Trip Type : Small Group Tour
Highlights of Eastern Europe tour
Bratislava Budapest Highlights of Eastern Europe Trip
Krakow Vienna Highlights of Eastern Europe Trip
Train & Rail Journeys Trains & Rail Highlights of Eastern Europe package

Highlights of Eastern Europe

Explore! Premier
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4.6 . Excellent
96%
Travel Style: You will have solid amounts of both free time and structured time with some activities and meals included. Mixed
Physical Level: Regular walking or cycling over moderately long, hilly, or bumpy distances. Some public transport or utility vehicles such as safari jeeps. Moderate
Lodging Level: Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels. Value - 3 star
14 days
From: $ 1,990 $ 142 / day
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Overview

Highlights

  • Krakow - Explore the Medieval city's maze of streets and sample the coffee culture
  • Dunajec Gorge - Marvel at the impressive gorge while rafting along the Dunajec River
  • High Tatras - Enjoy walks in the surrounding mountains
  • Budapest - Learn about this fascinating city on a walking tour with a local guide. Discover Castle Hill, Old Town, Fisherman's Bastion and the Royal Palace
  • Prague - Uncover the mysteries of the Old Town, Prague Castle, Charles Bridge, the Jewish Quarter and Astronomical Clock

Short Description

On this trip we discover the historic European cities of Krakow, Budapest, Bratislava, Vienna and Prague. We'll have the chance to explore the Medieval town of Banska Stiavnica, admire ancient architecture in Krakow and wander through the cobbled streets in Budapest. We also enjoy walks amidst the spectacular scenery of the Tatras Mountains in Slovakia and experience rafting in the vast Dunajec River Gorge.

Small groups are usually defined as between 10 and 24 travelers, often less. If you're the kind of person who enjoys more intimate experiences and personal service this is a good choice. All else being equal you will pay a premium for this style vs a larger group tour.
Trip Type Small Group Tour
See all the highlights and popular spots on a classic tour.
Itinerary Focus Classic Highlights
Mid-range budget with accommodations ranging from comfortable lodges, guesthouses, and homestays to three star hotels.
Lodging Level Value - 3 star
Flights & Transport Only ground transport
Start City N/A
End City Prague

Travel Theme

Train & Rail Journeys

Cities & Attractions

Bratislava Budapest Krakow Vienna

Activities

Trains & Rail

No Single Supplement
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Trip Includes

Included Activities:

This trip is designed to acquaint you with the highlights of five fascinating countries in 14 days. There's so much to enjoy and a lot of ground to cover, so please be prepared for the busy nature of this enthralling and varied holiday.

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Itinerary

Day 1 - Join the trip in Krakow, Poland

Description

Our adventure begins in the beautiful Polish city of Krakow, where we spend the next two nights. It was Poland's former capital until 1596 and due to its very distinctive character it is on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Its historic architecture survived World War II unscathed, unlike most other Polish cities, and its rich culture has been preserved to the present day. It was the residence of Polish kings and has nearly one hundred churches, as well as the country's oldest university. Among its most important architectural treasures are Saint Mary's Church, which contains the world-famous altarpiece carved by Veit Stoss, the Medieval buildings of the Jagiellonian University and Wawel Castle and Cathedral.

In the city centre you will find numerous good Polish restaurants and the 'pierogi', Polish dumplings, are especially tasty. There are also many bars selling a range of local beers and of course a wide range of vodkas. Such as Chmiel, which is a basement bar beneath the forecourt of Wawel Castle, C.K. Browar, which is a popular micro-brewery or Starka Restaurant and Vodkas where you can try out an array of homemade flavoured vodkas.

Included Meals : None

Day 2 - Walk in the Old Quarter; option to visit Wieliczka Salt Mine

Description

This morning our Explore Leader will take us on a short orientation walk around the city's stunning Old Quarter to help us get our bearings.

The rest of today is left free for you to explore Krakow and further afield if you wish. The Jewish Kazimierz district, the setting for the film Schindler's List, has many points of interest, including the Old Synagogue and the Museum of Jewish Life. You may like to make an excursion to Oswiecim, the site of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp, which is a haunting reminder of the terrible atrocities that took place here during World War II.

Alternatively it's possible to visit the Royal Castle, perched high on Wawel Hill, which overlooks both the Old Quarter and the Vistula River. Constructed in Renaissance style, the castle houses exquisite treasures collected through the ages by Polish monarchs. Next to the castle is Wawel Cathedral, which is the final resting place of the Polish Kings.

Another option is to visit the fascinating Wieliczka Salt Mines, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. At up to 300 metres underground you'll see a 400 year old chapel, a subterranean salt lake and chambers large enough to hold the Eiffel Tower! The Chapel of Saint Kinga is the mine's most spectacular feature and you'll no doubt be amazed by what can be sculpted from salt. Please note that there are 350 steps down into the mine at the beginning of the tour and then a further 450 on the route through the various corridors and 20 chambers visited. The temperature underground can be much cooler than on the surface, so be sure to bring a jumper.

