Highlights of Italy and Central Europe

Highlights of Italy and Central Europe

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Description

From the iconic sights of Rome to the grand architecture of Budapest, this 38-day adventure covers all the highlights – and quite a few secret gems – of Italy and Central Europe. Enjoy a Renaissance revival in Florence, marvel at the Leaning Tower of Pisa and see Cinque Terre’s stunning coastline and pastel villages. Compare the world-class wines of the Piedmont region with that found along the famous South Tyrolean Wine Road. Admire the splendour of Lake Como and explore Venice’s maze of canals on a gondola ride. After getting your fill of Italian vibes and delicious cuisine, travel further inland to discover the old-world charm of Salzburg and Vienna, visit the haunting underground city of Osowka and learn its dark origins, then get active trekking among the high-altitude lakes and waterfalls of the Tatra Mountains. This bucket list-packed adventure has it all.

Trip Name
Highlights of Italy and Central Europe
Last Updated
2019-07-25
Days
38
Capacity
12
Highlights
  • Wander around Rome's famous landmarks including the Colosseum, Vatican City, Sistine Chapel, St Peter's Basilica and much more. This is a city that bucket lists were made for.
  • Come face-to-face with Michelangelo's David in Florence and a famous leaning tower in Pisa. Then get pleasantly lost exploring the tangle of canals and alleyways that make Venice.
  • Contrast the pastel buildings and rocky coastal pathways of the Cinque Terre with the villages, estates and gardens dotted around Lake Como.
  • Compare the world-class wines of Italy’s Piedmont region with those found along the south Tyrolean Wine Road, one of the oldest wine routes in the country.
  • Chanel Mozart and the Sound of Music in Salzburg. Enjoy plenty of time in Vienna to soak up its gorgeous architecture and jazz scene, then swing by Cesky Krumlov for a taste of its bohemian vibes.
  • Enjoy a scenic walk along the banks of the River Danube in Budapest. Threaded with bridges and hemmed in by castles and historic city buildings, Europe’s second longest river is also one of its most beautiful.
  • Get active hiking in the picturesque Tatra Mountains and traverse the steep slopes via funicular, gondola and electric steam train.

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 is important that you print and review a final copy prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in country. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary seasonally to ensure our travellers have the best experience. Your tour leader will keep you up to date with any changes once on tour. 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 only, and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability. 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 leader know you are interested 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 leaders 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. MUSEUM OPENING TIMES Please note that many sights, attractions and museums are closed on Mondays.

Day 1 - Rome
Buongiorno! Welcome to Italy. Crowded with ancient ruins and religious monuments, Rome still pulses to the beat of modern life and is packed with designer shops, restaurants, cafes and exciting nightlife. If you arrive early there are plenty of things to keep you busy. Maybe save the unmissable sights for tomorrow morning and today do as the Romans do – sip an espresso at one of the tiny streetside cafes and sample the many flavours of gelato that colour the city. For those captivated by the 'Eternal City', throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain to ensure a return visit to Rome.
Day 2 - Rome / Florence
Enjoy some free time in Rome or, if you wish, your group leader will be available for an orientation walk, taking in some of the best-known sights of Rome like the Colosseum, the Spanish Steps and the Roman Forum. No visit would be complete without a trip to Vatican City and St Peter's Basilica. Entry to the Basilica is free and there's a small charge to climb the dome for a breath-taking panorama over Bella Roma. If there's time, visit the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel. In the afternoon you'll travel by train from Rome to Florence, Italy's ‘outdoor museum’ (approximately 2 hours). Florence, the cultural heart of Tuscany, bursts with religious treasures and Renaissance masterpieces. It's been said that during the second millennium, a third of Europe's most important artists lived in Florence. The minds and talents of the Medicis, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Brunelleschi, Machiavelli, Donatello and Michelangelo all flourished here. After checking in to your hotel, the rest of your evening is free to explore the city of the Renaissance. Food is also a major part of the city's identity, so perhaps explore some of the culinary delicacies on offer from across Tuscany.
