Journey through Central Europe & Romania
from $4615
Duration: 24 Days
Experience the best of this old-world region on a journey through enchanting Central Europe and Romania. Travel to Austria and be immersed in the country's superb musical heritage and step back in time in the castles of the Czech Republic. Experience Polish traditions while exploring the romantic Old Town of Krakow and get active in Slovakia's Tatra Mountains. Then Explore Hungary and Romania; from the beautiful Baroque churches of Budapest to the haunted castles of Transylvania. Learn about the failed Turkish invasion of Eger and take a wine cellar tour in the Valley of the Beautiful Women. Become acquainted with traditional Romanian culture and customs in Maramures. Tour the medieval churches of Brasov, dine with a local family on an overnight homestay in Viscri and visit Bucharest's 12-storey Palace of Parliament. This epic journey through Central Europe and Romania gives a great insight in to that magical part of the world.
  • Soak up the royal history of Krakow's Wawel Castle and step back in time with a stroll through the city's medieval main square
  • Immerse yourself in the history, architecture and bohemian vibes of the Czech Republic. Step right into a fairytale in the World Heritage-listed town of Cesky Krumlov before soaking up the smooth sounds of jazz at a low-lit bar in Prague
  • So much of what is great about Europe can be found in Vienna. Revel in the city's rich offerings of art, history and music and stroll along the eclectic Ringstrasse
  • Enjoy a scenic walk along the banks of the River Danube in Budapest. Threaded with bridges and hemmed in by castles and historic city buildings, Europe’s second longest river is also one of its most beautiful
  • Hike in the picturesque Tatra Mountains and traverse the steep slopes via funicular, gondola and electric steam train
  • Sample the famous Hungarian 'bulls blood' in Eger, the wine that supposedly gave the Hungarian army supernatural strength during their battle against the Ottoman Empire
  • Experience peasant life on a full-day tour through the countryside of Maramures, Romania's most traditional and colourful region. Don't be surprised if you see horse-drawn carts along the road
  • Learn spooky stories while travelling through beautiful Transylvania, famous for its medieval fortified churches and as the birthplace of the inspiration for the world's most famous vampire, Dracula
  • A home-stay with a local family in the Saxon/Roma town of Viscri will expose you to Romanian hospitality and some finger-licking home-cooked grub
  • Cesky Krumlov - Cycling Trip (weather and season permitting)
  • Osowka - Underground City Visit and Guided Tour
  • Tatranska Lomnica - Tatra Mountains Hike (not between Nov and Mar)
  • Tatranska Lomnica - Smokovec Funicular
  • Tatranska Lomnica - Gondola
  • Eger - Wine Tasting
  • Maramures - Day Tour with Local Guide
  • Maramures - Sapanta Merry Cemetery
  • Maramures - Barsana Monastery
  • Viscri - Fortified Church
  • Viscri - Sock Project
  • Viscri - Local Home Cooked Dinner
  • Bucharest - Walking Tour with Local Guide
  • Day 1 Location: Vienna
    Welcome to Vienna, Austria. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. If you do happen to arrive early, why not walk around to get your bearings or, better yet, take a spin on the famous Prater Ferris Wheel nearby for a bird’s eye view. Your base for the next couple of nights is Magdas Hotel – a social enterprise dedicated to supporting refugees in a united and compassionate workplace in Vienna. Magdas employs staff from across the world, so expect to hear many accents from a range of backgrounds. The hotel itself is an eclectic mix of styles, décor and furniture, and used to house a homeless shelter before being renovated for its current purpose. Be sure to check out your surroundings and have a chat to some of the staff! After your important meeting, why not use tonight to get you know your travel pals over some dinner.
    Day 2 Location: Vienna
    Join your leader for a walk through the city's compact centre this morning (approximately 2 hours). Stop at the gothic St Stephen’s Cathedral, wander past the neo-classical Graben and have a look at the Hofburg Palace. Continue along the Ringstrasse and then finish your orientation walk of the city at the State Opera House – one of the world's most important opera houses and the heart of classical Viennese culture. This afternoon is then free for you to keep on checking out the sights of the city. Art lovers have a so much choice when it comes to museums, such as the Albertina, located in the Museum Quarter. Otherwise, you might like to head out to Schoenbrunn for a guided audio tour of the grand summer palace, designed by Empress Maria Theresa. Tonight is also all yours too – it might mean snatching a last-minute ticket to an opera performance or getting some of your crew together for a twilight picnic in one of the city’s many parks.
    Day 3 Location: Cesky Krumlov
    Depart Vienna by minivan in the morning and cross the border into the Czech Republic (approximately 3.5 hours). Your next stop is the southern Bohemian town of Cesky Krumlov. This picturesque medieval town dates back to the 13th century and looks like it’s straight out of a fairy tale. Cesky Krumlov means 'crooked meadow', and that makes sense because it’s situated on a tight bend of the Vltava River. Swap a vehicle for two wheels on a cycling trip this afternoon across rolling hills and through tiny hamlets (approximately 2-2.5 hours). If you have time later on, you could explore the city's castle and its fabulous masquerade hall, or climb the central tower for panoramic views over the town.
    Day 4 Location: Cesky Krumlov
