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Get a taste of Poland, Slovakia and Hungary on this highlights trip including the historical cities of Krakow and Budapest. Travel using a range of different public transport as well as charter buses.
Explore Tour Leader
12 nights comfortable hotel
1 nights comfortable pension
Trip maximum 16 Explore Average 11
Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.
Arrive in Krakow, where we spend the next two nights. It was Poland's former capital until 1596 and due to its very distinctive character; it is on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Its historic architecture survived World War II unscathed, unlike most other Polish cities, and its rich culture has been preserved to the present day. It was the residence of Polish kings and has nearly one hundred churches, as well as the country's oldest university. Among its most important architectural treasures are Saint Mary's Church, which contains the world-famous altarpiece carved by Veit Stoss, the medieval buildings of the Jagiellonian University and Wawel Castle and Cathedral.
For those arriving on time our Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 6pm for the welcome meeting and for those that wish, there is the chance to go out for dinner. There are no other activities planned today, so you are free to arrive in Krakow at any time. If you would like an airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into John Paul II Krakow-Balice International Airport (KRK), which is around 30 minutes' drive. Should you miss the welcome meeting, your Leader will inform you of any essential information as soon as you catch up.
There is a lot to see and do in Krakow; if you can spare the time, we suggest arriving a day early to make the most of this fascinating city especially if you are going on the optional excursion to Auschwitz or Wieliczka Salt Mine tomorrow. Alternatively, you could consider combining this holiday with the Budapest to Prague Adventure (explore.co.uk/CZ) to make a two-week holiday.
In the city centre you will find numerous good Polish restaurants and the 'pierogi', Polish dumplings, are especially tasty. There are also many bars selling a range of local beers and of course a wide range of vodkas. Such as Chmiel, which is a basement bar beneath the forecourt of Wawel Castle, C.K. Browar, which is a popular micro-brewery or Starka Restaurant and Vodkas where you can try out an array of homemade flavoured vodkas.
Hotel Wyspianski (or similar)
This morning our local Leader will take us on a short orientation walk around the city's stunning Old Quarter to help us get our bearings.
The rest of today is left free for you to explore Krakow and further afield if you wish. The Jewish Kazimierz district, the setting for the film Schindler's List, has many points of interest, including the Old Synagogue and the Museum of Jewish Life. You may like to make an excursion to Oswiecim, the site of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp, which is a haunting reminder of the terrible atrocities that took place here during World War II.
Alternatively it's possible to visit the Royal Castle, perched high on Wawel Hill, which overlooks both the Old Quarter and the Vistula River. Constructed in Renaissance style, the castle houses exquisite treasures collected through the ages by Polish monarchs. Next to the castle is Wawel Cathedral, which is the final resting place of the Polish Kings.
Another option is to visit the fascinating Wieliczka Salt Mines, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. At up to 300 metres underground you'll see a 400 year old chapel, a subterranean salt lake and chambers large enough to hold the Eiffel Tower! The Chapel of Saint Kinga is the mine's most spectacular feature and you'll no doubt be amazed by what can be sculpted from salt. Please note that there are 350 steps down into the mine at the beginning of the tour and then a further 450 on the route through the various corridors and 20 chambers visited. The temperature underground can be much cooler than on the surface, so be sure to bring a jumper.
There is only time to visit Auschwitz or the Wieliczka salt mine today. We suggest you extend your stay in Krakow if you would like to visit both. Please see the Optional Activities section of our trip notes about pre-booking the optional excursion to Auschwitz prior to travel. This excursion books up quickly so it is important to book this at least one week in advance of your arrival.
This morning we depart for an inflatable rafting trip on the Dunajec River to a point close to the Polish border near Lesnica. It's a chance to get active and probably get wet as well as enjoying the picturesque surroundings. Bring a change of clothes and shoes that you don't mind getting wet and a towel with you today. This river has been a famous attraction since the middle of the 19th century, when tourists came here to cruise on log built rafts. We meander along the bottom of the spectacular canyon that bears the river's name, passing a landscape of towering limestone cliffs, blanketed in lush forests of fir, beech, larch and spruce.
The gorge in Pieniny National Park is particularly noteworthy for its diverse collection of wildlife including lynx, wolf and stag that can often be spotted in its slopes. Birdlife includes some 14 species of bats as well as eagle, pygmy owls, three toed woodpeckers and rare black storks that can be spotted along the river's edge.
