On arrivals day in Budapest, you will be met and transferred to the Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace for a two-night stay. Enjoy a welcome reception dinner in the elegant surrounds of this art nouveau landmark where you can meet your fellow travellers on this highly anticipated celebratory journey over the New Year holidays.
Budapest is actually two cities separated by the River Danube. The old city of Buda and the imposing Royal Palace, dominates the city with stunning views across the Danube to the commercial heart of Pest. On our first full day, our city tour includes the Royal Palace, St. Mathias Church and a panoramic view of the city from Gellert Hill. We will also see the Citadel, the Opera House, St Stephen’s Cathedral, Heroes Square and the City Park.
The rest of the day is at leisure where you can stroll through the many Christmas Markets scattered around the city. You may want to visit the historic Great Market Hall with its endless variety of delicious foods and wines or warm up and head to one of the city’s famous thermal baths for a rejuvenating Christmas dip.
After breakfast we’ll transfer from our hotel to board the Golden Eagle Danube Express. After settling into your luxurious cabin, we’ll make our first journey through the winter landscapes of Hungary to Balaton Uplands National Park.
Emerging from the National Park we’ll arrive in Keszthely perched at the very western end of Lake Balaton. This picture-postcard town is filled with grand town houses and famously the site of Festetics Palace, a lavish baroque home fit for royalty. After a tour of the palace we’ll continue into Austria overnight by train.
Arriving into Austria this morning we begin our exploration of the fantastic city of Graz at the foot of the Austrian Alps. We will transfer by coach to the city centre and have a short walking tour of Graz’s range of renaissance courtyards and provincial baroque palaces. As part of our Freedom of Choice programme you can choose to take free time or enjoy a pumpkin seed oil tasting, complete with traditional, locally made bread and wine.
After a gourmet lunch on board the train we’ll continue to Vienna to begin our New Year’s Eve celebrations. This afternoon we will have the opportunity to join in with an atmospheric Viennese waltz lesson for the group. No experience necessary!
Tonight, a special New Year’s gala dinner will be served inside the beautiful City Hall, Rathaus Vienna accompanying a performance by the renowned Wiener Hofball Orchestra. Music and waltzing will take us through to midnight before enjoying incredible views of the fireworks from the city hall’s balcony.
Happy New Year! This morning we will take a horse-drawn carriage ride along the cobbled streets to a local palais where we enjoy a celebratory brunch at the Palais Coburg, a stunning former Habsburg Palace. From the Palais we’ll be able to take in the live transmission of the New Year concert from the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.
If you’d rather see more of the splendid Austrian countryside, as part of our Freedom of Choice programme, you will have the option to visit the delightful Schönbrunn Palace to see the city’s famous festive market which will be still be open to enjoy. Alternatively, you may wish to explore the monastery of Heiligenkreuz with us for a guided tour of its 12th Century grounds. You’ll also be able to hear the Stift Heiligenkreuz monks sing in unison for a very special and moving performance.
Later this evening, the group will reconvene on the train for dinner before leaving Austria for the Czech Republic.
This morning we’ll begin our day in the stunning town of Cesky Krumlov, declared a UNESCO World Heritage destination. The town’s old town charm will be only enhanced by a dusting of snow and should make for a beautiful stop on our journey. A short introduction to the town will allow you to explore the town with allocated free-time. Perfect to grab a souvenir or two.
We’ll continue after a scenic lunch on board the train to Prague, one of the most beautifully preserved cities in Europe. Spanning the Vltava River and dominated by the 9th century Prague Castle, a stunning sight that can be seen almost anywhere in the city. Our introductory tour takes in the Old Town Square with its many historic buildings and Astronomical Clock, the historic 14th century Charles Bridge and the Jewish Quarter.
Later this afternoon we will return to the train to prepare ahead of the evening’s operatic performance at The Prague National Theatre.
A full day to explore the city of Prague awaits today. We’ll begin with a vintage tram to travel through the city up the hill to Prague Castle and the gothic St. Vitus Cathedral. The castle and its surrounding architectural gems occupy a hillside overlooking the city and river. Lunch will be served nestled in the architectural treasures of this 'City of a Hundred Spires.'
The rest of the day is free for you to visit more festive markets or take in more of the iconic sites of the city all within walking distance of the station. Dinner will be served on board the train as we journey back into Hungary.
We start our final day of touring in one of the lesser known gems of Central Europe, Kosice. The city was voted European Capital of Culture in 2013 and its medieval-come-cosmopolitan style is slowly drawing more visitors to this former cornerstone of Communist Czechoslovakia. We’ll take a highlights tour of the city, including the vast oval shaped central square, filled with relics from the 15th and 16th century.
This afternoon we’ll enjoy our final lunch on the train before arriving to Budapest. On our arrival evening in Budapest we’ll check back into the Four Seasons Gresham Palace before a celebratory farewell dinner toasting the success of the tour.
Following breakfast on the final morning you will be transferred to the airport for onward flight departures. There is also an option to extend your stay in Budapest for additional nights to explore more of this fascinating city.