Included Meals : Breakfast

Day 3 - Rafting in Dunajec Gorge; arrive in the Tatras Mountains, Slovakia

Description

This morning we depart for an inflatable rafting trip on the Dunajec River to a point close to the Polish border near Lesnica. It's a chance to get active and probably get wet as well as enjoying the picturesque surroundings. Bring a change of clothes and shoes that you don't mind getting wet and a towel with you today. This river has been a famous attraction since the middle of the 19th century, when tourists came here to cruise on log built rafts. We meander along the bottom of the spectacular canyon that bears the river's name, passing a landscape of towering limestone cliffs, blanketed in lush forests of fir, beech, larch and spruce. Part of the Pieniny National Park, the gorge is one of the most stunning in Europe and its verdant slopes attract a diverse collection of wildlife including lynx, wolf, stag and some 14 species of bats. Birdlife includes eagle and pygmy owls, three toed woodpeckers and rare black storks can sometimes be spotted along the river's edge.

We will also pay a visit to the impressive Spis Castle. Sat on a hilltop above the town of Spisske it was once home to the Hungarian kings and it is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the ruins show both Romanesque and Gothic architecture.

We then board our bus and continue to Tatranska Lomnica in the High Tatras Mountains. This area of Slovakia can justly claim to be the Switzerland of the country. Snow-capped for most of the year, the compact High Tatras range is sliced by beautiful valleys and lakes. An ideal region for winter sports, in summer the network of well-marked trails is a hiker's delight.

Included Meals : Breakfast

Day 4 - Hiking in the Tatras Mountains

Description

Today we take a public bus to Biela Voda and from here we'll start our full day trek in the beautiful Tatras Mountains. We begin with an uphill walk to the picturesque Green Lake. We take in the view and have the option to have a picnic lunch here. For those that wish to walk further there is then the possibility to continue to the Great White Lake before returning to Biela Voda on foot. We return to Tatranska Lomnica by public bus for the evening.

The trek is graded moderate. The first section is 5 kilometres long and goes from 915 metres to an altitude of 1550 metres and should take approximately 2.5 hours. If you continue to the Great White Lake it's a further 2 kilometres and goes to an altitude of 1615 metres and should take an extra 35 minutes. We then need to walk the same distance back to the original starting point of the walk, so we will cover between 10-14 kilometres and walk for 5-6 hours in total today. Please make sure you bring comfortable walking shoes or boots and you may also find walking poles useful.

Alternatively if you'd prefer a shorter walk then you can take a local train to Lake Strbske and enjoy a gentle walk around the lakeshore. This large glacial lake offers great views over the surrounding pine covered Tatras Mountains with their jagged rock peaks.

Included Meals : Breakfast

Day 5 - Train to Banska Bystrica with an orientation walk on arrival

Description

This morning we travel by rail to Banska Bystrica (the journey will involve changes of train). On arrival our Explore Leader will take us on an orientation walk of the city. The pretty town is set on the Hron River and is surrounded by mountains. The main square is a hive of activity in summer and the City Castle, which is one of the main attractions, is located on the edge of the square. Back in 1944 it was in Banska Bystrica that the Slovak National Uprising began against the invading German forces and their own collaborationist government. Although most were defeated a few members managed to hold on until 1945 when the Soviet, Czechoslovak and Romanian armies arrived and liberated the country from under Nazi rule.

Whilst here you might like to try the traditional and delicious folded potato pancakes followed by the original 'Tatratea' liqueur, which a tea based strong herbal drink that originated in the High Tatras Mountains, as a way of keeping warm on cold winter evenings.

Included Meals : Breakfast

Day 6 - Excursion to Banska Stiavnica and visit to the Mining Museum

Description

Today we depart on an excursion to Banska Stiavnica - a preserved Medieval town that is yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site. The town is unusually located in the centre of a huge caldera of an ancient collapsed volcano and is surrounded by dense forested hills. Whilst here we will visit the Open Air Mining Museum, which dates back to the 17th century and offers an interesting two kilometre long underground excursion. The museum not only explains the mining history of Slovakia but also the cultural heritage of the town itself.

Included Meals : Breakfast

Day 7 - Drive to Budapest, Hungary and take a guided walking tour

Description

We start our day with a visit to the Hronsek Wooden Church and then stop in the small village of Sebechleby where you may choose to go wine tasting. From here we continue our journey to Budapest. Situated on a beautiful stretch of the Danube River, Hungary's capital consists of two parts: Buda and Pest. Buda is the older, more graceful part, with cobbled streets and Medieval buildings, whilst the latter is the modern business centre. Utilising local transport, this afternoon's guided walking tour takes in the major sites of this impressive city. We discover the Basilica of Saint Stephen and the Parliament buildings before crossing the Chain Bridge to the Castle District and Watertown. Here lie Buda's most ancient gems - Castle Hill with the Old Town, Fisherman's Bastion and the Royal Palace.

