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Danube Cruises by Night

If you visit Budapest, you won't be able to avoid the temptation of taking an incredible night cruise on the Danube River. I'll tell you all about it so you can include this plan in your itinerary.

Carolina Morales

Carolina Morales

8 min read

Danube Cruises by Night

Cruise Nocturo on the Danube River | ©Aapo Haapanen

The Danube River is the soul of this European city, as well as being the point from which travellers are located in the Hungarian capital, as the river separates Buda and Pest, the two symbolic buildings of the city. Taking a cruise in Budapest, both during the day and at night, will be the perfect opportunity to see the city and delight in its beautiful postcards.

Here are my favourite options for enjoying the river and the city's scenery after dark.

1. Dinner cruise on the Danube River

Danube River Cruise| ©FreeShoupJose
Danube River Cruise| ©FreeShoupJose

One of my favourite options, as I consider it very complete. When looking for tours and excursions in Budapest, or anywhere you visit, a delicious dinner is always included. Gastronomy is undoubtedly one of the most important aspects to get to know a destination and to recognise part of the history and tradition of a culture. Budapest is no exception.

Many of the Danube cruises offer dinner included, with a haute cuisine experience, as a perfect complement to the panoramic view along the river.

What it usually includes:

  • Buffet style dinner.
  • Drinks such as wine and/or Hungarian sparkling wine.
  • Live music.

The type of dinner and entertainment on board, as well as the length and route may vary according to the cruise you decide to take.

Itinerary

While you share an evening full of flavours, you can enjoy the cruise through this UNESCO World Heritage City. The cruise route may include passing through:

  • Buda Castle Quarter.
  • Chain Bridge (Clark Adam Square).
  • Gellért Baths.
  • Gellért Hill, with its Statue of Liberty.

Summary

  • Duration approx. 2 hours.
  • Costs from approximately €38 per person.
  • Panoramic cruise with capacity for approximately 100 people.
  • Advantages: dinner included.
  • Disadvantages: may not be enough time to enjoy dinner.

Definitely a very complete alternative to give you a glimpse of the city, while enjoying a delicious and romantic dinner.

Danube Night Cruises

2. Enjoy Budapest's sunset with a fast cruise on the Danube

Margaret Bridge| ©Ralf Roletschek
Margaret Bridge| ©Ralf Roletschek

When night falls in Budapest, some of the city's sights come alive and offer you another perspective of this all-enveloping destination. That's why opting for a sunset cruise can be an excellent way to welcome your evening, which can then continue with a delicious dinner in the surrounding area.

This quick cruise option can usually take 1 hour, giving you an evening sightseeing tour for a glimpse of the magic that awaits you at night in Budapest.

This quick sightseeing cruise usually has a fairly active frequency, so you can take it at any time of the day. In this case I recommend taking it in the late afternoon, so you can enjoy the colours of the sunset and appreciate the night illumination of the Parliament and all the magic of the night. Among the things you will be able to see are included:

  • The famous buildings along the river. The beautiful banks of the Danube are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Margaret Bridge.
  • Buda Castle.
  • Hungarian Parliament building.
  • Pesti Vigado.
  • Castle Garden.
  • Gellert Hill.
  • Citadel
  • The Whale.

As a quick cruise to get a glimpse of the night city as it begins to bloom, these tours are usually unguided but do offer audio guides in different languages and an explanatory booklet, for an extra charge, plus a welcome drink. A perfect option if you've walked during the day and want to relax a bit.

Overview

  • Duration approx. 1 hour.
  • Costs from approximately €16 per person.
  • The boat can hold approximately 20 people.
  • Advantages: you take advantage of the best time to see the sunset and the illumination of the Parliament.
  • Disadvantages: it can be a short time.

Night cruises on the Danube

3. Night cruise with an exquisite selection of wine and other beverages

Boarding the Cruise| ©Dennis Jarvis
Boarding the Cruise| ©Dennis Jarvis

Among the best tours and excursions in Budapest, you are likely to find yourself visiting some of the city' s best ruin bars or enjoying a gastronomic tour to savour delicious dishes and taste some fine wine. How about doing this on board a cruise ship and taking in the amazing night views of Budapest?

This type of cruise can last approximately 2 hours and include live music. This is an option for those looking for a more lively evening and of course for lovers of wine and other beverages such as beer.

What's included

With approximate costs starting from 12€, you can access to:

  • Wine tasting with a selection of up to 7 wines.
  • Craft beer, with up to 5 local beer specialities to try.
  • Signature cocktails and other drinks.

Some cruises of this type offer transfers once the tour is over so that travellers can enjoy themselves to the fullest without any worries.

Summary

  • Duration approximately 2 hours.
  • Costs from approximately €12 per person.
  • Panoramic cruise with a maximum capacity of approximately 200 passengers.
  • Advantages: in many cases includes transport to and from the accommodation.
  • Disadvantages: may not be enough time to enjoy the variety of wines and beers.

Night Cruises on the Danube

4. Budapest Night Tour and Closing Danube Cruise

Buda Castle as seen from the Cruise| ©Dennis Jarvis
Buda Castle as seen from the Cruise| ©Dennis Jarvis

If you like walking this is a good and very complete option. This type of cruise starts with a walking tour of Budapest, and ends with a one hour cruise on the majestic Danube.

