12259
Eastern Europe
The Best of Central Europe: Krakow, Budapest, Vienna, Prague
Immerse yourself in the exquisite artistry of four of Europe’s great cities, gaining a comprehensive understanding of historical monuments, cultural treasures and world-class art.
Rating (5)
Program No. 12259RJ
Length
18 days
Starts at
4,699
Flights start at
850
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18 days
17 nights
42 meals
16 B 14 L 12 D
Getting There
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DAY
1
In Transit to Program
In Flight
DAY
2
Welcome to Krakow, Orientation
Krakow
D
Novotel Krakow Centrum

Activity note: Check-in available from 3:00 PM.

Afternoon: 5:00 PM Welcome to Krakow. Your Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the program theme, the up-to-date Daily Schedule and any changes, discuss safety guidelines, emergency procedures, roles and responsibilities, and answer any questions you may have. Indicated times are approximate. Program activities, schedules, and personnel may need to change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. Krakow is the residence of Polish kings and is the first European city to be included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. For centuries Krakow flourished due to its political status, and as a leader in the development of commerce, craft, art and science. A cradle of Polish culture, Krakow is truly a romantic city with a labyrinth of charming restaurants, coffee-shops, and museums. Take an orientation walk through the Old Market Square, often called "Krakow's saloon."

Dinner: Welcome dinner at a local restaurant. Unless otherwise noted, dinners on this program are typically a three-course set menu. Please note that water is included in the program cost at all meals.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
3
Wawel Castle and Cathedral, Collegium Maius
Krakow
B,L
Novotel Krakow Centrum

Breakfast: Hotel dining room. On this program, breakfasts will offer a typical European style breakfast buffet with breads, cheeses, cold-cuts, yogurt, fruit, cereals, juice, milk, coffee, tea and water.

Morning: The 16th century brought Krakow to a state of unprecedented splendor. Hear a lecture: "Krakow - City of Art and Culture." Then take an expert-led field trip of the Wawel Castle and Cathedral, a testament to the golden times in the "City of Kings," and the political and cultural center of Poland until the early 17th century. Explore the Royal Chambers featuring rare ancient treasures, period furniture and Polish and European paintings. Admire the collection of 16th century Flemish tapestries, some of which were designed by Michael van Coxcie, the "Flemish Raphael." The breathtaking interior of the Cathedral stands as a collective work of Italian genius including Georg Pench, Santi Gucci and Hermann Vischer, and Sigismund's Chapel, designed by Bartolomeo Berecci, has been hailed by art historians as the "most beautiful example of the Tuscan Renaissance north of the Alps."

Lunch: Light lunch at a local restaurant. Unless otherwise noted, lunches on this program are typically a two-course set menu.

Afternoon: One of Krakow's gems is the Collegium Maius, one of Europe's first universities. The astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus, who revolutionized European science, remains the most illustrious of Krakow's graduates, along with Pope John Paul II. This museum boasts splendid historic rooms, a great collection of old European art, and unique science instruments. It is also a sort of cultural repository for Poland; famous Poles donate their awards to be displayed here. Continue on foot to the Old Market Square, one of the largest medieval Europe squares in existence. Its surroundings have remained unchanged for almost 700 years. Throughout the Middle Ages, many first-rate artists worked in Krakow and created what you see today. Visit the church of St. Mary's, home of the wooden altarpiece by Veit Stoss, the world's greatest Gothic sculptor; Stoss' work can be seen weaved throughout the entire city.

Dinner: Explore local fare on your own.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
Saint Leonard's Church, Wieliczka Salt Mine
Krakow
B,L
Novotel Krakow Centrum

Activity note: Please note that generally, the standard excursion at the Wieliczka Salt Mine includes 200 stairs. If the standard excursion is not available due to technical reasons, the visit will include 400 stairs. This is uncommon, but we thought you should know. If you decide to opt out of the excursion, you may sit in the café at the top of the salt mine.

Breakfast: Hotel dining room.

Morning: Today take a drive to the small village of Lipnica Murowana, home to a little wooden wonder; Saint Leonard's Church. Built in the late 16th century, this church is one of six wooden churches in southern Poland listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Among the oldest and best-preserved Gothic temples, the church is a marvel of medieval wooden architecture. Bus transfer to Wieliczka which is not far from Lipnica Murowana.

Lunch: Light lunch at a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Take a field trip to the Wieliczka Salt Mine, a world-class attraction. Over 700 years, many generations of Polish miners created this amazing underground world. Exceptional in its beauty, the mine contains rich interior chapels, galleries and underground salt lakes. The Wieliczka Salt Mine is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Bus transfer to Krakow.

