Our services go beyond boundaries of our country and include many destinations in Eastern and Central Europe as well as in the Baltic States. Prague, Berlin, Vienna, Zurich, Amsterdam and many more. Explore them with us!
Sitting in the centre of Europe, with Germany to the east, Poland to the north, Slovakia to the east and Austria in the south, the Czech Republic has one foot in Western Europe, and one in the Slavic East. “Prague never lets you go”, said Franz Kafka, “this dear little mother has claws”. Prague gets her golden claws into tourists too, and few ever make it outside the capital. But those who tear themselves away won’t be sorry; the honey-coloured spa towns in the Sudeten Mountains, Bohemia’s Renaissance breweries and hilltop ruins, and the tumbling vineyards and underground bars of Moravia are well worth exploring.
Glorious Alpine scenery, monumental Habsburg architecture, and the world’s favourite musical – Austria’s tourist industry certainly plays up to the clichés. However, it’s not all bewigged Mozart ensembles and schnitzel; modern Austria boasts some of Europe’s most varied museums and contemporary architecture not to mention attractive and sophisticated cities whose bars, cafés and clubs combine contemporary cool with elegant tradition. Austria is primarily known for two contrasting attractions – the fading imperial glories of the capital, and the stunning beauty of its Alpine hinterland. Vienna is the gateway to much of central Europe and a good place to soak up the culture of Mitteleuropa. Less renowned provincial capitals such as Graz and Linz are surprising pockets of culture, innovation and vitality. Salzburg, between Innsbruck and Vienna, represents urban Austria at its most picturesque, an intoxicating Baroque city within easy striking distance of the mountains and lakes of the Salzkammergut, while the most dramatic of Austria’s Alpine scenery is west of here, in and around Tyrol, whose capital, Innsbruck, provides the best base for exploration.
From half-timbered medieval towns to cosmopolitan cities, Germany offers a thoroughly engaging mix of tradition and modernity. You can explore Bavaria’s magnificent baroque palaces one day, and immerse yourself in Hamburg’s cool, redeveloped HafenCity the next. In hip Berlin, historic sites such as the Brandenburg Gate and contemporary art galleries create exciting contrasts. Throughout the country, discovering world-class museums and cutting-edge design is as quintessentially German as grabbing a stein of beer at a centuriesold biergarten.
Bordered by countries as diverse as Austria, Serbia and Ukraine, Hungary is a crossroads at the centre of the continent – what was once known as Mitteleuropa – and it fuses old Europe and new in its mix of Hapsburg grandeur and Communist-era grittiness. There is a Central European solidity to its food, buildings and culture, but the more exotic, and undeniably romantic, founding myth of the nomadic, warrior Magyars from the Central Asian steppe is also key to Hungarians’ fiery national pride. Budapest, the capital, is a city of imposing scale and wide Danube vistas, split by the river into historic Buda and buzzy Pest, and offering both the old (imperial-era boulevards, Art Nouveau coffeehouses, bubbling Turkish baths) and the new (quirky warehouse bars and summer riverboat clubs). A few hours’ travel beyond Budapest is enough to access Hungary’s other key charms, from Serb-influenced Szentendre, a short way north along the Danube bend, to the lush wine-growing Badacsony region on the shores of Lake Balaton to the southwest. Hungary’s three most culture-rich towns beyond Budapest are scattered across the country but not to be missed: Sopron, close by the border with Austria; Pécs, on the far southern tip, ringed by alpine hills; and Eger, just northeast of Budapest, a mellow, historic city famous for its Bull’s Blood wine.
Hungarians and Turks came to Slovakia for its natural resources, and so does the modern tourist. Broad, sprawling mountains mean good skiing and snowboarding, there’s excellent caving in the Karst, and the rambling hilly midlands are a hiker’s paradise. Sharing borders with Poland, the Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary and Ukraine, Slovakia is landlocked, with high mountains in the north, low mountains in the centre, hills to the west, and the Danube basin to the south.
Despite being one of Europe’s most fashionable places to visit, Croatia doesn’t feel like a place that has been thoroughly worked over by the tourist industry. A renewed respect for natural ingredients has become the watchword of Croatian cuisine, with locally sourced foodstuffs, wines and olive oils standing up increasingly well to globalization. Croatia is blessed with a wealth of natural riches, boasting almost 2000km of rocky, indented shore and more than a thousand islands, many blanketed in luxuriant vegetation. The country has certainly come a long way since the early 1990s, when within the space of half a decade – almost uniquely in contemporary Europe – it experienced the collapse of communism, a war of national survival and the securing of independence. National culture is a far from onedimensional affair, however, and much of the country’s individuality is due to its geographical position straddling the point at which the sober central European virtues of hard work and order collide with the spontaneity, vivacity and taste for the good things in life that characterize the countries of southern Europe – a cultural blend of Mitteleuropa and Mediterranean that gives Croatia its particular flavour
All the quaint stereotypes are true – cheese, chocolate, clocks, obsessive punctuality – but there’s much more to Switzerland than this. The major cities are cosmopolitan and vibrant and the scenery takes your breath away. Switzerland is diverse and multilingual – almost everyone speaks some English along with at least one of the four official languages.
Belgium is perhaps the world’s most misunderstood nation, but also one of its most fascinating, punching far above its weight in all sorts of ways. With three official languages, and an intense regional rivalry between the Flemish-speaking north and the French-speaking south that perpetually threatens to split the country in two, it’s actually a miracle that Belgium exists at all. But its historic cities-most famously Brussels, Bruges, Antwerp and Ghent – are the equal of any in Europe; and its cuisine is reason alone to justify a visit, with a host of wonderful regional specialties. Belgium also boasts some pockets of truly beautiful countryside in its hilly, wooded south and the flatter north – and, perhaps most famously, it produces the most diverse range of beers of any country on the planet.
Visitors to Estonia encounter a mix of urbanity and wilderness, of the medieval and the contemporary, with crumbling castles and colourful design permeating urban landscapes. Friction between older generations of Russians and Estonians is a throwback to the Soviet era, while younger people mix freely, and those who get past the Estonians’ natural reserve find them to be gregarious, uninhibited hosts.
Since becoming a member of the European Union in 2004, Latvia has enjoyed a bumpy ride of boom and slump, although the decision to adopt the Euro in January 2014 seems to point to a measure of stability in future. The Soviet occupation left the country with a large Russian minority population, and it remains a place divided by language and culture – Rīga in particular is a strikingly bilingual city, although all road signs and public notices are in Latvian. And although it’s the boisterous capital to which most visitors are attracted, to experience the true spirit of Latvia you’ll need to head into the spectacularly unspoiled countryside, with its lakes, forests and sandy beaches.
Lithuania is a vibrant and quirky country, which has undergone rapid modernization since becoming independent from the Soviet Union in 1990. You’ll find a lively nightlife, both in Vilnius and on the coast, ample grounds for outdoor pursuits in the as yet unspoiled national parks and a number of good beaches, as well as a stark contrast between city life and rural poverty. Fiercely proud of their country, Lithuanians are more exuberant and welcoming than their Baltic neighbours and you are likely to encounter their hospitality everywhere.
European Russia stretches from the borders of Belarus and Ukraine to the Ural mountains, over 1000km east of Moscow; even without the rest of the vast Russian Federation, it constitutes by far the largest country in Europe. Formerly a powerful tsarist empire and a Communist superpower, Russia continues to be a source of fascination for travellers.