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Epic Europe: Central and Italy

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Epic Europe: Central and Italy

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Description

See seven countries and hit all the highlights of Europe on this 24-day journey through Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Italy and Slovenia. Discover nightlife you can only get in Berlin, walk the ‘Royal Route’ in Krakow, then soak up the terracotta views of Prague and Cesky Krumlov. See the fairytale-like Lake Bled, and then it’s onto Italy to eat your weight in delicious carbs. Explore the postcard-perfect canals of Venice, beach hop around sparkling coasts, sample Tuscan wine, and soak in heaps of art, history and culture. Take a bucket list trip that explores iconic ruin bars, historic landmarks, hilltop castles, cobblestone streets, romantic canals, world wonders and epic sunset spots and do it all with likeminded individuals and a local leader who knows all the secrets.

Trip Name
Epic Europe: Central and Italy
Last Updated
2024-02-14
Days
24
Capacity
16
Highlights
  • Start your trip with a bang in Berlin, where history and modern culture dance. If it’s nightlife you’re after, Germany’s capital is home to thriving bars, underground clubs and an alternative scene not to be missed.  
  • Discover the magical Cesky Krumlov – you'd be forgiven for thinking you'd stepped straight into a fairytale, as this place is filled with medieval buildings, verdant countryside and the flowing Vltava River. 
  • Step into the pages of a fairytale on the shore of Slovenia’s Lake Bled – home to the bluest waters you might ever see. Explore the church on the island, walk around the lake surrounded by mountains and treat yourself to a slice of cream cake. 
  • Eat your way through Italy, stopping in at some of the country’s finest food destinations. Whether it’s a real spaghetti carbonara in Rome, a traditional pesto-making demonstration in Cinque Terre or wine windows in Florence, your tastebuds are front and center.
  • Explore some of the most beautiful and iconic cities in Italy, soak in incredible views and photo ops and tick off plenty of bucket list items, whether it’s playing Romeo or Juliet in Verona or looking out over the Mediterranean Sea from the hills of Cinque Terre.

Itinerary

ITINERARY CHANGES Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It's important that you review this information prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays, political unrest or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in-country. Your group leader or local representative will keep you up to date with any such changes once your trip is underway. OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES A selection of optional activities that have been popular with past travellers are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only for some of what might be available. Prices are approximate, are for entrance fees only, and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability, and maybe on a join-in basis. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, so some pre-planning for what you are most interested in is advised. When it's recommended that travellers pre-book these activities, look for a note in the Special Information section of the day-to-day itinerary. For most, they can either be organised independently on the day, or let your group leader or local representative know you are interested at the Welcome Meeting and they can assist. Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. Although it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Medium and high-risk activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and group leader or local representative are unable to assist you with organising these activities. Activities that contravene our Responsible Travel policies are also not listed. Please remember that the decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk. BOOKING MUSEUMS AND ATTRACTIONS IN ADVANCE: To avoid disappointment we have outlined (where applicable) some important information on some of the major museums and attractions in Europe. Some of our groups have experienced long lines of up to four hours to visit some of the major sights, while some sights are so popular they are booked out completely months in advance, making it impossible for you or your leader to arrange a visit while you are on the trip. Please note that many museums and attractions in Europe are closed on Mondays or Tuesdays. We recommend you carefully consider which sites and museums you are going to want to visit and that you do some research and make your reservations in advance where possible. If applicable we've given you information in the day-to-day itinerary which outlines which day of the trip is a suitable time to make your reservations, as well as any other information that may help with planning your visit.

