Four Seasons Prague Fishermans Bastion Budapest

Essential Central Europe

Sail down the beautiful rivers
Sail down the beautiful rivers

There are few places in the world that travelers find as enchantingly historical as central Europe.  Its old-world feel and history, wonderfully friendly people, and mouth-watering food makes it a bucket list location for many.   Spend a few days in Czech Republic, Austria and Hungary getting to know each, behind the scenes and through the eyes of locals with our expert guides.  

Highlights

  • Private Danube Cruise in Budapest
  • VIP Tour of the Strahov Monastary

The following is just a suggested daily touring schedule. You will have complete control over your daily schedule and may change your plans at any time by simply telling your guide. Your time in Europe is yours to enjoy as you like!

For custom luxury travel and tours to Central Europe, please contact one of our travel experts.

Download Central Europe PDF

Download PDF Itinerary here.

Day 1
Arrival | Arrival

Upon arrival into Budapest, your Exeter International guide will be waiting for you outside of customs and baggage claim. Please note that no airfare is included in your trip cost.

You will be transferred to the historic and perfectly located hotel, in the center of Pest. On the way to the hotel, your guide will point out sights of historical significance, including St. Stephen’s Basilica, a cross between Neo- Classical and Renaissance-style architecture completed in the late 19th century.

Over the centuries, Budapest flourished as a crossroads where East meets West in the heart of Europe. Ancient cultures such as the Magyars, the Mongols and the Turks have all left an indelible mark on this magical city. Buda and Pest, separated by the Danube River, are characterized by an assortment of monuments, elegant streets, wine taverns, coffee houses and Turkish baths. Upon arrival at your hotel, enjoy the rest of your day at leisure.

Exeter Services:  Airport Transfer with Guide
Hotel: Aria Hotel 

Day 2
Budapest | Budapest

This morning your private guide will take you to the magnificent House of Parliament, which is the country’s largest building and the symbol of Budapest. Here you will have the opportunity to see the dome, which boasts an elaborate design of Neo-Gothic gilding. Inside the building, the stunning interiors combine sweeping grand staircases, original frescoes, paintings and sculptures. For most, the highlight of this visit is the viewing of the crown jewels of Hungary. One of the most notable items in the collection is the Holy Crown of Hungary, the only crown known today with the “holy” attribute and dating from the 11th century. This crown has had quite a history – seized by the U.S. Army in 1945, it was held in Fort Knox until 1978, when it was returned to Hungary. Tours of Parliament are at a pre-set time and you must walk through with a larger group and a Parliament guide.

Next, drive across the lovely 19th-century Chain Bridge to the Budapest Funicular (vertical rail car), which will take you up the side of Buda’s historic Royal Palace, the former Hapsburg palace during the 19-century and rebuilt in the Neo-Classical style after it was destroyed during World War II.

A stroll through the castle area, known as Varhegy, will take you to the Fisherman’s Bastion for the most impressive views over Pest, across the Danube. Here you’ll see Matyas Church, a Neo-Gothic reconstruction dating from 1874 and in which many organ and choral concerts can be heard. The entire cobble-stoned area, lined with cafés and small shops, is perfect for spending the remaining afternoon.

Exeter Services: Vehicle, Guide & Driver (4 Hours)
Hotel: Aria Hotel 

Day 3
Budapest | Budapest

Today can explore the beauty of Central Pest with your guide. Prior to visiting the Jewish Quarter, your guide will take you to the Budapest Market Hall. Built by Eiffel in the 19th century, the covered market boasts soaring metal columns, high walkways and beautiful produce shops. More than being a place where one can purchase some handcrafted and typical Hungarian souvenirs, it’s a market where locals go to purchase their produce and meats – a meeting place for many and a place where you can enjoy authentic local flavor.

Next, your guide will take you to the Great Budapest Synagogue, the Jewish Museum, and the Holocaust Memorial. Since the 19th century, Budapest’s Jewish community became well integrated into Hungarian society and three synagogues were built. In 1944, a ghetto was created in Pest, which was later followed by the deportation of thousands of Jews. You can walk through part of the former Jewish neighborhood to see an old synagogue on Rumbach Street.

From here, your guide will take you to the Great Synagogue, the largest of the three previously mentioned and impressive in its Byzantine and Moorish style architecture. You can also visit the Jewish Museum that is part of the synagogue, and afterwards, walk over to the Holocaust Memorial. The sculpture of a weeping willow was designed in memory of the 600,000 Hungarian Jews who died under the Nazis in World War II.

