Prague to Istanbul

Journey through six of Eastern Europe’s most fascinating and historic countries on this 19 day Adventure Tour. There are countless off-the-beaten-track gems to discover including villages where centuries-old traditions are still a part of every day life, fairytale castles perched on hillsides, beautiful wooden churches and towering mountain ranges.

Route Map

Day 1 to 1 – Arrive Prague

The first day of your tour is simply an arrival day with no pre-organised activities. In order to allow time to relax and see some of the sights you may wish to add pre-tour accommodation.

Prague is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe and you will have free time to visit the stunning City of 1,000 Spires, including the bustling Old Town Square where you can find a beautiful astronomical clock, the enchanting Charles Bridge where you can watch artists and buskers at work, Wenceslas Square and the world’s only Cubist lamppost just around the corner from the square. There is also time to wander the lofty heights of Hradčany Castle and St Vitus Cathedral for magical views over the city.

Prague is a town that loves to party so on your first night you may want to experience the nightlife as there are many great bars and restaurants and plenty of pulsating nightclubs to enjoy. Czechs have been brewing beer since the 9th century and invented the world’s first Pilsner, so Prague offers a great opportunity to sample some of the world’s finest beers.

Optional Excursions

Beer Tasting -590 CZK •Tour the Hradčany Castle complex –350 CZK •Jewish Museum –300 CZK •Town Hall Clock Tower –120 CZK •Mucha Museum –240 CZK •City of Prague Museum –120 CZK •Karlstejn Castle –270 CZK

Accommodation

1 night(s) in hotels

Day 2 to 3 – Vienna

Welcome to Austria! Birthplace of some of the greatest classical musical compositions, Vienna charms with its cultural history and opulent beauty. Known as the ‘city of music’ many composers such as Mozart, Beethoven and Strauss were born or worked here and you can learn all about their works in places such as Haus der Musik and Mozarthaus, Mozart’s main apartment in Vienna which holds an insight into his celebrated life.

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Perhaps you would like to catch a jaw-dropping orchestra performance at the Vienna Philharmonic, or watch a ballet or opera performance at the Wiener Staatsoper? You may also choose to visit the Schloss Schönbrunn, the palace of the Habsburg family, and discover the Baroque grandeur of the Austrian dynasty. Once you have delighted in the culture and beauty of Vienna, there are a host of a lively restaurants, cafes and bars to soak up as you watch the world go by in this vibrant city.

Optional Excursions

Albertina Museum – €13.00 •Spanish Riding School Morning Exercise – €15.00 •Sigmund Freud Museum – €10.00 •Belvedere Palace –From €14.00 •Schoenbrunn Palace – €13.00 •City Bike Tour- €29.00 •Vienna Mozart Concert – €49.00

Accommodation

2 night(s) in hotels

Meals

2 Breakfast

Day 4 to 5 – Budapest

Budapest, Hungary’s stylish capital is known as the ‘City of Spas’ for its abundance of natural thermal springs.

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Straddling the Danube River, the city is comprised of two very different historic cities, Buda on the west bank and Pest on the east bank. Highlights here include Castle Hill, Matthius Church, Fisherman’s Bastion, the Liberation Monument, the fabulous St Stephen’s Basilica and the much photographed Parliament Building.

Sample some Hungarian cuisine in a local restaurant. Goulash is the most popular Hungarian meat dish. It is a delicious stew made from meat and vegetables with Hungarian paprika powder as the main spice.

Optional Excursions

Danube Cruise –€16 (drinks only). You can expect to pay approx €30 for dinner aboard. •Hop on, Hop off bus –HUF 6000 •Szechenyi baths –HUF 3600 •House of Terror –HUF 2000 •Basilica of St Stephen –free •Castle Hill –HUF 1700 •Hungarian National Museum –HUF1600 •The Great Synagogue –HUF 1600 •Royal Palace & Parliament –HUF 2520

Accommodation

2 night(s) in hotels

Meals

2 Breakfast

Day 6 to 6 – Eger

We take the train to Eger, located on the hills of the Bükk Mountains. It has a number of historic sights including the Castle of Eger, the town’s oldest and most famous attraction. Eger is also famous for its wines. You can enjoy traditional varieties of red and white wines including “Egri Bikaver” translated to Bull’s Blood of Eger! From 1596 Eger had a 91 year long Turkish rule. Due to this, the town attract visitors to its number of thermal baths. Another popular site from this period is the Turkish minaret standing at 40 metres high. You can climb this for great views.

Music lovers may want to visit the Egri Road Beatles Museum. Situated in the historic centre of Eger, visitors can discover the famous British band on a guided tour. Discover limited edition records, view original items of clothing and listen to recordings and newsreels from the time of ‘Beatlesmania’.