Day 1 - Berlin
Guten Tag! Welcome to Germany. Your adventure kicks off with a welcome meeting at 6 pm tonight in Berlin. If you arrive in Berlin early, explore this dynamic city on foot – Berlin is packed with poignant historic sites, cutting-edge galleries and iconic architecture. The city also boasts a party scene that makes NYC’s nightlife seem tame. If you’re keen to see what Berlin is about, it’s highly recommended that you arrive a couple of days early. Why not get to know your new travel crew tonight and head out for currywurst (hot dogs covered in ketchup, Worcester sauce and curry powder) and a stein? Or you can hit the clubs and start this trip with a bang (we can’t guarantee you’ll get into Berghain, but just giving it a go is half the fun)!
Day 2 - Wroclaw
This morning, say goodbye to Germany and hop on a train to Wroclaw – the cultural centre of southwest Poland sitting on the banks of River Oder. You’ll arrive in the early afternoon. Settle into your hotel, then follow your leader on an orientation walk around the city that makes it feel as though you’ve stepped back in time. The rest of the day is free for you to explore how you wish. Maybe check out Ostrów Tumski (Cathedral Island), the Old Town Square and the Four Denominations District, where the city’s incredible architecture and history are on display. Or appreciate Wroclaw from River Oder and picnic with a few of your new travel buddies.
Day 3 - Krakow
This morning, board a train to Krakow – your base for the next two nights. As you stroll the pretty streets of the World Heritage-listed Old Town, glimpse gorgeous medieval architecture, castles, churches and sprawling squares with your leader. Grab some zapiekanka along the way – a baguette topped with mushroom and cheese – a beloved street snack. Later, strike out on your own and maybe visit Wawel Royal Castle, which sits atop a hill next to the Vistula River or glimpse the impressive St Mary's Basilica and its extraordinary wood-carved Gothic altarpiece. If churches are your thing, the neo-Gothic St Francis' Basilica is worth a visit.
Day 4 - Krakow
Today is a free day for you to explore Krakow at your own pace. Walking the ‘Royal Route’ – the former path of Polish monarchs – takes you past most of the Old Town’s greatest treasures, including Florianska Gate (a Gothic gateway tower where street musicians tend to play and local artists often display their work), the Barbician, a grand Baroque theatre and impressive churches and museums. If you can tear yourself away from Krakow, there are lots of interesting day trips available. Maybe head to Wieliczha to visit its 700-year-old salt mine – buried 135 m underground, this mind-boggling complex is a vast network of tunnels, pits and chambers all hewn by hand from solid salt! You’ll also find chapels with elaborate salt chandeliers and lakes deep underground. After a full day of sightseeing, why not hit one of Krakow’s cellar restaurants for a plate of pierogis and a cold drink.
Day 5 - Prague
This morning after breakfast, head to the Czech Republic. Take a bus to the town of Ostrava, then board the train to Prague. After checking into your hotel, your leader will show you some of Prague’s best sites on an orientation walk. Then you’re free to explore on your own. Maybe wander the streets of the Jewish Quarter and check out the oldest surviving synagogue in Europe or learn about Prague’s favourite son at the Franz Kafka Museum. Make sure to take a scenic stroll along the Charles Bridge and watch the Astronomical Clock in action as it ticks over. This is a gorgeous city, so exploring on foot is often people’s go-to activity.
Day 6 - Prague
Today you can enjoy more free time in Prague to visit the sites you missed yesterday. Prague Castle has a great viewpoint that provides sweeping views of the city’s red rooftops and medieval architecture. Consider a day trip to Kutna Hora, where you can visit Sedlec Ossuary, an eerie chapel decorated with human skeletons, or St Barbara Church and its medieval frescoes. Prague’s Old Town becomes particularly magical at night. Return for an evening stroll to soak up the atmosphere before checking out some of the town’s cosy cellar hangouts or underground Absinthe bars. If you’re into jazz, Prague also boasts one of the best scenes in Europe! Ask your tour leader for suggestions if you’re not sure where to head out tonight.
Day 7 - Cesky Krumlov
Bid farewell to Prague today and travel south to the fairytale-like town of Cesky Krumlov. Dating back to the 13th century, this tiny town closely resembles Prague with its gorgeous castle across the river and pretty mix of Renaissance and Baroque architecture. Head out on a leader-led walk around town, as they provide insight into the architectural symbolism and Old Town mysteries. After, use some free time to head to the top of the Castle Tower for a great view of the town’s red rooftops and distant rolling green hills, explore the castle and its gardens or browse the shops that line the riverfront. If you’re feeling active, ask your tour leader about rafting and canoeing activities on offer (time and weather permitting).
Day 8 - Vienna
Hop onto your private transfer and travel across the border to Austria and the Baroque city of Vienna. A perennial favourite for the world’s most liveable city, Vienna is also a dream for starry-eyed travellers looking for delicious coffee and pastries (sachertorte, in particular), classical music and grand palaces. Get acquainted with the city on a leader-led walk and then enjoy some free time to explore on your own. Art lovers have their pick of museums to explore – maybe check out modern Austrian art at the Leopold Museum, paintings by Monet, Degas and Picasso at the neo-classical Albertina or the world’s largest collection of paintings by Austrian painter Gustav Klimt at Belvedere Palace. This evening, why not sample Vienna’s incredible musical heritage and catch a performance at one of the city’s historic venues such as the Vienna State Opera House.
Day 9 - Vienna
