio guide controller and headphones on Legenda City Cruises' sightseeing boat.

  • This was the only audio guide could actually be heard out of all the cruises, thanks to the headphones, as the other ships have loudspeakers.
  • The audio quality was excellent , and the narration was available in 30 languages.
  • There's room for improvement contentwise. Around half of the mentioned sights aren't relevant to riverside attractions. Plus, the c ontent could dive deeper into the city's history, culture, and be more historically correct instead of telling stories, trivia and myths.
  • I encountered some issues with the headphones - the first set was defective, the second set had a cable that was too short, and the third set was uncomfortable and hard to wear.
💡 All the other cruises offer loudspeaker audio guides. Loudspeaker audio guides are often inaudible due to passenger noise. Other common issues include un-synced commentary, irrelevant sights/details mentioned, and infrequent audio.

Quick Facts

  • 📅 Schedule: every day from 10:00 to 22:00 (varies)
  • 🎟️ Ticket type: mobile or printed
  • ✔️ Onboard wi-fi: yes
  • ✔️ Open air deck: yes
  • ✔️ Air conditioning/heating: yes
  • ❌ Pets allowed: no, only service animals
  • ✔️ Smoking: yes, outside
  • ✔️ Wheelchair accessible: yes
  • ✔️ Baby stroller accessible: yes
  • ✔️ Infant/children discount: free for young children (age 0-9), about ~50% discount on tickets for teens (age 10-14)

How to Get There

  • 📍 Meeting point: Dock 7, Jane Haining rakpart, 1052 Budapest
  • ✔️ Centrally located, easy to find and arrive.
  • 🗺️ The dock 7 is conveniently located halfway between the Mahart kiosk and Elisabeth Bridge , easily accessible via Tram 2 .

2. Budapest Night Booze Cruise with Unlimited Prosecco and Lemonade

A row of glasses with prosecco on Rubin Group's booze cruise.

✔️  #1 Most Affordable Booze Cruise  — Experience Budapest's most economical unlimited prosecco cruise on the Danube.

✔️  Excellent Ship — The ship features a charming open-air top deck and two indoor decks with a sophisticated cocktail party-like ambiance.

✔️  Unlimited Drinks  — Drink all the prosecco and lemonade you want.

✔️  Leisurely 90-Minute Ride  — More than enough time to savor your drinks, though drinking responsibly is advised by your friends at Prosecco and Co.

❌ Mediocre Food Platter — For an extra 10€, the food platter is disappointing and hardly qualifies as 'gourmet.'

❌ Remote Meeting Point — The departure area near Margaret Island is not easily accessible.

❌ Inaudible Audio Guide — The ambient noise from passengers drowns out the audio guide, but most are too busy enjoying their drinks to notice.

❓ Is buying food or drinks while on a river cruise in Budapest possible? 💡 Food is not typically included on standard sightseeing cruises. However, you can purchase snacks and drinks at the ship's kitchen bar.

The Rubin Group's boat tour is an excellent choice for those seeking an affordable cocktail-party atmosphere with unlimited prosecco and lemonade. The attentive servers are always on hand to keep guests' glasses full.

The top deck boasts breathtaking 360° views of the cityscape during the 90-minute river cruise, while the two indoor decks offer a cozy and inviting ambiance.

As for the less rosy aspects of this cruise, the optional food platter isn't worth the 10€ price, and the audio guide may be difficult to hear over the party noise. Additionally, the meeting point is further from the city center, so getting there may take some extra time and effort.

Overall, if you're looking for a leisurely cruise centered around drinks and stunning views, Rubin Group's boat tour is an outstanding choice.

🎥 Video : Watch this Youtube video I made of Rubin Group's unlimited prosecco cruise. 📷 Instagram : Check out reels and photos of Rubin Group.

About Rubin Group

Rubin Group   is another solid company, operating since (at least) 2015. They specialize in gastro-themed events rather than standard sightseeing cruises.

Rubin Group's booze cruise ship, with guests waiting to board on the right.

  • The ship was impressive with a spacious 3-level design and a cocktail party atmosphere . Passengers were seated at 2-person tables .

The Top Deck

The illuminated Liberty Bridge Citadel Statue on Gellért Hill at night, from the perspective of Rubin Group's booze cruise.

  • The top deck offered stunning, unobstructed 360° views . It was the perfect spot for taking photos and enjoying the sights . This is the best place to be during the warmer months.

‍ The Mid and Bottom Deck

The interior of Rubin Group's booze cruise with guests enjoying themselves.

  • There are two indoor decks with  plenty of seats and tables  where the atmosphere is  cozy and inviting .
  • The first passengers to board tend to get the best top deck spots, so it's  worth arriving early   if you want a prime spot .

The interior of Rubin Group's booze cruise with guests enjoying themselves.

The Drinks Refills

  • The  servers were   attentive , constantly  refilling glasses  with prosecco as soon as they were empty.
  • Self-service lemonade  is available in two flavors — regular and one with a strange cucumber taste.

The Assorted Food Platter

Assorted food platter on Rubin Group's booze cruise.

  • The optional assorted food platter for 10€ wasn't what I was expecting.
  • It didn't match the advertised images and wasn't gourmet but ordinary , including simple fruits and vegetables, cheese and ham with two sauces, and a pastry dessert. The portion size was smaller than expected.
  • Save your money and skip the platter.
  • The loudspeaker  audio guide was inaudible  due to the passengers crowding out the narration.
  • They increased the volume upon my request, but the  audio guide's content was too basic .
  • 📅 Schedule: every day at 19:00 and 21:00
  • ❌ Pets allowed: no, except service animals
  • ❌ Wheelchair accessible: no
  • ✔️ Baby stroller accessible: yes (at least the bottom deck)
  • ✔️ Infant/children discount: free for children (age 0-3)
  • 📍 Meeting point: Budapest, Szent István park 5, 1137
  • ❌ The meeting point is north of Margaret Bridge , which is slightly out of the way compared to other centrally located cruises.
  • 🗺️ Use the 2 or 4/6 tram line  and get off at Jászai Mari tér . From there, walk 500 meters towards the north of Margaret Bridge until you spot a large red "0" sign .

3. Best Value Sightseeing Cruise With Welcome Drink

The Budapest Palace during the day, from the perspective of Portum Lines Crusing's sightseeing cruise.

✔️  Exceptional Value  — Costs 40-50% less than Legenda, while still offering a stellar experience, albeit with fewer non-essential amenities (such as audio guides and complimentary lemonade).

✔️  Fun and Lively — This cruise attracts a younger crowd, creating a lively and enjoyable atmosphere.

✔️  Welcome Drink  — Options include prosecco, a seasonal cocktail, mulled wine, or a soft drink.

✔️ Great Ship  — The ship is modern, spacious, and well-maintained, with excellent views from both its decks.

❌  Inconvenient Location  — The meeting point near Margaret Island is not in the city center, thus getting there is a hassle.

❌  Prone to Crowding — The ship may feel cramped during peak travel times, especially the top deck.

❌  Limited Open Air Seats  — The coveted open-air tables on the top deck are claimed quickly and are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

❓  Is it possible to reserve seats on river cruises? 💡 Seats on most river cruises are assigned on a  first-come, first-served  basis. But some dinner cruises might let you reserve a specific spot.

Portum Lines Cruising is an excellent  alternative to Legenda , offering a  lively and fun  sightseeing experience that's especially  popular with younger crowds .

Upon arrival, guests receive a  complimentary welcome drink of  prosecco, seasonal cocktails, mulled wine, or a soft drink.

While they  don't offer  amenities like an  audio guide or complimentary lemonade , the ship is modern and well-maintained, with  excellent views  of Budapest's top sights.

The  top deck  offers both open-air 360° and weather-protected roof-covered sections. While the  lower level  is cozy and comfortable, it's  best to head upstairs  to enjoy the views.

Reaching the  meeting point is inconvenient , and the  ship can get crowded  due to its popularity, especially on the top deck.

Overall, Portum Lines offers an  exceptional river cruise  experience at  great value , perfect for those seeking a fun atmosphere.

🎥 Video: Watch my video summary with live footage of Portum sightseeing cruise.

About Portum Lines

Portum Lines is a solid company operating since (at least) 2014. Their offerings are pretty slim compared to others but still superb in quality.

The Budapest Parliament during the day, from the perspective of Portum Lines Crusing's sightseeing cruise.

  • During the boat tour, you can enjoy the flawless cityscape of Budapest from certain spots with clear 360° views .
  • The cruise itinerary covers most of Budapest's landmarks, except the National Opera and the Palace of Arts.

Portum Lines Crusing's sightseeing boat, Neptun.

  • The ship is spacious and well-maintained , with two levels similar to Legenda's sightseeing ship.

The open air section of Portum Lines Cruising's sightseeing boat with guests enjoying themselves.

  • The top deck is divided into three areas - the front, middle, and back.
  • The front and back sections are open-air , with perfect 360° views - these are the best places to be.
💡 Tip: The best open air seats go fast! You must arrive early and be at the front of the line to snatch them.

The interior of Portum Lines Cruising's sightseeing boat with guests enjoying themselves.

  • There is a wide indoor section in the middle with tables and chairs lining both sides near the windows.
  • Although the views from here are good, they are even better outside in the open air section.

The lower deck of Portum Lines Cruising's sightseeing boat.

  • The lower level is comfortable, cozy, and spacious, with heating and air conditioning to provide a pleasant experience, even on rainy or cold days.
  • The lower deck is an indoor space similar to the upper deck's covered section.
  • Additionally, there is a small bar on board.

Two glasses of prosecco on Portum Lines Cruising's sightseeing boat.

  • The cruise includes a free welcome drink of your choice - a sparkling wine, a seasonal welcome drink, or a soft drink.
  • 📅 Schedule : every day from 17:00 to 22:00 (varies)
  • 🎟️ Ticket type: mobile, printed
  • ❌ Pets allowed: no, only services animals
  • ✔️ Children discount: free for infants (age 0-2), only on viator
  • 📍 Meeting point: Budapest, Dock 42 port, Szent István park, 1138 Hungary ‍
  • 🗺️ Use the 2 or 4/6 tram line  and get off at Jászai Mari tér . From there, walk 500 meters towards the north of Margaret Bridge until you spot the Dock 42 sign .

4. No Frills Budget Sightseeing Cruise

budapest travel by boat

When it comes to Budapest cruises, Silverline Sightseeing Cruise is a solid choice with friendly staff and a comfortable meeting point, but it doesn't quite stand out from the crowd.

Unlike most cruises, Silverline's cruise ticket does not include a welcome drink . However, the price is on the low-end . If it were not for their out-of-the-way location, I would recommend the Portum's similarly cheap cruise in a heartbeat.

With a relaxed 70-minute cruising time, this ride offers a leisurely pace that allows you to take in the sights and enjoy the moment.

They used to offer an audio guide , but it suffered from the common issue of being drowned out by the crowd's noise and not being in sync with the landmarks. They seem to have done away with it altogether.

In summary, Silverline's sightseeing cruise provides a leisurely tour of Budapest's iconic landmarks on the Danube. While not exceptional, it offers a decent experience.

About Silverline Cruises Ltd.

Silverline is a solid company operating since (at least) 2011. They have a decent range of cruise offerings, and run popular cruises in the sightseeing category.

budapest travel by boat

  • Like on any boat tour in Budapest, the cityscape is breathtaking throughout the trip. However, Silverline's ships have a roof and support columns on the top deck which means they do not provide a clear 360° view .

budapest travel by boat

  • The ship itself is decent , but it doesn't claim the title of the most modern or spacious vessel on the waters. It gets the job done without being overly impressive.
  • Silverline rotates boats frequently, so you may not get the same one I did.

budapest travel by boat

  • During my trip, I was on the larger two-level boat that previously had rows of seats, but has since been replaced with tables and chairs (according to photos).
  • The smaller boat now has the rows of seats , which I found to be cramped and lacking in legroom .
  • Both ships have roofs and support columns which partially block the view .

The Main Deck

budapest travel by boat

  • The main deck offers comfort with ample space, heating, and air conditioning . While indoor views are average , better panoramas await at the front chairs or the open-air section.
  • Welcoming and friendly staff at the entrance make a positive impression. I haven't interacted with the ship's crew so I cannot comment on that.

Unneccesary Stop

  • During my cruise, we made a stop at Batthyány tér (Buda) , even though no passengers got on or off.
  • 📅 Schedule: every day at 11:00am, 1:00pm, 3:00pm, 5:00pm, 6:00pm, 7:00pm, 7:30pm, 8:30pm, 9:00pm.
  • ✔️Air conditioning/heating: yes
  • 📍 Meeting point: Budapest Jane Henning rakpart 10, Dock 11, 1052
  • 🗺️ Use tram line 2 to arrive at Széchenyi István tér or Március 15 tér stop . Go towards Elizabeth bridge (white suspension bridge) and look for Silverline Cruises .

5. Best Cocktail Cruise With Three Cocktails

Cocktails with Buda castle scenery in the background.

Enjoy the stunning river views of Budapest while sipping on three delicious cocktails with Silverline's cruise.

However, it's important to note that there is no audio guide available and some of the views may be partially blocked by side columns.

🎥 Video: Take a look at the teaser video for the cruise to get an idea of what to expect. Keep in mind that the Cocktail Cruise and Pizza & Beer cruise are happening at the same time and place.

The beautiful sunset sky, from the perspective of Portum Lines Crusing's sightseeing cruise.

  • The scenery is breathtaking and you're taken all the way down to the Palace of Arts & National Theatre .
  • For the best views, head to the top deck . However, taking great photos can be challenging due to the roof and side columns obstructing the view.
  • The lower deck doesn't offer great opportunities for sightseeing or taking photos.

Silverline's cruise ship sailing on the Danube.

  • The ship is functional , but it is not the newest, most modern, or luxurious vessel available.

Drinks Menu

Cocktail menu of Silverline's river cruise.

  • You can choose three cocktails from the options displayed in the image above.
  • Your cocktail may be served in plastic pint glasses instead of the fancy cocktail glasses shown in the picture.
  • 📅 Schedule: Every day 16:00, 18:00, 20:00, 22:00
  • ❌ Baby stroller accessible: no
  • ✔️ Infant/children discount: free for children (age 0-6) but food/drinks aren't included.
  • 📍 Meeting point: Budapest, Jane Haining Rakpart, Dokk 11, 1052
  • 🗺️ Use tram line 2 to arrive at  Széchenyi István tér stop . You can find Silverline Cruises closest to Elisabeth Bridge.
💡 Cruise alternative : Check out Hungaria Koncert's drinks cruise , which offers a cocktail cruise with folk music, onboard an atmospheric and luxurious ship.

6. Budapest Dinner Cruise with Buffet Libre, Folk Dance Show & Music

The dinner area of Hungaria Koncert's river cruise boat with guests enjoying themselves.

✔️  Buffet Libre  — this dinner cruise is a great way to taste various Hungarian dishes.

✔️  Two Welcome Drinks  — you can choose from various alcoholic and non-alcoholic options.

✔️  Great Atmosphere  — you feel like you're in an early 20th century cabaret and forget about the outside world for 2 hours.

✔️  Folk Dance and Music Show  — features one of the best live folklore music and dance shows with authentic and award-winning performers.

✔️  Full Danube Circuit  — the cruise covers everything worth seeing, from Margaret Island all the way down to the National Theatre/Palace of Arts.

✔️  Long Cruise  — the cruise lasts 1.5-2 hours, which gives ample time to eat, drink and see the sights at night.

❌  Not Great for Sightseeing  — the views from the ship are mediocre (no 360°, fences blocking the view), spaces for sightseeing are both few/small, the dinner and folk show are more interesting so you'll focus on that and won't see the sights.

❌  Not Fine Dining Quality  — the food is fine, but mid-range restaurants (and up) serve better quality food.

Hungaria Koncert runs this excellent dinner cruise with live Hungarian folk music and dance performance.

There's an unlimited buffet of various Hungarian dishes and a vibe that’s comparable to an early 20th century cabaret.

🎥 Video: Watch my video summary with live footage of Hungaria Koncert's dinner cruise.

About Hungaria Koncert

Hungaria Koncert is a cruise operator and organizes different touristic activities. They've been operating since (at least) 1995.

Cruise Duration

  • This cruise lasts 1.5 or 2 hours depending on which cruise you choose — 7 pm or 10 pm . This gives ample time to enjoy the delicious food, the unique folk performance, and explore the ship.

What's Included

Two Hungaria folk dancers on Hungaria Koncert's dinner cruise coming up the stairs.

  • You get to enjoy the show of award-winning music and dance performers who are going to give you an amazing time.

Laid table with cutlery and food on Hungaria Koncert's dinner cruise.

  • ‍ You get access to a buffet libre of a variety of Hungarian dishes . Meals include goulash soup, stuffed cabbage, beef stew, somlói Galuska, a variety of strudels, and more.
  • The quality of the food is good but isn’t Michelin 2-star grade. Even so, it’s a great way to try out a variety of Hungarian dishes at once.

Dance and Music Performance

Hungarian folk music performers entertaining guests with violin music on Hugaria Koncert's cruise boat.

  • On the top deck, there are folklore dance and music performances for dinner guests only.
  • The music gave the trip an early 20th century cabaret vibe .

Guests waiting in line to board Gróf Széchenyi river cruise ship.

  • The interior of the ship has a classical and luxurious feel , including chandeliers, a teak wood interior, custom-made floor carpet, intarsia decorated walls, and more.

The dinner area of Hungaria Koncert's river cruise boat with guests enjoying themselves from the outside looking in through the windows.

  • There are two symmetrical indoor sections on the top deck and a total of four outdoor areas - two on the sides and two at each end of the ship.

The openair section of Hungaria Koncert's river cruise ship on the top deck.

