The Danube River weaves its way through 10 countries in Central and Eastern Europe. The source is in the Black Forest of Germany and from here it crosses through beautiful landscapes, capital cities and small villages until it reaches the Black Sea.
Flowing for some 2,850km it’s quite the challenge to cover the entire river so I’ve put together a guide to the best photography locations along the Danube from Budapest, Hungary to Nuremberg, Germany.
I sailed with Viking Cruises in December and we stopped at seven beautiful places along the Danube. Whether you’re travelling along the river by boat or visiting just one of the places below by plane, train or car, this is a collection of photo locations to capture that perfect image.
Each city or town has an interactive Google Map so you can click through and explore each location where you’ll find an image and description.
Known in Hungarian as The Halászbástya, Fisherman’s Bastion is located on the Buda bank of the Danube a short walk from Budapest Castle. A collection of seven towers connected by walkways and viewing platforms, it’s one of the best vantage points in Budapest. From here you can photograph the Parliament Building, capture panoramic shots of the city skyline or the details of the neo-gothic designs on surrounding structures.
The Hungarian Parliament Building is quite the stunner. Sitting on the Pest bank of the river, it’s intricate exterior creates the ideal subject for stunning photos in Budapest. To get a great shot of the entire building, either take a cruise down the Danube or just in front of the Hotel Novotel Budapest Danube on the Buda side you’ll find an excellent spot for sunset shots of the Parliament from across the river.
Széchenyi Thermal Bath
Colourful bright buildings and an aquatic wonderland await…be sure to take a waterproof camera so you can keep snapping in the baths! Test out the varying temperatures, attempt the very warm indoor pools, watch locals play chess amongst the steaming water or just soak up the sunshine and float around with your camera, a great place for split level water shots.
Dazzling with its twinkling lights over the Danube, Chain Bridge can’t be missed if you’re visiting Budapest. In the evening you can capture great slow motion shots of the traffic both crossing the bridge and the boats travelling under. Just beside Viking Pier on the Pest side you can get a great shot from under the bridge, otherwise, take a walk across it to soak it all in.
Sitting in the heart of the Buda Castle District, Matthias Church is pretty on the outside but on the inside, it’s all kinds of incredible! A rainbow of colourful frescoes blend with giant pillars and dim lighting that will have you capturing more ceiling shots that you ever have before. Be sure to take a wide angle lens so you can include as much of the interior beauty possible.
Opened to the public in 1823, Volksgarten is a beautiful park in the centre of Vienna. Changing with the seasons you’ll find beautiful blooms in Spring and summer then a misty, mysterious mood in the cooler months. In the middle of the park is Theseus Temple which makes a great subject to photograph!
Rathausplatz and Austrian Parliament Building
As Vienna’s Town Hall, the Rathausplatz is a striking building. In the day you can compose its impressive stature against the surrounding park and by evening capture slow shutter shots using the passing trams. Just next door along Ringstraße is the Parliament Building which covers a mighty 13,500 square meters.
Michaelerplatz is one of Vienna’s most beautiful and famous squares with an open air display of Roman ruins and the Hofburg Palace. You’ll find horse and carriages lining the square and at the entrance to the palace are beautiful arches that work really well in photos. Michaelertrakt, one of the more extravagant wings of the palace also looks great from Michaelerplatz. If you wander down Kohlmarkt Street then look back towards the square you’ll be able to capture a creative angle, especially in winter when fairy lights dangle above.
Natural History Museum
Walking through the doors you’ll be forgiven if you think it’s just like any other museum…but once you step through the entry gates look up. Even if you’re not into museums, the building alone is worth a visit! The dome ceiling in the entrance foyer is one thing, wander up the staircase and look up…you’ll have your camera out in 2 seconds once you see it. Beautiful lines, giant frescoes and of course unique historical objects, some up to 29,500 years old!
Kleeblattgasse + Street Scenes
Vienna is one of those cities where you need to keep your camera ready at every corner. Each lane, street, building or monument is photo worthy so be sure to wander the streets without a plan to discover some gems. One lane in particular I found was Kleeblattgasse, I’m not sure what it was; perhaps it was the window awnings or the colours but streets like this are all throughout the city centre.
St Stephen’s Cathedral
Outside there are horses and a multi-coloured tile roof, inside is a giant cathedral with Romanesque and Gothic detailing. The floor has a patterned red and white tile that runs the length of the cathedral and works great for a different perspective if you shoot a photo from the ground.
Sitting pretty on top of a hill overlooking the Danube River and Wachau Valley, Melk Abbey is bright yellow Benedictine abbey built in the early 1700’s. Photographs are only permitted inside for personal use so I couldn’t take any for the blog however outside is beautiful in its own right and I can never go past a yellow building without taking at least one photo! The courtyard is great for architectural shots and if you venture through the abbey on a tour, you’ll find yourself on a viewing bridge that overlooks the town of Melk, Danube and an alternate view of the abbey. Don’t miss the library either!