    Today is a free for you to enjoy as you please. Perhaps take an optional guided walking tour of the town, which lets you in on the mysteries that lie behind every shopfront and house on the crooked laneways. For those who want a bit more culture, you could visit the Egon Schiele Art Centrum and browse the gallery that's dedicated to the Austrian painter. If you’re after something more active, jump into a canoe and check out the town from a different perspective – on the Vltava River.
    Day 5 Location: Prague
    Leave Cesky Krumlov in your dust and travel by bus to Prague (approximately 4 hours). On arrival into Prague, head out on an orientation walk with your leader so you can get your bearings of the local neighbourhood. For your free afternoon and evening, why not discover another great side of Prague – its music! The city has one of the longest-standing and respected jazz scenes in Europe, with jazz clubs playing into the early hours of the morning. Otherwise, have a wander along Charles Bridge or Old Town Square for some magical photo opportunities.
    Day 6 Location: Prague
    Today is free to explore Prague. The city offers many possibilities, so perhaps take a walk around the Jewish Quarter and pay your respects at the Gothic-inspired Old Jewish Cemetery. This is Europe's oldest surviving Jewish cemetery, with 12,000 tombstones and 100,000 graves. There is also the Museum of Communism, which details the struggles of many European countries and their political rule in the 19th and 20th centuries. Tonight, be sure to check back in with your group and perhaps organise some dinner and drinks in one of the city’s renowned beer halls – it’s a perfect way to Czech off another day in Prague.
    Day 7 Location: Prague
    You have one more free day in Prague as there is so much to see. You might like to spend some time this morning at Prague Castle – the biggest castle in the Czech Republic – where you'll find the famous St Vitus Cathedral and colourful alleyway of the Golden Lane. Otherwise, a bike tour through the city is a great way to see a lot of the sights and attractions in a short period of time, plus you’ll work off some of that hearty Czech cuisine you’ve been digging into. Or hop on one of the Urban Adventures on offer. If you can make time, why not take a day trip out of town and visit the medieval Kutna Hora – if you do get there, the Bone Church (Sedlec Ossuary) is a particularly unique experience.
    Day 8 Location: Gory Sowie
    Heading north by train, arrive in the small town of Broumov from where you'll cross the Czech–Polish border. From here you'll be transferred in a private vehicle to a small village near to Gory Sowie (Owl Mountains). Today's travel time will be around 4 hours in total. On arrival, check in to your accommodation, situated at the foot of highest mountain in the range – Wielka Sowa, then visit a nearby underground city from the tragic times of the WWII. Osowka is a mysterious underground complex where people from concentration camps were forced to work in order to create huge systems of concrete corridors, fortifications and halls. As the work was kept in secret, until now there is many theories trying to explain what the underground city was meant to be used for. Find out yourself on an included guided visit this afternoon.
    Day 9 Location: Krakow
    Continue east today by private vehicle and head to Krakow (approximately 5 hours). Possibly the best known of all Poland's cities, Krakow was the residence of Polish kings from the 11th to the 17th centuries, and its Old Town is a World Heritage-listed site. Take part in a leader-led orientation walk with your group, and once you know your whereabouts, you could go and discover one of the biggest – and arguably most beautiful – medieval squares in Central Europe. Tonight is again all yours to do as you please – a good idea is to make your way to the Jewish Quarter for its laidback vibes and good food.
    Day 10 Location: Krakow
    Today, explore the city in your own time. Discover Wawel Royal Castle, which sits atop a hill next to the Vistula River. Check out the 13th-century town square of Rynek Glowny and get a glimpse inside St Mary's Basilica which features an extraordinary wood-carved Gothic altarpiece. There's also the lovely neo-Gothic St Francis' Basilica, which has some of Poland's best Art Nouveau. In Krakow, you will also find the second oldest university in Central Europe. Jagiellonian University counts Copernicus and Pope John Paul II among its alumni. If you can tear yourself away from Krakow, head out to the Wieliczka Salt Mines – a network of tunnels and chambers some 135 metres below the ground. This is a salt mine that was in operation for over 700 years and is a World Heritage-listed site. Today is also an opportune time to book in to visit the former Nazi concentration camp in Auschwitz-Birkenau, if this interests you. Be sure to book your tickets well in advance. At night, pull up a pew and indulge in a plate of pierogi and a few beers to say cheers to another day.
    Day 11 Location: Tatra Mountains
    Say farewell to Krakow today and travel by local buses through southern Poland to Zakopane where you will switch for private transport (approximately 5 hours total). The trip may be long and a little slow, but the scenery of rolling hills and tiny villages will keep your eyes occupied. Tatranska Lomnica is your destination in Slovakia. It's a small alpine resort at the base of the Vysoke Tatry (High Tatra) Mountains. The Tatras – the highest range of the Carpathians – stretch for about 60 kilometres across the Polish-Slovakian border and are a hiker’s dream. The evening is free for you to enjoy as you please, and perhaps the best way to do it is to sit back, relax and soak up the atmosphere of this beautiful mountainous region.
    Day 12 Location: Tatra Mountains
