Get pleasantly lost in Venice, exploring the tangle of canals and alleyways that make up this beautiful city.. Cycle along one of the oldest wine routes in Italy – the South Tyrolean Wine Road – famed for its stunning scenery as much as its wine. Take in serene vistas of Italian villas and vineyards as you pedal from wine village to wine village, sampling delicious local drops as you go.. Stroll through the picturesque alpine meadows of Alpe de Siusi with a local guide who will provide some insight into the surprisingly dark history of this stunning location, which includes farmer uprisings and witch burning.. 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.
From the canals of Venice to the grand architecture of Budapest, this 24-day adventure take you to some of the best parts of Northern Italy and Central Europe. Sample some of Italy’s best wines of a bike tour of the famous South Tyrolean Wine Road. Venture further inland and hear Mozart ringing from cafes in Salzburg, explore Vienna’s rich artistic and intellectual legacy and experience Prague’s legendary jazz scene. Travel to Poland to visit the haunting underground city of Osowka and learn its dark origins, then get active trekking among the high-altitude lakes and waterfalls of the Tatra Mountains. With the perfect mix of scheduled activities and free time to explore on your own, this trip is the perfect way to experience the charm and splendour of Italy, Austria, the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary.
Breakfast Included: 18 Lunches Included: 1 Dinner Included:
Welcome to Venice. This watery wonderland of bridges, towers, piazzas, canals, churches and gondolas – practically unchanged for 600 years – is literally sinking under the weight of its iconic sights. After tonight's group meeting, why not enjoy dinner with your fellow travel companions at a local restaurant.
After an orientation walk to familiarise you with the city, you are free to venture out and explore Venice. There are only two ways to get around this city – on foot or by boat. Some of the more popular sights include Doge's Palace, the Piazza and Basilica di San Marco, and the Bridge of Sighs. Take the vaporetto (water bus) over to the island of San Giorgio to climb the bell tower for the best view of Venice. No trip here would be complete without a journey down the Grand Canal in a Venetian gondola. It's a common way for visitors to see the major canal routes from an immersive perspective. Perhaps while away the hours in busy San Marco square and be sure to try the local tiramisu and Italian coffee that's on offer. There’s creativity everywhere, even overflowing into the canals; you can see it in the venetian glass in Dorsoduro or down the streets spreading out from Campo Santo Stefano, which are lined with unique galleries and small boutiques. Maybe visit the Palazzo Ducale, full of paintings by Italian masters, and contrast it with the modern Guggenheim. Or, enjoy getting lost crossing the hundreds of bridges and uncovering your own slice of Venice. In the evening, perhaps join your fellow travellers for a group dinner at a local restaurant. Venice is famous for its specialities of fresh lobster and squid ink spaghetti dishes, so make sure you give one a try.
Bolzano is as curious as it is beautiful, and it is very, very beautiful. A mixture of German and Italian heritage makes for an interesting cultural mix in this valley town, from European-style epoque buildings to the Mediterranean-flavoured porticoes of the main square. The three-and-a-half-hour train journey to Bolzano is made enjoyable by glimpses of gorgeous countryside from the window. Arrive and enjoy an orientation walk through this picturesque town of green hills and sloping vineyards. Enjoy a free evening to soak up the town. The Piazza Walther (central square) is beautifully lit up in the evening and makes a great place to begin.
South Tyrol / Bolzano
Today you’ll get to sample some of the wines this region is famous for while enjoying the fresh air and stunning surrounds with a bike tour of the South Tyrolean Wine Road. Peddle along the river and through orchards, taking in the delightful sight of villas and vineyards nestled in the hills. Stop and sip along the way, perhaps trying a glass of fragrant gewurztraminer or lightly spiced cabernet – both varieties are particularly popular here. The ride will take less than three hours, leaving the rest of the day free for you to enjoy this beautiful area.
South Tyrol / Bolzano
Enjoy a full day in the Alpe di Siusi, the largest high-altitude alpine meadow in Europe. It's an area that conjures images of Julie Andrews spinning around in Sound of Music – think softly rolling hills with patches of thick pines framed by jagged mountains. See the incredible vistas from above in a cable car ride over the area. Explore Prösels Castle, a building with a fascinating history. Constructed in the 13th century, the castle was rebuilt in the Gothic style in the 15th century and was briefly occupied by farmers as a form of protest in the 16th century. Take a scenic walk with a local storyteller. The area was also the setting for witch trials (and subsequent burnings) over 500 years ago. Enjoy an included lunch and contemplate the often dark history behind the beauty of Alpe di Siusi at the Rauchhütte, a well-situated alpine chalet restaurant at 1,850 metres above sea level, with stunning views and tasty local dishes.
Journey into Austria, taking a 4,5 hour train ride to Salzburg, the birthplace of Mozart and a World Heritage-listed city. Enjoy an orientation walk upon arrival and get acquainted with the streets around your hotel. The skyline of Salzburg is filled with the domes and spires that typify baroque architecture. You’ll get a fantastic view of the city while watching the late European sunset from lofty Hohensalzburg Castle. Later, the Old Town is the perfect place for an evening stroll or a nightcap, so perhaps take a walk to a cafe and enjoy an Almdudler spritz (white wine mixed with the popular herbal soft drink).
Today you are free to see Salzburg at your own pace. History buffs may wish to explore one or more of the preserved historical buildings scattered throughout the city. The Salzburg Fortress (part of Hohensalzburg Castle) is one option. In addition to the restored towers and fortifications, the building features a museum filled with fascinating artefacts from the middle ages – from armour to chastity belts. Old Market Square is a great place to load up on pastries and perhaps shop for trinkets, though be aware the stalls pack up from about 2 pm. In the evening, maybe ask your leader where you can grab some Tafelspitz. This classic Austrian dish features meat boiled in a broth (stay with us), usually served with minced apples and horseradish. The description may not sound particularly special, but this hearty meal combines salty, sweet and sharp flavours in a way that is incredibly satisfying.
The capital of Austria and the undisputed legacy arts hub of central Europe, Vienna awaits after a 2.5-hour train journey. Get started with an orientation walk, then set out on your own to explore this historic city. The public transport in the city is fantastic, which makes getting around easy. In the evening why not head out for the classic schnitzel, which is abundant (and delicious), but if you’d like to try something a little different ask your leader where to find a traditional beuschel (a ragout made with calf lung and heart).
Enjoy a free day in Vienna, the perfect opportunity to visit one of the city’s famous royal complexes. One option is Schoenbrunn Palace, an expansive estate designed by Empress Maria Theresa, with lawns perfect for lounging and multiple rooms preserved from different eras. 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. Or perhaps check out the central Hofburg Imperial Palace, where bibliophiles can see one of the world’s most beautiful libraries, where towering shelves hold ancient volumes. Either of the palaces will take a whole day to explore in full, so you’ll have to choose one or the other. If you’re looking to unwind and avoid crowds, you could always spend the day in one of Vienna’s many coffee houses, nursing a brew and watching the world flow by. In the evening, you have the option of joining your fellow travellers and leader for dinner.
Vienna is a beautiful city, and today you have another free day to explore. The geometric tiling on the roof of St Stephan’s Cathedral is worth a look, and you can climb 136 metres to the top of the south tower for amazing views of the city. Perhaps even take a spin on the famous old Prater Ferris Wheel. Get lost in the marbled halls of the Sisi or Leopold museums and stop to fill up on local delights like Sachertorte or a Wiener wurst.
Today you may want to join your new group members for another orientation walk conducted by your leader. 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 further explore Vienna and its surrounds. In the evening, perhaps head out for some more 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.