|Austria, Czech Republic, Europe, Hungary, Slovakia
Bask in the splendor and romance with 3-night stays in each of Europes Imperial Cities: Prague, Vienna and Budapest. In Prague, walk the Golden Lane, a delightful neighborhood of tiny, medieval houses. You choose your dining experience: dinner with a folklore show including a chance to meet the dancers and have a lesson, or dinner and a tour at one of Pragues most famous brewery restaurants. Delight in the baroque marvels of Viennas Schoenbrunn Palace, the summer retreat of the Habsburg dynasty for more than 200 years. Visit a 14th-century Hungarian castle where knights recreate the days of chivalry. Spend time at a school in Budapest and meet the students. Soak up the culture of the region with included guided city excursions and through your own explorations on your days at leisure. Cruise the Danube River through the beautiful scenery of the Wachau Valley to the famous Abbey at Melk.
Day 1: Overnight Flight
Set out on an exciting cultural experience in the Imperial Cities of Central Europe featuring traditional entertainment and a scenic cruise along the Danube River.
Day 2: Prague, Czech Republic – Tour Begins
After arriving in Prague, find out why it is called the “Golden City” or “The City of 100 Spires.” You will adore the citys unique culture and architecture. This evening, join your fellow travelers for a welcome dinner.
Day 3: Prague
Your introduction to this fairy-tale city begins with a panoramic tour. Tour the majestic Hradcany Castle, including the gothic St. Vitus Cathedral. Then stroll down the quaint, colorful Golden Lane. Afterward, discover the lovely statue-lined Charles Bridge. This afternoon, its your time to explore. Perhaps shop for famous Bohemian crystal or visit one of the citys many outstanding museums, such as the Lapidarium, home of stone sculptures dating from the 11th century to the present. This evening you choose your dining experience. You may choose to get to know traditional Czech culture during a folklore show and dinner featuring local drinks. As a special treat, meet the dancers and learn some of the moves yourself during a private dance lesson. Or, perhaps you would prefer to dine at one of Eastern Europes oldest breweries. Take in the traditional ambiance while sipping on a pint; then tour the brewery to see the process of making this famous beer that has been brewed for 500 years.
Day 4: Prague
Today enjoy the freedom to explore Prague on your own. Take a stroll to the Old Town square, home to the famous Orloj which functions as a clock, calendar and primitive planetarium. You may also choose to join an optional excursion to Pragues Old Jewish Quarter to see its historic Jewish Museum and Europe’s oldest surviving Jewish cemetery, founded in 1478.
Day 5: Prague – Cesky Krumlov – Vienna, Austria
A scenic ride through the countryside takes you from Prague into the grand city of Vienna, the former capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. En route, make a stop in the fairy-tale town of Cesky Krumlov. Have free time to explore the well-preserved streets lined with Baroque architecture before continuing on to Vienna. Tonight you will enjoy dinner featuring regional wine and a meal highlighting the local cuisine in the quaint winemaking region of Grinzing.
Day 6: Vienna
This morning, join a local resident for a visit to magnificent Schoenbrunn Palace, the summer retreat of the Habsburg dynasty for more than 200 years. Continue on to get acquainted with Viennas city center. Along the way, behold the beautiful architecture, scenic parks and gothic spires that fill the city. This evening you may choose to join an optional dinner followed by an unforgettable classical music concert featuring many fine melodies from the great composers Mozart and Strauss.
Day 7: Vienna – Danube River – Melk – Vienna
Travel along the banks of the Danube to the medieval town of Durnstein where you embark on a scenic Danube River cruise.* “Waltz” across one of the most breathtaking bodies of water in the world, immortalized by Strauss, and travel through the historic Wachau Valley. Later, visit the 11th-century Melk Abbey, famous for its production and collection of manuscripts. A leisurely ride back to Vienna concludes this marvelous day. You have a free evening to enjoy the city.
Day 8: Vienna – Bratislava, Slovakia – Budapest, Hungary
This morning you journey to Bratislava, former coronation city and Imperial capital of the Hapsburg Empire. During your visit, get to know the citys multilayered history on a tour with a local expert. Continue to Budapest, the “Queen of the Danube,” truly one of the world’s most beautiful cities. Upon arrival, drive through this majestic capital while making your way to your hotel. Have time at leisure to relax or explore before gathering for tonights dinner in the city.
Day 9: Budapest
Join a local expert who brings the city to life. Discover Matthias Church, site of many coronations of kings. Next, be enamored by the Fishermans Bastion with its white walls, towers and arcades for spectacular views. Continue to historic Old Buda and Gellert Hill, followed by the Parliament. At Heroes Square, admire the imposing Millennium Monument, completed in 1904, which memorializes the 1,000th anniversary of Hungarian dominion.
Day 10: Budapest – Visegrad – Budapest
Begin your day with a visit to a school** in Budapest where you will get a glimpse into the daily life of the locals while meeting the young students in their classroom. In the afternoon, venture outside the city to the former Renaissance capital of Visegrad for a magnificent view of the Danube Bend and the Borzsony Mountains. Travel back in time with a visit to a 14th-century castle where knights with colorful costumes and authentic weaponry recreate the days of chivalry. Then, enjoy a special Renaissance-style dinner at the castle restaurant and re-enact the days of medieval times. Complete your fascinating cultural journey with an evening of wine and music.
Day 11: Budapest – Tour Ends