Included Meals : Breakfast

Day 8 - Free day in Budapest with the opportunity to visit a thermal bath

Description

Today in Budapest is left free for you to further explore its many attractions. You may like to visit one of the city's famous thermal baths or take a boat cruise on the Danube. Another recommended attraction is Szentendre; an artist's town with a Serb minority located on the bank of the river, which can be reached by train or bus.

Included Meals : Breakfast

Day 9 - Drive to Bratislava, Slovakia with a walking tour on arrival

Description

After the journey from Budapest we will spend a nice leisurely afternoon in historical Bratislava, the capital city of Slovakia. It used to be the capital of the former Hungarian Kingdom and was known as 'Pressburg' and went through tough times at war with the Ottoman Empire. We will walk through the Old Town's maze of pretty Medieval streets and squares surrounded by numerous cafes and trendy bistros. We pass by Michael's Gate which is the only remaining old entrance to the city, the pretty Main Square, Neoclassical Primate's Palace and Cathedral of Saint Martin. After the walk you can continue your discovery by visiting one of the oldest castles in Slovakia or by enjoying a birds eye view from city's most famous landmark, the so-called UFO bridge, which affords views over the 'panelaky' typical communist era blocks of flats and various other fairly radical urban projects.

Included Meals : Breakfast

Day 10 - Train to Vienna, Austria; chance to travel back by boat

Description

This morning we take a short train ride (about 1 hour) to Austria's capital, Vienna, where we enjoy a walking tour of the Old City with a local guide. This should offer a good initial overview of the history and the structure of the city. Sights during the walk will include the Karlsplatz, Heroes Square, Hofburg (Imperial Palace Complex), Imperial Treasury, National Library, Spanish Riding School, Vienna's ancient housing estates, Saint Stephens Church and the Opera. We won't have time to enter any of these places on our tour but afterwards you will be free to return to visit any that you wish. You can choose to return to Bratislava by train at your leisure (we will provide a return ticket) or you may prefer to book a boat trip back along the Danube River (taking approximately 2 hours).

Included Meals : Breakfast

Day 11 - Visit to Lednice-Valtice and wine tasting in Mikulov, Czech Republic

Description

We start our day with a train trip (taking around 1 hour), followed by a short bus journey to the beautiful town of Mikulov. Filled with history embodied in architectural monuments, this small town offers something for everyone. Situated in the very heart of the wine region, it has plenty of walking paths with local and family run wine cellars or wine tasting centres along the way. En route to Mikulov we stop at Lednice-Valtice Cultural Landscape, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It's one of the largest artificial landscapes in Europe and here we will take a walk around the castle park of Chateau Lednice.

In the afternoon we visit the Jewish Cemetery in Mikulov with centuries old tombs and it is the final resting place of many prominent rabbis. Following our visit we'll enjoy a wine tasting of Mikulov's local produce.

Included Meals : Breakfast

Day 12 - Train to Prague and explore on foot

Description

A train journey takes us to our final destination of Prague, the capital city of the Czech Republic. Our train travel today will involve a change of trains and take approximately 4.5 hours in total. Twelve centuries have adorned it with a labyrinth of old streets and wonderful palaces and bridges. We enjoy a guided city tour, which will take in some of the main highlights including the Old Town Square and City Hall, set amid antique houses and arcades. Other sites include the Astronomical Clock, Powder Tower and Prague Ghetto, which includes the Jewish Cemetery and Synagogues. We also see Charles Bridge, the most handsome bridge over the Vltava River and the area of Hradcany which contains the castle of the Bohemian Kings.

Included Meals : Breakfast

Day 13 - Free day in Prague with the option to visit Konopiste Castle

Description

On our second day in Prague you are free to enjoy the city at your leisure. You may wish to head by local train to the 700 year old Konopiste Castle. The castle was once owned by Archduke Ferdinand, whose assassination in Sarajevo triggered the start of World War I. A boat trip on the Vltava River is another possibility. There are also many classical music concerts to be found. If the timing is right, you may be lucky to see a performance in one of the old atmospheric churches. There the option of visiting the Bunker Museum, where a range of Cold War relics are on display from an age when paranoia and spying was at an all-time high, which is housed in a former communist bunker underneath the city.

Included Meals : Breakfast

Day 14 - Trip ends in Prague

Description

Your trip ends today at our hotel in Prague.

