Prague to Vienna - Overland Trip
1 week: to (IMT-PEPV)
IntroWaltz from the romantic heart of Bohemia to the Austrian capital, following in the footsteps of Mozart
Prague and Vienna both exude the notion of a Europe heady in history, tradition and grandeur. Maybe it’s the grand palaces, regal squares and magnificent cathedrals and churches or the way these cities have preserved their old appearances. Maybe it’s the enchanting woods that lie in between or perhaps the famous names of European history who have lived in these places. Maybe it’s the classical music, especially romantic, sweeping waltzes, so synonymous with this area. It is little wonder that one Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart spent time in both cities. In Prague we walk through the Old Town Square, across the time-honoured Charles Bridge and up the hill to Hradcany and Prague Castle. In Kutna Hora we uncover the magnificent Gothic Cathedral of St Barbara, whilst in little Cesky Krumlov we experience the epitome of a charming, picturesque Bohemian town. Crossing from the Czech Republic to Austria, we follow the Danube River from the lovely Wachau Valley to Vienna, finishing our journey with a walk from the St Stephen’s Cathedral to the Imperial Hofburg Palace. With horses and stagecoaches parked in front of grand Baroque buildings, it is not hard to imagine being back in the days of the Habsburg Empire.
IncludedLocal tour leader, transport and sightseeing.
ItinerariesDay 1 - Prague
Your trip starts today with your arrival in Prague, capital of the Czech Republic and one of the most splendid historical cities in Europe. No activities are planned so you may arrive at any time. Please make your own way to our centrally-located joining hotel (details are in your travel documents). Prague International airport is well linked to the rest of Europe. Major carriers such as Air France, British Airways and Austrian Airways all have direct daily flights to the city. Budget airline EasyJet is a good option if flying from the United Kingdom. We recommend an airport shuttle service that will take you directly to your hotel door in place of airport taxis which are prone to over-charging. There is also the option of taking a local bus and metro ride from the airport to the centre of Prague. There is useful information on airport transfers on www.myczechrepublic.com. International rail is a common method of reaching the Czech capital from such cities as Budapest, Vienna, Munich and Berlin. Whilst at your discretion, we recommend arriving/ departing by train where possible within Europe due to this method of transports minimal carbon emissions.
In the evening we meet our tour leader and our fellow travelling companions at a Welcome Meeting (this is usually at 6pm, but you will be advised as to the exact time and place in a notice, located near the reception at our hotel), where our leader will give us a briefing on what lies ahead on our tour. This is followed by dinner in a local restaurant.
Of all the major European capitals, only Prague remained largely untouched by both World War I and World War II. As a result the city’s Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque buildings have remained incredibly intact and, with their graceful spires, spacious plazas, magnificent cathedrals and charming town houses, the city has taken on the appearance of a living architectural museum. Our walking tour this morning enables us to uncover some of this city’s charm. The heart of Prague is Old Town Square (Staromestské námestí), a dazzling space in the middle of the medieval quarter with a festive ambience. We stop at the old town hall for the hourly display of the apostles and skeleton bell ringer, before moving on to St Nicholas Church and the Jewish Quarter. We also cross the Charles Bridge, a medieval stone masterpiece that for centuries has been the main link between the two sides of the Vltava River. Our afternoon is free to discover the many other sights and museums in the city. There is much to see and you can also ask you tour leader for suggestions.Day 3 - Prague
Heading up to the Hradcany District we reach the city’s most spectacular landmark, Prague Castle - the largest medieval castle complex in Europe. Our visit includes the famous St Vitus Cathedral, the Basilica of St George, Vladislav Hall and the tiny Golden Lane, where the famous writer Franz Kafka used to live. The rest of the afternoon is free to explore this lovely city at your own leisure and perhaps enjoy the ambience of an open-air café and enjoy a locally brewed quenching ale - Bohemia after all is home to Pilsner beer. An interesting and unique cultural show that takes place in the heart of Prague is the black-light theatre at the Laterna Magika (Magic Lantern). This is likely to be different to anything you you've seen before, but very clever and entertaining. (Please note there are no performances on Sundays.)Day 4 - Kutna Hora - Cesky Krumlov
