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Grand Imperial Cities

(51 reviews)
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Four 'must-see' cities on one rail tour

13 days From $3,175 per person

2020 Tour code: HUC20

About the 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 4 of modern Europe's greatest destinations.


What’s included


Days 1-2 - To Vienna

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 traveling 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.

  • Day 1 - Eurostar Meal (First Class only), Dinner
  • Day 2 - Breakfast, Dinner
Day 3 - Vienna

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. We pass 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 also see 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 within beautifully landscaped parkland. We enjoy a slice of cake and coffee in an elegant Viennese café before a guided tour of the palace, followed by time to stroll through its elaborate gardens.

  • Breakfast
Schonbrunn Palace, Vienna
Day 5 - To Budapest

We leave Vienna, traveling by rail across the border into Hungary. Our destination is Budapest, a city of 2 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 neighbor, 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. Tonight we experience the city from a different perspective enjoying a 3 course meal with included drinks in a traditional Hungarian restaurant before embarking on a specular illuminated Budapest by night coach tour, tracing the Danube south. Our enchanting evening is filled with stunning views of the city after dark, including the Chain Bridge and spectacular Gellert Hill.

  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 6 - Budapest and the Children’s Railroad

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 Railroad, a service operated by Hungarian schoolchildren 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.

  • Breakfast
Children’s Railroad
Day 7 - At leisure in Budapest

Today is free for you to explore Budapest at leisure; take the opportunity to view some of the city's main sights. Perhaps visit one of the famous spa-houses which are dotted around the city, such as the marvellous Gellért thermal bath which was built in 1918. Alternatively, simply stroll through historic streets, admiring the magnificent architecture and old world grandeur.

  • Breakfast
Day 8 - To Prague by rail

We depart Budapest by train, traveling through Slovakia and the city of Bratislava to the Czech Republic. We arrive in Prague and spend three nights at the Vienna House Andels Prague. In 'the city of a hundred spires', copperdomed churches line the banks of the River Vltava and architectural styles from across Europe blend together to create one of Europe's most beautiful cities.

  • Breakfast, Dinner
Days 9-10 - Sightseeing in Prague

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 at leisure to continue exploring the stunning city of Prague.

  • Day 9 - Breakfast
  • Day 10 - Breakfast
Days 11-12 - To Berlin

This morning we leave Prague, heading through the Bohemian countryside into Germany, tracing the route of the River Elbe on our way to Berlin. On arrival in Berlin, we embark on a tour of this once divided city. We soak in the main sights including the incredible Brandenburg Gate, a section of the Berlin Wall, which once divided East and West Berlin. Day 12 is yours at leisure.

  • Day 11 - Breakfast, Dinner
  • Day 12 - Breakfast
Reichstag, Berlin
Day 13 - Berlin to London

Bidding farewell to mainland Europe, we travel by high-speed rail to Brussels, via Cologne, where we join the Eurostar service to St Pancras International. On arrival in London, your tour concludes.

  • Breakfast
  • Eurostar Meal

Additional information

Day 4 - At leisure in Vienna

Today you are free to explore at your own pace. Vienna's glorious Gothic cathedral, the Stephansdom, is located at the very center 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.

  • Breakfast
Belvedere Palace, Vienna
Recommended airports

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.

Airport waiting room
Visa Requirements

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.

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.


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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Vienna House Andel's Prague

Vienna House Andel's Prague, Prague

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Imperial Riding School Renaissance Hotel

Imperial Riding School Renaissance Hotel, Vienna

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The Children's Railroad


94% of travelers would recommend this tour

Based on 51 verified reviews

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Submitted Oct 14, 2019

Excellent tour manager coped the issues thrown her way. Hotel food not so good. would have paid for extra night in Nurnberg and Berlin if that was available. Would have perferred to go direct to Berlin rather than visit Spreewald.

Ms A Townsend

Submitted Oct 11, 2019

Excellent service and value for money. A full action packed vacation with lots to see and do. We experienced a problem with the trains one day and our agent was superb dealing with everything in an efficient and professional manner. This is our 5th hol with GRJ and would definitely use them again

Mr P Dennett

Submitted Oct 03, 2019

Continental Hotel in Budapest was not up to standard - Very cramped room. Sticking in the "punting" trip on our way to Berlin was a complete waste of time - why would I want to spend 6 hours sitting on a motor coach. We should have gone straight to Berlin by train and that would mean we'd have arrived at the hotel in good time. Arrived at the Maritim Berlin late to be greeted by a lobby full of conference attendees; our bags NOT in our room and the restaurant closed - total chaos! Every other parts of the vacation was 5+.


Submitted Sep 26, 2019

For the most part, accommodation was good, cities we visited were fascinating, group was convivial, and tour manager was superb. But food was adequate at best and some of the trips were pointless if not positively irritating - losing time in Berlin by diverting to some random rural setting comes to mind - it was a cities trip specifically marketed as such. If there was a 3,5 stars rating, that would have been a fairer reflection


Submitted Nov 15, 2018

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.

Mr D Storer

Submitted Nov 09, 2018

Excellent accommodation, guides and Tour Leader.

Europe, UK & Cruising by Rail 2019

Europe, UK & Cruising by Rail 2019

The definitive guide to our 2019 rail tours to a wide range of destinations in Europe.

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