Is it dangerous to travel on the river Danube in Budapest?

During the summer of 2019, a terrible accident happened on the river Danube as a ship with more than 20 passengers sank after a collision with another boat. This leads many people to ask whether or not it is actually safe to do a river cruise in Budapest? Here you will find the answers and the information you need!

If you have ever seen a picture of Budapest, you have most likely seen the beautiful Danube as well. It is amazing as it divides the city of Budapest into Buda and Pest, and it can be crossed on one of many bridges. The most famous of the bridges is the Chain Bridge, the first bridge that was built. It was finished in 1849. But, do you know why it took such a long time for a bridge to be constructed at all? Because of the current! There is so much water floating down the river at all seconds, making it a much harder river to control than, for example, the Charles Bridge in Prague (a bridge that was built more than 500 years earlier).

Budapest by night - a beauty for the eye and for the soul!
River cruise in Budapest – is it safe?

There is a lot of water passing by at any second, and the normal rate is somewhere between 2500-3000 m3 per second. But, in times of flooding (which it was during the time of the accident), the amount of water can increase to around 6000 m3 per second. The most extreme amount ever measured was more than 10,000 m3 per second.

Swimming in the Danube

The quality of the water in the Danube has improved lately, and at some locations, people do swim in the Danube. But, that is not in the main river, but at smaller extensions of the river without the strong current. There is an annual competition in Budapest where one can swim across the Danube by the Liberty Bridge, but every single participant is followed by a boat in order to be able to pick them up in case they do not manage. In other words, if you do not have great swimming skills, the Danube can be a really scary river.

If you are a great swimmer, it can still be dangerous, especially close to the bridges where underwater currents can pull you down towards the bottom before you are pressed towards the surface once again. During normal circumstances, the deepest parts of the Danube within the borders of Budapest is around 6 meters deep. But, when the river floods, it can easily reach 10 meters and more.

The conclusion is: Do not swim in the Danube when in Budapest, do not even try to swim, and warn any others that even consider getting close to the river.

River Cruise Budapest

What about a river cruise in Budapest?

There are many river cruises available in Budapest, and lots of companies working with providing awesome tours that give tourists fantastic memories. You never hear much about them, simply because they get no attention, and because there are no accidents. The only time you hear about them is when something happens. Luckily, that is very seldom, and that is why you never heard about it before the accident on May 29th in 2019.

As long as you stay on the ship (and not in the water), there is no problem and no need to worry before you board a river cruise in Budapest. The ships are also well equipped, meaning there are safety vests available for all passengers. During the accident on May 29th, things went so fast that they didn’t have time to get any such equipment. The accident was caused by human error, something that might just as well happen on a bus, in a taxi, or in an airplane.

The conclusion is: You shouldn’t worry at all about taking a river cruise in Budapest. It is very safe, the boats are controlled and well-equipped, and it will give you a memory for a lifetime as you enjoy the view and the food/drinks served on board.

Maybe it sounds dangerous considering the strong current. Of course, it does. But, doesn’t it sound dangerous to sit in a box of metal at 10,000 meters? Wouldn’t be fund to fall out from there either, would it? In other words, stay on the plane and stay on the boat, and you will be safe and have an enjoyable time!

What are your thoughts/questions?

These are some pure facts and thoughts related to whether or not it is safe to go on a river cruise in Budapest. Do you have some experience that you would like to share? Or do you have a question related to the river Danube or some specific river cruise in Budapest? Write your question or comment in beneath!

One thought on “Is it dangerous to travel on the river Danube in Budapest?

  • I went on a riverboat cruise in Budapest in 2015. It was amazing ❤️ great food and a beautiful city to see from the river. Would highly recommend it. We felt as safe as we would anywhere else!

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