Travel through Austria, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic

Experience the best of this old-world region on a journey through enchanting Central Europe. 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. Conclude this classical adventure by taking the road less travelled to Budapest.

Start
Vienna, Austria
Finish
Budapest, Hungary
Countries
Austria,
Czech Republic,
Hungary,
Poland,
Slovakia
Themes
Explorer
Code
AMSB
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1 Max 16
Carbon offset
214kg pp per trip


Highlights

  • 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. Soak up the smooth sounds of jazz at a low-lit bar in Prague before stepping right into a fairytale in the World Heritage-listed town of Cesky Krumlov
  • 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
  • Hike in the picturesque Tatra Mountains and traverse the steep slopes via funicular, gondola and electric steam train
  • A sobering tour of Auschwitz concentration camp offers insight into one of the most tragic periods in human history

Itinerary

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. It is unlike any other hotel you are likely to come across on your travels, a great social project supporting refugees. It 'brings together what belongs together’, staffed by people from over 14 different nations.

Notes: If you can't arrange a flight that will have you arrive at the hotel by early evening, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).
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.

Notes: Avoid long queues at Schoenbrunn Palace by pre-booking your tickets at: schoenbrunn.at. Also, the Spanish Riding School doesn't operate throughout the summer months. You will need to book tickets in advance to see the performance of the Lipizzaners. Phone: +43 (0)1 505 77 66 55 or e-mail info@viennaticketoffice.com to arrange tickets.
Depart Vienna by minivan in the morning and cross the border into the Czech Republic (approximately 3 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 3 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.

Notes: During the cooler and winter months, cycling is often not possible. You'll take an extended walking tour of the town instead.
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. A visit to the Cesky Krumlov brewery, where tours are often conducted in English, will give you a glimpse of the brewing tradition that has existed in this town for hundreds of years. 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 your own private apartment. 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, the rest of your afternoon is free to do as you wish.

Notes: The apartments are not hotels, which means there's no reception, room service or daily cleaning service, no televisions or washing machines, but plenty of charm and the location is perfect.
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’s 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 to region of Bohemia 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 Nachod where you'll cross the Czech–Polish border. From here you'll be transferred in a private vehicle to the nearby town of Kudowa Zdroj; with today's travel taking around four hours in total. On arrival, the rest of your day is free to explore. As Europe's oldest spa city, take a thermal bath in the historic spa and sample some of the local mineral water that's believed to have health and therapeutic benefits. You might like to shake things up with a hike in Table Mountain National Park, which is home to some bizarre-looking rocks, lovely walking trails and beautiful woodlands.

PLEASE NOTE that on certain departures (please check the list in Important Notes section), this day will be organised in a slightly different way. After arrival in Nachod, the group will take a private transfer to Nowa Ruda, small town further inland from the Czech border. Our accommodation for the night will be in Dwor Gorny Hotel, an original, castle-like building dating back to 1598. The castle has its own winery, restaurant and offers a range of massages and health treatments. It’s focused on free range food production and eco-friendly accommodation and this is one of the main reasons why we believe this place would fall in to Intrepid style of travel perfectly.
In the afternoon, the walk to the nearby look out point will be organised and possibility to visit Kudowa Zdroj in the evening will be offered. Nowa Ruda itself has a range of interesting places to see; old train station dating back to 1878, former evangelic church or impressive train viaduct to list few. Range of restaurants where you could enjoy a delicious polish cuisine is also available.
Continue east today by private bus and journey to Oswiecim (Auschwitz) (approximately 4 hours). On arrival, learn more about the history of World War II at the former Nazi concentration camp in Auschwitz, with a guided tour of the Auschwitz Museum and Birkenau (approximately 2.5 hours). After this sobering day trip, carry on driving to Krakow (approximately 1.5 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. In the evening, perhaps head out for some good Polish grub.

