One Week in Central Europe: A cross-country itinerary
Thinking of Europe? Are you daydreaming about classical music, castles and less- ‘touristy’ destinations? We have some travel inspiration for you.
Hungary, Czech Republic and Austria were home to the oldest European royal families, all countries with millennia of history. So, if you wanna spend one week in Central Europe, we’ve prepared the dream itinerary for a cross-country vacation.
With Austria’s incredible scenery and warm hospitality, combined with Czech Republic’s historical towns and Hungary’s colorful folk art and striking architecture, you’ll have the perfect escape trip in Europe.
Day 1: Budapest
Our adventure starts in Budapest, divided by the river Danube in yin-yang fashion. Although it is the capital of a landlocked country, Budapest’s central element is water – springing from underground wells and filling Ottoman, neoclassical and art-nouveau pools.
You will hear stories about how interesting Budapest’s architecture is, so choose Pest as a starting location. From there, walk through the Old Town and the Jewish quarter, filled with quaint shops of old and new artisans.
Glimpse at the Parliament building and just two steps away, find the sculpture of Shoes on the Danube Bank. This interesting sculpture pays homage to the victims of World War II.
Visit St. Stephen’s Basilica, an impressive Neoclassical building, once a glamorous theatre. While you’re in Budapest, make sure to try the traditional lángos and kolbász. You can find these street foods at one of Budapest’s many food markets.
After that, cross the river to Buda and enjoy spectacular views on your way to Buda Castle. In the castle, find The Fisherman’s Bastion, a must-see fortification combining Neo-Gothic and Neo-Romanesque styles. As a finishing touch, enjoy the sunset views of the city on board a Cigarette boat, cruising the Danube.
Day 2: Kiskunság National Park & Kecskemét
On the second day of your trip, tour through the picturesque countryside area just outside of Budapest in the Kiskunság National Park, the homeland of Hungarian Horsemen. Breathe in the hay-scented air and perhaps arrange a visit to a local farmhouse to sample the traditional delicacies – paprika-spiced goulash and stingy palinka. We can definitely do that for you.
Continue your journey towards Kecskemét, famous for its colorful Art Nouveau buildings and apricot brandy. Once you’re there, explore this pretty town, making sure you enjoy both; perhaps visit the picture-perfect Cifra Palace, József Katona Theater and the 18th century Museum of Naive Art, which houses an impressive collection of paintings and sculptures by classic and contemporary Naive artists.
Day 3 and 4: Vienna
Say farewell to Hungary as you cross the border to Austria, Vienna – a beautifully decorated capital with 18th century charm and 19th century grandeur. Spend two days here – it will be worth it!
In Vienna you’ll be spoilt with choices of places to see and things to do, as the city has a plethora of museums, sights, baroque churches and almost unlimited cultural activities.
Firstly, spend some time in a local coffeehouse, such as Café Sperl or Hawelka. The Viennese are world-renown for the café culture, continuing to perfect the art of sophisticated relaxation to this day.
After that, see Votive Church, a neo-Gothic building commissioned by Emperor Maximilian. Continue to the very heart of the city and visit Vienna Hofburg and the Imperial Furniture Collection. This way, you can discover how Austria’s rulers once lived as you stroll through the sumptuous rooms filled with masterpieces.
Visit the Albertina Museum for an immersive experience into the Viennese art scene. Right behind it, find The Palmenhaus; we recommend you have dinner here, surrounded by tropical butterflies and exotic plants.
Take a glimpse behind the scenes at the Vienna Opera House. Learn the history of the building while walking through the foyer, the grand staircase and the state rooms with its extravagant interiors.
The Spanish Horse-Riding school, famous around the world, is also a must-see in Vienna. See the dancing horses – the Lipizzans, training to the sound of Strauss’ waltz. In fact, this 450-year-old school is found on UNESCO’s list of intangible cultural heritage of humanity.
Visit the Belvedere, an impressive Baroque ensemble and home to the greatest collection of Austrian art from the Middle Ages to modernity.
The summer residence of the Habsburgs – Schönbrunn Palace, is definitely a must-see, so make sure you don’t miss it. The Palace’s decor is awe-inspiring – a combination of gold leaf, frescoes and white enamel with crystal chandeliers. No wonder six-year-old Mozart had his first concert here, in the Mirror Room.
