Five Countries of Central Europe: Sailing the Danube River

Sail through time along the Danube River to the Czech Republic, Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary to study their fascinating political and cultural histories with local experts.
Program No. 23683RJ
10 days
Starts at
Flights start at

At a Glance

Transport yourself back in time in Eastern Europe, where even the larger cities seem to be frozen in the medieval era, with cobbled streets and historic architecture. As you sail along the Danube River, journey through authentic Europe with local experts eager to show you the secrets of their cities. On explorations of Vienna’s music history, Budapest’s architectural history and Prague’s political history, delve deep into the past while experiencing these cities like a local. Then, learn about the cities’ modern developments to understand fully the progression of Eastern Europe and immerse yourself in these beautiful countries that seamlessly blend old traditions with contemporary culture.
Activity Level
Keep the Pace
Participants must be able to stand for two hours at a time and walk 2-4 miles per day.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • Learn about classical music in Vienna during a lecture with the talented musicians from the Vienna Philharmonic.
  • Delve deep into history as you explore Cesky Krumlov, a small medieval town and UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Czech Republic.
  • Study the beautiful architecture of Prague at the Charles Bridge alongside local experts.

General Notes

Please note that during these programs, Road Scholar will operate smaller groups each with their own Group Leader for shore excursions. The small groups may occasionally come together for lectures.
Featured Expert
All Experts
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Balázs Füzesi
Balázs Füzesi was born and raised in the city of Pécs, in southwestern Hungary. He has earned bachelor’s degrees in communications and in business administration and has also completed a license for leading educational excursions in his native country. He has pursued study and work with members of other nationalities whenever possible, spending a high school year in Denmark and working abroad in Greenland, London and the U.S. He credits his grandmother for his love of travel and exploration; she was an avid traveler throughout her entire life.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

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Dagmar Mikolášková
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Péter Szakács
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Balázs Füzesi
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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.
A History of Slovakia, The Struggle for Survival
by Stanislav K. Kirschbaum
A historian from Bratislava traces his nation's roots from the first arrival on the Danubian Plain to Slovakia's declaration of independence in 1993. A particularly solid discussion of the Communist period and the nation's relationship with the Czechs and Hungary.
Prague, Capital of the Twentieth Century, A Surrealist History
by Derek Sayer
A survey of Czech culture from 1918 to the end of WWII, a golden age of modernism. Sayer deploys his encyclopedic knowledge by focusing on small details in Czech art, design, architecture, literature and music, ultimately weaving these threads into a vivid tapestry.
The Radetzky March
by Joseph Roth, Joachim Neugroschel (Translator)
Magnificently set against the backdrop of the twilight of the Habsburg Empire, Roth's family saga takes in the sweep of history and empire in Central Europe. The richly textured novel opens at the battle of Solferino, when young Lieutenant Trotta saves the life of the Emperor.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Danube, A Cultural History
by Andrew Beattie
Beattie gives a comprehensive overview of the Danube’s role as a vital shipping artery and a uniting thread through the region’s turbulent history.
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.
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.

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