  • The outdoor side areas are available for sightseeing guests; the rest of the level is reserved for dinner guests.
  • T he sides have 180° views , while the front and back are 360° , but fences obstruct the view.

The interior of Hungaria Koncert's river cruise boat with guests enjoying themselves.

  • The lower deck has the same look and feel as the rest of the ship. There is only one area accessible - immediately to the right of the entrance. This area is for people with non-dinner tickets. It includes a bar with reasonable prices, tables with chairs, and a folklore trio performance.
  • 📅 Schedule: every day at 19:00, and on weekends at 22:00
  • ✔️ Infant/children discount: free for children (age 0-5)
  • 📍 Meeting point: Budapest, Id. Antall József rkp., 1051
  • 🗺️ Use tram line 2 to arrive at Széchenyi István tér stop.  You can find Hungaria Koncert next to Széchenyi Chain bridge.
💡 Pricing 55€ vs. 72€ — What's the difference? Those with a regular dinner cruise ticket (55€) won't be able to see the folk dance show - they need to buy the 72€ ticket if they do. There's nothing stopping you from going over to the other side for a sneak peek, though.

7. Best Cocktails, Craft Beer or Wine Tasting Cruise

Hungarian folk music performers entertaining guests with violin music on Hugaria Koncert's cruise boat.

I have already mentioned the dinner cruise offered by Hungaria Koncert above.

However, they also offer a more affordable boat tour with drinks , which takes place on the same ship.

The only difference is that this event is on the ship's lower deck and features a live folk violin trio to entertain you.

There is also an open-air area where you can drink and enjoy spending time.

The basic ticket is reasonably priced and includes a drink . You can also upgrade to options offering craft beer, cocktails, exquisite wines, or even unlimited drinks .

The atmosphere is reminiscent of an early 20th-century cabaret.

🎥 Video: Watch my video summary with footage of Hungaria Koncert's cruise. Even though this is about their dinner cruise, you'll be on the same vessel.

Indoor Area

  • The bottom deck area has the same 20th-century cabaret feel as the rest of the ship.

Outdoor Area

  • The sides of the view offer 180° views, so unfortunately you can't see both Buda and Pest at the same time.

budapest travel by boat

  • The basic ticket is reasonably priced and includes a drink .
  • You can also upgrade to options offering craft beer, cocktails, exquisite wines, or even unlimited drinks .
  • If you buy the more expensive tickets you will be seated upstairs in the dinner guest area instead of slightly less luxurious bottom deck area.

8. Best Pizza and Unlimited Beer Cruise

budapest travel by boat

Enjoy the stunning river views of Budapest while sipping unlimited beer and one pizza with Silverline's cruise.

🎥 Video: Take a look at the teaser video for the cruise to get an idea of what to expect. Keep in mind that the Cocktail Cruise and Pizza & Beer cruise are happening at the same time.

The Food and Drinks

budapest travel by boat

  • Indulge in a delicious pizza of your choice such as Hawaii, Hungarian, Salami, Ham and Corn, and Quattro Formaggi.
  • During the cruise, you can enjoy unlimited draft beer and soft drinks .
  • 📅 Schedule: every day 16:00, 18:00, 20:00, 22:00
  • ❌ Infant/children discount: no

9. Cheapest Sightseeing Cruise

The Budapest Palace during the day, from the perspective of Mahart-BKK's sightseeing cruise.

✔️  Cheapest Cruise in Budapest  — perfect for travelers that value affordability.

✔️  Unlimited Cruises  — for the same day with one ticket, excellent in case you have the urge to binge cruise in Budapest.

✔️  Great for Getting Around  — there's an option to disembark on Margaret Island or at any of the four other stops.

❌  Low Quality  — I'm not mincing words here, this is a bare-bones, low-quality sightseeing cruise.

❌  Smell of Fuel   — a strange smell is often present on the boat.

❌  Five Stops  — the boat docks and undocks 5 times during the cruise, which isn't fun.

❌ Crowded —  the ship is small and cramped to begin with but wait till the Hungarian pupils on school trips arrive.

‍ Update: This boat tour is only available during the summer season.

A dirt-cheap sightseeing cruise that ranks low in quality compared to other options. Great if you're on an  extremely  tight budget.

Note that this cruise does not have public reviews, as it is a public service boat service operated by a government-owned company (Mahart). Tickets must be purchased on the spot and cannot be reserved in advance.

🎥 Video: Watch my video summary with live footage of BK-Mahart's sightseeing cruise.

Detailed breakdown

BKK-Mahart's sightseeing boat.

  • It seemed old and in need of renovation.

The top deck with rows of seating on Mahart-BKKs's sightseeing boat.

  • Poor seat layout , crowded, partial view due to roof and side columns. It wasn't too crowded when I went, so it was acceptable.

The Bottom Deck

The interior of BKK-Mahart's sightseeing boat.

  • The smell of gas/fuel , poor seat layout, dim lighting, mediocre views, and uncomfortable seat cushions.

5 Stops During the Cruise

Embarking/disembarking on Mahart-BKKs's sightseeing boat.

  • The ship makes 5 stops , which takes away from the experience, but allows for a drop-off at Margaret Island . The smell of gas intensified during docking.

No Pre-Booking Available

  • It is not possible to book this cruise in advance, but tickets can be purchased in person at the BKK-Mahart kiosk .
  • 📅 Schedule: Tuesday-Saturday at 12:00, 14:00, 16:00, 18:00 and 20:00 (don't go on Mondays like I did!)
  • ❌ Onboard wi-fi: no
  • ❌ Wheelchair accessible: yes
  • ❌ Baby stroller accessible: yes
  • ✔️ Infant/children discount: free for children (age 0-7)
  • 📍 Meeting point: Batthyány tér - Vigadó tér, 1051 Budapest
  • 🗺️ How to get there: Use tram line 2 to arrive at Március 15.  You can find Mahart ticket booth in front of you after you descend the stairs at Vigado tér. The boat will be the left from it.

10. Historic 19th Century Steam Boat Cruise

budapest travel by boat

❓ Should I book river cruise tickets in advance? Is it worth it? 💡 Yes  — It's worth reserving your ticket in advance to ensure your place on the ship, although you can purchase tickets in person.

This is Budapest's only boat tour offering an authentic 19th-century historic cruise experience . The ship is a replica of the Hungarian paddle steamer , the Kisfaludy, which operated between 1847 and 1887 on Lake Balaton thanks to the initiative of István Széchenyi.

The cruise includes a welcome drink and an English audio guide (via loudspeakers).

The ship features an open-air panorama deck at the front (the best place for 360° views), a semi-covered rear area , and a small top deck near the captain's cabin.

There's also a must-see maritime museum on the bottom deck.

In summary, this cruise provides a high-quality sightseeing experience infused with historic flair you can't get elsewhere in Budapest.

🎥 Virtual tour: take a look at the ship through their interactive virtual tour .

About Dunai Sétahajózási Ltd.

Dunai Sétahajózási Kft. was founded in 2021 by Gergely Fogasy, who also operates a successful cruise company on Lake Balaton since 2019.

budapest travel by boat

  • Like on any boat tour in Budapest, the cityscape is breathtaking throughout the trip. The best spot for sightseeing on this cruise is the front panorama deck , where you board the ship.

budapest travel by boat

  • The boat tour offers an authentic historical experience aboard a replica of a 19th-century paddle steamer , the Kisfaludy, that once sailed Lake Balaton.

19th Century Maritime Museum

budapest travel by boat

  • On the lower deck, there is a captivating maritime museum that displays the lifestyle of 19th century sailors .

budapest travel by boat

  • The cruise includes a complimentary welcome drink of your choice - water, prosecco, orange juice or beer.

budapest travel by boat

  • The small top deck has four tables , but the chimney and captain's cabin somewhat block the view .
  • The orientation of half the tables is perpendicular to the Danube, so one side of the city is always behind your back . The main deck doesn't have this issue.

budapest travel by boat

  • The main deck has a front open-air area with a 360° panorama . Additionally, there is a roof-covered rear area with equally splendid views.

budapest travel by boat

  • You can take a closer look at the paddle wheel in the middle or visit the maritime museum on the bottom deck.
  • You can also find free umbrellas , which they likely hand out during rainy weather.
  • During the cruise, you can enjoy an English-speaking audio guide through loudspeakers.
  • The guide was synchronized with the attractions we passed by and provided brief introductions, trivia, and historical information about the landmarks.
  • Sometimes loudspeakers can get drowned out by the noise of a crowd, which makes them hard to hear. I didn't experience this during my daytime cruise, but it may be more challenging to hear during the more popular night cruise .
  • In between the narration, there's a pleasant classical piano music playing.
  • 📅 Schedule: every day at 4:30pm, 5:30pm, 7:00pm, 8:30pm, 10:00pm.
  • ❌ Air conditioning/heating: no
  • ✔️ Pets allowed: yes
  • ✔️ Infant/children discount: free for children (age 0-6)
  • 📍 Meeting point: Budapest Jane Henning rakpart 10, Dock 10, 1052
  • 🗺️ Use tram line 2 to arrive at Széchenyi István tér or Március 15 tér stop . Go towards Elizabeth bridge (white suspension bridge) and look for Duna Cruises .

Frequently Asked Questions

How can i prepare for a river cruise during the winter or summer.

Summer: Have sunscreen, water, an umbrella, and sunglasses for daytime cruises in the warmer months.

In rainy weather, the open-air deck may be closed. In stormy weather, cruises are canceled. They'll either refund you or offer an alternative cruise if this happens. ‍

Winter: The heated cabin's windows tend to fog up, blocking the views, depending on how well the windows are insulated.

You can always go out to get a few photo shots, then rush back to the safety of the heated cabin. Open-air sightseeing during the winter can be less enjoyable due to cold weather and winds, so it's best to dress warmly, wear layers, and protect your face.

How can I avoid overcrowded boat tours?

If you want to avoid crowded boat tours, you can follow these steps: visit during the off-season, choose daytime tours instead of night tours, or opt for more expensive cruises.

Budapestadventures is your free guide to help explore Budapest. We test, evaluate and review touristic services and activities in the city for your benefit.

Live Adventure Travel contains affiliate links and is a member of the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. If you make a purchase using one of these Amazon links, I may receive compensation at no extra cost to you. See my Disclosure Policy for more information.

11 Best Boat Tours in Budapest That Will Make Your Jaw Drop in 2024!

budapest travel by boat

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Well, then you have come to the right place. Budapest is a wonderful city, full of incredible things to do with one of my personal favourites being a scenic boat tour down the Danube river. This is the most interesting way to see the city’s fairytale architecture! I have hand-picked for you some of the BEST BOAT TOURS IN BUDAPEST . There is something for everyone, from booze cruises, riverside meals, history tours, and budget options with nighttime views.

budapest travel by boat

Don’t have time to read the entire article? 

Book this Candle Lit Budapest Boat Cruise

– with a perfect 5 Star ⭐️ rating.

Going on boat trips in Budapest is a wonderful way to see the Hungarian capital from an alternative perspective. But with many boat tours to choose from picking the right one can be a daunting task.

And that’s where I come in!

Let me take on the hard work by highlighting the best Budapest Boat Tours on the market. I have spent time reading the reviews and highlighting the pros and cons of each so you don’t have to.

So, what are you waiting for? Let’s start planning and booking your unforgettable Budapest boat tour experience!

Top 3 Picks: Boat trips in Budapest


FOLK PERFORMANCE & EVENING DINNER ✔️ Buffet Style Meal ✔️ Live Performance & Music ✔️ Great Atmosphere


budapest travel by boat

CANDLELIT DINNER & LIVE MUSIC ✔️ 3 Course Meal ✔️ Welcome Drink ✔️ Live Music On Board


budapest travel by boat

COCKTAIL CRUISE ✔️ Drinks Included ✔️ Stunning Views 🚫 Party Atmosphere (Con for some)

Budapest River Cruise: Pizza, 3 Course Meals & Entertainment

I wanted to start this post with the Budapest Boats Tours that offer the most value for money. Why not combine your sightseeing with a delicious meal and some light entertainment? Hop onboard a boat and admire the incredible views as you drink and eat the night away. It is the perfect addition to your Budapest Itinerary .

budapest travel by boat

1. Pizza and Unlimited Beer Cruise in Budapest

⭐️  Rating : 4 out of 5 Stars | ⏳  Tour Length : 1.30 Hour | ⛰️  Check Rates and Availability

Did someone say Pizza and Beer? Picture this, you and a group of friends cruise along the Danube River with Pizza in one hand and a beer in the other. You are all laughing and joking as you take in the wonderful sight of Budapest. If you’re searching for an affordable Budapest Danube boat tour that comes with a delightful food experience, look no further. There’s no need to worry about additional payments on the boat since both pizza and drinks are included, all accompanied by lively party music.

✅ Why You’ll Love It:

1. Beers Included

2. Pizza Included

2. Free Cancelation (within 24 hours)

3. Affordable Price

4. Pick Up Location ( See Google Maps )

❌ Things to Consider:

1. No Guide

2. No other Alcoholic Beverages are included

3. Max 80 People On Board

A decent amount of time around the river a Budapest highly recommend going at night. It’s a lot more prettier at night, but overall Great food, great pizza, and great vibes with awesome views – Read More Reviews Here

2. Dinner & Cruise on the Danube with Folklore Dance Show & Live Music

⭐️  Rating : 5 out of 5 Stars | ⏳  Tour Length : 2 Hours | ⛰️  Check Rates and Availability

Let me introduce you to one of the most unique Budapest River Cruises. Jump onboard and set sail down the Danube as you enjoy the traditional live music and dance. Indulge in some tasty buffet-style food and admire the iconic landmarks as you sail on by. If you a looking to get the most out of your trip to Budapest then this experience is definitely one to add to your bucket list!

1. One Drink Included

2. Food Included

3. Entertainment Included

1. No additional drinks included

2. It’s quite short for what on offer

budapest travel by boat

3. (3) course Dinner Cruise with Piano Battle Show

⭐️  Rating : 4 out of 5 Stars | ⏳  Tour Length : 3 Hours | ⛰️  Check Rates and Availability

Looking to spend a romantic evening cruising down the Danube River with your significant other? Then look no further than the Piano Battle Dinner Cruise. This unique experience consists of a 3-course dinner with the option for ultimate drinks. Reviews state that all seats are window seats, therefore, you will not be held short on the incredible views of Budapest’s most iconic landmarks. This is one relaxing experience not to be missed while in Budapest.

1. 3 Course Meal

2. Live Entertainment

3. Pick Up Location ( See Google Maps )

4. Maximum of 50 people

1. Drinks are at an extra cost

From entering the boat, the staff was amazing ,they was very helpful and friendly, food was amazing entertainment was great Would highly recommend I would give 6 stars if I was able too. – Read More Reviews Here

Booze Cruise Budapest: Wine, Cocktails & Beer Oh My!

Let’s talk Booze Cruise in Budapest! Planning a trip to the Hungarian capital with your friends and looking for the perfect way to spend the evening? Then look no further, I have highlighted down below some of the best ‘drink’ orientated cruises in Budapest. Some are wilder than others so make sure to read the description to find the one best suited to you!

budapest travel by boat

4. Budapest Booze Cruise with Unlimited Drinks

If you’re looking to have an unforgettable night out in Budapest, Then this perhaps may be the perfect Budapest Danube boat tour for you! Spend over an hour cruising along the banks of the Danube Rive while zipping unlimited drinks including a selection of wine, beer, champagne and soft drinks. Take in famous sights such as the Hungarian Parliament Building, Buda Castle, and St. Gellert Thermal Bath. Plus, raise a toast to fellow travellers and perhaps make a new group of friends as you admire the beauty of the Hungarian Capital! This might just be the best Budapest Danube Boat Tour for party lovers.

1. Ulmiated Drinks

5. 80+ Party Goers

1. Atmosphere Determined Bookings

2. No Food Included

So glad we did this booze cruise food choice of music mixture of ages and unlimited drink for the duration! Would defo recommend and do it again! – Read More Reviews Here

5. Budapest River Danube Sunset Cocktail Cruise

Who doesn’t love cocktails?! Especially when you have an incredible view of the Hungarian Parliament as you cruise down the Danube River. This is the perfect experience for groups of friends, a girl’s night out or a cute date. The cruise operates during sunset giving guests the perfect opportunity to take some golden hour pictures with Budapest’s most iconic landmarks in the background.

1. 3 Cocktails Included

2. Free Cancelation (with 24 hours)

Everything from beginning to end was absolutely perfect 🤩 I was with my two sisters and we really enjoyed our three pina coladas each 🍸🍸🍸 the staff were really happy and helpful and the atmosphere was absolutely brilliant. Highly recommend this cruise. – Read More Reviews Here

budapest travel by boat

6. Budapest Evening or Night Sightseeing Cruise & Unlimited Prosecco

⭐️  Rating : 4.5 out of 5 Stars | ⏳  Tour Length : 1.30 Hour | ⛰️  Check Rates and Availability

Looking to ‘booze’ your way down the Danube River in Style? Then why not try this Budapest Prosecco Boat Tour? Keep your camera in hand for the opportunity to photograph the iconic Hungarian Parliament from the water. Enjoy unlimited refills of champagne, spritzer, or lemonade or opt to purchase a Hungarian Food Platter. Either way, this tour is perfect for those looking for a few casual drinks in Budapest.

1. Drinks Included

5. Open Roof Deck

1. 100 Guests Max

Tamas was a great guide! He told us so much about Budapest, great stories and funny stories😊. It was so interesting to be with a local who answered all our questions which added so much to our visit. It was the best tour of our 2 week trip. – Read More Reviews Here

budapest travel by boat

7. Wine Tasting Budapest Night Boat Tour

Hop onboard a modern boat and cruise along the banks of the Danube as you taste 7 different Hungarian Wines. This tour also has the option to opt for a buffet-style dinner as you admire the incredible views the city has to offer. This is the ideal experience for those looking to enjoy some relaxing music and have a peaceful time.

