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9 diversely delightful Danube tour-boat operators in Budapest

Writers

  • Petra Berende

26/07/2016 1.51pm

During the summer season in Hungary’s capital, numerous tour boats set sail on the Danube to take passengers on buoyant excursions, and while some of the journeys are exclusively designed to showcase Budapest’s riverside attractions from an especially central perspective, several cruise companies offer trips with a twist, providing unique additional services. From historic sightseeing trips along the city’s downtown waterway to thrilling speedboat rides that split the river at 70km per hour to chic cocktail cruises, these nine tour-boat companies offer memorable voyages in Hungary’s capital.

Photo: Armada Budapest

Armada Budapest

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From ordinary sightseeing cruises to theatrical rides, Armada Budapest offers diverse possibilities for passengers to explore Budapest’s scenic beauty and immerse in the city’s rich heritage. Those who embark on Armada’s daytime cruise can marvel at many of Budapest’s famous landmarks that flank the river, including the Parliament, the Buda Castle, the Matthias Church, or the Citadel fortress, while anyone who fancies a truly moving performance can book tickets for the company’s Gourmet Showboat, bringing musical concerts and theatrical performances on board, all enhanced by a four-course dinner fiesta (9,900 forints per person).

Photo: Dunarama

Dunarama

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Step aboard the exclusive water limousine of Dunarama to soak in the views of magnificent landmarks on both sides of the Danube, while soaring above the current amid blasting music at 70km per hour – adrenaline-seeking sightseers who long for exhilarating adventures will cherish this speedy alternative to ordinary Danube cruises. In the first few minutes after the boat pulls away from the dock, the voyage seems placid yet pleasant... but once the captain takes us out into the (relatively) open water, we charge upriver full speed ahead, swerving back and forth while zipping past plodding passenger ferries, and even slaloming around the statuesque stone supports that hold up Margaret Bridge. Boat trips cost 50,000 forints for 50 minutes, or 25,000 forints for 25 minutes, which might seem expensive at first, but if we can gather 12 people and split the price, it’s well worth the extravagance.

EUrama Hop on Hop off Boat Tour

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To combine riverfront sightseeing with a convenient way to travel from downtown Budapest to the city’s premier parkland isle, the EUrama Hop on Hop off Boat Tour provides passengers with an especially useful service – for 3,000 forints, you can ride their vessel back and forth from Vigadó Square to Margaret Island multiple times over 24 hours. Along the way, all of the major Budapest landmarks are showcased with English and German audio guiding. What’s more, anyone who purchases a ticket for EUrama’s Giraffe Hop on Hop off City Tour bus service is entitled to ride the Hop on Hop off Boat Tour as well.

Photo: Hajoznijo.hu

Hajoznijo

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Take a breezy cocktail cruise on the Danube (2,390 forints per person) while sipping an intoxicating concoction made with secret ingredients aboard Hajoznijo’s vessels, plying the river between Margaret Bridge and Rákóczi Bridge to take passengers for admiring the city’s scenic landmarks. Besides the sweet-scented welcome drink, guests can order select potables at the bar on the deck, including wine, beer, coffee, and various soft drinks. In addition to the easygoing rides, the company has something in store for travelers who have long been dreaming about testing their skills as a captain of a passenger boat, and anyone can sign up for these brief training courses – this engaging program is currently offered at a discounted rate of 19,900 forints per person.

Photo: Juhász Norbert - We Love Budapest

Mahart

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The city’s Mahart riverboat services offer several daily round-trip voyages to visit historically significant riverfront towns, like the artistic village of Szentendre (3,000 HUF per person) and the monumental towns of Visegrád (3,750 HUF per person) and Esztergom (4,500 HUF per person). Travelers who embark on either of these daylong cruises enjoy panoramic rides from beginning to end, as the departing boats pass by famous Budapest landmarks like the , the , and the before progressing north. As a nice alternative to taking a day trip, Mahart offers one-hour leisurely cruises (2,990 forints per person) that take passengers between and Rákóczi Bridge, drifting by many of Budapest’s famous landmarks. During the trip, visitors can learn about the history of the Hungarian capital and several important details of key landmarks, provided by audio guides in 11 different languages. Mahart also operates nostalgia cruises (4,590 forints) and dinner cruises (8,990 forints) that are especially popular among mature passengers.

Photo: Operettaship

Operettaship

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From April through the end of October on every Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday, graceful opera music resonates across the Danube as the Operettaship steers away from the riverbank at Pest’s Vigadó Square at 8pm, returning to the dock at 10pm with a cheerful crowd. During this pleasant evening cruise, guests enjoy mellow tunes by Mozart, Strauss, Brahms, Verdi, or other renowned composers, while professional dancers perform vibrant folklore shows including Hungarian folk dance, step dance, or flamenco. During this intense two-hour program, guests are offered a smorgasbord of fine food, and during the performance breaks passengers can learn about the Hungarian capital’s architectural masterpieces with guides provided in the English, German, and Hungarian languages. This complete package costs 11,500 forints per person, but the melodic trip is also available without dinner at a price of 5,000 forints per person.

Photo: RiverRide

RiverRide

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Book a ticket for the city’s most uncommon conveyance to embark on a one-of-a-kind adventure with RiverRide. Aboard the company’s state-of-the-art amphibious bus, passengers are first provided with a guided tour along Budapest’s downtown streets, kicking off at Széchenyi Square before passing the Dohány Street Synagogue and many of the landmarks along Andrássy Avenue – but the real excitement starts when the bus approaches the riverbank and drives straight into the water, suddenly sailing away with the Danube currents. From here, the floating coach passes under the before drifting alongside the and the while approaching the , before it cruises back ashore to traverse the riverfront on its way back to Széchenyi Square. Tickets for this land-and-water adventure cost 8,500 forints per person.

Photo: Silverline Cruises

Silverline cruises

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Besides organizing ordinary Budapest sightseeing voyages (4,000 HUF per person) and daily trips to Szentendre (4,500 HUF per person for a return trip), Silverline Cruises offers diverse culinary rides with music and entertainment. Those who would like to immerse in a fine-dining experience amid live piano tunes while swaying with the gentle ripples of the river can book the Dinner Cruise and Piano Battle Show (15,500 HUF per person), where guests engage in a four-course feast followed by a unique concert as two professional pianists challenge each other on stage. Anyone who fancies an informal ride with food on board can opt for the Pizza and Beer Cruise (7,900 forints per person) – during this scenic 90-minute voyage, passengers can select slices among five different pizzas, while enjoying unlimited glasses of beer and soft drinks and soaking in the sparkling cityscape.

Photo: Juhász Norbert - We Love Budapest

Thetis

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Offering high-class private boat excursions around Budapest and to nearby riverside towns, the exclusive Thetis pleasure boat has been plying waters around the world for more than half a century. Featuring elegant white and mahogany hues, this divine yacht can accommodate 12 passengers at a time, and anyone on board can enjoy several facilities for chilling out in style, like indoor and outdoor lounge areas equipped with graceful dining tables, as well as a spacious sun deck with comfortable mattresses to recline on; what’s more, the boat is equipped with a small galley, a nice bathroom, and a dining room. The yacht is available to rent for a variety of occasions, including sightseeing trips in Budapest or upriver cruises to nearby waterfront towns, but the vessel can also be booked for private parties, dinner cruises, or wine-tasting events at a price of 60,000 forints per hour.

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