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Eastern Europe

The Best of Central Europe: Krakow, Budapest, Vienna, Prague

Program No. 12259RJ
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.
Length
18 days
Rating (5)
Activity Level
Starts at
6,499
Flights start at
1,000

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Price will update based on selection
Prices displayed below are based on per person,doubleoccupancy.
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Apr 18 - May 5, 2023
Starting at
6,649
May 2 - May 19, 2023
Starting at
6,749
May 16 - Jun 2, 2023
Starting at
6,749
Jun 6 - Jun 23, 2023
Starting at
6,749
Jun 20 - Jul 7, 2023
Starting at
6,749
Sep 5 - Sep 22, 2023
Starting at
6,749
Sep 19 - Oct 6, 2023
Starting at
6,749
Oct 3 - Oct 20, 2023
Starting at
6,749
Oct 17 - Nov 3, 2023
Starting at
6,649
Oct 31 - Nov 17, 2023
Starting at
6,499
Nov 7 - Nov 24, 2023
Starting at
6,499
DATES & starting prices
PRICES
Apr 18 - May 5, 2023
Starting at
7,649
May 2 - May 19, 2023
Starting at
7,799
May 16 - Jun 2, 2023
Starting at
7,799
Jun 6 - Jun 23, 2023
Starting at
7,799
Jun 20 - Jul 7, 2023
Starting at
7,799
Sep 5 - Sep 22, 2023
Starting at
7,799
Sep 19 - Oct 6, 2023
Starting at
7,799
Oct 3 - Oct 20, 2023
Starting at
7,799
Oct 17 - Nov 3, 2023
Starting at
7,649
Oct 31 - Nov 17, 2023
Starting at
7,399
Nov 7 - Nov 24, 2023
Starting at
7,399