Day 3 - Florence
Today is a free day for you to explore all that Florence has to offer. It's impossible to see everything in this Renaissance wonderland, however, so take your time and enjoy it. The principal sights are easily discovered on foot – the Pitti Palace, the Ponte Vecchio, the Arno River front, the many statues and monuments of the Piazza della Signoria, the Palazzo Vecchio, the 13th-century Duomo (with its fiery depiction of the Last Judgement), the Baptistry and the Belltower, and the Santa Croce Church. Visit the Uffizi, one of the world's oldest art galleries and a work of art itself. See Michelangelo's famous statue of David in the Galleria dell'Accademia. In the evening, perhaps climb the steep stairs uphill to Piazzale Michelangelo for that most photographed of all sunset views across the rooftops of Florence. Then join the locals in taking a passeggiata, a leisurely socialising stroll, perhaps between Piazza Beccaria and Piazza della Repubblica.
Day 4 - Florence / Lucca
No doubt there'll be more to see in Florence this morning, then this afternoon you’ll take a train to Lucca (approximately 2 hours). Lucca is one of Tuscany's real hidden gems, with centuries-old buildings, beautiful churches, charming piazzas and narrow streets within the ancient city ramparts. You’ll be captivated by this medieval town, which simply radiates charm. We are staying in the city centre which allows easy access to all the sights, restaurants and bars, all an easy stroll from the hotel's front door.
Day 5 - Pisa / Lucca
Set off on a cycling tour following the scenic Serchio River through the Tuscan countryside (4 kilometres round the walls that are now a tree-lined avenue, and 14 kilometres by the river, approximately 3-4 hours). There are cafes and plenty of spots for a Tuscan picnic along the route. Your base in Lucca provides you with the perfect opportunity for a later outing to the nearby city of Pisa (approximately 30 minutes by local train). Here there'll be ample time for you to visit the quirky world-famous Leaning Tower, as well as the Duomo (Piazza dei Miracoli, once the largest in Europe) and Pisa Baptistry (please note that it's not always possible to climb the tower). The tower was built in the 12th century, but its foundation was on shifting sand and clay, meaning that it now leans at an angle of 4 degrees (after restoration and stabilising work). Wander the shopping streets, from high-end boutiques to speciality book and antiques stores, and perhaps enjoy an aperitif. Back in Lucca, a way to end the day is to head to a local bar for a refreshing Prosecco and a delicious focaccia with finocchiona salami and pecorino cheese, in the shadow of the Palazzo Pretorio.
Day 6 - Lucca
Today is a free day in Lucca to take in all the sights that this city has to offer. Wander to the former Roman amphitheatre found off Via Fillungo. The remains of the amphitheatre are gone, but the medieval houses now standing in its place follow the outline where the spectator stands once were. Here, in what’s now called Piazza dell'Anfiteatro, there are many outdoor cafes where you can sit down and see the world go by and do a spot of people watching. Also here, 2,000 years ago, Julius Caesar, Pompey and Crassus formed a coalition government to rule Rome. Make sure you also head to Foro Square to see the majestically constructed San Michele church, built over the ancient Roman forum and rich in artwork, and make a stop at the 14th century Duomo di San Martino, a splendid example of Romanesque architecture. Inside you’ll find the tomb of and monument to Ilaria del Carretto, carved by Jacopo della Quercia – it’s a masterpiece that dates back to the 15th century. Also, it might be 25 flights of stair to climb to the top of the Guinigi Tower, but the views are worth it. The tower also makes for a great sight in itself as it has trees growing on its roof!
Day 7 - La Spezia
Travel by train to La Spezia (approximately 3 hours), an important naval base that’s now the gateway to the gorgeous Cinque Terre, or ‘Five lands’ in English. A medieval port town whose name is derived from its historic importance in the spice trade, La Spezia is your base for exploring the nearby stunning stretch of coast known as the Cinque Terre (approximately 30 minutes by train). The name comes from the five tiny villages – Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore – whose position, wedged into a series of coves between sheer cliffs, makes it one of the highlights of the whole of Italy. After lunch, explore the city or perhaps head out by ferry or bus to the pretty seaside town of Portovenere, known for its colourful houses straddling the waterfront. Return to La Spezia and walk around the pedestrian zone on Via del Prione to the gardens along the harbour. Or opt to take another ferry to Lerici, another small village across the Bay of Poets dominated by its castle, for dinner.
