Last Modified: 16 Dec 2012
Best of Central Europe
Trip code: AMSB
Validity: 01 Jan 2011 to 31 Dec 2012
Experience the best of this Old World region on a journey through enchanting Central Europe. Immerse yourself in Austria's superb musical heritage and step back in time in the castles of the Czech Republic. Wander Krakow's romantic Old Town and get active in Slovakia's Tatra Mountains. Finish this classical adventure by taking the road less travelled to Budapest.
Table of Contents
- Original trips are classic Intrepid adventures. With a mix of included activities and free time, they offer plenty of opportunities to explore at your own pace and take part in activities that really get beneath the skin of a destination. While the occasional meal may be included, you'll have the freedom to seek out your own culinary adventures. Accommodation is generally budget or tourist class (2-3 star), but you're as likely to find yourself as a guest of a local family as staying in a hotel or camping. Transport will vary as well. Depending on the destination and the itinerary you could find yourself travelling on anything from a camel to a train or a private safari vehicle. It's all part of the adventure! Original travellers have a desire to make the most of their travel time and really get to know a place, its people and cultures.
Days 1-3 Vienna/Bratislava
Gruss Gott! Welcome to Austria.
Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting in the evening of Day 1.
You can arrive at any time during the day as there are no activities planned until this important meeting; please check with the hotel reception where and when it will take place, or check the reception notice boards. 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). 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.
Once the centre of the Habsburg Empire, Vienna is today a cosmopolitan city with music in the air and the grandeur of a golden past.
Join your leader for a walk (approx 2 hrs) through the city's compact centre. After a photo stop at the 14th-century, gothic St Stephens Cathedral, wander past the neo-classical grandeur of the Graben and onwards to the Hofburg Palace, winter residence to the Habsburg emperors. Take time to relax at the monument to Empress 'Sisi' Elizabeth in the famous Volksgarten before continuing on to the Ringstrasse. 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.
You might like to head out to Schoenbrunn for a guided audio tour of the summer palace designed by Empress Maria Theresa herself. The Gloriette Monument has incredible views of Vienna. The palace gardens are free to all visitors but there is a charge for entrance and tours of the palace. Avoid long queues for this by pre-booking your tickets at www.schoenbrunn.at.
Art lovers have a vast choice of museums, from the Albertina to those located in the Museum Quarter.
Those with an interest in Austrian art should visit the Leopold, home to an important Egon Schiele collection as well as major works by Oskar Kokoschka and Gustav Klimt.
Take a short walk over to Belvedere Palace to see Klimt's famous painting 'The Kiss' or the Secession Building (a classic example of Viennese Art Nouveau architecture) to see his panorama 'Beethoven Frieze', inspired by the composer's Ninth Symphony.
Climb the 343 steps to the top of the tower of St Stephen's Cathedral.
Take a spin on the famous Prater Ferris Wheel.
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 email@example.com to arrange tickets.
Make a day trip to Bratislava (approx 1 hr), capital of Slovakia.
Nestled on the Danube, Bratislava boasts a beautiful Old Town, a testament to past Hungarian rule. Slovakia, which only became an independent nation in 1993, has a history of conquest and domination, evidenced in its many fortresses and castles. Foreign influences can be seen in the interesting contrast in architectural styles.
In Bratislava, there are numerous museums to explore and, of course, a castle. Discover its charm for yourself on a free morning, and have a wander through the City of Fountains (there are over 50 in the city centre).
Alternatively, you could make it your mission to find the whimsical 'Peeping Tom' metal sculptures that share space with the city's grand buildings or the cannonballs still embedded in some buildings, legacies of Napoleon's era.
- Vienna Orientation Walk
- Day trip, Bratislava
- Belvedere Gallery - EUR11
- Sisi Museum - EUR12
- Spanish Riding School practice - EUR12
- Schoenbrunn Palace - EUR14
- Hofburg Palace and Sisi Museum - EUR10
- Leopold Museum - EUR12
- Prater Ferris Wheel - EUR9
Hotel (3 nts)
Days 4-5 Cesky Krumlov
Depart Vienna by minivan and cross the border into the Czech Republic (approx 3 hrs). 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 as the town is nestled in a sharp bend of the Vltava River. It also comes complete with a castle on a hill towering over the quaint old town, which boasts a collection of beautiful old buildings and a confusion of cobbled alleyways.
