Travel from Vienna to Dubrovnik on a tour through Austria, the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro and Croatia. Discover a region where the past continues to weave its spell through alpine towns and green valleys, and emanates from medieval castles and austere monasteries - getting a sense of the hidden magic of Central Europe. Traversing nine countries, there is much to see and plenty of opportunity to experience the culture and the people of this enchanting pocket of Europe. Better yet, there's loads of flexibility for you to do it your own way.
Day 1 - Vienna
Welcome to Vienna, Austria. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. If you do happen to arrive early, why not walk around to get your bearings or, better yet, take a spin on the famous Prater Ferris Wheel nearby for a bird’s eye view. Your base for the next couple of nights is Magdas Hotel – a social enterprise dedicated to supporting refugees in a united and compassionate workplace in Vienna. Magdas employs staff from across the world, so expect to hear many accents from a range of backgrounds. The hotel itself is an eclectic mix of styles, décor and furniture, and used to house a homeless shelter before being renovated for its current purpose. Be sure to check out your surroundings and have a chat to some of the staff! After your important meeting, why not use tonight to get you know your travel pals over some dinner.
Day 2 - Vienna
Join your leader for a walk through the city's compact centre this morning (approximately 2 hours). Stop at the gothic St Stephen’s Cathedral, wander past the neo-classical Graben and have a look at the Hofburg Palace. Continue along the Ringstrasse and then finish your orientation walk of the city at the State Opera House – one of the world's most important opera houses and the heart of classical Viennese culture. This afternoon is then free for you to keep on checking out the sights of the city. Art lovers have a so much choice when it comes to museums, such as the Albertina, located in the Museum Quarter. Otherwise, you might like to head out to Schoenbrunn for a guided audio tour of the grand summer palace, designed by Empress Maria Theresa. Tonight is also all yours too – it might mean snatching a last-minute ticket to an opera performance or getting some of your crew together for a twilight picnic in one of the city’s many parks.
Day 3 - Cesky Krumlov
Depart Vienna by minivan in the morning and cross the border into the Czech Republic (approximately 3.5 hours). Your next stop is the southern Bohemian town of Cesky Krumlov. This picturesque medieval town dates back to the 13th century and looks like it’s straight out of a fairy tale. Cesky Krumlov means 'crooked meadow', and that makes sense because it’s situated on a tight bend of the Vltava River. Swap a vehicle for two wheels on a cycling trip this afternoon across rolling hills and through tiny hamlets (approximately 2-2.5 hours). If you have time later on, you could explore the city's castle and its fabulous masquerade hall, or climb the central tower for panoramic views over the town.
Day 4 - Cesky Krumlov
Today is a free for you to enjoy as you please. Perhaps take an optional guided walking tour of the town, which lets you in on the mysteries that lie behind every shopfront and house on the crooked laneways. For those who want a bit more culture, you could visit the Egon Schiele Art Centrum and browse the gallery that's dedicated to the Austrian painter. If you’re after something more active, jump into a canoe and check out the town from a different perspective – on the Vltava River.
Day 5 - Prague
Leave Cesky Krumlov in your dust and travel by bus to Prague (approximately 4 hours). On arrival into Prague, head out on an orientation walk with your leader so you can get your bearings of the local neighbourhood. For your free afternoon and evening, why not discover another great side of Prague – its music! The city has one of the longest-standing and respected jazz scenes in Europe, with jazz clubs playing into the early hours of the morning. Otherwise, have a wander along Charles Bridge or Old Town Square for some magical photo opportunities.
Day 6 - Prague
Today is free to explore Prague. The city offers many possibilities, so perhaps take a walk around the Jewish Quarter and pay your respects at the Gothic-inspired Old Jewish Cemetery. This is Europe's oldest surviving Jewish cemetery, with 12,000 tombstones and 100,000 graves. There is also the Museum of Communism, which details the struggles of many European countries and their political rule in the 19th and 20th centuries. Tonight, be sure to check back in with your group and perhaps organise some dinner and drinks in one of the city’s renowned beer halls – it’s a perfect way to Czech off another day in Prague.