Spend another day exploring Vienna’s rich artistic and intellectual heritage. Maybe head to Schloss Belvedere (Belvedere Palace), Schoenbrunn Palace or the Hofburg Palace complex to discover Austria’s symmetrical take on over-the-top grandeur. Exploring some of the city’s more specific museums such as the Schnapps Museum, the Sigmund Freud Museum or the Globe Museum, which is located inside the impressive Austrian National Museum. Climb the tower of St Stephen’s Cathedral, take a spin on the Prater Ferris Wheel or catch a dressage show at the Spanish Riding School. If you didn’t head out last night, maybe cap off a culture-filled day with a spot of Mozart Bach or Schubert at the opera house.
Day 10 - Budapest
This morning you’ll continue your exploration of Europe’s opulent past in Budapest. Take a train and watch the scenery pass you by – when you arrive, your leader will show you around the city on an orientation walk. Later, visit the cavernous Great Market Hall to check out Hungarian specialties like langos (fried dough) and Mangalica (an endemic pig) meat and enjoy a delicious market snack with plenty of tasty local recommendations. More than just a fairy-tale-like ode to the past, Budapest is also a bustling city with hip bars, trendy cafes and plenty of cheap eats. Your evening is free and your leader will make sure that you're equipped with all of the insider knowledge when it comes to which are the best (and best-kept secret) ruin bars. A night out here might just be your highlight of the trip!
Day 11 - Budapest
Enjoy a free day to explore Budapest further today. Visible from pretty much everywhere in the city, the 13th-century Buda Castle is a must-see. Why not imagine how Hungarian kings used to live by touring the palace complex, which houses the Hungarian National Gallery and the Budapest History Museum. Or you could head to Fisherman’s Bastion for the best view of the city before taking a leisurely stroll along the cobbled streets of the Castle District. Another option is a boat trip along the Danube River, where you’ll get a different view of the Parliament buildings, the Castle District and the bridges that link Buda and Pest. Tonight, find one of the many great dinner spots or head back to the ruin bars for a night out.
Day 12 - Bled
Get ready for a long day of travel today as you make the journey to Ljubljana. From there, you’ll travel to Bled – an impossibly scenic lakeside town tucked at the foothills of the Julian Alps. You visit plenty of pretty towns on this trip but Bled truly is something out of a fairy tale. Arrive in the late afternoon and head to its gorgeous lake. Here, your leader will point out the town’s best attractions, like its 11th-century clifftop castle and the small island in the lake’s centre. Use the rest of the day to search for Bled’s famous cream cake (which shouldn’t be hard, every cafe in town claims to make the best one) or choose to join the group for an optional dinner of Slovenian specialties.
Day 13 - Bled
Postcard-perfect Bled (the perfect spot if you need a new banging Instagram) is also tailor-made for adventure, and as today is a free day, it’s up to you how you’d like to get active (or chill out and stare at the scenery – it never gets old). Hiking, biking, canoeing and rafting are all on the cards so you can choose to hire a bike and explore the surrounds, head to Vintgar Gorge for a walk through its natural canyon or go rafting along the Soca River. If you’d like to keep it more lowkey, head to Bled Castle for some exploration or take a plenta (small wooden boat) to the church on the island in the middle of the lake to ring the wishing bell. You could even venture further afield and take a day trip to Bohinj – another pretty lakeside town. As always, your leader is there for a reason! Grill them about the options.
Day 14 - Venice
This morning, travel to Venice – brace yourself for some amazing scenery on the way. Venice is one of a kind, built over a hundred small islands connected by 400 bridges. As well as all those romantic canals, it has all the hallmarks of a fine old Italian city – world-class food, performance, art and architecture. Use your free time to explore – the best way to go is on foot. Try to take in all the famous sights, like the Grand Canal, the shops of the Rialto Bridge, the Palace of the Doge (ruler of Venice), the Piazza San Marco and its golden basilica, and the Bridge of Sighs. Don't even think about leaving until you've eaten some tiramisu! This is where the dish was born, and they know how to do it just right.
Day 15 - Venice
Today is free to explore Venice at your own pace until a group meeting at 6 pm tonight. Until then, maybe window shop by the Ponte di Rialto, browse the famous flooding bookshop – Libreria Acqua Alta (the self-proclaimed ‘most beautiful bookshop in the world’) or jump in a gondola and be swept away by the romance of this place. Tonight, why not get together for dinner at Orient Experience – a restaurant providing employment, support and advocacy to Venice’s migrant and refugee community with a menu inspired by their journeys to get to Europe. 
Day 16 - Verona / Lake Garda
Say farewell to Venice this morning as you leave the canals behind and make your way to Verona – the city that played backdrop to the most famous love story ever told. An orientation walk with your leader will take you around the city and into the courtyard where you can gaze up at Juliet’s balcony (keep an eye out for Romeo lurking around the place). You’ll also go past Arena di Verona – a Roman amphitheatre that still plays host to live performances. Built in AD30 the theatre is one of the best-preserved ancient structures of its kind and is even older than the Colosseum! See if you can find some Sfogliatine di Villafranca (a much-loved crumbly puff pastry dessert invented in Verona). After an afternoon of exploring, jump back on the train and head to Lake Garda. Tonight, find a lakeside restaurant for dinner with your new travel buddies.
Day 17 - Lake Garda
