Discover four distinctly different and fascinating nations in Central and Eastern Europe, featuring many World Heritage sites. 

Starting at: $6,097 * Includes airfare, taxes & all fees Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 Evening in the main square of Krakow  Kraków's engaging main square  Interior of St. Mary's Basilica, Kraków  Poland's Wieliczka Salt Mines, a World Heritage site  Old Town Warsaw, a World Heritage Site  Budapest, one of Europe's most beautiful cities, situated along the Danube River  The Matthias Church, located on the Pest side of Budapest  Fishermen's Bastion, Budapest  Interior of Dohany Street Synagogue, Budapest  St. Stephen's Cathedral, Vienna  Vienna's State Opera House  Schönbrunn Palace outside Vienna  Charles Bridge, Prague  Prague's astronomical clock near the main square  Prague Castle  Gothic mosaic facade, St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague  Jewish Ceremonial Hall, now part of the Jewish Museum, Prague  The legendary Charles Bridge, Prague

Old World Europe

Poland, Hungary, Austria, and the Czech Republic

16 days from $6,097 | includes airfare, taxes and all fees

Discover four distinctly different and fascinating nations in Central and Eastern Europe, featuring many World Heritage sites. 

or Call 855-330-1542

Tour Details

TOUR BROCHURE

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WHAT OUR TRAVELERS SAY

The capitals 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.

- Sylvia L.

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!

- Tom M.

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. 

- Kate H.

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.

JOURNEYS DISPATCHES

See All Journeys Dispatches ››

Accommodations

* Click on hotel name to visit hotel web-site.

The Hilton Vienna

Vienna, Austria

The Hilton Vienna hotel is situated next to the famous Stadtpark in the heart of Austria’s capital, this luxury hotel in Vienna enjoys easy access to visit nearby Vienna attractions such as the world famous Opera House and the shopping hot spot of Kaertnerstrasse, both within close walking distance of this Vienna hotel. The bright and airy rooms have large, opening windows. Bathrooms all have hairdryers, 110 volt shaver plugs and separate shower and bath. 

Number of nights: 1

Polonia Palace

Warsaw, Poland

Opened more than 90 years ago, the French-style Polonia Palace Hotel preserves the unique characteristics of early 20th-century architecture while incorporating many contemporary features. The conveniently located hotel stands near the Palace of Culture and Science and numerous shopping areas. Hotel amenities include a restaurant, bar, Fitness Center, and sauna. Each of the 206 air-conditioned rooms come fully equipped with a private bath with hair dryer, in-room safe, mini-bar, TV, and phone.

Number of nights: 2

Hotel Pod Roza

Krakow, Poland

Located in the center of Old Town on beloved Florianska Street, this is Krakow's oldest hotel. In-deed, the neo-classical building's origins date to the 14th century as a private home and it became a hotel in the 17th century. The hotel offers a restaurant, café, bar, currency exchange, and shops. Your room features contemporary amenities, including private bath with hair dryer, mini-bar, Internet access, TV, and phone.

Number of nights: 3

Hilton Budapest

Budapest, Hungary

A Gothic building incorporating part of a 16th-century Jesuit college and a 13th-century monastery, the Budapest Hilton is located in the Castle District of Buda, near Fisherman's Bastion and Matthias Church. Hotel amenities include two restaurants and a lounge, Fitness Center, casino, and elevator service. Your climate-controlled room has a private bath with hair dryer, in-room safe, mini-bar, Internet access, TV, and phone.

Number of nights: 3

Hilton Vienna Plaza

Vienna, Austria

The Vienna Plaza is located on the famous Ringstrasse, opposite the Vienna Stock Exchange and within walking distance of the city center. Among its facilities are a restaurant, bar, health club, sauna, massage treatments, whirlpool, solarium, and elevator and laundry service. Your air-conditioned room has a private bathroom with hair dryer, mini-bar, in-room safe, Internet access, TV, and phone.

Number of nights: 3

Hotel Devín

Bratislava, Slovakia (Slovak Republic)

Set overlooking the Danube in the heart of Bratislava, the elegant Hotel Devín offers modern comforts in a historic, traditional setting.  The hotel’s amenities include an upscale French restaurant, lobby bar, fitness center with heated indoor pool, full spa, traditional Thai massage service, squash court, laundry and dry cleaning service, and complimentary WiFi internet access.  Air-conditioned guest rooms include private bath, in-room safe, coffee- and tea-making facilities, minibar, TV, and phone. 