Day 7 - Prague
You have one more free day in Prague as there is so much to see. You might like to 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. Otherwise, a bike tour through the city is a great way to see a lot of the sights and attractions in a short period of time, plus you’ll work off some of that hearty Czech cuisine you’ve been digging into. Or hop on one of the Urban Adventures on offer. If you can make time, why not take a day trip out of town and visit the medieval Kutna Hora – if you do get there, the Bone Church (Sedlec Ossuary) is a particularly unique experience.
Day 8 - Gory Sowie
Heading north by train, arrive in the small town of Broumov from where you'll cross the Czech–Polish border. From here you'll be transferred in a private vehicle to a small village near to Gory Sowie (Owl Mountains). Today's travel time will be around 4 hours in total. On arrival, check in to your accommodation, situated at the foot of highest mountain in the range – Wielka Sowa, then visit a nearby underground city from the tragic times of the WWII. Osowka is a mysterious underground complex where people from concentration camps were forced to work in order to create huge systems of concrete corridors, fortifications and halls. As the work was kept in secret, until now there is many theories trying to explain what the underground city was meant to be used for. Find out yourself on an included guided visit this afternoon.
Day 9 - Krakow
Continue east today by private vehicle and head to Krakow (approximately 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. Take part in a leader-led orientation walk with your group, and once you know your whereabouts, you could go and discover one of the biggest – and arguably most beautiful – medieval squares in Central Europe. Tonight is again all yours to do as you please – a good idea is to make your way to the Jewish Quarter for its laidback vibes and good food.
Day 10 - Krakow
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 the second oldest university in Central Europe. Jagiellonian University 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 was in operation for over 700 years and is a World Heritage-listed site. Today is also an opportune time to book in to visit the former Nazi concentration camp in Auschwitz-Birkenau, if this interests you. Be sure to book your tickets well in advance. At night, pull up a pew and indulge in a plate of pierogi and a few beers to say cheers to another day.
Day 11 - Tatra Mountains
Say farewell to Krakow today and travel by local buses through southern Poland to Zakopane where you will switch for private transport (approximately 5 hours total). The trip may be long and a little slow, but the scenery of rolling hills and tiny villages will keep your eyes occupied. Tatranska Lomnica is your destination in Slovakia. It's 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 kilometres across the Polish-Slovakian border and are a hiker’s dream. The evening is free for you to enjoy as you please, and perhaps the best way to do it is to sit back, relax and soak up the atmosphere of this beautiful mountainous region.
Day 12 - Tatra Mountains
This morning, head out on an included hike in the High Tatra Mountains. The most known route is about 6 kilometres 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 pace and distance will be decided on the day, depending on weather and group abilities – parts of it will involve travelling by funicular, gondola and electric train. During the walk, 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 and enjoy the remainder of the day in this beautiful location.
Day 13 - Budapest
You have an early start today for the long journey to Budapest. 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 neighbourhood to get your bearings. The grand architecture and boulevards, café culture and interesting laneways 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 eclectic ‘ruin’ bars in the Jewish Quarter is a sure-fire way to have a good night out with your crew.
Day 14 - Budapest
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 Buda Castle for spectacular views of the Parliament Building and the Pest side of the city. You could 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 to 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. See urbanadventures.com for more information.
Day 15 - Budapest
Enjoy a full free day in Budapest, Hungary's intoxicating capital. Admire intricate carvings on resplendent buildings, cross the iconic Chain Bridge to explore the Castle District, perhaps uncover national history on a visit to Heroes' Square, or simply meander through winding streets snacking on local delicacies.
Day 16 - Budapest
Today you have another full free day to explore Budapest. With so much to see and do, hiring a bicycle is another great way to move between the sights. You might like to take a tour of the beautiful Hungarian State Opera House, or check out the Hungarian National Museum.
