Marvel at the grandiose magnificence of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Times may have split the empire, and these countries, but fun, beauty, and culture still resonate through these unique Eastern European capitals. Budapest is the jewel of post-Communist Europe, epitomizing the nightlife, art, and quirky spirit embodied by the new individualism found in much of Eastern Europe. Vienna is the intellectual home of Europe, with famous museums and Operas. Don't worry, it's not just the intellect that wins Vienna, they too know how to have fun.
Note: This is a long weekend trip, departing on Thursday night and returning on Monday night.
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The trip departs Florence from the Santa Maria Novella train station. The meeting point is in the International Ticketing Hall opposite tracks 8 and 9. Please meet your trip leader 20 minutes prior to departure.
Travel to Budapest is by private luxury coach with A/C, DVD, and bathroom. We make one 45 minute stop. We will arrive early morning. Upon arrival to Budapest, we will immediately check into our accommodation.
We will meet for a 3.5 hour walking tour of Budapest with a professional Hungarian guide who grew up in Communist Hungary. Breakfast will be served prior to the walking tour, and on each subsequent day. The walking tour is a great introduction to the city and Magyar history and culture. Major sights on the tour include St. Stephen’s Basilica, the Chain Bridge, Parliament building, Castle Hill/Royal Palace, and the Fisherman’s Bastion. The tour is subject to arrival time and maybe switched to Saturday. If it is switched, your trip leader will show those interested to the Great Market Hall or one of the thermal bath houses.
The afternoon is free to explore Budapest and its many activities. Bus2alps reccomends going Caving, or joining the Communist Walking Tour. Your trip leader will show you to the Caving meeting point. The Communist Walking Tour departs from the same meeting point as the Budapest Walking Tour. Friday night we will go out for a traditional Hungarian dinner. Afterwards, you can join your trip leader to check out some of the great ruin pubs and underground clubs that Budapest is known for.
Today we depart Budapest early morning for Vienna. We will arrive in Vienna in the afternoon. After check in, we include a private walking tour and local guide from Vienna exploring the history and culture of this culture capital. The tour meets in the lobby of our accommodation. The tour lasts approximately 2.5 hours and will end just in front of the famous St. Stephen’s Cathedral. Afterwards there is time to stop off at the Hotel Sacher, home of the original recipe of the Sacher Torte, to taste this world famous chocolate cake! Vienna has numerous dinner options. If you want to stay local, you cannot miss Wiener Schnitzel. Your trip leader will be able to inform you ahead of time of Opera and Ballet performances in Vienna for our weekend. The Vienna Opera House is THE most famous in the world. Tickets for standing room are very cheap! If you are more interested in a variety concert of all that Vienna is famous for, your trip leader will have information on attending the Sound of Vienna Concert instead for a mixture of classical music, opera, and complimentary glass of champagne or orange juice.
For those looking to party, Vienna has an eclectic mix of bars and clubs in the inner city. One area in particular nicknamed ‘The Bermuda Triangle has a high density of bars and clubs that are very popular with the local Viennese.
This morning we highly recommend a visit to the Schonbrunn Palace. The ‘Country Royal Palace’ is situated close to our accommodation. Meet your trip leader at the designated time to visit the Palace. We will depart for Florence in the early afternoon. We will make one stop 45 minute stop for dinner. We will arrive back in Florence later the same day.
Caving: Get a little dirty exploring the labyrinth of the Matyas cave system of Budapest. During this 3-hour tour you get to climb on walls, crawl through narrow passages, and see just what is going underneath the city. Be sure to bring boots or tennis shoes.
Danube River Dinner Cruise: A scenic boat ride along the river with stunning views of Parliament and the castle as you dine on a delicious dinner buffet while listening to live music and sipping a complimentary glass of champagne.
Thermal Baths: The cave system below Hungary was created by the movement of natural springs below the city. Join the Hungarians in their love of relaxing in one of the dozens of thermal baths scattered throughout the city, fed by their natural springs.
Budapest Communism Walking Tour: This free (guides work off tips) gives a complete history of life in Communist and Post-Communist Budapest and highlights important locations involved in the struggle against Communism.
Schnapps Museum: Learn all about the history and life of this Austrian liquor and end the tour with a tasting of the different varieties!
Sound of Vienna: An evening of culture and music with an entertaining orchestra featuring famous classical Viennese compositions, opera, and more as well as a free glass of champagne or orange juice at intermission.