Wake up today in the lakeside region of Lake Garda. On the banks of the largest lake in Italy, you’ll have free time to explore at your leisure. As one of the most beautiful small towns on the lake, Peschiera del Garda packs a punch, with plenty to see. Wander along the canals and rivers and make your way down to the lakefront where you can take a dip in the turquoise waters or grab some lunch at one of the many restaurants. At the UNESCO World Heritage Site Peschiera del Garda fortress, you can learn how the Republic of Venice defended itself between the 16th and 17th centuries. Tonight, why not grab your group and watch the sunset over the water while sipping on an Aperol spritz or a negroni (or two!).
Day 18 - Parma
Leaving the banks of Lake Garda this morning, you’ll make your way to the beautiful city of Parma. As a food lovers paradise, get ready to sample all the traditional delicacies Parma has on offer. When you arrive, your leader will take you around the city on an orientation walk, before leaving you to explore at your own pace. Wander the colourful streets of this gem in the heart of northern Italy, famously the birthplace of Prosciutto di Parma and Parmigiano Reggiano. Once you’ve eaten all the cured hams and aged cheeses you can handle (although can you ever really get enough?), maybe check out some incredible art history and the intricately frescoed ceilings in the Duomo di Parma, or head about an hour out and visit the largest labyrinth in the world – Labirinto di Franco Maria Ricci.
Day 19 - La Spezia
Today, you’ll head to La Spezia, the gateway to Cinque Terre, nestled in the hills of northern Italy and on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Today is the perfect opportunity to enjoy a day at the beach, soak up some sun and eat all the seafood you can stomach. You can also jump on the bus and take a day trip out to the unofficial ‘sixth town’ of Cinque Terre, Portovenere. On the tip of a peninsula, this small finishing town is surrounded by ocean. Full of history, maybe walk out to the 12th century Doira Castle or find literary inspiration at the Grotta di Lord Byron – a popular swimming cove that inspired the author it’s named after. Today is all about enjoying the Mediterranean coast, so make it your own! Don’t forget to check in with your leader to find the best places that only the locals know.
Day 20 - Cinque Terre / La Spezia
Welcome to Cinque Terre! One of the most beautiful coastal stretches in Italy. Historically, long walking trails were the only way to travel between the villages, which means that other than the incredible views, you’ll also have some hiking opportunities. Today, your leader will take you on a hike through some of these tracks, with the Mediterranean Sea in sight the whole time. Walking past terraced farms and through coastal forests, this is the perfect way to discover this part of Italy. After your hike, the rest of the day is yours. Maybe make your way down to a beach club and soak in the sun, or join a traditional pesto making demonstration for some tricks you can take home. Alternatively, hop on a boat and take a cruise around the coast to see the rolling hills from a different perspective.
Day 21 - Pisa / Florence
Say arrivederci to Cinque Terre this morning and make your way to Pisa. When you arrive, head over to the Piazza del Duomo where you’ll find the Battistero di San Giovanni, Cattedrale di Pisa and of course the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Join the crowds and get your very own picture holding up the tower or challenge your group to come up with the most original photo. You’ve got free time for the next few hours, so why not ask your leader for the best places to sample some salami, a few cheeses or where to get the best glass of Tuscan wine? Maybe try some Cecina Toscana (traditional flatbread) too. Leave Pisa mid-afternoon, and head for Florence, where your leader will take you on an orientation walk around the city. Ask them to point out any hot spots for dinner and drinks tonight, and where you can jump on an optional food tour or experience happy hour the Italian way (second aperitivo, anyone?).
Day 22 - Florence
Today you have a full day to explore one of the most beautiful cities in Italy – Florence. Home to the great Michelangelo, why not visit the Accademia Gallery and see David himself, or visit his replica and other Rennaissance sculptures in the Piazza della Signoria. If you’re feeling up for a bit of a challenge, walk the 463 steps to the top of the Duomo and get one of the best 360 views of Florence. Hunt through the streets and see how many wine windows you can find (there are over 180!), taking full advantage of the quirky little holes in the wall that were originally put in so Florentines could still enjoy a glass of vino during times of plague. Tonight, come together as a group and enjoy a sunset aperitivo in Piazzale Michelangelo before heading out for the night.
Day 23 - Rome
Your time in Firenze has come to an end. Today, you’ll be heading to the illustrious capital city – Rome. Walking in the footsteps of emperors, conquerors, gladiators and philosophers, the streets of Rome are steeped in history. Follow your leader on an orientation walk and get the lay of the land before heading off to explore. The Roman Colosseum (one of the Seven Wonders of the World) is a must-see for most, whether you admire the architectural marvel from the outside or immerse yourself in the history from the inside. If you’re looking for more ancient Roman architecture, check out the Forum (now home to a colony of cats). You can also talk to your leader about heading out to Vatican City where you can climb St Peter’s Dome or visit the Vatican Museum and check out Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. Tonight, your leader can help you find the best place for dinner to toast to the end of your adventure.
Day 24 - Rome
Your trip comes to an end this morning and it’s time to say goodbye to your group. As there is so much to see in Rome, it’s recommended that you stay a little longer and book a few more days – just speak to your booking agent.