In most cases it includes an English-speaking guide who will show you the best of the city. This is a comfortable alternative that is organised for groups of no more than 15 people, guaranteeing you quality time and the chance to learn more about the city from an expert.

The best part is the closing, as the tour ends with a night cruise to appreciate what is known as the Paris of the East. Take pictures of the illuminated city and enjoy a complimentary drink to end your day.

Costs for such an excursion can start at €40. I think this is a tempting option if you are visiting Budapest for a day or two, as you will have the opportunity to see the city on a privately guided tour and end your day with a night to marvel at.

Summary

  • The walking tour takes 2 hours on average
  • On board the cruise ship 1 hour.
  • Costs from approximately €40 per person.
  • This option is for groups of maximum 15 people.
  • Advantages: You have 2 in 1, as you walk around the city with a guide and then enjoy the cruise.
  • Disadvantages: The walk can be tiring.

Night cruises on the Danube

5. A spa day in Budapest with closing evening cruise

SPA in Budapest| ©Sandra Cohen
SPA in Budapest| ©Sandra Cohen

Budapest's thermal waters are undoubtedly one of its great attractions and that's why you'll also find options to enjoy a delicious and relaxing spa day and then close the day on a night cruise.

The Széchenyi Spa is the largest public bath in Budapest. With 18 indoor and outdoor pools, as well as steam baths and saunas under baroque-style domes. You can spend a day in this sophisticated place, then finish relaxing your muscles on an evening cruise with dinner and drinks included.

A complete and relaxing option that you can enjoy on your last day in Budapest, after having toured the city and explored all its nooks and crannies. The best thing is that in many cases it includes priority entrance, without queuing, to the Szechenyi Entrance and Bagni Széchenyi spas, the two most popular in the city.

Summary

  • Approximately 30 to 45 minutes at the Széchenyi Spa.
  • Duration of 2 to 3 hours on average.
  • Costs from approx. € 70 per person.
  • Boat for max. approx. 50 travellers.
  • Advantages: you enjoy some of the most popular spas in the city.
  • Disadvantages: The itinerary can be tight with little time at each of the spas.

Night cruises on the Danube

Why take a night cruise in Budapest

Budapest Dinner Cruise| ©Top Budapest
Budapest Dinner Cruise| ©Top Budapest

There is no doubt that seeing a city like Budapest by day and by night offers many possibilities. From taking pictures of the main sights of the city at both times, to changing your perspective and seeing places that may come alive at night. With so much to see and do in Budapest, a night cruise is an excellent alternative.

If you're planning to visit the Budapest Parliament, you won't want to miss its beautiful illumination at night either. A night cruise on the Danube offers that, plus delicious dinners, wine, live music and the company of other travellers who, like you, want to explore one of **Europe'**s most beautiful cities.

From dinner cruises, to quick sunset cruises, to a relaxing cruise to end your day after a day at the spa, here are some of the alternatives you have to enjoy the magic of Budapest's nightlife and live a romantic and vibrant experience you won't forget.

What is the route of the Danube cruises?

Chain Bridge| ©Gabriel Miklós
Chain Bridge| ©Gabriel Miklós

It depends on which cruise you take. Also the night tour can change depending on the day. Generally the cruises take you on a tour of the city's most famous bridges, such as the Chain Bridge, the Freedom Bridge and the Elizabeth Bridge. What I can guarantee you is that from any boat you will be able to enjoy the night illumination of the Budapest Parliament.

The sightseeing also includes Buda and Pest, the two ends of the river with its two landmarks, the Buda Castle in Buda and the Hungarian Parliament on the Pest side.

Where to take a night cruise in Budapest

Cruises on the Danube| ©Raimond Klavins
Cruises on the Danube| ©Raimond Klavins

It will also depend on which option you choose, as in some cases you will have the alternative of being picked up from your accommodation and not having to travel to the cruise departure point.

In many cases the departure point is between the Széchenyi Chain Bridge and the Parliament (near the Shoe Monument). You will receive all the information at the time of booking, in case you have to travel to the departure point on your own. Don't worry, mobility and distances in Budapest will not be a problem for you.

Timetables of the night cruises in Budapest

Under the Margaret Bridge| ©Don DeBold
Under the Margaret Bridge| ©Don DeBold

If you choose the dinner option, Budapest's evening cruise times start at 19:00. The last evening city cruise is usually scheduled for no later than 22:30.

Please note the times so that you can co-ordinate your itinerary for the day and have no problems being at the appointed time and place to depart on your evening cruise.

Tips for your night cruise on the Danube River

Budapest Parliament Illuminated| ©Dennis Jarvis
Budapest Parliament Illuminated| ©Dennis Jarvis
  • Book in advance and check the departure times of your chosen cruise. This will allow you to better schedule your itinerary to be on time at the departure point.

  • The Budapest Parliament is not usually illuminated on Sundays, so it may be best to take your evening cruise on a different day so you don't miss out on the wonderful postcards it has to offer.

  • My recommendation is that if you have the time and feel like it, take the Danube cruise in the daytime as well, so you can get both perspectives of the city.

  • Enjoy the views before spending the time taking pictures. Then you can go to places like viewpoints to capture those images you want to take back home. Although you won't be able to resist the temptation to take a postcard of the illuminated Parliament, I advise you to relax and enjoy the walk.

There are many Danube cruise options available to you. Choose yours according to what you like best and what kind of entertainment and activities you want on board. This tour is sure to leave you with travel memories that you can come back to again and again.