The medieval town of Kutna Hora (Kuttenburg) is a short one-and-a-half hour drive from Prague. Formerly one of the most important towns of Bohemia, a stroll through the town’s medieval lanes and alleyways will reveal to us some of its former glories. We have time to explore in depth the Cathedral of St Barbara - one of the finest Gothic churches in Europe. There is also an option of visiting the nearby Sedlec Ossuary, which is known as the 'Bone' Church. Full to overflowing with human bones and once the place where all Bohemian nobility wanted to be buried, it is undoubtedly a little macabre and if not to your taste you can simply enjoy the quiet scenic surrounds. After time to enjoy lunch in the old town before departing for a three-hour afternoon drive to the city of Cesky Krumlov. This small medieval town is one of the most stunning and perfectly restored in the entire region - a wonderful place to spend our next two nights.Day 5 - Cesky Krumlov
Embraced by a tight loop of the Vltava River (also known by its German name - Moldau), Cesky Krumlov’s medieval historic centre is an enchanting labyrinth of cobblestone streets, Baroque and Renaissance houses, vaulted passageways, shops, cafés and hidden squares, which we discover on our morning guided tour. This most pleasant town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with 82% of its buildings registered as cultural monuments. Dominating the town is Krumlov Chateau, the second largest castle in the Czech Republic, with its ornately painted Round Tower pointing skywards like a pastel-coloured rocket. There is also the option to visit the interesting Baroque theatre. The afternoon is free for you to do as you please. Cycling enthusiasts can ride to the nearby Lake Lipano, whilst thirsty explorers can partake in a tour of the local Eggenberg Brewery! The latter will need to be booked in advance by your leader.Day 6 - Wachau Valley - Vienna
After breakfast, we drive to Melk where we can enjoy some time wandering around this small village, that is famous for its Benedictine Monastery built between 1702 and 1739. We then board a river boat for our cruise through the Wachau Valley, a very romantic part of the Danube valley. We cruise by beautiful scenery and local settlements, passing Schloss Schönbühel; a beautiful palace on a hillside, Ruine Aggstein, a former Kuenringer fort and the wine townships of Spitz and Weissenkirchen before arriving in the town of Krems, an 1000 year old town which is the gateway to the Wachau. From here we drive on to Austria's magnificent capital - Vienna, our base for the next two nights.Day 7 - Vienna
This morning we embark on a three-hour walking tour through the city centre. We begin at the lively Stephensplatz, the pedestrian square that marks the centre of the city and is home to St Stephen's Cathedral - Austria's most eminent Gothic edifice and home to a wealth of treasures. From here we walk to the Hofburg or 'Imperial,' Palace, which was the winter palace of the Habsburgs and base for an empire that ruled for more than seven centuries and was once the most powerful in Europe. We finish our walk in Heroes' Square. Vienna is considered the world’s classical music capital and more famous and lauded composers have lived and worked here than in any other city on the globe. In Vienna music is literally 'in the air', especially the waltzes and operettas that have become synonymous with the city. If you wish to attend a cultural event, your leader can advise what performances are on and perhaps assist you with booking tickets. The remainder of the day is at leisure to explore the sights and sounds of Vienna. One 'must-see' is the world famous Schönbrunn Palace, the old summer residence of the Habsburgs and, alongside Versailles in France, possibly the greatest royal complex in Europe. It is synonymous with names such as the Emperor Franz Joseph I and later the Empress Maria Theresia. If you wish to tour the palace itself, which includes the famous Great Gallery, you may need to make a reservation in advance, especially during peak season. The expansive gardens include many attractions including magnificent sculptures and the world's oldest existing zoo. The museum district also provides a myriad of choices and a great way to cap off the day is to spend the evening at the Prater amusement park where you can ride on the world's oldest ferris wheel, which offers for unrivalled panoramic views of the city. If you prefer a more leisurely pace, enjoy a world famous 'Sachertorte' (rich chocolate cake) and coffee whilst people-watching on the Kärtner Strasse or for a more intellectual slant visit the studio of the famed Sigmund Freud. Your tour leader can help you organise your day and also your night out.Day 8 - Vienna
Our journey ends this morning after breakfast, in Vienna. If you wish to stay on in the Austrian capital, additional accommodation can be arranged and may be booked at the same time you book your tour.