Old World Europe
Explore Eastern Europe on this comprehensive journey to five distinctly different—and fascinating—nations: Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Austria, and the Czech Republic.
WHAT OUR TRAVELERS SAY
The capitols of Old World Europe tour was the most thought-provoking and emotionally intense tour I've ever experienced. It will live on in my memory after the others have faded.”
Our trip was an outstanding learning experience that came without the stress of planning and executing a 15-day tour through five countries. Smithsonian did everything for us!”
The Old World Europe tour gave us an intimate view of the history and culture of eastern Europe. We learned a lot and enjoyed every minute.”
The total Smithsonian experience was excellent from the tour director to the hotels, itinerary, and logistics. We wouldn't hesitate to use Smithsonian again.”
Ken & Karen O.
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This tour is specially designed for a small group of 16 to 24 Smithsonian travelers and offers outstanding travel value. Prices include airfare, airline taxes, fuel surcharges, and departure fees.
On this comprehensive journey to Eastern Europe discover five distinctly different—and fascinating— nations. Explore important sites of Polish culture and history, including the charming Old Town areas of Warsaw and Krakow, and the Wieliczka Salt Mines, all World Heritage sites. You’ll also stop at Auschwitz and Birkenau to commemorate those who died here. Continuing to Budapest, visit both the Buda and Pest sides of the Hungarian capital, which stretch along both sides of the Danube River.
Travel through the Austrian countryside to Vienna to follow in the footsteps of Habsburg monarchs at the grand Schönbrunn Palace and enjoy a classical music performance. Experience warm hospitality in the Slovakian capital of Bratislava, dining at the restaurant of a local family after exploring their charming city. Spend two full days in the enchanting Czech city of Prague, with its acclaimed museums and cultural treasures, including the Hradcany castle district and historic Jewish area, Josefov. Top off your tour with a special dinner within the Prague Castle complex.
Day 1-2 — U.S. and Warsaw, Poland
Depart the U.S. for Warsaw, Poland. Upon arrival, transfer to your centrally located hotel. Tonight enjoy a welcome dinner at the hotel. (D)
Day 3 — Warsaw
Virtually destroyed during World War II, Warsaw was rebuilt in the decades that followed. With the fall of Communism, the city became a dynamic and progressive capital while retaining much of its distinct old world character. Explore the Historic Center of Warsaw, including the faithfully rebuilt Old Town, the Royal Castle, and the area of the former Jewish Ghetto and Cemetery. This evening enjoy a private classical piano recital. (B)
Day 4 — Auschwitz
Traveling south of Warsaw to Krakow, the former Polish capital city, we stop for lunch at a local restaurant. In Oswiecim—Auschwitz in German—and Birkenau spend somber moments at the grounds of the former concentration camps. Arrive in Krakow in the late afternoon. (B,L,D)
Day 5 — Krakow
A major center of Polish culture and a former national capital with a 1,000-year-old history, Krakow survived World War II almost intact. More historic buildings and monuments endured here than anywhere else in the country. Its charming Old Town is a World Heritage site, and the Main Market Square is the largest medieval square in Europe. Explore St. Mary’s Church, famous for its hand carved wooden altarpiece; the Royal Chambers of Wawel Castle, seat of royalty for more than 500 years; and Wawel Cathedral, Poland’s national sanctuary. The remainder of the day is free to explore this delightful city independently. (B)
Day 6 — Krakow and Wieliczka
A morning excursion features the Wieliczka Salt Mines, a World Heritage site and the “Underground Salt Cathedral of Poland.” Admire magnificent statues of historic figures sculpted out of rock salt by miners and contemporary artists. Spend the afternoon in Krakow. Dinner tonight is at the hotel. (B)
Day 7 — Slovakia and Budapest, Hungary
En route to Budapest, enjoy breathtaking views of the snowcapped Tatra Mountains in the country of Slovakia. Stop for lunch before reaching your hotel in Buda’s elegant Castle District early this evening. (B,L)
Day 8 — Budapest
Widely regarded as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, the Hungarian capital stretches along both sides of the Danube, proudly displaying its rich cultural and historical heritage. Explore the magnificent Matthias Church, scene of several coronations, and stroll around the Fisherman’s Bastion for outstanding views of the Pest side. Visit the Dohany Street Synagogue, where Franz Liszt and Camille Saint-Saëns once performed, and enjoy a curator-led tour of the prestigious Museum of Fine Arts this afternoon before savoring a typical Hungarian dinner. (B,D)
Day 9 — Budapest
Enjoy the day discovering the “Paris of the East” independently. (B)
Day 10 — Danube Bend and Vienna, Austria
Journey through the delightful countryside of Western Transdanubia en route to Vienna and take in the scenic views of forested hills, medieval castles, and the meandering banks of the Danube. Stop to visit Szentendre, a charming small town with inviting artisan shops and a museum displaying the work of acclaimed ceramicist Margit Kovacs. (B,L)
Day 11 — Vienna
Follow the footsteps of imperial Habsburgs as you explore Vienna's many treasures, including the Historic Center of Vienna, a World Heritage Site. Visit the ornate Vienna Opera House, one of Europe’s grandest, and the majestic Schönbrunn Palace, which richly displays the tastes, interests, and aspirations of consecutive Habsburg monarchs. Spend the afternoon at leisure then meet your fellow travelers for traditional Wiener Schnitzel dinner at a local restaurant. Conclude the day enjoying a concert of classical music. (B,D)
Day 12 — Vienna Woods
Today’s excursion to the Vienna Woods, the eastern tip of Alpine Europe, reveals the natural beauty of this region that was once a princely hunting ground. Visit the medieval abbey of Heiligenkreuz and the health spa town of Baden before returning to Vienna. The remainder of the day is at leisure. (B)
Day 13 — Bratislava, Slovakia
Depart for Bratislava, capital of the independent nation of Slovakia. Upon arrival, embark on a coach and walking tour of the historic Castle area, including a visit to the 18th-century classical-style Archbishop's Palace. Check into your centrally-located hotel, then spend the evening enjoying dinner in the restaurant of a local family. (B,D)
Day 14 — Brno and Prague, Czech Republic
Depart for Prague, proud capital of the Czech Republic, filled with art, medieval architecture, historic churches and synagogues, and cobblestone streets. Along the way, stop for lunch and a brief tour of Brno, the Czech Republic's second largest city and capital of Moravia. Reach Prague in the late-afternoon and have the rest of the day to discover this wondrous city on your own or join an informal walk through charming Old Town guided by your tour director. (B,L)
Day 15 — Prague
Spend the morning exploring the Hradcany castle district, home of the distinctive 9th-century Prague Castle towering above the Vltava River, today the seat of the president of the Czech Republic. Considered the biggest ancient castle in the world, Prague Castle proudly displays virtually every architectural style of the last millennium. Continue to St. Vitus Cathedral, an excellent example of Gothic architecture, housing the tombs of many Bohemian kings. Enjoy a stroll along Golden Lane, with its picturesque artisans’ cottages. The remainder of the day is free to discover this enchanting city independently. (B)
Day 16 — Prague
This morning visit Josefov, Prague’s historic Jewish ghetto, which was founded by a 10th-century colony of Jewish tradesmen. Visit the historic Old Jewish cemetery and several of the once-thriving synagogues that are now part of the Jewish Museum. Enjoy a private tour of the exquisite Lobkowicz Museum, which houses rare musical manuscripts as part of their vast collections, including original Mozart and Beethoven manuscripts. Celebrate your Eastern European adventure during a farewell dinner in the palatial settings of Prague Castle. (B,D)
Day 17 — Prague and the U.S.
Following a very early breakfast, transfer to the airport for your return flights to the U.S. flights. (B)