Dinner: Explore local fare on your own.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
Auschwitz & Birkenau
Krakow
B,L,D
Novotel Krakow Centrum

Breakfast: Hotel dining room.

Morning: Depart for Oswiecim with the Auschwitz & Birkenau Museum, the symbol of the holocaust. The site of the camp houses the museum, where documents concerning Nazi crimes are exhibited. A local expert will lead you through the camp and museum. Then return to Krakow.

Lunch: Light lunch at a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Enjoy free time this afternoon. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities, which can be found in the first Information Packet. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions.

Dinner: Dine in the Kazimierz District, the ancient heart of Jewish Krakow. Taste Jewish cooking delicacies and enjoy a nostalgic Klezmer music concert.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
6
Icons of Polish Modernism and Avant Garde
Krakow
B,L,D
Novotel Krakow Centrum

Breakfast: Hotel dining room.

Morning: A key time period that is fundamental to understanding the Polish mentality is the years of WWII. The tragedy of the Holocaust appears in Polish art to this day; an ever-present point of reference and eternal memento. Visit the Gallery of Polish Art of the 20th-Century, an exhibition that is provocative and challenging at times, and very traditional at others. The core of the exhibition focuses on the exploration of mainstream 20th-century Polish art, and is made up of works by Wyspianski, Malczewski, Pankiewicz, Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz and Kantor. Become acquainted with the collection at the Bishop Erazm Ciolek Palace, a branch of the National Museum. This Gothic-Renaissance palace houses two permanent exhibitions: Art of Old Poland from the 12th to 18th Century, and Orthodox Art of the Old Polish Republic. The most important exhibits in the gallery are the Gothic paintings and sculptures, including the fascinating statue of the Madonna of Kruzlowa (ca 1410), and a collection of icons that is one of the oldest and most valuable collections of Orthodox paintings in Central Europe. This collection is unknown to the wider public.

Lunch: Light lunch at a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Enjoy free time this afternoon. Before dinner, attend an evening concert: “Frederic Chopin, a Poet of the Piano.” Chopin is the very symbol of Polish music. In the art of sound, the beauty of his music is an exceptional phenomenon - something bordering on the miraculous. The style, rich in lyricism, moods, emotions and their nuances, earned F. Chopin admiration all over the world.

Dinner: Hotel dining room.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
7
Welcome to Budapest
Budapest
B,L,D
Hotel Museum Budapest

Breakfast: Hotel dining room.

Morning: We travel by coach from Krakow to Budapest. We will see magnificent views as we cross the Carpathian Mountains. Travel through southern Poland and eastern Slovakia, entering Hungary from the north.

Lunch: Light lunch at a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Arrive in Budapest. Transfer to hotel for check-in and get settled. We will gather for a general information meeting, and then take an orientation walk in the neighborhood of the hotel to get acquainted with the area.

Dinner: Welcome dinner at a local restaurant where you can taste some traditional Hungarian specialties.

Evening: General information meeting.

DAY
8
Castle District and the Palace of the Arts
Budapest
B,L,D
Hotel Museum Budapest

Breakfast: Hotel dining room.

Morning: Take in a lecture by an acclaimed speaker: "The History of Hungarian Art." Then depart to the Castle District where you can enjoy an expert-led excursion in the Hungarian National Gallery, located within the Royal Palace. Its collections cover Hungarian art in all genres, including works of many 19th and 20th century Hungarian artists.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: After lunch take an expert-led walk in the Civilian Town, the northern part of the district, including a visit to the Fisherman's Bastion and the Matthias Church. During your walk, learn about the medieval history of the city. Then continue by bus to discover the neighborhood of the Palace of the Arts, an award-winning piece of modern Hungarian architecture.

Dinner: At a local restaurant.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
9
Szabó Ervin Library and Hungarian Art Nouveau
Budapest
B,L
Hotel Museum Budapest

Breakfast: Hotel dining room.

Morning: After breakfast we will walk through the Palace District; a central district of Pest, the eastern half of Budapest. At the end of our walking excursion we will reach the Wenckheim Palace (built for Count Frigyes Wenckheim), today the Metropolitan Szabó Ervin Library. During an expert-led visit we will learn about the history of the building and the library, and have a private view of some precious items of the Budapest collection. Then take a tram to Deák tér and visit St. Stephen's Basilica, the largest church in Budapest. Enjoy an expert-led walk in the historical downtown of Pest, including the neighborhood of the Parliament.

