With an ever-growing list of places to visit and sights to see, it’s easy for a holiday to turn into a mad dash to tick items off your bucket list. And, in your rush to see so much, you risk miss out on experiencing what makes travel so meaningful: the chance to connect with your surroundings, interact with the locals and lose yourself in each moment.
On each itinerary, whether we stay in a destination for one day or a few, we make sure our guests see not only the must-see sights but get a glimpse of the hidden treasures that make each place so unique. However, with later starts and longer days, our At Leisure trips let you dive even deeper into each amazing city.
We caught up with Dean, our 2019 Travel Director of the Year, to hear how our 10-day Vienna, Prague and Budapest trip offers guests a unique opportunity to uncover the magic of each place they visit, giving them three nights and two full days in each capital city.
“The best thing about the At Leisure trips is they give our guests an opportunity to really connect with the destinations we visit. Whether it’s exploring the cuisine, visiting a museum or two they normally wouldn’t have the time to do with less time in a city, uncovering my or their own hidden gems or even just sitting in a cafe and watching the world go by, the slower pace allows our guests to get a deeper understanding of what makes each city tick.”
In Vienna, the City of Music, guests are immersed in a Baroque fantasy, with evenings filled with delicious local dinners and live classical music performances. And, alongside our Local Specialist, they spend the day exploring all the popular sights such as the Hofburg Palace, the official residence of the President of Austria and former home of the Habsburg Dynasty, the Parliament Building, the magnificent Opera House and St. Stephen’s Cathedral. All whole afternoon spent walking in the footsteps of the great sons of Vienna – Mozart, Haydn and Strauss.
However, with a full day set aside to explore the city at their leisure guests are also able to spend an afternoon at a local kaffe, just watching people stroll past. There’s even time to journey into the countryside and pay a visit to the nearby wine villages. But the absolute highlight by far is a VIP visit to the famous Kunsthistorisches Museum with a private tour of the Kunstkammer Wien, the treasury of the Habsburg family. The treasury showcases the craftsmanship of the Austrian Royal Court including pieces made of gold, mother of pearl, porcelain and ivory.
As a Trafalgar exclusive experience, guests are allowed into the museum before it’s open to the public to truly appreciate these national treasures in a serene setting that befits their delicate beauty.
“For me the best part of our visit to the KHM is standing in the incredibly detailed entrance hall with no one else there,” Dean said. “Photos can’t do it justice, but having nobody in your shots helps remind you how lucky we are.”
The 3-night stay in Budapest is especially memorable with a never-ending stream of highlights peppered with time to wander around this stunningly beautiful city. Guests take in the views from the ornate arched lookouts at Fisherman’s Bastion in Buda and then cross the Danube River to see the Great Synagogue in Pest.
After a morning of sight-seeing, and there are plenty of sights to see in this Baltic metropolis, guests head to the nearby town of Budakalász for a moving Be My Guest experience with our local hosts, the Schieszl family. A trip highlight for Dean and the guests that he brings on this unique experience.
“I love the Be My Guest experience. It’s something that I am so proud Trafalgar has nurtured and supported over the last 10 years. Visiting Konrad and his team is not just taking the group out for a local dinner. For me, it’s like taking the group to meet family.”
This little-known town is not even a blip on the tourist radar, making this experience something truly unique. Konrad Schieszl invites our guests into the restaurant his family has owned since 1896 to hear the remarkable tale of loyalty, dedication and a passion for local food and wine that is his family legacy.
Guests go down into the 300-year-old wine cellar and see the barrel that served as a hiding space for a Jewish family friend during the Holocaust, saving him from a fate suffered by many less fortunate people in this region. This friend would get the chance to repay the favour by helping the family repurchase the winery after they were forced to flee Hungary during the spread of communism.
To top off this amazing visit, Konrad prepares a delicious meal featuring a modern take on traditional Hungarian fare using local ingredients and accompanied with a glass of the winery’s award-winning wine.
With so much excitement packed into one day, guests are given the full second day to discover the hidden gems of Budapest, leisurely exploring this romantic city. With a seemingly endless wealth of local knowledge, Dean loves to show guests the locals-only spots that most tourist walk past.
“Having been closed for two years, the Cafe Parisi is my favourite hidden gem in the city. The modern interior of the former Paris Department Store hides, for me, the most beautiful cafe in the city. Decorated with floor to ceiling mirrors, beautiful fresco paintings and lots and lots of gold, it’s surprisingly easy to miss. It’s the perfect place to while away your time imagining the elegance and opulence of Budapest in its glory era, the end of the 1800s. Plus it’s always pretty empty, and the coffee and cakes are fantastic!”
In Prague, guests can take full advantage of their 3-night stay to let the Bohemian spirit take over their soul. In the “City of a Hundred Spires” guests will find inspiring architectural masterpieces around every corner.
“Prague is magical by day but like a fairytale at night.” – Dean, Travel Director
They’ll visit St. Vitus Cathedral, the final resting place of the Bohemian kings, stroll down the Charles Bridge under the watchful eyes of the 14th century statues of the saints, and witness the hourly Walk of the Apostles at the Astronomical Clock.
Once they’ve checked out these iconic sights, they still have time left over to wander through the historical treasure that is the Old Town, sample some of the world-famous local beers, or even venture out to neighbouring Kutná Hora. This ancient silver mining town is home to the Sedlec Ossuary, a small Roman chapel decorated top to bottom with human skulls, and the jutting buttresses of Saint Barbara’s Cathedral.
If you’re looking for a holiday that lets you explore, uncover and dive into these amazing Eastern European cities, take a look at all the amazing experiences available on our Vienna, Prague and Budapest trip.