This is just an introduction to some of the very best that Central Europe has to offer. We include in our offers the sightseeing places to ensure that you get the most out of your limited time here. If there is more time to spend on exploring this fascinating and varied part of the world let us know and we can build in additional tour days to suit the timescale and budget discovering even more of Europe's gems.
Prague, Czech Republic
The capital of the Czech Republic, has always played an important role in the history of the country and Europe. Since the Middle Ages Prague has been famous as one of the most beautiful cities of the world and has been attributed adjectives such as “golden“, “hundred-spired“, “the crown of the world“. The unique character of the city is also partly a consequence of its natural environment: Prague was built on nine hills along the Vltava river, which flows through the city for a distance of 31 km and forms a perfect unit with the city. The dominant features of the city architecture are reflected in the river: towers, church spires and cupolas, palaces and town houses, along with the greenery of gardens, parks and islands.
Karlove Vary, Czech Republic
The incarnation of spa elegance, imposing colonnades, exclusive spa buildings and a wonderful layout in the heart of a forested valley. That is Karlovy Vary. The best known town in the world renowned West Bohemian Spa Triangle, in which some of the most famous figures in European artistic and cultural life have enjoyed treatment, is today the second most visited spot in the Czech Republic. Thanks to its unique architecture, it is one of Europe’s most beautiful spas.
Berlin's combo of glamour and grit is bound to mesmerise anyone keen to explore its vibrant culture, cutting-edge architecture, fabulous food, intense parties and tangible history. Bismarck and Marx, Einstein and Hitler, JFK and Bowie, they’ve all shaped – and been shaped by – Berlin, whose richly textured history stares you in the face at every turn. This is a city that staged a revolution, was headquartered by Nazis, bombed to bits, divided in two and finally reunited – and that was just in the 20th century! Walk along remnants of the Berlin Wall, marvel at the splendour of a Prussian palace, visit Checkpoint Charlie or stand in the very room where the Holocaust was planned. Berlin is like an endlessly fascinating 3D textbook where the past is very much present wherever you go.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany
Rothenburg ob der Tauber on the Romantic Road is a world wide symbol of German romance. Artists have long taken inspiration from the unique location of this medieval town whose skyline with its 42 gates and towers is quite unmistakable. Nestling amidst beautiful, unspoiled countryside and still with a largely intact walkable town wall with medieval fortifications surrounding the historic center, Rothenburg with its winding alleyways and artistic treasures is the ideal place to relax.
Neuschwanstein Castle, built for King Ludwig II between 1869 and 1886 on a rugged cliff against a scenic mountain backdrop, was intended to "embody the true spirit of the medieval German castle", as the king wrote in a letter to Richard Wagner. While the building itself replicates the 13th century Romanesque style, some of the images of the murals are based on themes from Wagnerian operas such as "Tannhäuser" and "Lohengrin". For the postcard view of Neuschwanstein and the plains beyond, walk 10 minutes up to Marienbrücke (Mary’s Bridge), which spans the spectacular Pöllat Gorge over a waterfall just above the castle. It’s said Ludwig liked to come here after dark to watch the candlelight radiating from the Sängersaal.
Eagle Nest, Berchtesgaden, Germany
Situated 1834m (6017 ft.) above sea level in one of the most strikingly beautiful locations in Germany if not all of Europe, the Kehlsteinhaus, also popularly known as the “Eagle’s Nest”, is a building steeped in history. Commissioned in 1937 by Reichsleiter Martin Bormann as a fiftieth birthday present for National Socialist leader Adolf Hitler, the spectacular mountain eyrie spectacularly perched at the summit of the Kehlstein mountain in the Berchtesgaden Alps has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in southern Germany.
Boat cruises (various locations in Eastern and Central Europe)
One of the most beautiful experiences is a leisure cruise on the beautiful rivers and lakes of Europe. Enjoy the cruise along the beautiful ashore of Rheine or Danube rivers. In the evening don’t miss the opportunity to experience the lights of the romantic cities from the water all over Europe. Escape for a moment the hustle and bustle of the metropolis and enjoy the serene cruise on the crystal water lakes in the mountains.
Complete with gable paintings, the covered, medieval Chapel Bridge forms the centrepiece of Lucerne’s townscape and is considered to be one of the oldest, covered wooden bridges in Europe. A further landmark of the town is the Museggmauer, a wall which, with the exception only of one of its towers, has been preserved in its original, well-fortified state. Lucerne is stunning, and deservedly popular since the likes of Goethe, Queen Victoria and Wagner savoured her views in the 19th century. Legend has it that an angel with a light showed the first settlers where to build a chapel in Lucerne, and today it still has amazing grace.
Pilatus Mt., Switzerland
Make of weather, dragon's lair, home to giants and grave of rulers: Lucerne's very own mountain, Pilatus, is one of the most legendary places in Central Switzerland. And one of the most beautiful. On a clear day the mountain offers a panoramic view of 73 Alpine peaks. The best way to become acquainted with the dragon mountain is with the steepest railway of the world (ascent 48%), or the spectacular aerial tramway and modern soundless panoramic gondolas. For those people who like boatrides and mountains, the Golden Roundtrip is a wonderful journey. To Alpnachstad by boat or train, then to Pilatus Kulm on the world's steepest railway. Descent by the cable car and gondolas to Kriens, Lucerne or the whole tour vice versa.
Salzburg is storybook Austria. Standing beside the fast-flowing Salzach River, your gaze is raised inch by inch to the Altstadt’s mosaic of graceful domes and spires, the formidable cliff-top fortress and the mountains beyond. It’s a view that never palls. It’s a backdrop that once did the lordly princearchbishops and home-grown genius Mozart proud. As tempting as it is to spend every minute in the Unesco-listed Altstadt, drifting from one baroque church and monumental square to the next in a daze of grandeur, Salzburg rewards those who venture further. Give Getreidegasse’s throngs the slip, meander side streets where classical music wafts from open windows, linger decadently over coffee and cake, and let Salzburg slowly, slowly work its magic.
Sound of Music Tour, Austria
Salzburg may be home to Mozart and all things baroque, but for an astounding 70% of overseas visitors The Sound of Music remains the primary reason for travel to the city. The 1965 film about the moving life of the novice, Maria von Trapp and her singing family with Julie Andrews in the leading role, became an international box office success. The songs from"The Sound of Music" are known throughout the world. The Sound of Music tour includes the original film locations that is Mirabell Gardens and Pegasus Fountain (dancing scene with Maria and the children), Leopoldskron Palace (where the family lived in the film), Hellbrunn Palace (song scenes), Nonnberg Convent (where Maria lived as a young novice), St. Gilgen / Wolfgangsee (opening scene in the movie), Mondsee Church (wedding scene).
Vienna is packed with imperial history; at the same time it has exciting contemporary museums, lively eating and nightlife scenes, and many quiet corners to explore. Few cities can boast the imperial grandeur of Vienna, once the centre of the powerful Habsburg monarchy. Lipizzaner stallions performing elegant equine ballet, the angelic tones of the Vienna Boys' Choir drifting across a courtyard, outrageously opulent palaces such as Schloss Belvedere and Schloss Schönbrunn, and the monumental Hofburg complex – as a visitor today, you feel grandeur everywhere in Vienna.
Schoenbrunn, Vienna, Austria
Schönbrunn Palace is a World Cultural Heritage site and Austria's most-visited sight. The baroque total work of art consisting of palace and gardens was for centuries the property of the Habsburgs and is today largely in its original condition. Visitors will find numerous attractions here, from a tour through the authentically furnished residential and ceremonial rooms of the Imperial Family in the palace, to the maze and the labyrinth in the gardens.
Often described as the "Little Paris of Middle Europe", Budapest is famous not only for the monuments reflecting its own 1,000-year-old culture, but also for the relics of others who settled here. Remains from both Roman occupation and much later ruled by the Turks can still be seen in the city. After the Ottoman Empire the union with Austria has a particular influence on the city's form and style. The capital has two sides, Buda and Pest, stretching along the banks of the Danube, representing two different characters of the city. Suburban Buda and its historic castle district offer medieval streets and houses, museums, caves and Roman ruins. The dynamic Pest side boasts the largest parliament building in Europe, riverside promenades, flea markets, bookstores, antique stores and café houses.
Danube Bend, Hungary
Before reaching Budapest, the Danube first widens then passes between hills and turns through a narrow valley to the south. The scenic location of the Danube Bend also played an important role in Hungary's history. Szentendre, Esztergom and Visegrád on the west bank are among the oldest settlements in Hungary.
Vilnius, the baroque beauty of the Baltic, is a city of immense allure. As stunning as it is bizarre, it easily tops the country’s best-attraction bill, drawing tourists like moths to a flame with an easy, confident charm and a warm, golden glow that makes one wish for long midsummer evenings every day of the year. The capital may be a long way north and east, but it’s quintessentially continental. At its heart is Europe’s largest baroque old town, so precious that Unesco added it to its World Heritage list. Viewed from a hot air balloon, the skyline – pierced by countless Orthodox and Catholic church steeples – looks like a giant bed of nails. Adding to this heady mix is a combination of cobbled alleys, crumbling corners, majestic hilltop views, breakaway states and traditional artists’ workshops – all in a city so small you’d sometimes think it was a village.
Riga is more than 800 years old and with a blend of a medieval centre and a modern city. Mixed together so perfectly that it fits every taste and with an enchanting and irresistible charm of old times. Rīga is the largest, liveliest and most cosmopolitan of the Baltic capitals. A heady mixture of the medieval and the contemporary, the city has much to offer architecture and history enthusiasts in the narrow cobbled streets of Old Rīga and the wide boulevards of the New Town, where beautiful examples of Jugendstil Art Nouveau architecture – “music in stone” – line Strēlnieku iela and Alberta iela. The city also has all the trappings of a modern capital, with efficient and affordable public transportation, excellent shopping, and a notoriously exuberant nightlife.
Plitvice Jezera, Croatia
The extraordinarily beautiful pocket of wooded hills in this World Heritage site enclose 16 turquoise lakes that are connected by waterfalls and cascades. The mineral-rich waters carve through the rock, depositing tufa in continually changing formations. Wooden footbridges follow the rumbling water for an exhilaratingly damp 18km (11mi). Animal life flourishes in the unspoiled conditions. The stars of the park are bears and wolves, but there are also deer, boar, rabbits, foxes and badgers. There are over 120 different species of bird such as hawks, owls, cuckoos, thrushes, starlings, kingfishers, wild ducks and herons. You might also occasionally see black storks and ospreys. Flocks of butterflies flutter throughout the park.
Regardless of whether you are visiting Dubrovnik for the first time or the hundredth, the sense of awe never fails to descend when you set eyes on the beauty of the old town. Indeed it’s hard to imagine anyone becoming jaded by the city’s marble streets, baroque buildings and the endless shimmer of the Adriatic, or failing to be inspired by a walk along the ancient city walls that have protected a civilised, sophisticated republic for centuries.
Tasting of local cuisine
Find a new, delicious way to experience Europe adding some food and drink tasting on your trip. Explore the exciting culture of Europe through the excellent local cuisine.
Taste the growing diversity of the local food scene. Tasting might range from the local cheese and wine or beer through typical local dishes like Viennese Schnitzel or Hungarian goulash to delectable handmade chocolates like Mozartballs from Salzburg. Have a true culinary adventure and take home a divine taste Eastern and Central Europe you will never forget.