2017 August 25 to September 6
A Gay Travel Cultural Tour visiting Budapest, Vienna, Prague, and more!
During the height of the Holy Roman Empire, Central Europe nurtured architectural and musical influences that continue to this day. Enjoy our gay cultural tours with walking, concerts, a dinner cruise, rejuvenating baths, and ample time to explore.
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, that 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 three nights. We’ll have a walking tour of some of the 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’ll visit the town’s restored castle, then see the town’s monuments and homes from our ride on the river.
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 need to depart home a day before the first tour day, flying overnight and connecting 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 the our City Tour of Pest, we get acquainted with the Pearl of the Danube. We drive along the main avenues, passing by Parliament and the Opera House, and we stop at Heroes’ Square. We will also visit the Market Hall, where we’ll have some free time to look at the hundreds of local products sold there. Our afternoon and evening will be free to explore the city on our own.
We cross over to hilly Buda for our next half-day tour that will include the Castle Hill area, and visits to Matthias Church and Fisherman’s Bastion. We’ll also go up Gellert Hill for a panoramic view of the city and the majestic river that divides Buda and Pest. Later in the afternoon, you may want to visit one of the spas for a rejuvenating treatment. One of the oldest spas dates back to Turkish occupation in 1566.
Day 4: Banska Stiavnica – a Town Nestled in a Caldera
We’ll drive north out of Hungary and into the mountains of Slovakia. Our lunch will be in the hamlet of Svaty Antol where we will have a traditional Slovak lunch, accompanied by a local folklore performance.
Later we will have a 2-hour walking tour of the town, including a special presentation about the local sport of falconry.
Day 5: Onward to Bratislava – Newest Capital of Region
This morning we will drive through the mountains to Bratislava, nestled on the bank of the Danube. We’ll have a walking tour of the old city, then dinner at one of the city’s finer restaurants.
Days 6-8: Vienna
During our three days in Vienna, we’ll have a walking tour to see the sights, and we’ll visit 22 rooms of the Schonbrunn Castle with an English audio guide.
One evening we will also 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.)
Our last day in Vienna will be unscheduled so you can explore what is personally most interesting about this cultural capital of Europe. Our guides will have plenty of suggestions for you, and help you plan how to get around on the extensive public transportation system.
Day 9: Cesky Krumlov
This morning we drive northwest from Vienna to the small Czech town of Cesky Krumlov. We will have lunch together in this charming historic town, and weather permitting, spend the afternoon on a leisurely self-paddle raft on the river. We will check into our hotel in the late afternoon, and the rest of the day will be free to wander around Cesky Krumlov.
Days 10-12: Cesky Krumlov, then on to Prague, our Grand Finale!
The next morning we’ll tour the castle and other sites, then have a little free time to grab lunch and see more of the town before we drive north to Prague. As we head toward Prague from Cesky Krumlov, we’ll stop at Ceské Budejovice – home of Budvar, one of Czech’s more prominent beers. We’ll have a beer tasting and lunch there.
Once we get to our hotel in Prague, the rest of the afternoon and evening are on your own to check out the fine restaurants and perhaps some of the nightlife of Prague.
The next day we’ll have a half-day walking tour, including the Astronomical Clock, Wenceslas Square, Royal Way of the Old Town, and Charles Bridge. Our farewell dinner will on held on a cruise on the Vltava River.
Our second half-day of touring will include the Mala Strana area, Hradcany Castle (from the outside), and St Vitus Cathedral.
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! If you have time for more travel, we invite you to continue on to Greece for a Classical Cultural Tour (see Extension).
For those with more time to spend in Europe, visit two more capitals, London & Paris! Take this gay tour and immerse yourself in a marvelous discovery of two of the world’s greatest cities, London and Paris. Uncover gay history from the Renaissance through the modern age while walking among England’s famous gardens and museums and the glorious chateaux of the French Loire Valley countryside.
Extend your trip with a lovely stay in open-minded Amsterdam, where the first legal gay marriages were performed in 2001. Liberalism was invented here! Free trade and social tolerance are the hallmarks of Amsterdam, and the people here invented something called “Gedogen” which is a policy of “letting things happen” that has been shocking religious conservatives since the 17th century! Many of us still remember the 1970s, when it was the ultimate city of free love and free drugs, and many aspects of that period are still alive, including a very active gay liberation movement. Indeed, it is a city that looks both backward and forward, with the beautifully preserved 17th century architecture and art of its charming center and an open-minded liberalism that could serve as a model for the future if we are smart!
Day 1. Welkom!
After checking in to our charming hotel set between the grand canals of the 17th century, our group gathers together for a walking tour that will show us the essentials of the city center and in particular its gay history (one of our local guide’s specialties). Dutch-Indonesian rijstaafel— the city’s best-known culinary tradition is on the menu tonight before we set off for an after dark tour of the infamous red light district.
Day 2. Sexy Art History
Another of our guide’s specialties is 17th century Dutch art, and we spend this morning at the greatest museum of that period, the Rijksmuseum. Dutch Golden Age art has an often ignored sexy (albeit straight) side that is often ignored, but not by our guide! Hals, Vermeer, and Rembrandt are just a few of the Masters whose works are highlighted here. The cafés of the lovely Vondelpark call to us for lunch, and we answer. Probably the best way to appreciate the charms of this so-called “Venice of the North” is with a tour of the city from a canal boat, and we will finish up with exactly that! The evening is free for your own explorations.
Day 3. Naval History and a Poignant Remembrance
Get out your tissues, you’re going to need them when we visit the Anne Frank apartment, where she hid out with her family for four years, until the Nazi occupiers eventually discovered and arrested her family. This is where she wrote her poignant diary that has moved many people over the years with its message of hope. The National Maritime Museum is next, and we will explore the Netherlands’ great maritime history, including its gay side! This afternoon is yours to do as you please, may we suggest the Van Gogh Museum, with its peerless collection of the quintessential modern painter, or we can tell you how to get to an easily accessible nude beach! Tonight we dine together with a city view at our Farewell Dinner.
Day 4. Vaarwel (Farewell)!
Today we depart beautiful Amsterdam.
If you can stay a bit longer, consider joining our Gay Tour of Greece! Visit classic landmarks of Greece’s Golden Age in Athens, Sparta Olympia and Delphi. See Byzantine churches below the stark cliffs of Monemvasia, mountaintop monasteries of Meteora, and echoes of St. Paul’s epic preaching to the Thessalonians. Conclude with a walk in the footsteps of Alexander the Great!
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 hotel and from Prague hotel to airport for those arriving and departing on the first and last day of tour; All hotel service charges, government taxes, porterage (where available), and gratuities for included meals. 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 tour director; Personal items including: alcoholic beverages, snacks, laundry, and telephone calls.
Optional Tour Choices:
$1300 Single Supplement (for solo travelers who wish to enjoy a private bedroom and bathroom)
Price includes: Three nights at our charming hotel; 3 breakfasts, 2 dinners; knowledgeable gay historian accompanying the group on included activities; Entrance fees to sites listed in itinerary; HE Travel provides complimentary Medical & Evacuation Insurance for every US Resident on our group tours who does not have other coverage.
Not included: Airfare, Airport-hotel transfers on arrival and departure; Meals not shown as included in tour package; Alcoholic beverages; Gratuities for local guides and drivers; Personal items such as souvenirs and snacks; Optional activities; and Trip cancellation insurance.
$1790 per person in a shared room
$450 Single Supplement (for solo travelers who wish to enjoy a private bedroom and bathroom)
“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
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.
This tour starts in Budapest, Hungary and ends in Prague, Czech Republic.
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.
For answers to your additional questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 305-294-8174