Soak up the royal history of Krakow’s Wawel Castle and step back in time with a stroll through the city’s medieval main square. Immerse yourself in the history, architecture and bohemian vibes of the Czech Republic. Step right into a fairytale in the World Heritage-listed town of Cesky Krumlov before soaking up the smooth sounds of jazz at a low-lit bar in Prague. So much of what is great about Europe can be found in Vienna. Revel in the city’s rich offerings of art, history and music and stroll along the eclectic Ringstrasse. Enjoy a scenic walk along the banks of the River Danube in Budapest. Threaded with bridges and hemmed in by castles and historic city buildings, Europe’s second longest river is also one of its most beautiful
Experience the best of this old-world region on a journey through enchanting Central Europe and Romania. Travel to Austria and be immersed in the country’s superb musical heritage and step back in time in the castles of the Czech Republic. Experience Polish traditions while exploring the romantic Old Town of Krakow and get active in Slovakia’s Tatra Mountains. Then Explore Hungary and Romania; from the beautiful Baroque churches of Budapest to the haunted castles of Transylvania. Learn about the failed Turkish invasion of Eger and take a wine cellar tour in the Valley of the Beautiful Women. Become acquainted with traditional Romanian culture and customs in Maramures. Tour the medieval churches of Brasov, dine with a local family on an overnight homestay in Viscri and visit Bucharest’s 12-storey Palace of Parliament. This epic journey through Central Europe and Romania gives a great insight in to that magical part of the world.
Breakfast Included: 20 Lunches Included: Dinner Included: 3
Welcome to Vienna, Austria. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. You can arrive at any time during the day as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Please confirm with the hotel reception where and when it will take place, or check the reception noticeboards. If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader. Vienna is a beautiful city, so if you arrive early make sure you go for a walk. Perhaps even take a spin on the famous old Prater Ferris Wheel. Use the evening getting to know your fellow travellers over dinner.
Your base for two nights in Vienna is Magdas Hotel – an accommodation that is unlike any other hotel you are likely to come across on your travels. Magdas Hotel is a social project bringing refugees from all over the world to work together in one place. Hotel is staffed with refuges so expect to hear different languages and different stories from all over the world. Also the building’s history is interesting – it’s a former old people’s home and homeless shelter which has been completely renovated. Most of the furniture is also re-cycled, renovated and re-purposed. The place is full of love, passion and unity. It’s full of colours and smiley faces. Magdas Hotel ‘brings together what belongs together’
Join your leader for a walk through the city's compact centre this morning (approximately 2 hours). Stop at the gothic looking St. Stephens Cathedral, wander past the neo-classical grandeur of the Graben and onwards to the Hofburg Palace. Finish your orientation of the city at the State Opera House, one of the world's most important opera houses and the heart of classical Viennese culture. Art lovers have a vast choice of museums, from the Albertina to those located in the Museum Quarter. You have the rest of today to explore Vienna and its surrounds. You might like to head out to Schoenbrunn for a guided audio tour of the summer palace, designed by Empress Maria Theresa. The Gloriette Monument has incredible views of Vienna and the palace gardens are free to all visitors, but there's a charge for entrance and tours of the palace. In the evening, perhaps head out for some Viennese cuisine.
Depart Vienna by minivan in the morning and cross the border into the Czech Republic (approximately 3.5 hours). Our first stop is the southern Bohemian town of Cesky Krumlov. This picturesque medieval town dates back to the 13th century and is straight out of a fairytale. Cesky Krumlov (pronounced 'Che-skee Krum-lov') means 'crooked meadow', which is befitting of a town that's nestled in a sharp bend of the Vltava River. Venture out on an included cycling trip in the afternoon, across rolling hills and through tiny hamlets (approximately 2-2.5 hours). If you have time, explore the city's castle and its fabulous masquerade hall, or climb the tower for aerial views of the town. For the active, there's the option to canoe or kayak down the river.
Today is a free for you to enjoy as you please. Perhaps take an optional guided walking tour of the town, which includes commentary of the mysteries that lie behind every shopfront and house on the crooked little streets. For those who want a bit more culture, and time permitting, visit the Egon Schiele Art Centrum and browse the gallery that's dedicated to the Austrian painter. If you are an adventurous spirit, jump in to a canoe and discover the town from a perspective of Vltava River.
Farewell this southern bohemian town and travel by bus to Prague (approximately 4 hours). During your stay in Prague, you'll have share the apartment with other members of the group. Several separate apartments are located in the city centre so you may be a short walk away from your other group members and your leader. Staying in the city centre allows easy access to all the sights and the restaurants and bars. Each apartment has two to three rooms with one or two shared bathrooms. Most of the apartments have fully equipped kitchens and you can choose to buy your own groceries and supplies for meals. On arrival into Prague, head out on an orientation walk with your leader, and spend the rest of your afternoon as you wish.