Day 8 - Cinque Terre / La Spezia
This morning venture out on the footpaths of Cinque Terre (Five Lands), a region of Italy famed for its coastline and pastel villages on mountains that plunge into the sea. The footpaths that run between the villages were once the only way to travel in the region, and take you through olive groves, vineyards and on to idyllic, breath-taking vistas. If you're feeling energetic, walking the entire path (12 kilometres, approximately 5 hours) will give you the best taste of the villages and countryside, though will require a good level of fitness. You can also choose to walk just a few sections, which will still unveil a great amount of majestic scenery. Some sections of path can be difficult, as there are challenging uphill stretches, narrow paths, steep cliffs and foot bridges. Please remember to bring comfortable footwear such as trainers or light hiking shoes. It's also possible to take the train between any of the villages or back to the group's base in La Spezia whenever you want.
Day 9 - Portofino Peninsula / Asti
Travel by train to Santa Margherita on the Peninsula of Portofino (approximately 1 hour). Store your luggage and set off on an energetic 5-7 kilometre walk, finishing at the glamorous resort of Portofino. Wander down the waterfront, past the small fishing and pleasure boats in the busy marina, and enjoy great views back over to the town. Continue along the road, passing the beach clubs, private villas and hotels that command stunning vistas over where the hills of the Italian Riviera meet the bays and inlets of the Bay of Tigullio. Spot the locals sunbathing in the coves and cross through a pretty forest with some gentle ups and downs. Descend down to the pretty port of Portofino, famed as the place where the rich and famous come to live La Dolce Vita. Continue up to the marvellous lookouts surrounding the town for unparalleled views, or join the glamorous for coffee and people-watching at the harbour. Then enjoy the fabulous coastal scenery with a boat ride back to Santa Margherita (weather permitting). Continue by train to Asti (approximately 2.5 hours) in the Piedmont region, where mouth-watering culinary delights await. Be sure to try a dish flavoured with truffle, and quaff divine Italian wines celebrated the world over.
Day 10 - Asti
Today you’ll take a bus to the green hills of the nearby rural village of Castagnole Monferrato, where you’ll visit the home of a local winemaking family to sample their vintages and learn about the grapes. The Ruche grape variety is unique to this region of Italy – it's grown in just seven small villages in the province of Asti and produces a ruby-red, intense and aromatic wine. After the wine tasting there is the option to enjoy a home-cooked lunch in the village, before returning by bus back to Asti. The town of Asti, located in the Piedmont region, was one of the most important towns in medieval times, sitting on trade routes between Turin, Milan, and Genoa. Signs of the city's former wealth can be seen in the remaining defensive towers, the impressive churches and fine squares, but today it’s best known as the home of some of the finest and most sought after wines in Europe – excellent reds and the sparkling white ‘spumante’. It's also the best place to find ‘tartufo’ (truffles), a distinctive regional delicacy. You may be lucky enough to be here on a market day, when the Piazza del Palio hosts the region’s largest open-air market.
Day 11 - Milan / Lake Como
Travel by train to Milan (approximately 3 hours), Italy's second largest city and the capital of Lombardy, Italy's wealthiest province. You’ll stop here for a few hours to explore. In this most fashionable of cities, this is the place for stylish shopping and cafes – Milanese specialities! Explore the city's historic centre, visit the city's most famous building, the Gothic Duomo, and walk between its rooftop sculptures, admiring the views and the stunning Gothic terrace. Most will want to visit Leonardo Da Vinci's masterpiece, The Last Supper, if there's time – see below for details. After half a day in Milan, late in the afternoon continue by train and bus to Lake Como (approximately 2 hours), an area of stunning beauty full of unique and evocative landscapes. Arrive in Como and head up to your base in the small town of Cadenabbia. This small town has a feeling of exclusivity and seclusion, and your accommodation sits right on the lake with incredible views.
