Heart of Europe
Our expedition focuses on four extraordinary cities, each bearing witness to centuries of religious, political, and social transformation. In Budapest, we delve into the unifying power of Hungarian music and literature in the quest for national identity. Prague, a perennial hub of politics, intellect, and culture, will unveil its recent rejuvenation, breathing new life into its storied past. Gracious Salzburg offers a glimpse into the region’s remarkable musical heritage, while in Vienna, we shall trace the city’s artistic history back to its roots in folk culture.
- Leisurely itinerary with 3 nights each in Budapest, Vienna, Salzburg and Prague - enjoy free time in each city for personal exploration
- Welcome Dinner in Budapest
- Danube River dinner cruise
- Special dinner and concert in the Schönbrunn Palace Orangery in Vienna
- Private guided tour of Melk Abbey
- Special Mozart dinner and concert in Salzburg
- Visit UNESCO site Cesky Krumlov
- Visit Prague Castle
- Farewell Dinner at Cicovice Court in Prague
- Visit the historical Eagle’s Nest, Berchtesgaden and the Salt Mines
- Return economy group airfare from Canada to Europe
- 12 nights at comfortable first class hotels as indicated or similar
- Travel by modern climate controlled motorcoach
- 24 meals included as noted in the itinerary (B - 12 breakfasts, D - 12 dinners)
- All entrance fees where visits are indicated
- Services of our Canadian journey leader plus local guides in Budapest, Szentendre, Esztergom, Vienna, Salzburg and Prague for sightseeing tours
- Baggage handling of one suitcase per person
- All gratuities, surcharges, taxes and fees for included services
- Airport transfers in Canada or equivalent value with purchase of group airfare
Tour members gather in Toronto for the overnight transatlantic flights to Budapest.
On arrival, we will be met by our tour director and enjoy a brief panoramic tour introducing us to this charming city as we proceed to our hotel. With the remainder of the afternoon at leisure, we can take some time to relax and refresh ourselves. This evening’s dinner allows us an opportunity to savour Hungarian cuisine.
Hotel Radisson Blu Beke (3 nights)
Our Habsburg Empire tour begins in Budapest, a city formed from the united Buda and Pest on opposing banks of the Danube River. After centuries of division, these sister cities officially merged in 1873. Budapest now both crackles with energy and soothes with its splendour, igniting a clear passion for music in its citizenry. Our local specialist leads us through Heroes’ Square adorned with seven massive, powerful statues of Magyar chieftains, and to the parliament area. In the afternoon, we plan to visit the Museum of Fine Arts, and in the evening, we'll enjoy a dinner cruise along the Danube.
For a beautiful view over the city, we drive up to the Gellert Hill on the Buda side. Our second part of the city tour includes the St. Matthias Church and the Fisherman’s Bastion. Enjoy a free afternoon with opportunities to explore further on our own.
This morning we enjoy a visit to Szentendre, a picturesque fishing village which is home to a harmonious mix of Hungarians, Croats, and Serbs whose families were expelled from Serbia by the Turks in the 17th century. We then continue along the Danube to the romantic Danube bend, one of the most interesting Hungarian stretches of the legendary river, where we explore Esztergom with its impressive cathedral. This afternoon we continue onto Vienna where we have three wonderful days to explore.
Hotel Mercure Biedermeier (3 nights)
Vienna’s Ringstrasse was the Habsburg state boulevard, created by Emperor Franz Joseph to showcase the wealth and importance of the Empire. Here we see Austria’s magnificent state buildings, including the historic parliament, city hall, the university plus the national theatre and museums. Our city exploration continues past the Imperial Palace, a stately structure that evolved over the centuries and is now home to Austria’s president. We also visit Schönbrunn Palace, the summer home of the imperial family and a superb example of Austrian Baroque architecture. In the evening, we enjoy dinner and a concert in the Orangery of the Schönbrunn Palace.
Today we take a musical journey through the city that inspired Beethoven, Schubert, Mozart, Haydn and Strauss. Discover why this city inspired such great compositions on a "musical walk" among memorials to the great Viennese composers, followed by a tour of the State Opera (subject to availability, depending on performance schedules) or a visit to the House of Music. The afternoon offers free time to explore Vienna further. Dinner this evening will be at a traditional Viennese restaurant.
Our scenic journey to Salzburg takes us through the beautiful Wachau Valley. We then follow the Danube River Valley en route to the monastery of Melk which we will visit. Later we continue through the Lake District of the Salzkammergut, the former imperial summer residence and favourite hunting ground of the Hapsburg rulers, to Salzburg, the city of Mozart and the Sound of Music. Although Salzburg was a very late addition to the Habsburg Empire (1815), the city played an important role as a cultural centre.
Hotel Untersberg (3 nights)
In the morning, we will set off on our guided city stroll through the centre, a pedestrian zone where we visit many historic sites related to Mozart. Salzburg which is also known as the “Rome of the North” has many magnificent monuments from both the Baroque and Renaissance periods. Designated as a World Cultural Heritage Site, Salzburg was ruled for centuries by Prince Archbishops. Highlights of our walk will include Mozart’s birthplace, St. Peter’s Church, Salzburg Cathedral and the Fortress of Hohensalzburg.
For a totally unique experience, we will venture into the Bavarian Mountains where we will visit the historical Eagle’s Nest, Berchtesgaden and the Salt Mines. Located at an elevation of 1,834 m (6,017 ft.), on a clear day the "Eagle’s Nest" offers a magnificent view across the Bavarian Mountains and the Salzburg Alps. Visit the salt mines buried deep in the mountain under Berchtesgaden. This evening, we are in for a special treat: our Mozart Dinner during which young musicians perform and introduce us to the musical world of Mozart.
Our journey to Prague takes us through southern Bohemia, a picturesque landscape of endless rolling hills dotted with historic cities and villages. En route we make a stop at the UNESCO site of Cesky Krumlov, one of the best preserved medieval cities in the world.
Prague NH Hotel (3 nights)
This historic city of golden stone and architectural grace offers a mix of Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque and Rococo treasures. Today, we will have our first views of the city and a discussion of Prague’s history. We explore the castle of Prague, which dates back to the 8th century, when Slavonic tribes built the first fortifications here. Then stroll through the Old Town to view its churches and palaces, many of them used today for cultural events, ministerial offices, embassies and art galleries.
Crossing the historic Charles Bridge, we enter the Jewish Quarter, where we visit the Jewish Museum, an impressive memorial to one of the Czech Republic’s defining cultures, and the famous Prague cemetery, home to more than 40,000 graves. Narrow lanes and generous squares are characteristic of the Old Town, where we meander through Wenceslas Square and tour the Estate Theatre, site of the first performance of Mozart's Don Giovanni. We will enjoy our farewell this evening at the Cicovice Court restaurant in a close by suburb.
All too soon, our journey exploring the many facets of the Habsburg dynasty draws to a close as we transfer to the airport for our return flights to our homes across Canada.
Have any questions? Contact Sharon at sbahadur [at] craigtravel.com or call 1-800-387-8890
Tour Cost in Canadian Dollars Per Person
Final payment is due June 5, 2024. Deposit is $700 per person.
*Land Only price is based on joining at the hotel in Budapest and leaving at the hotel in Prague. Airfares from other gateways are available on request. Airfares and air carriers are subject to change and will be confirmed prior to final payment. Refer to inclusive features for details.
Tour price is based on sharing a twin-bedded room with a minimum 20 members and on rates, taxes and fees effective July 2023. Prices and itinerary are subject to change due to factors beyond our control.
Insurance is NOT INCLUDED but is highly recommended. Premiums are calculated based on the individual’s age, destination (country), trip length, and trip booking window – please contact our staff to receive a quote. Your coverage starts on the effective date of your confirmation of coverage. Please discuss your insurance coverage prior to booking. Check our website for the most current information. Refer to the enrollment form for terms and conditions.