Today is free to explore Prague. The city offers many possibilities, so perhaps take a walk around the Jewish Quarter and pay respects at the Gothic looking Old Jewish Cemetery. This is Europe's oldest surviving Jewish cemetery, with 12,000 tombstones and 100,000 graves. Visiting The Museum of Communism can shade some light on this part of dark history shared by most of central European countries which somehow isn’t yet well known to the broader audience. Visiting town hall Clock Tower is a great way to finish off a busy day, before heading out for a dinner, and perhaps discovering another great side of Prague: the longest-standing and respected jazz scenes in Europe. If you should find yourself out until the early hours in an atmospheric jazz club, have a wander along Charles Bridge or Old Town Square as the sun rises for magical photo opportunities.
Spend some time this morning at Prague Castle, the biggest castle in the Czech Republic, where you'll find the famous St. Vitus Cathedral and colourful alleyway of the Golden Lane. A bike tour through the city is a great way to see a lot of the city's sights and attractions in a short period of time. If you can make time, take a day trip out of town and visit Kutna Hora. The Bone Church (Sedlec Ossuary) is a particularly unique experience. Perhaps use your evening to head out for dinner with the group.
Heading north by train, arrive in the small town of Broumov from where you'll cross the Czech–Polish border. From here you'll be transferred in a private vehicle to the nearby small village in range of Gory Sowie (translated as Owl Mountains). Today's travel time will be around four hours in total. On arrival, check in to our pension situated at the foot of highest mountain in the range – Wielka Sowa. On arrival, visit a nearby underground city from the tragic times of the II World War. Osowka is a mysterious underground complex where workers from concentration camps were forced to work in order to create huge systems of concrete corridors, fortifications and halls. As the work was kept in secret, until now there is many theories trying to explain what the underground city was meant to be used for. Find out yourself on an included guided visit this afternoon.
Continue east today by private bus and journey to Krakow (approximately 5 hours). Possibly the best known of all Poland's cities, Krakow was the residence of Polish kings from the 11th to the 17th centuries, and its Old Town is a World Heritage-listed site. Take part in leader led orientation walk and once you know your whereabouts, perhaps go and discover one of the biggest and arguably most beautiful medieval squares in Central Europe. Afterwards make your way to the Jewish Quarter and soak up the easy-going atmosphere of this place. In the evening, perhaps head out for some good Polish grub.
Today, explore the city in your own time. Discover Wawel Royal Castle, which sits atop a hill next to the Vistula River. Check out the 13th-century town square of Rynek Glowny and get a glimpse inside St Mary's Basilica which features an extraordinary wood-carved Gothic altarpiece. There's also the lovely neo-Gothic St Francis' Basilica, which has some of Poland's best Art Nouveau. In Krakow, you will also find the second oldest university in Central Europe (the oldest is in Prague). Jagiellonian Univeristy counts Copernicus and Pope John Paul II among its alumni. If you can tear yourself away from Krakow, head out to the Wieliczka Salt Mines, a network of tunnels and chambers some 135 metres below the ground. This is a salt mine that was in operation for over 700 year and is listed as the UNESCO world heritage site. The mine has a labyrinth of tunnels, pits, and chambers, all hewn by hand from solid salt, with beautifully adorned chapels and underground lakes. Don't miss a look at the elaborate salt chandeliers and carvings in the Blessed Kinga Chapel. Krakow has many cellar restaurants and pubs. Perhaps end the day indulging in a few drinks and a plate of pierogi in one of the city's cheerful establishments.
Say farewell to Krakow today and travel by local buses through southern Poland to Zakopane where you will switch on to a private transport (approximately 5 hours altogether). The trip may be long and a little slow, but the scenery of rolling hills and tiny villages is soothing. Tatranska Lomnica is your destination in Slovakia. It's a small alpine resort at the base of the Vysoke Tatry (High Tatra) Mountains. The Tatras, the highest range of the Carpathians, stretch for about 60 kilometres across the Polish-Slovakian border and are a trekker's dream. The evening is free for you to enjoy as you please. Perhaps the best way to do it is to sit back, kick your feet up and soak in the atmosphere of this beautiful mountainous region.
This morning head out on an included hike in the Vysoke Tatry mountains. The most known route is about 6km in length and it is normally completed in 3 hours, including stops on the way. The route includes gradual hill ascents and descents and walking on gravel and uneven rocky surfaces with some slippery sections. The pace and distance will be decided on the day, depending on weather and group abilities – parts of it will involve travelling by funicular, gondola and electric train. It's a good idea to bring a snack lunch with you for the day. It won’t be very challenging, but a basic level of fitness will help you to enjoy it to the fullest. An alternative and easier route can be suggested by the tour leader to those that do not wish to complete the long walk. We recommend a good pair of comfortable shoes and clothes for unpredictable mountainous weather. During the walk, you may notice that some parts of the forest have been destroyed. This was the result of a tornado-like storm in 2004 that decimated approximately 10,000 hectares of timberland. In the afternoon, head back to the accommodation and enjoy the remainder of the day in this beautiful location.