1. Wine included

4. Meet Up Location ( See Google Maps )

5. Live Music

6. Pickup Option

2. Food is additional

3. Late Start (10 pm)

3. Max 100 People On Board

This was such an amazing cruise. The night lights of the Parliament building was spectacular . Amazing and would really really recommend this to anyone who wants to see the lights at night. Take this cruise. – Read More Reviews Here

3 Danube Cruise(s) in Budapest Perfect for Those on a Budget!

If you really want to experience a Budapest Boat tour but don’t want to break the bank then the following tours are perfect for you. Whether you’re on a budget family holiday, a backpacking trip through Europe or saving your money for other attractions.

Boat Tours in Budapest

8. Budapest Evening Sightseeing Cruise

⭐️  Rating : 4 out of 5 Stars | ⏳  Tour Length : 1 Hour | ⛰️  Check Rates and Availability

If you are looking for a budget-friendly way to see Budapest from the waterfront then look no further. The Budapest Sightseeing Cruise offers passengers a scenic way to see the iconic city with a cocktail in hand. Spend some time with friends and loved ones as you cruise by some of the most notable landmarks. This Budapest boat tour starts from €11 per person, includes a welcome drink and lasts for one hour.

1. Welcome Drink On Arrival

2. Wifi Onboard

3. Free Cancelation (with 24 hours)

4. Maximum of 20 passengers

5. Affordable Price

1. Pick Up Location ( See Google Maps )

2. No Bar or Food Onboard

3. Short Duration

4. No Assigned Seats

Most romantic, beautiful experience with spectacular views and friendly staff. We were greeted with a tasty glass of champagne and the staff was very friendly. We had the option to sit downstairs or upstairs, inside or outside. Really nice and warm inside and easy to go outside to take photos and videos. Amazing experience all around. – Read More Reviews Here

Budapest Boat Tours

9. Budapest Danube River Sightseeing Night Cruise

⭐️  Rating : 4.5 out of 5 Stars | ⏳  Tour Length : 1 Hour | ⛰️  Check Rates and Availability

This is the perfect tour for those wanting to simply enjoy the magnificent views of Budapest at night and keep their trip to Budapest cheap and cheerful. The tour sails along the Danube River presently stunning views of the city’s main landmarks illuminated in the darkness. It also includes a welcome drink & 30 minutes of commentary in English , talking guests through the history of Budapest.

4. Choice of departure time

6. Glass-Topped Vessel

7. Pick Up Location ( See Google Maps )

1. Maxiumun of 120 guests

Hearing the history and therefore knowing what we were seeing was very helpful. Our cruise was at sunset and the weather was great. Staff was friendly, helpful, professional. River was clean. – Read More Reviews Here

Budapest Boat Cruise

10. Budapest Danube River Sightseeing Day Cruise

One of the most affordable ways to see Budapest from the waterfront is by taking a day cruise with prices starting from €15 per person. Making this really a fantastic activity to take part in. Spend 1 hour admiring the amazing views of the city’s top attractions from Buda Castle, the Parliament Building and Chain Bridge. The Budapest Danube River Sightseeing Day Cruise also includes a welcome drink and a 30-minute commentary talking visitors throughout the city’s highlights.

8. Option to visit Margaret Island

2. Maxiumun of 110 guests

Fabulous trip along the river Danube with a couple of drinks, making it a very pleasant way to spend an hour or so. Very enjoyable and a comfortable boat with courteous and helpful crew. We had a lovely trip, thanks. – Read More Reviews Here

Danube Boat Tour Budapest: Alternative Option

Budapest Booze Cruise

⭐️  Rating : 4 out of 5 Stars | ⏳  Tour Length : All Day | ⛰️  Check Rates and Availability

11. Budapest all in 1: 3-Hour Guided Bus Tour & 1hour Danube River Cruise

Why not combine two of Budapest’s most popular things to do, a boat tour and the hop on hop off bus! That way you can save some money not having to pay for Taxi’s or public transport. Spend the day exploring the city from the land, checking out the top attractions such as the Parliament, Buda Castle and Chain Bridge. Learn about the history from your tour guide and walk the winding streets to really get a feel for the city. In the evening, jump onboard a boat and enjoy the breathtaking view of the iconic landmarks from the waterside.

1. Air Conditioned Bus

2. Tour Guide

3. 1-hour boat cruise

4. Free Cancelation (within 24 hours)

1. Food & Drink Not Included

Good tour. Very informative for a first time visitor of Budapest. Saw all the highlights of both Buda & Pest. The tour company was very organized and accommodating. Thank you for a great excursion! – Read More Reviews Here

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  • Budapest Attractions
  • Sightseeing Cruises
  • Dinner Cruises
  • Christmas Cruises
  • Things to see

Evening cruises

  • Cocktail Cruises
  • Budapest Bath Tickets
  • Hungarian Parliament Building
  • Big Bus Budapest Hop-On Hop-Off Tickets
  • City Sightseeing Budapest Hop-On Hop-Off Tickets

Buda Castle

  • Jewish Heritage Tours
  • Light Art Museum Tickets
  • Godollo Budapest
  • Memento Park Budapest
  • Lake Balaton
  • Budapest To Szentendre Tours
  • Dohany Street Synagogue
  • Walking Tours
  • Hop-On Hop-Off Tours
  • Travel Guide
  • Things to do
  • Festivals and Events

Book Budapest River Cruises

budapest travel by boat

Select Your Experience

budapest day or evening danube river sightseeing cruise-1

Budapest Day or Evening Danube River Sightseeing Cruise

  • You can cancel these tickets up to 24 hours before the experience begins and get a full refund.
  • Prepare to see Budapest in a completely different light as you sail through the River Danube on this 1-hour sightseeing river cruise.
  • Iconic bridges of the Danube will come into view, notably the Chain Bridge, with its guardian lions, the Margaret Bridge, and the Elisabeth Bridge.
  • Glide by the architectural marvels like the neo-Gothic Matthias Church and the historic Buda Castle District on this Budapest cruise.
  • Choose a daytime cruise or a magical Budapest night cruise under the stars with an audio guide.
  • 1-hour daytime, evening, or nighttime River Danube cruise (optional)
  • Audio guide (optional)

Main Budapest attractions covered:

Chain Bridge

  • Bronze Shoes Memorial

Margaret Island

Fisherman’s bastion.

  • Castle Garden Bazaar
  • Elizabeth Bridge
  • Gellért Hill
  • National Theatre
  • Central Market Hall
  • Tip: After your cruise, unwind in the warm, mineral-rich waters of Széchenyi Baths or Gellért Baths, a perfect way to relax after a day of sightseeing.
  • Children aged 17 and under must be accompanied by an adult.

budapest day or evening danube river sightseeing cruise with drinks-1

Budapest Day or Evening Danube River Sightseeing Cruise with Drinks

  • Hop aboard a cruise on the Danube River which offers some of the best opportunities to capture the city's illuminated landmarks.
  • Pass by popular landmarks like the Hungarian Parliament, Buda Castle, Margaret Island, and Castle Garden Bazaar among others to see what Budapest is all about.
  • Keep an eye out for the Chain Bridge, an engineering marvel, and learn interesting facts about it on the audio commentary.
  • The 1-hour cruise along the Danube River is a great way to see its iconic sights while unwinding with a refreshing cocktail of your choice.
  • Choose the perfect option to match your sailing style and opt for a daytime or evening cruise for a memorable experience.
  • 1-hour to 2-hour daytime or evening cruise (with options)
  • Welcome drinks or cocktails (based on option selected)
  • Audio commentary
  • Live music (evening cruise option)
  • Inner City Parish Church
  • Statue of Liberty
  • Tip: For some post-cruise shopping therapy, head to Váci Street, a pedestrian-only street known for its upscale shops, cafes, and restaurants.
  • Your guide dogs are welcome at the venue.
  • Click here to view the drinks menu.

budapest evening danube river sightseeing cruise with unlimited prosecco-1

  • Budapest Evening Danube River Sightseeing Cruise with Unlimited Prosecco
  • No Negroni Sbagliato, but this Budapest cruise sure has some Prosecco in it. Dive straight to a night out with unlimited sparkling glasses of Prosecco.
  • Cruise the majestic Danube for 1.5 hours, witnessing the historical tapestry of Buda and Pest, 2 halves united by a glittering river.
  • Get ready to frame unforgettable memories! Spot iconic landmarks like Gellert Hill, the Castle District, the Citadel, and the Hungarian National Theatre.
  • Raise a glass of bubbly happiness! Your glass of Prosecco will keep flowing on this cruise.
  • 1.5-hour Danube sightseeing cruise
  • Unlimited Prosecco
  • Audio guide
  • Tip: Learn some basic Hungarian phrases: "Jó napot" (Good day), "Köszszönöm" (Thank you), and "Kérem" (Please), they go a long way.
  • This experience is not wheelchair accessible.
  • This experience is restricted for children aged 17 and under.
  • Service dogs are allowed on this cruise.

full-day access to széchenyi spa + danube river sightseeing cruise-1

Full-Day Access to Széchenyi Spa + Danube River Sightseeing Cruise

  • Enjoy two must-try Budapest experiences, dive into Széchenyi Spa's charm, and sail the Danube, all in one ticket.
  • Delight in Széchenyi Spa's medicinal waters, enveloped by neo-baroque architectural elegance.
  • From the ticket options you can opt to upgrade to a private cabin or secure belongings with a dedicated locker.
  • Drift along the Danube for 60 to 70 minutes, absorbing Budapest's landmarks, during the daytime cruise.
  • See Chain Bridge and the Margaret Bridge, the famous bridges that were constructed across the Danube.

Széchenyi Spa

  • Full-day entrance ticket
  • Fast-track entry (optional)
  • Private cabin (optional)
  • Locker (optional)

Danube River Cruise

  • 60 to 70-min sightseeing cruise during day/night
  • Swimming cap at Széchenyi Spa
  • Swimsuit (Available for rent or purchase)
  • Towels (Available for rent or purchase)
  • Snacks and drinks (available for purchase onboard)
  • Pets are not allowed for this experience.
  • These tickets can't be cancelled or rescheduled.

combo (save 5%): hungarian parliament guided tour + danube river sightseeing cruise tickets-1

Combo (Save 5%): Hungarian Parliament Guided Tour + Danube River Sightseeing Cruise Tickets

  • Save big with this combo with a 45-minute tour of the Hungarian Parliament and a River Danube cruise.
  • Dive into Hungary's rich history with an immersive audio tour of the third-largest parliament in the world.
  • Marvel at the ornate Main Staircase, the illustrious Dome Hall, the Chamber of Peers, and the Grand Stairway.
  • Embark on a 60 to 70-minute cruise on the Danube River, taking in the riverbanks and the architecture of Budapest's famous bridges.
  • Opt for an upgrade to see the city's stunning riverscape during nighttime.

Hungarian Parliament Audio Tour

  • Entry to the Hungarian Parliament building
  • Access to the Main Staircase, the Dome Hall, the Chamber of Peers & the Grand Stairway
  • 45-minute audio guided tour
  • Audio guide available in 23 languages

River Danube Sightseeing Cruise

  • 60 to 70-min Budapest cruise
  • Please arrive in front of Gróf Széchenyi Ship, Id. Antall József rkp., 1051, Port Academia dock 3.

<a target="_blank" href='09.9%22N+19%C2%B002'41.6%22E/@47.5027439,19.0439002,18.46z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0xef95ed580fb41b8f!8m2!3d47.5027504!4d19.0448742>Get Directions

  • The audio guide is available in English, French, German, Italian, Russian, Spanish, Polish, Slovak, Croatian, Hebrew, Romanian, Serbian, Ukrainian Korean, Portuguese, Arabic, Slovenian, Czech, Chinese, Japanese, Bulgarian, Turkish, Hungarian.
  • It is recommended to be appropriately dressed during this tour.
  • The guided route is subject to change based on the Hungarian National Assembly schedule or other state events.
  • Large bags, packages, or objects capable of causing personal injury, such as pocket knives, knives, gas spray, etc. are not permitted inside.
  • Photography is allowed during the tour except in the Dome Hall.
  • This tour is wheelchair accessible.
  • The boats have panoramic windows and open-air decks for unaltered views.
  • Pets are not allowed on this cruise.

budapest dinner cruise with folklore show-1

  • Budapest Dinner Cruise with Folklore Show
  • Settle into a memorable evening with a delightful cruise on the emblematic Danube River.
  • Take in a breathtaking view of Budapest illuminated with shimmering lights and colors.
  • Get a glimpse into Hungarian culture through a traditional folkloric and operetta dance show.
  • Feel the authentic Hungarian vibe with singers, dancers, violins, contrabass, and cimbalom.
  • Relish a delicious 4-course or 6-course menu (both international and Hungarian cuisine with vegetarian options) for dinner.
  • If you want to enhance the night's experience, upgrade your ticket to include window seating.
  • 2.5-hour Danube River cruise
  • candle-lit dinner
  • 4 or 7-course menu
  • window seating (optional)
  • live folklore entertainment
  • private table
  • Hotel transfers

Your boarding point is at Budapest River Cruises - Silverline, 1051 Budapest, Petőfi tér, Dock 11.

Get Directions to the Boarding Point

  • Tip: If you're prone to motion sickness, board the cruise prepared and have medication handy.
  • Smoking is strictly prohibited.
  • Note that oversized luggage is not allowed on board.
  • View menu here .

budapest dinner cruise with piano battle show-1

  • Budapest Dinner Cruise with Piano Battle Show
  • View the illuminated sights of Budapest after dark on a smooth sailing cruise.
  • Indulge in the romantic atmosphere as you float peacefully on the emblematic Danube.
  • Get a slice of Hungarian cuisine during a sumptuous 4/7-course dinner.
  • Witness an epic piano battle and be moved by melodic and romantic tunes.
  • Add to the spirit of the night by opting for window seating.
  • Candle-lit dinner
  • Window seating (optional)
  • Live piano battle show
  • Private table

Your boarding point is at Budapest River Cruises - Silverline, 1051 Budapest, Petőfi tér, Dock 11

<a href=,19.0483903,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x4741dc46fc5d7ceb:0xf495c2d0c0f0f907!8m2!3d47.491822!4d19.050579>Get Directions to the Boarding Point

  • Click here to view the dinner menu.

What customers have to say about Budapest River cruises

Iconic landmarks by the danube river.

Glide along the Danube River and view the city’s historic sights from a unique perspective on Budapest River cruises. Whether you want to watch the sunset while sipping on a cocktail, indulge in a lavish, candlelight dinner at night, or enjoy a live folklore performance, hopping on a Budapest River cruise lets you do all that and beyond. If you are planning to spend a full day in the city, you can choose cruise combos, that include visits to the Szechenyi Spa, the Buda Castle, and more. 

Read on to discover your best Budapest River cruise options, ticket prices, what to expect, and more to plan a hassle-free tour of the city.

Navigate your Budapest River Cruises guide

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Budapest River Cruises

Scenic views along the Danube River

Budapest River cruises offer unparalleled views of the city’s skyline and the landmarks situated alongside the Danube. Glide past historic sights such as the Buda Castle, the Hungarian Parliament and pass under iconic bridges like the Chain Bridge. Choose sunset cruises for the best golden hour photo opportunities. The Budapest evening cruises offer spectacular views of the illuminated landmarks and the glimmering moonlight on the waters.

Indulge in cocktails and lavish dinners

Choose from a range of Budapest River cruises that offer unlimited cocktails and lavish, 3 to 6-course gourmet dinners on board. Savor delicious Hungarian cuisine with handcrafted cocktails as you sail past the city’s scenic landmarks. Whether it’s a romantic dinner for two or a lively group tour with friends, choosing Budapest dinner cruises adds a touch of luxury to your experience.

Enjoy live performances on board

Some Budapest River cruises add to the experience by offering live performances on board. From traditional Hungarian folk performances to elegant piano shows, there’s something to suit everyone’s taste. Most of these entertainment cruises also feature elaborate 3 to 6-course dinners. These cruises offer the best of Hungarian cuisine and culture.

Experience Budapest’s nightlife

Budapest River cruises offers the best front-row seat to experience the city’s nightlife. You can get a candlelight dinner, indulge in unlimited drinks, and enjoy live piano shows or folklore performances on board. Depending on the cruise option you booked, you can also disembark near popular bars or cultural hotspots to immerse yourself in the city’s nightlife scene.

Premium cruising experience with 2-story boats

All Budapest River cruises are luxurious 2-story boats with indoor seating and heated cabins for your convenience. If you feel chilly after standing on open decks, especially after sunset hours, you can retire to your cabin, and watch the landmarks from the glass windows.

Confused about the plethora of Budapest River cruise options? Don’t worry! Here are a few things to consider before choosing the cruise that best suits your needs. 

  • Budapest day sightseeing cruises offer stunning photography opportunities, as they sail across the Danube. Choose Budapest sunset cocktail cruises for the best golden hour backdrop. To experience a slice of Budapest nightlife, book Budapest dinner cruises with drinks . 
  • There’s a cruise for every budget. The cheapest day sightseeing cruises start around €7. It is the most affordable option, however, it only allows you to listen to an audio guide. If you want added facilities, you can choose a Budapest sightseeing cruise with drinks options for €16.50. A Danube evening cruise with unlimited drinks starts from €32 while a Budapest party boat cruise costs around €37. You can also choose luxurious options like Budapest dinner cruises with live entertainment that range around €79 to €95, depending on the number of dinner courses.
  • There are multiple boarding points along the Danube. You can choose the one nearest to your accommodation. The Batthyany Square and Jane Haining rakpart are closer to the Buda Castle, while the Duna Cruises boarding point is near Margaret Square. The Vigado Square is one of the most famous markets in the city, offering scores of shopping opportunities.
  • All Budapest cruise boats are luxurious 2-story boats with modern features and a sleek outer build. No matter the route you choose, you can enjoy scenic views from the top decks.