Optional Excursions

Eger Castle – 1600 HUF • Minaret – 300 HUF • Archbishop’s Palace – from 1400 HUF • Thermal Baths – 1900 HUF • Wine tasting in the Valley of the Beautiful Women – from 1000HUF • Basilica – Free

Accommodation

1 night(s) in hotels

Meals

1 Breakfast

Day 7 to 7 – Baia Mare

The day is spent exploring the fascinating Maramures region in North-western Romania, home to many villages where century-old traditions are still part of daily life. We will visit the village of Barsana, where there is a thriving local tradition of woodcarving, with picturesque wooden houses fronted by giant, ornately-carved gates. There is also a monastery that offers great views over the Izei valley, where people still farm using traditional techniques. We also tour some of the beautiful wooden churches of the region that are well-known for their characteristic high roofs and tall, pointed steeples. One of these has been recognised by UNESCO due its unique folk paintings that show rural representations of heaven and hell, including tortures for such egregious sins as short-changing customers or falling asleep in church. We also make a quick stop at the very peculiar ‘Merry Cemetery’ of Sapânta, so called because the gravestones are painted in bright colours, hand-carved out of oak and adorned with an image of the deceased and a humorous epitaph in the local vernacular.

We then head to Baia Mare, one of the most important mining centres of Romania with over 2000 years of gold and silver mining. The town is well preserved and the oldest house here dates back to 1440.

Included Excursions

Tour of Maramures Region

Accommodation

1 night(s) in hotels

Meals

1 Breakfast

Day 8 to 9 – Sighișoara

As we make our way to Sighisoara, we stop en-route for a few hours to explore the city of Cluj Napoca, Romania’s second largest city after Bucharest. The city is one of the most important academic and cultural centres in Romania, and is home to the country’s largest university and its famous botanical gardens. In 2015, Cluj-Napoca is the European Youth Capital, and will showcase its youth-related city life and development to the rest of the world.

In the afternoon we head to Sighisoara. Located in the historic region of Transylvania, it was once a Saxon settlement established in the 12th century. Recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, the citadel has a very well preserved old town with a clock tower rising 64 meters above the city. Also worth visiting is the Orthodox Cathedral and Cornesti Church.

Included Excursions

Cluj Napoca Visit

Optional Excursions

Guided tour of Sighisoara Old Town – from 10 EUR • The Clock Tower – 12 RON • Dracula’s House – 5 RON • History Museum – 4 RON • Museum of Medieval Arms – 8 RON • The Torture Chamber Museum – 4 RON • The Church of the Dominican Monastery – Free

Accommodation

2 night(s) in hotels

Meals

2 Breakfast

Day 10 to 11 – Brașov

Surrounded on three sides by the Carpathian Mountains, Brașov was a perfect place for a medieval settlement and much of the Old City, founded by the Teutonic Knights in 1211, has been restored. You can visit Râșnov Castle, the Brașov Citadel or wander up Rope Street, the narrowest street in Europe. Brașov also provides a great base for exploring the surrounding countryside of the Transylvania region, where the air is fresh and the people friendly. We visit the nearby Bran Castle which is marketed as ‘Dracula’s Castle’ and is (supposedly) said to have been the home of Vlad the Impaler. We also explore the beautiful Pele’s Castle and the fortified churches of Prejmer and Viscri, the latter of which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Included Excursions

Entry to Viscri fortified Church,Entry to Dracula’s Castle and Peles Castle,Entry to Prejmer Fortified Church

Optional Excursions

Walking Tour – Free • Ethnographic Museum – 5 RON • Brasov History Museum – 7 RON • Cable Car to the top of Tampa Hill – 16 RON • Black Church – 8 RON • Bear Sanctuary – 20 EUR • Art Museum – 5 RON

Accommodation

2 night(s) in hotels

Meals

2 Breakfast

Day 12 to 12 – Bucharest

We continue our journey to Bucharest where you will have free time to explore the area and discover the contrasts of Romania’s cultural capital. The architecture here is an eclectic mix of historical, communist period and modern styles and it even has its own Arc de Triomphe. Bucharest also boasts the world’s second largest building, the Palace of Parliament, built under the communist regime.

If you’d like to learn more about the traditional way of life of Romanian peasant farmers you can visit the Village Museum, an open air museum with around 300 traditional buildings filled with furniture, pottery and clothing collected from different regions of the country.

Optional Excursions

Peasant Museum – 8 RON • Palace of the Parliament Tour – 35 RON • Walking Tour – Free • Stavropoleos Church – Free • Village Museum – 10 RON • National Museum of Art of Romania – 15 RON • Bucharest Municipal Museum – 3 RON

Accommodation

1 night(s) in hotels

Meals

1 Breakfast

Day 13 to 13 – Veliko Tarnovo

We head across the border into the Bulgarian city of Veliko Tarnovo, famous as the historical capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire. Built on three hills, the city offers some great views of the surrounding churches and old imperial residences rising amidst the meanders of the Yantra River. On Tsarevets Hill are the palaces of the Bulgarian emperors and the Patriarchate, the Patriarchal Cathedral, and also a number of interesting cultural institutions such as the Archaeological Museum and the Museum of the Bulgarian Revival and the Constituent Assembly.

Optional Excursions

Tsaravet’s Fortress – 6 BGN • Archaeological Museum – 6 BGN • Old Town Walking Tour – Free • Museum of the Bulgarian Revival and the Constituent Assembly – 6 BGN

Accommodation

1 night(s) in hotels

Meals

1 Breakfast

Day 14 to 15 – Sofia

Bulgaria’s capital Sofia offers a wealth of cultural entertainment, including Byzantine churches, museums full of ancient archaeological treasures, towering monuments and numerous mineral baths adjacent to the magnificent Mount Vitosha. Laid back and cosmopolitan, Sofia offers a thriving and diverse street life, including open-air cafes, busy markets such as the famous Ladies’ Market, rattling trams and buskers all adding to the ambience. At the foothills of Mount Vitosha about 8 kilometres from the city centre you can visit the 900 year-old Boyana Church, considered among the masterpieces of medieval European painting, which features murals and frescoes dating back to 1259 AD, medieval architecture and monumental art. Also at the base of Mt. Vitosha is the splendid National History Museum, with antiques dating back to the Thracian period.

Sofia also offers many beautiful gardens to relax in, such as Boris Gardens and the South Park, which starts just behind the Palace of Culture.

Optional Excursions

Ethnographic Museum – 3 BGN • National Art Gallery – 6 BGN • Alexander Nevski Cathedral and Crypt – 6 BGN • St Alexander Nevski Crypt – 6 BGN • National Museum of History – 10 BGN • Walking Tour – Free

Accommodation

2 night(s) in hotels

Meals

2 Breakfast

Day 16 to 17 – Plovdiv

Plovdiv is one of the oldest cities in Europe. It is the oldest continually inhabited city in Europe going back 8000 years. The town is small and easy to walk around. Places to see include the Roman Amphitheatre, St Marina church and a mosque leftover from the Ottoman Empire. Each step you take in this town opens up another piece of history. While the seven tall hill that used to overlook the town have been reduced to just three, it is possible to walk the hills and the best time to do this is at sunset.

Included Excursions

Entry to Plovdiv Roman Amphitheatre

Optional Excursions

Ethnographic Museum – 5 BGN • Wine Tasting Half Day Tour – From 29 EUR • The Wonderful Bridges, Bachkovo Monastery & Asens’ Fortress Day Tour – From 25 EUR • Dzhumaya Mosque – Free • Archaeological Museum – 5 BGN

Accommodation

2 night(s) in hotels

Meals

1 Breakfast

Day 18 to 18 – Istanbul

Istanbul is an enchanting fusion of East and West. Narrow alleys are flanked by wooden Ottoman houses while a nearby funky restaurant and bar strip in the down-town area pumps out Turkish pop.

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There are many great places to explore including, but not limited to, the Blue Mosque, St Sophia and the Grand Bazaar. The Blue Mosque, also known as the Mosque of Sultan Ahmet, is nearly 400 years old and still an active mosque that non-Muslims can visit for free outside of the five daily prayers. St Sophia (Hagia Sophia) was built 1,500 years ago and was the largest enclosed space in the world. The Grand Bazaar (Kapali Carsi) is the oldest and largest closed bazaar in the world, housing around 3000 shops within 61 alleyways. It used to be the city’s main trading centre of ceramics, jewellery and leather goods.

We will arrive in the evening to sample some of Turkey’s most delicious cuisine. As we arrive late we recommend you book additional nights accommodation in order to fully explore the city and any of the optional excursions listed below.

Optional Excursions

Hagia Sophia – 40 TRY • Topkapı Palace – 40 TRY • Basilica Cistern – 20 TRY • Blue Mosque – Free • Grand Bazaar – Free • Bosphorus Boat Tour – 12 TRY • Turkish Bath – From 20 TRY • Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts – 25 TRY • Whirling Dervish Show – 70 TRY

Accommodation

1 night(s) in hotels

Day 19 to 19 – Depart Istanbul

Your adventure of a lifetime comes to an end today. If you have a late flight or have lengthened your stay by adding post tour accommodation you will have more time to explore the sights.

Meals

1 Breakfast

 

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