Picture yourself floating on a 5 star luxury hotel down the Danube, passing historic cities, stunning nature, and small villages along the way. That’s what it’s like sailing with Riverside Luxury Cruises! This is the ultimate form of luxury travel and the perfect way to see multiple destinations on one vacation. So are you considering a river cruise for your next European getaway? Here’s everything about our week long trip from Budapest to Vienna so you can decide if a Riverside Luxury Cruise is right for you.
Budapest to Vienna on the Riverside Mozart
We took the 7 night cruise from Budapest to Vienna up the Danube River in mid-July. This is one of the most iconic rivers in Europe and a region we’d always dreamed to see more of. At each port, we explored on our own or joined one of the many excursions offered by the ship. Don’t worry, we will get into all the great tours soon!
While there are many different river cruises in Europe, the Riverside Mozart certainly stands out. Honestly, it feels more like a high-end five star resort than an actual cruise.
The former Crystal river cruise ships are now owned by Seaside Collection and have completely rebranded themselves. The other ships that are part of their luxury river cruise collection include the Riverside Ravel, Riverside Debussy, and Riverside Bach.
Below we share everything about our Riverside Cruise leaving no details out. From our favorite tours and moments on the ship to the best meals we had, this is everything you need to know!
For a more in-depth guide to the Riverside Mozart ship you can check out our article below. Here we give a complete breakdown of the boat as well as more tips from our sailing journey.
Riverside Mozart Itinerary
- Day 1 – Budapest
- Day 2 – Budapest
- Day 3 – Bratislava
- Day 4 – Krems
- Day 5 – Linz
- Day 6 – Mauthausen & Grein
- Day 7 – Vienna
One Week on Riverside Luxury Cruises
Day 1: Boarding & Exploring the Boat
We actually arrived in Budapest a few days before the cruise so we had time to see the city. It’s one of our favorite places in Europe and somewhere we’re always excited to return. Some of the best things to do in Budapest are soaking at the Gellert and Széchenyi thermal spas, grabbing a drink at the ruin bars, and visiting Fisherman’s Bastion.
We boarded the boat around 1pm and were greeted with champagne and ice-cold water. This was the perfect welcome as it was the middle of summer in Budapest and very hot.
After getting checked in, we were shown our room by our butler (yes we had a butler!), received a quick tour of the boat, and got settled before grabbing lunch at the Blue Bar Grill. For our first meal with Riverside Luxury Cruises, we tried Hungarian goulash which is a local specialty.
Not only was it delicious, but it set the standard for the food to come over the next week. One of the reasons we were excited about this route was to try different culinary specialties of each place we passed through.
Riverside Luxury Cruises Room Tour
We won’t go much into the room details as we cover the different options thoroughly in our Riverside Mozart Boat Tour article. However, we will say that we absolutely loved our Riverside Suite! It came with a king-size bed, desk, sofa, plenty of closet space, and spacious bathroom.
The room was immaculately clean with the space and comfort we needed for a week-long sailing trip. Both our butler and the front desk were available at all times to help with anything we needed.
Also, there was housekeeping twice a day which kept our room neat and tidy. We really appreciated the turndown service, daily chocolates, mini-bar being refilled, and having everything organized perfectly.
The Riverside Mozart is a huge ship with so much to see and experience. Yet, it was so dreamy some days to just lay in our bed with the sliding door open watching as the landscapes passed us by.
What Else Will You Find On Your Riverside Cruise?
One thing that separates Riverside Cruises from other European cruise lines is the luxury amenities. As we walked around the ship for the first time, we couldn’t believe everything available to us. The Riverside Mozart had a fitness center, two bars, a cafe and snack area, and of course the large top deck.
The Vista Deck was where we spent a lot of our time while sailing to take in the scenery. We also loved all the seating options, from sun loungers to bean bags and small tables. The ship had multiple restaurants which all offered something different.
Another spot that we frequently visited on our cruise was the Riverside Spa. It was complete with a jacuzzi, small swimming pool, sauna, steam room, and lounge chairs with a view to the front of the boat. If you couldn’t tell, there’s plenty to keep you occupied when you’re not off the ship in each port!
Dinner in the Budapest Harbor
As we mentioned, we had already been in Budapest for a few days before our river cruise. This made it an easy decision to spend our first afternoon discovering the different areas of the ship. Although we had a lovely day, we weren’t expecting what would happen later that evening!
Our first dinner on Riverside Luxury Cruises took place on the Vista Deck at the Waterside Restaurant. After multiple starters, we enjoyed grilled steak, shrimp, and octopus while looking out over Budapest.