Later in the day, will visit the impressive Spis Castle. Sat on a hilltop above the town of Spisske it was once home to the Hungarian kings and it is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the ruins show both Romanesque and Gothic architecture.
Continue by bus to Tatranska Lomnica in the High Tatra Mountains, one of the most scenic regions of Slovakia. Snow-capped for most of the year, the compact High Tatra range is sliced by beautiful valleys and lakes. An ideal region for winter sports, in summer the network of well-marked trails is a hiker's delight.
Hotel Titris (or similar)
Today we take a public bus to Biela Voda and from here we'll start our full day trek in the beautiful Tatra Mountains. We begin with an uphill walk to the picturesque Green Lake. We take in the views and have the option to have a picnic lunch here. For those that wish to walk further there is then the possibility to continue to the Great White Lake before returning to Biela Voda on foot. We return to Tatranska Lomnica by public bus for the evening.
The trek is graded moderate. The first section is 5 kilometres long and goes from 915 metres to an altitude of 1550 metres and should take approximately 2.5 hours. If you continue to the Great White Lake it's a further 2 kilometres and goes to an altitude of 1615 metres and should take an extra 35 minutes. We then need to walk the same distance back to the original starting point of the walk, so we will cover between 10-14 kilometres and walk for 5-6 hours in total today. Please make sure you bring comfortable walking shoes or boots and you may also find walking poles useful.
Alternatively if you'd prefer a shorter walk then you can take a local train to Lake Strbske and enjoy a gentle walk around the lakeshore. This large glacial lake offers great views over the surrounding valleys and lakes. An ideal region for winter sports, in summer the network of well-marked trails is a hiker's delight.
This morning we travel by rail to Banska Bystrica (the journey will involve changes of train). On arrival our local Leader will take us on an orientation walk of the city. The pretty town is set on the Hron River and is surrounded by mountains. The main square is a hive of activity in summer and the city castle, which is one of the main attractions, is located on the edge of the square. Back in 1944 it was in Banska Bystrica that the Slovak national uprising began against the invading German forces and their own collaborationist government. Although most were defeated a few members managed to hold on until 1945 when the Soviet, Czechoslovakian and Romanian armies arrived and liberated the country from Nazi rule.
Whilst here you might like to try the traditional and delicious folded potato pancakes followed by 'Tatratea' liqueur, a tea based strong herbal drink that originated in the High Tatra Mountains as a way of keeping warm on cold winter evenings.
Pension Grand (or similar)
We start our day visiting the unique Hronsek wooden church, a remarkable engineering accomplishment, given the vast wooden building contains not a single nail or supporting metal in its construction. This beautiful building is protected by UNESCO and has capacity to seat a congregation of over 1000.
Our next stop is Banska Stiavnica, a beautifully preserved medieval town located in the centre of a huge caldera of an ancient collapsed volcano, surrounded by dense forested hills. Whilst here we will visit the 17th century open air mining museum. Equipped with a helmet, mining coat and lamp we head 60 meters deep underground to traverse a two kilometre tunnel providing a fascinating insight into the hard work of mining community from the middle ages until the end of the 20th century.
We continue our journey to Stará Hora, a picturesque small wine-making district of Sebechleby village, on the southern foothills of the Stiavnica Mountains sprinkled with small wine houses called "hajlochy." After a short walk around the village there is the option to visit a local wine cellar and enjoy some wine and dinner prepared by a local family, this is an optional activity - see the budgeting section for more details. Our final destination is Budapest, a two hour drive.
Hotel Papillon (or similar)
Situated on a beautiful stretch of the Danube River, Hungary's capital consists of two parts: Buda and Pest. Buda is the older, more graceful part, with cobbled streets and medieval buildings, whilst the latter is the modern business centre.
The morning is left free for your own exploration of Budapest with its many attractions. You may like to relax in one of the famous historic thermal baths, fed by natural hot springs or take a boat cruise on the Danube. Another recommended attraction is Szentendre; an artist's town with a Serb minority located on the bank of the river, which can be reached by train or bus.