Day 12 - Lake Como
This morning, board a ferry to travel across the blue waters of Lake Como to the pretty village of Bellagio. Here you can enjoy a walk through the countryside and discover the estate of the Villa Melzi. This grand white villa sits just back from the water and its surrounding estate is filled with a plethora of rare and exotic plant life. The rest of the day is free to take the ferry between the various parts of this area of Lake Como, like Varenna, Cadenabbia, or the beautiful Villa Balbianello, which film fans may recognise from films such as Casino Royale or Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones. Villa Carlotta is another waterfront villa open to the public, a former marquis’s mansion dating from the late 17th century that today functions as a museum. It holds a wealth of artwork and is surrounded by acres of romantic Italian gardens. Just past Cadenabbia is Tremezzo, where you can find a place for food or an aperitif, sitting dockside, lakeside, or out on a veranda. Simply walking lakeside and admiring the beautiful views whichever way you turn is a wonderful way to spend the day. Be sure to fill up on fine Italian fare tonight.
Day 13 - Venice
Leave the lakes behind and head for another watery wonderland, taking the train to Venice (approximately 6 hours). This grand city of bridges, towers, piazzas, canals, churches and gondolas – practically unchanged for 600 years. Venice is built over a hundred small islands connected by 400 bridges. Still rich with artistic masterpieces, modern Venice combines history with contemporary life through food, performance, art and architecture. There are plenty of things to keep you busy when you arrive. Take a walk around the maze of streets behind San Marco Square and begin to understand the complex canal system of Venice. The Grand Canal is a great place to start, as you can stroll over the Rialto Bridge and browse the endless amounts of boutique shops that sell Venetian masks and handmade Murano glassware. For dinner, perhaps seek out Venice's distinctive culinary heritage, which goes back to ancient times and features rich risottos, saline baccala (salted cod) and creamy polenta.
Day 14 - Venice
After an orientation walk to familiarise you with the city, you are free to venture out and explore Venice. There are only two ways to get around this city – on foot or by boat. Some of the more popular sites include Doge's Palace, the Piazza and Basilica di San Marco, and the Bridge of Sighs. Take the vaporetto (water bus) over to the island of San Giorgio to climb the bell tower for the best view of Venice. No trip here would be complete without a journey down the Grand Canal in a Venetian gondola. In the evening, perhaps join your fellow travellers for a group dinner at a local restaurant. Venice is famous for its specialities of fresh lobster and squid ink spaghetti dishes, so make sure you give one a try.
Day 15 - Venice
Today is a free day to further explore this picturesque city. Perhaps while away the hours at a cafe in busy San Marco Square; maybe visit the Palazzo Ducale, to check out paintings by Italian masters, and contrast it with the modern Guggenheim; or simply get lost crossing the hundreds of bridges and uncovering your own slice of Venice. Whatever you choose, a slice of tiramisu and an Italian coffee is a great way to refuel midday.
Day 16 - Venice
Enjoy another free day to dig deeper into all Venice has to offer. Your tour leader can offer advice on how to make the most of your time here if you're short on ideas. San Marco Basilica is well-worth a visit and a gondola ride along Venice's canals is a must. Our sister company, Urban Adventures, also offers a couple of food-oriented day tours if you'd like a bit more structure and a lot more food on your free day.
Day 17 - Bolzano
Bolzano is as curious as it is beautiful, and it is very, very beautiful. A mixture of German and Italian heritage makes for an interesting cultural mix in this valley town, from European-style epoque buildings to the Mediterranean-flavoured porticoes of the main square. The three-and-a-half-hour train journey to Bolzano is made enjoyable by glimpses of gorgeous countryside from the window. Arrive and enjoy an orientation walk through this picturesque town of green hills and sloping vineyards. Enjoy a free evening to soak up the town. The Piazza Walther (central square) is beautifully lit up in the evening and makes a great place to begin.
Day 18 - South Tyrol / Bolzano
Today you’ll get to sample some of the wines this region is famous for while enjoying the fresh air and stunning surrounds with a bike tour of the South Tyrolean Wine Road. Peddle along the river and through orchards, taking in the delightful sight of villas and vineyards nestled in the hills. Stop and sip along the way, perhaps trying a glass of fragrant gewurztraminer or lightly spiced cabernet – both varieties are particularly popular here. The ride will take less than three hours, leaving the rest of the day free for you to enjoy this beautiful area.