    This morning, head out on an included hike in the High Tatra Mountains. The most known route is about 6 kilometres in length and it is normally completed in 3 hours, including stops on the way. The route includes gradual hill ascents and descents and walking on gravel and uneven rocky surfaces with some slippery sections. The pace and distance will be decided on the day, depending on weather and group abilities – parts of it will involve travelling by funicular, gondola and electric train. During the walk, you may notice that some parts of the forest have been destroyed. This was the result of a tornado-like storm in 2004 that decimated approximately 10,000 hectares of timberland. In the afternoon, head back to the accommodation and enjoy the remainder of the day in this beautiful location.
    Day 13 Location: Budapest
    You have an early start today for the long journey to Budapest. As there won't be too much free time to explore on arrival, perhaps check in to the accommodation and then go for a brief walk around the neighbourhood to get your bearings. The grand architecture and boulevards, café culture and interesting laneways make this one of the truly great cities of Europe. Take the evening as an opportunity to relax after a long day of travelling. Visiting one of Budapest's many restaurants or eclectic ‘ruin’ bars in the Jewish Quarter is a sure-fire way to have a good night out with your crew.
    Day 14 Location: Budapest
    Today you have a full free day to explore Budapest. Known as 'The Pearl of the Danube', Budapest is a great city to enjoy from the water. Perhaps take a boat trip along the river or catch a funicular up to Buda Castle for spectacular views of the Parliament Building and the Pest side of the city. You could head to Statue Park to see the communist monuments that were removed from the city after the fall of the Iron Curtain. One unmissable activity is to soak in Budapest's hot thermal baths. The pools vary in temperature, and some even feature whirlpools or seats where you can enjoy a game of chess. You might like to take part in one of our Urban Adventure day tours. See urbanadventures.com for more information.
    Day 15 Location: Budapest
    Today is free for you to enjoy as you please until tonight's group meeting at 6pm back at the hotel.
    Day 16 Location: Budapest
    Enjoy another free day to explore Budapest. Hiring a bike is a great way to move between the sights. Perhaps head to Statue Park to see the communist monuments that were removed from the city after the fall of the Iron Curtain. One unmissable activity is a soak in Budapest's hot thermal baths. There are several around the city, ranging from elegant to simple outdoor types. The pools vary in temperature, and some even feature whirlpools or seats where you can play chess while you turn into a prune. You can wander the pedestrianised streets of the old district of Buda with the castle on the hill and the Matthias Church, then perhaps take a cruise along the Danube, discovering the history that unfolded along the riverbanks. Tonight perhaps discover some of the city’s ‘ruin bars’, cool places to grab a drink that are usually located in abandoned buildings in downtown Pest and are filled with thrift-shop décor and mismatched art.
    Day 17 Location: Eger
    Take a two-hour train east to Eger today. This beautifully preserved Baroque town is surrounded by hills and is home to some of the most renowned vineyards in Eastern Europe. Visit the wine cellars of the seductively-named Valley of the Beautiful Women with the group to sample some of the town's famous 'Bull's Blood' red wine, which supposedly gave the Hungarian army supernatural strength during their battle against the Ottoman Empire. Among the Turkish soldiers it was rumoured that the enemy army drank blood diluted with wine, as the firm resistance they encountered couldn't be explained any other way. In your own time, perhaps explore Eger's 13th-century castle, which was the scene of the historic siege that thwarted the Ottoman Empire's advancement into Western Europe. Here you can explore the Gothic Palace, a gallery of fine Hungarian art, and tour underground passageways of archaeological finds. You may also like to check out the town's 19th-century cathedral, the northernmost medieval minaret in Europe for views of the city, or the Minorite church in Dobo Square.
    Day 18 Location: Debrecen / Maramures
    Travel by bus to the pleasant town of Debrecen today (approximately 3 hours). While here, you'll have time to explore Deri Square with its fountains, colourful buildings, museums, and golden Great Church. Continue on by train and private vehicle across the central plains into the Maramures region of Romania. This second part of the journey should take around six hours. Time in Romania is an hour ahead of Hungary, so don't forget to set your watch. Maramures is also a place that can feel like stepping back in time. The region may be modernising, but among the traditional wooden houses and churches, the traditional music and forests, you can still find parts of life fairly unchanged since medieval times. Upon arrival, settle into your room at the pension, which is run by a local family, and look forward to some hearty home-cooked fare.
    Day 19 Location: Maramures
    Today you’ll discover more about the region of Maramures ('mah-ra-moo-resh') and how it seems frozen in time. Rich in tradition and folklore, the music, costumes, festivals and ancient superstitions of one of the last peasant cultures in Europe continue to thrive here. Each village is distinctive in its colourful outfits and style of hat. Maramures is particularly famed for its wooden churches, many of which are World Heritage-listed. Set out on a guided group tour to explore the region. You’ll visit the unique Merry Cemetery in Sapanta, where the life stories of the deceased – the good and the bad of their lives – are displayed on colourful wooden crosses. There are poems and limericks, and little pictures illustrating how the person died, all single-handedly carved over 40 years by Stan Ioan Patraş until 1977. The work has continued for the last 30 years by his apprentice. You’ll also see the village museum in Sighetu, an assembly of beautiful local wooden architecture, along with stopping by various other traditional villages.
    Day 20 Location: Sighisoara
    Today is a long day of travel (approximately 9 hours) through pastoral fields and untouched Saxon towns to Sighisoara in Transylvania. While the name may conjure up images of haunted castles, gothic churches and vampires, this is only a small part of what makes Transylvania such an enchanting and exciting destination. Medieval Sighisoara is likely to seduce visitors more than any other place in Romania. Another World Heritage site, the town was first settled by the Romans but flourished under the Saxons from the 12th century. Take a walk around the old town, which coils up a narrow hill and is surrounded on all sides by fortified walls, and explore the 64 metre-high clock tower that dominates the citadel. The town is famed as the birthplace of Vlad Dracul III, better known as Vlad the Impaler, whose name was the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s iconic Count Dracula. Vlad III is revered as a folk hero by Romanians for driving off the invading Ottoman Turks, of which his impaled victims are said to have included as many as 100,000. Maybe have traditional Romanian fare at ‘Casa Dracula’ tonight.
    Day 21 Location: Viscri
    While your next stop is less than an hour away, you'll feel like you've entered a different world. The small Transylvanian village of Viscri was originally inhabited by Saxons from the Luxembourg area, and the whole scene is picture-postcard rural. This idyllic village of red tiled roofs is a World Heritage site, virtually unchanged for 900 years. You’ll visit the town's fortified church (thought to be the oldest in Transylvania). You’ll also learn about the Sock Project, which supports the local Roma community. Time permitting, you may even like to go for a horse cart ride through the area, over pastures and through wondrous woods of oak and hornbeam. In the evening, indulge in a home-cooked dinner prepared by a local family, sampling fresh produce, homemade wines and schnapps. Tonight, stay in rustic houses that the locals rent out to visitors.
    Day 22 Location: Brasov
    Today continue to the 13th-century Saxon city of Brasov (approximately 2 hours). Also known by its German name of Kronstadt, the town is flanked by mountains and city walls was once a major medieval trading centre. Enjoy free time to explore, checking out the ornate churches, townhouses and squares surrounded by gingerbread-roofed merchants' houses. It's worth visiting the town's main attraction, the gothic (Biserica Neagra) Black Church, which took its name from its blackened appearance after a fire in 1689. Stroll along pedestrianized Strada Republicii, take a cable car up to Mt Tampa, or maybe explore the nearby Rasnov Fortress. The fortification is perched on a rocky hilltop above the town of Rasnov, and was constructed by Teutonic Knights in the 13th century as a place of refuge for the common people from Tartar invaders. Otherwise, you could head to Bran Castle, said to be the inspiration for the home of Bram Stoker's Dracula. Though not exactly super spooky, it is undeniably impressive, perched on a high cliff top and surrounded by pine trees. For those looking for a little nightlife action, Brasov has plenty of funky bars and restaurants to enjoy once darkness falls.
    Day 23 Location: Bucharest
    Head south to Bucharest today (approximately 3 hours). The city is increasingly known for its cosmopolitan vibe and energy, and while not the most beautiful or stylish city, there are some wonderful art nouveau buildings, ancient churches and monasteries, lush parkland, lakes and elegant boulevards. Romania's interesting capital also likes big things. It’s home to one of Europe's biggest squares, and its Palace of Parliament is the second largest building in the world – former dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu ordered the construction of the 12-storied Palace of Parliament, a building of staggering scale and opulence that includes 1,100 rooms and 4,500 chandeliers. You'll embark on a guided walking tour around town to help you get your bearings, then in free time you can choose to further explore some of the sights pointed out. Maybe seek out some traditional home-cooked Romanian food with your fellow travellers tonight.
    Day 24 Location: Bucharest
    There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. For those who wish to stay longer in Bucharest please enquire about additional accommodation at the time of booking.
    Dates
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    Departure Date:
    04APR2020
    Return Date:
    27APR2020
    5430NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    11APR2020
    Return Date:
    04MAY2020
    5485NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    25APR2020
    Return Date:
    18MAY2020
    5850NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    02MAY2020
    Return Date:
    25MAY2020
    5850NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    16MAY2020
    Return Date:
    08JUN2020
    6195NZD
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    23MAY2020
    Return Date:
    15JUN2020
    6075NZD
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    Departure Date:
    06JUN2020
    Return Date:
    29JUN2020
    6075NZD
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    Departure Date:
    13JUN2020
    Return Date:
    06JUL2020
    5790NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    20JUN2020
    Return Date:
    13JUL2020
    5790NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    27JUN2020
    Return Date:
    20JUL2020
    6245NZD
    available
    Last modified (date)