Utilising local transport, this afternoon's guided walking tour takes in the major sites of this impressive city. Discover the Basilica of Saint Stephen and the Parliament buildings before crossing the Chain Bridge to the Castle District and Watertown. Here lie Buda's most ancient gems- Castle Hill with the Old Town, Fisherman's Bastion and the Royal Palace.
Today in Budapest is left free for you to further explore its many attractions. You may like to visit one of the city's famous thermal baths or take a boat cruise on the Danube. Another recommended attraction is Szentendre; an artist's town with a Serb minority located on the bank of the river, which can be reached by train or bus.
After the journey from Budapest we will spend a nice leisurely afternoon in historical Bratislava, the capital city of Slovakia. It used to be the capital of the former Hungarian Kingdom and was known as 'Pressburg' and went through tough times at war with the Ottoman Empire. We will walk through the Old Town's maze of pretty Medieval streets and squares surrounded by numerous cafes and trendy bistros. We pass by Michael's Gate which is the only remaining old entrance to the city, the pretty Main Square, Neoclassical Primate's Palace and Cathedral of Saint Martin. After the walk you can continue your discovery by visiting one of the oldest castles in Slovakia or by enjoying a birds eye view from city's most famous landmark, the so-called UFO bridge, which affords views over the 'panelaky' typical communist era blocks of flats and various other fairly radical urban projects.
Hotel Matysak (or similar)
This morning we take a short train ride (about 1 hour) to Austria's capital, Vienna, where we enjoy a walking tour of the Old City with a local guide. This should offer a good initial overview of the history and the structure of the city. Sights during the walk will include the Karlsplatz, Heroes Square, Hofburg (Imperial Palace Complex), Imperial Treasury, National Library, Spanish Riding School, Vienna's ancient housing estates, Saint Stephens Church and the Opera. We won't have time to enter any of these places on our tour but afterwards you will be free to return to visit any that you wish. You can choose to return to Bratislava by train at your leisure (we will provide a return ticket) or you may prefer to book a boat trip back along the Danube River (taking approximately 2 hours).
We start our day with a train trip (taking around 1 hour), followed by a short bus journey to the beautiful town of Mikulov. Filled with history embodied in architectural monuments, this small town offers something for everyone. Situated in the very heart of the wine region, it has plenty of walking paths with local and family run wine cellars or wine tasting centres along the way. En route to Mikulov we stop at Lednice-Valtice Cultural Landscape, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It's one of the largest artificial landscapes in Europe and here we will take a walk around the castle park of Chateau Lednice.
In the afternoon we visit the Jewish Cemetery in Mikulov with centuries old tombs and it is the final resting place of many prominent rabbis. Following our visit we'll enjoy a wine tasting of Mikulov's local produce.
Hotel Galant (or similar)
A train journey takes us to our final destination of Prague, the capital city of the Czech Republic. Our train travel today will involve a change of trains and take approximately 4.5 hours in total. Twelve centuries have adorned it with a labyrinth of old streets and wonderful palaces and bridges. We enjoy a guided city tour, which will take in some of the main highlights including the Old Town Square and City Hall, set amid antique houses and arcades. Other sites include the Astronomical Clock, Powder Tower and Prague Ghetto, which includes the Jewish Cemetery and Synagogues. We also see Charles Bridge, the most handsome bridge over the Vltava River and the area of Hradcany which contains the castle of the Bohemian Kings.
Hotel Lunik (or similar)
On our second day in Prague you are free to enjoy the city at your leisure. You may wish to head by local train to the 700 year old Konopiste Castle. The castle was once owned by Archduke Ferdinand, whose assassination in Sarajevo triggered the start of World War I. A boat trip on the Vltava River is another possibility. There are also many classical music concerts to be found. If the timing is right, you may be lucky to see a performance in one of the old atmospheric churches. There the option of visiting the Bunker Museum, where a range of Cold War relics are on display from an age when paranoia and spying was at an all-time high, which is housed in a former communist bunker underneath the city.
The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in Prague.
There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Prague at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day, luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. If you would like an airport transfer today, you need to depart from Prague Airport (PRG).
Austria has a variable climate with frequent changes of weather from day to day. Expect a contrast of warm summer days with the possibility of showers at any time.
2 Pin Round
The Czech Republic has a temperate continental climate, with relatively hot summers and cold, cloudy and snowy winters. Most rain falls during the summer. The temperature difference between summer and winter is relatively high, due to the landlocked geographical position.
