Rick Steves' Best of Eastern Europe in 14 Days Tour, Day by Day
What's it like discovering the Best of Eastern Europe on a Rick Steves tour? Take a day-by-day-tripping slideshow, starting with this happy group — and their even happier wine-tasting fiddler. Let's go! (photo: Dominic Arizona Bonuccelli)
Days 1 & 2: Welcome to Prague
We'll meet at 3 p.m. to get acquainted and preview the adventures ahead. This afternoon we'll jump right in and enjoy a meandering walking tour from our neighborhood to Prague's colorful and historic Old Town Square. We'll end our evening over a hearty dinner together.
We'll begin the next morning by hopping aboard a local tram to take us across the Vltava River and up the hill to the most massive castle complex in continental Europe: Prague Castle. We'll tour the impressive St. Vitus Cathedral, Old Royal Palace, St. George's Basilica, and the Golden Lane. You'll then have free time for lunch and the remainder of the day for more sightseeing on your own. This evening is a great time to catch a classical concert or experience the quirky and uniquely Czech Black Light Theater. (photo: Dominic Arizona Bonuccelli)
Day 3: Moravian Countryside and Kraków
We'll leave the city and drive east into mountainous Moravia, stopping in the beautifully Baroque hill town of Štramberk, where we'll enjoy some free time for lunch and exploration. Then we'll cross into Poland on our way to tonight's destination, the surprising city of Kraków, Poland's cultural crossroads and melting pot. We'll take an orientation walk to the lively, historic market square and enjoy a traditional Polish dinner together. (photo: Dominic Arizona Bonuccelli)
Day 4: Historic Kraków
This morning we'll meet a local guide and wind our way through the story of Kraków. We'll marvel at Wawel Castle, the spiritual home of the Polish nation, and Wawel Cathedral, the resting place of Polish royalty and saints. We'll visit historic St. Mary's Church — the only tower in the world where a bugler has played every hour for the past 600 years (and boy is he tired). We'll learn about the life and impact of local legend John Paul II as we trace his footsteps on our walking tour through the heart of Kraków. Your afternoon is free to discover more of this pleasant city on your own. Visit a museum or two, or go rent a bike! (photo: Dominic Arizona Bonuccelli)
Days 5 & 6: Auschwitz-Birkenau and Rural Hungary
This morning we'll visit the concentration camp site of Auschwitz-Birkenau, Europe's most moving memorial to the Holocaust. Then we'll continue on through the scenic Tatras Mountains and the rolling hills of Hungary's famous "Bull's Blood" wine-growing region. We'll end the day with a Hungarian dinner near the town of Eger, where the townspeople (with some help) turned back an Ottoman invasion of central Europe in 1552.
The next morning you'll have time to soak in Eger's Baroque beauty. Later we'll visit a local school, where we'll sit down and chat with a teacher and enjoy lunch together in the cafeteria. Then we'll learn about the region's deservedly famous wines with a tour and tasting at a local winery. Our destination this evening is Budapest, the mighty Magyar capital on the Danube, where, after an orientation walk, we'll enjoy dinner together. (photo: Dominic Arizona Bonuccelli)
Days 7 & 8: Bustling Budapest
The rich history of Pest has created a city that's a puzzle of Baroque, classical, and modern architecture. On our walking tour this morning, we'll crane our necks beside Europe's largest parliament building, and learn how Hungarians coped with half a century of fascist and communist tyranny. We'll break for lunch, giving you free time to wander through the Great Market Hall — an architectural gem and the city's largest indoor market — and treat your senses to a few paprika-infused delicacies. Later this evening, we'll end our day together with a relaxing cruise on the Danube.
The following day we'll focus on the Buda side of the Danube, starting with a funicular ride up the steep Castle Hill for bird's-eye views of sprawling Pest, and a walking tour that takes us past the imposing Royal Palace and into Budapest's greatest church, the sumptuously gilded Matthias Church. When we've finished here, your guide will be happy to orient those interested to the ornate and traditional public thermal baths. (photo: Dominic Arizona Bonuccelli)
Days 9 & 10: Natural Wonders of Croatia
After breakfast we'll drive out of Hungary and into Croatia. Just across the border, we'll be welcomed with a fresh, family-prepared lunch in a pleasant farm setting. Then we'll drive on to our destination, the deep greens and blues of Croatia's water wonderland and one of Europe's premier nature preserves: Plitvice Lakes National Park. After dinner together, you'll sleep soundly surrounded by the quiet of nature.
The next morning we'll hike along rustic boardwalk trails connecting the idyllic forests, travertine stone cliffs, clear blue lakes, and gushing waterfalls of Plitvice Lakes National Park. We'll learn how the park is creatively managing to protect its delicate environment, including the use of electric trams and boats. We'll take a lunch break to replenish ourselves, then give our legs a rest as we drive to the Istrian peninsula on the Adriatic Sea and the enchanting seaside town of Rovinj, where we'll enjoy a sunset dinner. (photo: Dominic Arizona Bonuccelli)
Day 11: Free day in Rovinj
Take a "vacation from your vacation." The entire day is yours to enjoy the sun, gelato, seafood, and lazy ambience of Rovinj. Wander through the narrow streets, watch local fishermen bring in the day's catch, or head to the beach for sun and a swim. We'll compare notes at an informal happy hour early this evening. (photo: Cameron Hewitt)
Day 12: Slovenian Countryside and Ljubljana
Today we'll head to the azure jewel of Lake Bled at the foot of Slovenia's Julian Alps. Along the way, we'll stop in Ljubljana for a tour highlighting some of the city's famous landmarks and free time to make your own discoveries. After exploring the capital, we'll continue on to one or two of your guide's favorite places to savor the verdant Slovenian countryside before continuing on to our final destination: a pristine lake ringed by forests and hiking paths. (photo: Dominic Arizona Bonuccelli)
Days 13 & 14: Delightful Lake Bled
Today we'll take a traditional pletna boat ride together to Lake Bled's chapel-topped island, where local tradition requires each would-be husband to carry his bride up the 99 steps from the boat dock to the altar (four in five are successful). Your afternoon is free to hike to the castle and its panoramic viewpoint, take a scenic walk around the lake (stopping for a kremšnita cream cake), or rent a bike to explore even more. Tonight we'll rendezvous for a special dinner together, sharing travel memories and toasting new friends.
Breakfast is provided the next morning, but there are no group activities. Ljubljana's airport is just 30 minutes away, and there are nearby train connections to Munich, Vienna, and other European cities. Whatever your plans, your guide will help you get on the right track. Na svidenje! (photo: Dominic Arizona Bonuccelli)
Learn more about Rick Steves' Best of Eastern Europe in 14 Days tour.
(Itinerary specifics subject to change.)