Immerse yourself in the splendid architecture, rich culture, and romance of the Czech Republic and Austria. In Prague, encounter baroque and Gothic domes and gain firsthand insights into a turbulent history. Travel through the Bohemian countryside to two medieval towns that have been declared UNESCO World Heritage sites. In Austria, follow the Danube river into the Wachau region, and discover the magnificent abbey at Melk. Savor local specialties and folk music, and cap off your journey in dazzling Vienna.
Trace centuries of history amid Prague’s soaring spires, dramatic cathedrals, and medieval buildings.
Encounter the architectural treasures of Český Krumlov and Kutná Hora, both UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Explore Austria’s vineyard-laced hills along the Danube river and sample local wines during a private vineyard tour.
Discover the fascinating history and masterpieces of Melk Abbey, one of the world’s most celebrated monastic sites.
Itinerary - 8 Days
Days 1 & 2 — U.S./Prague, Czech Republic
Depart on an overnight flight to Prague, known as the “city of a hundred spires.” Upon arrival, settle into our hotel in the heart of the charming Old Town. Gather for a welcome reception and dinner. Grand Hotel Bohemia (D)
Day 3 — Prague
Today, get acquainted with the city’s graceful spires, spacious plazas, and magnificent cathedrals. Having survived the centuries with much of its architecture intact, Prague is considered one of the best-preserved medieval cities in Europe. Wind your way along cobbled streets and discover a wealth of Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, and baroque buildings. Begin the day in lively Old Town Square, a focal point of the 15th-century conflict between the reformist Hussites and the ruling Roman Catholics. See the statue commemorating Jan Hus, the religious reform leader and Czech national hero who was burned at the stake for heresy. Explore the historic Jewish Quarter, where the synagogues, museums, and cemetery tell an unforgettable story of struggle and perseverance. This afternoon, explore St. Vitus Cathedral and the courtyards and palaces that make up Prague Castle, the largest ancient castle in the world. Then delve into Prague’s modern history in Wenceslas Square, where citizens gathered during the Velvet Revolution to first demand, and then celebrate, the end of communism. Grand Hotel Bohemia (B,L,D)
Day 4 — Kutná Hora/Český Krumlov
Travel through the Bohemian countryside to Sedlec, and visit the remarkable ossuary known as the “Church of Bones.” Built in the 15th century, this small chapel houses an artistic, albeit macabre, display of bones from more than 40,000 people. Nearby is the medieval town of Kutná Hora, a once-thriving silver-mining center that rivaled Prague in its wealth and power. Following lunch, enjoy time on your own to explore this UNESCO World Heritage site. Stroll through the historic center and encounter the dramatic arches and spires of St. Barbara’s Church, Kutná Hora’s crowning glory. Depart for Český Krumlov later this afternoon. Hotel Zlatý Anděl (B,L,D)
Day 5 — Český Krumlov
Spend the day exploring Český Krumlov, one of the most stunning towns in the region. The entire town has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, with the majority of its buildings registered as cultural monuments. Set off on a tour of the medieval center, a labyrinth of cobblestoned streets with medieval, baroque, and Renaissance houses, lively cafés, and hidden squares. Delve into Czech history with a local expert and learn about life before and after communist rule. Then explore the town’s expansive 13th-century castle complex, the second largest in the Czech Republic. Tonight, enjoy a festive evening of Czech hospitality, cuisine, and folk music at a local restaurant. Hotel Zlatý Anděl (B,L,D)
Day 6 — Melk, Austria/Dürnstein
Pass through the lush hills of Austria’s Waldviertel (Forest Quarter), bordered on the south by the Danube river. Stop at a traditional farmhouse to sample homemade cider and learn about life in this agricultural region. Continue through the Danube’s Wachau region and visit the renowned abbey at Melk, which provided the inspiration for Umberto Eco’s novel The Name of the Rose. One of the world’s most magnificent baroque buildings, Melk Abbey also serves as the region’s cultural and spiritual center. Later, settle into our historic hotel in Dürnstein, in the heart of Austria’s wine country. A former convent, the hotel features a beautiful klostergarten (convent garden) surrounded by medieval walls. Indulge in a schnapps tasting this evening, followed by a dinner of Austrian delicacies. Hotel Schloss Dürnstein (B,D)
Day 7 — Dürnstein
Learn about Dürnstein’s medieval history as you explore its cobblestoned streets. If you choose, hike up to the ruins of the castle fortress where Richard the Lionheart was imprisoned in 1192. The English king was captured while traveling home from the Crusades, and was only returned to England after paying an enormous ransom. Back in town, enjoy a picnic lunch at a traditional wine tavern, perched amid terraced vineyards. Take a private tour of the vineyard and sample regional varieties such as Riesling and Grüner Veltliner. Celebrate our adventure at a farewell dinner this evening. Hotel Schloss Dürnstein (B,L,D)
Day 8 — Vienna/U.S.
Our journey culminates in Vienna, a grand city with a rich history as the former capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Follow in the footsteps of the imperial Habsburgs during a tour of the city, and discover its grand boulevards, Gothic spires, and scenic parks. This afternoon, transfer to the airport for your return flight home. (B,L)
Price is per person, double occupancy. For a single room, add $800. Airfare and trip leader gratuity are not included in the expedition cost. Economy airfare between New York and Prague and return from Vienna is not included and is from $1100 (subject to change).