2023 September 27 to October 9
Prices listed are per person:
Shared Room: $7598
Private Room: $8998
“I remember reading about the Holy Roman Empire when I was in school and it was fascinating to see the history come to life during this tour.” – George Terwilliger, Grand Rapids, MI
“I enjoyed eating Linzer tortes and hearing classical waltzes in the region where they were created!” – James Flaherty, San Luis Obispo, CA
“A very pleasant, and relaxing tour where I learned a great deal about the culture, customs and histories of 4 Eastern European Countries.” – Jack Alden, Charlotte, NC
Explore the history and mystery of four of Central Europe’s capitals, Budapest, Bratislava, Vienna, and Prague.
Meander away from the urban areas through the Slovakian mountains and Czech valleys.
Learn the difference between Buda and Pest, sample Hungarian cuisine that goes way beyond goulash, and perhaps check out one of the historic bathing facilities.
Follow back roads through the mountains of Slovakia to the historic town of Banska Stiavnica.
Spend an evening strolling along the Danube waterfront in the newest of our capitals, Bratislava.
See why Vienna was the cultural and political center of this entire region, through visits to Schonbrunn Castle and an evening classical music concert.
Enjoy a walking tour of the historic heart of Prague, then check out Prague’s lively gay nightlife.
Explore Four Capitals of Central Europe!
The Danube has flowed like an artery through Central Europe through the millennia, serving as a bridge between several unique cultures. On this tour, we start in the Hungarian capital of Budapest (or more specifically Buda and Pest across the river).
We then drive into Slovakia’s mountains to spend a night at an intimate pension in the UNESCO World Heritage town of Banska Stiavnica, which sits in the middle of an immense caldera formed when an ancient volcano collapsed. Our next destination is the capital of the nation of Slovakia, which became a capital overnight in 1993 during the separation from the Czech Republic. The separation process was so orderly that it was dubbed the “Velvet Divorce”.
From Bratislava, we make the short drive to Vienna, where we spend four nights. We’ll have a walking tour of Schonbrunn Castle as well as some cultural landmarks, culminating in an evening classical music performance (subject to availability).
Departing from Vienna we drive northwest to the small Czech city of Cesky Krumlov, and we will stay in the historic heart of the city, also a World Heritage Site. We will enjoy a walking tour, including a chance to admire the vistas from the town’s restored castle.
Our tour will conclude in the Czech capital of Prague, where we will stay close to its historic center. During our walking tour, we’ll visit Wenceslas Square, Charles Bridge, and other highlights of this ancient capital.
Days 1-3: Budapest, Buda & Pest
Most North American travelers will depart home a day before the first tour day and then take an overnight flight to connect to Budapest. We will provide a transfer from Budapest Airport to our hotel for those arriving on the first day or arranging extra hotel nights through us. We’ll have our welcome dinner near our hotel in the heart of Budapest on our arrival day.
The next day, during our City Tour of Pest, we will get acquainted with the Pearl of the Danube. We will drive along the main avenues, passing by Parliament and the Opera House, and stop at Heroes’ Square. We will have free time at the Market Hall to look at the hundreds of local products sold there. Our afternoon and evening will be free so we can explore the city on our own.
Crossing over to hilly Buda for our next half-day tour, we will explore the Castle Hill area and visit Matthias Church and Fisherman’s Bastion. Next, we will go up Gellert Hill for a panoramic view of the city and the majestic Danube (Donau) river that divides Buda and Pest. Later in the afternoon, we offer an optional visit to one of the spas for a rejuvenating treatment.
Day 4: Banska Stiavnica – a Town Nestled in a Caldera
We’ll drive north out of Hungary and into the mountains of Slovakia. We will enjoy a stop in Bratislava with a stop at a lovely viewing spot of the old town at Bratislava castle hill.
Later we will have a 2-hour walking tour of the town, including a special presentation about the local sport of falconry. We will spend one night in this quintessentially Slovakian town.