Lunch: In downtown Budapest.

Afternoon: Walk through Kossuth Square to explore the monuments of the area of Hungarian Parliament. Then explore Liberty Square. Learn about the Hungarian Art Nouveau movement during a visit to the House of Hungarian Art Nouveau, and by viewing the magnificent roof of the National Bank of Hungary. Then enjoy some free time. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities, which can be found in the first Information Packet. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions.

Dinner: Explore local fare on your own.

Evening: This evening you may wish to attend an optional concert. Your Group Leader will give additional information during the program.

DAY
10
Andrássy Avenue, The Golden Age of Budapest
Budapest
B,L,D
Hotel Museum Budapest

Breakfast: Hotel dining room.

Morning: This morning learn about the Golden Age of Budapest during a stroll along Andrássy Avenue, situated above the Millennium Underground Railway. We will use this quaint historical metro to discover this magnificent avenue. Explore the former apartment of world-famous composer Ferenc Liszt at the Old Music Academy, and visit Heroes' Square and the City Park. We will finish in the downtown of Budapest.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Free time to explore the area on your own. You may wish to visit the Szechenyi Thermal Bath. If so, bring a bathing suit!

Dinner: Boat trip on the Danube with a farewell buffet dinner.

Evening: Spend the evening relaxing and enjoying the city view from the water during your boat trip on the Danube. Then say goodbye to Budapest with a magnificent view from the top of Gellért Hill.

DAY
11
Welcome to Vienna
Vienna
B,L,D
Austria Trend Hotel Rathauspark

Breakfast: Hotel dining room.

Morning: We travel by coach from Budapest to Vienna. Late morning arrival in Vienna, the capital of Austria. Check in at the hotel.

Lunch: Hotel dining room.

Afternoon: We convene for a general orientation meeting, followed by a first acquaintance with the Inner City. Expert-led excursion by bus along the Vienna Ring Boulevard. It was back in the 19th century when Emperor Franz Joseph decreed the demolition of Vienna's medieval fortifications and ramparts to make room for the city's expansion. This 'Boulevard of Splendor' is lined with many of the most important political and cultural institutions such as Parliament and Town Hall, Royal Palace, the prestigious State Opera and Burgtheater, University and - of course - the Museum Quarter. We will then explore the winding streets and spacious squares of the old town around St. Stephen's Cathedral, the ancient core of Vienna - from the medieval lanes and alleys to the steel and glass Haas House in front of the Cathedral that dates back to the 13th century.

Dinner: Welcome dinner in the hotel dining room.

Evening: Attend an evening concert of the Mozart Ensemble in the Sala Terrena. Works by Mozart, Haydn, Schubert and Beethoven. The "Sala Terrena" is the oldest concert hall in Vienna, where Mozart himself performed many concerts. It is decorated with beautiful frescos in the style of the late Venetian Renaissance. It is also the perfect setting for performances of Viennese classic chamber music of the 18th century.

DAY
12
Cultural Vienna
Vienna
B,L,D
Austria Trend Hotel Rathauspark

Breakfast: Hotel dining room.

Morning: A morning lecture gives us an introduction to Cultural Vienna and its historical background. This cosmopolitan center, which incorporates Eastern European, Oriental and Western modes of thinking, has been a melting pot for cultural identities throughout the centuries. The Habsburg dynasty created Vienna's major cultural institutions. One of them is the Kunsthistorisches Museum - Museum of Fine Art, which we will visit after the introductory lecture. The Museum houses one of the greatest art collections in the world revealing the royal taste of the Habsburg rulers. Over the centuries they brought together the most precious and important paintings of the celebrated Old Masters.

Lunch: Get a taste of fashionable Vienna in the city’s most famous coffeehouse, the splendid Café Central, part of the Palais Ferstel, which once housed the Vienna Stock Exchange and the Austro-Hungarian central bank. The Café was a meeting point for Europe’s intellectuals and artists.

Afternoon: Enjoy an expert-led field trip to Schönbrunn Palace, glamorous summer residence of the Habsburg family. Schönbrunn Palace together with its ancillary buildings and extensive park is by virtue of its long and colorful history one of the most important cultural monuments in Austria. Scheduled as a listed monument, the whole ensemble, including the palace, the park with its numerous architectural features, fountains and statues and not least the zoo - the oldest of its kind in the world - was placed on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List.