Explore the castle and its fabulous Masquerade Hall, or climb the tower for aerial views of the town.
Cycle across the rolling hills of the countryside exploring the tiny hamlets (approx 3 hrs).
Weather and time permitting, take a relaxing 2-3 hour raft/canoe trip on the river that winds right through the centre of Cesky Krumlov, a favourite summer pastime.
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.
Take an optional guided walking tour of Cesky Krumlov that includes a commentary of the magic and mysteries that lie behind every shop front and house on the crooked little streets.
Please note that during the winter months, cycling and the river trip are not possible. During this period we'll take an extended walking tour of the town.
- Cycling trip (weather and season permitting)
- Brewery tour - CZK130
- Guided walking tour - CZK300
- Egon Schiele Art Centrum - CZK120
- Raft/canoe trip - CZK1200
- Guided castle tour - CZK160
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 6-8 Prague
Depart the southern Bohemian town of Cesky Krumlov and travel by bus to Prague (approx 4 hrs).
Having served as the residence of rulers and archbishops for over a thousand years, Prague has been left with a unique gallery of historic buildings. The 'City of a Hundred Spires' is an architecture-lover's dream - you can trace the history of design from the Middle Ages all the way through to the avant-gardism of the most controversial building in the city, the Gehry-designed Dancing Building (also called the Fred and Ginger Building) on the banks of the Vltava.
Spend time at Prague Castle, the biggest in the Czech Republic, where you'll find the famous St Vitus Cathedral and Golden Lane.
The Old Town at night is truly special. In addition to the sights, there are many great restaurants and pubs, some in old vaulted cellars. The nightlife in Prague is some of the best in Central Europe. Whether dance clubs, traditional beer-halls or underground absinthe bars are your speed, there is something for just about everyone in this cosmopolitan city. The city has one of 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.
In Prague we stay in our own private apartments. We have several separate apartments 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 - it's all an easy stroll from your front door. This is your chance to look behind those facades. Each apartment has 2-3 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. Our apartments are not hotels, there's no reception, room service or daily cleaning service, no televisions or washing machines, but plenty of charm and you just can't beat the location.
- Jewish Quarter - CZK480
- Return train transport to Kutna Hora - CZK150
- Mucha Museum - CZK180
- Museum of Communism - CZK190
- Prague Castle - CZK350
- Church of St Barbara - CZK40
- Town Hall Clock Tower - CZK105
- Bike tour - CZK490
Private apartment (3 nts)
Day 9 Teplice nad Metuji
Heading north by train, arrive at Teplice nad Metuji (approx 4 hrs).
The quiet village of Teplice nad Metuji (pronounced 'Tep-leet-sa nad Met-oo-yee') is our base for exploring the bizarre rock formations of this region.
Spend the afternoon hiking past some of the weird and wonderful sandstone pinnacles and canyons, studying the imaginative names given to the formations. The more energetic might choose to take a quick 20-minute climb up the steep stairs and ladders of a lookout point that has spectacular views of the region on a clear day. The rock forest only covers a small area but the afternoon is easily spent letting our imaginations run wild in this haunting and largely undiscovered landscape.
- Walk in the Teplice National Park
Pension (1 nt)
Days 10-11 Krakow
Cross the border into Poland by private bus and continue on our way to Oswiecim (Auschwitz).
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 (approx 2.5 hrs), sites of some of the worst atrocities perpetrated during the war.
Continue on to Krakow (approx 1.5 hrs).
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.
Explore Wawel Royal Castle, which sits atop a hill next to the Vistula River. It provides a magnificent backdrop to Rynek Glowny, the town square. Dating back to the 13th century, the square is surrounded by grand buildings, with the Cloth Hall as the centrepiece.
Visit the Church of St Mary's, where the altarpiece, by Veit Stoss, is unmatched.
Take a tour through Schindler's Krakow with the assistance of a guide from the Jewish Quarter.
If you can tear yourself away from the charms of Krakow, visit the Wieliczka Salt Mines, a deep underground network of tunnels and chambers some 135 m below the surface. The Blessed Kinga Chapel is a highlight not to be missed, with its elaborate salt chandeliers and carvings.