With town hall at one end and an entire street of colourful buildings, Hollgasse Street is prettiness ready to be photographed. It’s just one street away from the Danube and is on the way into the main town of Passau.
Stroll along the waterfront of the Inn River and capture the reflections of facades and churches. Passau sits between both the Danube and Inn Rivers which meet at the eastern end of the town. There are steps that lead all the way down to the river so here you can also attempt to capture some split level shots of the river bank or just feed the swans and birds!
Innkai to Innbruckgasse
To the east of Marienbruecke Bridge is a small road that leads under an archway between buildings. This cute little alley is great for capturing street scenes, be patient and locals will pedal past on bicycles.
St Stephen’s Cathedral
Surprisingly large inside, this baroque cathedral is bright white and home to the largest organ outside of the US.
Ludwigsteig + Veste Oberhaus
If you’re visiting Passau it’s essential to see this beautiful German city from above. Cross the Prinzregent-Luitpold Bridge and take the Ludwigsteig track up the hill. As you climb higher above the Danube the views get better and better. Veste Oberhaus is a fortress that sits on top of the hill, it has a great vantage point but if you’re hoping to stay amongst nature, follow the Ludwigsteig path until you reach an opening and a small pergola with seats. Here you will have views over Passau and both rivers, a great spot to photograph sunset and the colourful rooftops.
Inn River Sharding – Wernstein
The Inn River from Sharding to Wernstein is a peaceful stretch of still water with Germany on one side and Austria on the other. Passing the grand Kloster Vornbach abbey, forests and flocks of birds, a river cruise is the ideal way to see and photograph the area.
Dinea Rooftop Café at Galeria Kaufhof
If you skip the first 3 floors of shopping and take the lift right to the top, you’ll wander out to an open air deck that overlooks the entire city. Directly in front is Neupfarrkirche, the town square and as far as you can see are orange roof tops and the resident flock of pigeons that swoop around the deck every few minutes.
Thurn und Taxis
Surrounded by a beautiful garden setting, this castle is the princely home of the German noble family Thurn und Taxis. Each Christmas the garden paths are lined with ornate wooden huts and Christmas trees, it’s an enchanting setting well worth the entry fee. You can tour inside the castle which is lavishly decorated…my favourite was the exterior though!
Hotel Bischofshof am Dom
Technically this location is actually a car park for the Hotel Bischofshof am Dom however if you wander through the archway you’ll find a gorgeous little garden and door ways that look great in photos.
Domplatz + Domstrasse
Leading towards St Peters Cathedral this street features a number of monuments and subjects to photograph. A main thoroughfare for traffic but also for locals on bicycles and there are colourful facades with perfectly aligned windows.
With views over the city, Nuremburg Castle is ideal for long panoramic shots and zooming in on the roof tops of the city. The castle itself is worth wandering around for detailed shots of various facades and towers.
Weißgerbergasse (Tanner’s Lane)
It’s like stepping into a fairy tale when you stumble across Tanner’s Lane where leather making and tanning took place years ago. Coloured artisan half-timbered houses line the street and horse and carriages trot down the cobble stones.
The Pegnitz River splits into two to flow around Troedelmarkt, a small island filled with unique boutiques and stores selling wooden toys just near the centre of Nuremberg. At the end of the island you’ll see Henkerhaus which can be photographed from Maxbrucke Bridge. Visit during the day for blue skies over the river, or at night to take long exposure shots.
Nuremberg Street Scenes
Hauptmarkt Street between Sankt Sebaldus Kirche (St Sebaldus Church) and Rathausplatz works beautifully in images. While it’s a little busy, in the evening it’s great for long exposure shots especially if you’re patient enough to wait for a horse and carriage. At the bottom of the street you’ll find the square where the Nuremberg Chriskindlmarkt is held each year. For a great view over the square step inside Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady) and climb the spiral staircase to a viewing platform…when the Christmas markets are on the smell of Glühwein and sausages wafts up in clouds of festivity and lights twinkle below.
The route we sailed along the Danube is below…
To take a peek at all the details visit the Viking Cruises website.
The Wandering Lens was a guest of Viking Cruises but as always all opinions are my own and we visited a bunch of beautiful destinations that you can adapt to any travel itinerary whether it’s by boat, car, rail or plane.
Hello! I’m the founder and photographer behind The Wandering Lens. With 14+yrs experience as a professional travel and landscape photographer, all advice found on this site is from my personal experience on the road. I hope it’s useful for your own travels and would love to hear in the comments about your trips and experiences around the world.
I'm Lisa Michele Burns, a professional photographer and founder of The Wandering Lens from Australia. Welcome to your guide to photographing the world, improving your photography and scouting unique and inspiring places to experience with your camera. After three years online, The Wandering Lens has turned into the leading publisher of photography focused travel guides and I'm always so excited to hear from readers as they're travelling and improving their photos!