Notes: For the departure starting on 16 July 2016, different arrangements on this day due to factors outside of our control. For more information, see at the 'Important Notes' section.
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 a 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 has been 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 pierogis in one of the city's cheerful establishments.
Say farewell to Krakow today and travel by local buses through southern Poland (approximately 5 hours). 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. From your base, the group will head out on a variety of transport in the mountain region, including a gondola, StareSmoke electric train and a Smokovec funicular. 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.
Between the months of April and October, the group will go on an included hike in the Vysoke Tatry 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. There are many hiking options to choose from, depending on your energy and enthusiasm levels. 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 for a barbecue dinner (weather permitting).

Notes: There may be still be considerable snow in April and May, which may prevent us from choosing the usual hiking route. Please ensure you bring extra warm clothes and waterproof boots in April. Having said that, the crisp, clear atmosphere and fewer tourists make this a fantastic time to visit.
You have an early start today for the train journey to Budapest (approximately 10 hours). You'll have to change trains a few times on this journey. As there won't be too much free time to explore on arrival, perhaps check in to the accommodation and then go for a brief walk around the city to get your bearings. The grand architecture and boulevards evoke a bygone era, while glamorous stores and glitzy restaurants make this one of the truly great cities of Europe. Take the evening as an opportunity to relax after a long day of travelling. Visiting one of Budapest's many restaurants or bars is a great way to do it.
Today you have a full free day to explore Budapest. Known as 'The Pearl of the Danube', Budapest is a great city to enjoy from the water. Perhaps take a boat trip along the river or catch a funicular up to the castle for spectacular views of the Parliament Building. If you're an art buff, visit the Museum of Fine Arts at Hero's Square, which offers free English tours of the permanent collections from Tuesday to Saturday. Perhaps head to Statue Park to see the communist monuments that were removed from the city after the fall of the Iron Curtain. One unmissable activity is a soak in Budapest's hot thermal baths. The pools vary in temperature, and some even feature whirlpools or seats where you can enjoy a game of chess. You might like to take part in one of our Urban Adventure day tours, such as the Budapest Custom Tour or Bites and Sights. See more at urbanadventures.com.

Note: Many museums throughout Europe are closed on Mondays. If you are interested in a particular museum, you may want to check the opening times and plan your arrival into Budapest accordingly.
Your adventure ends after breakfast today. There are no activities planned and you're free to depart the accommodation at any time.
View trip notes to read full itinerary

Inclusions

Meals
10 breakfasts
Transport
Bicycle, Metro, Private vehicle, Public bus, Taxi, Train
Accommodation
Hotel (9 nights), Pension (2 nights), Private apartment (3 nights)
Included activities
  • Vienna Orientation Walk
  • Cycling trip (weather and season permitting)
  • Kudowa Zdroj Nature Reserve entrance
  • Guided visit to State Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau
  • Gondola, Tatranska Lomnica
  • StareSmoke Electric train
  • Smokovec Funicular
  • Hiking in the Vysoke Tatry mountains (not between Nov and Mar)

Dates

There are currently no departures for this trip.

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Important notes

A single supplement is available on this trip. Please see trip notes for more details.
Due to a World Youth Days from 20 to 28.07.2016 and from 1 to 3.08.2016 the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum will be closed for the visitors. This will affect AMSB160716 & AMSNC160716 departures. Instead, the group will take part in organized visit to ‘Jewish Krakow’ (Jewish Krakow Adventure) and Schindler's Tour.
Please note that following departures will be organised in a slightly different way on Day 8 Kudowa Zdroj. AMSB160423, AMSB160521, AMSB160618, AMSB160622, AMSB160625, AMSB160706, AMSB160709, AMSB160716, AMSB160723, AMSB160730, AMSB160806, AMSB160813, AMSB160820. Please check Day 8 description for more details.

Trip notes

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Your trip notes provide a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what’s included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

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Best of Central Europe , October 2015

Best of Central Europe , October 2015

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