At a Glance

From the elegance of a Chopin polonaise in Krakow to the grandeur of the Habsburg’s summer palace in Vienna, embark on an exquisite journey to learn about Central Europe’s most artistically rich cities and the great thinkers and creative geniuses who called them home. Private concerts, viewings of world-class art collections and in-depth discussion of some of Europe’s leading intellectuals create a detailed portrait of these royal capital cities.
Activity Level
Keep the Pace
Please note that although the activity level of this program is Keep the Pace, it is a long program, traveling to four different countries over the span of 18 days. Terrain includes cobblestones, city streets and uneven ground; short uphill walks; standing at museums; many unavoidable stairs; use of public transportation.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 13 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Enjoy a private concert at the Strahov Monastery and explore the monastery library.
  • Admire the illuminated city of Budapest on an evening river voyage along the Danube River, passing such important sights as parliament, Chain Bridge and Castle Hill.
  • Explore Schonbrunn Palace, the former imperial summer residence and one of the most important cultural monuments in Austria.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Budapest, A Cultural History
by Bob Dent
This brilliant guide introduces the history and traditions of this Central European cultural capital, with emphasis on its most important artists and architects.
Lonely Planet Central Europe
by Lonely Planet
With dozens of maps, color photographs and sections on history and culture, this practical guide introduces Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Poland and their neighbors.
Budapest 1900
by John Lukacs
Written by a distinguished historian and native son, this richly detailed portrait of the city at its zenith includes hundreds of illustrations.
A Nervous Splendor, Vienna 1888-1889
by Frederic Morton
A portrait of Vienna at the end of the 19th century, this book focuses on Crown Prince Rudolph, his devastating suicide and the rich texture of gossip and daily life at the Habsburg Court.
Dvorak and His World
by Michael Beckerman
A fascinating view of the Czech composer's personal life and his influence on the world around him.
Prague, A Traveler's Literary Companion
by Paul Wilson (Editor)
This anthology of 24 vivid stories by Czech writers, both contemporary and well-known, brings the city, history, spirit and people to life.
Mozart, A Life
by Paul Johnson
Challenging myths surrounding Mozart’s health, religion and relationships, biographer Paul Johnson shows the great composer’s lasting impact on the musical world with insight.
Open Letters, Selected Writings: 1965 - 1990
by Vaclav Havel, Paul Wilson (Editor)
This inspired anthology of writings by the Czech poet-president Vaclav Havel collects 25 essays, letters and speeches written between 1965 and 1990, including those that directly influenced the Polish Solidarity movement.
Central Europe Map
by Freytag & Berndt
This colorful regional European map, like the sister map Europe Grand Tour (EUR185), covers from Paris and Amsterdam to Vienna, Prague, Warsaw, Budapest, Rome and Dubrovnik.
Bury Me Standing
by Isabel Fonseca
This marvelous portrait of the Roma, also known as the Gypsies, offers insight into their music, foods, religions and folk traditions and also examines their influential but complex relationship with Eastern Europe.
A Time of Gifts
by Patrick Leigh Fermor
Fermor effortlessly interweaves anecdote, history and culture in this exuberant account of a walk from Holland, up the Rhine and down the Danube, through Germany, Prague and Austria in 1933. Written not in the moment, but 40 years later, the accumulation of time and experience gives the book particular poignancy.
The Hare With Amber Eyes
by Edmund De Waal
Edmund de Waal unfolds the story of his remarkable family, a grand banking family, as rich and respected as the Rothschilds, who "burned like a comet" in early 20th-century Paris and Vienna.
The Habsburgs, Embodying Empire
by Andrew Wheatcroft
With skillful scholarship and engaging style, Wheatcroft reveals the history of this family of eccentric monarchs.
Prague in Black and Gold, Scenes from Life in a European City
by Peter Demetz
Both a history and an accessible guide to the neighborhoods and architecture of the city.
Danubia, A Personal History of Habsburg Europe
by Simon Winder
Winder, author of Germania (GER270), considers the legacy of the Habsburg Europe in this charmingly digressive history and travelogue.
Danube
by Claudio Magris
Mixing history, personalities and literature, Magris traces the course of the Danube from its source in the heart of the Austro-Hungarian Empire through the Balkans to the Black Sea in this anything but conventional travelogue, first published in 1986.
Vienna, A Traveler's Literary Companion
by Donald Daviau
Organized by neighborhood, these 15 alluring tales introduce both the city and its writers, including Arthur Schnitzler, Robert Musil, Stefan Zweig and even Franz Kafka, who had a long and complicated association with the city.
The Cathedral Builders of the Middle Ages
by Alain Erlande-Brandenburg
This pocket-size encyclopedia of the art, architecture and culture of the Middle Ages features hundreds of drawings, color illustrations and a brief chronology.
The Magic Lantern, The Revolution of '89 Witnessed in Warsaw, Budapest, Berlin, and Prague
by Timothy Garton Ash
With a chapter each on Warsaw, Budapest, Berlin and Prague, this eyewitness account by an astute journalist and historian shows these vibrant cities during a time of great change.
Kingdom of Auschwitz
by Otto Friedrich
Otto Friedrich's slim book is an intensely personal account of the infamous Auschwitz death camp. He covers the entire history of Auschwitz in short chapters punctuated with eyewitness accounts and testimonies.
The Haunted Land, Facing Europe's Ghosts After Communism
by Tina Rosenberg
In this groundbreaking book, a journalist reports on how the newly democratized people of East Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic have confronted the horrors of their former governments.
18 Reviews
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5 Average
(5) Review left 10/23/2022

The experience was very rewarding for me. I enjoyed our group participants and felt comfortable with each. It seemed as though I had much in common with many of the participants in the group.

(5) Review left 6/12/2022

This tour was an outstanding experience with exceptional instructors and group leader. We don’t know any other way we could have enjoyed such a rich and varied experience in these four major cities and countryside. We had planned to do this trip on our own but decided to try Road Scholar. This trip far exceeded our expectations!

(5) Review left 6/06/2022

We were thoroughly impressed with all aspects of the Road Scholar tour of Central Europe. Tour leaders, hotels, subject matter experts all exceeded expectations. We "kept the pace", saw much, learned much and experienced the warmth of gracious people in each of the cities. I want to return!

(5) Review left 5/28/2022

I am sure that visiting Central Europe, especially the cities included in this program, would be a wonderful experience. But visiting during this most critical and historically significant time is remarkable. You can't leave this trip without having a new understanding of the historical significance of this region and the role that these cities and countries are playing in the dynamic political and cultural upheaval today. From an historical, political, artistic and cultural perspective this program should be high on the list for anyone who wants to understand how past history has shaped current events and is likely to shape the future.

(5) Review left 5/28/2022

This is the best program I’ve found to put together people with similar interests who are striving to learn more about those interests. It makes for a homogeneous group who are most likely to enjoy each other and make friends along the way.

(5) Review left 5/22/2022

I loved this program. Learned a great deal about the 4 big cities of Central Europe. I made great friends that I hope to stay in touch with or possibly visit in the near future.