Summer days are generally quite hot and sunny with usually between 9-10 hours of sunshine daily. Winter days are usually quite windy and temperatures are regularly around or just below freezing. Night time temperatures can drop quite low in the hills whilst most rain falls in spring and early summer. Sudden rain showers can, however, occur at any time of the year.
Poland has a temperate, changeable climate. September and October are cooler and gradually become damper until late November when temperatures fall below freezing with snowfall, particularly in mountainous areas. Cold temperatures last through to March, but are tolerable. Snow can lie for up to three months in the mountains.
Summers are short in the mountains. July to August is the hottest period, when daytime temperatures average 20-22°C, though it may be much cooler in the early morning or late evening. During the winter, snow and ice is not uncommon, with snow generally starting in December and continuing to early February. Mountain weather is notoriously changeable and it can be cold at any time of year, so be prepared.. Early July is the best time for flowers.
Krakow: Wieliczka Salt Mine £20.00 per person entrance. Wawel Castle entrance fee £5.00 per person. Visit to Auschwitz approximately £32.00 per person. Please note a visit to Auschwitz will take up most of the day. It is subject to availability, so we recommend booking a ticket before leaving the UK. You can do this online directly with any of the following companies; Discover Cracow https://discovercracow.com/tours-and-trips/auschwitz-birkenau/, See Krakow http://www.seekrakow.com/auschwitz-birkenau/, Info Tours \lang1051\ul Auschwitz-Birkenau \ulnone Please ensure you book your ticket for the correct day. Sebechleby: Locally prepared dinner with wine tasting at a traditional hajlochy (wine house) €20 per person Budapest: Thermal Baths £10.00 per person entrance. Danube River cruise £15.00 per person. Tasting of four wines and lunch £15.00 per person. Also allow about £10.00 for various museum and site entrance fees during the trip.
Mountain weather is changeable. Summers can be hot so pack cottons and light weight clothing with warmer layers for the evenings and a rain jacket, just in case. Medium weights in spring and autumn are recommended along with a windproof and waterproof jacket. If you are travelling in winter then wrap up warmly - layers work best. Warmer clothing is required for in the Tatras Mountains - a warm fleece, gloves and hat are essential throughout most of the season. You should also bring a swimming costume and towel.
Walking boots for the Tatras Mountain trails are required. Comfortable trainers or sandals for city sightseeing and relaxing. If you're travelling in winter then bring good non-slip footwear as the cobbled streets can be slippery underfoot when they're wet or icy.
One main piece of baggage and a day pack. Remember you are expected to carry your own luggage so don't overload yourself. This trip is at a full on pace, including a train journey with short walks and/or stairs between platforms, stations and accommodation, so for this reason please take care to make sure you can comfortably carry your own luggage throughout the trip.
Bring a water bottle, insect repellent, a sunhat, sunscreen and sunglasses and a torch just in case of emergencies. You may also find walking poles useful for the hike in the Tatras Mountains. Don't forget your camera.
Bus, Public Bus, Train
Please note that on days five and six that our included breakfasts will be served at a local steakhouse restaurant that is around 5 minutes' walk from our guesthouse.
Can you drink the water?
It is generally possible to drink the local tap water, therefore to reduce the need for single-use plastic bottles we recommend you bring a refillable water bottle with you. Your leader will advise you on refill points each day.
We strongly recommend that you check your government's travel advisory for up-to-date information and advice about your destination: safety and security, entry requirements, health, local laws and customs. For UK citizens, check the latest Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office advice.
Please refer to our COVID-19 entry requirements page for any country-specific conditions of entry. Whilst we strive to update this on a regular basis we recommend you also check the FCDO website for the latest advice on entry requirements in this fast-evolving situation. Information can change at any time.
Please note that some countries require proof of parental consent when travelling overseas with under 18s. Please check requirements with the relevant embassy or consular office well in advance of travel if this applies to your party.