After dinner it was time for a surprise. As the sun went down and Budapest started to light up, the Riverside Mozart took off for a night cruise!
We watched from the top deck sipping on a cocktail as we passed the Hungarian Parliament Building, Buda Castle, and more of the city’s historic sites. This was the most amazing night and an excellent start to our trip with Riverside Luxury Cruises.
Day 2: Full Day in Budapest Hungary
One of the unique things about our route is that the first day was actually spent docked in Budapest. This isn’t common for an ocean cruise and gives you the chance to spend more time exploring the capital city if you didn’t arrive early.
Since we had already experienced many of the best things to do in Budapest, we decided to test out the e-bikes on the ship! At most other stops we joined the excursions, but on this day we would head out on our own.
Riverside Luxury Cruises has a small fleet of both standard and e-bikes to use at any of the stops. This was only the second time we’ve used e-bikes so we were excited to give them another shot. If you’ve never ridden one before, it works the same as a regular bicycle but gives you a little extra boost for long distances.
We crossed over the bridge that was right where our Riverside Luxury Cruise was docked and went along the water on the Buda side of the river. This area of Budapest has a wonderful bike path to escape the busy city streets. We took the trail all the way to Margaret Island and coasted through the gardens along the Danube River.
After a fun day of exploring we were definitely ready for dinner. For this meal we ate in the main restaurant which was different than the more casual night previously.
Riverside Cruises has expert chefs from around the world all contributing their daily dishes. We started off with a beef carpaccio and then ordered our salmon and beef mains a la carte. After, we had a delicious mango tiramisu for dessert.
Day 3: Birthday in Bratislava Slovakia
At 7:00am we heard a knock at the door. As we opened our eyes, we quickly remembered we’d ordered breakfast in bed!
On board Riverside Luxury Cruises you can fill out a card the night before and have breakfast delivered to your door. We ate a delicious spread of fresh fruits, smoked salmon, and omelettes as we watched the the tree-lined shore through the open door.
It also happened to be Brigitte’s birthday! Throughout the day, every staff member on the boat wished her a happy birthday and made it extra special. While we had a great breakfast everyday on board, we highly recommend ordering it to your room at least once to experience this.
Just after we finished eating we were surprised to see massive cement wall outside our window. It turned out to be the first river loch that our ship was passing through.
Heading up to the top deck, we watched in awe as the boat raised with the water almost 30 feet above. These loch’s are built so the boats can access the next part of the Danube River. We had a seen a few of these on our recent road trip in Scotland, yet never one this big before!
The rest of our morning included a galley tour with executive chef Paula, hitting the gym, and relaxing at the spa. One of the best places to take in the view on the luxury ship is from the front of the spa.
There are day beds where you can get comfortable and take it all in. We ended up visiting the spa almost daily for a quick dip and sauna.
For lunch, we ate in the Marketplace which had a delicious buffet spread setup. Our favorite part of lunch was trying the Ravioli which we saw being made fresh earlier that morning on the galley tour. We also enjoyed the monkfish, small salads, and of course the desserts.
Walking Tour of Bratislava
After breakfast we took the walking tour with beer tasting that was offered by Riverside Cruises. It was actually our second visit to the small capital city, with the last time being almost five years before. The tour took us directly through the city center before ending at Klastorny Pivovar.
Klastorny Pivovar is known as one of the largest restaurants in Europe and doubles as a massive beer hall. We sampled two great local beers and tried the mixed snack plate of pickled cheese, sausage, slaw, and other treats.
Since it was our second visit we liked taking a tour to learn a little more about the history. However, know that the tour does not take you up to the castle above Bratislava.
If you’re not up for the walking tour we recommend getting off the boat as soon as it docks. From there, you can easily get a taxi or take the short hike up to the Bratislava Castle. After that, walk back down through the small streets of old town before re-boarding the ship.
Night On the Riverside Mozart
Once the tour finished we had about an hour before we had to be back on the boat. Fortunately, this gave us just enough time to see more of the old town and pick up a few souvenirs.
Karolina from the front desk gave us an awesome recommendation for lavender gelato. We probably didn’t need more dessert as there is amazing homemade ice cream on the boat… But when in Bratislava!
The rest of our evening was spent enjoying cocktails and champagne from the Vista Bar as we sailed out of the city. At night we cruised into Austria and ate a tapas-inspired dinner.