Danube River Cruises

Sightseeing cruises

Best suited for: Visitors on a budget, or with a few hours on hand Average duration: 1 hour 20 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes

  • If you want to dive deeper into the history of the iconic landmarks that pass you by, choose sightseeing cruises that include audio guides. Some sightseeing cruises also include live folklore performances, cocktails, and lavish dinner options on board. 
  • You can also choose Budapest combo cruises to get up close to the landmarks that float by.

Recommended cruises:

  • Budapest Danube River City Highlights Cruise with Audio Guide

Danube River Cruises

Best suited for: Travellers who love sunsets and wines Average duration: 1 hour 20 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes

  • Evening cruises offer the best sunset photo opportunities. The iconic landmarks are illuminated with the sun’s last rays and look majestic across the Danube River. 
  • These cruises also offer unlimited prosecco and cocktails on board. You can sit on the open decks, sip on the finest Hungarian wines, and sail along the Danube.
  • Budapest Danube River Sunset Cocktail Sightseeing Cruise

Danube River Cruises

Dinner cruises

Best suited for: Visitors looking to experience Hungarian culture Average duration: 3 hours

  • To try the best of Hungarian cuisine, book Budapest dinner cruises, which offer 3 to 6-course lavish dishes, a private table, and live folklore performances. These dinner cruises also include vegetarian options. 
  • These folklore performances also bring you closer to Hungarian culture.

Budapest River Cruises

Party Boat cruises

Best suited for: Visitors in a group looking to experience Budapest’s nightlife Average duration: 1 hour 30 minutes

  • Budapest party cruises offer the best of the city’s nightlife. It is a cruise where you soar past illuminated landmarks as you enjoy unlimited drinks. 
  • Depending on the kind of party cruises you book, you can also enjoy a pizza with your drinks. Teenagers below 17 years of age are not allowed on Budapest Party Boat cruises. 
  • Budapest Party Boat Cruise with Unlimited Drinks
  • Budapest Party Boat Cruise with Pizza & Unlimited Drinks

Budapest River Cruises

The Danube River is Europe’s second-longest river, meandering through 10 countries. Originating in Germany's Black Forest, it flows southeastward, carving its way through Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, and others before emptying into the Black Sea. Renowned for its scenic beauty, the Danube's banks are dotted with historic cities and charming villages. 

The Danube River is not just a geographical feature but also a cultural and historical artery that has shaped the identity of the regions it traverses. Along its banks, you'll find architectural marvels like Budapest's Parliament Building, medieval fortresses like the Iron Gate, and charming villages steeped in tradition.

No matter the cruise you choose, you shall begin your journey from one of these piers. Every boarding point is strategically located in the city hotspots, making it easier for you to explore the shopping corners, night markets, food streets, and more.

Vigado Square

This historic square situated along the Danube Promenade is known for its vibrant restaurants, cafes, and shopping centers. Look out for its beautifully designed architecture.  Nearest landmarks: Vigado Concert Hall and Budapest Vigado Closest metro station: Deak Ferenc ter, around 500 meters away

Jane Haining Rakpart, Dock 11

This riverside promenade offers stunning views of the Danube River and the Buda Castle. Nearest landmarks: Buda Castle, Fisherman's Bastion, and Matthias Church Closest metro station: Batthyany Square, around 700 meters away

Batthyany Square

This historic vibrant square, situated on the Buda side of the city is famous for its iconic shopping centers, cafes, and restaurants. Nearest landmarks: Batthyany Square Market Hall and Batthyany Church Closest metro station: Batthyany Square, situated right next to the port

Antall Jozsef Rakpart, Port Academia, Dock 3

This port serves as a starting point for river cruises, offering access to various sightseeing tours along the Danube. Nearest landmarks: Hungarian Parliament Building and shoes along the Danube Bank memorial Closest metro station: Kossuth Lajos ter, around 500 meters away.

  • Check the ticket details: As soon as you receive the payment confirmation, check your email inbox for a copy of the ticket voucher. 
  • Arrive early: It is best to arrive at least 15 minutes before the cruise begins to settle in comfortably. 
  • Carry a valid ID: Make sure to carry a valid ID proof when going on a Budapest River cruise, especially if you are planning to go on a sightseeing cruise with drinks or a Party Boat cruise.  
  • Collect the boarding pass: Note that your mobile voucher is not a boarding ticket. You have to display your voucher and a valid ID at the boarding point and collect your boarding pass. 
  • Cruise away: When you receive your boarding pass, make sure to check it to confirm what’s included in your ticket. After collecting your boarding pass, you can get on the boat and explore away.

budapest travel by boat

  • Average duration: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • General timings: Most day sightseeing cruises run between 12 PM and 5 PM while evening sightseeing cruises run from 5 PM to 9 PM. Check your mobile voucher for the exact time slot.
  • Average duration: 3 hours
  • General timings: Most dinner cruises begin at 7:30 PM and run until 9 PM and include live folklore shows. Check your mobile voucher for more details. 
  • General timings: Party Boat cruises operate between 5 PM and 9 PM. Take a look at your mobile voucher for the exact time slot.

Best time to go on a Budapest River cruise

For clear skies and unobstructed views, choose day sightseeing cruises. While day cruises have their charm, we recommend a sunset cruise for gorgeous golden-hour photo opportunities. If you want live entertainment on board, you can opt for dinner cruises.

  • March to May: These months offer mild temperatures, lighter crowds, and beautiful cherry blossoms along the bank of the Danube River. 
  • June to August: The longer daylight hours during these months offer perfect conditions for day sightseeing.
  • September to November: During this period, the temperatures are mild. You can witness gorgeous fall foliage along the Danube banks. 
  • December to February: Enjoy the festive atmosphere, witness special events, and immerse yourself in the unique charm of Budapest’s snow-covered landmarks on a Christmas cruise.

Budapest River Cruises

  • By metro: M2
  • By tram: Line 19
  • By bus: 108E
  • By bus: 133E, 5, 7, 8E, and 9
  • By train: Number H5 and H7
  • By light rail: Line 2 and 2B
  • By bus: Line 990
  • By bus: Number 105, 15, 210b, 72, and 9
  • By train: H5 and H7
  • By metro: Line M2 and M3
  • By light rail: Line 2, 23, and 2B

Budapest dinner cruises

Most Budapest day sightseeing cruises and sunset cruises do not offer lunch options on board. You can enjoy unlimited prosecco and cocktails with these cruises. However, you can choose between a 3 or 6-course candlelight dinner if you book Budapest dinner cruises. These cruises are also accompanied by live folklore shows and piano battles.

Recommended Budapest dinner cruises:

  • Budapest dinner cruise with folklore show
  • Budapest dinner cruise with piano battle show

Budapest River Cruises facilities on board

  • Open decks: The Budapest River cruises feature vast open decks to ensure that you can catch unobstructed views of the scenic Danube River and the iconic landmarks on its banks. 
  • Seating arrangements: There are tables and chairs on the decks and interiors of Budapest River cruises. You can relax under the sun, enjoy drinks, or have dinner at these tables. 
  • Restrooms: There are accessible washroom facilities on board for your convenience. 
  • First-aid kits: The Budapest River cruises ensure that there are first-aid kits and staff available on board to help you in case of medical emergencies.
  • Life jackets: These Danube River cruises in Budapest also have life jackets on board to ensure your safety. 
  • Live music (on dinner cruises): Depending on the type of cruise you book, you can enjoy a 3 or 6-course candlelight dinner on board.

Budapest River Cruises rules and regulations

  • Arrive early: We recommend you arrive at least 15 to 30 minutes before departure to ensure that you can settle in comfortably before embarking on your Budapest River cruise.
  • Follow boarding procedures: Bring a valid ID, download your mobile voucher, and show it at the boarding gate to avail yourself of your boarding pass. 
  • Inform dietary restrictions: If you have any dietary requirements or food allergies, please inform the staff as soon as you board the cruise. 
  • No outside food and drinks: Do not bring food and drinks from the outside on board. Most Budapest day or evening sightseeing cruises offer prosecco and cocktails on board, while Budapest dinner cruises offer a 3 or 6-course meal. 
  • Note the pet policy: Most Budapest cruises do not allow pets, except for service animals on board. 
  • Avoid large suitcases: Do not bring large suitcases or backpacks on board.

Tips to note when going on Budapest River Cruises

  • Book evening cruises: The golden hour casts beautiful sun rays over the iconic sights along the Danube River. Booking an evening cruise will make for gorgeous photo opportunities and allow you to soak in the views. 
  • Try Hungarian cuisine: Budapest River cruises allow you to experience a slice of Hungarian culture by offering a 3 or 6-course dinner on its evening cruises. They also offer live folklore shows to acquaint you with their heritage. 
  • Carry a valid ID: Make sure to carry a valid ID to get your boarding pass from the boarding point before embarking on your journey.
  • Support local businesses: The boarding points like Vigado Square and Batthyany Square are lined with historic restaurants, cafes, and shopping centers. You can purchase them and support local owners. 
  • Reserve tickets in advance: Book Budapest River cruise tickets in advance to ensure that you get guaranteed access to the cruise no matter the crowd on the day of your visit. 

Chain Bridge

Opened in 1849, the Szechenyi Bridge was the first permanent bridge connecting the Buda and Pest sides. Named after István Széchenyi, a revered Hungarian Statesman, the bridge was designed by English engineer William Tierney Clark. Today, the wrought-iron chain suspension bridge is an important monument and tourist site.

Margaret Bridge

Margaret Bridge is noted for its unusual three-way design. The bridge connects Buda and Pest while also linking Margaret Island. Designed by French engineer Ernest Goüin, the construction of the bridge commenced in 1872 and was completed in 1876 and stretches across a length of 607.5 meters.

The 2.5 kilometers long Margaret Island can be accessed via Margaret Bridge and Arpad Bridge. It is a famous recreational area in the city with promenades, cycle paths, and picnic spots inside the Island. It also houses ruins dating back to the Middle Ages. Margaret Island is known for its parks, swimming pools, and musical fountains.

Hungarian Parliament

The Hungarian parliament is a palatial neo-gothic style building located on the Pest side of the city. Opened in 1902, it's the largest building in Hungary. The building has 691 rooms and is around 96 meters in height. Inside the Central Hall of Parliament is where the Holy Crown of Hungary is kept.

For the best panoramic views of Budapest, you should visit Fisherman's Bastion, established in 1851. It is located near Buda Castle. Built in the Neo-Romanesque style, the building's main facade is 140 meters long. The Bastion was first built in the 1700s and guarded by the guild of local fishermen, hence the name Fisherman's Bastion.

One of the most stunning palaces in all of Europe, Buda Castle, belonged to the Hungarian Royalty. A majestic expression of Baroque-style architecture, the grand palace today is a World Heritage Site. It is home to the Hungarian National Gallery and the Budapest History Museum. During World War II, the Castle was almost destroyed, but thanks to restoration efforts, it retained its beauty.

There are a variety of Budapest River cruises- sightseeing, dinner, sunset, and evening cruises. Depending on your likes, you can choose among these options. Make sure to book tickets in advance to reserve your spot.

Budapest River cruises are available online starting from . The dinner and Party Boat cruises range from €32 to €49.

April to August are the best months to go on a Budapest River cruise. The temperatures are bearable and the longer daylight hours ensure that you can enjoy your sightseeing cruises to the fullest.

Matthias Church, Fisherman’s Bastion, Buda Castle, Erzsebet Bridge, Gellert Thermal Bath, Petofi Bridge, Central Market Hall, Szechenyi Chain Bridge, shoes on the Danube bank, and Hungarian Parliament building are some iconic landmarks that you can see as you sail along the Danube River.

Most Budapest sightseeing cruises , evening cruises, and Party Boat cruises run for around 1 hour and 20 minutes. The Budapest dinner cruises last for around 3 hours and include live folklore performances.

While most Budapest day and evening sightseeing cruises do not offer lunch options, they offer unlimited prosecco and cocktails, depending on the ticket option you choose. Budapest dinner cruises offer live entertainment and a 3 or 6-course meal on board.

You can bring your children on Budapest River cruises. Only Party Boat cruises have mandated that a visitor must be above 17 years of age to get on board.

While there is no strict dress code to abide by to cruise along the Danube River, we recommend you stick to smart casuals.

Please avoid bringing large backpacks and suitcases on board. There is limited storage space on Budapest River cruise boats.

While most Budapest River cruises accommodate visitors in wheelchairs, please check your mobile vouchers for more details.

The Vienna BLOG

Best River Cruises and Boat Tours in Budapest

Last Updated on September 25, 2023 by gregor

As a travel blogger in Budapest, I know the importance of experiencing the city’s stunning views from the water. If you’re looking for the best river cruises and boat tours in Budapest , you’re in luck.

From romantic candlelit dinner cruises to lively wine and dine options with live music and folklore shows, there’s a boat tour for everyone.

In this post, I will share my top 10 picks for the best river cruises and boat tours in Budapest , so you can make the most of your visit and enjoy the beautiful Danube River.

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If you are planning to visit Budapest, please have a look at these related Budapest blog posts, they provide you with valuable Budapest travel information and Tips

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1. Evening Sightseeing Cruise and Unlimited Prosecco

Take in the stunning views of Budapest’s illuminated landmarks while sipping unlimited Prosecco on this enchanting evening sightseeing cruise. Here are five features that make it a must-try experience:

  • Live music: Enjoy the sounds of live music as you cruise along the Danube River.
  • Sightseeing opportunities: Get a unique view of Budapest’s landmarks such as the Parliament Building and Buda Castle.
  • Unlimited Prosecco: Sip on unlimited Prosecco as you relax and take in the sights.
  • English-speaking guide: Learn about Budapest’s history and culture from an informative English-speaking guide.
  • Flexible options: Choose from different departure times and enjoy the cruise on a date and time that works best for you.

2. 1-Hour Sightseeing Cruise with Welcome Drink

If you’re short on time but still want to experience the beauty of Budapest from the Danube River this 1-hour sightseeing cruise is perfect for you. Here are five features that make it a great option:

  • Welcome drink: Enjoy a complimentary drink as you board the boat.
  • Panoramic views: Take in the stunning panoramic views of Budapest’s landmarks and skyline from the river.
  • Audio guide: Learn about the landmarks and their history with the help of an audio guide.
  • Easy to fit into your schedule: With multiple departure times throughout the day it’s easy to fit this sightseeing cruise into your itinerary.
  • Affordable: This tour is budget-friendly making it a great option for travelers on a budget.

3. Daytime Sightseeing Boat Cruise

Experience Budapest’s iconic landmarks from the Danube River during the daytime with this sightseeing boat cruise. Here are five features that make it a must-do activity:

  • Unique perspective: See Budapest’s landmarks from a unique perspective with the river offering a different view of the city.
  • Knowledgeable guide: Learn about Budapest’s history and landmarks with the help of an informative guide.
  • Sightseeing opportunities: Enjoy views of Budapest’s landmarks such as the Chain Bridge and the Fisherman’s Bastion.
  • Covered and open-air options: Choose between a covered or open-air seating area depending on your preference.
  • Flexible schedule: With multiple departure times throughout the day it’s easy to fit this sightseeing cruise into your itinerary.

4. 1-Hour Evening Sightseeing Cruise with Drink

Experience the enchanting beauty of Budapest at night during this 1-hour evening sightseeing cruise. Here are five features that make it a great activity:

  • Nighttime views: See Budapest’s landmarks illuminated at night creating a magical ambiance.
  • Multiple departure times: Choose from different departure times and enjoy the cruise on a date and time that works best for you.

5. Nighttime Sightseeing Cruise

Experience the beauty of Budapest at night during this nighttime sightseeing cruise. Here are five features that make it a must-do activity:

  • Illuminated landmarks: See Budapest’s landmarks lit up at night creating a magical ambiance.
  • Live music: Enjoy live music as you cruise along the Danube River.
  • Flexible schedule: With multiple departure times throughout the evening it’s easy to fit this sightseeing cruise into your itinerary.

6. 4-Hour Guided Bus Tour with River Cruise

This 4-hour tour is perfect for those who want to see the best of Budapest in a short time. The tour includes a visit to the Castle District, Fisherman’s Bastion, Matthias Church, and Heroes’ Square. You’ll also get to take a scenic river cruise along the Danube and see the Parliament Building and Buda Castle from the water. Here are five features of this tour:

  • Comfortable air-conditioned bus transportation.
  • Professional English-speaking guide.
  • River cruise with stunning views of Budapest’s landmarks.
  • Visit the historic Castle District and Fisherman’s Bastion.
  • Discover the iconic Heroes’ Square and learn about Hungary’s history.
  • Budapest: 1-Hour Private Boat Cruise

7. Private boat with a professional skipper

If you’re looking for a romantic and intimate way to see Budapest, a private boat cruise is a perfect choice. This 1-hour cruise is perfect for couples or small groups and includes stunning views of Budapest’s iconic landmarks. Here are five features of this tour:

  • Spectacular views of the Parliament Building, Buda Castle, and Chain Bridge.
  • Personalized route based on your preferences.
  • Complimentary welcome drink (champagne or soft drink).
  • Perfect for proposals, anniversaries, or romantic getaways.

