One of the best aspects of river cruising is its nearly all-inclusive nature. All meals are included in the cost of your cruise fare and, on most lines, beer and wine are provided during set meal times. But even though you’ve paid for your meals up-front, you may want to enjoy a few meals off the ship.
So what do we like to head to shore for when it comes to dining? Here are some of our favorite culinary diversions along the Danube in Europe:
Goulash in Budapest
You can almost smell the paprika when you arrive in the Hungarian capital of Budapest. Maybe it’s the traditional spice that makes the Goulash so good, or perhaps it’s the sight of the historic Chain Bridge spanning the Danube. We’re not really sure. Either way, it’s worth popping off your ship to enjoy a sampling of this fantastic dish.
Beer in Bavaria
Germany’s Bavaria region is noted for its diverse array of frothy beverages. That’s the traditional, guidebook-style answer of why you should pop off your ship for a pint. The reality is that it’s just plain wonderful to sit at the Wurstkuchl — reportedly Germany’s oldest sausage house — in Regensburg. We like to sit while enjoying a pint of beer accompanied by a plate of bratwurst served up mit sauerkraut, with the sounds of the Danube rushing past.
Coffee in Vienna
Regardless of how many times we visit the beautiful city of Vienna, we always stop for coffee. And not at Starbucks, either — though Vienna does has more of those than you might think. No, our coffee-stops are multi-hour affairs conducted at some of the city’s numerous cafes.
Coffee in Vienna is a way of life. You grab a seat, enjoy one of many different kinds of coffee, maybe have a light breakfast, surf the internet (free Wi-Fi is abundant), or read the local paper. No one rushes you out. Our favorite pick: Café Central on Herrengasse 14 is the place to be — but get there early. After 10 a.m. it can be darn near impossible to get a table.
Wine in der Wachau
The Wachau Valley is noted for its wine production, so stopping and enjoying the fruit of the grape here is a no-brainer. But did you know the Wachau region is also noted for its apricot production, which in turn has given way to some of the most delicious apricot brandies you’re likely to taste?
Marillenbrand can be found nearly everywhere in places like Melk and Durnstein. In fact, both small towns host one of our favorite shops, Wieser Wachau. Apricot brandy, liqueurs, and fantastic gummy candies can be found here.
Those are but a few of our favorite culinary diversions ashore. Whether it’s drinks in a little café in Durnstein or a full meal in Vienna, it’s worthwhile to take the time to experience some of the local specialties in addition to enjoying the mainly inclusive nature of river cruising.