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Grand Imperial Cities

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4.6 stars(49 reviews)
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Four 'must-see' cities on one rail tour

You are viewing the 2023 itinerary. Select your departure year
20222023
13 days From £2,095 per person

2023 Tour code: HUC23

About the tour

Discover the culture and history of Europe's grandest cities, Vienna, Budapest, Prague and Berlin. With guided tours, delicious local favours and unique experiences, including a railway run entirely by school children, this once turbulent region is brought to life on your journey across four countries.

Highlights

What’s included

Itinerary

Day 1 - London and Frankfurt

From London St Pancras, we take the Eurostar to Brussels, continuing to Frankfurt for the night.

Includes
  • Dinner
  • Eurostar Meal (First Class only)
Day 2 – Vienna

We board a train for the journey south through Germany, crossing the Austrian border on our way to Vienna, the magnificent city of Mozart. We spend the next three nights in the Austrian capital.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 3 – Discovering Vienna

A guided tour showcases the Imperial architecture of the Ringstrasse - a wide avenue that encircles the Old City - as well as the impressive Hofburg Palace, built by the indomitable Hapsburgs. We also see the impressive Opera House and Vienna's grand Parliament building. Afterwards, we make our way to Vienna's famous Schönbrunn Palace, the summer residence of the Imperial family, and have a guided tour of this impressive building and its immaculate state rooms. Our tour ends with an Appelstrudel show at the Café Residenz, followed by a hot drink and strudel. We then have some free time to stroll through Schönbrunn's elaborate gardens.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 4 - Exploring Vienna

You're free to continue sightseeing at your own pace today. Vienna's glorious St Stephen's cathedral, known as the 'Stephansdom', is located at the very centre of the city. This Gothic masterpiece is famed for its stunning tiled roof, patterned with brightly coloured chevrons and Viennese eagles, and by climbing to the top, you'll be rewarded with one of the best views of the city. Alternatively, a ride on the giant Ferris wheel in the Prater Gardens offers a more laid-back way to enjoy Vienna's skyline. Between sightseeing there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy a typical Viennese coffeehouse experience and a slice of delicious Austrian Sachertorte.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 5 – Budapest

We travel to Budapest, experiencing this city of two halves from a unique perspective this evening. 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. The city was once the joint capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and tonight, after dinner at a traditional restaurant, we embark on an illuminated night-time tour by coach. Tracing the Danube south, our evening is filled with stunning views of the city after dark, including the famous Széchenyi Chain Bridge and spectacular Gellert Hill.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 6 – Guided tour of Budapest

A guided coach tour introduces us to Budapest's other main sights by day. We pass impressive buildings and monuments on both sides of the Danube, including the Neo-Gothic Parliament building, designed to look like the Palace of Westminster, Budapest Castle, Matthias Church and the more modern Fishermen's Bastion. Later, we enjoy a ride on the Children's Railway, a service operated by Hungarian schoolchildren that runs through the woods of the hills above Buda, with magnificent views of the greenery surrounding the city.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 7 – Budapest

With a free day, you might like to unwind with a visit to one of the public yet ornate bath houses dotted around the city, such as the Art Deco Gellért thermal baths. For something slightly different, you could visit Statue Park, known locally as Szoborpark and located in a quiet suburb of Buda. Described as a 'Communist theme park', it contains a large statue of Lenin and Cubist statues of Marx and Engels. This evening, you could take a stroll along the Danube and eat at one of the riverside restaurants, or stop to experience one of Budapest's popular 'Ruin Bars'.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 8 – Prague

We depart Budapest by train, travelling through Slovakia to the Czech Republic and arriving in Prague for a three-night stay amid the copper-domed churches of 'The City of a Hundred Spires'.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 9 – Touring Prague

A guided walking tour through the narrow streets of Prague's Old Town reveals some of the city's most famous sights. We begin at Hradcany Castle, the largest medieval complex in Europe, before strolling across the 14th-century Charles Bridge to admire the 75 statues built along its walls and the Gothic spires of St Vitus' Cathedral in the distance. We also stop to look at the city's renowned astronomical clock. Dating back to medieval times, it's one of the oldest working pieces of its time, showing the relative positions of the sun, moon, earth and zodiac constellations.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 10 – Prague at leisure

Enjoy a free day getting to know Prague better. Gourmet restaurants, cocktail bars and trendy cafés are easy to find. If you're looking for something more authentic, you can feast on pork and dumplings washed down with beer in a traditional pub, or 'hospody', ahead of a leisurely amble along the Vltava River. Or you may prefer to take a gentle cruise through the city, a relaxing way to see the sights.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 11 – Berlin

Catching the train from Prague, we travel through the Bohemian countryside into Germany, following the route of the River Elbe to Berlin for two nights. On arrival, we set out on a guided walking tour of Germany's capital to uncover its fascinating history, contrasted with the city's vibrant present. We see the remains of the Berlin Wall - a poignant reminder of the city's turbulent past, now decorated with colourful street art - and the Brandenburg Gate. A spectacular 18th-century neoclassical monument, this is the city's oldest surviving gate and a symbol of unity in Germany.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 12 – Discovering Berlin

Your day is free to continue sightseeing. You could visit the Reichstag and Checkpoint Charlie, which details the history of the Berlin Wall, or head to Potsdam, home to the Baroque flower gardens of Park Sanssouci. Alternatively, you may like to visit the imposing Opera House, home of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, or the Pergamon Museum, to see its wonderful exhibits, including life-size replicas of Ishtar Gate and the Altar of Zeus. You could take a stroll through Berlin's Old Quarter enroute to Charlottenburg Palace, the only remaining royal residence from the Hohenzollern dynasty. You might also find time to try a Bratwurst or pretzel for an authentic taste of German cuisine.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 13 – London

We travel by rail to Brussels after checking out of our hotel. Here, we join the Eurostar to London St Pancras.

Includes
  • Breakfast
  • Eurostar Meal (First Class only)

Additional information

Info - Travel Options

We offer a Standard Class and First Class rail options for departures on this tour. You can find out which class each departure is by clicking on the information button in the pricing grid.

Departure times

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.

Mobility information

Due to the nature of our tours they are generally unsuitable for those with restricted mobility. If you’d like to discuss any particular holiday with us in this respect, then please don’t hesitate to call us.

Hotels

NH Collection Berlin Mitte am Checkpoint Charlie

NH Collection Berlin Mitte am Checkpoint Charlie, Berlin

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Continental Hotel, Budapest

Continental Hotel, Budapest

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Three Corners Lifestyle Hotel, Budapest

Three Corners Lifestyle Hotel, Budapest

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Lindner Hotel, Prague

Lindner Hotel, Prague

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Hotel Erzherzog Rainer, Vienna

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Occidental Praha Wilson, Prague

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Trains

Eurostar
Thalys
The Children's Railway

Enhance your holiday

Upgrades

London Hotels
UK rail connections

Reviews

4.6 stars4.6 / 5 · 49 reviews

  1. 5 stars
    (31)
  2. 4 stars
    (15)
  3. 3 stars
    (2)
  4. 2 stars
    (1)
  5. 1 star
    (0)

Mrs Pettitt

5 stars

Submitted 1/Oct

Excellent guides, efficient pleasant tour manager who enabled me to see and be informed about places that I'd always wanted to visit which would have been difficult to organise by myself.

Collected by Trustpilot

John Turner

5 stars

Submitted 30/Sep

well organised tour and good hotels.

Collected by Trustpilot

Mr Russell Hodgson

5 stars

Submitted 25/Sep

The tour was great fun, seeing and experiencing new cities with a great group of people. The tour group was only 22 people, including the tour manager, and this made the tour more enjoyable. The cities we visited were impressive and we were enjoyed having plenty of free time to explore on out own. There were a few hitches with the running of some trains but our tour manager did a great job of sorting things out and this all added to the adventure!

Collected by Trustpilot

Pauline Wilson

4 stars

Submitted 6/Aug

Really good holiday experience with excellent local tour guides and GRJ tour manager

Collected by Trustpilot

Simon Donan

2 stars

Submitted 9/Jul

Hotels fine ,Cities splendid and guide superb.(Ian) Rail companies apart from Eurostar a disaster. Worst of all staff of Great Rail who do not reply to Emails,you can include accounts dept and CEO- One gets an offer of £100 offer another tour on return.This is an insult after what we suffered with delays,cancellations ,miss timings and coach non appearances- I forgot the cancelled Berlin tour. All sounded good to the splendid people on our tour- I bet none would go again!

Collected by Trustpilot

M Walker

4 stars

Submitted 28/Jun

Too little time spent with guides in the cities. Free time could have been used to give more informative tours.

Collected by Trustpilot

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Grand Imperial Cities

Four 'must-see' cities on one rail tour

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