8. Night Walking Tour with Danube River Cruise

Experience the magic of Budapest at night with this 3-hour tour that includes a walking tour of the city center and a Danube river cruise. You’ll get to see the city’s illuminated landmarks from both land and water. Here are five features of this tour:

  • See Budapest’s iconic landmarks illuminated at night.
  • Walking tour of the city center.
  • Danube River cruise with panoramic views of the city.
  • Small group tour for a more personalized experience.

9. Sightseeing Cruise with Pizza and Unlimited Beer

Enjoy a fun and casual sightseeing experience with this 90-minute cruise that includes unlimited beer and pizza. You’ll get to see Budapest’s landmarks from the water while enjoying delicious food and drinks. Here are five features of this tour:

  • 90-minute sightseeing cruise on the Danube.
  • Unlimited pizza and beer (or soft drinks).
  • English-speaking staff on board.
  • Panoramic views of Budapest’s landmarks.
  • Perfect for groups, families or casual sightseeing.

10. 70-Minute Sightseeing Cruise on the Danube

Take a relaxing cruise along the Danube and see Budapest’s iconic landmarks from the water with this 70-minute sightseeing tour. You’ll get to see the Parliament Building, Buda Castle, and Chain Bridge up close while enjoying a comfortable and scenic ride. Here are five features of this tour:

  • 70-minute sightseeing cruise on the Danube.
  • Comfortable indoor and outdoor seating.
  • Audio guide available in multiple languages.
  • Convenient departure times throughout the day.

Budapest’s river cruises and boat tours offer a unique perspective on the city’s breathtaking architecture and stunning landmarks. From day tours to night cruises, visitors can experience the city’s beauty from different angles while enjoying delicious food, drinks, and live music. Whether you prefer a private tour or a group excursion there is a river cruise or boat tour that suits your preferences and budget.

budapest travel by boat

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS)

The best time of day for a river cruise in Budapest depends on your preference. For a more romantic experience, sunset or early evening is ideal. If you want to enjoy the city’s stunning architecture, a daytime cruise is perfect. Additionally, nighttime cruises offer a unique opportunity to see the city lit up at night.

Most Danube River Cruises in Budapest are wheelchair accessible. However, it is important to check with the specific cruise operator to ensure that their facilities and services can accommodate your needs.

Yes, river cruises in Budapest can be a great family vacation. Many cruises offer child-friendly amenities and activities, such as onboard entertainment and games. Additionally, kids can enjoy the stunning views and sights from the deck of the boat.

There are a variety of river cruises available in Budapest to suit different preferences and budgets. If you are looking for a no-frills cruise, there are affordable options available. Alternatively, if you want a fancy cruise with Hungarian meals and local brews, there are many high-end options as well.

Budapest has plenty of affordable river cruises available. It is important to do research and compare prices to find the best option for your budget. Additionally, many cruises offer discounts for booking in advance or for groups.

The best Budapest River Cruise for you depends on your preferences and budget. Some popular options include the Danube River Dinner Cruise, Budapest Cocktail and Beer Cruise, and the Budapest Wine Tasting Cruise. It is important to do research and compare options to find the best one for you.

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Best River Cruises And Boat Tours In Budapest

Best River Cruises And Boat Tours In Budapest


When it comes to exploring the beautiful city of Budapest, there is no better way to experience its charm and grandeur than by taking a river cruise or boat tour along the magnificent Danube River. As one of the most iconic rivers in Europe, the Danube flows right through the heart of Budapest, offering breathtaking views of the city’s stunning architecture, historical landmarks, and picturesque landscapes. Whether you are a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, embarking on a river cruise or boat tour in Budapest is an absolute must-do to truly immerse yourself in the city’s enchanting ambiance.

With a plethora of options available, choosing the best river cruise or boat tour can be a daunting task. From leisurely sightseeing cruises to romantic moonlight escapades, Budapest offers something for everyone’s taste and preferences. In this article, we will explore the top river cruises and boat tours in Budapest, allowing you to discover the perfect experience that suits your desires.

Immerse yourself in the rich history and architectural wonders as you embark on a Danube River Cruise. Glide along the sparkling waters and witness the city’s iconic landmarks, such as the Parliament Building, Buda Castle, and the Chain Bridge, all while listening to captivating stories and historical anecdotes from knowledgeable guides. With various cruise options available, you can opt for a day cruise to enjoy panoramic vistas in the warm sunlight, or indulge in a romantic evening cruise and witness the city transform into a mesmerizing sea of lights.

Danube River Cruise

A Danube River Cruise is the quintessential way to experience the beauty of Budapest. As you embark on this journey, you will be treated to breathtaking panoramic views of the city’s most iconic landmarks, all while cruising along Europe’s second longest river.

One of the most popular choices for a Danube River Cruise is the sightseeing tour that takes you along both sides of the river. You’ll have the opportunity to see historic landmarks such as the majestic Parliament Building, the stunning Buda Castle, and the picturesque Chain Bridge. The knowledgeable guides on board will provide fascinating commentary, sharing stories about the city’s rich history and culture as you glide through the water.

If you prefer a more leisurely experience, you can choose a longer cruise that stretches beyond Budapest. These extended river cruises allow you to explore other beautiful towns and cities along the Danube, such as Bratislava and Vienna. You’ll have the chance to immerse yourself in the local culture, indulge in delicious cuisine, and discover the hidden gems along the riverbanks.

For those seeking a touch of luxury, there are also several luxury Danube River Cruises available. These cruises offer exquisite dining experiences, luxurious accommodations, and personalized services. You can relax on the sundeck, sipping a glass of champagne as the stunning landscapes unfold before your eyes. Cruise companies often provide various packages, allowing you to customize your experience to suit your preferences and budget.

Whether you choose a short sightseeing cruise in Budapest or a multi-day adventure along the Danube, a river cruise offers a unique perspective of the city. The breathtaking views, historical landmarks, and immersive experiences make it an unforgettable journey that will create lasting memories.

Evening Cruise with Dinner

For an enchanting and romantic experience, an evening cruise with dinner is a perfect choice. As the sun sets over Budapest, the city comes alive with twinkling lights, creating a magical backdrop for your cruise along the Danube River.

During an evening cruise with dinner, you will not only indulge your taste buds with a delectable meal but also enjoy panoramic views of the city’s illuminated landmarks. The elegant dinner cruises typically offer a gourmet three-course meal, showcasing both international and traditional Hungarian cuisine. As you savor each delicious bite, you can admire the stunning views of the Parliament Building, Buda Castle, and the Chain Bridge, all beautifully lit up against the night sky.

Most dinner cruises also include live entertainment, such as live music or traditional Hungarian performances, adding to the enchanting ambiance of the evening. You can sway to the melodies, dance to the rhythm of the Danube, and create unforgettable memories with your loved ones.

The evening cruises with dinner are available in a range of options, allowing you to customize your experience. You can choose between shared dinner cruises, perfect for couples and small groups, or private cruises for a more intimate and exclusive experience. Some cruises even offer the option to upgrade to a VIP package, which includes additional amenities and services.

Whether you are celebrating a special occasion, enjoying a romantic evening with your partner, or simply wanting to soak in the beauty of Budapest at night, an evening cruise with dinner is an unforgettable way to experience the city’s charm and allure.

Wine Tasting Cruise

Indulge in a delightful journey of the senses with a wine tasting cruise along the Danube River. Budapest, known for its excellent wine culture, offers wine enthusiasts a unique opportunity to sample a variety of exquisite Hungarian wines while enjoying a scenic cruise.

During the wine tasting cruise, you will have the chance to taste a selection of high-quality local wines, carefully curated by knowledgeable sommeliers. From crisp whites to full-bodied reds, you’ll get to experience the rich flavors and unique characteristics of Hungarian wines. As you sip on your wine, take in the panoramic views of Budapest’s stunning architecture and landmarks that line the banks of the river.

The wine tasting cruises often feature an onboard guide who will provide insights into the history and production of Hungarian wines, as well as tips on wine pairing. You’ll learn about the different grape varieties, wine regions, and winemaking techniques that have made Hungary renowned for its exceptional wines.

While enjoying the wine tasting experience, you’ll also have the opportunity to savor a selection of delicious Hungarian snacks and appetizers that perfectly complement the wines. From artisanal cheeses to savory charcuterie, these culinary delights will enhance your wine tasting experience and provide a delightful gastronomic journey.

Wine tasting cruises in Budapest are available in various formats, from group tastings to private experiences. Some cruises offer the option to upgrade to a premium package, featuring rare and limited edition wines for the true connoisseurs. Whether you are a wine aficionado or just beginning to explore the world of wine, these cruises provide a delightful and educational experience.

Embark on a wine tasting cruise in Budapest and let the flavors of Hungarian wines take you on a enchanting journey along the Danube River.

Sightseeing Boat Tour

Experience Budapest’s architectural marvels and iconic landmarks from a unique perspective with a sightseeing boat tour along the Danube River. This tour allows you to admire the city’s beauty and grandeur as you cruise along the water, providing a panoramic view of Budapest’s top attractions.

During a sightseeing boat tour, you’ll have the opportunity to see famous landmarks such as the magnificent Parliament Building, the historic Buda Castle, the striking Chain Bridge, and the awe-inspiring Matthias Church. The tour guides on board provide informative commentary, sharing fascinating stories and historical facts about these architectural wonders.

As the boat glides along the Danube, you’ll have an unobstructed view of both the Buda and Pest sides of the city. The impressive skyline, adorned with beautiful bridges, stately buildings, and scenic parks, creates a mesmerizing backdrop for your sightseeing adventure. Capture stunning photos and create lasting memories as you witness the charm and elegance of Budapest.

There are various sightseeing boat tour options to choose from, catering to different preferences and schedules. From shorter tours that focus on the city center to longer excursions that take you further along the river, you can customize your sightseeing experience to suit your interests.

For a touch of luxury, some boat tour companies offer premium sightseeing experiences with added amenities such as complimentary drinks, comfortable seating, and panoramic windows for optimal viewing. These upgraded tours provide a more intimate and luxurious setting, allowing you to relax and indulge in the beauty of Budapest.

A sightseeing boat tour is a fantastic way to discover the city’s stunning landmarks while enjoying the gentle breeze and the soothing rhythm of the Danube River. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, this experience allows you to truly appreciate the architectural treasures and natural beauty that make Budapest so enchanting.

Parliament Cruise

Embark on a Parliament Cruise in Budapest and witness the sheer grandeur of one of the city’s most iconic landmarks. The Hungarian Parliament Building, with its stunning Gothic Revival architecture and commanding presence on the banks of the Danube River, is a sight to behold.

During a Parliament Cruise, you’ll have the opportunity to get up close to this architectural masterpiece. As the boat sails along the Danube, you’ll marvel at the intricate details and magnificent proportions of the Parliament Building. Its symmetrical façade, adorned with countless statues and spires, stands as a symbol of Hungary’s rich history and national pride.

The Parliament Cruise offers a unique perspective of the building, providing excellent photo opportunities from the water. The tour guides onboard will share interesting anecdotes and historical facts about the Parliament and its significance in Hungary’s political landscape.

Some Parliament Cruises also include a guided tour inside the Hungarian Parliament Building itself, allowing you to explore its opulent interior. As you step foot inside this architectural marvel, you’ll be awed by the lavish décor, grand staircases, and impressive chambers, including the iconic Hungarian Crown Jewels.

Whether you choose a cruise that simply passes by the Parliament Building or includes a guided tour inside, the Parliament Cruise provides a memorable and immersive experience. The combination of the boat ride along the Danube and the chance to admire and learn about one of Budapest’s most iconic landmarks makes it an ideal choice for both history enthusiasts and architecture lovers.

Don’t miss the opportunity to discover the magnificence of the Hungarian Parliament Building on a dedicated Parliament Cruise in Budapest—a truly unforgettable experience.

Margaret Island Boat Tour

Escape to the serene oasis of Margaret Island with a boat tour that takes you to this beautiful recreational island in the middle of the Danube River. Located in the heart of Budapest, Margaret Island offers a peaceful retreat from the bustling city streets, with lush greenery, charming gardens, and a plethora of recreational activities.

During a Margaret Island boat tour, you’ll embark on a leisurely cruise that provides stunning views of the city skyline as you make your way to the island. As you approach the island, you’ll be greeted by its idyllic landscapes and the famous Margaret Bridge that connects it to the mainland.

Once you step onto the island, you’ll discover a haven of tranquility. Take a stroll along the tree-lined pathways, explore the aromatic rose gardens, or rent a bicycle or electric scooter to tour the island at your own pace. Margaret Island is also home to the iconic Water Tower, a symbol of the island, which provides panoramic views of Budapest from its observation deck.

The island is dotted with various attractions, such as the musical fountain, the medieval ruins of the Dominican Convent, and the Palatinus Thermal Baths, where you can relax and rejuvenate in the thermal pools. Enjoy a picnic by the Danube or treat yourself to a delightful meal at one of the island’s restaurants or cafes.

For those who prefer a guided experience, some boat tours include a guided tour of Margaret Island, providing interesting insights into the island’s history, landmarks, and natural beauty.

Whether you are seeking a peaceful escape, hoping to engage in recreational activities, or wanting to explore the island’s rich history, a Margaret Island boat tour offers a delightful and memorable experience. Immerse yourself in the tranquility and natural beauty of this hidden gem in Budapest.

Day Trip to Szentendre

Embark on an enchanting day trip from Budapest to the charming town of Szentendre, located just a short boat ride away on the Danube River. Known for its picturesque cobblestone streets and colorful Baroque buildings, Szentendre offers a delightful escape from the city’s hustle and bustle.

During the boat ride to Szentendre, you’ll be treated to scenic views of the Danube River and the surrounding countryside, creating a relaxing and idyllic journey. Arriving in Szentendre, you’ll immediately be captivated by the town’s quaint atmosphere and artistic ambiance.

Explore the narrow streets lined with art galleries, craft shops, and boutique stores. Szentendre is renowned for its thriving art scene, with numerous artists and artisans contributing to its vibrant cultural heritage. Browse through the unique and handcrafted pieces, including paintings, sculptures, ceramics, and intricate folk crafts.

Visit the Szentendre Open-Air Museum to immerse yourself in traditional Hungarian village life. The museum showcases preserved village houses and buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries, allowing you to step back in time and gain insight into the country’s rural history. Additionally, explore the Serbian Orthodox Museum, which exhibits a collection of religious artifacts and sculptures.

Indulge in the local culinary delights as you dine in one of Szentendre’s charming restaurants or cafes. Taste traditional Hungarian dishes, such as goulash and chimney cake, or savor international cuisine in a quaint, riverside setting.

Szentendre is also home to several captivating churches, including the stunning Blagovestenska Church with its colorful facade, the Serbian Orthodox Church, and the Baroque-style St. John the Baptist Church. Admire the intricate details of these architectural gems and learn about their significance in the town’s history.

At the end of your day trip, relax on the boat ride back to Budapest, reflecting on the memorable experiences and beautiful sights you encountered in Szentendre.

A day trip to Szentendre is a perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in the rich arts and culture of Hungary, while enjoying the scenic beauty of the Danube River. Don’t miss the chance to explore this charming town and create lasting memories.

Romantic Moonlight Cruise

Ignite the spark of romance and indulge in a magical experience with a moonlight cruise along the Danube River in Budapest. As the moon casts its gentle glow over the city, immerse yourself in the enchanting ambiance and create unforgettable moments with your loved one.

A romantic moonlight cruise offers a unique perspective of Budapest’s landmarks, bathed in a soft, romantic light. Glide along the Danube and be captivated by the spectacular views of the Parliament Building, Buda Castle, and the Chain Bridge. The city’s iconic landmarks, illuminated against the night sky, create a breathtaking backdrop for your romantic evening.

As you step aboard the boat, you’ll be greeted with a warm welcome and a glass of sparkling wine, setting the tone for a special and memorable experience. Find a cozy spot on the deck and enjoy the gentle breeze as the boat gently navigates the waters.

During the moonlight cruise, you can choose to indulge in a delicious candlelit dinner served on board. Savor exquisite dishes prepared by talented chefs, accompanied by fine wines. The intimate and elegant atmosphere complements the stunning views, creating a truly unforgettable dining experience.

Enhancing the romantic ambiance of the cruise, live music often accompanies the journey. Whether it’s a solo pianist, a jazz band, or a string quartet, the melodic tunes provide a soothing backdrop as you and your partner embrace the magic of the evening.

For an added touch of luxury, you can opt for a private moonlight cruise, allowing you and your loved one to have an exclusive experience. Enjoy the personalized attention and the privacy to create your own magical moments aboard the boat.

A romantic moonlight cruise in Budapest is the perfect way to celebrate a special occasion, such as an anniversary or a marriage proposal, or simply to spend quality time with your significant other. Let the beauty of Budapest under the moonlight create an unforgettable and cherished memory that will last a lifetime.

Thermal Bath Cruise

Combine the rejuvenating experience of a thermal bath with a relaxing cruise along the Danube River with a unique thermal bath cruise in Budapest. Known as the “City of Spas,” Budapest is famous for its thermal springs and historic bathhouses, and a thermal bath cruise allows you to indulge in the healing waters while enjoying the beauty of the city.

As you embark on a thermal bath cruise, you’ll have the opportunity to experience the therapeutic properties of Budapest’s mineral-rich thermal waters. Relax in the thermal baths onboard the boat, which are designed to recreate the atmosphere of the city’s renowned bathhouses. The warm, soothing waters will help alleviate any tension and provide a sense of tranquility.

As the boat sails along the Danube River, you’ll enjoy panoramic views of Budapest’s iconic landmarks, such as the Parliament Building, the Chain Bridge, and the Buda Castle. The combination of the healing waters and the scenic beauty of the city creates a truly rejuvenating and immersive experience.