If Gustav Klimt’s landscape paintings from the Palace’s exhibition have impressed you, make your way to the Botanical Garden, where you can unwind in the middle of a green oasis, just 10 minutes away from the lively downtown.
Continue your journey and travel towards the Czech Republic. En-route to Czechia, stop at the scenic Abbey of Melk, situated on a cliff overlooking the Danube. Here you can visit the Benedictine Abbey, a jewel of Austrian Baroque architecture.
Day 5: Český Krumlov
Our next destination is the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Český Krumlov. Travel through the picturesque Bohemia countryside and enjoy the scenery.
The town of alchemists, stonemasons and aristocrats houses one of the biggest Renaissance chateaus in Czech Republic.
Visit the Castle and the gothic church of St. Vitus. This Castle was the residence of the Rosenberg family for nearly 300 years and inside you’ll still find the royal décor inspiration – a rich golden carriage and one of the oldest Baroque theatres in Europe, maintaining its original stage, costumes and scenery.
Stroll around the city and admire the proud Renaissance or Gothic houses and monasteries.
Tour one of the many galleries and museums this city has. We especially recommend the Miroslav Paral Art Gallery, the Kláštery Český Krumlov and the Ales South Bohemian Gallery.
Perhaps hop on board a boat and enjoy stunning views of the city from the river.
Day 6: Karlovy Vary
Spend a full day in Karlovy Vary, world famous spa town. With its 12 hot healing springs, this town is the real crown jewel of the Czech spas.
The town has a very evocative, aristocratic feel and is bursting with beautiful parks, mansions and promenades for you to choose from.
Stroll down the Park Colonnade richly decorated with columns or climb the hill for impressive views of the city. Along the main walkway, a colonnade shelters a number of pretty fountains, gushing hot-spring water.
Allow time for a visit to the Moser Glasswork factory and museum that has been producing Czechia’s best crystal since 1893. There, you’ll have the opportunity to observe the skilled glassblowers’ way of working.
You will discover another hidden gem of this town if you try the Becherovka, a famous local herb liqueur, first concocted by a physician in the 18th century.
Day 7: Prague
Your European adventure is near the end, but there are places yet to be discovered. Prague has one of the world’s most pristine and varied collection of architectural styles – from Art Nouveau to Baroque, Renaissance, Cubist, Gothic, Neo-Classical and even ultra-modern.
If you slip away from the main tourist scene, you’ll likely stumble upon a bakery offering freshly baked loaves from 200-year-old recipes.
Take a tour of Prague’s most iconic landmarks; visit the Royal Palace set atop the hill and St. Vitus Cathedral with its stunning stained-glass windows.
As you leave the castle behind, explore the Golden Lane a.k.a ‘Street of Alchemists’. One can admire the colourful, tiny houses once home to the city’s royal goldsmiths and writer Franz Kafka.
The Charles Bridge is over-crowded during the day, so take an after-dinner stroll instead. Make sure you try the local strudel in one of the many cafes along the Market Square after that.
If you’re a fan of Art Nouveau, Alphonse Mucha is showcased at the Veletržní Palace. The Palace also houses an impressive collection of 20th century surrealist, constructivist and cubist art and is definitely worth a visit.
Afterwards, discover an important place of culture and knowledge – Klementinum, one of the prettiest libraries in the world, and climb up the Astronomical Tower. While climbing the tower, stop at the original workroom of the observatory to take a glimpse at the astronomical, geophysical and meteorological 19th century instruments, which were once used by scholars of the Jesuit school.
Escape the crowded streets and walk along the Wallenstein Garden. These well-hidden Baroque gardens are home to wild peacocks and marble fountains, making for the perfect spot to unwind.
While we’re talking Baroque, St. Nicholas Church with its breathtaking interior should be your next stop – make sure you climb the stairs up to the gallery to have a closer look at the impressive frescoes.
Last, but not least, watch the Marriage of Figaro in the place where it was personally conducted by the genius Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in 1787 – the Estates Theatre.
Hungry for more? This is just a glimpse of what we can do. Drop us an email if you wish to travel with purpose and we’ll create a bespoke tour in Europe, tailored to your interests.
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