- Guided visit to State Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau
- Galicia Jewish Museum - PLN15
- Wawel Royal Castle - PLN18
- Walking tour - PLN30
- St. Mary's Basilica - PLN6
- Wieliczka Salt Mines - PLN73
Pension (2 nts)
Days 12-13 Tatra Mountains
Travel by local buses through southern Poland (approx 5 hrs), enjoying the scenery of rolling hills and tiny villages. Tatranska Lomnica is our destination in Slovakia, 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 km 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.
Take a walk in the mountains. We use the funicular railway to assist us on some of the steeper sections. 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 timber land. It is estimated that it will take the local community 10 to 20 years to recover from the devastation.
There may be still considerable snow between November and May which may prevent us from choosing our 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.
- Hiking in the Vysoke Tatry mountains (not between Nov and Mar)
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 14-15 Budapest
We have an early start today for our train journey to Budapest, we change trains a number of times (total journey approx 10 hours.)
Since the collapse of Communism, Budapest has experienced something of a renaissance. The grand architecture and boulevards evoke a time gone by, while glamorous stores and glitzy restaurants make this one of the truly great cities of Europe.
With so much to see and do, hire a bicycle for a great way to move between the city sights.
For art and history buffs, Budapest has museums to occupy you for days including the Museum of Fine Arts at Hero's Square, which offers free English tours of the permanent collections (Monet, Manet, Dutch Masters, Gauguin, Goya, El Greco) from Tuesday through to Saturday from 11am daily.
Head out to Statue Park to see all the communist monuments that were removed from the city streets after the fall of the Iron Curtain.
If you're interested in communist history, try the locally-guided 'Hammer & Sickle' tour.
One unmissable activity is a soak in the hot thermal baths. There are several around the city centre ranging from the sumptuous and elegant to simple outdoor types. There are pools of varying degrees - some with whirlpools, chess boards and seats where you can enjoy it all while recuperating in the therapeutic waters.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. Please check the 'Finishing Point Hotel' section for checkout times and luggage storage possibilities.
- Bike ride - HUF5000
- Great Synagogue - HUF2250
- Hammer & Sickle Tour - HUF7000
- House of Terror - HUF2000
- Hungarian State Opera House Tour - HUF2900
- Parliament tour - HUF2520
- Transport and entry to Statue Park - HUF5000
- Thermal bath - HUF2500
Hotel (1 nt)
Also available to purchase
For many of our trips we have other services or experiences that are also available to purchase to extend your trip or to make your holiday a little easier. Below is a list of other travel products you can purchase in conjunction with this trip.
- AMSB Single supplement (AMSB)
We also recommend
If this trip is not quite right for you, cast your eye over these alternatives:
- Budapest to Bled (WMSJC)
- Central Europe Adventure (AMSW)
- Vienna to Athens (AMSZC)
- Vienna to Dubrovnik (AMSNC)
Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. For the latest updated Trip Notes please visit our website: www.intrepidtravel.com
Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route.
At times local life here will be familiar to that of back home, and at times very different. Services are available most of the time, English may not be the native language, and there may be some cultural differences.
Some easy physical activities included in your trip. No physical preparation is required to make the most of the journey.
Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not be refunded.
A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are for entrance only and don't include transport costs to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Optional activities aren't necessarily endorsed or recommended by Intrepid nor included in price of this trip. If you do any optional activities, you do so at your own risk and it must be clearly understood that your participation is your own decision and doesn't form part of your contract with Intrepid. You may be required to sign/complete a waiver form or a receipt for some optional activities.
BOOKING MUSEUMS AND ATTRACTIONS IN ADVANCE:
To avoid disappointment we have outlined (where applicable) some important information on some of the major museums and attractions in Europe. Some of our groups have experienced long lines of up to four hours to visit some of the major sights, while some sights are so popular they are booked out completely months in advance, making it impossible for you or your leader to arrange a visit while you are on the trip. Please note that many museums and attractions in Europe are closed on Mondays or Tuesdays. We recommend you carefully consider which sites and museums you are going to want to visit and that you do some research and make your reservations in advance where possible. If applicable we've given you information in the day-to-day itinerary which outlines which day of the trip is a suitable time to make your reservations, as well as any other information that may help with planning your visit.
The Euro (EUR) is the official currency in the following destinations: Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain. All other European countries still have their own national currencies.
