ravel through the Heart of Europe from the neat lowlands of the Netherlands, through the fairy tale villages of Germany and into the scenic Austrian Alps. Add the SOUND OF MUSIC charm of Salzburg, the extensive cultural attractions of Vienna and the historical revitalization of Prague for an exciting combination of destinations. NEW TOUR for 2019!
Refer to “Preparing for your Departure” in your Trip Documents for easy check-in procedures. Take time to relax on your transatlantic flight with the assurance that Image Tours has taken care of all the details.
Upon arrival, disembark, clear passport control and collect your luggage. Refer to your “Arrival Instructions” page in your Trip Documents for directions on where and when to meet your tour manager. Board your deluxe motor coach for a pleasant drive through the neatly-groomed Dutch Lowlands. Much of the Dutch countryside is at or below sea level and is characterized by canals, dikes and windmills. Your two-night stay in South Holland will introduce you to Dutch “gezelligheid,” a kind, convivial, comfortable feeling which you will experience in the days ahead. Meet your fellow tour members at the “Welcome to Europe/ Get-acquainted” dinner. (Dinner)
Today’s visit to Delft provides a charming introduction to your Dutch experience. Prepare to be captivated by the picturesque streets lined with medieval architecture, characteristic canals, friendly cafés offering Dutch pancakes, and inviting shops selling the famous Delft Blue earthenware. Communicating will not be a problem as English is widely spoken throughout the Netherlands (Holland). Continue to the vibrant capital of the Netherlands, Amsterdam, a growing city that still holds its old-world charm. This evening, visit a cheese farm where you will discover how the celebrated Dutch cheese is made. Experience a traditional Dutch dinner before returning to your South Holland hotel. (Breakfast, Dinner)
Transfer to Rotterdam’s center to spend a full day exploring this dynamic harbor city. Spido boat rides (€12) are a fitting way to tour the thriving harbor. The Hop on Hop off bus provides commentary on historic sites and Rotterdam’s fascinatingly diverse architecture (€17 for a 24-hour pass and a 30 minute bike rental). The pedestrian-only area and unique indoor Market Hall offers a variety of shops, bakeries and cafés. The tour manager will also offer an optional Delta Works excursion through the province of Zeeland, with an explanation of how the Netherlands stays dry under sea level. Return to your hotel after an independent dinner in Rotterdam. (Breakfast)
As you approach Kinderdijk, you will be delighted by the sight of Holland’s largest concentration of old windmills. After a photo stop, travel south to Maastricht, one of the oldest towns in the Netherlands. The bisecting Maas River, medieval architecture, Gothic Sint Janskerk (church) and Romanesque Basilica of St. Servatius all contribute to the beauty of this university town, while shops and cafés add a convivial atmosphere. For many, the next stop at Margraten American Military Cemetery is an emotional experience. The graves of over 8,000 American servicemen stand in everlasting memory to the sacrifices of WWII. For the location of specific graves, visit the website www.abmc.gov. Your hotel this evening is conveniently located near the converging borders of Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany. (Breakfast, Dinner)
In Germany, some of your travel will be on the Autobahn, the first state-of-the-art superhighway system, which was expanded by Hitler. Near Koblenz, leave the Autobahn and wind through the Rhine River Valley to Boppard. A pleasure boat awaits you for an upstream cruise on the Rhine River. Keep your eyes open to spot castle ruins, hillside vineyards and medieval fortresses as you glide up Germany’s longest and most important river. Continue to Heidelberg, situated on the Neckar River and dominated by the ruins of Heidelberg Castle. This renowned university town is considered by many to embody the spirit of Germany. Your tour manager will accompany you on a walking tour of the Old Town. Following your visit to Heidelberg, proceed to the neighboring village of Bad Mergentheim for hotel check-in and dinner. (Breakfast, Dinner)