Day 5: Bratislava – Newest Capital of the Region – Vienna
This morning we will have a walking tour of the old city so we can stretch our legs and grab some lunch, then continue our journey to Vienna. Upon arrival, we will enjoy a 2-hour walking tour of several historic sites, including a medieval neighborhood of Vienna behind St. Stephens, where Mozarthaus is located. (Mozart lived in the apartment for three years and wrote The Marriage of Figaro there.)
Days 6: Free Day in Vienna or Day Trip to The Eagle’s Nest – (subject to minimum tour participation)
Today we will have a free day to explore Vienna or (pending minimum participation) a visit to The Eagle’s Nest and tour Kehlsteinhaus, a Third Reich-era building erected atop the summit of the Kehlstein. We will take a train ride to Salzburg, Austria, then venture across the border into Germany. Enjoy tea where dignitaries once sat, take in the amazing views, and soak in the history of this mountain hideout. We will have the opportunity to tour the bunkers which most visitors are not able to see.
Day 7: Free Day in Vienna
Today is a chance to explore the highlights of Vienna that mean the most to you. Our guides will have plenty of suggestions and help you plan how to get around on the extensive public transportation system.
Day 8: Schonbrunn Castle
Today we will have a half-day tour including the 22 rooms of the Schonbrunn Castle. Each traveler will receive an English-language audio guide and have time to visit the adjoining Schonbrunn Park.
One evening while in Vienna, we will enjoy a classical music performance and have dinner at a renowned restaurant nearby. (Details about the performance are subject to change, but we will include one concert.)
Day 9: Cesky Krumlov
This morning we drive northwest from Vienna to the small Czech town of Cesky Krumlov. After our lunch together in this charming historic town, we will check into our hotel with the rest of the day free to wander around Cesky Krumlov.
Days 10-12: Cesky Krumlov, then on to Prague, our Grand Finale!
We will start the day with our city tour including admiring the vista of the winding river from the city’s castle. We will have some time for lunch before driving north to Prague.
Once we get to our hotel in Prague, the rest of the day is on your own to check out the fine restaurants and perhaps some of Prague’s lively gay nightlife.
The next day we’ll have a half-day walking tour, including the Astronomical Clock, Wenceslas Square, the Royal Way of Old Town, and Charles Bridge.
The following day’s half-day tour will include the Mala Strana area, Hradcany Castle (from the outside), and St Vitus Cathedral. We will also fit in a visit to the Alchemie Museum, a 1500s-era authentic underground Laboratory where King Rudolph II had his wizards try to make gold from lead.
Day 13: Farewell to Central Europe
We will provide one or two group transfers from our hotel to the Prague Airport today, as we bid our farewells to this historic region of Europe. May we meet again soon!
Capitals of Central Europe
Price includes: Group transportation from Budapest to Prague and for local sightseeing; Accommodations each night in accordance with the tour itinerary, at 4-star, centrally-located hotels and one night at an intimate small-town pension; Breakfast each day, 5 special dinners and 4 lunches; Entrance fees for sightseeing, accompanied by knowledgeable guides; Transfers from Budapest Airport to the hotel and from Prague hotel to the airport for those arriving and departing on the first and last day of the tour or who reserved extra nights through HE Travel; All hotel service charges, government taxes, porterage (where available), and gratuities for included meals. Services of a knowledgeable HE Travel tour host (with a minimum number of participants); HE Travel provides complimentary Medical & Evacuation Insurance for every US Resident on our group tours who does not have other coverage.
Not included: Transportation to Budapest and from Prague; Meals not shown as being included; Gratuities for guides, drivers and HE Travel host; Personal items including: alcoholic beverages, snacks, laundry, and telephone calls; Optional activities; and Trip cancellation insurance.
Optional Tour Choices:
$200 Eagle’s Nest on Day 6 – (subject to minimum tour participation)
$260 Theresienstadt Day Tour(last day minimum two people)
Krakow Pre Tour
$3398 Per person Shared Room
$4098 Private Room
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Krakow Pre-Tour – September 22 to 27, 2023
Day 1: Krakow
Welcome to Krakow. Transfer to the hotel and enjoy your evening at leisure.
Day 2: Schindlers Factory Museum
After breakfast, we will meet up with our guide for a lovely Krakow walking city tour. Enjoy taking in the views of the most interesting places in Krakow. After lunch, we will head to Schindlers Factory Museum, the best museum in Krakow! Here we will enjoy a guided tour so we do not miss out on any tidbits of information. Your evening is free to explore as you wish.
Day 3: Free Day or Optional Auschwitz Trip
Today you will two options. You can enjoy a day on your own or enjoy an optional trip to Auschwitz. We will meet with our guide and transfer to Auschwitz for a tour. This tour was set up in 1940, which became the main centre for the Nazis’ attempt at the mass extermination of Jews.
This evening we will head to the Jewish district of Krakow for a tour of the area, before dinner with live Klezmer music.
Day 4: Wieliczka – High Tatras area/ Slovakia
This morning we will check out of the hotel and make our way to Wieliczka salt mine. The Salt Mine is the oldest salt enterprise on Polish land, dating back to the Middle Ages. For centuries it was the source of the country’s wealth and the material foundation of its culture. Today it is the most popular Polish tourist attraction. Several hundreds of years of rock salt exploitation have shaped the spatial arrangement of its excavated structure. Lying on nine levels, concealed under the town, the mine reaches down to the depth of 327 metres. Subterranean Wieliczka consists of nearly 300 kilometres of corridors and almost 3,000 chambers. The tourist route accessible to visitors includes a 3.5-kilometres section located from 64 to 135 metres below ground level.
Lunch will be at a traditional wooden style restaurant Halit in Wieliczka. After lunch, we will head to our hotel, freshen up and enjoy dinner together in the evening.
Day 5: High Tatras area
Today we will enjoy Stary Smokovec. Including a ride in the Ground Cable Car (GCC) to Hrebienok. We will walk along the Cold Creek Waterfalls and up to Zamkovskeho chalet and back. It is a lovely 2-hour excursion; depending on our pace. There is an elevation change of 984 feet.
In the afternoon enjoy some free time to use the hotel’s wellness centre and to relax before an evening of music and food.
Day 6: High Tatras – Banska Stiavnica – Budapest
This morning we will check out of our hotel and continue on our way, heading to Banska Stiavnica in Central Slovakia. Here we will enjoy a walking tour which includes a special traditional falconry presentation. After lunch, enjoy free time with some coffee and shopping.
We will meet up again and finish our journey to Budapest.
Freshen up and let’s head out to meet the main tour group for the official Welcome Dinner.
Day 13: Theresienstadt
After breakfast, enjoy a day trip for a guided tour of the Terezin (Museum of Small Fortress, The Ghetto Museum, Magdeburg Barracks). After lunch, we will head back to Prague. Fly out tonight or book a post-tour night and fly out the next morning.
- What if I am traveling alone?
- Most of our trips draw more single travelers than couples. When couples do join us, it’s usually because they’re looking forward to interacting with a gay group; if they wanted a holiday by themselves, they wouldn’t have signed up to travel with us. Furthermore, the activities included with our trips serve as natural ice-breakers. Within a day, you’ll be traveling with friends. You don’t need to pay the single supplement if you’re traveling alone. We’ll be happy to match you with a roommate. Pay the single supplement only if you want a bedroom to yourself. For selected trips, including cruises, we will charge half the single supplement if you request a roommate but we can’t match you with someone.
- What is the physical activity level of this tour?
Physical Activity Level
This is a leisurely-paced trip. Our guides will lead us on walking tours, sometimes on uneven cobblestones. Transportation between destinations is by private vehicle for our group. Most but not all hotels have elevators.
- Where does the tour start and end?
- This tour starts in Budapest, Hungary and ends in Prague, Czech Republic.
- Additional Questions
- For answers to your additional questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 305-294-8174