The most convenient and cheapest way to acquire money is via an Automated Teller Machine (ATM) or Bancomat as they are often referred to. Check with your bank in advance concerning the suitability of your account / card overseas and any international fees that will be applied.
You can obtain local currencies easily at airports and major train stations, but be sure to bring some extra emergency cash in a major currency that can be exchanged if the ATMs are not functioning.
When leaving home don't forget your PIN and make sure you know the telephone number for cancelling your card if it is stolen. Keep this in a safe place.
Credit cards are not always accepted in stores and restaurants. While travelling we recommend you carry some cash to pay for restaurant bills and other services. Change can be difficult to obtain so throughout the day, try to gain as many small denominations as you can.
You might be advised to take some of your money as travellers' cheques from a major financial institute. Travellers' cheques have security advantages, however please be aware that the exchange rates may not be favourable and that it is difficult to change Travellers' cheques in most countries. Be particularly aware that after hours money exchanges and hotel receptions carry high commissions- sometimes up to 20%.
For money safety we recommend that you carry your cash and credit cards in a secure money belt or pouch concealed under your clothes.
Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations. Please note we recommend that any tips are given directly to the intended recipient by a member of your group as our group leaders are prohibited from collecting cash for tips.
The following amounts are based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:
Restaurants: Local markets and basic restaurants - leave the loose change. More up-market restaurants we suggest 5% to 10% of your bill.
Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest EUR1-2 per person per day for local guides.
Your Group Leader: You may also consider tipping your leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline EUR3 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.
All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.
Maximum of 12 travellers per group.
Your fellow travellers
As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part.
Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure. However you can download Intrepid's FREE Meet Up app to chat with your fellow travellers before your trip. Meet up, discuss your upcoming trip and share the excitement of planning for your adventure. For more information visit:
Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own room (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
A single supplement is available on this trip, please ask your booking agent for more information.
Hotel (8 nts), Private apartment (3 nts), Pension (3 nts)
OCCASIONAL ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION
The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.
TWIN SHARE / MULTI SHARE BASIS
Accommodation on this trip is on a twin/multishare basis. Please note there may be times where facilities will be shared rather than ensuite and rare occasions when you share a room with passengers travelling on different Intrepid trips than your own.
Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination.
PRE/POST TRIP ACCOMMODATION
If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (if available), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.
Your accommodation may not always have private en suite facilities or air-conditioning. European hotels generally don't provide kettles or fridges.
While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. On our camping trips we often cook the region's specialities so you don't miss out. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.
Vegetarians might find the menu selection less varied than they would see at home. Vegetarianism is not as common in this region and generally the choices are basic, involving vegetables and salads. Vegans will find it even more challenging. Vegetarians might choose to supplement meals with supplies bought from home, e.g. protein bars, dried fruits and so on.
Please budget for additional meals and expenses while on your trip. Our suggestion is based on past traveller feedback but you may choose to spend more or less.
There are some basic breakfasts included on this trip which may simply include bread/toast or pastries, butter, jam, coffee/tea/juice (or similar.)
Metro, Bus, Private Bus, Train, Bicycle
All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.
Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.
Joining point description
The Hotel Mozart is resplendent with charm and over 100 years of rich history, serving as a grand Viennese hotel since the time of the Habsburgs. Trams and the U-bahn are located within a few minutes walk from the hotel, which provide a short and direct trip to the city centre. All rooms have their own en suite bathroom and a television. Complementary buffet breakfast is provided for all Intrepid guests. Please note the hotel does not have luggage storage facilities.
Joining point instructions
To arrive at the joining point in Vienna, a taxi from the airport will cost approximately EUR35. Alternatively, you can catch the CAT from the airport to Landstrasse - Wien Mitte. The service runs from 06:06 to 23:30 daily and takes just 16 minutes. A Single Ticket costs EUR11. Tickets can be purchased in the baggage collection hall at Vienna Airport or in the station.
For Hotel Mozart, once you arrive at Landstrasse - Wien Mitte, transfer to the U-Bahn U4 (green line) in the direction of Heiligenstadt. Buy a U-Bahn ticket in the station (EUR1.50) and validate it in a machine before entering the platform. Get off at Friedensbrucke, then exit the metro and walk up Alserbach Strasse. The hotel is on the corner on the right, 2 blocks or 5 minute walk from here.