Day 17 - Osijek
Travel by private van through the Hungarian Puszta and cross the border into Croatia to a land of cornfields, vineyards and pastel-hued villages, famed for its cuisine – arriving at the Slavonian capital of Osijek (approximately 4 hours). This laid-back university town features an enchanting medieval citadel (tvrđa), as well as the Upper Town, only a short walk along the banks of the Drava. Many cafes line the river, inviting you to join in on the Croatian national pastime: people watching. Osijek is a fairly well-designed city easily navigated on foot. There are also numerous cycling routes throughout the city. Navigate the hallways of grand buildings, stroll along the banks of the Drava River or pick up the true flavours of this destination at a local cafe. Our accommodation is at our long-time friend's guesthouse, located right inside the citadel. The guesthouse is family owned, and local wine and craft beer are always on offer.
Day 18 - Osijek
Today is a free day to explore Osijek and its surrounds. You might like to visit the small provincial town of Dakovo, about 35 kilometres south of Osijek. The town is dominated by an impressive neo-Romanesque cathedral. While here, don't miss seeing a workout session at the Lipizzaner horse training stables and learn about their history from a local guide. You could also use the day to do a full day trip that includes a visit to the wetlands of Kopacki Rit Nature Reserve for a spot of bird watching, nearby Tikves Castle, historical Batina Hill from where you can see both Hungary and Serbia across the Danube, wine tasting at Belje wine cellar and lunch at the etno-village at Karanac. In Osijek itself there’s the Museum of Slavonia and the Archaeological Museum to explore. Or you could just hire a bike and cycle around this delightful region. However you're feeling, there are plenty of options to choose from today. This evening, maybe discover some of the best cuisine in Croatia with traditional dishes like fiš paprikas (fish stew with hand-made noodles), kulen (spicy sausages), and čobanac (stew).
Day 19 - Vukovar / Ilok / Novi Sad
Today travel to Novi Sad by private minibus. Learn more about recent history by taking a side trip to nearby Vukovar en-route, a town that symbolises the devastation of the recent war – the town fell in 1991 after the fiercest and most protracted battle seen in Europe since 1945. The town's ruined water tower now stands as a memorial of the ethnic war that raged in this region during the early 1990s. Our stop includes a visit of the local hospital and the museum in its basement. It was used as a refuge during the siege, and the group will be shown around and hear wartime stories from hospital staff, some of whom still work here and who were among the few survivors. Next up is a visit to a local vineyard in quaint Ilok to see the workings of a family-run vineyard. The old wine cellar dates back to 1450, and is the first originally purpose built wine cellar in this part of Europe. Taste a range of their wines, including the famous Ilok Traminac Premium wine, which was served at the celebration of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Head across the border into Serbia to the historic town of Novi Sad (approximately 1 hour). Sitting on the banks of the Danube River, the city is surrounded by fertile farms and vineyards and features an interesting mix of traditional Serbian cultural heritage and Austro-Hungarian architecture. During your free afternoon make sure you stop by the city’s fortress of Petrovaradin, which sits right on the Danube and contains a museum of historic artefacts from the region.
Day 20 - Belgrade
Travel by two-hour train or bus to Belgrade. Known as the' White City', Belgrade is one of the oldest cities in Europe. Sitting at the confluence of two major rivers the – Sava and the Danube – it’s an important intersection between Eastern and Western Europe. Here you’ll experience an energetic mix of progressive flamboyance and conservative customs. On arrival, enjoy a guided tour of the city’s wide boulevards and squares, and the historic and green heart of Kalemegdan Park. The park is home to Kalemegdan Fortress, which has overlooked the Danube River here for centuries. In the evening, head down to Skadarska Street in the bohemian quarter of Skadarlija to sample some authentic local food and enjoy the lively atmosphere, in a place where Orthodox churches vie for space next to fashionable nightclubs.
Day 21 - Belgrade
Today is a free day to further discover Belgrade. You might like to take a cruise along the Danube River, passing the Kalemegdan Fortress, Pancevo Bridge and Zemun. Make sure you visit the imposing Hram Svetog Save (St Sava Church). Alternatively the local market Zeleni Venac can keep you occupied for hours. Perhaps take a stroll through the Nikola Tesla Museum to learn about the life and work of Serbia's greatest inventor, or check out the city's Ethnographic or Military Museums. You can climb the 36-metre, 1896 Gardos tower in Zemun for sweeping views of the city and the Danube, or get a crash course in Serbian contemporary art at Zepter Museum. If the weather is warm, why not brave the crowds on Ada Ciganlija beach, where you can swim, take part in water-sports or simply soak up the sun with a cocktail. Throughout the summer months, Belgrade hosts a variety of musical and cultural events and the city is abuzz with people and activities. The city’s nightlife has become legendary throughout Europe, with several hundred floating bars, restaurants and nightclubs lining the Danube and Sava rivers.
Day 22 - Sarajevo
Today travel by bus through beautiful countryside to Sarajevo. The journey will take around eight hours in total, so sit back and enjoy the scenery. Sarajevo is Bosnia and Herzegovina's small but vibrant capital. Twenty years after the end of a devastating war, Sarajevo is slowly asserting itself as one of Europe's most beautiful and interesting destinations. The city often draws comparisons with Istanbul as a city that mixes east and west – dotted with minarets, mosques, bazaars and the aroma of coffee. On arrival, embark on a guided tour to gain an insight into the history and culture of the city. Sarajevo is one of the few cities in the world that features an Orthodox church, a Catholic church and a mosque (the famous Begova Džamija) all within close proximity. In the evening, perhaps enjoy a simple but delicious meal in Bascarsija, Sarajevo's old bazaar. Out from here the city’s history unfolds – from Ottoman-era buildings to the elaborate constructions of the Austro-Hungarian period and on to the ugly structures of the communists. Try the local speciality of bosanski cevapi (grilled minced meat mixed with mild spices).
Day 23 - Mostar / Sarajevo
Today head out of Sarajevo for a day trip to Mostar, a town situated in a beautiful valley in the high mountains of Herzegovina (approximately 2.5 hours). Thanks to the river Neretva Mostar was able to develop as a city in the barren landscape of Herzegovina. Neretva's size turned Mostar into a trading centre of the region very early on. The city was the most heavily bombed settlement in Bosnia during the war, but it has since been rebuilt and now features on UNESCO's World Heritage list. On arrival, head to the famous Stari Most Bridge, first built by the Ottomans in 1565 – it was the great architect Mimar Hajrudin who succeeded with the impossible mission to cross the Neretva River with a single span stone bridge. The bridge also made headline news during the Yugoslav wars when it was destroyed in 1993. It was rebuilt and reopened in 2004, and there’s an interesting museum about its history next to the bridge itself. If you’re lucky you’ll see the famous bridge divers hurl themselves into the icy waters below. It’s a tradition for the young men of the town to make the jump, and it’s now an annual competition. In the evening, return to Sarajevo, where you'll enjoy a cooking class and included dinner at your pension.
Day 24 - Sarajevo
Enjoy a free day in and around Sarajevo. You could take an optional day trip out to the thermal springs and green parks of Ilidza, the source of the River Bosna. You might prefer to discover local history with a visit to the History Museum and the Sarajevo War Tunnels (dug underneath the airport runway and used to smuggle provisions into the city during its siege), or learn about the tragedies faced by the city's Jews at the Jewish Museum. Perhaps get cultural with a stroll through the Art Gallery of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Perhaps return to Baščaršija and get lost in the mosques, caravanserais, and stone-vaulted bazaars, snacking on burek or ćevapi, or ramble along through Park Prinčeva for views of the city. The Pivnica HS brewery, which also has a restaurant, is a good place to sample local award-winning beer and spend an evening.
Day 25 - Durmitor National Park / Niksic
Board our private transfer and travel through beautiful countryside to Montenegro, arguably one of the most stunning countries in the world. The drive today is long (approx 7-9 hours) but very scenic, and we will stop numerous times, so have your camera at the ready. Get back to nature by travelling into the heart of the beautiful Durmitor National Park. This World Heritage site was formed by glaciers and is crisscrossed with rugged mountains (40 of which reach over 2,000 metres in height), pristine pine forests, two deep canyons, rivers, crystal lakes and underground streams. Enjoy a hike through this wonderful, lesser-explored wilderness, along the shores of a lake (approx 2km). Keep an eye out for some of the 163 species of bird or 50 species of mammal that the region is home to. If you prefer to opt out of the hike you can instead just take in the tranquil surrounds until the group returns. Continue to the nearby town of Niksic where you will spend the night.
Day 26 - Kotor
Today drive to Kotor (approximately 3 hours). This 5th-century World Heritage-listed city is set on a secluded bay, with towering peaks surrounding a rocky coastline dotted with pretty waterside towns. Upon arrival why not head out to see the 12th-century Cathedral of St Tryphun, the South Gates of Kotor (the Gurdich Gate) and the Armoury Square (Trg od oruzija). You might like to get delightfully lost in the crooked alleyways, checking out the boutiques and cafes, or climb the hills behind the city to visit Kotor's ruined fortification walls. A one-and-a-half hour hike up the stone steps, past churches, gates, and bastions to the Fortress of Sveti Ivan at the top rewards you with magnificent views across town and the brooding Bay of Kotor. In the evening the city walls are prettily lit up to provide a unique night-time perspective.
Day 27 - Kotor
Today you have the opportunity to take part in optional day trips out of Kotor. Perhaps take a cruise on Kotor Fjord, visiting the twin islands of Our Lady of the Rocks and Sveti Dordje (St George), with its church in the middle of the bay. Legends has it that sailors once spotted an image of the Virgin Mary on a rock here, and so then each time they completed a successful voyage they added another rock as an offering. Eventually so many were added that an island emerged and the church was built on top of it. Alternatively, consider a trip to Budva, a mere 30-minute busy ride out of Kotor. With its busy beaches, charming Old Town, bustling restaurants and bars, Budva is like Montenegro's little version of Miami. For some more history, head up to Montenegro's former capital Cetinje, now a laidback village with grand mansions that were used as embassies in days gone by. Enjoy a final night in Kotor, perhaps by listening to some of the live music that gets the cobbled streets busy.
Day 28 - Dubrovnik
Depart Montenegro on a three-hour bus journey along the beautiful southern coast of Croatia to Dubrovnik. Dubrovnik's walled old town is often referred to as the pearl of the Adriatic despite its tiny size, and it's now famed for it's part in the TV show ‘Game of Thrones’. On arrival, head out on a walk along the city walls with your leader, enjoying views of the sparkling Adriatic Ocean. You'll also visit Big Onofrio's Fountain, built by the European architect Onofrio della Cava in the 15th century to supply water to the city. Afterwards, perhaps check out the 13th-century Franciscan monastery or the Sponza and Rector's Palaces, the only Renaissance buildings in the city to survive a devastating earthquake and fire in 1667. You might like to visit the city's War Photography Museum, or if you have time, even take a boat trip to nearby Lokrum Island, where you will find the French-built Fort Royal Castle, a monastery, and a botanical garden that dates back to when the Austrian archduke Maximilian had his holiday home on the island. At the end of your journey, perhaps you'd prefer to simply unwind on a beach. On the last night of your trip, why not enjoy one last meal with the group and toast to your adventures.
Day 29 - Dubrovnik
Today your adventure comes to an end. There are no activities planned and you are free to depart at any time. There's lots to see and do here in the wonderful city of Dubrovnik, so perhaps stay a few extra days.