Day 19 - South Tyrol / Bolzano
Enjoy a full day in the Alpe di Siusi, the largest high-altitude alpine meadow in Europe. It's an area that conjures images of Julie Andrews spinning around in Sound of Music – think softly rolling hills with patches of thick pines framed by jagged mountains. See the incredible vistas from above in a cable car ride over the area. Explore Prösels Castle, a building with a fascinating history. Constructed in the 13th century, the castle was rebuilt in the Gothic style in the 15th century and was briefly occupied by farmers as a form of protest in the 16th century. Take a scenic walk with a local storyteller. The area was also the setting for witch trials (and subsequent burnings) over 500 years ago. Enjoy an included lunch and contemplate the often dark history behind the beauty of Alpe di Siusi at the Rauchhütte, a well-situated alpine chalet restaurant at 1,850 metres above sea level, with stunning views and tasty local dishes.
Day 20 - Salzburg
Journey into Austria, taking a 4,5 hour train ride to Salzburg, the birthplace of Mozart and a World Heritage-listed city. Enjoy an orientation walk upon arrival and get acquainted with the streets around your hotel. The skyline of Salzburg is filled with the domes and spires that typify baroque architecture. You’ll get a fantastic view of the city while watching the late European sunset from lofty Hohensalzburg Castle. Later, the Old Town is the perfect place for an evening stroll or a nightcap, so perhaps take a walk to a cafe and enjoy an Almdudler spritz (white wine mixed with the popular herbal soft drink).
Day 21 - Salzburg
Today you are free to see Salzburg at your own pace. History buffs may wish to explore one or more of the preserved historical buildings scattered throughout the city. The Salzburg Fortress (part of Hohensalzburg Castle) is one option. In addition to the restored towers and fortifications, the building features a museum filled with fascinating artefacts from the middle ages – from armour to chastity belts. Old Market Square is a great place to load up on pastries and perhaps shop for trinkets, though be aware the stalls pack up from about 2 pm. In the evening, maybe ask your leader where you can grab some Tafelspitz. This classic Austrian dish features meat boiled in a broth (stay with us), usually served with minced apples and horseradish. The description may not sound particularly special, but this hearty meal combines salty, sweet and sharp flavours in a way that is incredibly satisfying.
Day 22 - Vienna
The capital of Austria and the undisputed legacy arts hub of central Europe, Vienna awaits after a 2.5-hour train journey. Get started with an orientation walk, then set out on your own to explore this historic city. The public transport in the city is fantastic, which makes getting around easy. The geometric tiling on the roof of St Stephan’s Cathedral is worth a look, and you can climb 136 metres to the top of the south tower for amazing views of the city. In the evening why not head out for a meal? Of course, the classic schnitzel is abundant (and delicious) but if you’d like to try something a little different ask your leader where to find a traditional beuschel (a ragout made with calf lung and heart).
Day 23 - Vienna
Enjoy a free day in Vienna, the perfect opportunity to visit one of the city’s famous royal complexes. One option is Schoenbrunn Palace, an expansive estate designed by Empress Maria Theresa, with lawns perfect for lounging and multiple rooms preserved from different eras. The Gloriette Monument has incredible views of Vienna and the palace gardens are free to all visitors, but there's a charge for entrance and tours of the palace. Or perhaps check out the central Hofburg Imperial Palace, where bibliophiles can see one of the world’s most beautiful libraries, where towering shelves hold ancient volumes. Either of the palaces will take a whole day to explore in full, so you’ll have to choose one or the other. If you’re looking to unwind and avoid crowds, you could always spend the day in one of Vienna’s many coffee houses, nursing a brew and watching the world flow by. In the evening, you have the option of joining your fellow travellers and leader for dinner.
Day 24 - Vienna
Vienna is a beautiful city, and today you have another free day to explore. The geometric tiling on the roof of St Stephan’s Cathedral is worth a look, and you can climb 136 metres to the top of the south tower for amazing views of the city. Perhaps even take a spin on the famous old Prater Ferris Wheel. Get lost in the marbled halls of the Sisi or Leopold museums and stop to fill up on local delights like Sachertorte or a Wiener wurst.
Day 25 - Vienna
Today you may want to join your new group members for another orientation walk conducted by your leader. Wander past the neo-classical grandeur of the Graben and onwards to the Hofburg Palace. Finish your orientation of the city at the State Opera House, one of the world's most important opera houses and the heart of classical Viennese culture. Art lovers have a vast choice of museums, from the Albertina to those located in the Museum Quarter. You have the rest of today to further explore Vienna and its surrounds. In the evening, perhaps head out for some more Viennese cuisine.
