Eastern Europe, Croatia & the Balkans
Day 1 Berlin
Arrive in Berlin at any time. Check into our hotel and enjoy the city. Please try to arrive before 6pm for an important group meeting where you can meet the Chief Experience Officer (CEO) and the other group members. We recommended arriving a day or two early to fully explore this world-renowned city.
Day 2 Berlin (1B)
Berlin is an amazing city with tangible historical importance and a melting pot of different cultures and flavours. The very name Berlin conjures images of the famous Berlin Wall. Two sections of the wall still remain on display- the East Side Gallery, where artists have decorated the remaining section of the wall, and the Berlin Wall Memorial (Gedenkstatte Berliner Mauer). Down the street from the Berlin Wall is the Haus am Checkpoint Charlie, a museum that documents the history of the wall, and interestingly, many of the different ways people tried to escape. Learn about all of the creative ways used to cross over to the other side. After, you can head over to the Brandenburg Gate, another spot of great historical significance. Here, hundreds of thousands of people were finally able to cross from the East side to the West after the fall of the wall. It has traditionally been a political rallying point for different groups and continues to be so today. If you are still craving museums, Berlin has plenty! Visit the Pergamon Museum, home to one of the world's greatest collections of ancient architecture and art. Also give the Egyptian Museum (Agyptisches Museum) a try as it houses many old Egyptian artifacts and the Judisches Museum tells the story of the relationship between the Germans and the Jews throughout the last few centuries. Art lovers will enjoy the Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin Museum with plenty of modern art that is sure to spark interest and curiosity. The Berggruen Collection at the Die Sammlung Berggruen is also a must-see. Here, see an extensive art collection of Picasso, as well as paintings by Klee, Cezanne and Van Gogh. For those interested in Berlin's government, past and present, visit the Reichstag, home to the German parliament. Here, you can go up to the glass dome for a view of Berlin, or learn about the fascinating history of the building. For more history from this grim period, visit the Topographie des Terrors, a row of old cellars where prisoners were tortured. See the hundreds of pictures from the era and read the newspaper clippings to get a better understanding of what went on in the cellars and throughout Nazi Germany. Finally, for an amazing view of Berlin, visit the famous Berlin Television Tower with a viewing room and cafe located 203 meters above ground, providing sweeping views of the city.
Day 3 Warsaw (1B)
Arrive by train to Warsaw. Take the day to explore the city and marvel at the dedicated and painstaking reconstruction work which has allowed the "Old Warsaw"to rise again from the rubble of wartime destruction. Warsaw suffered hugely from bombing raids and Nazi occupation in the Second World War, and thereafter from the Soviet occupation and Communist rule. Today the city is a testament to the courage and determination of the Polish people who have at the same time reconstructed their capital city to ensure its character was not lost for ever, and risen above the trials of its past to embrace the twenty-first century. We include a visit to the sombre but unmissable Historical Museum, which has a vivid portrayal in film of what it was like to suffer bombing raids and destruction. Time allowing, visit the Royal Castle Museum and Royal Apartments for a glimpse of Polish splendor through the depictions in paintings and perfectly restored rooms. Estimated travel time: 6 hours
Days 4-5 Zakopane (High Tatra Mountains) (2B)
Travel by train to Zakopane, at the foot of the Tatra Mountains. A quaint little ski town, Zakapone is very popular with the locals in the winter and summer seasons. The town is located in southern Poland near the border with Slovakia. Venture on a guided hike around the Tatra Mountains, we will utilize a cable car to arrive at the most spectacular views so the hike is more enjoyable for everyone. Don't miss a chance to try Oscypek, smoked sheep's milk cheese, a local specialty sold by several vendors on the main pedestrian street. Estimated travel time: 6 hours
Days 6-7 Krakow (2B)
Day 6 visit the site of one of history's most horrific crimes, Auschwitz-Birkenau. The site embodies tragedy, inhumanity and the survival of will. Today the museum stands testament to the inconceivable atrocities of the Second World War, whilst paying tribute to the thousands of lives unjustly taken within. On Day 7 travel by train to Prague. Krakow is a thriving European city that still retains the old Eastern European charm. Head first to the centre of everything- the Old Town’s Rynek Glowny square, one of the world’s largest medieval squares. You can sit for hours watching the people wander by over the cobblestoned streets. Make time to indulge in the mighty carbohydrate, Poland’s favorite food group. As the birthplace of the bagel you can sample them from vendors in the square or eat your body weight in the most delicious of Polish delicacies, the pierogie. These little ravioli-like pouches filled with all sorts of things, the best being mashed potato, will tempt you to work your way through each variety during your stay. To really eat like a local, get your CEO to take you to a “milk bar” where you can line up with the locals for traditional cheap Polish food, cafeteria style! When you awaken from your carb-coma, visit the royal castle perched on the Wawel Hill, providing a great view of the city. For some of the history that makes Krakow so famous, visit the former Jewish district with its 7 synagogues, which was used as the location for filming the movie Schindler’s List. Three gigantic Gothic churches and more than 800 pubs are huddled in nooks and alleyways where time slows down. If you can tear yourself away from the charms of Krakow, make a visit the Wieliczka Salt Mines, located only a short distance away. Here, you will be plunged into a deep underground network of tunnels and chambers some 135m below the surface. The Blessed King's Chapel is a highlight not to be missed, with its elaborate salt chandeliers and carvings. You may want to end your day embracing Polish social traditions in one of Krakow’s many cellar restaurants and pubs. Dive into the thriving social scene over a few vodkas in one of these cheerful establishments, Zubrowka (Bison Grass Vodka) is a must!!! Estimated travel time: 8 hours
Days 8-9 Prague (2B)
Today we head to the capital of the Czech Republic – “Golden” Prague. Prague is regarded by many as the unspoilt jewel in Europe’s historic crown. As well as the chance to visit all the major sights of the Old Town and Hradcany (the Castle of the Bohemian Kings), we have time to simply soak up the atmosphere of a unique community. Just a stone's throw away is Charles Bridge, by day thronged with vendors and street musicians. At night, the bridge is less crowded, and it's much easier to appreciate the scenery as well as the ever-so-slightly sinister quality of the statues looming overhead. Cross the bridge and you'll find yourself in Mala Strana, a far less crowded district that offers the perfect atmosphere for some introspective wandering. If you can handle the stairs, climbing the hundreds of steps to the famous Prague Castle (known as Hradcany), you'll be rewarded with a glorious view of the city. Like Charles Bridge, the castle is best enjoyed at night, when there is dramatic lighting and few visitors. If you're in the area and want to experience traditional Czech pubs, which are guaranteed to be loud, lively, and packed with locals on any night of the week, this is the place to find restaurants serving traditional Czech cuisine such as fried pork cutlets, goulash, and dumplings. The Prague Ghetto, which includes the Jewish Cemetery and Synagogues is one of the famous areas of Europe where the Jews of the city lived and thrived before WWII and definitely worth a visit. Prague certainly has no shortage of breathtaking views and the next hill over from the castle, Petrin Hill, offers a less obstructed panorama-style view. If you're not in the mood for hiking uphill, you can always take a cable car all the way to the top. An alternative is an evening watching the sunset from the heights of the Letna Beer Garden, where you can sample Czech beer, world-famous for its superb quality and low cost, on a warm summer evening.
Days 10-11 ?eský Krumlov (2B)
Take your time exploring the spectacular castle and narrow cobblestone streets of this UNESCO World Heritage Site oozing with culture, history and life. Art galleries, cozy inns and ancient taverns abound inside of old buildings designed in Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque styles. Tour the ?eský Krumlov State Castle and Chateau, which is complete with hidden passageways, a unique Baroque theatre, a hedge maze and beautiful gardens. Day 11 after breakfast, we will set off for a rafting trip (approx. 1-2 hours) on the Vltava River that winds right through the centre of ?eský Krumlov - a favorite summer pastime here. Afterwards, you might want to have lunch in one of the many pretty restaurants offering fantastic local cuisine, sitting on a terrace overlooking this fairy-tale medieval town. The afternoon is yours for exploration: discover the history and architecture of this charming town. Check out the Jewish synagogue built in Nouveau-Romanesque style in 1909 by the local Jewish community, featuring an eight-sided tower with Torah-shaped windows. Cycle through the region's forests or explore the area by horseback. Sample the famous Czech beer with a visit to a local brewery or travel to Budvar (translated to Budweiser), and be sure to get out and see the town at night. Estimated travel time Prague to Cesky Krumlov 4 hrs
Days 12-13 Vienna (2B)
Travel by minivan and train to Vienna. In the afternoon we will enjoy an orientation walk of the city's beautiful and elegant streets, taking in Vienna's most famous sights. The walk will focus on the Hofburg, residence of the Habsburg family for nearly 650 years and St. Stephen´s Cathedral, the landmark of Vienna. As we discover the sights, you will hear tales of the infamous Habsburgs - such as the story of Sissi and Franz Joseph - their marriages and deaths, and other tales from Vienna's folklore as we discover the Sachertorte coffee houses and of course, the oldest cake shop in the city. Day 13 is yours to explore at your leisure. Wander the elegant streets a little more, take in some of Europe's most distinguished art galleries, pay a visit to the stunning Lipizzaner horses of the renowned Vienna Riding School, experience a joyful mass with the Vienna Boys Choir, or just settle yourself on a café terrace, order up a slice of mouthwatering Viennese cake and watch the world go by over coffee. Estimated travel time: 4 hours
Day 14 Bratislava/Budapest (1B)
Our journey through Central Europe continues to the capital of Slovakia – Bratislava. After lunch you can enjoy an afternoon walking orientation tour of the Bratislava Old Town and spend the rest of the day in this charming and vibrant city full of very good restaurants, bars and clubs. A short, but good introduction to Slovakia ends as we embark on a train to the “Queen of the Danube” – Budapest. Estimated travel time: Vienna to Bratislava = 1 hour, Bratislava to Budapest = 3 hours
Day 15 Budapest (1B)
Free time this morning to explore the “Queen of the Danube” – Budapest. Situated on a beautiful stretch of the Danube, Budapest consists of two parts: Buda and Pest. Buda is the older and more historical part of the city, with old narrow winding streets and medieval buildings. Here you can find Buda’s most ancient sights: the Royal Palace, St. Matthias Church, Fisherman’s Bastion and Castle Hill with its old town. You might like to have dinner in a local restaurant on Váci Utca, which is the bustling main street of Budapest. We also recommend a visit to the Szechenyi thermal baths for a real treat - Budapest style!
Days 16-17 Belgrade (2B)
Travel by train to the capital of the Republic of Serbia known as the 'White City'. Belgrade is emerging as a tourist destination as it recovers from a turbulent past. Stroll through the Kalemegdan, former Belgrade Fortress-turned central park. Here you can see the confluence of Sava and Danube rivers as you mingle with the locals. Walk down the pedestrian street of Skadarlija and continue to Republic Square to visit the National Theater or National Museum. The city offers a wealth of churches and cathedrals as well as an interesting Etnographic Museum for a chance to learn more about Serbian culture, traditions, costumes and tools used throughout history. Estimated travel time: 7 hours
Days 18-20 Sarajevo/Mostar (3B)
Travel by bus to the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina. A beautifully unique city famed for religious and cultural diversity. A place where Bosniaks, Croats, and Serbs are trying to live peacefully together setting examples for the rest of world that faces and has faced similar struggles. Walk around the cobblestoned streets of the Old Town while taking in the architecture of diverse places of worship. The Latin Bridge is worth a visit as it is a direct link to history, this is the sight where Archduke of the Austrian Hungarian empire, Franz Ferdinand, was assassinated, an event that led to the beginning of World War I. An included day trip to Mostar showcases the beautiful reconstructed Ottoman-style bridge that links the historic section of the city that is separated by the Neretva River. If you get lucky, you might see divers taking the plunge off the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Mostar has a wealth of shops, restaurants and museums to explore. Estimated travel time: 7 hours
Days 21-23 Herceg Novi (Bay of Kotor) (3B)
Continue to Montenegro and travel to the Bay of Kotor, a region that is listed as a World Heritage Site. On your free day opt to visit the city of Kotor, a picturesque town surrounded by a walled fortress built by the Republic of Venice. The city has a Mediterranean feel to it and the bay offers a stunning backdrop for the budding photographer. The bay is one of the finest natural harbors in Europe and therefore a fitting area to explore by sea kayak. Take a guided tour perfect for admiring the lush landscapes that surround you. If relaxing is more your style, the beaches of Herceg Novi offer a great escape. There are also local mud therapy spas nearby to test the natural healing properties of the area's sand. Estimated travel time: 7 hours
Days 24-25 Dubrovnik (2B)
Known as the 'Pearl of the Adriatic' on the Dalmatian coast, Dubrovnik has been an important maritime town in the region for centuries. Surrounded by medieval walls, Dubrovnik is rich in history and an attractive city to explore filled with stunning architecture, museums and fountains. The best starting point for exploration is the Old Town, passing by Roland's Column, the Bell Tower and Sponza Palace. Stroll the Placa Stradun to get a feel for cosmopolitan life in the city. Make a stop at Big Onofrio´s Fountain where locals and tourists gather together at the well-known city meeting spot. A trip to Dubrovnik isn't complete without walking the city walls, 2km long, you can choose to take a tour or explore on your own. HIghlights along the city walls include Fort Minceta, Fort St. John, Fort Lawrence, Fort Revelin, and St. Luke’s Tower. There are 3 main entrances to the city walls, the principal one is located by the Inner Pile Gates. Escape the city on a ferry ride to Lopud Island, part of the Elafiti Islands and home to one of Croatia's most stunning beaches, Plaza Sunj. Estimated travel time: 1 hour
Days 26-27 Hvar (2B)
Located in the Adriatic Sea off of the Dalmatian coast, the island of Hvar is one of Croatia's most populated and scenic islands. Filled with sunshine, the beautiful island is known for its lavender fields and vineyards in the interior and detailed Venetian-inspired architecture in the towns. On Day 12 enjoy a short 2 hour hike to a winery with a unique underwater cellar with submarine window view. Return by boat to Hvar town. Popular day trips include visiting the Pakleni Islands, easily accessible by boat, these islands offer a great escape for those wanting to spend a day relaxing on the beach. Estimated travel time: 3 hours bus, 30 minutes on a ferry, 30 minutes bus
Day 28 Split (1B)
Croatia's second-largest city, Split is an attractive place famed for the Roman Palace of the Emperor Diocletian. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the palace is basically a city within a city as Split has been built around these impressive Roman ruins. Also worth a visit, St. Duje's cathedral is said to be the oldest cathedral in the world, built around 305 AD. A climb up the bell tower provides excellent views of Split and the surrounding port area. For other spectacular views of the city make sure to visit Marjan's peak. The area has nice hiking and biking trails for those that want to embrace nature and escape the port town. Estimated travel time: 1 hour by catamaran
Day 29 Split (1B)
Depart at any time. We recommend staying an extra day or two to fully experience all this city has to offer.