We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your group trip as scheduled, please contact your starting point hotel, requesting that you speak to or leave a message for your group leader.
If you have pre-booked an airport transfer (where available) and have not made contact with our representative within 30 minutes of clearing customs and immigration, we recommend that you make your own way to the starting point hotel, following the Joining Instructions in these Trip Notes. Should this occur, please apply to your travel agent for a refund of the transfer cost on your return.
No refund is available on missed transfers or portions of your trip owing to a different flight arrival or delayed flight arrival. Any additional cost incurred in order to meet up with your group is at your own expense.
Star Inn Hotel
Dessewffy utca 36 - 6. Bezirk
Phone: 36 14722021
Fax: 36 14722010
Finish point description
Star Inn Hotel is a new property located in the heart of Budapest, near the famous opera house. With 24 hour reception, a bar and breakfast area, the rooms include private bathrooms, TV, internet access and hairdryer.
Finish point instructions
If you have pre booked a departure transfer, please inform your leader and they will notify you of your departure transfer time.
A taxi to the airport will cost approximately HUF4800-5500. Alternatively ask your trip leader or hotel for assistance booking an airport shuttle or using public transport. Journey times will vary between 20 minutes and 1 hour.
Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$400, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.
We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.
EUROPEAN COUNTRIES ON THIS TRIP (EXCLUDING RUSSIA, UKRAINE, TURKEY):
Australia: No - Not required
Belgium: No - Not required
Canada: No - Not required
Germany: No - Not required
Ireland: No - Not required
Netherlands: No - Not required
New Zealand: No - Not required
South Africa: Yes - in advance
Switzerland: No - Not required
UK: No - Not required
USA: No - Not required
Passports have to be carried, but normally you do not need to show them. Stamps are no longer issued at border crossings.
Issues on your trip
While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.
You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
What to take
What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage and although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage (max 30 minutes), we recommend keeping the weight under 10kg / 22lb.
Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.
You can find Intrepid's Ultimate Packing List on our website. It should be used as a guide only and isn't intended to be a complete packing list.
TRAVELLING ON LOCAL TRANSPORT:
It's important that your bags can be locked, as on local transport it may be necessary to store your luggage separately (and unattended) from the group. The smaller your bag the better for you and other passengers, for when it comes to travelling on local buses and trains it's often only the smaller bags that will fit into the storage areas. If your bag does not fit in these areas then often the only place to put it is on your bed or seat. To ensure maximum comfort, try to pack small and light.
Where Intrepid covers the cost of luggage storage for included day trips, we allow for one bag/backpack only, so it's advisable that you travel lightly and keep luggage to a limit of one item (plus your day pack). Extra luggage storage will be at your own expense.
Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion ends up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please consider water purification techniques such as iodine or micropur and use the water dispensers which are provided at some of our accommodation. When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day
All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.
We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.
Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your group leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your group leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.
For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:
Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.
TRAFFIC AND DRIVING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD:
Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware!
PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY:
While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.
Other common scams operating in Europe include ploys to get you fined on the metro without a validated ticket. Ensure that you always travel with a validated ticket (have your ticket stamped). Another common scam is used by children who distract you with a map or a newspaper and while you are attending to them, steal your valuables.
Please note that helmets are not always provided for sightseeing on bicycles.
Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.
When travelling on a group trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.
If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.
Please go to our website for links to various travel insurance providers:
We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller:
In general, there are few dress restrictions in Europe. Note when visiting churches that modest dress is required - shorts or skimpy tops may not be permitted.
A couple of rules
Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Intrepid travellers. Intrepid's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.
The Intrepid Foundation
Since Intrepid Travel commenced operating in 1989 we've been committed to giving something back to the communities we visit. One way has been through our support for local humanitarian, development and conservation projects. Many of our travellers want to contribute something too. Whilst it is often tempting to give hand-outs to those less fortunate, this has the potential to promote a culture of begging and dependency. Handouts are not a sustainable way for individuals or communities to live. That’s why we established The Intrepid Foundation – to make it easier for travellers wishing to give back to communities in an effective and meaningful way.
The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit fund offering a selection of excellent grassroots organisations which you can contribute to. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation will be matched by Intrepid Travel dollar for dollar (up to AU$5,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your group leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:
Carbon Offset C02-e 184.00 kgs per pax.
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