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Danube Cruises by Night

If you visit Budapest, you will not 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

9 min read

Danube Cruises by Night

Nocturo Cruise on the Danube River | ©Aapo Haapanen

The Danube River is the soul of this European city, besides being the point from where travelers 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 yourself with its beautiful postcards.

Here are my favorite options to enjoy the river and the landscapes of the city when night falls.

1. Danube cruises with dinner included

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

One of my favorite options, as I consider it very complete. When looking for tours and excursions in Budapest, or anywhere you visit, a delicious dinner will always be included. Gastronomy is undoubtedly one of the most important aspects to know a destination and to recognize 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 of the river.

What it usually includes:

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

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

Itinerary

While you share an evening full of flavors, you can enjoy the cruise through this city, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The cruise tour 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 38€ approximately, per person.
  • Panoramic cruise with capacity for approximately 100 people.
  • Advantages: dinner included.
  • Disadvantages: it may not be enough time to enjoy a dinner.

Undoubtedly a very complete alternative to take a look at the city, while enjoying a delicious and romantic dinner.

Night cruises on the Danube River

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

Margarita Bridge| ©Ralf Roletschek
Margarita Bridge| ©Ralf Roletschek

When the night comes to Budapest, some of the places in the city come to life and offer you another perspective of this enveloping destination. Therefore, opting for a sunset cruise can be an excellent alternative to welcome your evening, which can then continue with a delicious dinner in the surroundings.

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 you to take it in the late afternoon, so you can enjoy the colors of the sunset and you can appreciate the night illumination of the Parliament and all the magic of the night. Among what 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.

Being a quick cruise to get a glimpse of the night city that begins to bloom, these tours usually do not have a guide but they do offer audio guides in different languages and an explanatory brochure, with an extra charge, plus they offer you a welcome drink. A perfect option if you have walked during the day and want to relax a bit.

Summary

  • Duration approximately 1 hour.
  • Costs from 16 € approximately, per person.
  • Boat with capacity for 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 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 will probably find some bars to visit, such as the best ruin bars of the city or enjoy a gastronomic tour to taste delicious dishes and taste a good wine. How about doing this aboard a cruise ship and accompanied by the incredible night views of Budapest?

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

What's included

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

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

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

Summary

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

Night cruises on the Danube River

4. Budapest Night Tour and Closing Cruise on the Danube River

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

If you like walking this can be a good option and very complete. 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 organized for groups of no more than 15 people, which guarantees you quality time and the chance to learn more about this city from an expert.

The best part is the closing, because 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 close your day.

The cost of such an excursion can be from 40€. I find it a tempting option if you visit Budapest for 1 or 2 days, as you will have the opportunity to see the city on a privately guided tour and close your day by letting yourself be amazed by the night.

Summary

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

Night cruises on the Danube River

5. A spa day in Budapest with closing night cruise

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

The thermal waters of Budapest are undoubtedly one of its great attractions and therefore you will also find options to enjoy a delicious and relaxing spa day and then close with a flourish aboard 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, and 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 corners. The best thing is that in many cases includes priority tickets, without queue, to the spas of Entrada Szechenyi and Bagni Széchenyi, 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 70 € approximately, per person.
  • Boat for up to approximately 50 travelers.
  • 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 River

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 during the day and at night offers you many possibilities. From taking pictures of the main sights of the city at both times, to changing perspective and appreciating places that may come to life at night. With so much to see and do in Budapest, a night cruise is an excellent alternative.

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

From cruises with dinner included, quick tours to appreciate the sunset, to a relaxing cruise to close your day after enjoying a spa day, I tell you about some of the alternatives you have to enjoy the night magic of Budapest and live a romantic and vibrant experience that you will surely not 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 may change depending on the day. Generally the cruises take you on a walk along the most famous bridges of the city, such as the Chain Bridge, the Liberty Bridge and the Elizabeth Bridge. What I guarantee is that from any boat you will be able to enjoy the night illumination of the Budapest Parliament.

The panoramic tour 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.

From 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 place of accommodation and not having to travel to the starting point of the cruise.

In many cases the departure point is between the Széchenyi Chain Bridge and the Parliament (near the Shoe Monument). When you make your reservation you will receive all the information, 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.

Schedules of the night cruises in Budapest

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

If you choose the option with dinner, the schedules of the night cruises in Budapest start from 19:00 hours. The last evening city cruise is usually scheduled for no later than 22:30.

Keep in mind the schedules so that you can coordinate your itinerary for the day and have no problems to be at the appointed place and time to depart on your night 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 the cruise of your choice. This will allow you to better schedule your itinerary to be on time at the departure location.

  • 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 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 lookouts to capture those images you want to take back home. Although you won't be able to deny 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.