The special day ended with a large chocolate cake prepared by the pastry chef just for us. We already know that next birthday will be hard to beat after our trip with Riverside Luxury Cruises.
Day 4: Wine & Wachau Valley Views
On the fourth day of our cruise we had a relaxing morning on the river before heading to breakfast. Originally, we planned to go to the spa but there were some fun activities planned that we couldn’t help but join.
First, we joined an apple strudel-making demonstration. While watching chef Paula make this popular Austrian pastry we tried a Mozart coffee with cream liquor added in. We even got the recipe to try and recreate the apple strudel when we’re home!
This was followed be a tasting where we sampled three different wines from the region. 11am felt a little early for drinks, but what does time matter when you’re sailing through the Austrian wine region? This also gave us a better understanding of the area and a preview of our vineyard tour later on.
Winzer Krems Vineyard Tour
We met up with the small group around 2pm to head out on our tour. Our trip to Winzer Krems ended up being one of the coolest wine tastings we’ve ever done!
It took us on a journey through the history of Wachau Valley wine production, into the cellar, and ended with a 4D movie screening. We’ve never experienced 4D before and were completely amazed by the scents of apricot and peach that floated through the air.
Another awesome thing about Winzer is that they’re actually a cooperative made up of over 800 smaller vineyards around Wachau. If you’re a wine lover on this same route you will love this excursion.
Beautiful Town of Krems Austria
Another option instead of the wine tour is to see the old town of Krems on your own. Krems is a gorgeous small town and part of the Unesco World Heritage area of Wachau.
We didn’t have time, but our friend John from In the Loop Travel recommended biking from Krems to Dürnstein. If we find ourselves back in the area we would 100% be up for this!
Sailing Through the Wachau Valley
While the views were spectacular everywhere along the Danube River, this was a highlight of our entire Riverside Cruise. Sailing through the Wachau Valley with castles, rolling green hills, and small vineyards felt like something out of a fairy tale.
From the moment we got back on the boat until dinnertime, we were on the top deck taking photos and enjoying the landscapes. We passed the magical small towns of Dürnstein and Spitz, and even saw the famous Aggstein Castle. I think this was the very moment we fell head over heels with river cruising!
Before this experience with Riverside Luxury Cruises we had only sailed on the sea in the Caribbean and Europe. Don’t get us wrong. Cruising through the Greek Islands is still loads of fun. Yet, you will often just be staring out at the vast ocean without as much to see between ports.
Just before dinner we were served a specialty Bellini made with local apricot juice and Prosecco. Apricots were in season during our trip and were something we couldn’t get enough of.
Dinner was on the Vista Deck as we continued to cruise along the river. We had everything from grilled camembert with figs to scallops in a mango sauce, and a prosciutto zucchini salad for starters.
The mains went above and beyond expectations with langoustines and perfectly grilled steak. For dessert we were served ice cream apricot dumplings which we are still thinking about to this day!
Day 5: Salzburg Austria Day Trip
The morning we pulled into Linz was a part of our Riverside Luxury Cruise we were most excited for. After a quick breakfast we boarded the bus for our day trip to Salzburg. It wasn’t the closest of places to get to as it took almost 2 hours by bus. Still, we can totally say it was worth the ride.
The first thing we did was take a tour of the city with a local guide. Christoph told us all about the history of Salzburg as we strolled around Old Town to some of its most famous sights. He even gave us some great tips for where to get lunch and drinks afterwards.
With just two hours of free time that afternoon, we wanted to make the most of every moment possible. We began by heading to University Square in front of Kollegienkirche Church where we grabbed a sausage from the street vendors.
After having a bite to eat, we jumped on the funicular to the top of the Hohensalzburg Fortress. While we didn’t have enough time to see the entire castle and its exhibits, it gave us one of a kind views of Salzburg and the surrounding mountains.
Our next move was to quench our thirst at the popular Sternbräu Beer Garden in the city center. On our way back we even stopped tried the Bosna which is a street food invented right here in Salzburg in 1949.
Two pork bratwursts are grilled and put in a long toasted bun with toppings of your choosing. We got the #2 with onions, parsley, spices, and mustard.
We were so happy the line had died down when we got to Balkan Grill as when we first passed there must have been 30 people waiting to try it! For more of the things to do in Salzburg be sure to check out our article below.
Tapas Dinner & Signature Event at Lentos Museum
After an epic day in Salzburg we returned to the boat and rested until dinner. On this night the chef prepared a tapas menu that had us feeling like we were back in Spain! Spain is one of our favorite countries in Europe and a place we’ve spent a lot of time over the past few years.