Number of nights: 1

Grand Hotel Bohemia

Prague, Czech Republic

Ideally located in the center of Prague next to Powder Tower and within walking distance of Old Town Square and Old Town Hall, the 78-room Grand Hotel Bohemia is just steps from Wenceslas Square. The hotel offers a restaurant, bar, and coffee shop. Air-conditioned guest rooms have private bath with hair dryer, in-room safe, mini-bar, Internet access, TV, and phone.

Number of nights: 3

Activity Level

Activity Level 2: Moderate


Expectations: One of our Classic Land Journeys, this tour features five countries in Central and Eastern Europe with visits to many cities, iconic sites, hidden gems. Although comprehensive, it's not rushed, but well paced and finely tuned. Expectations include longer touring days with many full-day motor coach excursions and six different hotels. Mostly full-day excursions from four to six hours, with seven afternoons at leisure and one free day in Budapest. Standing and walking for long periods of time during city tours, museum visits, and outdoor activities. Daily walks of up to three miles; walking over sometimes difficult terrain that includes cobblestones and city hills (especially in hilltowns), uneven pavement, stairs without handrails, and absence of elevators; longer walks to get to city centers where coaches are prohibited. There are three longer coach rides of approximately three to six and a half hours duration. 

Appropriate for: Travelers who are physically fit and comfortable with longer days of touring (both walking tours and coach time).

Tour Extension

Berlin Post-Tour Extension 4 Days, 3 Nights 

Explore the cosmopolitan German capital – a city of art, culture, and history – as you wish. Your tour extension cost includes:

  • Rail transportation Prague/Berlin
  • Three (3) nights accommodations at Hotel am Steinplatz (Superior First Class)
  • Meal inclusions: three (3) breakfasts
  • Transfer from rail station and to airport

Testimonials

WHAT OUR TRAVELERS SAY

The capitals 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.

- Sylvia L.

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!

- Tom M.

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. 

- Kate H.

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.
Reading List

Highly Recommended

Budapest 1900: A Historical Portrait of a City and Its Culture
By: John Lukacs
"Lukacs's book is a lyrical, sometimes dazzling, never merely nostalgic evocation of a glorious period in the city's history. . . . {His} true sympathy lies . . . not with the famous expatriates, but with the writers and intellectuals who lived and died at home: the poets Endre Ady and Mihaly Babits; the novelists Ferenc Herczeg, Sandor Hunyady, Frigyes Karinthy, Dezso Kosztolanyi, Gyula Krudy, Kalman Mikszath, and Zsigmond Moricz; the political essayist DezsoSzabo; the playwright Erno Szep; the literary historian Antal Szerb; and others. . . . {John Lukacs} sets out to explain Hungarian literature to English-speaking readers. Though I have no idea whether or not he will succeed, few interpreters of Hungarian literature have made a more touching and eloquent attempt." -- The New York Review of Books
The Magic Lantern: The Revolution of '89 Witnessed in Warsaw, Budapest, Berlin, and Prague
By: Timothy Garton Ash
The Magic Lantern is one of those rare books that define a historic moment, written by a brilliant witness who was also a participant in epochal events. Whether covering Poland’s first free parliamentary elections—in which Solidarity found itself in the position of trying to limit the scope of its victory—or sitting in at the meetings of an unlikely coalition of bohemian intellectuals and Catholic clerics orchestrating the liberation of Czechoslovakia, Garton Ash writes with enormous sympathy and power.
Lonely Planet Eastern Europe (Multi Country Guide)
By: Lonely Planet, Vladisavljevic, Brana, Baker, Mark, Bloom, Greg, Butler, Stuart, Dragicevich, Peter, Fallon, Steve, Ham, Anthony, Lee, Jessica, Maric, Vesna, Ragozin, Leonid, Raub, Kevin, Wilson, Neil, Isalska, Anita, Morgan, MaSovaida
The Habsburgs: Dynasty, Culture and Politics
By: Paula Sutter Fichtner
The death of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo in 1914 not only sparked the beginning of World War I―it also initiated the beginning of the end of the six-hundred-year-old Habsburg dynasty, which fell apart when the war ended, changing Europe forever. But how did the Habsburgs come to play such a decisive role in the fate of the continent? Paula Sutter Fichtner seeks to answer this question in this comprehensive account of the longest-lived European empire.   Tracing the origins of the house of Habsburg to the tenth century, Fichtner identifies the principal characters in the story and explores how they were able to hold together such a culturally diverse and multiethnic state for so many centuries. She takes account of the intertwining of culture, politics, and society, revealing the strategies that enabled the dynasty’s extraordinarily long life: its dazzling mix of cultural propaganda, public performances, and cunning political maneuvering. She points out the irony that one of the crowd-pleasing performances that had enabled the Habsburg success―visiting beds of the injured―led to Ferdinand’s death and the empire’s downfall. Breathing fresh life into the history of the Habsburg reign, this accessible and authoritative history charts one of the pivotal foundation stories of modern Europe.

Also Recommended

A Nervous Splendor: Vienna 1888-1889
By: Frederic Morton
On January 30, 1889, at the champagne-splashed hight of the Viennese Carnival, the handsome and charming Crown Prince Rudolf fired a revolver at his teenaged mistress and then himself. The two shots that rang out at Mayerling in the Vienna Woods echo still.Frederic Morton, author of the bestselling Rothschilds, deftly tells the haunting story of the Prince and his city, where, in the span of only ten months, "the Western dream started to go wrong." In Rudolf's Vienna moved other young men with striking intellectual and artistic talents—and all as frustrated as the Prince. Among them were: young Sigmund Freud, Gustav Mahler, Theodor Herzl, Gustav Klimt, and the playwright Arthur Schnitzler, whose La Ronde was the great erotic drama of the fin de siecle. Morton studies these and other gifted young men, interweaving their fates with that of the doomed Prince and the entire city through to the eve of Easter, just after Rudolf's body is lowered into its permanent sarcophagus and a son named Adolf Hitler is born to Frau Klara Hitler.
Prague: A Traveler's Literary Companion (Traveler's Literary Companions) by Paul Wilson (1995) Paperback
By: Whereabouts Press
Will be shipped from US. Used books may not include companion materials, may have some shelf wear, may contain highlighting/notes, may not include CDs or access codes. 100% money back guarantee.
The Palgrave Concise Historical Atlas of Eastern Europe: Revised and Updated by Dennis P. Hupchick (2001-09-22)
By: Dennis P. Hupchick; Harold E. Cox;
The Kingdom of Auschwitz: 1940-1945
By: Otto Friedrich
A short and thoroughly accurate history of the Auschwitz concentration camp, this compelling book is authoritative in its factual details, devastating in its emotional impact.
Eastern Europe!: Everything You Need to Know About the History (and More) of a Region that Shaped Our World and Still Does
By: Tomek E. Jankowski
Eastern Europe! is a brief and concise (but informative) introduction to Eastern Europe and its myriad customs and history. When the legendary Romulus killed his brother Remus and founded the city of Rome in 753 BCE, Plovdiv -- today the second-largest city in Bulgaria -- was already thousands of years old. Indeed, London, Paris, Berlin, Vienna, Madrid, Brussels, Amsterdam are all are mere infants compared to Plovdiv. This is just one of the paradoxes that haunts and defines the New Europe, that part of Europe that was freed from Soviet bondage in 1989 which is at once both much older than the modern Atlantic-facing power centers of Western Europe while also being in some ways much younger than them. Even those knowledgeable about Western Europe often see Eastern Europe as terra incognita, with a sign on the border declaring "Here be monsters." This book is a gateway to understanding both what unites and separates Eastern Europeans from their Western brethren, and how this vital region has been shaped by, but has also left its mark on, Western Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East and North Africa. Ideal for students, businesspeople, and those who simply want to know more about where Grandma or Grandpa came from, Eastern Europe! is a user-friendly guide to a region that is all too often mischaracterized as remote, insular, and superstitious.Illustrations throughout include: 40 photos, 40 maps and 40 figures (tables, charts, etc.)
The Romani Gypsies
By: Yaron Matras
“Gypsies” have lived among Europeans since the Middle Ages. Yet Roms still seem exotic to Westerners, who often rely on fictional depictions for what they know, or think they know, about this much-misunderstood people. The Romani Gypsies challenges stereotypes that have long been the unwelcome travel companions of this community in Europe and the New World. Yaron Matras offers a perspective-changing account of who the Roms are, how they live today, and how they have survived over centuries.Descendants of Indian migrants, Roms began moving into western Europe in the 1300s, refugees of a collapsing Byzantine Empire. By the 1500s they had spread throughout Europe, working as itinerant smiths and toolmakers, healers and entertainers, and would soon reach the Americas. Often described as Egyptian―hence the name Gypsies―they were ostracized as beggars, vilified as criminals, respected as artisans, and idealized as free spirits. They have been both enslaved and protected, forced to settle down and forcibly expelled, in a pattern of manipulation and persecution that persists in our own time.Matras draws on decades of first-hand research into Romani life to explain the organization of Romani society, its shared language, history, and traditions, as well as differences among widely dispersed Romani groups. He also details the present-day dilemmas surrounding the struggle of Roms for political recognition in European countries which are, by turns, either ambivalent or openly hostile.
The Coasts of Bohemia: A Czech History
By: Derek Sayer
In The Winter's Tale, Shakespeare gave the landlocked country of Bohemia a coastline--a famous and, to Czechs, typical example of foreigners' ignorance of the Czech homeland. Although the lands that were once the Kingdom of Bohemia lie at the heart of Europe, Czechs are usually encountered only in the margins of other people's stories. In The Coasts of Bohemia, Derek Sayer reverses this perspective. He presents a comprehensive and long-needed history of the Czech people that is also a remarkably original history of modern Europe, told from its uneasy center. Sayer shows that Bohemia has long been a theater of European conflict. It has been a cradle of Protestantism and a bulwark of the Counter-Reformation; an Austrian imperial province and a proudly Slavic national state; the most easterly democracy in Europe; and a westerly outlier of the Soviet bloc. The complexities of its location have given rise to profound (and often profoundly comic) reflections on the modern condition. Franz Kafka, Jaroslav Hasek, Karel Capek and Milan Kundera are all products of its spirit of place. Sayer describes how Bohemia's ambiguities and contradictions are those of Europe itself, and he considers the ironies of viewing Europe, the West, and modernity from the vantage point of a country that has been too often ignored. The Coasts of Bohemia draws on an enormous array of literary, musical, visual, and documentary sources ranging from banknotes to statues, museum displays to school textbooks, funeral orations to operatic stage-sets, murals in subway stations to censors' indexes of banned books. It brings us into intimate contact with the ever changing details of daily life--the street names and facades of buildings, the heroes figured on postage stamps--that have created and recreated a sense of what it is to be Czech. Sayer's sustained concern with questions of identity, memory, and power place the book at the heart of contemporary intellectual debate. It is an extraordinary story, beautifully told.
The Essential Guide to Being Polish: 50 Facts & Facets of Nationhood
By: Anna Spysz, Marta Turek
Being Polish is no joke. For ten million people of Polish ancestry in the United States, as well as many who have settled in the UK since the fall of communism, it is a heartfelt matter -- and amid all the travel guides and guides to Polish language, folklore, and customs, there is no single, comprehensive, reader-friendly and yet ever-informative reference on what it means to be Polish. Enter The Essential Guide to Being Polish -- the go-to concise resource for anyone looking to reconnect with their culture or, indeed, hoping that their friends, children, or colleagues learn something about their heritage. Divided into three sections to make for an easy-to-follow format -- Poland in Context, Poles in Poland, and Poles Abroad -- this guide covers just about everything and does so in a style that is at once entertaining and informative: the country's history and geography, wars, Jews in Poland, the communist past, the post-communist past and present, language, kings and queens, religion/Catholicism (with special focus on Pope John Paul II), holidays, food, and drink. What is a real Polish wedding all about? That, too, is addressed succinctly and with flair in this guide. Other chapters cover literature, music, art, famous scientists, Polish men and Polish women, Poles in America, Poles in the UK, Poles and the EU, and last but not least, Polish pride.
The Habsburgs: Embodying Empire
By: Andrew Wheatcroft
The Habsburgs have been described at one extreme as demons – responsible for a ‘long history of atrocities’; and, at the other, as dodos – living fossils unable to adapt to the modern world. In reality, the flamboyant royal family appear, in many ways, to have behaved much like most other monarchies. Their story, however, is none the less enthralling for that. It is populated by such unforgettable figures as mad Queen Juana, progressing through Spain with her husband’s decaying body; the ‘heroically fertile’ Maria Theresa, and the quixotic Maximilian, ‘Emperor’ of Mexico.
Danubia: A Personal History of Habsburg Europe
By: Simon Winder
LONGLISTED FOR THE SAMUEL JOHNSON PRIZE, A CHARMINGLY PERSONAL HISTORY OF HABSBURG EUROPE BY THE AUTHOR OF GERMANIAFrom the end of the Middle Ages to the First World War, Europe was dominated by one family: the Habsburgs. Their unprecedented rule is the focus of Simon Winder's vivid third book, Danubia.Winder's approach is friendly, witty, personal; this is a narrative that, while erudite and well researched, prefers to be discursive and anecdotal. In his survey of the centuries of often incompetent Habsburg rule which have continued to shape the fate of Central Europe, Winder does not shy away from the horrors, railing against the effects of nationalism, recounting the violence that was often part of life. But this is a history dominated above all by Winder's energy and curiosity. Eminently readable and thrillingly informative, Danubia is a treat that readers will be eager to dip into.
A Time of Gifts: On Foot to Constantinople: From the Hook of Holland to the Middle Danube (New York Review Books Classics)
By: Patrick Leigh Fermor, Jan Morris
At the age of eighteen, Patrick Leigh Fermor set off from the heart of London on an epic journey—to walk to Constantinople. A Time of Gifts is the rich account of his adventures as far as Hungary, after which Between the Woods and the Water continues the story to the Iron Gates that divide the Carpathian and Balkan mountains. Acclaimed for its sweep and intelligence, Leigh Fermor’s book explores a remarkable moment in time. Hitler has just come to power but war is still ahead, as he walks through a Europe soon to be forever changed—through the Lowlands to Mitteleuropa, to Teutonic and Slav heartlands, through the baroque remains of the Holy Roman Empire; up the Rhine, and down to the Danube. At once a memoir of coming-of-age, an account of a journey, and a dazzling exposition of the English language, A Time of Gifts is also a portrait of a continent already showing ominous signs of the holocaust to come.
Mozart: A Life
By: Johnson, Paul
The Spies of Warsaw: A Novel
By: Alan Furst
NOW A MINISERIES ON BBC AMERICA STARRING DAVID TENNANTWar is coming to Europe. French and German intelligence operatives are locked in a life-and-death struggle on the espionage battlefield. At the French embassy, in Warsaw, the new military attaché, Colonel Jean-François Mercier, a decorated hero of the 1914 war, is drawn into a world of abduction, betrayal, and intrigue in the diplomatic salons and back alleys of the city. At the same time, the handsome aristocrat finds himself in a passionate love affair with a Parisian woman of Polish heritage, a lawyer for the League of Nations. Risking his life, Colonel Mercier must work in the shadows, amid an extraordinary cast of venal characters, some known to Mercier as spies, some never to be revealed.
The Third Man and The Fallen Idol (Classic, 20th-Century, Penguin)
By: Graham Greene
The Third Man is Greene's brilliant recreation of post-war Vienna, a city of desolate poverty occupied by four powers. Rollo Martins, a second-rate novelist, arrives penniless in Vienna to visit his old friend and hero Harry Lime. Harry is dead, but the circumstances surrounding his death are highly suspicious, and his reputation, at the very least, dubious.Graham Greene said of The Third Man that he "wanted to entertain [people], to frighten them a little, to make them laugh" and the result is both a compelling narrative and a haunting thriller. The Fallen Idol is the chilling story of a small boy caught up in the games that adults play. Left in the care of the butler, Baines, and his wife, Philip realizes too late the danger of lies and deceit. But the truth is even deadlier.For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera (1985-04-29)
By: Faber and Faber
The Radetzky March (Works of Joseph Roth)
By: Joseph Roth
The Radetzky March, Joseph Roth's classic saga of the privileged von Trotta family, encompasses the entire social fabric of the Austro-Hungarian Empire just before World War I. The author's greatest achievement, The Radetzky March is an unparalleled portrait of a civilization in decline, and as such, a universal story for our times.
24x36 World Wall Map by Smithsonian Journeys - Tan Oceans Special Edition (24x36 Laminated)
Travel Insurance

For the convenience of our travelers, Travel Guard provides an on-tour Insurance Plan. On-tour emergency evacuation insurance (up to $100,000), medical expense coverage (up to $25,000), dental expense coverage (up to $500), travel medical assistance and worldwide travel assistance (U.S. Residents only). It also includes up to $25,000 medical and up to $500 dental expense coverage, and 24-hour worldwide travel and medical assistance. Please click here to view complete coverage details.

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