Dine on regional flavours with a sommelier-guided tasting in the cellar of Buda Castle, a sampling of smoked Oscypek cheese near the Polish border, vodka tasting in Krakow and more.. Delve deeper into history in Cesky Krumlov during a storytelling session at a secret location, where you can sip wine as you listen to tales of medieval intrigue.. Discover vistas of waterfalls and wildflowers during a guided hike in the High Tatras Mountains, then return to your luxurious Alpine hotel to relax.. The cobblestone streets and winding alleys of Central Europe are perfect for exploring in a small group. Let a local guide you through cities like Prague, Vienna, Krakow and more.
From their Bohemian roots to the best of Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Art Nouveau, these Central European countries offer such a rich tapestry of culture and history – to say nothing of the world-class cuisine and breathtaking natural beauty. Explore mysterious castles, visit colourful small villages, tackle mountain trails and taste exquisite local food and wine on this winding detour from Prague to Berlin.
Breakfast Included: 17 Lunches Included: 2 Dinner Included: 4
Ahoj! Welcome to Prague. A complimentary transfer is included with your trip. There are no activities planned on your first day other than a welcome meeting at 6 pm and group dinner that follows. Get to know your fellow travellers and leader over a meal.
Take the opportunity to explore the City of a Hundred Spires on a guided tour and experience its melange of narrow streets, churches, halls and cathedrals. Note the contrast between the grand Middle Ages architecture and buildings like Frank Gehry’s Dancing House – also known as Fred and Ginger – on the banks of the Vltava. Afternoon and evening are free for you to enjoy as you please, whether it be exploring the collection of historic buildings, museums and galleries inside Prague Castle, wandering through the Jewish Quarter or strolling over the beloved Charles Bridge after sunset. As night falls, you'll see a completely different side of Prague. After dark, you'll see a completely different side of Prague as the Old Town comes alive with underground taverns and other nightlife.
Depart Prague by private minibus today and travel to another Bohemian town – Cesky Krumlov (approximately 3 hours). The name of the town translates literally to 'crooked meadow', thanks to the town’s location in the sharp bend of the Vltava River. This 13th-century city is a feast for the eyes, with a fairytale-like castle perched on a hill that looms over the town below. Explore its winding cobbled lanes and Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture on a guided walking tour. In the late afternoon or early evening, you will enjoy a storytelling session at a hidden location. Sip on sparkling wine while listening to thrilling legends of murders, plots and romances in medieval Cesky Krumlov.
Today is free for you to enjoy as you please. Perhaps have another walk around the town and extend it by climbing the castle's tower for expansive views or even go on an optional guided tour of the castle. Alternatively, explore the surrounding countryside by bicycle, visiting tiny hamlets and crossing rolling hills (approximately 2 hours). If there is time, and if the weather holds, an equally enticing option is a canoe or raft trip on the portion of the Vltava that winds through town (approximately 2–3 hours).
Travel to Vienna by minivan (approximately 3.5 hours). Vienna is a cosmopolitan city with the air of a rich cultural heritage and golden past. It is also known for its delicious culinary delights. Enjoy a guided walking tour of the city. This will take you from the Gothic splendour of St Stephens Cathedral to the neo-classical grandeur of the Graben, and then on to Hofburg Palace, where Habsburg emperors once resided in winter. You will have the opportunity to rest and enjoy the beauty of the monument dedicated to Empress ‘Sisi’ Elizabeth in the Volksgarten. From here you will journey on to the Ringstrasse. Your walking tour will come to an end at the State Opera House, one of the most important opera institutions in the world, home to the heart of classical Viennese culture. The rest of the afternoon is yours.
Today is free for you to explore Vienna's many possibilities, aided by your included 24-hour transport ticket. Art enthusiasts can choose from several great museums, from the Albertina to the vast array found in the Museum Quarter. You might like to climb the 343 steps to the top of the tower of St Stephen's Cathedral. Schoenbrunn Palace is well worth a visit and has a guided audio tour. Another excellent way to enjoy the afternoon is to take a spin on the Prater Ferris Wheel. Regroup in the evening to share anecdotes over an included dinner in a traditional Viennese wine tavern.
Leave Vienna and head to Budapest by private minivan (approximately 4 hours). Budapest has truly come into its own since the collapse of the Iron Curtain. Its beautiful grand boulevards and opulent architecture evoke an old-world charm, while the plethora of new-age stores and restaurants lend it an air of cosmopolitan elegance. In the late afternoon, take part in an included guided tour of Budapest; visit a cellar underneath Buda Castle and enjoy a wine tasting tour in this spectacular location. Allow a sommelier to guide you through a variety of wines, including Hungary’s famous Tokaji dessert wine.
Enjoy free time to bask in the delights of Budapest. Walking is great, but cycling is perhaps the best way to see the city. A boat trip down the Danube is also a fine option. History buffs will enjoy a visit to Statue Park, to see some of the important fallen legends immortalised. The thermal baths that are dispersed around the city are not to be missed – you can indulge in anything from opulent indoor pools to more simple outdoor baths. Epicureans may like to take the opportunity to try some classic goulash, or one of the more modern dishes of this veritable food capital.
Head for Slovakia, on private transport, to spend a night in the beautiful Tatra Mountains. Stop at Godollo Palace en route. This imperial and royal Hungarian palace was a favourite place of Queen Elisabeth of Hungary. Move forward through the windy roads of Tatra Mountains, the Alps of the East. Today’s route may take several hours, but we will make several stops along the way to break up the journey. Make sure your camera is ready to capture the beauty of this land. In the late afternoon, arrive at the feature stay for this evening – the Grand Hotel Stary Smokovek. With manicured grounds, Art Nouveau design, luxurious rooms and award-winning restaurant the Grand Hotel is the ideal base for exploring the surrounding mountains.
Wake up and take a crisp clear breath of fresh air by the Tatra Mountains. Forming a border between Slovakia and Poland, the Tatras form the highest range in the Carpathian Mountains. Enjoy a day out discovering surroundings bursting with waterfalls and flowers as you embark on a guided walk with your experienced leader. The walk is about six kilometres in length and is normally completed in 3 hours, including stops on the way. You'll arrive back at your accommodation in the early afternoon, and the remainder of the day is free for you to enjoy. Perhaps continue exploring the area on foot, avail yourself of the on-site spa (at your expense) or grab a cocktail.
Set off across the border to Poland. Make a stop on the Polish side of the mountains, where a delicious regional delicacy awaits. Oscypek is a local smoked cheese which is made from sheep's milk. It comes in the form of a spindle shape and can be served freshly sliced or fried. As you’ll taste, it’s delicious no matter how you have it. Next up is the tiny, traditional village of Chocholow, where you will wander streets lined with wooden houses and visit a similarly rustic church. Enjoy a traditional lunch in town and then continue to Krakow. Arrive in Poland’s second-largest city in the early evening.
Head out on a guided walking tour of Krakow in the morning and spend an afternoon as you wish. Be prepared to encounter a staggering amount of history; the medieval Old Town alone is home to about 6000 historic sites and over 2000 works of art. The Wawel Royal Castle, where many historic Polish kings are buried, is one of the most historically and culturally important sites in Poland. In the early evening, regroup with your leader and fellow travellers for an included vodka tasting. Vodka is part of Poland’s DNA, and this tasting will teach you a little about making and imbibing this revered spirit.