This was another time where Riverside Luxury Cruises showed off their culinary excellence. Our favorite part of dinner was trying the seafood and squid ink paella dishes.
Later that evening we were treated to a private viewing of Lentos Kunstmuseum Linz. Yes, this incredible art display was closed off just for our Riverside Cruise!
Our small group was guided around by the museum’s director as she explained the different pieces lining the walls. This signature event was such a great way to end our time in Linz and something we will always remember.
Day 6: Mauthausen & Grein
As we started day six, we couldn’t believe how much we had seen already with Riverside Luxury Cruises. We’d sailed through three different countries, seen so many historic sites, and tasted some of the best food and wine in Europe.
Keep in mind that this was all while aboard a luxury cruise ship! On this day we would be making two different Austria stops in Mauthausen and Grein.
We had a hard time deciding between the tours on the first leg so we decided to split up and see both. Jake went to Mauthausen Concentration Camp, while Brigitte head to historic Steyr. These excursions were both heavy and unique, and we were happy we got to experience both of them.
Around 1pm our boat took off and headed for the small town of Grien. We were a bit exhausted from the morning activities so we decided to stroll around the old town ourselves. Our walk took us up to Greinburg Castle where we had magical views of the town. We even spotted our Riverside Cruise ship from the castle grounds!
Dinner With Friends on Riverside Cruises
After another beautiful night taking in the views from the Vista Deck, we were back in the main dining room for dinner. On this evening, we ordered a la carte from the large menu offered. We started off with oysters, tried a delicious pesto pasta dish, and finished with a steak and vegetable medley.
We honestly hadn’t expected to make many friends on our trip up the Danube River. However, we enjoyed our conversations on the Vista Deck so much with fellow passengers that we had a group dinner with them that night.
Riverside Luxury Cruises makes for the perfect romantic holiday and to celebrate special occasions. The small boat provides an intimate setting, but it’s also easy to mingle with others if you’d like along your journey.
Day 7: Exploring Vienna Austria
Vienna is the capital of Austria and somewhere we’d been looking forward to go back to. On our first trip, we spent three days frolicking around the colorful streets. However, on the previous visit we missed out on the Schönbrunn Palace!
This trip we were so excited that there was an excursion being offered by Riverside Cruises. The 2 hour guided tour took us throughout the famous palace where we learned the history of the Royal Habsburg Family. After this, we had another hour to walk around the gardens and grab a Viennese coffee.
Since we were parked in Vienna overnight we had the rest of the day to see the city on our own. This may seem like a lot of time, but the capital of Austria has so much to see and do! We picked out a couple of our favorite food stops from last visit and wandered around old town.
Vintage Room Dining
After all the incredible food we ate on our Riverside Luxury Cruise, you may be thinking what else can there be? Well, our very last dinner was something we will certainly never forget! Riverside’s Vintage Room is a private table within the ship which you can reserve.
The 7 course meal blew us away from the very start, with appetizers like grilled portobello salad with goat cheese and yuzu risotto. We were even served a malossol caviar with gold flakes sprinkled on top.
The highlight for us was definitely the Tournedo Rossini with foie gras, sweet potato gratin, and shaved black truffle. We also tasted 5 different wines from the region that paired with each course.
To make the dinner even better, we were joined by the Cruise Director Sonja and Captain Bela. This was such a special experience and we highly recommend it to anyone sailing on the Riverside Mozart.
Would We Sail With Riverside Luxury Cruises Again?
Yes! If it wasn’t obvious from our article, we had an amazing time with Riverside Cruises. From the luxury amenities to the food and epic itinerary, it was truly a once in a lifetime experience. We’re already looking into their different Europe routes for our next Riverside river cruise!
The moment we stepped onto the ship in Budapest to the day we departed in Vienna, we were treated like superstars. The staff blew away our expectations in every aspect of customer service and even gave us some great local recommendations for each stop.
Don’t hesitate to book a Riverside Luxury Cruise if this sounds like you’re type of vacation! Also, be sure to read the article below for tips for your first river cruise in Europe.
Hopefully, this gave you an idea of what to expect on a Riverside Luxury Cruise. Most of all, we hope that you get to experience river cruising for yourself!
Brigitte & Jake
Where in the world are we? Follow our daily adventures on Instagram @nothingfamiliar!
This experience was made possible in partnership with Riverside Luxury Cruises. As always, any opinions and recommendations remain our own.
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Europe Travel Planning
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