Thermal bath cruises often offer additional amenities and services to enhance your relaxation. You may have access to saunas, steam rooms, and massage facilities onboard, allowing you to further unwind and rejuvenate your body and mind.

During the cruise, refreshments and snacks are typically available, allowing you to savor light bites and hydrating beverages as you enjoy your time in the thermal baths. Some cruises even include live music or entertainment, further enhancing the serene atmosphere.

Whether you want to embark on a group thermal bath cruise or opt for a private experience for a more intimate setting, a thermal bath cruise in Budapest offers a unique combination of wellness and sightseeing. It provides an excellent opportunity to relax, rejuvenate, and take in the breathtaking beauty of the city from the comfort of the thermal baths on board.

Unwind, indulge, and revitalize your senses with a thermal bath cruise in Budapest, an unforgettable experience that combines the serenity of the thermal waters with the picturesque landscapes of the Danube River.

Embarking on a river cruise or boat tour in Budapest is a fantastic way to explore the city’s beauty, history, and culture while enjoying the picturesque landscapes along the Danube River. From sightseeing cruises to romantic moonlight escapades, Budapest offers an array of options to suit every preference and interest.

Whether you choose a Danube River Cruise to admire the city’s iconic landmarks, an evening cruise with dinner for a romantic experience, or a wine tasting cruise to indulge in Hungary’s renowned wines, each experience offers a unique perspective of Budapest’s charm and allure.

Additionally, the opportunity to visit attractions such as Margaret Island and Szentendre on a boat tour allows for a more immersive exploration of the region. Margaret Island offers a peaceful retreat with its lush gardens and recreational activities, while Szentendre charms visitors with its artistic ambiance and historic charm.

For those seeking a more specialized experience, a Parliament Cruise provides an up-close look at Budapest’s remarkable architectural gem, while a thermal bath cruise offers a therapeutic and indulgent journey as you relax in the healing waters of the thermal baths onboard.

In conclusion, a river cruise or boat tour in Budapest is a must-do activity for anyone visiting the city. It allows you to witness the city’s landmarks, learn about its history, and soak in the breathtaking views along the Danube River. Whether it’s for leisurely sightseeing, romantic moments, cultural immersion, or relaxation, these experiences provide a unique and memorable way to discover the beauty and allure of Budapest.

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A river cruise in Budapest will let you see the most fascinating sights of the historical city of Budapest, which is often called the Pearl of the Danube or the Paris of East:

Best Cruise in Budapest for Couples to Celebrate with Dinner on Legenda

Best Cruise in Budapest for Couples to Celebrate with Dinner on Legenda

take a romantic cruise on the river Danube, and marvel at the genuine beauty, and century old grace of Budapest, Hungary. A river cruise , starting from the €10 Budget Cruise , is one of the highlights of many Budapest holidays without a doubt.

Upcoming Special Cruises in Budapest

  • Romantic Dinner on the Danube in Budapest Cruises
  • Cocktail Cruise Budapest – 2 cocktails included in the Budapest cruise fee from €35
  • Private Cruises in Budapest  for small or large groups
  • Package Deals – Tours Combined with a Budapest River Cruise
  • Group Discounts : please ask for a quote at info [at]

We offer Budapest river cruises on a daily basis: there are several cruises every day of 1-2 hours. There is a wide range of options, from simple budget river cruises to high-end, fancy cruises. Programs with optional cruise dinners , live music , and drinks on board.

Various Budapest cruises – some only on certain days – leave in the morning or during the day hours at 12:30pm , 2pm , 4pm , 7pm , 8pm , 9pm , while the night cruise with disco on Budapest boat party cruise leaves at 9pm .

Please note that cruises with lunch, dinner or live show need to be booked in advance as seats are limited.

Budapest River Cruises: from 10 Euros to 195 Euros

Budapest River Cruise - photo by Maxwell Gaines

Budapest River Cruise

Tickets to the Budapest river cruises start from a simple Day Cruise boat ride with a welcome drink at 10  Euros , up to 195 Euros for VIP river cruises (e.g. the cruise-dinner-music-drink-fireworks Fireworks Budapest River Cruise on Aug 20 ). Budapest features a wide range of Danube cruises, which suits all ages, styles and budget.

If you do not know which cruise would suit you best, let us help you: you can send your cruise inquiry to info [at] From Party boats through Romantic Boats & Live Entertainment Ships to Budget Boat tours – you will surely find something which appeals to you. Prepare for a real highlight in your Budapest holiday!

On many of the river Danube cruises, you can opt for the 4-course menu, and have a romantic dinner while viewing the top notch attractions of Budapest (especially romantic after sunset when the attractions are nicely lit at night). The cruise lunch / dinner also includes a glass of wine (or fruit juice) and bottled water (0.33l / 11.6 oz). For further details see each Budapest cruise info page.

You can choose the late night river cruises starting at 10 pm (on most days, not every day), and booze cruises at 11 pm.

The boats are all well maintained, and well equipped (including AC in summer and heating in winter). They are also partly covered, you can stay on the deck or under the roof too.

There are river cruises with all kinds of boats and ships. The river cruises run on breezy summer days, rainy spring afternoons or cold winter nights too. Just look at what you will see: here is a huge panoramic photo of the river views and Budapest by Night ! This is just a screenshot of the excellent 3D panoramic photo of Budapest Danube river, and the sights alongside, all beautifully lit. No wonder, it is part of the UNESCO World Heritage.

Budapest by night river views - photo

Budapest by night river views – Giles Vidal Photography

On special days, you can treat yourself to a really special river cruises in Budapest: Aug 20 Fireworks River Cruise (you can watch the spectacular fireworks by the Hungarian Parliament building from the boat on the river Danube), New Year’s Eve River Cruise in Budapest , etc.

To make your Budapest stay even more beautiful, check out the upcoming Concerts in Budapest .

Last updated Oct 12, 2023

Your Essential Budapest Travel Guide

Budapest Guide » Travel Tips » By Boat

A Guide to Boat Tours

Budapest, often referred to as the ‘Pearl of the Danube’, is best seen from the river itself. With many boat tour operators providing services, you’ll find a plethora of options to choose from. Here, we introduce two prominent ones: Legenda Tours and MAHART.

Experience Budapest with Legenda Tours

Legenda Tours: Founded in 1990, Legenda Tours provides several boat tours on the Danube using their two-story steamboats. They offer a daytime tour named “Duna Bella,” which departs daily at 2:30 pm all year round, with additional tours in the summer. This 2-hour trip includes a stop at Margaret Island for an island walk. The tickets for this tour cost 4,800-7,000 Ft / 13-19 EUR.

For those who prefer an evening excursion, Legenda Tours offers a nightly tour called the “Danube Legend,” departing daily at 8:15 pm. However, reviews of this tour have been mixed. The “Legend Dinner Cruises” tickets cost 24,050-31,500 Ft / 65-85 EUR. Whichever tour you opt for, your ticket entitles you to two free glasses of wine, beer , or soft drinks. There is also a shorter daytime tour option from mid-April to mid-October, excluding the stop on Margaret Island. All boats depart from Vigadó tér port, Pier 7.

You can book tickets through most major hotels, at the dock, or via the Legenda website . When booking two tickets online, you’ll also receive a complimentary CD. For inquiries, you can contact them at +3613172203.

Discover Budapest with MAHART

MAHART, the Hungarian state company, also operates a daily 2-hour daytime sightseeing cruise on the Danube using two-story steamboats. They offer regular departures from Vigadó tér on weekends and holidays in the spring and daily in the summer. During the low season (October 1 to November 4 and March 30 to April 29), their sailing schedule is less frequent.

MAHART also offers evening cruises, with and without dinner. These sail daily during the high season and on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays in the low season. Both buffet dinner and cruise-only tickets are available. For cruising rates, reservations, and more information, contact them at +3613181704 or visit their website: Mahart Passnave .

Remember, Budapest is as beautiful by night as it is by day, and a boat tour offers an incredible vantage point to appreciate the city’s stunning architecture and lit-up bridges. Make sure to include a boat tour in your Budapest travel itinerary for a unique sightseeing experience.

Additional Notes: Our comprehensive guide aims to help you choose the best boat tour to explore Budapest’s breathtaking scenery. Safe travels, and enjoy your boat tour adventure in Budapest!

33 Travel Tips

33 Budapest Travel Tips: How to Best Visit Hungary’s Capital

  • Post author: Naddya
  • Post category: City Travel
  • Post published: January 27, 2021

Budapest Travel Tips Pin 1

The Capital of Festivals .

The Queen of the Danube .

And the Capital of Spas and Thermal Baths all refer to the same gorgeous European city.

Located in the heart of Europe on the banks of the mighty Danube River, Budapest will enchant you with its diversity. The Hungarian capital offers visitors unparalleled experiences you can’t find elsewhere.

The following 33 Budapest travel tips will help you prepare for your visit to this magnificent city.

In the travel guide, you’ll find how to avoid the most common scams, what bars you should visit, and what peculiar customs you must be aware of.

Use the navigation below and explore all of Budapest’s secrets!

Start Planning Your Trip to Budapest with Our BEST Recommendations:

⭐ Top Tours in Budapest ⭐

📍 Budapest Grand Tour – the highlights of Buda and Pest, including the Parliament.

📍 Danube Cruise with Prosecco – unlimited prosecco and Budapest at night.

⭐ Best Accommodations in Budapest ⭐

🏨 Monastery Boutique Hotel Budapest – our top pick near Buda’s main attractions.

🏨 Bohem Art Hotel – this funky, hip hotel has the vibe of an art gallery.

⭐ Easiest Transportation Options in Budapest ⭐

🚍 Budapest Card – enjoy discounts, free travel, and entrances to museums.

🚍 Discover Cars – compare and find the best rates for car rentals.

Note : This article contains affiliate links . In case you purchase something through one of these links, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost for you. Thank you for helping us keep creating the free content on this website!

Things to do Before You Visit Budapest

Preparation – Things to Do Before You Visit Budapest

Before you visit Budapest , there are a few technicalities you need to know and prepare for . From the visa requirements through the language hacks to the unusual clothing you must pack, carefully read the following Budapest travel tips.

Note : If you want to be able to get ready for a trip within minutes, better yet grab our battle-tested Travel Checklist .

  • Do you need a visa to travel to Budapest? Hungary is a member of the European Union and the Schengen Area. If you travel with a U.S. passport, valid for at least another 6 months, you can explore the country for 90 days max without a visa. Find the whole list of visa requirements on the official website of the European Union .
  • Hungarian is the official language of Hungary. Also known as Magyar, Hungarian is a Uralic language. Approximately 13 million people speak it natively worldwide. In the tourist spots of Budapest, you’ll get along with English. Many of the signs and menus come in multiple languages. However, if you want to impress locals and show respect to their culture, here are several common phrases for you:

Language Tips - Hungary

  • Is Budapest safe to visit? Be cautious around landmarks and crowds. Pickpockets and bag-snatchers are quite the plague. Other than that, Budapest is a very safe place to travel to. Naddya explored the city on her own and never had any issues during her four-day trip.
  • Never clink beer glasses in Budapest. In 1848, the Hungary Revolution was overthrown by the Habsburgs. To celebrate their victory, Austrians cheered with beer. 173 years later, Hungarians have not forgotten and never clink their beer glasses. While it won’t put you in trouble, it would be advisable to avoid raising your beverage.
  • Pack your best swimsuit. The Hungarian capital was crowned the Capital of Spas and Thermal Baths for an obvious reason. One of the coolest facts about Budapest is that it boasts five huge spa complexes, featuring a total of 47 mineral pools. Visiting a thermal bath is not only a must but also a great way to relax and rejuvenate. The city’s first bath – Szechenyi Bath – opened in 1913. Apart from being the oldest, it is also Budapest’s largest, grandest, and busiest spa.

Weather – When Is the Best Time to Visit Budapest

Budapest in Spring

The moderate climate of Hungary offers four distinctive seasons. In Budapest, it’s often windy due to the city’s location on the banks of the Danube River.

Summers are hot and winters are snowy. You’ll find spring and autumn to be the best time to visit Budapest as they are less rainy than other major European cities.

The Christmas holidays and the summer vacations bring the most visitors. However, you’ll find enough awesome activities in all seasons .

  • Winter Budapest seduces with Christmas markets, outdoor ice-skating rinks, and thermal baths. The city is magical under the snow duvet. Explore the landmarks and the Christmas Markets stalls. Keep yourself warm with hearty foods and steaming-hot drinks. Get your heartbeat pumping with ice skating. Or spend a relaxing day at the spa.
  • In spring, the city awakens for new adventures. You can picnic between the cherry blossom trees in the Füvészkert Botanical Gardens . If you’re an art fan, the Budapest Spring Festival in April is for you. It brings together a diverse range of performances. Tens of venues invite to everything from classical music, opera, and jazz to dance, contemporary circus, and visual arts. And if that’s not enough to seduce you to visit Budapest in spring, how about Hungarian Ice Cream Day ? On May 8, popular parlors provide extraordinary gelato foodgasms at great discounts.

Budapest Panorama with the Parliament

  • In summer, Budapest holds one of the largest festivals in Europe. The Sziget Festival takes place in August. The week-long event is one of the largest musical and cultural gatherings on the Old Continent. The 266-acre Óbudai-sziget (Old Buda Island) in the Danube River hosts 1,000+ performances. If the music fans aren’t your crowd, you can relax on one of the three public beaches. Palatinus Beach, Római Beach, and Csillaghegy Bath welcome visitors from May to September.
  • Fall is the most photogenic season in Budapest. When autumn arrives, the countless parks and gardens in the Hungarian capital change their crowns to uncountable shades of gold, amber, and red. To make your visit even more tempting, Budapest hosts its own Design Week in October. During this time, the city boasts various events at over 100 locations. Add a fashion twist to your stay by attending one of the talks, exhibitions, projections, design tours, or fashion shows. Also in autumn – at the end of November – Budapest holds the Wine and Cheese Festival . You get the chance to taste the first vino of the season accompanied by artisanal cheese from local farmers.

Money-Saving Travel Tips: How to Stretch Your Bucks in Budapest

Hungarian Forints

Despite being an EU member, Hungary still doesn’t use the Euro. The national currency remains the Hungarian forint . That’s why one of the most important travel resources in your arsenal should be a currency converter .

The following Budapest travel tips will teach you how to stretch your budget and not overpay when you shouldn’t.

  • Be careful with the banknotes’ denominations. The forint is quite inexpensive. A banknote of 1,000 HUF currently trades for about $3.35 (€2.77). Don’t get tempted to pay your bill in dollars or euros as the exchange rate won’t be in your favor. When you withdraw cash, avoid the Euronet ATMs. Their exchange rates are the worst. Instead, search for a bank and use its cash machines to withdraw forints .
  • Budapest is very walkable. You can wander from one end of the city center to the opposite in about 45 minutes. Still, if you don’t want to use your feet everywhere, public transportation is quite comfortable and affordable ( see the section on transport below ).
  • The tap water in Budapest is safe to drink. If you want to stretch your budget, drink tap water. It is healthy and safe to consume. In fact, it is the most strictly controlled substance in Hungary. You can also order a glass of tap water in restaurants. Just make sure it’s not the only thing you order. 😉

Open-air Restaurant Budapest

  • Do you tip in Budapest? In sit-down restaurants, it is customary to leave a 10% tip on top of the bill. If you found the service exceptional, leave 15%. Give the tip to the waiter or drop it in the tip jar. Just make sure the establishment hasn’t already charged you a service fee ( szervidij ). It is usually 12.5% of the total check.
  • You can find many free things to do in Budapest. Marvel at the most famous landmarks of the Hungarian capital for free. The Heroes Square , the Parliament Building , Castle Hill , and the Great Market are just a few of the places you can explore free of charge.
  • Avoid eateries around tourist attractions. This Budapest travel tip has to be obvious, but every once in a while, even the most well-traveled among us fall for it. Instead of overpaying for a mediocre meal, check the foods & drinks section of the Budapest travel tips.

Food & Drinks in Budapest: What You Shouldn’t Miss Tasting

Hungarian Goulash

You can have an extraordinary culinary experience with the Queen of the Danube . Find the hidden gems of Budapest and the quintessential spices of the Hungarian cuisine with these food & drinks travel tips .

  • Budapest rivals Paris and Vienna for the coffee house culture. Hungarians love to start their day with a strong brew. The tradition of the cafés – kávéház – started at the beginning of the 16 th century. The Turks brought coffee to the Hungarian lands. The boom of the cafés started three centuries later. Many of the coffee houses still keep their rich history alive.
  • If you want a quick and cheap bite, try lángos . The fried flatbread is served with different toppings. They vary from garlic and butter through grated cheese, sour cream, ham, and bacon to powdered sugar and jam.

Langos with Different Toppings

  • Sample at least one of the most famous Hungarian dishes. The quintessential goulash is a thick soup of red meat and vegetables seasoned richly with paprika. Chicken paprikash is the most popular Hungarian stew. The ample use of paprika gives the dish its name. The chicken typically simmers for a long time in a paprika-infused roux sauce. And if you haven’t noticed from this food tip, we’ll spill it out for you. Hungarian cuisine uses paprika . A lot.
  • Try the mouth-watering pastries. Budapest’s sweet treats seduced even royalties like Sisi, the Empress of Austria and Queen of Hungary ! If you’re looking for a sugary delight, try the scrumptious Strudel . You can order the filo pastry with a filling of apples, cherries, plums, apricots, poppy seeds, cheese, or custard crème. Not craving sugar? Then, the savory variation with cabbage is for you.
  • Taste the Bull’s Blood if you’re a wine lover. Winemaking traditions in Hungary date back to Roman times. Although the best-known wines are the white dessert Tokaji Aszú and the Villány red wines, we recommend that you try Egri Bikavér . This dark, full-bodied red wine is also known as Bull’s Blood . Legend says that the name originates from the Siege of Eger. The outnumbered soldiers were served delectable food and plenty of red wine to keep them motivated. A rumor started among the enemy that bull blood was mixed into the wine. The enemy couldn’t otherwise explain the strength and resistance of the castle’s defenders.