    26 Feb 2020

    Trip title

    Journey through Central Europe & Romania

    Trip code

    AMSCC

    Validity

    Validity: 01 Jan 2020 to 31 Dec 2020

    Introduction

    Experience the best of this old-world region on a journey through enchanting Central Europe and Romania. Travel to Austria and be immersed in the country's superb musical heritage and step back in time in the castles of the Czech Republic. Experience Polish traditions while exploring the romantic Old Town of Krakow and get active in Slovakia's Tatra Mountains. Then Explore Hungary and Romania; from the beautiful Baroque churches of Budapest to the haunted castles of Transylvania. Learn about the failed Turkish invasion of Eger and take a wine cellar tour in the Valley of the Beautiful Women. Become acquainted with traditional Romanian culture and customs in Maramures. Tour the medieval churches of Brasov, dine with a local family on an overnight homestay in Viscri and visit Bucharest's 12-storey Palace of Parliament. This epic journey through Central Europe and Romania gives a great insight in to that magical part of the world.

    Style

    Original

    Themes

    Explorer

    Transport

    Train,Public bus,Private vehicle,Bicycle,Metro,Taxi,Tram

    Physical Rating

    2

    Physical preparation

    This trip can be enjoyed by just about anyone with a reasonable level of fitness. Some trips may have individual inclusions that may be of a higher physical rating compared to the overall rating of the trip. Please read the day-to-day itinerary carefully to find out more details on each day's activities, and whether they are suitable for you. Activities can be opted out of if you don't want to participate.

    Joining point

    Magdas Hotel

    Laufbergergasse 12

    Vienna

    AUSTRIA

    Phone: +43 1 7200 288

    Joining point description

    Magdas hotel is conveniently located near the famous Prater amusement park in Vienna. The modern hotel prides itself on its eclectic up-cycled decor and it is filled with art. The hotel celebrates diversity and provides training and employment for refugees in Austria. Wi-Fi is available.

    Joining point instructions

    A taxi from Vienna International Airport (airport code VIE) will take approximately 30 to 40 minutes. Alternatively, you can catch a dedicated airport train (CAT) to Landstrasse-Wien Mitte. The service takes just 16 minutes. There are also regular (and cheaper) regional train services and the S-Bahn (metropolitan train) from the airport into the city centre at Praterstern, from where it is a 10 minute walk to the hotel. This service takes around 25 minutes. Tickets for either can be purchased at ticket machines in the airport railway station. Pre booked arrival transfer from Vienna airport: If you have pre booked an arrival transfer, your transfer driver will be waiting in the arrivals hall holding a board with the Intrepid Logo or your name. In case of flight cancellations, changes, if you experience severe delays at immigration, baggage collection or customs, or if you are not able to find to the driver, please contact the transfer operator directly: +43 699 1386 2065

    Finish point

    Hotel Central Bucharest by Zeus International

    13 Brezoianu St

    Sector 5

    Bucharest

    ROMANIA

    Phone: +40 21 315 56 35

    Finish point description

    Hotel Central Bucharest by Zeus benefits from a premier location near Cismigiu Gadens in the centre of Bucharest, less than a 10-minute walk from the Old Town. The modern hotel offers free Wi-Fi access and each of the 62 rooms feature air-conditioning, a minibar, safety deposit box, TV, tea and coffee making facilities and private bathrooms.

    Finish point instructions

    If you are making your own way to Bucharest Otopeni Airport (airport code OTP) the hotel will be able to help book you an airport shuttle or taxi. The ride takes about 30 minutes. Please ask at reception. Alternatively take bus 783 from the bus stop at Piata Universitatii. It departs every 30 to 40 minutes. Pre booked departure transfer to Buchares Airport (OTP): You will be collected at your accommodation 3 hours before your flight departure time. In case of flight cancellations, changes or if you are not able to find the driver, please contact the transfer operator directly: +4 0721 133 577.

    Important information

    SINGLE SUPPLEMENT A Single Supplement is bookable on this trip, subject to availability at the time of booking. The price of the single supplement does not include the following nights, where a single room does not form part of the package. In this case you will be matched up with another traveller of the same gender. If a single room becomes available at check-in for these nights, there may be the option for you to upgrade to a single room and pay the surcharge locally for that night: - Day 3-4 Cesky Krumlov Please also note that due to the small properties we use in Europe there is only a limited amount of single supplements available per trip departure. If you would like to book a single supplement and enquire about availability please speak to your booking agent.

    Group leader

    All Intrepid group trips in Europe are accompanied by one of our local European group leaders. ’Local’ in this context means a leader who is European or lives in Europe. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders. Your leader takes care of logistics, will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we also aim to support local guides in the individual cities or locations we travel to. If you are interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend an optional local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.

    Safety

    Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trips. We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, flight tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage. Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests or relax and take it easy. While your leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your Leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns. For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:

    https://www.intrepidtravel.com/au/safety-guidelines

    BEARS Romania and Bulgaria are home to some of the last remaining populations of European Brown Bear. These beautiful and endangered animals are generally nocturnal and feed mainly on berries, fruit, and small animals. It is not unknown for people to come across wild bears whilst hiking in the mountains. Whilst the danger to humans is minimal there are some simple steps you can follow to ensure your safety. Never stay out in the mountains after dusk, always stick to the path, make plenty of noise (for instance by talking or whistling) as you walk and never approach or take photographs of a wild bear. Take particular care around mothers with cubs or injured bears. Handled carefully, a chance sighting of a bear can be a highlight of a trip to Bulgaria or Romania, as long as these simple rules are followed.

    FIRE PRECAUTIONS: Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.

    TRAFFIC AND DRIVING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD: Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware!

    PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY: While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair or on the floor and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.

    SEAT BELTS: Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in your home country and not all the transport which we use is able to provide seat belts.

    SCAMS Common scams operating in Europe include ploys to get you fined on the metro without a validated ticket. Ensure that you always travel with a validated ticket (have your ticket stamped). Another common scam is used by children who distract you with a map or a newspaper and while you are attending to them, steal your valuables. You may also come across players offering you to participate in the so-called "shell game". This is a scam and you will most certainly lose your money.

    Visas

    Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with acquiring visas. Visas can take several weeks to process, so familiarise yourself with any requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for processing time. Your passport details are required to complete your booking. Please ensure the name on your passport matches the name on your booking Visas for Austria, Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia Hungary and Romania are not required for passport holders of the European Union, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, USA and Canada. All other nationalities should check with the relevant consulates or embassies in their home country for up to date visa information.

    Why we love it

    Soak up the royal history of Krakow's Wawel Castle and step back in time with a stroll through the city's medieval main square

    Immerse yourself in the history, architecture and bohemian vibes of the Czech Republic. Step right into a fairytale in the World Heritage-listed town of Cesky Krumlov before soaking up the smooth sounds of jazz at a low-lit bar in Prague

    So much of what is great about Europe can be found in Vienna. Revel in the city's rich offerings of art, history and music and stroll along the eclectic Ringstrasse

    Enjoy a scenic walk along the banks of the River Danube in Budapest. Threaded with bridges and hemmed in by castles and historic city buildings, Europe’s second longest river is also one of its most beautiful

    Hike in the picturesque Tatra Mountains and traverse the steep slopes via funicular, gondola and electric steam train

    Sample the famous Hungarian 'bulls blood' in Eger, the wine that supposedly gave the Hungarian army supernatural strength during their battle against the Ottoman Empire

    Experience peasant life on a full-day tour through the countryside of Maramures, Romania's most traditional and colourful region. Don't be surprised if you see horse-drawn carts along the road

    Learn spooky stories while travelling through beautiful Transylvania, famous for its medieval fortified churches and as the birthplace of the inspiration for the world's most famous vampire, Dracula

    A home-stay with a local family in the Saxon/Roma town of Viscri will expose you to Romanian hospitality and some finger-licking home-cooked grub

    Is this trip right for you

    Less time spent travelling; more time to explore each destination. The primary means of transportation on this trip is by train. Trains are a fast way to cross long distances, allowing you to avoid traffic jams and arrive right into the city centre. They are comfortable and all have toilets, however, can sometimes be quite busy. Please note that you'll have to carry your own luggage on and off the train, so make sure it doesn’t exceed our weight and size recommendations. You can find specifics under ‘Packing’ in the ‘Essential Trip Information’ section. To fully enjoy the day hike in the Tatra Mountains you should have a basic level of fitness, however you can opt out of this activity should you wish not to partake. Please make sure you bring appropriate clothing and footwear, plus raincoat and sturdy trainers or walking boots are highly recommended. Don’t let the heat keep you from exploring the world! Summer temperatures can be very high in many of the regions visited (over 40°C), which can make things uncomfortable. It’s important to use sun protection, wear layers to combat the heat, and drink plenty of water. In some train stations and most of our accommodation there are no lifts or escalators. Please be aware that you will have to carry you own bags up and down stairs and on and off public transport. It is recommended you pack lightly. You can find some packing guidelines in the 'packing' section in the trip notes. Summer temperatures can be extreme in many of the regions visited (over 40°C), which can be uncomfortable. It’s important to use sun protection, wear layers to combat the heat and drink plenty of water. Please carefully consider the time of the year you wish to travel and your suitability to that season. As accommodation on this trip is twin-share, solo travellers will share a room with other travellers of the same gender. This trip is a great opportunity to get to know other like-minded people, so embrace it! Please note that a single supplement is not available on this trip. Space is at a premium in Europe and your hotel is no exception. Rooms are often small, but usually the central location makes up for that. For those travelling as a duo, hotels in Europe often don't have double beds, but rather two single beds that can be pushed together. In some cases, bathroom facilities will be shared rather than ensuite. This trip is designed to give you a fair amount of free time so you can explore each destination at your own pace. We will, however, take you on regular orientation walks, so you'll be on your feet quite a lot. While this may be tiring for some, it’s the best way to get your head around a place and to set yourself up for further discoveries.

    Health

    All travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid Travel reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund. You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.

    Food and dietary requirements

    While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. To give you maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though. VEGETARIANS Vegetarians might find the menu selection in Europe less varied than they would see at home. Vegetarianism is not as common in this region and generally the choices are basic, involving vegetables, soups, salads, bread, cheese, fruit, yoghurt, eggs etc. Vegans and those on gluten-free diets may find this region very challenging and may need to supplement meals with their own supplies from supermarkets and markets. Wherever possible we will cater for dietary needs for any included meals, but there may be times when those with special requirements may need to provide their own. BREAKFASTS There are some continental breakfasts included on this trip which may simply include bread/toast or pastries, butter, jam, coffee/tea/juice (or similar).

    Money matters

    CURRENCY Austria and Slovakia have adopted the common currency of the European Union, the Euro (EUR), while the other countries on this trip still use their own currencies. The Czech Republic has the Czech Koruna (CZK), Poland uses the Polish Zloty (PLN), Hungary pays their bills with Hungarian Forint (HUF) and Romania is proud of their Romanian Lei (RON). Euro can readily be exchanged in all these countries at exchange booths located in all major cities. CASH The most convenient and cheapest way to acquire money in Europe is via an Automated Teller Machine (ATM) or Bancomat as they are often referred to. Check with your bank in advance concerning the suitability of your account / card overseas and any international fees that will be applied. You can withdraw local currencies easily at airports, major train stations and most city centres, but be sure to bring some extra emergency cash in a major currency that can be exchanged if the ATMs are not functioning. When leaving home don't forget your PIN and make sure you know the telephone number for cancelling your card if it is stolen. Keep this in a safe place. Credit cards are not always accepted in stores and restaurants. We recommend you carry some cash to pay for restaurant bills and other services. SPENDING MONEY When it comes to spending money on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities and laundry. It's always better to bring a little more than you think you'll need. Also make sure you've read your trip details thoroughly so you know what's included in the trip price and what isn't. This should make budgeting a little easier. You'll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that's this document). BUDGET Please budget for additional meals and expenses while on your trip. We suggest EUR 700.00 for meals not included on this trip. Our suggestion is based on past traveller feedback but you may choose to spend more or less. TIPPING If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations. The following amounts are per person suggestions based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers: In local markets and basic restaurants and cafes - round your bill up to the nearest €1. In more up-market restaurants we suggest 5% to 10% of your bill. Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your tour leader. We suggest €2-€3 per day for local guides. You may also have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group, however we suggest €1-€2 per day for drivers. You may also consider tipping your tour leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline €4-€5 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service. In total, we recommend you budget approx €5-€10 per day of your trip to cover tipping. CONTINGENCY FUNDS We try to plan for every eventuality, but there are still some things beyond our control. Please make sure you have access to an extra US$500 for emergencies (e.g. severe weather, natural disasters, civil unrest) or other events that result in unavoidable changes to the itinerary (e.g. transport strikes or cancellations, airport closures). Sometimes these things necessitate last minute changes to enable our trips to continue to run, and as a result there may be some extra costs involved. The recommended amount is listed in USD for the relatability of universal travellers, however the local currency is needed in the countries you are visiting.

    What to take

    PACKING On this trip you must pack as lightly as possible because you will be expected to carry your own bag and although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage (max 30 minutes), we strongly recommend keeping the weight under 10kg / 22lb. Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps to accommodate the cobbled streets, uneven surfaces, stairs and steps you are lightly to encounter while carrying your luggage. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips. You can find Intrepid's Ultimate Packing List on our website. It should be used as a guide only and isn't intended to be a complete packing list.

    https://www.intrepidtravel.com/packing-list

    TRAVELLING ON LOCAL TRANSPORT It's important that your bags can be locked, as on local transport it may be necessary that your luggage gets stowed separately (and unattended). The smaller your bag the better for you and other passengers. To ensure maximum comfort, try to pack small and light.

    WATER BOTTLE Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion ends up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please use the water dispensers which are provided at some of our accommodation or simply refill with tap water (your leader will advise whether tap water is safe to drink in your destination). When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day.

    CLOTHING & CLIMATE The climate in this region is extremely varied. From October until May you can expect temperatures close to and below zero, while from June until September temperatures can reach well above 30 C. For departures October to May you'll need to bring a warm windproof jacket, scarf, gloves, warm hat and waterproof footwear. On all other departures it can still get quite cool at night especially when in the countryside, so we recommend that you bring a warm jacket or fleece.

    IMAGES FROM HOME: During our trip there will be many opportunities for you to meet and talk with locals. One way to start any conversation is with pictures. We recommend that you bring some photos / postcards of your family, home, city or country where you live, animals peculiar to your country etc.

    Climate and seasonal

    SUMMER Summer temperatures can be extreme in many of the regions visited (over 40°C), which can be uncomfortable. It’s important to use sun protection and drink plenty of water. Please carefully consider the time of the year you wish to travel and your suitability to that season. SHOULDER SEASON In contrast, weather in shoulder season can be unpredictable, and snow is not unheard of at higher altitudes. If you travel at the start or towards the end of the European season please pack accordingly with warm and/or waterproof clothes (preferably layers). The advantage of travelling during this time is that there are less tourists around.

    A couple of rules

    Everyone has the right to feel safe when they travel. We don’t tolerate any form of violence (verbal or physical) or sexual harassment, either between customers or involving our leaders, partners or local people. Sexual relationships between a tour leader and a customer are strictly forbidden. Use or possession of illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. If you choose to consume alcohol while travelling, we encourage responsible drinking, and expect that you’ll abide by the local laws regarding alcohol consumption. The sex tourism industry is known to exploit vulnerable people and have negative consequences on communities, including undermining the development of sustainable tourism. For this reason, patronising sex workers will not be tolerated on our trips. By travelling with us you are agreeing to adhere to these rules. Your group leader has the right to remove any member of the group for breaking any of these rules, with no right of refund. If you feel that someone is behaving inappropriately while travelling with us, please inform your tour leader or local guide immediately. Alternatively, contact us on the emergency contact number detailed in the Problems and Emergency Contact section of this Essential Trip Information.

    Feedback

    Can’t stop thinking about your adventure? Tell us all about it! We read each piece of feedback carefully and use it to make improvements for travellers like you. Share your experience with us at: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/feedback/

    Emergency contact

    While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip. We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager. You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete. For general contact details please use the following page: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/contact/ If you have booked an arrival transfer, and you experience severe delays at immigration, baggage collection or customs, or if you are not able to find to the driver, please contact the transfer operator directly on the number listed in the joining point instructions in the section above. In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, Intrepid's Europe Operations Team can be reached on the number listed below: Intrepid's Local Operator: +49 8677 9186 657

    Responsible travel

    Our Responsible Travel Policy outlines our commitment to preserving the environment, supporting local communities, protecting the vulnerable and giving back to the places we travel. All our trip leaders, suppliers and staff are trained on these principles, and are core to us delivering sustainable, experience-rich travel. Explore the different parts of our Responsible Travel Policy by visiting: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/responsible-travel DRESS CODE In general, there are few dress restrictions in Europe. Note when visiting churches, monasteries or other religious sites modest dress is required - shorts or skimpy tops may not be permitted, for both men and women.

    The Intrepid Foundation

    Help us change thousands of lives by creating meaningful work and supporting skills training in communities around the world. The Intrepid Foundation is the not-for-profit for Intrepid Group. We work with local organisations around the world to improve the livelihoods of vulnerable individuals and communities through sustainable travel experiences. With our travellers’ help, we’ve contributed more than AU $6 million to over 100 community organisations since 2002. Did you know that tourism is one of the biggest contributors to the global economy, making up 1 out of every 10 jobs? That’s why we support local projects that create meaningful jobs and give people the skills they need to work in the destinations we take you to. And it’s why we exist – to make it easy for travellers to give back to the communities and places they’ve been in an effective and meaningful way. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation are matched by Intrepid Group dollar for dollar (up to AU$10,000 per donor and AU$500,000 in total each financial year, excluding emergency appeals). And because Intrepid Group covers all administration costs, every cent goes directly to the projects. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your leader for information about the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or visit our website: http://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/ VISCRI'S SOCK PROJECT Viscri is a tiny village located near Sighisoara in Romania's Transylvania region. The village was originally built by Saxon immigrants in the 12th century, after having been invited by the Hungarian king to settle the area to defend the empire's frontier. the majority of Saxons returned to Germany in 1989 after the fall of the iron curtain, but some remain in the village. Our groups have the chance to have lunch or dinner at a traditional Saxon house, to visit the fortified church and to learn about various projects set up to help the local community. The most famous of these, the Sock Project, involves approximately 125 women knitting 10,000 pairs of socks a year earning around 45,000 Euro for the village!

    Accommodation notes

    OCCASIONAL ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances. TWIN SHARE BASIS Accommodation on this trip is on a twin share basis (unless noted otherwise in the day-to-day itinerary). Please note there may be times where facilities will be shared rather than ensuite. CHECK-IN TIME Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination. PRE/POST TRIP ACCOMMODATION If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (if available), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights. FACILITIES Your accommodation may not always have private en suite facilities or air-conditioning. European hotels generally don't provide kettles or fridges.

    Transport notes

    TRANSPORT IN EUROPE Half the fun of travel is the travelling itself, that's why we like to travel the local way – whether that means mingling with commuters on a train in Spain, cycling past a historic chateau in France, or encountering the world's most extravagant public transport system on the Moscow Metro. In Europe, you are guaranteed to travel by genuine local public transport wherever possible, which puts you right in the centre of the action. LONG TRAVEL DAYS As we cover lots of ground on this trip, expect some long travel days on local trains and buses. This is an opportunity to mix with the locals and enjoy the scenery out the window. Travel schedules are known to change with little notice. Not all transport may have air conditioning.

    Travel insurance

    Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects. When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader. If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country. http://www.intrepidtravel.com/insurance.php

    Your fellow travellers

    As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part. Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure. SINGLE TRAVELLERS: Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Essential Trip Information. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.

    Itinerary disclaimer

    ITINERARY CHANGES: Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you print and review a final copy prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in country. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary seasonally to ensure our travellers have the best experience. Your tour leader will keep you up to date with any changes once on tour. OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES: A selection of optional activities that have been popular with past travellers are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only for some of what might be available. Prices are approximate, are for entrance only, and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability, and may be on a join-in basis. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, so some pre-planning for what you are most interested in is advised. When it's recommended that travellers pre-book these activities, look for a note in the Special Information section of the day-to-day itinerary. For most, they can either be organised independently on the day, or let your leader know you are interested and they can assist. Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. Although it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Medium and high risk activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with organising these activities. Activities that contravene our Responsible Travel policies are also not listed. Please remember that the decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk. MUSEUM VISITS & OPENING TIMES Please note that many sights, attractions and museums are closed on Mondays (and sometimes even Tuesdays). We recommend you carefully consider which sites and museums you are going to want to visit and that you do some research and make your reservations in advance where required/possible.

    Accommodation

    Hotel (17 nights),Pension (5 nights),Homestay (1 night)

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