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Cities of Central & Eastern Europe Grand Tour

Prague – Wroclaw – Krakow – Budapest – Vienna

Now the weather is turning autumnal there’s still plenty to see in these Central and Eastern European cities and the summer crowds have thinned out too. With years of experience in bringing groups small and large to Europe, we’re happy to assist in putting together the perfect vacation and tour package for you so consider this a jumping-off point to give a taste of what’s on offer. This suggested itinerary should take 10-15 days and we’ve included details on how to get between the cities.

For finding train and international bus times we recommend using the Czech IDOS website. None of the other countries’ travel information systems are as comprehensive or easy to use. As part of our service we can plan your connections and make all your train bookings for you.

We recommend staying in apartments in at least one or two cities as an apartment with a washing machine will allow you to do laundry easily and therefore travel much lighter than you normally would for a trip of this duration.

Prague

PragueWe shall begin our European grand tour in Prague, the western-most city on the list. JayWay offers a wide choice of hotels and apartments in Prague, so that’s the accommodation sorted. You can tick off the major sights on the Grand City Tour & Boat Cruise. If you prefer a purely walking tour of Prague, we’ve got that covered too. For anyone of Jewish origin, no visit to Prague is complete without a tour of Jewish Prague.

In the evening the Beer Tour & Dinner is not to be missed, giving a chance to try some of that famous Czech beer and classic Czech cuisine.

Our most popular excursions from Prague are to Karlovy Vary, a famous spa town not far from the border with Germany (its German name is Carlsbad), Kutna Hora, a medieval silver-mining town, where amongst other things you’ll see the renowned Ossuary (a church decorated with more than 40,000 human bones) and Konopiste Castle, home of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, whose assassination ignited World War I.

Wroclaw

WroclawWroclaw is a fairly new addition to our portfolio of destinations but we think it’s well worth a visit. It is nicknamed “Venice of Poland” because of the maze of islands and bridges that make up this small but sassy city. You may be more familiar with its German name of Breslau.

Getting from Prague to Wroclaw
There are no direct trains, so you’ll need to change once. The journey takes just over 5 hours.

As Wroclaw is a new city to our lineup we don’t have such a wide selection of accommodation options, but we do have options for groups of up to 8 sharing an apartment.

Get started on Wroclaw’s not-to-be-missed list with the Market Square (Rynek), pictured here. It is the city’s heart where there’s always something going on – concerts, performance arts and gathering of all kinds. It’s lined with terraced cafes and restaurants. Plac Solny, the flower market is a sight to behold, open 24 hours so no floral emergency goes unaddressed. Ostow Tumski (Cathedral Island) is the oldest part of the city, and paradoxically no longer an island, part of the rover having been filled in back in 1810. The Racławice Panorama, a 15x114m painting of the battle of Racławice is one of very few examples of its kind in Europe, and unique in Poland.

Time pressures?
If you’re pushed for time on your trip, lovely though Wroclaw is, it’s the only city we would suggest missing. If you do that you can travel directly to Krakow from Prague by overnight train, by daytime trains (with a change) or by private transfer, offering you the convenience to leave when you want and stop on route.

Krakow

KrakowKrakow is Poland’s artistic and scientific center. A university town of some repute, Poland’s historic capital, UNESCO heritage list member and by far Poland’s most popular tourist destination. We just love the place. There’s always something going on and we’ll make sure you don’t miss out on anything happening while you’re there.

To make things easier, all our apartments and boutique hotels in Krakow are located in or very near the very centre of the city.

Getting from Wroclaw to Krakow
Direct trains run between Wroclaw and Krakow around once an hour, at times more often and the journey takes between 4 hours 15 minutes and 5 hours, depending on the type of train.

Whilst you’re there we recommend taking a Krakow City Tour and visiting Wieliczka Salt Mine, which will take your breath away, Nowa Huta, the town built by communists after WWII is well worth seeing. Catholics will appreciate the Footsteps of John Paul II tour. If you have the resolve for it, a visit to Auschwitz-Berkenau will stay with you forever.

Budapest

BudapestHungary’s capital is actually comprised of two halves, ancient Buda, and modern Pest, split by the mighty Danube river. Both are on the UNESCO heritage list too.

Getting from Krakow to Budapest
There’s one direct train a day from Krakow to Budapest and it’s a sleeper, leaving Krakow just after ten pm, reaching Budapest at eight thirty the following morning. If you’re able to sleep on a train, travelling this way means you have more time to explore, but read our piece about the night train from Prague to Krakow for some sleeper train tips. Whilst not strictly in the tradition of the Grand Tour, there are some budget airlines operating between Krakow and Budapest so flying is an option. Other alternatives are a coach service or a private transfer.

We feature a wide selection of apartments, boutique and luxury hotels in Budapest so you’ll definitely find something that suits, or just tell us what you’re looking for.

On the Grand City Tour, available every day, a guide will show you all Budapest’s highlights from the comfort of a bus. For a change of pace, we recommend a visit to the picturesque village of Szentendre, also known as the artist’s village.  While in Budapest you should make sure to spend some time at one of the city’s many thermal baths too.

Vienna

The final stop on our grand tour of some of Central and Eastern Europe’s most beautiful cities is Vienna, former capital of the Austro-Hungarian empire and now capital of Austria. It’s historical centre is also on the UNESCO heritage list.

Getting from Budapest to Vienna
The shortest trip on our tour, it takes just 2 and a half hours by direct train and there are trains every hour throughout the day. If you’re visiting between May and September there is also a hydrofoil service on the Danube between the two as well. Journey time is six hours though, and it’s much more expensive and the views on the way are not so interesting as to make this worthwhile.

The best way to get an overall impression of Vienna’s most significant historical sights is a combined city tour and visit to Schönbrunn Palace. On the way you’ll take in all the grand buildings along the Ringstrasse then visit the showrooms of Schönbrunn Palace. If you happen to be in Vienna on a Friday, you shouldn’t miss the performance of the world famous Vienna Boy’s Choir. If you have time we can’t recommend the Danube Valley excursion enough, it’s a full day trip, with a boat ride, in the Wachau area, top of the National Geographic ‘Historic Places’ list in 2008.

All Mapped Out

Here’s all these destinations on a map, to give you an idea of where they are in relation to each other.

Got the travel bug?

Hopefully that’s given you an appetite to explore these famous old cities. If you’d like us to plan a trip for you, just get in touch and tell us roughly where and when and we’ll put together an itinerary just for you.

Jay
A native of New York, Jay has lived, studied and worked in Europe for more than six years traveling extensively throughout the region. His broad experiences range from budget to first class allowing him to understand and appreciate travel needs of clients.

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