Schonbrunn Palace, Vienna

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EUROPE'S IMPERIAL CAPITALS

Visit three historic Imperial cities of central Europe with their stunning cathedrals, soaring spires, majestic boulevards extraordinary palaces  and a cultural heritage to marvel at.

DAY
1

Arrival in Budapest, capital of modern day Hungary and transfer to your hotel.

DAY
2

After breakfast, take a sightseeing tour along Budapest's elegant boulevards to Heroes’ Square, across the mighty Danube and up to Gellert Hill with views over this famous river dividing Buda from Pest - the two sides linked by the Chain and Elizabeth Bridges.  The medieval cobblestone streets of the Castle District are a joy to wander and your tour also takes you to witness the spectacular panorama from the Fisherman’s Bastion over the splendid Parliament building, one of the largest in Europe. Finish at the popular pedestrian shopping street of Váci Utca within easy reach of the city’s fine museums and monuments, churches and synagogues, historic squares and buildings.

DAY
3

Explore more of Budapest at your own pace and dip deep into the city's unique culture. Perhaps try a spa treatment - these are very popular with the locals - as the city is on a thermal hotspot, take in the City Park and maybe a trip along the serene Danube itself for a spectacular view of the city waterfront - perhaps on one of the excellent evening dinner cruises.

DAY
4

Leave Budapest this morning across the undulating plains of the Danube Valley to Esztergom to visit the awe inspiring Basilica here and make an afternoon stop in Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, where there's time to visit the imposing castle high on its rocky outcrop before continuing west into Austria and the erstwhile home of the great Hapsburg Emperors, Vienna.  The plethora of fine buildings in the city's centre will amaze you and the evening is a great time to see them illuminated in all their glory.

DAY
5

Vienna is a stately city, with stupendous buildings , magnificent monuments and tree lined boulevards leading you from palace to palace. The emperors that made this city their home did not skimp on investing their wealth in great buildings. Today you'll visit the masterpiece that was the summer residence of the legendary Empress Maria Theresa at Schoenbrunn Palace, with its great park and wonderful interior to rival Versailles, as well as the Hofburg an amazing complex of city palaces and buildings where you may be lucky enough to glimpse the famous white Lipizzaner horses of the world renowned Vienna Riding School.   Museums and galleries abound as you explore this afternoon and in the evening you're spoilt for choice with top class opera and musical recitals a big favourite.

DAY
6

At leisure in Vienna today to explore the city as your fancy takes you.  You could climb to the upper reaches of the towering spire of Stephansdom cathedral, the enormous Prater Park   is a great place in which to wander as the locals do, and you can ride its  Big Wheel made so famous in the film "The Third Man" or you may prefer to try out one or two of the city's speciality cakes in a typical pavement cafe in the delightful pedestrianised central zone amidst the exclusive boutiques.  This is the city of Beethoven and Mozart and a whole family of  Strausses, so look out for the small squares each featuring a statue of another famous composer.  This evening join us at a typical Heurigen tavern on the edge of the Vienna Woods for dinner and traditional Schrammelmusik with a drop of the local wine!

DAY
7

En route from Vienna today we cross the border into the Czech Republic and call in at Ceske Krumlov a wonderful spot seemingly encased in a medieval time warp. An included orientation tour will help you to make the most of your time here, and a good lunch is assured as excellent cafes and restaurants abound in the cobblestoned traffic free streets, nestling below one of the most amazing castles in the whole of Bohemia. During the afternoon follow the valley of the slowly meandering Vltava River to Prague.

DAY
8

Prague boasts one of the most beautiful and intact medieval centres in Europe and this morning's included sightseeing tour commences in the great hilltop complex known as Prague Castle, where you can admire the stained glass of St Vitus Cathedral and enjoy amazing views over the Old Town - not for nothing is this place known as the "city of a hunderd spires". Heading past many fine buildings and across one of the superb river bridges for which the city is famous leads us to the heart of the Old Town,  the Stare Mesto,  where the amazing Astronomical Clock in the central square delights onlookers every hour. This afternoon there's the chance to view the city from the river with an informative commentary before enjoying some typical hearty czech cuisine and one or more of the nation's many fine lagers this evening.

 

 

DAY
9

Free time today and there's so much to do. A stroll across Charles Bridge with its fascinating statues is a must and the tree lined lanes on the west of the River Vltava offer some of the nicest restaurants for a relaxing lunch. Shopping is generally excellent value here and there are delightful markets and interesting antique shops a plenty. A feature of the city are the short musical recitals performed in notable public buildings - often chapels or churches -a wonderful experience redolent of a timeless culture that goes back over a thousand years in this romantic and historic corner of Europe.

DAY
10

The tour ends this morning with a transfer and onward flight.