Begin the day with a tour of Nuremberg. Hitler staged his propaganda rallies here, and after his fall, Nuremburg was chosen as the site of the famous War Trials. For further information, visit the Documentation center at the sight of the Nazi party Rally Grounds (€ 6). If you prefer a lighter subject, enter the toy museum (€5), celebrating Nuremberg’s tradition as the city of toys. Spend the afternoon in the enchanting, medieval village of Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber. The well-preserved walls, cobblestone streets, distinctive inns, and whimsical Christmas shop of Käthe Wohlfahrt’s Weihnachtsdorf create the feeling of walking into a fairy tale. Return to your hotel for an authentic German dinner. (Breakfast, Dinner)
Your morning journey leads you South on the Romantic Road. This area is rich in unspoiled countryside, historic castles and quaint villages. Continue to Munich, the elegant capital of Bavaria. Walk into the pedestrian only zone, known as the Marienplatz, where modern storefronts are cleverly integrated with historic buildings. The focal point of the square is the Rathaus (Town Hall), with its captivating Glockenspiel (clock tower). For your independent lunch, consider the Hofbrauhaus, a one-of-a-kind beer hall, which exudes an Oktoberfest atmosphere year around. Transfer to your Alpine Village Hotel where you will stay for the next three nights. (Breakfast, Dinner)
The day is at your leisure. Choose from an abundance of mountain paths for an exhilarating hike or bike ride with awe-inspiring panoramas. Take a chair lift up one of the mountains for magnificent views. Or, simply relax in your Austrian village amid the boundless splendor of the Alps. This afternoon, tour manager will offer an optional Eagle’s Nest excursion to Hitler’s former mountain hideaway. An independent dinner provides the opportunity to sample Austrian cooking at a cozy chalet restaurant. (Breakfast)
Another glorious day amongst the Alpine scenery to do as you please. One choices is to join the tour manager for a full day optional Salzburg & Dinner excursion, which includes a guided tour in Salzburg, the birthplace of Mozart and setting for the “Sound of Music,” and a traditoinal Austrian meal at a village restaurant. (Breakfast)
Begin your day with a stop in Mondsee, a small lakeside town. Here, you may wish to visit the baroque church used to film the wedding scenes for the “Sound of Music.” From Mondsee travel to Melk, known for an iconic Roman fortress, turned into an abbey by 11th century monks. A local guide will take you on a guided tour of the impressive Melk Abbey. On your way into Vienna, stop to take pictures at the Kahlenberg. This area lies atop a large hill, providing phenomenal views and the perfect introduction to Vienna, Austria’s imperial capital. After check-in at your hotel, an independent dinner allows the flexibility to plan your first evening in Vienna according to your personal interests. (Breakfast)
This morning a local guide will provide an introduction of Vienna, highlighting St. Stephen’s Cathedral. You will also see the Opera House, one of Vienna’s most beloved buildings. Use your afternoon to see more of Vienna’s fascinating landmarks. Take a leisurely stroll along the Ringstrasse to see some of the city’s magnificent edifices, or venture into one of the museums in the new, highly-touted Museumsquartier (MQ). For your independent dinner, sample local Austrian cuisine at a café near the hotel or join the optional Schönnbrunn Palace and Dinner excursion. (Breakfast)
From Vienna, it is a short drive to the border. Cross into the Czech Republic, where you will stop in Brno. The main square, Namesti Svobody or “Freedom Square,” is the city’s focal point and is a great place to dine and shop. Arrive in Prague by late afternoon, allowing you time to get acclimated and consider options for an independent dinner or, join the optional Traditional Czech Evening excursion, offering dinner and entertainment. (Breakfast)
This morning meet your local guide for a sightseeing tour of Prague, including the beautiful Staromestske namasti (the most photographed square in the city), the Old Town hall, and the Church of St. Nicholas in the little Quarter (Mala Strana). Following the city tour, consider taking a stroll along the Vltava River (also referred to as the Moldau River), and to the spectacular Charles Bridge. From the high banks across the river, the enormous Prague Castle overlooks the city, contributing to the mysterious atmosphere that is inescapable in Prague. Return to your hotel for a “Farewell Dinner.” (Breakfast, Dinner)
Transfer to the Prague Airport for the return flight home. (Breakfast)