Christmas Markets of Vienna, Budapest & Prague 11 days / Special Event Tours
About This Experience
Kick off the holiday season a little differently this year. Head to Eastern Europe for a new take on tradition at the popular and festive Christmas markets. There, you’ll peruse stall-upon-stall of handmade, heartfelt crafts perfect for everyone on your list, stopping to sample fresh local fare like waffeln (waffles) and hot glühwein (mulled wine). And, in between your shopping, you’ll have plenty of time to explore the streets of ancient Buda and modern Pest, get a taste for the Viennese cafe culture and scan artsy Prague’s spire-studded skyline.
Your Tour Includes
Round-trip airfare & transfers
9 nights in handpicked hotels
Breakfast daily, 3 three-course dinners with beer or wine
Multilingual Tour Director
Private deluxe motor coach
Select entrance fees
Why You'll Love It
Festive markets offer a unique look into local cultures
Walking away with gifts you can’t find anywhere else
Stunning scenery & charming villages
Budapest, charming city on the Danube
Vienna, the postcard-perfect “City of Music”
Prague, storybook capital of Bohemia
Overnight Flight1 night
Budapest3 nights - hotel info
A two-sided city means twice as much to explore
Breakfast (in flight), Dinner
Welcome to Budapest, a city divided by the Danube River into its old and new sections, Buda and Pest. A Go Ahead representative greets you at the airport after you clear customs and then escorts you to your hotel. The rest of the day is free to relax or begin acquainting yourself with the Hungarian capital. At an included dinner this evening, meet your fellow travelers.
Time travel through baroque Buda and modern Pest
Parliament, Matthias Church
This morning’s included tour highlights the major landmarks of both Buda and Pest. Trace the stormy history of this fiercely independent nation on your stop at Heroes Square. Tour the lavishly decorated interior of the Parliament building, modeled on London’s Palace of Westminster. Then cross the Danube and arrive in Buda. Ascend the imposing Castle Hill for a look at the Royal Palace. The castle has witnessed several invasions, the most recent having occurred during World War II. After taking in the breathtaking views rom Fisherman’s Bastion, visit the medieval Matthias Church, once the site of Hungarian coronations.
Take a walk behind the Iron Curtain
During a free day in Budapest, continue your personal exploration of the city. You might browse through the shops on Budapest’s sophisticated pedestrian shopping streets, take a short journey outside to the Vadaskert (Game Park) or tour the Jewish Museum. Alternatively, consider joining our optional Budapest: A Walk Behind the Iron Curtain, touring Budapests fascinating communist historic sites.
Budapest: A Walk Behind the Iron Curtain $69* pp
Discover the turbulent, tragic and heroic history of the communist period in Budapest on A Walk Behind the Iron Curtain. The first stop is the Parliament building, starting place of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, where damage from the Soviet invasion is still visible. Visit the nearby statue of Imre Nagy, Hungary’s Prime Minister during the revolution, who is an enduring symbol of freedom. Liberty Square is just a stroll away, home to the U.S. Embassy, a statue of Ronald Reagan and the only remaining monument to Communist troops. From St. Stephen’s Basilica, take the historical Metro Line 1 up the iconic Andrassy Ave. Stop for an included coffee amidst the the Neo-Renaissance splendor of Book Café, the regular meeting place of the intelligentsia during the Soviet occupation. End the day at the House of Terror, where you will take a guided tour through this chilling museum and moving monument to the victims of communism and fascism in Hungary.
Vienna3 nights - hotel info
Go gallery hopping in the artsy outpost of Szentendre
Journey west through the countryside on today’s transfer to Vienna. Along the way, stop in Szentendre, a picturesque artists’ colony nestled on the banks of the Danube, where your tour director leads a walking tour. Arrive in Vienna late this afternoon. The rest of the day is free to relax before an included dinner.
Nothing says Christmas like piping-hot pastries and handmade crafts
On today’s guided sightseeing tour of Vienna, you’ll tour the ornate interior of Schönbrunn Palace, summer home of Empress Maria Theresa. You’ll also see the beautifully landscaped gardens surrounding the estate. Continue your tour of this brilliant city, as you travel along the Ringstraße and pass the Hofburg, the winter palace of the long ruling Hapsburg dynasty. This afternoon, your Tour Director will introduce you to Vienna’s most festive tradition, its Christmas Markets. Let the infectious spirit of the season envelop you as you explore the stalls for treasures to take home. This evening, opt to attend our Traditional Viennese Heurigen Evening. You’ll take a ride on the Prater Ferris Wheel and dine at a local restaurant, where you’ll enjoy wine made by the same people serving dinner.
Traditional Viennese Heurigen Evening $99* pp
After a brief drive, your first stop is Vienna's Prater Ferris Wheel. Take a breezy ride to the top, which offers a one-of-a-kind view of the city. Next, continue to the picturesque village of Grinzing. At a local restaurant, you'll indulge in a festive night of music and food. Dinner will feature dishes typical of traditional Austrian Heurigens, or wine taverns. During your meal, you'll have the chance to try some of the tavern's own locally made wine—the perfect addition to your cozy Old-World setting.
Top-secret, world-famous and chocolatey, this cake is a Viennese must
Spend the day at your leisure. You might wish to take a stroll through Vienna’s pedestrian zone, stopping at the Hotel Sacher for a taste of its worldfamous Sachertorte, or view the elegant Lipizzaner horses in the Spanish Riding School. Or choose to join an optional riverboat cruise along the scenic banks of the Danube with a stop in Dormstein.
Danube River Cruise $95* pp
After a short drive to Dürnstein, where Richard the Lionheart was held captive, embark on a leisurely cruise on the Danube. Your ship will take you through the Wachau Valley, home to age-old castles and picturesque villages. After the cruise, stop in Melk for a visit to one of Europe’s most beautiful Baroque monastery, an architectural wonder perched high atop a cliff. Please note: This excursion requires advanced reservation and runs from mid-April through October.
Prague3 nights - hotel info
Look up—this capital’s skyline is its true calling card
Castle of Hradcany, St. Vitus’ Cathedral
On this morning’s guided sightseeing tour, discover why Prague is known as the City of One Hundred Spires. The pinnacles of the city’s churches and palaces create one of Europe’s most majestic skylines. Visit the spectacular Castle of Hradcany, from which Charles IV governed the Holy Roman Empire and Vaclav Havel restored democracy. Later, admire the soaring Gothic vaults of St. Vitus’ Cathedral. During your free time this afternoon, you may choose to wander through the medieval lanes of the Old Town. Discover Wenceslas Square, Prague’s cosmopolitan heart, or cross elegant Charles Bridge and enjoy breathtaking views of the city. Alternatively, join our optional tour of Prague’s Jewish Quarter and Europe’s oldest synagogue.
Walking Tour of Prague's Jewish Quarter $79* pp
Follow a local guide on a walking tour of Josefov, Prague’s Jewish Quarter, nestled between the Vltava River and Old Town Square. Discover the Quarter's remains, which survived devastation during World War II and oppression during the Communist era. Afterward, pay a visit to the Jewish Museum of Prague, housed in a collection of former synagogues, one of which displays the names of all the Czechs sent to concentration camps. Along your tour, learn about the Golem myth, a story forever entwined with Prague’s Jewish history. You’ll also see sights once frequented by Franz Kafka, the enigmatic author of The Trial and Metamorphosis, who made his home in Prague. Lunch is included.
Pose with Kafka, cross the Charles Bridge or pay a visit to a palace
Enjoy a day in Prague at leisure. You can journey inside St. James Church and its evocative Gothic interior or check out the rococo façade of Kinsky Palace. This evening, join an optional excursion to Château Sychrov for a concert and dinner.
Château Sychrov $139* pp
Visit Château Sychrov, a 17th-century Baroque estate north of Prague. Take a guided tour through the estate, paying special attention to the elaborate carvings along the stairway, in the chapel and in the dining room. Then, tour the gallery of French kings and the château's gardens. Later, attend a private concert of classic Czech music and an included dinner. Please note: This excursion requires advanced booking and payment at least 20 days prior to departure.
Passport & Visa
This itinerary includes the following countries: Austria, Hungary and the Czech Republic. In order to enter these countries, U.S. and Canadian citizens need a valid passport. The expiration date must extend at least six months beyond the date of your return home. No visa is required for U.S. or Canadian citizens. If you are not a U.S. or Canadian citizen, you must contact each country’s consulate for your specific entry requirements.
There are no major health risks associated with traveling on this tour. However, it’s always advisable to check with your doctor or health care provider for the latest updates.
One of the pleasures of traveling is the variety of local cuisine. In Austria, thick soups of paprika and onion, veal, beef and venison with cranberries are all popular, as is the renowned Wiener Schnitzel. For fish-lovers there are excellent wild trout, roast carp and crayfish. It is perhaps desserts that provide the most memorable aspect of Austrian cuisine: strudels made with all kinds of fruit and nuts, soufflés and elegant chocolate cakes such as the world-famous Sachertorte. Hungary boasts goulash as its national dish, but also is known for its excellent salamis, cheeses, nut-flavored pancakes, fresh-water fish and preserved fruits. Czech food is hearty, and you will find large portions of veal, beef and potato dishes. Some of the world’s finest beers are produced here, including the original Budweiser and Pils.