(5) Review left 11/04/2021

A wonderful program that encompasses the devastation of warfare on the people of this region as well as the heights they have achieved in art and music. Squarely deals with the Holocaust as well as having great museums exploring the Communist Era.

(5) Review left 11/02/2021

This program gives you valuable insights on former Soviet-block countries. I saw outstanding art from artists we don't learn about in our Western-oriented culture. Also, there were many enjoyable music lectures & events.

(5) Review left 11/01/2021

A perfect tour of the beauty, culture and history of Eastern Europe's famous cities. Road Scholar hit a home run!

(5) Review left 12/27/2019

excellent program with a variety of places to see.

(5) Review left 12/10/2019

This trip was wonderful. It was so nice to spend time in each city and see many places with small amount of time traveling between cities. I personally found it to be interesting to explore countries that had been under Nazi, Communist, and now Republic forms of government and to be able to talk to people who had lived through this,

(5) Review left 11/24/2019

Everyone needs to got to Auschwitz & Birkenau in their lifetime! It is never too late.

(5) Review left 11/15/2019

This program is a value-packed, comprehensive look at the people, history and culture of four great cities of central and eastern Europe - not to be missed!

(5) Review left 10/26/2019

Loved staying 4 nights in each city at really well located hotels. The highlight for me was going to a performance in Vienna that featured ballet, orchestra and opera...what an enchanting evening.

(5) Review left 6/16/2019

The Best of Central Europe: Krakow, Budapest, Vienna, Prague is indeed an excellent introduction to four less-well-known central European cities and countries. It includes an excellent background in the histories (and religious backgrounds) of these four areas (both distant and recent), as well as music, culture and architecture using excellent guides in each city. A major plus is that 3+ days were allowed for each city with some free time for exploration.

(5) Review left 6/16/2019

My Roads Scholar program, The Best of Central Europe: Krakow, Budapest, Vienna, Prague, was delightful, educational, well done and changed my view of the world. It was excellent.

(5) Review left 6/01/2019

Five Stars! This was an outstanding tour, a fascinating revelation of a world rich in history and culture that for much of my life was hidden behind the Iron Curtain. Road Scholar has put together a terrific program that while often sobering was equal parts revelatory, entertaining and fascinating. And I must say our group leader for the entire trip, Michala Posarova, was a treasure. We couldn't possibly have been in more capable hands. In general, the presentations by local experts were highly informative and interesting. If I had to pick a favorite it would be the talk on great composers in Vienna by Eddy Kudlak, retired violinist with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. What a treat that was, and what an honor to meet such an accomplished musician! While I won't say I "liked" our visit to Auschwitz, it was certainly an unforgettable, gut-wrenching experience and I am grateful to Road Scholar for taking me there. Otherwise, every day was packed with marvelous sights and encounters that will remain with me for the rest of my life. And I must say the visit to Strahov Monastery was a fine way to end the trip. If I thought there was nothing left to see in Central Europe that could amaze me further, this excursion put that notion to rest. I definitely recommend this remarkable tour to anyone interested in European culture and history. It was an eye-opener for me.

This reviewer did not give a star rating. Review left 2/26/2019

I would rate this trip as 5 stars. It was an excellent tour of the four cities. Peter, our trip guide, as well as the individual local city guides, were all excellent. The history, culture, art, and music presentations were excellent as were the accommodations and dining. It was not as active a trip as some of those we have previously taken with Road Scholar but it was just as advertised. The day at Auschwitz was sobering but has long been on our bucket list and did not disappoint. Getting used to four different public transportation systems was a challenge yet fun. Except for Austria the way the other three countries have transformed from former Soviet satellites to participating members of Western Europe illustrated how little history of that region I was aware of. The only downside had nothing to do with Road Scholar or our guides. The night before we were to leave for the Prague airport for the flight home I had the misfortune of coming down with a severe stomach virus making traveling impossible. With Peter's and local guide Theresa's assistance our flight reservations were cancelled, a doctor was called to hotel (an English speaking Czech physician) who diagnosed it correctly as the 24 hour flu. We had the RS extra insurance so our situation was put in the hands of the RS contractor. Long story short, neither the insurance contractor nor the RS travel assistance office was of much help. We scheduled our own flight home for the next day. Subsequent calls with RS and the insurance carrier were cordial and professional and provided assurance that our experience should not have occurred and should not be repeated. We recently received reimbursement checks from the insurance for any medical expenses not otherwise covered and our flight home. Two lessons: don't get sick and do get the additional trip-interruption insurance. It was a wonderful trip and deserves to be cited as a RS favorite.






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