Speaking of traditions... From castles to concerts to cafés, time-honored traditions from across the centuries are at the heart of cultural life in the historic cities and across the idyllic countryside you’ll explore on a two-week trip through the center of “old Europe.”
And they’re often variations on a theme: Sipping coffee in a café on a sunny square surrounded by medieval buildings in Kraków or Budapest or Vienna or Prague... perhaps enjoying a pastry known to Hungarians as rétes, to Czechs as závin, to Austrians as strüdel... or listening to local musicians play melodies by Chopin in Warsaw, Mozart in a private palace in Vienna, or Beethoven during a special evening at Lobkowicz Palace at Prague Castle featuring a private Princely Collections tour, reception and dinner... and more.
Tour begins: 6:00 PM, Hotel Bristol, Warsaw. A transfer is included from Warsaw Frederic Chopin Airport to your historic hotel on Warsaw's fashionable "Royal Route." Meet your travel companions and your Tauck Director at tonight's welcome reception and dinner in the hotel, a Warsaw landmark for over a century.
Explore Warsaw & enjoy the music of Chopin
Although more than 85% of Warsaw was destroyed or damaged in World War II, the city has been rebuilt into one of Europe’s most vibrant capitals, using pre-war paintings and sketches to painstakingly reconstruct many historic buildings, restoring them to their former glory. See the results for yourself on a guided sightseeing tour including the Palace of Culture; Radziwill Palace, where the beloved composer Frederic Chopin gave his first concert; the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier; the Grand Theatre; and Constitution Square. Continue with a walking tour through 13th- and 14th-century Old Town (Stare Miasto), and a visit to the Jewish Ghetto Memorial honoring the victims of the Warsaw Ghetto and the heroes of the 1943 uprising. Chopin’s music comes to life at a private piano recital in the early evening, followed by a dinner featuring typical Polish cuisine and folkloric entertainment at a local restaurant.
Across the heart of Poland to Kraków / Old Town
Head across the Polish countryside to ancient Kraków – the country's medieval capital and considered one of the finest medieval cities in Europe – for a two-night stay. After lunch, take a walking tour of the city's Old Town, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, including the Jagiellonian University, the Franciscan Church and the Archbishop's Palace, where Karol Wojtyla lived for two decades before becoming Pope John Paul II. Enjoy dinner at your hotel tonight.
Kazimierz or Wawel & Kraków or Auschwitz
You'll have a choice of sightseeing this morning, choosing to explore the former Jewish Quarter, known as Kazimierz (holidays permitting) – nearly destroyed in World War II but now restored and enjoying a Renaissance – or journeying to Wawel Hill on the banks of the Vistula to see Wawel Castle, the seat of Polish kings from the 11th to 17th centuries, and visit inside iconic Wawel Cathedral, Poland's national sanctuary and historic royal coronation site. In the afternoon, you're free to explore Kraków on your own or join an excursion to the poignant memorial and museum at Auschwitz, 40 miles from the city.
Through the Tatra Mountains to Budapest
Travel from Poland through the scenic Tatra Mountains, stopping for lunch in Slovakia en route to Hungary. Arrive in Budapest, where you'll have dinner tonight – with wine included – aboard Tauck's private dinner cruise on the Danube River for a unique view of the Hungarian capital's amazing architecture, illuminated at night. Spend the next three nights in the heart of this historic city.
Stunning architecture and more in Pest
Today, take a close-up look at fascinating Budapest as your Eastern Europe and Poland tour reveals landmarks in the city's Pest section, on the eastern side of the Danube. See the embassy district, City Park, Andrassy Avenue and Heroes' Square; visit the opulent State Opera House, St. Stephen's Basilica and Dohány Synagogue (holidays permitting). This evening, cross the Danube to the Buda side of the city for dinner at Jamie's Italian, Buda Castle, one of British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver's first restaurants in Central Europe.
Parliament, beautiful Buda and Castle Hill
Start today's Budapest sightseeing with a morning visit to Hungary's Parliament building in Pest, a neo-Gothic masterpiece. Then head over to Buda to admire the frescoes and stained glass windows inside the Gothic Matthias Church, where the final two Hungarian kings were crowned; see Fisherman's Bastion overlooking the Danube, with its neo-Romanesque design; and explore the cobblestone streets of Castle Hill, offering more splendid views of the city. After lunch at a local restaurant in Buda, enjoy a Tauck Exclusive: a private after-hours visit with a lecture and reception at the Imre Nagy Memorial House in Budapest, a museum in the restored home of Hungarian Prime Minister Imre Nagy, who was secretly tried and executed in 1958, after the Soviets put down the 1956 Hungarian Revolution.
Spend the afternoon in Bratislava en route to Vienna
Your Eastern Europe and Poland tour winds its way from Hungary through Slovakia en route to Austria. After lunch, stop in Slovakia's capital city of Bratislava this afternoon to explore some 17 centuries worth of history on a walking tour with a local guide, visiting the Old Town Hall and St. Martin's Cathedral, followed by some time on your own. Then continue on to glorious Vienna, the Austrian capital and former center of the Habsburg empire, for a three-night stay the Hotel Bristol, Vienna – one of Europe's most celebrated hotels – where you'll enjoy dinner at your leisure tonight.
Vienna's fine arts, Schönbrunn Palace & strüdel-making
Drive along Vienna's famous Ringstrasse and the Danube River, and view the vast Habsburg art collections on a guided visit to the Museum of Fine Arts (Kunsthistorisches). Then enjoy a gourmet cooking demonstration on how to make the city's famed strüdel – with a tasting, of course – at Schönbrunn Palace, built by Empress Maria Theresa to rival Versailles; boasting 1,400 rooms, including a Hall of Mirrors, it served as the summer residence for Austria's Habsburg emperors. Have lunch at the palace, and take a guided tour of its opulent State Apartments. The rest of the day is yours to enjoy wondrous Vienna as you wish.
A day of treasures & a music-filled night in Vienna
Take a walking tour through medieval Vienna and its historic Jewish Quarter; return to your landmark hotel and spend the afternoon exploring more of Vienna as you please. This evening, enjoy dinner at the renowned Café Landtmann – the quintessential Viennese coffee house since 1873 – then attend a private concert featuring the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Johann Strauss, held in a historic Viennese palace.
Goodbye, Vienna and on to Prague for an afternoon tour
Bid remarkable Vienna goodbye this morning and travel to Prague, the ancient capital of today's Czech Republic, where you'll spend three nights at The Grand Mark Prague, a former 15th-century Baroque palace in the heart of the city. After lunch, discover this beautiful city's roots on a walking tour of Old Town, linked to the castle district by the ornate Charles Bridge – lined with statues from centuries past, and alive with street musicians, artists, craftspersons and people out for a stroll. Take in the Powder Tower, the Astronomical Clock, Jan Palach Square, the Municipal House and other landmarks of this, one of Europe's best-preserved historic cities.
Prague's Castle District & a Tauck Exclusive
Explore Prague's Hradcany (Castle District) on a tour today, including remarkable Prague Castle; dating to the 9th century, it's not a single castle, but a complex of palaces, courtyards, museums, monasteries, and ceremonial halls that has served as the country’s traditional seat of power for a thousand years. Visit the Cathedral of St. Vitus, the coronation site for Czech kings and queens, and enjoy an exclusive-to-Tauck, privately guided tour of the opulent Baroque libraries of Strahov Monastery before spending the afternoon and evening just as you please.
A choice in Prague & an exclusive palace evening
Continue your exploration of Prague – which seems to grow more beautiful each day – with a walking tour of Wenceslas Square and a visit to the historic Estates Theatre, followed by a choice – an architectural tour of Prague highlighting its grand blend of styles from the medieval Town Hall to the Art Nouveau Municipal House; or an exploration of the Jewish Quarter (Josefov), including the Old-New Synagogue, founded in the 13th century, and the Pinkus and Maisel synagogues (holidays permitting). This evening, join us for our Tauck Exclusive farewell event at Lobkowicz Palace in Prague Castle, including a private tour of the palace's Princely Collections, a reception and a gala farewell dinner.
Tour ends: Prague, Czech Republic. A transfer is included from The Grand Mark Prague to Prague's Václav Havel International Airport. Please allow a minimum of 3 hours for flight check-in.