Day - 1
Location: Prague - 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. Meeting details will be available at hotel reception or on a noticeboard nearby. Please have essential details such as passport number and insurance details on hand. If you're going to be late, please inform hotel reception.
Day - 2
Location: Prague - 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 is 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.
Day - 3
Location: Cesky Krumlov - Depart Prague by private mini bus 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/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.
Day - 4
Location: 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).
Day - 5
Location: Vienna - 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.
Day - 6
Location: Vienna - Today is free for you to explore Vienna's many possibilities. Art enthusiasts can choose from a number of 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 offers a good guided audio tour (avoid the queues by pre-booking tickets at www.schoenbrunn.at). Another excellent way to enjoy the afternoon is to take a spin on the Prater Ferris Wheel. A must-see for horse lovers is the Spanish Riding School. Regroup in the evening for included dinner in Wine Tavern.
Day - 7
Location: Budapest - 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.
Day - 8
Location: Budapest - 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.
Day - 9
Location: Tatra Mountains - Head for Slovakia, on private transport, to spend a night in the beautiful Tatra Mountains. En route make a stop at Godollo Palace, an imperial and royal Hungarian palace, the favorite 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 be assured of several stops along the way. Make sure your camera is ready to capture the beauty of this land. Late afternoon and early evening is yours to explore the surroundings as you wish. Perhaps embark on a short walk, or simply relax in this splendorous setting.
Day - 10
Location: Tatra 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 on foot as you embark on a guided walk with your experienced leader. It won’t be very challenging, but basic level of fitness will help you to enjoy it to the fullest. The walk is about 6km in length and it is normally completed in 3 hours, including stops on the way. The route includes gradual hill ascents and descents and walking on gravel and uneven rocky surfaces with some slippery sections. The walk itself will be decided on the day, depending on weather and group abilities – parts of it will involve traveling by funicular, gondola and electric train and a snack lunch will be supplied during the trek. An alternative and much easier route can be suggested by the tour leader to those that do not wish to complete the long hike. We recommend a good pair of comfortable shoes and clothes for unpredictable mountainous weather. You'll arrive back at your accommodation in the early afternoon, and the remainder of the day is free for you to enjoy.
Day - 11
Location: Krakow - 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. Next up is delightful Zalipie, a small ancient village where nearly every immovable object is decorated with colourful floral motives. It’s believed the tradition began when women would whitewash soot stains caused by cooking stoves. Whitewash was eventually replaced by intricately painted flower patterns, and though modern appliances and better ventilation eliminated stove soot, the practice of painting flowers spread like… well… wildflowers. They now cover nearly every house, chicken coop and doghouse in town. From this tiny village it’s off to Poland’s second largest city, Krakow, where you’ll arrive in early evening.
Day - 12
Location: Krakow - 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. This city is a place of deep history and myth, having grown from a Stone Age settlement into a major cosmopolitan metropolis – Poland's second largest.
Day - 13
Location: Krakow - Enjoy a free day in Krakow. No visit is complete without seeing Kazimierz, the Old Jewish district, for its many museums, historical centre of the city’s Jewish social and religious life, now enjoying a renaissance as a Bohemian quarter. Besides art cafes, galleries and antique shops there’s Schindler’s Factory, a museum devoted to the German occupation of Krakow in WWII housed in the former enamel factory of Oskar Schindler, who famously saved the lives of Jewish workers during the Holocaust. If the weather’s nice visit Kościuszko Mound for panoramic views of Kraków. The Galicia Jewish Museum is a sobering and compelling exhibition centre dedicated to the history of Polish Jews. Visit Auswitsch to learn about the tragic history of Holocaust, or wander Krakow's atmospheric Old Town.
Day - 14
Location: Wroclaw - Travel onwards towards Wroclaw, taking an important stop along the way to Nowa Huta – a relic of Poland's communist past. This former town, now a district of Krakow, is one of only two planned socialist realist settlements ever build and serves as one of the most renowned examples of deliberate social engineering on the globe. Join in on a guided tour of the district and learn about a part of Polish history often overlooked – a tragic time for locals and the country's entire history. Chase it down with a vodka tasting session, straight with shot glasses and washed down with a gherkin and bread. Arrive in Wroclaw in the late afternoon and enjoy a wander around one of the most beautiful main squares in this part of Europe.
Day - 15
Location: Wroclaw - Enjoy a morning guided tour with a local guide. Along the way you will visit Panorama Racławicka, a spectacular and rare example of 19th-century mass culture depicting a famous episode of the Kościuszko Insurrection. The 15 x 114 metre cycloramic painting is lauded as a lasting tribute to the fight for Polish independence. For lunch, enjoy a traditional meal at Spiz Brewery in the cellars of the Town Hall. The afternoon is at your leisure.
Day - 16
Location: Walbrzych - Spend a morning at your leisure before being transferred to Ksiaz Castle. A guided tour will reveal the many mysteries surrounding its history, which began in the 13th-century but which became lurid with the planned moving of Hitler’s headquarters from northeastern Poland to Ksiaz in 1944. At least two kilometres of tunnels dug beneath the castle were meant to connect it to a top-secret Nazi military compound hidden beneath the surrounding Sowie Mountains. Ultimately abandoned, this costly project remains one of WWII's greatest mysteries, and many of the vast underground tunnels are open to the public.
Day - 17
Location: Berlin - Travel to Berlin and stopover in Boleslawiec, home of famous polish pottery. Manual manufacturing based on a traditional technology and openness to new decorative elements made Boleslawiec pottery famous around the world. The durable and functional creamy white and blue stoneware pieces are unique and easily identifiable. Take part in a guided exclusive tour of one of the cooperative factories and perhaps take a chance to take some of these unique pieces home. Continue on to Berlin for a late arrival and farewell dinner with your group. Please note there is no time to discover Berlin today, so the orientation walk will be held on a last day of the trip after the breakfast.
Day - 18
Location: Berlin - Today is the last day of the trip and you are free to leave when you wish, however our experienced leader will take a short orientation walk for those who are interested. Berlin has a lot to offer so it is highly recommended to stay an extra day or two to discover the city. Orientation walk will be finished by midday.