Once your booking has been confirmed we guarantee the price will not increase, whatever the circumstances. However, please note that if you voluntarily make any changes to your booking including changing your trip or departure date, any additional costs or charges incurred will not be covered. Before booking please ensure you have read our important tour pricing information.Booking Conditions
Slovakia: Visas are not required by UK, US, Canadian, Australia and New Zealand citizens. Other nationalities should consult their local embassy or consular office. Austria: Visas are not required by UK, US, Canadian, Australia and New Zealand citizens. Other nationalities should consult their local embassy or consular office. Hungary: Visas are not required by UK, US, Canadian, Australia and New Zealand citizens. Other nationalities should consult their local embassy or consular office. Czech Republic: Visas are not required by EU, Canadian, US, Australia, New Zealand and Japanese citizens. Other nationalities should consult their local embassy or consular office. Please note that you should carry your passport with you at all times when in Czech Republic for identification purposes as police officers may fine or arrest you if you fail to do so.
If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may be able to apply through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See www.travcour.com to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, with the correct validity for your chosen destination.
Before booking your Explore trip, please ensure that you read both our Essential Information and Booking Conditions.
Customers who have chosen to book on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements of our tour, please ensure that you have checked your tour specific ‘Joining Instructions’ prior to booking your own travel arrangements. Your joining instructions can be found below in the dates and prices information.
You may also be eligible for the Free Explore Transfer.
Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The complimentary transfers will be arranged from the Explore designated airport or train station to your trips joining point, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. Generally the airport or station that Explore have selected will be the one that is closest to the town or city where the trip starts, or the one nearest to the joining point. It will be either an airport or train station but not both.
The exception to this rule is customers who are booked on a tour where the joining and ending point is at the designated airport or train station.
Free transfers are not available for Polar customers.
If you are not eligible for the Free Transfer then you will need to make your own way through to the joining and ending point. On a majority of our tours Explore will be able to provide a private transfer at an additional cost. Please ask for a quote at the time of booking.
For more information regarding the Explore Free Transfer click here
It is a condition of booking with Explore that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency helicopter evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are trekking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. The cost of many of our Polar Voyages will exceed the capped amount covered by standard insurance premiums and you will be required to pay an additional premium to cover the full value of your trip. Please ensure that you are covered for the full amount of your holiday cost, as insufficient cover could invalidate a claim under the policy. Medical and repatriation insurance cover is not mandatory for UK residents who are travelling on trips within the United Kingdom.
Read more information about what travel insurance is required.
Explore offers a wide range of flexible flying options to make joining and leaving our trips easy. Read more about them here.
You are able to book this tour on a 'land only' basis or as a ‘flight inclusive’ package. Your flight inclusive package will be fully protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL protection scheme.
We have a good selection of flights not only from London but from many regional airports around the UK allowing us to compare fares between scheduled carriers as well as low cost and charter airlines. Our dedicated flights team will match the best flight options to your arrival and departure airport.
On our website we display a UK flight inclusive package guide price which is generally based on a London departure. To avoid paying supplements or to secure your preferred flight option, we recommend booking as early as possible, especially for peak travel dates.
This trip is designed to acquaint you with the highlights of three fascinating countries in 8 days. There's so much to enjoy and a lot of ground to cover, so please be prepared for the busy nature of this enthralling holiday.
An ability to swim is essential for your safe enjoyment of the water based activities on this trip. If you wish to participate in these activities then we insist that you are able to swim. COVID-19 information: For more information on how we are operating our trips during COVID-19 please refer to our general guidelines www.explore.co.uk/travel-with-confidence On day 3 additional sanitizing measures will be introduced to ensure all rafting equipment is thoroughly cleaned pre and post activity. On day 4 the public bus journey will be switched to a taxi if the bus is over capacity and we are unable to comply with local regulations regarding physical distancing.
Nothing compulsory, but we recommend protection against tetanus, polio and hepatitis A. Tickborne encephalitis is recommended by some medical sources if travelling in certain areas of Europe, at specific times of the year. Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at Explore Travel Health and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling.
Nothing compulsory but we recommend protection against tetanus, diphtheria, hepatitis A, typhoid and polio. Tick-borne encephalitis is recommended by some medical sources if travelling in certain areas of Eastern Europe, at specific times of the year. Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at Explore Travel Health and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling.
Nothing compulsory, but we recommend protection against tetanus, polio and hepatitis A. Tick-borne encephalitis is recommended by some medical sources if travelling in certain areas of Europe, at specific times of the year. Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at Explore Travel Health and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling.