The Top Budapest River Cruises

The Hungarian capital of Budapest is beautiful from any angle, but for an unforgettable experience, take in the sights from a Budapest river cruise.

A visit to this remarkably romantic city can be made more fun, once you hop on a boat and sail down the Danube, which runs down the middle of Buda and Pest. From sumptuous dinner cruises with live music to cruises with premium craft beer or entertaining traditional Hungarian dances, you’ll be spoiled for choice when you are in the Hungarian Capital.

To help you with the decision, we’ve crafted a master list of some of the most frequented boat tours in the ‘Paris of the East'. Take in the magnificent grandeur from one of these Budapest river cruises and enjoy some of the best sights that Europe has to offer!

Why Book a Budapest River Cruise?

Photo Credit: Stanislav Akimkin

Unsurprisingly, river cruising is one of the quickest growing areas of tourism. The mixture of beautiful natural environments, breathtaking architecture, convenient travel, and varied shore excursion constantly attracts holiday makers. Budapest itself is a popular destination, in fact--the capital city won the Best River Cruise Port Award in 2014, beating out other cities such as Vienna, Prague, Bucharest, and Amsterdam!

The Danube is not just a river. It's a splendid showcase of picture-worthy world heritage sites chosen to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Some of the iconic landmarks you'll see are:

  • the royal palace of Buda Castle
  • Castle Hill
  • Hungarian Parliament
  • Matthias Church
  • Fisherman’s Bastion
  • Gellért Hill
  • Among others

After the destruction of World War II, Budapest is truly a rebuilt city. Almost every Budapest bridge that you'll sail under was once rubble, destroyed by the Nazis. Now completely rebuilt, sailing down the Danube is a way to see glittering Budapest in all of its glory; don't miss out on this experience!

When to Book a Budapest River Cruise?

Budapest can be breathtaking at any time of the year, so the date of your cruise really just depends on your preference.

Do you imagine long, leisurely days where you can sip cocktails in a summer breeze?

Or perhaps you can imagine yourself cruising past cheerful holiday lights before you warm up with mulled wine at one of the award-winning Budapest Christmas markets.

Either way, you won’t be disappointed!

What Kinds of River Cruises are in Budapest?

Photo Credit: Arndale

A river cruise is a way to enjoy spectacular views, whether you're dining on Hungarian cuisine, throwing down on the dance floor, or a little bit of both! There are day, night, and sunset cruises to fit everyone's travel itinerary and budget!

Daytime Cruises

For a great daytime cruise, consider the Danube Lunch and Cruise with Live Music.

Don't miss this chance to soak up some of the beautiful Budapest summer weather! Take in Budapest's panoramic views in full daylight while enjoying a delightful lunch.

Snap pictures of the iconic Chain Bridge and Parliament as your ship slides through peaceful waters. Treat yourself with an upgrade to a buffet lunch or a wine tasting session!

For more options, Silver Line Cruises offers a classic sightseeing cruise with a welcome drink, as well as a brunch cruise and a pizza and beer cruise.

If you’re looking for a budget-friendly daytime cruise, the public boat service by BKK is a great choice. This cruise costs less than €4 for unlimited rides per day. The boat service runs between the Vigadó Concert Hall and Margaret Island in a circle route. You can use this boat service either as a unique way to get from Buda to Pest or ride through all the stops to start and finish at the same place and treat it simply as river cruise.

Dinner Cruises

A romantic dinner cruise is one of the best ways to spend a night in Budapest with your love. Legenda City Cruises offers a Candlelit Dinner Cruise that's perfect for the occasion. Hungarian musicians are also on board to add a traditional ambiance to your amorous evening.

Budapest River Cruise offers different variations on a dinner cruise. Listen to pleasant music during a piano dinner cruise, raise a glass during a craft beer cruise/7-tier wine cruise, or take in some classic Hungarian culture during a folk dinner cruise. Visit their site to see even more evening cruise offerings.

Day Trip Cruises

Going on a Budapest river cruise is, without doubt, one of the best ways to see the city but it's also a way to see some of the surrounding area.

Cruising up the river is one of the most efficient ways to get to Szentendre, a medieval town north of Budapest, and one of the gems of Hungary. Stroll through the colorful 18th-century streets and look at the works of modern Hungarian artists. Take home a piece of history for you, and then be back in time for a tour of Budapest by the evening!

Party Cruises

Photo Credit: partybookersbudapest via Instagram

Partybookers Budapest offers one of the most popular party cruises in the city. Each cruise starts with a pre-party where you can purchase unlimited drinks for Power Hour. The friendly guides then escort the group to the boat where you spend approximately the next two hours partying, sightseeing, and enjoying the unlimited bar.

Afterward, the guides lead the group to one of Budapest's most iconic clubs for an after-party. These are popular for young weekend visitors, bachelor/bachelorette parties, or anyone who wants to dance the night away on the Danube.

During their busier seasons, they've been known to offer daytime cruises for those who can't wait to get the party started, as well as sunset river cruises. Check their offerings here.

If you want to continue the party after the cruise ends, head to a famous ruin bar club such as Fogás, Ötkert, or Doboz.

Overnight Cruises

Photo Credit: mori_massimiliano via Instagram

Did you know that Hungary's Danube River runs through 10 countries? This gives you ample opportunity to have an international adventure, all from the comfort of your cruise ship. Popular routes cruise Austria, Germany, and the Czech Republic as well as Hungary. You could even take yourself south to Croatia afterwards for some seaside fun.

There are many benefits to booking an overnight Danube river cruise, such as:

  • A portable hotel: On these cruises, your hotel floats along with you! No need for constant packing and unpacking, or to drag your luggage from country to country. This is a time saver as well--no need to wake up early to get to a train station or airport.
  • All-inclusive options: Many cruises offer all-inclusive options, which means once you get on board, the bulk of your food, and even some tours and activities are included.
  • Travel companions: When traveling on a cruise, you have built-in travel buddies. You're all visiting the same destinations together and are basically on the same schedule.

Some popular European cruise providers with Budapest routes are:

Viking Cruises: Thanks to its growing list of awards, Viking Cruises is quickly becoming the most popular method of cruising the Danube. Get on board one of their "longships", complete with spacious suites and tempting terraces that make outdoor dining a real treat. With a wide range of itineraries and prices, you should be able to find the perfect cruise that works for you.

Avalon Waterways: When you're cruising down a river as scenic as the Danube, you'll want to enjoy the visuals as long as you possibly can. Enter...Avalon Waterways and their floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall windows. Everything about this vessel screams comfort, from the L'Occitane bath accessories waiting for you in your private bathroom to your spacious bed and ample closet space (which is waiting to be filled up with souvenirs!). Avalon Waterways' shore excursions provide flexibility depending on your travel style, offering “traditional", "leisurely", or “independent” choices for your exploration.

AmaWaterways: We've often found that family-owned companies love to spoil you as if you're part of the family--and AmaWaterways is no exception. The cruise company makes a point to provide an exceptional experience on all fronts--from delectable food and wine to elegant décor to truly breathtaking stateroom views. To sweeten the deal, your ticket includes shore excursions (and those excursions often include bike tours), so you can conveniently explore different destinations as you sail down the river. Fares also include onboard dining, even at their specialty restaurant, The Chef's Table.

The cruise company launches new ships and routes regularly, making sure that adventurous souls have plenty of options to choose from.

Unique River Cruises

Photo Credit: redjet

There's more to do on the Danube besides dining or dancing. For a Budapest river cruise that's a little out of the ordinary, check out:

Red Jet.: This tour is perfect for those who like their sightseeing with a little (or a lot) side of adrenaline. This 30 minute, high speed water ride will zip you up and down the Danube at breakneck speeds. Admittedly, you probably won't have time to take leisurely photos of the Budapest skyline, but you'll have a different kind of fun. The tour provides a splash coat and trousers, but dress to get wet, just in case. Book this tour for a white-knuckled thrill!

River Ride: If you can't choose between sightseeing from land or water, this is the tour for you. You can do both! The River Ride bus starts with a tour on land around some of Pest's more famous sites before splashing into the Danube for a change of scenery. Go from land to water and back to land again for a truly unique Budapest experience.

Bonus Tip!: If you want to cruise the river on a budget, there's a little-known way to do it! The Budapest transport ticket covers the public boat as well. This no-frills approach is certainly the cheapest way to see the city from the water. Since it's part of public transportation, there won't be any food or entertainment, but with a sunset view over the river, what more do you need?

Must-Sees in Budapest

Whether you have a day or week in Budapest staying at a vacation rental home, there are some things you cannot miss!

Make the most of your time on shore and visit Parliament, St. Stephen's Basilica, Buda Castle, the Budapest Opera House, and the Fisherman's Bastion. You can also take yourself on a walking tour of all the most beautiful Cathedrals in the city. When you get hungry, try out some of the best Hungarian food, like a large plate of chicken paprikash or a bowl of gulyás, and don’t forget to walk it down with the classic Hungarian spirits of pálinka or unicum.