Transportation / Walking on tour
Round-trip flights arrive in Budapest and depart from Prague (or Munich on extension). Included transportation is by private motor coach. In your free time, you may wish to explore the cities by public transportation. Vienna has a top-notch transportation system—one of the best in Europe. You can purchase tickets in singles or in bulk for S-bahn (above ground), U-bahn (underground), tram and bus lines. The waiting time for trains and subways is usually no more than five to 10 minutes. Budapest also has an all-inclusive transportation system with links between the metro, “green trains,” yellow trams and red trolleybuses. Purchase tickets from newspaper stands, vending machines or metro entrances. Prague is best explored on foot, but if you need to access the suburbs or transport to a hotel, trams and local buses are readily available.
Airlines have varying weight restrictions on luggage. Some airlines may impose additional charges if you choose to check any baggage. Please contact your airline or refer to its website for detailed information regarding your airline’s checked baggage policies. Bear in mind that your luggage will probably weigh more on your return trip due to souvenir shopping. We allow only one suitcase per person. One carry-on bag is also permitted, provided that it does not exceed 45 inches (length + width + height). There may be times when you will have to handle your own bags, and you’ll find that lightweight luggage provides a distinct advantage. Make sure you label your baggage and carry valuables, medication and documents in your carry-on luggage.
Clothing & Packing Tips
To ensure you’re comfortable while out exploring, we recommend packing lightweight, loose-fitting clothing that can be easily layered. For sightseeing, we suggest bringing a sturdy pair of walking shoes or sneakers, as well as a lightweight sports jacket or rainwear. If you’re planning a visit to a high-end restaurant or performance, you may also want to bring dressier attire. Also, please remember that it’s preferable to avoid showing bare legs or shoulders during visits to churches or other religious sites (entrance may be denied on this basis).
The euro (in Austria), Hungarian forint and Czech crown are the currencies you will be using on your tour. Better rates of exchange are usually available overseas, although it’s worth ordering some currency from your local bank to use when you first arrive. We strongly advise that you take debit/bank cards and credit cards, which can be used to withdraw cash at local banks, as needed. You can use most debit/credit cards at ATMs on the international networks Cirrus and Plus, but make sure to check with your home bank about withdrawal fees. We suggest that you inform your bank and credit card company of your travel plans, so that they won’t confuse your international purchases for fraudulent charges.
At the conclusion of your tour, it’s customary to offer your Tour Director and driver a gratuity. We recommend tipping in your tour country’s currency, the equivalent of $3USD/CAD per person per day for your driver and $6USD/CAD to $9USD/CAD per person per day for your Tour Director. If applicable, we also recommend the equivalent of $2USD/CAD per local guide. Tips can only be paid in cash. Please keep current local currency exchange rates in mind when tipping.
Old World Christmas Markets - I Highly Recommend
We took this city tour trip (Budapest, Prague & Vienna) in December for a number reasons - 1.) it wasn't going to be hot (nor was it unpleasantly cold), 2.) less tourists clogging the sites, and 3.) the idea of "Christmas Markets" intrigued us. All three cities and all three reasons were right on. Actually we had no idea what to expect with the Christmas Market thing and I'm happy to report that it was something we had never seen before. Anywhere there was a flat spot - vendors set up shop in small 8' X 10" Home Deport-like sheds and sold their Christmas themed wares and crafts. This could range from 20 booths in a square to a couple hundred on the lawn of the Vienna city hall. While yes there was a lot of mass produced type items - about every fifth booth featured a hand crafted / home made item not found anywhere else. Potters, jewelers, toy makers, weavers, ornament makers - if Christmas could be celebrated in a physical object - you could find it in the markets. As a special added bonus - about every 10th booth featured some sort of food item - we often picked our lunch or dinner up as we hop-scotched from food booth to food booth. And as an EXTRA added attraction - hot, mulled wine was sold at the end of each booth line in a decorated mug specially made for that particular market. The cities all beautiful, the people friendly and almost everyone spoke enough English that we NEVER had any kind of a problem getting around. The trolley system is delightful and helps maintain that "old world air" in all three cities. The night views with all the cathedrals and castles lighted up are spectacular. I very highly recommend this tour.
Very nice tour....
It was beautiful. Christmas in Europe is something to be experienced. The hotels were nice, but the location of the hotel in Vienna was lousy. The only way to get anywhere was by subway. So, it was not possible to go out for a walk anywhere. It was on a boring and desolate street. There was however a grocery store just one block up. NO place else to go though. The airline flights were rediculous. The transfer from the Paris airport to catch our plane to NY was almost impossible. Had the flight not left late, we would have missed our plane. With that said, the Xmas markets were lovely and I'm glad I was able to experience it. There was a lot to see, but did not overwhelm the senses. I would recommend this tour to couples or friends traveling together.
Christmas markets of Budapest, Vienna, Prague
We had a great time. The lowest note was the food that was organized for the group as a whole. The hotel food, and the food the last night on the hunting lodge tour was generally just that, hotel food.
If you like shopping, then the Christmas Markets tour is for you! What a great way to get in the Holiday spirit and see some amazing cities all in one trip!