Ruin Bar Budapest

  • Include a visit to a ruin bar on your itinerary. Budapest’s old Jewish Quarter hosts the most unusual establishments in the city. Housed in the ruins of crumbling, abandoned buildings, these bars offer an unparalleled experience. The hype started with Szimpla Kert in 2001. Currently, there are numerous ruin bars in Budapest and they are as big attractions as the Buda Castle and the Parliament Building. Apart from drinks, you’ll also find art installations, dance parties, and arts & crafts markets in the recycled spaces.

Traveling in Budapest: How to Get There and Getting Around the City

Tram Crossing the Liberty Bridge Budapest

You’ll barely find another city on the planet with a UNESCO World Heritage subway and funicular. If that’s not enough to make you want to ride the public transport in Budapest, how about the ferry boats included in the travelcard price or the historic trams?

Discover what other peculiarities the transportation system of the Hungarian capital hides in this section of the Budapest travel tips.

  • The transfer from Budapest International Airport (BUD) to the city takes half an hour. Public transport provides easy access to the city center. You’ll find the bus stop at the arrivals level. The direct, non-stop bus 100E operates around the clock between Terminal 2 and Budapest’s center. From there, you can quickly get to every part of the city. Alternatively, you can book a shared transfer directly to your hotel via this link .
  • Budapest is easily reachable from neighboring countries. If you’re visiting Austria or Slovakia, for example, consider adding Budapest to your itinerary. These countries are members of the EU and the Schengen Zone, so traveling between them is a breeze. Ticket prices vary from €4.85 ($6.00) all the way up to €57.00 ($70.00). Here are some of the distances and trip durations:
  • From Vienna to Budapest, you’ll arrive in about 2:40 h by train.
  • From Bratislava to Budapest, you’ll travel approximately 4:00 h by train.
  • The best way to explore the city is on foot . We always recommend this way of transportation, especially for walkable cities like Budapest. Wear your best pair of sturdy shoes and immerse yourself in the Hungarian capital’s vibrant atmosphere. Cross at least one of the eight bridges over the Danube, stroll the pedestrianized shopping Váci Street, and take a leisurely walk along the Danube Promenade.
  • The public transportation system is vast and easy to navigate. It consists of four metro lines, trains, trams, buses, trolleybuses, and the Buda Castle funicular. You can buy your ticket in advance online, from a vending machine, or from the vehicle operator. Have in mind that the pre-sold tickets are cheaper than the ones you can buy onboard. The single pre-sold tickets currently cost 350 HUF ($1.20), but if you purchase them in the vehicle, you’ll have to pay 100 HUF ($0.35) more and have exact change. A 10-ticket block costs 3,000 HUF ($10.35), while a 24-hour Budapest travelcard is 1,650 HUF ($5.70). The 72-hour Budapest travelcard comes at 4,150 HUF ($14.30). The travelcards also have group options. Plan your trip on this website .

Buda Castle Funicular

  • Ride the Buda Castle Funicular which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site . The most authentic way to travel in Budapest is riding the Buda Castle Funicular. It links the banks of the Danube River with the fortification and has been operating since 1870. The track is 312 ft. (95 m) long and surmounts an incline of 164 ft. (50 m). The panoramic views of the city during the short ride are captivating. The 95-second journey costs 1,400 HUF ($4.85) for a one-way ticket and 2,000 HUF ($6.90) for a return ticket. 
  • Two historical trams and one vintage bus operate in Budapest. You can ride them every weekend from May to October. Their routes are along the Danube Corso and pass near the Buda thermal baths. The single-ride ticket costs 500 HUF ($1.72) and the daily pass comes at 2,000 HUF ($6.90).
  • Ride the iconic subway M1 line. The Budapest Metro is the second-oldest underground railway system in Europe. Only London’s tube is older than it. Budapest’s Line 1 was inaugurated in 1896. Its significance is so big that it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site .
  • Boats connect the two sides of the city. If you want to get from one riverbank to the opposite, crossing the majestic Danube River is possible either on one of the eight bridges or via a boat. Four boat lines transport passengers from Buda to Pest and back. You have to either purchase a single ticket for 750 HUF ($2.60) or use your Budapest travelcard. If you want to indulge in a longer, fancier ride on the Danube River, we recommend this awesome cruise .

Where to Stay in Budapest: Best Neighborhoods and Accommodations

Residential Area Budapest

The city on the banks of the Danube River offers entertainment for every type of traveler. Find out the best area to stay in Budapest for your personal interests in this section of the travel guide.

  • Stay in Belváros if it’s your first time in Budapest. The Inner City is packed with fantastic sights and excellent restaurants. From there, you can also easily stroll to the Parliament Building, find a lush park to relax in, or venture out for more sightseeing in the Castle District. Accommodations can suit any budget .
  • Várkerület is the most romantic area of the Hungarian capital. What can be more romantic than staying near a white castle and going sightseeing with your loved one? The captivating views over the Danube River, the Gothic churches, and the world-class museums in this district will make your stay unforgettable. Visit the Fisherman’s Bastion , cross the square to enter Matthias Church , stroll around Castle Hill , and then wander to the Buda Castle .

Jewish Quarter

  • Book a room in the Jewish Quarter for unparalleled nightlife. The area is one of the best entertainment hotspots in Europe. Among the historic buildings and monuments, the unique ruin bars serve inexpensive beverages and offer the perfect setup for socializing. During the day, they turn into arts & crafts markets and offer great food as well.
  • If you’re traveling with children, you’ll love Margaret Island . Located just outside the city center in the middle of the Danube River, this part of Budapest is a quiet recreational area. Medieval ruins, thermal baths, and outdoor activities will entertain the whole family. The island is easily reachable from other parts of Budapest by tram and bus, so you won’t miss the sightseeing.

Best BudapestTravel Tips

Which Are Your Favorite Budapest Travel Tips?

Night Panorama with Chain Bridge Budapest

There you have it, all the things you need to know before traveling to Budapest, Hungary.

The Queen of the Danube offers peculiar transport modes, unusual bars and festivals, delectable snacks, and awesome activities for every season and budget.

And with these Budapest travel tips, you’ll navigate the Hungarian capital as if you’ve lived there your whole life.

Now, we’re curious:

Have you visited Budapest before?

Which travel tips were most helpful?

Budapest Travel Tips Pin 2

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This post has 2 comments.

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My husband and I are traveling to Budapest on Monday 10/17/2022 for a week. We love walking tours, food and wine related things. One tricky thing is I am a vegetarian and most of the food experiences mostly involve lots of meat. Any suggestions with this criteria?

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Hey Amy, so jealous of you and your husband for heading to the Queen of the Danube soon! The city is great for exploring on foot and you’ll find amazing wines to taste for sure. As for vegetarian food, you can try langos with different meat-free toppings as a quick meal. Don’t miss sampling various strudels, if you have a sweet tooth. And for main dishes, vegan and vegetarian options have become quite popular everywhere in Europe, including Hungary. You can choose from vegetarian soups, stews, and pasta dishes, for example. We’ve seen non-meat options in the lunch menus as well. Enjoy your time in gorgeous Budapest and happy travels! 🙂 Naddya and Svet

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Vienna to Budapest by Boat Time: A Scenic River Journey

  • 2024-03-07 2024-03-07

Traveling from Vienna to Budapest is a popular journey that offers breathtaking scenery and a memorable experience. While there are several transportation options available, one of the most enchanting ways to make this trip is by boat. In this article, we’ll explore the time it takes to travel from Vienna to Budapest by boat, along with some practical tips and recommendations.

Why Choose a Boat Journey?

Traveling by boat along the Danube River provides a unique perspective of the beautiful landscapes and historic landmarks that lie between Vienna and Budapest. It’s a leisurely way to enjoy the journey, taking in the stunning views while sitting back and relaxing on the deck.

Duration of the Boat Journey

The duration of the boat journey from Vienna to Budapest can vary depending on the type of boat and the specific route. Generally, the journey takes around 6 to 8 hours. However, it’s important to note that this is just an estimate, and each boat company may have their own schedule.

Choosing the Right Boat

When selecting a boat for your journey, consider factors such as comfort, amenities, and departure times. Some boats offer luxurious facilities, including onboard dining options and entertainment, while others may be more basic. Research different boat operators to find the one that best suits your preferences.

Scenic Stops Along the Way

While the journey itself is a highlight, there are also scenic stops along the way that you can explore. Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, is often a popular stop on these river cruises. It offers a charming old town, stunning architecture, and delicious local cuisine. Taking the time to explore Bratislava can add an extra dimension to your trip.

Booking Your Boat Journey

Booking your boat journey from Vienna to Budapest is relatively simple. Many boat companies have websites where you can check the schedules, compare prices, and make reservations online. It’s recommended to book in advance, especially during peak travel seasons, to secure your spot on the boat.

Considerations for Weather and Season

Keep in mind that the availability of boats and the frequency of departures may vary depending on the season. Summer months tend to be the most popular and offer more options for boat travel. Additionally, the weather can influence the overall experience. Consider checking weather forecasts before your trip and pack accordingly.

Tips for a Smooth Journey

  • Arrive at the departure point early to ensure a hassle-free boarding process.
  • Pack essentials such as sunscreen, a hat, and comfortable shoes for exploring the stops along the way.
  • Carry a light jacket or sweater, as temperatures can vary on the boat and during stops.
  • Bring a camera to capture the stunning landscapes and memorable moments.
  • Check if the boat offers food and drinks on board, or if you need to bring your own.
  • Don’t forget to carry some local currency to make purchases during your stops.

Traveling from Vienna to Budapest by boat offers a delightful and scenic journey along the Danube River. The duration of the trip is approximately 6 to 8 hours, allowing for plenty of time to relax and enjoy the picturesque landscapes. By choosing the right boat, considering the weather and season, and following some helpful tips, you can ensure a memorable and enjoyable experience. Embark on this river adventure and create lasting memories of your visit to these captivating European cities.

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Budapest to Bratislava by Boat: A Nautical Journey through Central Europe

The journey between Budapest and Bratislava, two of Central Europe's most historic and vibrant cities, is a tale that has been written by the waters of the Danube River. Stretching over 2,850 kilometers, the Danube is Europe's second-longest river, coursing through a myriad of landscapes, cultures, and stories. Historically, rivers have been essential to human civilization, serving as routes for trade, migration, and exploration. The Danube, known as the "River of Kings", is no exception, playing a pivotal role in shaping the history and culture of the regions it touches.

We recommend you watch it: Day trips from Budapest, Hungary and Day trips from Budapest to Bratislava

The cities of Budapest and Bratislava, respectively the capitals of Hungary and Slovakia, stand as testaments to the river's significance. Budapest, with its iconic Chain Bridge and Buda Castle, represents a convergence of history, art, and modernity. Bratislava, a stone's throw away, boasts its own rich tapestry of cultures, its skyline dominated by Bratislava Castle and the spires of St. Martin's Cathedral. Both cities, though distinct in their identities, are united by the river's flow.

This paper embarks on a nautical journey between these two cities, unraveling the experiences, sights, and sounds that make the boat journey a unique and unparalleled exploration. Whether it's the allure of drifting past quaint villages and undulating vineyards or the promise of immersing oneself in the deep-rooted histories of the cities, the river voyage offers an intimate perspective of Central Europe's heartland.

In the pages that follow, we will traverse the length of this journey, highlighting not only the natural and man-made wonders en route but also delving into the logistical, environmental, and economic aspects of this mode of travel. Through first-hand accounts, historical narratives, and empirical data, we aim to present a comprehensive picture of what it means to travel from Budapest to Bratislava by boat and why it continues to captivate the imaginations of travelers from around the world.

Table of contents

The appeal of the river journey, budapest: the starting point, the danube river: natural and cultural landscapes, navigational and logistical aspects, bratislava: the culmination, alternative modes of travel: comparing and contrasting, case studies: personal experiences, the environmental and economic impact.

Night view of Budapest

River journeys have long captured the imaginations of explorers, writers, and ordinary travelers alike. The sensation of floating along a waterway, with landscapes morphing and stories unfolding around every bend, offers an experience profoundly different from that of land-based travels. The journey from Budapest to Bratislava by boat is emblematic of such allure, representing a captivating blend of natural beauty, cultural immersion, and timeless serenity.

Historical Resonance

The Danube River, as a crucial artery of the Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman, and Austro-Hungarian empires, has seen countless vessels of commerce, war, and leisure ply its waters. Voyaging along this route, one sails through layers of history, catching glimpses of eras long gone yet enduringly imprinted on the riverbanks. The boat journey allows travelers to connect with these echoes of the past, providing a tangible link to the illustrious tales of kings, warriors, poets, and merchants who once navigated these waters.

A Sensory Experience

Unlike the often insular experience of air or rail travel, river journeys are immersive. The gentle sounds of the river, the sight of fishermen casting their nets, the aroma of fresh air mixed with the earthy scent of waterside forests, and the touch of a cool breeze on the face - all these sensory delights create a meditative ambiance. The slow pace of the boat amplifies the experience, allowing travelers to absorb, reflect, and truly be in the moment.

Cultural Tapestry

The Danube isn’t just a natural wonder; it's a living, flowing repository of cultures. As one moves from Budapest to Bratislava, there's an opportunity to witness the seamless transition from Magyar traditions to Slovak heritage. Stopping at smaller towns and villages along the way introduces a kaleidoscope of local customs, festivals, cuisines, and folklores. Such interactions offer a depth of understanding that goes beyond the superficial, granting travelers a genuine insight into the region's mosaic of life.

Unparalleled Scenery

The scenic splendors between Budapest and Bratislava are nothing short of breathtaking. Verdant meadows, dense riparian forests, undulating vineyards, and historic fortresses paint a dynamic tableau. The changing play of light, from the golden hues of dawn to the fiery displays of sunset, casts the landscape in a variety of moods, each more enchanting than the last.

Accessibility and Convenience

Finally, river journeys, especially on established routes like Budapest to Bratislava, come with the perks of modern amenities. Comfortable boats equipped with dining facilities, observation decks, and sometimes even entertainment options make the voyage pleasant. Moreover, docking usually places travelers in the heart of the destination, making subsequent exploration convenient.

In essence, the appeal of the river journey lies in its amalgamation of diverse experiences. It's a voyage that is as much about introspection and connection as it is about discovery, offering travelers a multifaceted journey through the heart of Central Europe.

Margaret Island and the Margaret Bridge

Nestled along the banks of the Danube, Budapest, often referred to as the "Pearl of the Danube," is not just the political and economic heart of Hungary but also a vibrant cultural epicenter. The city, with its blend of Roman, Gothic, Ottoman, and Art Nouveau architectures, stands as a living testament to its rich and layered history. Serving as the starting point of our river journey to Bratislava, Budapest offers travelers a plethora of experiences even before they set sail.

Historical Backdrop

Budapest was originally two separate cities: Buda and Pest, divided by the Danube. These two halves, each with its distinct character, were unified in 1873. Over centuries, Budapest has been the site of Celtic settlements, Roman townships, Mongol raids, Ottoman sieges, and Austro-Hungarian opulence. This confluence of cultures and epochs is palpably evident in its streets, squares, and structures.

Architectural Marvels

The city's skyline is adorned with iconic structures. The Buda Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, offers panoramic views of the entire city. The Gothic Revival-style Hungarian Parliament Building, another emblematic edifice, stands imposingly along the river. Thermal baths like the Széchenyi and Gellért Baths speak of the city's Roman past and Ottoman influences while providing contemporary leisure.

Embarking on the Journey

Several marinas and piers along the Danube serve as departure points for boats to Bratislava. Popular among them are the Vigadó and Batthyány Square piers. The choice of boats varies from luxurious cruise liners to smaller, intimate vessels, catering to different preferences and budgets.

Cultural Festivities

Depending on the time of year, travelers can immerse themselves in Budapest's rich tapestry of events. The Budapest Wine Festival, the Danube Carnival, and the Budapest International Documentary Festival are just a few occasions that pulsate with energy and tradition. Such events offer a glimpse into the local ethos, making the stay in Budapest even more memorable.

Gastronomic Delights

No visit to Budapest is complete without savoring its culinary offerings. Traditional Hungarian dishes like goulash, chimney cake, and pörkölt tantalize the taste buds, while the city's cafes and wine cellars provide the perfect settings to relax and reflect.

The Danube, with its vast expanse and historical significance, has been a silent witness to the unfolding of European civilization. As boats sail from Budapest to Bratislava, the river reveals an intricate tapestry of natural wonders and cultural milestones. The intertwining of nature's artistry with the indelible marks of human endeavors creates an unparalleled landscape that is both evocative and mesmerizing.

The Natural Canvas

Riparian Forests: The riverbanks are adorned with lush forests, home to diverse flora and fauna. These woods, with their dense canopies and melodious birdcalls, are havens of biodiversity. Notable among them are the Danube floodplain forests, which support a myriad of life forms.

Wetlands and Marshes: Periodic stretches of wetlands, such as the Danube Delta, are biodiversity hotspots. These marshes, with their reeds, lilies, and aquatic life, play crucial roles in ecological balance and offer unique viewing experiences for nature enthusiasts.

Hills and Gorges: The Danube occasionally meanders through dramatic terrains, with cliffs, gorges, and hills flanking its sides. These geographical features, often bathed in a golden hue during sunsets, provide picturesque vistas.

Historical Imprints

Castles and Fortresses: Perched on hills or directly on riverbanks, ancient fortresses and castles dot the Danube's landscape. These structures, such as the Visegrád Castle, are remnants of bygone eras, having played pivotal roles in regional politics and defense.