Dinner: At a local restaurant.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
13
Great Musicians of the Vienna Classic
Vienna
B,D
Austria Trend Hotel Rathauspark

Breakfast: Hotel dining room.

Morning: Explore the very diverse lives of three of Vienna's most famous composers during this morning's lecture. While Mozart initially enjoyed great success as a freelance composer and then struggled, Franz Schubert led a rather introverted life, only known for his renowned "Lieder" to his contemporaries. Johann Strauß, however, was one of the first global superstars of music. All three composers were contributors to the most Viennese of musical forms - the Viennese waltz. Listen to a delightful selection of works by these composers. Later in the morning, you will have an expert-led bus excursion of the Jugendstil landmarks of Vienna. The turn of the 20th century was a period of intellectual ferment; it was the time of Freud, writer Arthur Schnitzler, of Secession and Jugendstil with such artists as Gustav Klimt and architects as Adolf Loos and Otto Wagner. They created revolutionary new styles. We will leave the city center and drive to the Vienna suburb Penzing, where Otto Wagner created a jewel of Vienna Jugendstil Art Nouveau; the astonishing Steinhof Church which occupies a fantastic site on the Baumgartner heights.

Lunch: Explore local fare on your own. Enjoy lunch in one of the many Viennese cafés.

Afternoon: A free afternoon to discover Vienna on your own. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities, which can be found in the first Information Packet. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions.

Dinner: We will enjoy our final dinner in Vienna at one of the traditional restaurants in the old town.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
14
Welcome to Prague
Prague
B,L,D
Angelo Hotel Prague

Breakfast: Hotel dining room.

Morning: We transfer from Vienna to Prague by coach. En route, we take an excursion to Trebon - a charming and perfectly preserved South Bohemian historical town with a rich history that goes back to the 12th century. Enjoy its old town and the picturesque houses and medieval atmosphere of its square, Masarykovo Namesti.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Arrive in Prague. Check in at hotel and settle in. There will be a general information meeting.

Dinner: Welcome dinner at a local restaurant.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
15
Music in the Czech Republic, Lesser Town
Prague
B,L,D
Angelo Hotel Prague

Breakfast: Hotel dining room.

Morning: Excursion to the Museum of Czech Music with a lecture focusing on such artists as Smetana, Dvorak, Martinu, Janacek, Mahler and others.

Lunch: At a local restaurant near the Charles Bridge. The Charles Bridge is named for our old friend King Charles IV. It was the only connection between the Lesser Town on the left bank of the Vltava River and the Old Town on the right for centuries.

Afternoon: Visit the Lesser Town. Malá Strana (literally “little side” translated as Lesser Town), was founded as a royal town in 1258, and is one of the most historic and beautiful places in all of Prague. Then take a field trip to the Old Town and Jewish Ghetto. Experience the very special atmosphere of Prague’s twisty narrow streets and alleys, first stone houses, churches, palaces and monasteries. The former Jewish Ghetto is a noteworthy quarter of Prague that boasts worldwide significance.

Dinner: Boat excursion with dinner.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
16
Architecture of Prague
Prague
B,L
Angelo Hotel Prague

Breakfast: Hotel dining room.

Morning: A morning discussion and lecture on the architecture and fine arts of Prague, featuring all important Prague styles: Romanesque, Gothic, Baroque, Classicism, Neo-styles, and particularly concentrating on architecture of the 20th century – Art Nouveau, Cubism, Functionalism. Orientation excursion by private coach.

Lunch: At a local restaurant near Prague Castle.

Afternoon: This afternoon we will explore some of Prague's breathtaking architectural treasures, including Prague Castle and Lesser Town. Prague Castle is a UNESCO World Heritage site, reputed to be the most extensive ancient castle in the world. The large-scale palace complex comprises royal residences, churches, a monastery, and gardens.

Dinner: Explore local fare on your own.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
17
Strahov Monastery
Prague
B,L,D
Angelo Hotel Prague

Breakfast: Hotel dining room.

Morning: Excursion to the Strahov Monastery, a place where the knowledge of the Czech nation has been concentrated since 1140. We enjoy a private concert.

Lunch: Hotel dining room.

Afternoon: Free time to explore the area on your own. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities, which can be found in the first Information Packet. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions.

Dinner: Enjoy a farewell gourmet dinner in the pearl of Art Nouveau, the Municipal House of Prague.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
18
Departures
Prague
B

Breakfast: Hotel dining room.

Morning: Transfer to the Prague Ruzyne International airport (PRG) for departures. This concludes our program. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures.