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, or Mozart in a private palace in Vienna...
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.
By rail to Kraków & its Old Town
Start the day with a rail journey from Warsaw – aboard a car in second-class, exclusively for Tauck guests – 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. Upon arrival, 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. After your tour, check into your Kraków hotel; enjoy dinner at your hotel at leisure tonight.
Kazimierz or Wawel & Kraków or Auschwitz
You'll have a choice of sightseeing this morning, choosing to explore Kraków's 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
Today, wind your way from Budapest and 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. Upon arrival, join us for a guided walking tour of the historic Vienna area around your hotel before enjoying dinner at your leisure tonight.
Imperial Reception, Schönbrunn after-hours & more
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). After some free time in Vienna this afternoon, head early this evening to 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. Here, you'll enjoy an Imperial Reception at the Gloriette – the grand 18th-century pavillion in the Palace's magnificent gardens – then take a guided, after-hours tour of Schönbrunn's opulent State Apartments, followed by dinner.
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 the next three luxurious nights in the heart of the city at Four Seasons Hotel Prague, overlooking the Vltava River, Prague Castle and Charles Bridge. 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 & a farewell 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 reception and dinner at a local venue in Prague.
Tour ends: Prague, Czech Republic. A transfer is included from Four Seasons Hotel Prague to Prague's Václav Havel International Airport. Please allow a minimum of 3 hours for flight check-in.