Included Meals : Breakfast

Availability

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Price From $ 1,990
Price Per Day: $ 142 per day
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Stride Featured in

Stride Feature In

73 Explore! Travel Reviews & Ratings

96%
4.6 out of 5 (100+ reviews)
Excellent 55
Great 11
Average 3
Disappointing 3
Terrible 1
Value
4.5
Guide
4.7
Activities
4.6
Lodging
4.3
Transportation
4.5
Meals
4.4

Highlights of Eastern Europe

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Trip of a lifetime seeing the Arctic in a week

5.0
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Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging4.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
I travelled as a solo traveller and was relieved to find that about half the boat was also solo travellers. It was a great adventure - on a ferry board for a week with the most amazing panoramic views around us every day. We were regularly out on smaller boats to see the bird cliffs up close, or to go onto land to walk around. We saw lots of amazing wildlife including walrus, blue whales, beluga whales, endless species of birds, and of course Polar Bears! The week went by too quickly. It was a great mix of wildlife and landscapes. Each day there was a different guide giving a presentation of everything from the biology of a polar bear, to the fauna found in the arctic circle. You could join in for as little or as much as you wanted. Definitely recommended.
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Super good tour guide, but the itinerary was rushed

5.0
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Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging4.0
Transportation4.0
Meals4.0
Junk on Halong Bay, Homestay in Mekong Delta. Hoi An Our tour guide, Long, was excellent and did a super job of mixing history and political context with what we were seeing. He went out of his way to add to the tour, actually taking us to favorite restaurant on his night off. The children loved him and we enjoyed his professionalism and his personal narrative of Vietnam. I felt that the itinerary was very rushed for a family tour. I understand the non family tour is longer and actually that would have been better for the family too. In particular a very busy day in Hue followed a mostly sleepless night on the train. We could have done with more time in Hue, or different activities. Hue was a bad day as the kite making was dull, crowded, and hot, then we didn't get to fly kites as we had not made them. In the end we had little time at the Citadel as we had to transfer into a small bus to navigate the streets.
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Excellent

5.0
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Guide5.0
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Lodging4.0
Transportation4.0
Meals4.0
Mohammed was excellent!

Enjoy the trip

5.0
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Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
The highlight of this trip was seeing Machu Picchu, which I loved it.

Great Tour Leader will come back in 2017

5.0
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Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation5.0
Meals5.0
A great tour leader - friendly, personable, approachable, knowledgeable of the local area, sights and people. We plan to come back and cycle with Andrew again in 2017.

Pleasant surprise experience

5.0
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Value5.0
Guide5.0
Activities5.0
Lodging5.0
Transportation4.0
Meals5.0
It is hard to say because each outing was a pleasant surprise. The best experience was a workshop on feltmaking in Kazbegi town Georgia) where, as a group, we made the felt from scratch and created our own design. A great opportunity to discover a local craft. It is also an excellent example how this diverse group got along like a house on fire. In Armenia my fqvourite outing was the walk along the Garni river gorge with a local guide. The scenery was breathtaking.
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Details

Optional Activities

Optional Excursions

Krakow - Wieliczka Salt Mine £20.00; Wawel Castle entrance fee £5.00; Visit to Auschwitz approximately £32.00. Please note a visit to Auschwitz will take up most of the day. It is subject to availability so we recommend booking a ticket before leaving the UK. You can do this online directly with any of the following companies; Discover Cracow https://discovercracow.com/tours-and-trips/auschwitz-birkenau/, See Krakow http://www.seekrakow.com/auschwitz-birkenau/, Info Tours http://www.infotours.pl/tour/auschwitz-birkenau/. Please ensure you book your ticket for the correct day. Budapest - Thermal Baths £10.00; Danube River cruise £15.00; Tasting of four wines and lunch £15.00 Vienna - Spanish Riding School performance tickets £22. This optional is subject to availability and performances may sell out. We recommend booking tickets in advance through the official website, from 13.00 onwards on the day you are visiting Vienna - https://www.srs.at/en/tickets-events/ Prague - Theatre tickets £5.00 to £60.00; concert tickets £15.00 to £70.00; train to Konopiste £3.00; guided tour of Konopiste Castle £8.00; boat trip on Vltava River (including dinner) £20.00 Also allow about £20.00 for various museum and site entrance fees during the trip.

Flights & Transport

Only ground transport

Group Size:

Intimate Group - 12 max

Generally 12 - 18

Guides

An Explore Leader is an integral part of any Explore trip and your trip will be led by one of our experienced Explore Leaders who have been handpicked and expertly trained. We believe that our Explore Leaders are the key to the success of our trips; they are passionate travellers who are bursting with first-hand local knowledge which they love to share. Your Explore Leader will also take care of all the planning and organisation throughout your journey. Their passionate approach will make this trip fun and inspiring, bringing the destination to life whether you're travelling alone or with others.

Tour Staff

Driver(s), Explore Tour Leader, Local Guide(s), Driver(s), Explore Tour Leader, Local Guide(s)

Trip ID#:

explore-CZ

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