2019 August 30 to Sept. 11
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 four 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.
Most North American travelers will need to depart home a day before the first tour day. As a result, will be 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 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 so we can explore the city on our own.
As we cross over to hilly Buda for our next half-day tour, this will include the Castle Hill area and visits to Matthias Church and Fisherman’s Bastion. Next, we will 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 certainly want to visit one of the spas for a rejuvenating treatment. One of the oldest spas dates back to Turkish occupation in 1566.
We’ll drive north out of Hungary and into the mountains of Slovakia. Therefore, 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.
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 so we can stretch our legs, grab some lunch and continue our journey to Vienna. Upon arrival; we will enjoy a 2-hour walking tour of the area. Some of our included stops will be Hofburg, Kohlmarky, Graben, St. Stephens, a coffee/tea break, and more.
This morning we will visit the 22 rooms of the Schonbrunn Castle with an English audio guide and also enjoy a visit to 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.)
Today we will head to The Eagle’s Nest and tour Kehlsteinhaus; a Third Reich-era building erected atop the summit of the Kehlstein. Enjoy tea where dignitaries once sat, take in the amazing views and soak in the history. We will have the opportunity to tour the bunkers; which are not seen by many during their visit.
Today is a chance to explore Vienna on your own 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.
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. Finally, we will check into our hotel in the late afternoon, and the rest of the day will be free to wander around Cesky Krumlov.
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. We will certainly spend one of the nights hitting the town for a Gay Pub Crawl.
Our second half-day of touring will include the Mala Strana area, Hradcany Castle (from the outside), and St Vitus Cathedral.
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 certainly meet again soon!
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:
$1400 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