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From the melancholy beauty of Venice, the sinking city, to the city of Vienna, this 10-day trip takes you on a historical journey through Italy and Austria. Take in breathtaking alpine meadows in Alpe di Siusi and beautifully preserved medieval buildings in Salzburg, indulging in flaky pastries and rich coffee along the way. With a mix of scheduled activities and free time to explore on your own, this trip is the perfect introduction to the charm of central Europe.
Day 1: Venice
Welcome to Venice. This watery wonderland of bridges, towers, piazzas, canals, churches and gondolas – practically unchanged for 600 years – is literally sinking under the weight of its iconic sights. After tonight's group meeting, why not enjoy dinner with your fellow travel companions at a local restaurant.
Day 2: Venice
After an orientation walk to familiarise you with the city, you are free to venture out and explore Venice. There are only two ways to get around this city – on foot or by boat. Some of the more popular sights include Doge's Palace, the Piazza and Basilica di San Marco, and the Bridge of Sighs. Take the vaporetto (water bus) over to the island of San Giorgio to climb the bell tower for the best view of Venice. No trip here would be complete without a journey down the Grand Canal in a Venetian gondola. It's a common way for visitors to see the major canal routes from an immersive perspective. Perhaps while away the hours in busy San Marco square and be sure to try the local tiramisu and Italian coffee that's on offer. There’s creativity everywhere, even overflowing into the canals; you can see it in the venetian glass in Dorsoduro or down the streets spreading out from Campo Santo Stefano, which are lined with unique galleries and small boutiques. Maybe visit the Palazzo Ducale, full of paintings by Italian masters, and contrast it with the modern Guggenheim. Or, enjoy getting lost crossing the hundreds of bridges and uncovering your own slice of Venice. In the evening, perhaps join your fellow travellers for a group dinner at a local restaurant. Venice is famous for its specialities of fresh lobster and squid ink spaghetti dishes, so make sure you give one a try.
Day 3: Bolzano
Bolzano is as curious as it is beautiful, and it is very, very beautiful. A mixture of German and Italian heritage makes for an interesting cultural mix in this valley town, from European-style epoque buildings to the Mediterranean-flavoured porticoes of the main square. The three-and-a-half-hour train journey to Bolzano is made enjoyable by glimpses of gorgeous countryside from the window. Arrive and enjoy an orientation walk through this picturesque town of green hills and sloping vineyards. Enjoy a free evening to soak up the town. The Piazza Walther (central square) is beautifully lit up in the evening and makes a great place to begin.
Day 4: South Tyrol / Bolzano
Today you’ll get to sample some of the wines this region is famous for while enjoying the fresh air and stunning surrounds with a bike tour of the South Tyrolean Wine Road. Peddle along the river and through orchards, taking in the delightful sight of villas and vineyards nestled in the hills. Stop and sip along the way, perhaps trying a glass of fragrant gewurztraminer or lightly spiced cabernet – both varieties are particularly popular here. The ride will take less than three hours, leaving the rest of the day free for you to enjoy this beautiful area.
Day 5: South Tyrol / Bolzano
Enjoy a full day in the Alpe di Siusi, the largest high-altitude alpine meadow in Europe. It's an area that conjures images of Julie Andrews spinning around in Sound of Music – think softly rolling hills with patches of thick pines framed by jagged mountains. See the incredible vistas from above in a cable car ride over the area. Explore Prösels Castle, a building with a fascinating history. Constructed in the 13th century, the castle was rebuilt in the Gothic style in the 15th century and was briefly occupied by farmers as a form of protest in the 16th century. Take a scenic walk with a local storyteller. The area was also the setting for witch trials (and subsequent burnings) over 500 years ago. Enjoy an included lunch and contemplate the often dark history behind the beauty of Alpe di Siusi at the Rauchhütte, a well-situated alpine chalet restaurant at 1,850 metres above sea level, with stunning views and tasty local dishes.
Day 6: Salzburg
Journey into Austria, taking a 4,5 hour train ride to Salzburg, the birthplace of Mozart and a World Heritage-listed city. Enjoy an orientation walk upon arrival and get acquainted with the streets around your hotel. The skyline of Salzburg is filled with the domes and spires that typify baroque architecture. You’ll get a fantastic view of the city while watching the late European sunset from lofty Hohensalzburg Castle. Later, the Old Town is the perfect place for an evening stroll or a nightcap, so perhaps take a walk to a cafe and enjoy an Almdudler spritz (white wine mixed with the popular herbal soft drink).
Day 7: Salzburg
Today you are free to see Salzburg at your own pace. History buffs may wish to explore one or more of the preserved historical buildings scattered throughout the city. The Salzburg Fortress (part of Hohensalzburg Castle) is one option. In addition to the restored towers and fortifications, the building features a museum filled with fascinating artefacts from the middle ages – from armour to chastity belts. Old Market Square is a great place to load up on pastries and perhaps shop for trinkets, though be aware the stalls pack up from about 2 pm. In the evening, maybe ask your leader where you can grab some Tafelspitz. This classic Austrian dish features meat boiled in a broth (stay with us), usually served with minced apples and horseradish. The description may not sound particularly special, but this hearty meal combines salty, sweet and sharp flavours in a way that is incredibly satisfying.
Day 8: Vienna
The capital of Austria and the undisputed legacy arts hub of central Europe, Vienna awaits after a 2.5-hour train journey. Get started with an orientation walk, then set out on your own to explore this historic city. The public transport in the city is fantastic, which makes getting around easy. The geometric tiling on the roof of St Stephan’s Cathedral is worth a look, and you can climb 136 metres to the top of the south tower for amazing views of the city. In the evening why not head out for a meal? Of course, the classic schnitzel is abundant (and delicious) but if you’d like to try something a little different ask your leader where to find a traditional beuschel (a ragout made with calf lung and heart).
Day 9: Vienna
Enjoy a free day in Vienna, the perfect opportunity to visit one of the cities famous royal complexes. One option is Schonbrunn Palace, an expansive estate with lawns perfect for lounging and multiple rooms preserved from different eras. Or perhaps check out the central Hofburg Imperial Palace, where bibliophiles can see one of the world’s most beautiful libraries, where towering shelves hold ancient volumes. Either of the palaces will take a whole day to explore in full, so you’ll have to choose one or the other. If you’re looking to unwind and avoid crowds, you could always spend the day in one of Vienna’s many coffee houses, nursing a brew and watching the world flow by. In the evening, you have the option of joining your fellow travellers and leader for a farewell dinner.
Day 10: Vienna
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time following checl-out. As there is so much to do and see in Vienna you may want to consider to extend your stay here. We are happy to book additional accommodation for you, subject to availability.
7 Breakfast(s) Included
1 Lunch(es) Included
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