Day 26 - Cesky Krumlov
Depart Vienna by minivan in the morning and cross the border into the Czech Republic (approximately 3.5 hours). Our first stop is the southern Bohemian town of Cesky Krumlov. This picturesque medieval town dates back to the 13th century and is straight out of a fairytale. Cesky Krumlov (pronounced 'Che-skee Krum-lov') means 'crooked meadow', which is befitting of a town that's nestled in a sharp bend of the Vltava River. Venture out on an included cycling trip in the afternoon, across rolling hills and through tiny hamlets (approximately 2-2.5 hours). If you have time, explore the city's castle and its fabulous masquerade hall, or climb the tower for aerial views of the town. For the active, there's the option to canoe or kayak down the river.
Day 27 - Cesky Krumlov
Today is a free for you to enjoy as you please. Perhaps take an optional guided walking tour of the town, which includes commentary of the mysteries that lie behind every shopfront and house on the crooked little streets. For those who want a bit more culture, and time permitting, visit the Egon Schiele Art Centrum and browse the gallery that's dedicated to the Austrian painter. If you are an adventurous spirit, jump in to a canoe and discover the town from a perspective of Vltava River.
Day 28 - Prague
Farewell this southern bohemian town and travel by bus to Prague (approximately 4 hours). During your stay in Prague, you'll have share the apartment with other members of the group. Several separate apartments are located in the city centre so you may be a short walk away from your other group members and your leader. Staying in the city centre allows easy access to all the sights and the restaurants and bars. Each apartment has two to three rooms with one or two shared bathrooms. Most of the apartments have fully equipped kitchens and you can choose to buy your own groceries and supplies for meals. On arrival into Prague, head out on an orientation walk with your leader, and spend the rest of your afternoon as you wish.
Day 29 - Prague
Today is free to explore Prague. The city offers many possibilities, so perhaps take a walk around the Jewish Quarter and pay respects at the Gothic looking Old Jewish Cemetery. This is Europe's oldest surviving Jewish cemetery, with 12,000 tombstones and 100,000 graves. Visiting The Museum of Communism can shade some light on this part of dark history shared by most of central European countries which somehow isn’t yet well known to the broader audience. Visiting town hall Clock Tower is a great way to finish off a busy day, before heading out for a dinner, and perhaps discovering another great side of Prague: the longest-standing and respected jazz scenes in Europe. If you should find yourself out until the early hours in an atmospheric jazz club, have a wander along Charles Bridge or Old Town Square as the sun rises for magical photo opportunities.
Day 30 - Prague
Spend some time this morning at Prague Castle, the biggest castle in the Czech Republic, where you'll find the famous St. Vitus Cathedral and colourful alleyway of the Golden Lane. A bike tour through the city is a great way to see a lot of the city's sights and attractions in a short period of time. If you can make time, take a day trip out of town and visit Kutna Hora. The Bone Church (Sedlec Ossuary) is a particularly unique experience. Perhaps use your evening to head out for dinner with the group.
Day 31 - Gory Sowie
Heading north by train, arrive in the small town of Broumov from where you'll cross the Czech–Polish border. From here you'll be transferred in a private vehicle to the nearby small village in range of Gory Sowie (translated as Owl Mountains). Today's travel time will be around four hours in total. On arrival, check in to our pension situated at the foot of highest mountain in the range – Wielka Sowa. On arrival, visit a nearby underground city from the tragic times of the WWII. Osowka is a mysterious underground complex where workers from concentration camps were forced to work in order to create huge systems of concrete corridors, fortifications and halls. As the work was kept in secret, until now there is many theories trying to explain what the underground city was meant to be used for. Find out yourself on an included guided visit this afternoon.
Day 32 - Krakow
Continue east today by private bus and journey to Krakow (approximately 5 hours). Possibly the best known of all Poland's cities, Krakow was the residence of Polish kings from the 11th to the 17th centuries, and its Old Town is a World Heritage-listed site. Take part in leader led orientation walk and once you know your whereabouts, perhaps go and discover one of the biggest and arguably most beautiful medieval squares in Central Europe. Afterwards make your way to the Jewish Quarter and soak up the easy-going atmosphere of this place. In the evening, perhaps head out for some good Polish grub.
