Explore the great cities of Central Europe on a culturally rich independent journey, enjoying a private visit to the Hungarian State Opera House in Budapest, a tour of Vienna's Schönbrunn Palace, and a visit to the Jewish Quarter in Prague.
Day 1: Arrive Budapest, Hungary
Arrive in Budapest, a city occupying both sides of the Danube River and founded when right-bank Buda and Óbuda joined left-bank Pest in 1873. Budapest’s broad avenues and turn-of-the-century architecture have earned it the name, “the Paris of Eastern Europe.” Like Paris, it is a cultural mecca for writers, artists and musicians. Transfer by private car to your hotel; your day is at leisure.
Day 2: Budapest | Synagogues & Cathedrals
Tour Pest, starting with a private visit to the beautiful neo-Renaissance Hungarian State Opera House. Continue to the ornate Great Synagogue, the largest in Europe. See Heroes’ Square and St. Stephen’s Basilica. Then, visit the Central Market Hall to see a vast array of food and crafts on sale, with time for lunch at leisure. In the afternoon, visit the Parliament building.
Day 3: Budapest | Matthias Church and Fisherman’s Bastion
Today, explore the Buda side of this city. Visit Matthias Church, the 13th-century coronation cathedral of Hungarian kings, and Fisherman’s Bastion, offering spectacular views of the city.
Day 4: Bratislava, Slovakia/Vienna, Austria | Old Town Tour
Drive to Bratislava, Slovakia’s capital, and join a local guide for a walking tour of the attractive Old Town, once a jewel of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Stroll the cobblestone streets, admiring the Baroque architecture. Then, after time for lunch at leisure, continue to Vienna, Austria.
Day 5: Vienna | Hofburg Palace Visit
Join your local guide for a walking tour of marvelous Vienna. At the Hofburg Palace — former seat of emperors and current residence of the president of Austria — visit the Treasury to admire its glittering collection of Imperial regalia. Continue to the Gothic St. Stephen’s Cathedral. View the colorfully patterned, double-eagle mosaic on its steeply inclined roof and marvel at the spectacular interior, adorned with intricate stone sculptures. This afternoon, tour Schönbrunn Palace, the former residence of Habsburg monarchs.
Day 6: Vienna | Visions of the Imperial City
This morning, enjoy a panoramic tour of Vienna, viewing the Prater and its giant Ferris wheel. See the Secession Building and the famous Hundertwasser House, and then visit the Belvedere Gallery, where you find works by the brilliant and controversial symbolist artist Gustav Klimt, including The Kiss. Lunch and the afternoon are at your leisure to shop and explore independently.
Day 7: Prague, Czech Republic | Travel by Train
Board a train to Prague and travel in comfort and convenience with A&K’s Concierge Rail Service, which offers assistance at the station. On arrival, you are met and transferred to your hotel. This region has a history of human habitation dating to the fifth millennium BC. Prague itself has long been a European center of politics, economics and culture. In the 15th century, it was a seat of the Habsburg dynasty and played a leading role during the Protestant Reformation. Through the First and Second World Wars, followed by Communist rule and the eventual formation of an independent nation, Prague has endured the changing fortunes of the 20th century, while remaining a top travel destination.
Day 8: Prague | Private Estates Theater Visit
Walk in Josefov, the city’s Jewish quarter, which was once a walled ghetto. Visit the Old New Synagogue and the Old Jewish Cemetery. Wander through the charming Old Town Square and pause to admire the 15th-century astronomical clock adorning the façade of the Gothic Town Hall. If you wish, stroll across the 14th-century Charles Bridge. Then, privately visit the Estates Theater (subject to rehearsal schedules). It was here in October of 1787 that Mozart conducted the premiere of Don Giovanni. Nearly two centuries later, director Miloš Forman filmed scenes for Amadeus here as well.
Day 9: Prague | Private Monastery Visit
Today, take a step back in time as you explore the historic Hradčany Castle District. See the impressive Gothic St. Vitus Cathedral, once the site of coronations of Czech kings and queens. On the Golden Lane, view the small, colorful houses that once were homes to alchemists. Admire the collection of religious artifacts at the Loreto Chapel, an important place of pilgrimage. Privately visit the Baroque library halls of the Strahov Monastery, with its gilded shelves and incredible frescoes.
Day 10: Depart Prague
Today, transfer to the airport and depart.