Four 'must-see' cities on one rail tour
Fascinating grand imperial cities and high-speed intercity train journeys showcase the turbulent history of Central Europe. Discover what turned these former Habsburg and Prussian cities into four of Europe's greatest destinations.
We begin our voyage towards Central Europe on the Eurostar from St Pancras International to Brussels. We continue from Brussels in First Class to the beautiful city of Cologne, where we spend the night.
Please Note: For departure HUC1801f you will be staying at the Intercity Bonn Hotel.
We continue travelling south through Germany, passing through some of the country's magnificent cities, including Bonn, Frankfurt and Nuremberg as we make our way south towards the Austrian border. Our journey takes us to Vienna, the magnificent city of Mozart, where we spend the next three nights at the Marriott Imperial Riding School Renaissance Hotel.
This morning we enjoy a city tour of Vienna, taking in the city's Imperial architecture on the famous Ringstrasse - a wide avenue that encircles the Old City of Vienna. Our tour takes us past many of Vienna's finest ornate buildings including the impressive Hofburg Palace, a vast complex of buildings that demonstrates the awesome power and wealth commanded by the Habsburgs, who used the palace as their ruling headquarters for six centuries. We pass the impressive Opera House, one of the leading opera venues in the world, as well as the grand Parliament Building. Later today we visit spectacular Schönbrunn Palace, the summer residence of the Imperial family, situated beautifully landscaped parkland. We enjoy a slice of the famous Apfelstudel and coffee in an elegant Viennese cafe before a guided tour of the palace, followed by time to stroll through its elaborate gardens.
Today you are free to explore at your own pace. Vienna's glorious Gothic cathedral, the Stephansdom, is located at the very centre of the city. By climbing the 553 steps to the top of the cathedral you will be rewarded with one of the best views of the city. Alternatively, a ride on the giant Ferris wheel in Prater Gardens offers a more laid back way to achieve a superb view across the city.
We leave Vienna, travelling by rail across the border into Hungary. Our destination is Budapest, a city of two halves divided by the mighty River Danube and sewn together by a collection of beautiful, elegant bridges including the famous Szechenyi Chain Bridge, the first permanent crossing to link the two halves of the city. The flatter, lively region of Pest looks across the water to its older, historical neighbour, the hilly Buda which rises up away from the banks of the river. Budapest was once the joint capital of the Austro-Hungarian Habsburg Empire. The city and its buildings have been restored to their very best in what is now one of Europe's finest, grandest and most picturesque cities. We spend the next three nights here at the Hotel Continental. You have some time this afternoon to begin exploring Budapest at leisure before we dine together in a local restaurant where we receive a Tokaj wine reception on arrival.
This morning we enjoy a guided coach tour, introducing us to Budapest's main sights. We pass impressive buildings and monuments on both sides of the Danube, including the neo-Gothic Parliament building that was designed to resemble the Palace of Westminster, the magnificent State Opera House and St Stephen's Basilica, Budapest Castle, Matthias Church and Fishermen's Bastion. Later we enjoy a ride on the Children's Railway, a service operated by Hungarian school children who consider it a great honour to be chosen to help run it. The line runs through beautiful woodland in the hills above Buda and presents wonderful views of the city.
Today is free for you to explore Budapest at leisure; take the opportunity to view some of the city's main sights or simply stroll through historic streets, admiring the magnificent architecture and old world grandeur. Tonight we experience the city from a different perspective with a dinner cruise on the Danube and an evening coach tour of the illuminated city sights, including the Chain Bridge and spectacular view from Gellert Hill.
We depart Budapest by train, travelling through Slovakia and the city of Bratislava to the Czech Republic. We arrive in Prague and spend three nights at the Courtyard by Marriott Flora. In 'the city of a hundred spires', where copper-domed churches line the banks of the River Vltava and where architectural styles from across Europe blend together to create one of the continent's most beautiful cities.
During a guided tour through the narrow streets of the Old Town, we discover some of Prague's most famous sights.
We begin at Hradcany Castle, the largest medieval complex in Europe.We also walk across the 14th century Charles Bridge, which has 75 statues along its walls, and pass the Gothic spires of St Vitus' Cathedral. This afternoon, and Day 10, is spent at leisure to continue exploring the stunning city of Prague.
This morning we leave Prague, heading northwards through the Bohemian countryside into Germany, tracing the winding route of the River Elbe through a region known as Saxon Switzerland on our way to Berlin. Here we stay for two nights at the Maritim Hotel Berlin.
On the morning of Day 12, embark on a fascinating sightseeing tour of this once divided city. We soak in the main sights of Berlin, including the incredible Brandenburg Gate, a section of the Berlin Wall which once divided East and West Berlin, as well as the Reichstag, the meeting place of the current German parliament. Tonight, we enjoy a farewell meal at our hotel.
Bidding farewell to mainland Europe, we travel high-speed to Brussels, via Cologne, where we join the Eurostar service to St Pancras International. On arrival in London, your tour concludes.
Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with our dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We write to all booked customers approximately 10 weeks prior to the start of their tour to advise the exact departure and return time for their particular group.
An escorted experience and all travel arrangements
Comfortable accommodation in your destination
Delicious meals included
Exciting excursions and free time to explore
Enhancing your tour
of travellers would recommend this tour
based on 22 verified reviews
Extremely helpful in every way
Enjoyed ourselves, but underwhelmed by the cities we visited
Well planned holiday but smaller group size would have been better. Holiday was generally very enjoyable but it might be better to forewarn potential customers that the pace is "full-on" The guides in Vienna and Budapest were excellent ,the Prague guide not quite so good, and at times irritating, with little opportunity to stop to look in any depth at things of interest. The Tour Manager was excellent throughout, with nothing too much trouble..
Because it was a well organised and enjoyable tour which provided good value for money
Very well organised and we were lucky to have an excellent tour manager!
Everything met our high expectations from accommodation, meals, balance of organised and free time and overall organisation and friendliness.
A well planned holiday and great tour guide
Interesting itinerary, well,organised, good hotels
The rail travel arrangements were faultless. The tour manager was superb. Four of the hotels, and food, were excellent, but one hotel (in Vienna) was simply not up to standard and the two dinners the hotel served us were definitely not four-star catering.
I think you may have contacted me in error. We did do the Imperial Cities Tour with GRJ but our holiday started on 31st August and not the 12th September. However I will complete this questionnaire as requested. Overall the holiday was very enjoyable if a little tiring due to the necessary frequent lugging cases along rail platforms and into and out of train carriages. This of course was unavoidable but slightly tiring nonetheless.
Four 'must-see' cities on one rail tour