The inspiration behind the famous waltz by Johann Strauss, it’s no surprise that music flows through the waters of the legendary ‘Blue Danube’. To hit the high notes why not take a themed cruise based around the region’s famous composers?

1. Cruise with a classical expert

Many of the world’s most famous melodies originated from the shores of the Danube and Bratislava, Passau, Linz and Vienna were all on the itinerary of the Mozart family, when young Wolfgang was made his debut in 1762.  Classical music specialist Jeannette Biesbroeck will join Titan’s new seven-night Classical Music Along the Danube itinerary to share her passion for music whilst discovering the beautiful cities where composers found their inspiration. The cruise aboard MS Bellejour includes concerts and a tour of Budapest’s beautiful Hungarian State Opera House.

From £1,499pp departing October 14, 2019. (0808 250 6361;

2. Conduct your own orchestra

Fancy yourself as the next André Previn or Simon Rattle? Well now you can raise a baton and conduct your own orchestra. The unique experience is available on Avalon’s week-long Active Discovery cruises and the fun and informative masterclass is suitable for all musical abilities including complete beginners – and you get to keep your baton as a souvenir. The exhilarating session with members of the Vienna Supreme Orchestra is followed by a classical waltz and operetta concert.

From £2,140pp with 2019 departures on selected dates from April to October, 2019. (0330 058 8243;

A recital organised by Avalon Waterways
A recital organised by Avalon Waterways

3. Sound of music

Musical highlights on the Danube section of APT’s 14-night Magnificent Europe itinerary from Amsterdam to Budapest include an exclusive evening at the grand City Palace in Vienna owned by the princely family of Liechtenstein. After a cocktail reception members of the Mozart Boys’ Choir perform masterpieces by Mozart and Strauss. In Linz passengers can join a day excursion to Salzburg where the city tour takes in sights immortalised in Rogers and Hammerstein’s classic film The Sound of Music.

The itinerary is available from March to December, 2019, from £2,795pp. (0800 046 3002;

Mirabell Palace and Gardens, in Salzburg, which featured in the Sound of Music

Salzburg, location for The Sound of Music, is a popular Danube cruise stop Credit: Tourismus Salzburg

4. Magical Mozart

At the age of six Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart played for Empress Maria Theresa at Vienna’s Schönbrunn Palace. Shearings’ Danube Symphony itinerary, available with coach or air travel, features a visit to the magnificent palace where the child protégée discovered his great talent along with a trip to Salzburg where he was born in a Baroque townhouse that’s now a museum.

From £1,514pp for 11 nights departing by coach on July 7 and August 4, 2019, or £1,624pp for eight nights departing July 9 and August 6, 2019, including flights. (0344 874 8220;

Vienna's Schonbrunn Palace
Vienna’s Schonbrunn Palace Credit: Getty

5. Sail with musical maestros

Walk in the footsteps of classical greats including Mozart, Beethoven, Bartók, Schubert, Liszt, Strauss, Haydn and more on Tauck’s immersive 11-night musical cruises. Excursions include visiting composers’ homes, attending recitals in concert halls where they performed and seeing Budapest’s Museum of Music History. Each of these special sailings is accompanied by a musical maestro, all of them active historians and performers, who host interactive workshops and seminars on board the ship and lead the shore excursions.

From £5,490 departing May 27, August 26 and October 7, 2019. (0800 810 8020;   

Mozart's birthplace in Salzburg

Mozart’s birthplace in Salzburg Credit: Getty

6. Impressive pipes of Passau

The pretty German town of Passau, situated at the confluence of the Danube, Inn and Ilz rivers, is also famous for the mighty organ in St Stephan’s Cathedral.  The world’s largest church organ has 17,774 pipes and 223 registers and passengers on Crystal’s nine-night round trip from Vienna are treated to a rousing concert. In Budapest there’s a private evening concert in the glass-roofed courtyard at Buda Castle’s history museum featuring a talented string trio playing a blend of classical and contemporary music.

From £3,672pp with departures from March to November, 2019. (020-7399-7601;

The world's largest church organ in St Stephan's Cathedral, Passau
The world’s largest church organ in St Stephan’s Cathedral, Passau Credit: Getty

7. Recitals on the river

Saga’s 10-night Classical Music on the Danube trip is accompanied by a musical host and begins with a three-day stay in Vienna followed by a music-themed cruise on Fila Rheni II chartered exclusively for Saga. Excursions take in Ansfelden, the birthplace of the composer Anton Bruckner, and a visit to the Bruckner Museum, plus a concert in Budapest. Back on board there’s a performance by members of the Budapest Operetta and recitals by the host reflecting the musical styles of the destinations visited.

From £1,879pp departing October 18, 2019. (0800 300 400;

Interior of the Hungarian State Opera House
The Hungarian State Opera House in Budapest Credit: Getty

8. Christmas Markets and music

Jules Verne is chartering CroisiEurope’s MS Vivaldi for four and five-night musical itineraries. The programme includes a private Schubert concert at Vienna Woods where he composed The Linden Tree,…


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River cruises for music lovers
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