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type
13-04-202406-05-2024AUD $ 6,440-
04-05-202427-05-2024AUD $ 6,445-
18-05-202410-06-2024AUD $ 6,695-
01-06-202424-06-2024AUD $ 6,260-
20-07-202412-08-2024AUD $ 6,025-
10-08-202402-09-2024AUD $ 5,667-
24-08-202416-09-2024AUD $ 6,200-
14-09-202407-10-2024AUD $ 6,435-
28-09-202421-10-2024AUD $ 6,435-
22-03-202514-04-2025AUD $ 6,260-
26-04-202519-05-2025AUD $ 6,260-
10-05-202502-06-2025AUD $ 6,260-
24-05-202516-06-2025AUD $ 6,510-
07-06-202530-06-2025AUD $ 6,510-
05-07-202528-07-2025AUD $ 6,510-
26-07-202518-08-2025AUD $ 6,510-
09-08-202501-09-2025AUD $ 6,760-
23-08-202515-09-2025AUD $ 6,760-
06-09-202529-09-2025AUD $ 6,760-
13-09-202506-10-2025AUD $ 6,760-
27-09-202520-10-2025AUD $ 6,760-

Accommodation

Hotel (11 nights),Guest house (3 nights),Hostel (multi-share) (7 nights),Guesthouse (multi-share) (2 nights)

Transport

Train,Metro,Private vehicle,Public bus,Taxi

Map