Towns and Settlements: Historic towns like Esztergom in Hungary, with their cathedrals, marketplaces, and traditional houses, provide glimpses into the region's urban evolution. These towns, often characterized by cobblestone streets and medieval architectures, are gateways to the past.

Cultural Mosaics

Riverside Celebrations: The Danube isn't just a natural entity; it's a cultural lifeline. Various festivals, boat races, and riverside celebrations, rooted in age-old traditions, bring communities together, making the river a hub of social and cultural interactions.

Art and Sculptures: Several stretches of the Danube are adorned with sculptures, installations, and memorials. These artworks, whether commemorating historical events or celebrating human creativity, enrich the visual journey.

Navigational Landmarks

Bridges like the Maria Valeria Bridge or the Liberty Bridge aren't just infrastructural marvels; they are symbols of connectivity and human ingenuity. These bridges, with their distinctive designs and histories, serve as markers, guiding travelers along their course.

Human-Nature Interplay

Fishing Communities: Along the Danube, one can often spot fishermen in their boats or along the shores, casting nets and lines. These fishing communities, with their age-old practices and intimate knowledge of the river, exemplify the symbiotic relationship between humans and nature.

Agricultural Patches: Vineyards, farms, and orchards occasionally grace the riverbanks. These agricultural endeavors, relying on the river's fertility, showcase the region's agricultural heritage and the Danube's role in sustenance.

Navigating the Danube between Budapest and Bratislava is a fascinating exercise that combines age-old practices with modern technology. Ensuring a smooth, safe, and efficient journey requires an understanding of the river's dynamics, infrastructure, and the various logistical challenges and solutions that have been developed over time.

The Navigational Channel

The Danube's navigation channel has been meticulously mapped and marked for safety.

Buoys and Markers: A series of buoys and markers guide vessels, indicating the depth and width of the navigable channel, potential obstacles, and turning points. These are periodically checked and maintained to ensure accuracy.

Depth Monitoring: Given the river's dynamic nature, continuous monitoring of the riverbed is crucial. Modern vessels often come equipped with sonar and depth gauges to ensure they stay within safe navigational limits.

Locks and Dams

While the stretch between Budapest and Bratislava does not have as many locks as other parts of the Danube, they still play a vital role in managing water levels and ensuring safe passage for vessels of various sizes.

Operation: The locks are operated with precision, allowing vessels to ascend or descend to the appropriate river level. This ensures smooth passage, especially during times of low or high water.

Maintenance: Regular checks and maintenance of these infrastructural marvels are vital to ensure their long-term functionality and safety.

Port and Docking Facilities

Both Budapest and Bratislava have well-equipped ports catering to various types of vessels.

Facilities: These ports offer facilities like refueling, waste disposal, freshwater supply, and minor repair services.

Customs and Documentation: Given that the journey involves crossing international borders, appropriate customs facilities are in place, ensuring smooth clearance for vessels and passengers.

Weather and Seasonal Considerations

The Danube's behavior and the navigational experience can vary with the seasons.

Floods: Spring and early summer, following snowmelt in the Alps, can sometimes lead to higher water levels, which, while beneficial for navigation, can also pose flooding risks.

Ice: Winters can bring challenges in the form of ice. While this is less of an issue in the Budapest-Bratislava stretch compared to the river's upper reaches, vessels are still equipped and prepared to handle minor icy conditions.

Communication and Safety Protocols

Modern vessels on the Danube are equipped with advanced communication tools, ensuring they remain in touch with ports, other vessels, and relevant authorities.

Emergency Protocols: In case of emergencies, clear protocols are in place, with rescue and medical services available along the route.

Environmental Considerations: Given the importance of the Danube as an ecological habitat, various regulations ensure that navigation has minimal impact on the environment. This includes guidelines on waste disposal, engine emissions, and more.

Bratislava city aerial view

As the boat gently approaches Bratislava, the Danube's flowing narrative transitions from the expansive Hungarian plains to the welcoming embrace of the Slovak capital. Bratislava, with its unique blend of historic gravitas and youthful vibrancy, serves as a fitting culmination to the river journey. Nestled at the crossroads of Central Europe, the city beckons travelers with tales of kings and revolutionaries, cobbled streets, and contemporary beats.

Historical Tapestry

Bratislava's history is a medley of influences, from the Celts and Romans to the Kingdom of Hungary and the Habsburg dynasty.

Bratislava Castle: Dominating the city's skyline, Bratislava Castle is a symbol of the city's storied past. Its walls have witnessed coronations of Hungarian kings, seen battles and sieges, and now house historical and cultural exhibits.

Old Town's Chronicles: The heart of Bratislava, its Old Town, with its narrow alleys and historic buildings, transports visitors back in time. The town square, the Old Town Hall, and the numerous palaces each tell tales of bygone eras.

Architectural Jewels

Bratislava's architecture is a testament to its diverse historical influences.

St. Martin's Cathedral: A Gothic masterpiece, this cathedral has hosted numerous royal coronations and stands as a beacon of Bratislava's religious and architectural heritage.

Modernist and Communist-era Buildings: Reflecting the city's 20th-century history, structures from the Communist era, such as the UFO Bridge and the Slovak Radio Building, offer a stark contrast to its older edifices.

Cultural Vibrancy

Theaters and Art: The Slovak National Theater, with its performances, and the Danubiana Meulensteen Art Museum, showcasing contemporary art, highlight Bratislava's thriving cultural scene.

Festivals: Events like the Bratislava Music Festival and the Bratislava Jazz Days attract artists and audiences from around the world, infusing the city with melodies and rhythms.

Culinary Experiences

From traditional Slovak dishes like bryndzové halušky (sheep cheese dumplings) and zemiakové placky (potato pancakes) to international cuisines, Bratislava's gastronomic landscape is diverse and delicious. The city's wine cellars, serving both local and international varieties, provide the perfect setting for relaxation after the journey.

Departing the Boat

Upon arrival, docking facilities make disembarkation a smooth experience. Bratislava's port area is well connected to the city center, ensuring easy accessibility for travelers. For those wishing to continue their journey, the city serves as a gateway to other Slovak destinations and neighboring Austria.

While the boat journey between Budapest and Bratislava offers a unique, immersive experience, there are several alternative modes of travel between these two cities. Each mode comes with its own set of advantages, experiences, and limitations. This section will provide an overview of these alternatives, comparing and contrasting them with the boat journey to help travelers make informed choices.

Train Travel

Advantages :

  • Speed: Trains usually offer a faster travel time compared to boats.
  • Frequency: Multiple trains run daily, providing flexibility in choosing departure times.
  • Scenic Routes: The train journey, especially along the Danube Bend, offers picturesque views.

Limitations :

  • Limited Interaction with the River: Unlike boats, trains do not provide an immersive experience of the Danube.

Road Travel (Bus or Car)

  • Flexibility: Travelers can set their own pace, take detours, and explore off-the-beaten-path locations.
  • Variety of Stops: Road trips can include visits to smaller towns or attractions en route.
  • Traffic and Road Conditions: Potential for traffic jams, especially during peak hours or holiday seasons.
  • Environmental Concerns: Cars, unless electric or hybrid, have a larger carbon footprint compared to trains or boats.
  • Speed: The fastest mode to travel between the two cities, although given the short distance, flights are not very common.
  • Environmental Impact: Flights have a significant carbon footprint.
  • Airport Logistics: Time spent in airport security, boarding, and baggage claim can offset the speed advantage.
  • Less Scenic: Air travel misses the ground-level landscapes and experiences.
  • Eco-friendly: One of the most sustainable modes of travel.
  • Health Benefits: A great way to combine travel with physical activity.
  • Intimate Experience: Allows travelers to engage closely with the environment and local communities.
  • Physical Demands: Requires a good level of fitness, especially for longer stretches.
  • Weather Dependency: Biking can be challenging in adverse weather conditions.

7.5. Comparing with Boat Travel

Boat Advantages :

  • Unique Perspective: Offers a vantage point of landscapes and cities from the river.
  • Relaxation: The gentle pace of boat travel provides ample relaxation time.
  • All-inclusive Experience: Many boat cruises offer onboard amenities, meals, and entertainment.

Boat Limitations :

  • Travel Time: Generally, boat journeys are slower compared to trains or road travel.
  • Schedule Dependency: Boats might have fewer departure options compared to trains or buses.

Personal narratives often provide a more profound understanding of a travel experience, blending the factual with the emotional. Here, we delve into the stories of three travelers who embarked on the journey from Budapest to Bratislava, each choosing a different mode of transport. Their experiences, while unique, come together to paint a comprehensive picture of the voyage.

Julia: The River Voyager

Julia, a 40-year-old travel blogger, opted for a luxurious river cruise. She cherished the languid pace, which gave her time to immerse herself in the shifting landscapes of the Danube.

Highlights :

  • Onboard Activities: Julia attended lectures on regional history, joined dance evenings, and sampled wines sourced from vineyards along the Danube.
  • Guided Tours: At select ports, guided tours enriched her understanding of local culture and architecture.
  • Sunset Moments: For Julia, the most unforgettable moment was watching the sunset over the Danube, the sky painted in hues of gold and crimson.

Challenges :

  • Connectivity Issues: While in certain remote stretches of the river, Julia experienced sporadic internet connectivity.

Raj and Aisha: The Road Adventurers

A young couple from India, Raj and Aisha rented a car to traverse the road from Budapest to Bratislava. Their journey was punctuated by spontaneous detours and serendipitous discoveries.

  • Local Eateries: They stumbled upon a family-run eatery in a small Hungarian town, where they savored traditional dishes and exchanged stories with locals.
  • Freedom to Explore: The duo visited the ruins of Devín Castle, located slightly off the main route, which they described as an unexpected gem.
  • Podcast Companion: Driving allowed them to indulge in their favorite travel podcasts, adding depth to their experience.
  • Navigation: On a couple of occasions, their GPS led them astray, turning into mini-adventures of their own.

Leo: The Solo Bicyclist

Leo, a 28-year-old environmentalist from Canada, chose to bike the distance. His journey was an ode to sustainable travel and personal endurance.

  • Eco-Camps: Leo stayed at eco-friendly camping sites, reinforcing his commitment to green travel.
  • Close Encounters: Biking through the Danube floodplain forests, he enjoyed birdwatching and even spotted a deer.
  • Local Interactions: Stopping at villages, Leo had enriching exchanges with locals, learning about their lives and sharing his biking tales.
  • Weather Woes: An unexpected rainstorm made one leg of his journey particularly challenging, but he took it in stride, terming it a 'baptism by nature'.

The journey from Budapest to Bratislava, irrespective of the mode of transport, has both environmental and economic implications. A sustainable approach to travel not only ensures that the pristine beauty of the Danube and its surrounding ecosystems are preserved for future generations but also ensures the long-term viability of local economies.

Environmental Impact

Boat Travel:

  • Pros : Modern boats, especially those designed for river cruising, have begun adopting eco-friendly technologies, like hybrid propulsion systems and advanced waste management, to minimize their environmental footprint.
  • Cons : Traditional boats can discharge pollutants, and boat traffic can cause riverbank erosion and disturb aquatic life.

Road and Air Travel:

  • Pros : Electric vehicles, while still a small percentage, offer a more sustainable alternative to traditional gasoline-powered vehicles.
  • Cons : Air travel has a significant carbon footprint, and road travel, especially by gasoline and diesel vehicles, results in emissions that contribute to air pollution and climate change.

Train Travel:

  • Pros : Trains are generally more energy-efficient and produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions per passenger compared to cars and planes.
  • Cons : Construction of rail infrastructure can impact local ecosystems, although this is a one-time impact.
  • Pros : Biking is the most environmentally friendly mode of transportation, producing zero emissions and having minimal impact on the environment.
  • Cons : While biking itself doesn't have a negative impact, the manufacturing and disposal of bikes and related equipment do have an environmental footprint, albeit minimal compared to other modes.

Economic Impact

Tourism Boost:

  • The journey between Budapest and Bratislava attracts thousands of tourists annually. This influx supports local businesses, from restaurants and souvenir shops to hotels and guided tour services.


  • The travel industry, directly and indirectly, creates employment opportunities. For instance, a river cruise not only employs onboard staff but also supports onshore jobs like tour guides, port workers, and maintenance crews.

Infrastructure Development:

  • Tourist traffic necessitates the development and maintenance of infrastructure, which can spur economic growth. However, it's crucial that this development is sustainable and doesn't come at the cost of environmental degradation.

Local Economies:

  • While Budapest and Bratislava benefit significantly, smaller towns and attractions along the route also see economic upliftment due to traveler expenditures.


  • Over-reliance on tourism can make local economies vulnerable to external factors, such as global economic downturns or pandemics.
  • Over-tourism can lead to strain on local resources and negatively impact the quality of life for residents.

The journey from Budapest to Bratislava, a voyage that spans countries and cultures, is more than a mere transit between two cities. It's an exploration of history, a celebration of nature's grandeur, and a testament to human connectivity. Along the course of the majestic Danube, travelers are not just moving through geographic space; they are traversing tales of ancient empires, vibrant cities, and diverse ecosystems.

Each mode of transport, be it the languid pace of a boat, the rhythmic cadence of a train, the freedom of a car journey, or the intimacy of a bicycle ride, offers a distinct lens through which to experience this journey. Personal narratives and shared experiences provide depth, enriching our understanding of what it means to travel this route.

Yet, it's essential to recognize the broader implications of our travel choices. In an era where sustainability isn't merely a buzzword but a global imperative, the environmental and economic impacts of tourism demand consideration. As we revel in the beauty of the Danube and the allure of Budapest and Bratislava, there's a shared responsibility to tread lightly, ensuring that these treasures are preserved for future generations.

In essence, the Budapest to Bratislava journey epitomizes the magic of travel — a dance of discovery, reflection, and connection. Whether one is seeking solace in nature, an immersion in history, or the joy of new experiences, the route beckons with promises of unforgettable memories. In the end, it reminds us that every journey, no matter how familiar, has the potential to surprise, inspire, and transform.

Nighttime or Daytime Sightseeing Cruise: Discover Budapest in a New Light

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I've been on 50 cruises. Here are 5 things I wish I'd known before sailing in the Mediterranean.

  • I've been on 50 cruises around the world and took my first Mediterranean route last year.
  • Picking the right time of the season to go can make a big difference in your trip.
  • Before packing, I always check to see if any of the experiences I've booked have a dress code.

Insider Today

As someone who's taken over 50 cruises all over the world, I know firsthand how popular cruising is this year. But one seabound itinerary people often forget to add to their bucket lists is a Mediterranean cruise .

The dreamy ships take passengers around European destinations like Spain, France, Italy, and Greece.

After taking my first Mediterranean cruise last year, here's what I think everyone should know before booking the route.

Going early or late in the sailing season means fewer crowds and better weather.

budapest travel by boat

Many cruise lines, like Virgin, Celebrity, and Disney, start the Mediterranean season in early spring and sail through early fall.

Going early or late in the season usually means you'll have more tolerable weather and smaller crowds in some of the big destinations like Athens .

I made the mistake of going on my Mediterranean cruise at the end of May (over Memorial Day weekend).

Some ports of call, like Nice, France, were easy to get around, but others like Rome were packed to the gills. I wanted the day to end before we even made it to the Vatican on our tour.

Arriving at your embarkation port early is key to having a smooth sailing.

budapest travel by boat

My biggest tip for any cruise — but especially for Americans traveling to Europe for a Mediterranean cruise — is to arrive at your embarkation city at least a day before your sailing starts.

This gives you plenty of time to ensure you make it to the port, especially with the airline delays that typically spike in the summer. The boat isn't going to wait for you i f you don't land on time

Even though it means paying for lodging and likely a few meals before boarding the boat, getting a good night's sleep before a jam-packed vacation is worth it to me.

As a bonus, arriving early also gives you a chance to explore the city.

Be sure to pack at least one shirt with sleeves and bottoms that cover your knees.

budapest travel by boat

Some of the major European tourist destinations have strict dress codes — typically everyone must at least cover their shoulders and knees out of respect.

If you're planning on checking out Vatican Ci t y in Italy or the Meteora monasteries in Greece, b e sure to pack at least one outfit that fits the bill.

Most cruise ships have laundry services (self-serve or valet), so you can wear the same dress-code-approved outfit for a few excursion days if needed.

Food tours are a great way to see a city, taste local dishes, and learn some history.

budapest travel by boat

If you're looking for a unique excursion that still gives you the highlights of a European city, I recommend booking a food tour . I've done tours in places like Amsterdam, Budapest, and Paris, and I've never been disappointed.

Food tours can be booked through third-party travel operators, like TripAdvisor or Viator, and offer the chance to see some of the major landmarks of a city, try local dishes, and learn some history all in one outing.

The tours are usually led by locals, which means the guides can also give you some good recommendations if you have time before you need to return to the ship.

Consider booking tours through third-party sites.

budapest travel by boat

Mediterranean cruises can last anywhere from seven days to two weeks, depending on the company and itinerary. Booking every excursion through the cruise line can add up, but luckily, there are typically more affordable options through third-party companies.

But I only book with third-party operators if the ship docks right at the city I want to explore because I never want to miss the all-aboard time.

For example, on my Mediterranean cruise last summer, the ship anchored at Cannes, and I was able to keep my eye on it throughout my excursion.

If the ship docks in a secondary location and you have to travel to the big tourist destinations , I always book excursions through the cruise line. For instance, the day my family and I explored Rome, the ship docked in Civitavecchia, Italy, and we had to take a two-hour bus ride into the city.

Booking with the cruise company guarantees your return to the ship, even if your excursion runs late.

budapest travel by boat

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