Enjoy this afternoon at your leisure to explore independently.

Exeter International Extraordinary Experience

This evening your driver will meet you for the short journey to the river port. Tonight you will see Budapest at its most beautiful – from the waters of the Danube with all the monuments lit in thousands of white lights. Enjoy all of this from a luxury private boat with your own skipper.

Exeter Services: Vehicle, Guide & Driver (3 Hours)
Hotel: Aria Hotel

Day 4
Budapest-Vienna | Budapest-Vienna

This morning your driver will meet you at your hotel for the transfer to the station to meet the express train (2.5 hours) to Vienna. First class tickets are included. This route may also be covered via private car and driver with stops in the countryside at additional cost.

Early afternoon arrival into Vienna, where your private driver will welcome you and transfer you to the hotel in the very center of the city. The remainder of the day will be at leisure. Vienna is a city whose history stretches back over 2,000 years. Originally a Celtic Settlement, it became part of the Roman Empire in 15 BC. The Romans were forced to leave the region during the fourth century as northern tribes regained their foothold in Eastern Europe. By 1155, the Babenbergs declared Vienna a “civitas” indicating that it was developing into a well- ordered community. From this time forward Vienna grew under the influence of the Byzantium Empire, the Orient, Martin Luther, the threat of the Turks, Emperor Franz Joseph, Maria Theresa, Richard the Lion Heart, Karl Marx, and a host of other fascinating events and people, creating one of the world’s great cultural centers.

Exeter Services: Transfers Only
Hotel: Sans Souci

Day 5
Vienna | Vienna

This morning, your private guide will meet you to take you for a short stroll into the Hofburg Palace Complex including the Spanish Riding School. This is the oldest and last riding school in the world where classic dressage is still practiced in its purest form.

This Institute was founded in 1572 and its very name gives away the fact that the horses were of Spanish origin. The Lipizzaner is regarded as the oldest classic horse race in Europe. The superb arena - the Winter Riding School in the Vienna Hofburg (Imperial Palace) in which the Riders of the Spanish Riding School train the horses and where they perform - was commissioned by Emperor Karl VI. Since 1920 the presentations of classical dressage have been open to the public.

This morning, schedule permitting, you may visit a practice session of the Spanish Riding School. You may depart at your leisure and continue with your tour.

Afterwards, you can continue on your walking tour of the Hofburg Palace complex. Your guide will take you into the lavish private living quarters of Empress Elizabeth and Emperor Franz Joseph from the 18th and 19th Centuries. Empress Elizabeth (Sisi) was the Austrian’s Princess Di and prior to entering the Imperial Apartments, there is an exhibition of her life – an interesting glimpse into royal life of her time.

When you exit the Hofburg, your guide will show you some of the most famous coffeehouses of Vienna, including Demel, located not far from the Hofburg. An afternoon coffee and snack is one of the true treats of Vienna!

You will have this afternoon to explore on your own. Some of the finest shopping in Europe is in this quarter, including the best antique shops of the city! Note: All touring today is on foot in largely pedestrian only areas.

Exeter Services: Guide (3 Hours)

Hotel: Sans Souci

Day 6
Vienna | Vienna

This morning your guide will meet you in your hotel lobby to introduce you to Vienna’s amazing Museum Quarter, just a short stroll from your hotel. This terrific area of Vienna houses several of the most important museums.

You won’t want to miss one of the finest art museums in Europe, the Fine Arts Museum (Kunsthistorisches Museum) in the Museum quarter. Here you will find a vast array of paintings including Bruegel, Vermeer, Velazquez, Rubens and Rembrandt. Also in the collection you will find an important Egyptian collection and other items from antiquity. This museum houses the personal art collection of the Hapsburgs, built up over the centuries. Indeed, the building itself was constructed for the sole purpose of housing the ever-expanding collection.

In the same building, your guide will also take you into the reopened Kunstkammer (Treasure Chamber). The most important collection of its kind, this part of the museum had been closed for 10 years and reopened in early 2013. The collection consists of the Hapsburg’s treasures assembled during the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and the Baroque. The collection includes over 2,000 pieces of art, including gold, bronze, ivory, ostrich eggs, the horn of the (legendary!) unicorn and Cellini’s golden Saliera (salt cellar), often called the Mona Lisa of sculpture. The salt cellar alone is insured for over $60 million.

After exploring these collections with your guide, the remainder of your afternoon is at leisure. If more palaces are of interest, both Schönbrunn Palace (summer home of the Hapsburgs) and Belvedere Palace (fabulous Klimt collection) are both easily arranged as independent visits.
Note: All touring today is on foot.

