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Imperial Cities: Berlin, Prague, Vienna & Budapest

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10 days From £1,599 £1,499 per person
4.4 stars(91 reviews)
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Delve into the imperial past and modern energy of four of Europe’s finest capitals in one fantastic fly-rail tour

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Save £100pp on Europe 2024 holidays, when you book by 21st May 2024.

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No Solo Supplement

No Solo Supplement subject to availability on selected departures. 

Mobility Rating 3

2024 Tour code: 24IPF

About the tour

Explore the fascinating cities of Berlin, Prague, Vienna and Budapest on a fly-rail adventure to encounter their rich heritage of art, history and culture while savouring world-class castles, palaces and museums.

Fly to intriguing Berlin, the German capital with a unique and emotive past that has undergone a transformation into a vibrant and friendly city.. Experience the medieval charm of the Czech capital, Prague, a magical city of exquisite architecture and a fondness for the fantastical and quirky

Uncover the timeless elegance of Vienna - the seat of the mighty Habsburg dynasty - and enjoy views of majestic palaces and grand, ornate buildings.

Savour the delights of Hungary's capital, Budapest, during an evening cruise on the Danube with panoramic views of the city's buildings illuminated against the night sky.

Unforgettable experiences

Uncover the turbulent past of vibrant Berlin
Uncover the turbulent past of vibrant Berlin
Fly into the German capital, discovering reminders of a recent past that shaped Europe throughout the 20th century while unearthing a modern, friendly and creative city.
Discover the medieval sights of charming Prague
Discover the medieval sights of charming Prague
Tour the ‘City of a Hundred Spires’ and view spellbinding locations including the largest medieval castle complex in Europe, magnificent churches and the renowned astronomical clock.
Enjoy a guided tour of elegant Vienna
Enjoy a guided tour of elegant Vienna
As the seat of dynasties and empires, Austria’s capital has long played an important role in European history, evidenced by the stunning architecture you will witness along the Ringstrasse and in its many palaces.
Experience the beauty of Budapest on an evening Danube cruise
Experience the beauty of Budapest on an evening Danube cruise
See the sparkling Danube from a new perspective as you enjoy an evening cruise while Budapest’s majestic illuminated buildings cast a magical glow on the river.

What’s included

Itinerary

Day 1 - Fly to Berlin

Meeting your Tour Manager at London Heathrow, you fly to the German capital's new airport, Berlin Brandenburg, which opened in 2020, before transferring to your hotel on Alexanderplatz. Considered the heart of Berlin since the Middle Ages, this large square became the nerve centre of East Berlin during the Cold War. Today, it is a lively and ideal location from where to explore this fascinating and friendly city.

You have your dinner at your 4-Star hotel. This hotel is considered to be the city's tallest and has two atmospheric bars, a beer garden and a roof terrace from which to enjoy the fabulous views over Berlin.

It is possible to fly from regional airports and meet your Tour Manager in Germany

Includes
  • Dinner
Day 2 – A tour of historic Berlin

This morning, a guided tour helps uncover the fascinating history of Berlin, contrasting it with the city's vibrant present. Berlin is aware of its turbulent past and does not shy away from pointing it out in the hope that it is never repeated.

There are reminders scattered across Berlin, some more prominent than others. The route of the Berlin Wall is still marked today by a double row of cobblestones laid into the streets. One of the longest-remaining parts of this stands alongside the Spree river and has been covered in brightly coloured street art as part of the East Side Gallery. The most famous crossing between the two cities was Checkpoint Charlie, next to which now stands a large portrait of Jeff Harper, one of the last Allied soldiers in Berlin in 1994. The tour concludes at the Brandenburg Gate - a spectacular 18th-century Neoclassical monument that is the city's oldest surviving gate and now a symbol of unity.

With free time in the afternoon, you might like to visit the Museum Island, which contains a range of interesting attractions including the Pergamon Museum and the interactive DDR Museum which showcases life in East Germany. However, you may prefer to spend the evening at the Berlin State Opera, home of the world-famous Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. It is advised to check out the programme ahead of time and pre-book tickets.

You are free to enjoy dinner on your own tonight. The areas surrounding the railway arches between Hackescher Markt and Alexanderplatz abound with lively German restaurants.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 3 – A charming journey to magical Prague

You have a free morning in Berlin and might want to experience excellent views of the city by travelling up the 1,200-foot TV tower near Alexanderplatz called the Fernsehturm. It is one of the most recognisable symbols of the city and is visible from many parts of Berlin. Booking is required but the views are incredible.

In the early afternoon, you transfer to Berlin's main train station for a delightful journey to Prague. Just outside Dresden, spectacular scenery follows the River Elbe into the Czech Republic, or Czechia as it is now known. Sandstone cliffs blanketed by rich forests rise beside the river, becoming more beautiful as you approach the border. The Germans refer to this area as Saxon Switzerland, while the Czechs call it Bohemian Switzerland - both due to the impressive landscape being perceived as similar to stunning Swiss scenery. The route continues to delight as the banks of the Elbe, called the Labe in Czech, pass through the towns of Děčín and Ústí nad Labem and a landscape dotted by castles and attractive spires.

Arriving in Prague in the early evening, you have dinner tonight in your 4-Star hotel, located near Prague castle. This well-appointed hotel has three restaurants, a café, a flower shop and a wellness centre.

*For departure 21/04/2024 we stay at the Clarion Prague City Hotel.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 4 – Discovering the ‘City of a Hundred Spires’

This morning you get to see many cultural and architectural highlights of Prague on a guided tour of the 'City of a Hundred Spires'.

The exploration takes you to Prague Castle, which is the largest medieval complex in Europe, dating from the 9th century. Bursting with history, the most eye-catching building is the huge Gothic St Vitus Cathedral, the south entrance of which is adorned with golden mosaics. Behind a 17th-century red Baroque façade is one of Prague's oldest buildings, St George's Basilica, reputedly dating from 920 AD. At the north-eastern edge of the complex is the charmingly quaint Golden Lane, lined with diminutive and colourful medieval houses.

Crossing the medieval Charles Bridge, an arched stone bridge that spans the curving Vltava River, you follow the ornately decorated façades of grand buildings to the Old Town Square, the focal point of Prague life since the 12th century. One of the most fascinating features of the square is the renowned astronomical clock. Installed in 1410, it's one of the oldest working pieces of its type.

You have the afternoon free to continue exploring Prague at your leisure, and you may like to purchase a Prague Visitor Pass which allows you entry into most of the city's attractions, as well as giving you unlimited travel on public transport. Wandering through the winding lanes, wonderfully picturesque buildings greet you round corners, often containing interesting and curious museums - such as the Czech Beer Museum, the Museum of Fantastic Illusions, and Speculum Alchemiae, set in an old alchemist's workshop.

You dine independently tonight, so might want to visit one of the city's many fine eateries for some hearty and delicious Czech food, maybe with a portion of the almost ubiquitous and welcome potato dumplings (bramborové knedlíky) and a glass of frothy beer.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 5 – Free day to explore delightful Prague

Enjoy a free day uncovering more wonders of the Czech capital. Split up into many districts, Prague's centre offers a wide array of options. For a relaxing way to see the sights, you may wish to take a gentle cruise on the Vltava.

Prague excels in the quirky and fantastical and this is reflected in the works of one of its favourite sons, writer Franz Kafka. There are various statues of Kafka in Prague, including a rotating, kinetic representation of his head, and one inspired by his short story 'Description of a Struggle' near the Spanish Synagogue.

With an exterior evoking Andalucía's Alhambra, the Spanish Synagogue is appropriately named. Inside, the ornate decorations are influenced by Moorish design. This is just one of the beautiful locations in Josefov, Prague's thought-provoking Jewish Quarter which relays the long history of Jewish Prague. On a stroll round here, you can expect to uncover many buildings that have their own stories to tell, including the Old New Synagogue, which is the oldest active synagogue in Europe.

After seeing the sights, you have the chance to relax at one of the city's gourmet restaurants, cocktail bars or trendy cafés on your own. 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', on one of the Old Town's many charming lanes.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 6 – Vienna Calling

You leave Prague this morning by train, heading to neighbouring Austria. Passing sweeping fields, sleepy towns and verdant forests, you journey through Pardubice with its large train station, and Czechia's second city, Brno, before arriving in Vienna in the early afternoon.

With its artistic heritage, imperial architecture and enticing culture, Vienna is one of Europe's great capitals. You're introduced to the city on a guided tour, discovering the famous Ringstrasse, an impressive boulevard encircling the Old City. Numerous grand buildings line this road, including the Vienna State Opera and the Austrian Parliament.

The centrepiece of this influential avenue is the Hofburg Palace, which symbolises the importance of the Habsburgs who ruled from here between 1273 and 1918. The Habsburgs were one of the most important families in Europe for centuries and ruled over most of east and central Europe as leaders of the Holy Roman Empire and Austro-Hungarian Empire. Expanded over the centuries by various emperors, the fascinating Hofburg showcases preeminent examples of Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance architecture.

You also stroll amongst the cobbled streets and narrow houses of Vienna's charming Old City, a UNESCO World Heritage site, before checking in to your hotel and enjoying traditional Austrian food at a local restaurant. Your hotel near the famed Naschmarkt is stylishly decorated, reflecting the elegance of the Austrian capital.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 7 – Free day to explore noble Vienna

After breakfast today, you have a full day to explore Vienna at your own pace - and there are many great sights to see in this glorious city.

The sprawling Schönbrunn Palace overlooks extensive decorative gardens, at the end of which is an 18th-century gloriette on top of a 200ft hill. You might like to pay to tour the palace and the grounds, or even visit the world's oldest zoo. Set in 42 acres of the palace's grounds and established in 1752, this is a UNESCO-listed site with some spectacular buildings - including the Baroque monkey house.

Near to the Hofburg Palace, you will find the Spanish Riding School, home to the incredible Lipizzan dancing horses - although pre-booking is required for performances. Vienna's glorious medieval St Stephen's Cathedral is in Stephansplatz, the beating heart of the city. This Gothic masterpiece is famed for its stunning tiled roof and, by climbing to the top, you'll be rewarded with one of the best views of the city.

For a more laid-back way to enjoy the Viennese skyline, take a whirl on the Wiener Riesenrad - a giant Ferris wheel in the Prater gardens that was the tallest in the world for much of the 20th century and, like many places in Vienna, featured prominently in the Orson Welles film The Third Man.

Between sightseeing, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy a typical Viennese coffeehouse experience. These elegant cafés serve a range of coffees along with an enticing selection of pastries and cakes, including the delicious Sachertorte. This evening, you are free to choose your own dinner and may wish to indulge in tasty local specialities such as a Wiener schnitzel with a beer or a glass of chilled Grüner Veltliner wine.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 8 – An evening Danube cruise in Budapest

With a free morning in Vienna, you could visit Belvedere - a complex of two Baroque palaces from the early 1700s, complete with extensive manicured grounds and an art gallery containing Gustav Klimt's The Kiss.

In the early afternoon, you leave Austria by train and continue your adventure by heading into Hungary. Budapest was formed when three cities merged. The flatter, lively Pest on the eastern bank of the Danube looks out across the water to the historical and hilly Buda, while the quieter Óbuda sits to the north.

You arrive in the early evening and check in to your Buda hotel overlooking a park and Castle Hill. There is some free time to relax before you are taken to Óbuda for dinner in a traditional restaurant that, combined with its serene surroundings, gives the feeling of being in a pleasant Hungarian village.

After dinner, you embark on a highlight of the holiday as you sail down the Danube on an evening cruise. The cruise is one of the best ways to see this beautiful city as the impressive buildings lining the river such as the Parliament building, Buda Castle and the Chain Bridge are now illuminated, casting a magical glow across the adorable Danube.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 9 – Uncovering the ‘Pearl of the Danube’

Today, you get to understand this magnificent city better on a tour showcasing the very best of Budapest. You view impressive buildings and monuments on both sides of the Danube, including the iconic Országház, the Neo-Gothic parliament building - a stunning symmetrical structure that pierces the sky with white and red spires. Castle Hill, rising high over the Danube, contains many of the city's most important and historic sights, including the huge Baroque castle. Nearby Matthias Church was constructed in the late 13th century after the invading Mongol hordes destroyed the previous church. Today, this Gothic church stands behind Fisherman's Bastion, a swirling late 19th-century structure with smooth circular towers providing incredible views of the river and Pest.

The afternoon and evening are free for you to continue making your own discoveries in Budapest. The city is renowned for its thermal and medicinal spas. On the Pest side, you could visit the Széchenyi Baths, the largest medicinal bath in Europe, located near Heroes' Square in the City Park. In Buda, the Art Deco Gellért Baths are located near to the shore of the Danube.

Or perhaps treat yourself to some cake and coffee at Café New York. Opened at the end of the 19th century, the café is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful coffee houses in the world, and the elegance of its interiors is nothing short of mesmerising. On the way back to the hotel, it's worth stopping off at the Great Market Hall, where you can shop and people-watch like a local.

Traditional Hungarian snacks include the lángos, an indulgent deep-fried flatbread topped with cheese and sour cream, and the chimney cake, a sweet confection baked on a spit. For dinner tonight, you might opt for some fine dining in the areas surrounding St Stephen's Basilica and Váci Street.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Day 10 – Homeward bound

After breakfast this morning, you are transferred to Budapest Ferenc Liszt airport for your flight back home. On the journey, you can reflect on the contrast between these four fantastic cities and their individual charms. From the rejuvenated and vibrant Berlin, through the medieval majesty and delightful quirkiness of Prague and classical grandeur of Vienna, to Budapest with its grand buildings beside the Danube, these locations are likely to live long in your memory.

Includes
  • Breakfast

Additional information

Departure times

Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We will write to you around 10 weeks before your departure date with the precise meeting times for your tour 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

Park Inn Berlin-Alexanderplatz, Berlin

Park Inn Berlin-Alexanderplatz, Berlin

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Mercure Castle Hill

Mercure Castle Hill, Budapest

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Vienna House by Wyndham Diplomat, Prague

Vienna House by Wyndham Diplomat, Prague

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Hotel Ananas Wien, Vienna

Hotel Ananas Wien, Vienna

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Reviews

4.4 stars4.4 / 5 · 91 reviews

  1. 5 stars
    (47)
  2. 4 stars
    (36)
  3. 3 stars
    (8)
  4. 2 stars
    (0)
  5. 1 star
    (0)

A West

5 stars

Submitted 12/May

I had a really enjoyable time on this trip.

Collected by Trustpilot

Beverley Howard

5 stars

Submitted 7/May

I enjoy train travel and I had never visited Budapest or Vienna and I am so glad I joined this trip. There were 26 of us of varying ages and not all couples and John, our guide travelled with us all the way from Heathrow. He was excellent. He had the relaxed outlook of someone who was very experienced. He knew the cities well and helped us to feel confident. He had prepared excellent booklets for every city with everything we needed to know; transport, exchage rates, things to do, etc. and when I wanted to go off the beaten track in Vienna, it turned out that he had prepared a booklet which included that excursion too. He was fun and interesting and very generous with his time. Hotels were good, the people in the group were lovely and trains came on time. A thoroughly good trip.

Collected by Trustpilot

Peter Fry

5 stars

Submitted 7/May

Excellent planning, excellent guide, smooth travel all the time.

Collected by Trustpilot

William Wakeham

4 stars

Submitted 7/May

Preferred marks out of 10 as follows: Berlin -5 Prague -9 Vienna -8 Budapest -9

Collected by Trustpilot

Julie Bulmer

3 stars

Submitted 7/May

The Tour Director who looked after the group for the whole tour was excellent, always available and very knowledgeable. However I found the local tours in each city too long. I would have preferred to have a briefer orientation tour with free time before being escorted back to the hotel in each city visited.

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RUSHMER

4 stars

Submitted 30 Oct 2023

Largely excellent but let down by transport and guide issues in Prague

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