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.
This morning, 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 city of Frankfurt, where we spend tonight.
On Day 2 we continue travelling south through Germany as we make our way 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.
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 speciality evening meal 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, where we stay for two nights at the Maritim Hotel Berlin. We pause en route for a visit to Lübbenau in Spreewald, a picturesque oasis just outside of Berlin. This UNESCO protected biosphere is populated with pretty meadows, dense woodland and meandering rivers; a stark contrast to the nearby metropolis.
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.
For this tour, we recommend arriving to, and departing from, London Gatwick or London Heathrow airport (LGW or LHR). London Gatwick is approximately 30 miles from your start and end point, and London Heathrow is approximately 19 miles from your start and end point.
It is your responsibility to check and fulfil the passport, visa, health and immigration requirements applicable to your itinerary. We do not accept any responsibility if you cannot travel, or incur any other loss because you have not complied with any passport, visa, immigration requirements or health formalities. You agree to reimburse us in relation to any fines or other losses which we incur as a result of your failure to comply with any passport, visa, immigration requirements or health formalities.
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
of travellers would recommend this tour
based on 12 verified reviews
We had a great time. We would liked more free time. Our tours were ok, but I had a hard time understanding the women tour speakers.
Excellent accommodation, guides and Tour Leader.
Excellent. Good food, hotels.
Very enjoyable ,interesting and informative
In all the trip was enjoyable
Some early starts and the boat trip could have been better.
We have had 3 tours with you now and all have been excellent. Really enjoyed Grand Imperial Cities so much to see and do. Tours were excellent and our tour guide was excellent
Everything with the general exception of evening meals was excellent. The evening meals were only average...especially as most were in 4 star hotels. The train carriage from Budapest to Prague was barely third class, especially the bathroom (no door lock, no soap, no paper towels and by the end of the journey no toilet paper. Shocking for first class Brian, the tour manager was excellent - organizing 43 well travelled and independent people was a challenge he met exceptionally well The hotels were generally good. The one in Budapest was in a run down area but was itself good even if the rooms were small. The one in Prague was a tram/underground ride from the center. The Vienna hotel was a standard Renaissance hotel and the bar was expensive (29 euros for two good quality gin and tonics!) In each hotel the breakfasts were of high quality but evening meals, as I said above, were not of the same standard. This is possibly because we were in with all other guests for breakfasts whereas dinners were catered for us specifically. One extra day in Berlin could have been useful and we were rushed to get to see everything.
This was a very interesting tour, visiting 4 different cities. The hotels were of a very good standard and the assistance of the group leader was exceptional. It was a full on tour. The only disappointment was the quality of the restaurant that the group were taken to in Budapest. Firstly there were insufficient tables layed out for the size group. There were insufficient sweets again for the size of the group and the portion sizes were very disappointing..
Very enjoyable tour although the hotel in Budapest could have been a lot better with very small bedrooms and tiny en-suite.
Four 'must-see' cities on one rail tour