Exeter Services: Guide (3 Hours)
Hotel: Sans Souci

Day 7
Vienna-Prague | Vienna-Prague

This morning your driver will meet you for your transfer to the station to meet your express train to Prague (five hours). First class tickets are included. This route may also be covered via private car and driver with stops in the countryside at additional cost.

Late afternoon arrival into Prague, where you will be met by your driver for your transfer to your hotel in the city center.

Perhaps more than any other city in Europe, Prague has kept its pre-modern charm. Spared the destruction of the Second World War, the ancient structures of the city still exist in their original state. Prague is a walking city as it was designed over many centuries for the pedestrian and the horse. The inner city lacks major avenues as found in Paris or Rome, giving the city its unique character.

Exeter Services: Transfers Only
Hotel: Kings Court Hotel

Day 8
Prague | Prague

Meet your guide and driver this morning. Your day will begin with an overview drive of Prague. Drive by the famous Dancing House and through the historical area of Vysehrad, with its 10th century fort. You will also observe modern local Czech life with a drive through the bustling residential area of Vinohrady, once covered by vineyards. Afterwards, you will arrive at the Castle District. The original castle was founded in the early 14th Century, but it was rebuilt many times over the ages. As it is much easier to walk down the steep Castle Hill, you will want to start at the top of the hill and the extraordinary Strahov Monastery. When you first arrive at the monastery you will almost certainly be taken by the sweeping views it has to offer over all of Prague and the Vltava River. The monastery was founded in 1140 and was one of the wealthiest and most prestigious of its time. This wealth enabled the monks to create the greatest and most ornate library of the Middle Ages and it remains completely intact today.

Exeter International Extraordinary Experience
During your visit to the Strahov Monastery, you will be invited into the two main halls of the library (the Philosophical Hall and the Theological Hall) for a private VIP tour. Normally viewed by the public through the narrow doorways at the end of each room, you will be allowed to enter the rooms to walk among the ancient books and beautiful artifacts.

You can also visit the Prague Castle Complex, which was commissioned by Empress Maria Theresa. She commissioned Nicolas Pacasi who created Schonbrunn in Vienna to design the interiors. Designed with courtyards inside of courtyards, it offers a fascinating insight into the lives of the Czech monarchy. Don’t miss the towering and wonderfully Neo-Gothic St. Vitus Cathedral inside the complex.

Your day will end in the Malá Strana or Little Quarter, best known for the Wallenstein Palace and Church of St. Nicholas. It is here in the Malá Strana that you will find many charming restaurants and unique shops full of Bohemian glass and the marionette souvenirs.

Exeter Services: Vehicle & Driver (2 Hours); Guide (6 Hours)
Hotel: Kings Court Hotel

Day 9
Prague | Prague

Today your guide will take you through Prague’s famous Jewish Quarter and the Old Town. You will tour the historic synagogues, including the stunning Spanish Synagogue and the ancient Old-New Synagogue, which was built in the late 13th Century, making it the oldest synagogue still in use in Europe. Legend has it that the Golem created by Prague’s most famous rabbi, Rabbi Loew, is hidden in its attic. While in the Jewish Quarter, you may decide to visit the Old Jewish Cemetery, founded in the late 15th Century and still corresponding to its original medieval size. Over the centuries, more than 100,000 people are believed to have been buried here, the oldest tomb known being of the writer Rabbi Kara.

After your tour of the Jewish Quarter, your guide will take you into the famous Old Town Square, where you can see the Astrological Clock that has become the symbol of Prague. Be sure not to miss the fairytale-like Old Town Hall Tower (1364) that stands above Old Town Square- you can even go to the top of the tower for a splendid view over the district.

Finally, you will enter New Town- which is new because it was only founded in 1348! Here you can visit Wenceslas Square, were over the many centuries demonstrations of civil discontent have taken place. At the top of the square you will see the imposing building of the National Museum and the Monument to St Wenceslas, the patron of the Czech lands, by sculptor Josef Myslbek. Next you may want to walk the coronation route of Czech kings, the Royal Way, now a bustling pedestrian street lined with buildings from many different architectural periods.

Note: All touring today is on foot in largely pedestrian only areas.

Exeter Services: Guide (4 Hours)

Hotel: Kings Court Hotel

Day 10
Departure | Prague

Today your driver will meet you in your hotel lobby for your transfer to the airport for your departing flight. 

Exeter Services: Transfer Only

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