Day 33 - Krakow
Today, explore the city in your own time. Discover Wawel Royal Castle, which sits atop a hill next to the Vistula River. Check out the 13th-century town square of Rynek Glowny and get a glimpse inside St Mary's Basilica which features an extraordinary wood-carved Gothic altarpiece. There's also the lovely neo-Gothic St Francis' Basilica, which has some of Poland's best Art Nouveau. In Krakow, you will also find the second oldest university in Central Europe (the oldest is in Prague). Jagiellonian Univeristy counts Copernicus and Pope John Paul II among its alumni. If you can tear yourself away from Krakow, head out to the Wieliczka Salt Mines, a network of tunnels and chambers some 135 metres below the ground. This is a salt mine that was in operation for over 700 year and is listed as a World Heritage site. The mine has a labyrinth of tunnels, pits, and chambers, all hewn by hand from solid salt, with beautifully adorned chapels and underground lakes. Don't miss a look at the elaborate salt chandeliers and carvings in the Blessed Kinga Chapel. Krakow has many cellar restaurants and pubs. Perhaps end the day indulging in a few drinks and a plate of pierogi in one of the city's cheerful establishments.
Day 34 - Tatra Mountains
Say farewell to Krakow today and travel by local buses through southern Poland to Zakopane where you will switch on to a private transport (approximately 5 hours altogether). The trip may be long and a little slow, but the scenery of rolling hills and tiny villages is soothing. Tatranska Lomnica is your destination in Slovakia. It's a small alpine resort at the base of the Vysoke Tatry (High Tatra) Mountains. The Tatras, the highest range of the Carpathians, stretch for about 60 kilometres across the Polish-Slovakian border and are a trekker's dream. The evening is free for you to enjoy as you please. Perhaps the best way to do it is to sit back, kick your feet up and soak in the atmosphere of this beautiful mountainous region.
Day 35 - Tatra Mountains
This morning head out on an included hike in the Vysoke Tatry mountains. The most known route is about 6km in length and it is normally completed in 3 hours, including stops on the way. The route includes gradual hill ascents and descents and walking on gravel and uneven rocky surfaces with some slippery sections. The pace and distance will be decided on the day, depending on weather and group abilities – parts of it will involve travelling by funicular, gondola and electric train and a snack lunch will be supplied during the trek. It won’t be very challenging, but a basic level of fitness will help you to enjoy it to the fullest. An alternative and easier route can be suggested by the tour leader to those that do not wish to complete the long walk. We recommend a good pair of comfortable shoes and clothes for unpredictable mountainous weather. During the walk, you may notice that some parts of the forest have been destroyed. This was the result of a tornado-like storm in 2004 that decimated approximately 10,000 hectares of timberland. In the afternoon, head back to the accommodation and enjoy the remainder of the day in this beautiful location.
Day 36 - Budapest
You have an early start today for the long journey to Budapest. As there won't be too much free time to explore on arrival, perhaps check in to the accommodation and then go for a brief walk around the city to get your bearings. The grand architecture and boulevards evoke a bygone era, while glamorous stores and glitzy restaurants make this one of the truly great cities of Europe. Take the evening as an opportunity to relax after a long day of travelling. Visiting one of Budapest's many restaurants or bars is a great way to do it.
Day 37 - Budapest
Today you have a full free day to explore Budapest. Known as 'The Pearl of the Danube', Budapest is a great city to enjoy from the water. Perhaps take a boat trip along the river or catch a funicular up to the castle for spectacular views of the Parliament Building. Perhaps head to Statue Park to see the communist monuments that were removed from the city after the fall of the Iron Curtain. One unmissable activity is a soak in Budapest's hot thermal baths. The pools vary in temperature, and some even feature whirlpools or seats where you can enjoy a game of chess. You might like to take part in one of our Urban Adventure day tours, such as the Budapest Custom Tour or Bites and Sights. See more at urbanadventures.com/destination/Budapest-tours.
Day 38 - Budapest
Your adventure ends after breakfast today. There are no activities planned and you're free to depart the accommodation at any time.

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type

Accommodation

Hotel (32 nights),Pension (2 nights),Private Apartment (3 nights)

Transport

Train,Public bus,Private vehicle,Metro,Bicycle

Map