The adjoining regions of Bohemia and Bavaria have a shared cultural heritage that goes well beyond a reputation for excellent beer! This new itinerary provides the opportunity to explore each region in depth, appreciating the crosscurrents of art, history, commerce and culture that make this corner of Europe so rewarding. From the turreted castles of Prague and Bohemia, travel through hills and forests to Franconia, in northern Bavaria, with its numerous artistic treasures. A few days on Lake Constance in southern Bavaria and time in the capital, Munich, complete the picture.
Prague’s outstanding art collections, housed in the city’s historic palaces
UNESCO World Heritage sites in southern Bohemia, including Česky Krumlov and a selection of castles
Scenic drives through Bohemia’s forests along the Moldau River, and to the spa town of Karlsbad
Bamberg, one of Germany’s best-preserved cities, a gateway to the artistic treasures of Wurzburg and Bayreuth
Two days amid the superb scenery of Lindau Island and the traditional culture of the Bavarian Alps
The world-class art collections of Munich, medieval to modern
At least three performances of orchestra land vocal music in historic venues
Days 1–4: In Prague, take walking tours of the city’s baroque and Art Nouveau architecture, visit excellent galleries and attend a concert.
Days 5–7: Staying in a traditional village, visit the beautiful Bohemian town of Cesky Krumlov and visit the pilgrimage site of Vyšši Brod.
Days 8–11: Travel to UNESCO World Heritage listed Bamberg and visit Bayreuth, indelibly associated with the composer Richard Wagner.
Days 12–13: Travel the Romantic Road south to Lindau Island on Lake Constance.
Days 14–17: Journey through the Bavarian Alps to Munich, to explore the city’s remarkable art and music.
The tour begins at our hotel in Prague and ends at our hotel in Munich. Emirates and Qatar offer suitable connections into Prague and out of Munich from most Australian cities. Contact us for quotes and bookings.
Included meals are shown with the symbols B, L and D.
Friday September 25: Arrive Prague
If you have booked your flights with Academy Travel we will arrange a private transfer from the airport arrivals hall to the hotel. Meet your fellow tour participants and tour leader in the hotel for drinks and a light dinner. Overnight Prague (D)
Saturday September 26: Art Nouveau Prague
After a background talk in our hotel we take a guided walking tour of the medieval heart of Prague, nestled around a curve in the Vltava River. The winding, cobbled streetscapes are the main attraction, but we will also call in at several historic buildings, such as those on the old town square. After a welcome lunch in a traditional Czech restaurant, we visit the Municipal House, admiring the superbly preserved receptions rooms of this Art Nouveau gem and the Smetana Hall, one of Europe’s most beautiful concert halls. The Art Nouveau theme continues with a visit to the Alphonse Mucha Museum, dedicated to this influential Czech artist and graphic designer. Overnight Prague (B, L)
Sunday September 27: National Gallery and Troja Palace
The Czech Republic’s national art collection is dispersed in a number of historic buildings around the city. Today we visit two of them, the Schwarzenberg Palace and the Sternberg Palace, both located on Prague’s ‘Castle Hill’. The collection of old masters held here is well worth a visit, with one of the best galleries of Italian medieval and early Renaissance art outside of Italy and works by Holbein, Durer, El Greco, Goya, Rembrandt and Rubens to enjoy. After lunch we will stop in at Troja Palace, a ‘suburban villa’ on the outskirts of Prague. Built between 1679 and 1691, it is a fine example of the ‘northern Baroque’ style which had also begun to permeate Scandinavia and Russia. This evening we are hoping to catch a performance at one of Prague’s major venues. Overnight Prague (B)
Venue: Rudolphinum, Smetana Hall or Estates theatre
Program: orchestral concert or opera, details April 2020
Performers: to be announced April 2020
Monday September 28: Castle Hill
We have chosen a Monday to visit Prague’s most popular attractions, when it is generally a little quieter. A coach takes us to the Strahov Monastery, famous not just for its beautiful library with ‘theological’ and ‘philosophical’ wings, but also for its role in the Hussite and Thirty Years’ War, defining moments of history for central Europe. This theme continues at nearby Prague Castle and St Vitus’ Cathedral. We walk downhill to the Charles Bridge, where we have lunch on the river front. The afternoon is free. Overnight Prague (B, L)
Tuesday September 29: Castles of Bohemia
After a talk in our hotel we head south from Prague today, into the hills and forests of Bohemia. Our stops include Karlštejn Castle, founded in 1348 by Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Bohemia, and the epitome of a Bohemian castle. In the afternoon, after a lunch stop we visit Hluboká Castle. The noble Schwarzenberg family lived here until 1939 and the castle has an atmosphere of faded Habsburg glory rather than medieval Bohemia. We continue to the charming provincial town of České Budějovice, our base for exploring southern Bohemia. Overnight České Budějovice (B, L)
Wednesday September 30: Cesky Krumlov
An entire day has been allocated for a relaxed exploration of this most charming and historic of Bohemian towns, located a short drive from České Budějovice. On arrival we stroll through the old town with a local guide and enjoy the fine views over the Vltava River, which snakes around the historic centre. After a break for lunch we tour the castle, dramatically positioned on a ridge across the river. Highlights include the Baroque theatre, with its still-functioning 18th-century sets and machinery, and the frescoed ballroom, the Masquerade Hall. Overnight České Budějovice (B)
Thursday October 1: Vyssi Brod and the forests of Bohemia
A relaxed day of scenic touring concludes the Bohemian section of this itinerary. This morning we travel to the Austrian border, where the Vltava River rises. Located on an important medieval trade route, the town of Vyssi Brod is famous for its Cistercian monastery, founded in 1259. Still functioning today and a major cultural centre for the Czechs, this peaceful place has a remarkably turbulent history, having witnessed the Thirty Years’ War, Nazi occupation and the Cold War, and is thus a microcosm of the region’s history and struggles. After lunch near the monastery we drive back to České Budějovice via the forests, lakes and hills of the Šumava National Park. Overnight České Budějovice (B, L)
Friday October 2: A Renaissance Villa and a Spa town
This morning we visit the fine Renaissance moated villa of Kratochvíle. The villa was created for the noble Rosenberg family in 1580s. We then travel north to the elegant spa town of Karlovy Vary (Karlsbad). The town was named after Emperor Charles IV, who established a settlement in around 1350 in order to enjoy the therapeutic benefits of the 300+ hot springs nearby. The town reached its peak in the early 20th centuries, reflected in the graceful architecture of the period. After a break for lunch and a stroll, we cross into Germany proceed to Bamberg. Dinner is in our hotel. Please note that today is a long day of coach travel, covering nearly 400 kilometres in seven hours of travel. Overnight Bamberg (B, D)
Saturday October 3: Bamberg
Bamberg is one of Germany’s most pleasing and surprising small cities. Located in Franconia, today part of northern Bavaria, the town is located at the junction of the Main River and the Main-Danube canal. Bamberg miraculously escaped heavy bombing in World War II and is thus one of the best-preserved historic towns in Germany. Even so, it is not nearly as visited by tourists as other cities. This morning after a talk, a local guide shows us the main historic sites. This afternoon we take an excursion to the countryside to admire the pilgrimage church of the ‘fourteen holy helpers’ (vierzehnheiligen), our first encounter with the architecture of Balthasar Neumann. This evening we are hoping to catch a performance by the highly regarded Bamberg Symphony Orchestra. Overnight Bamberg (B)
Performance details Venue: Konzerthalle Bamberg
Program: to be announced April 2020
Performers: Bamberg Symphony Orchestra
Sunday October 4: Wagner’s Bayreuth
Love him or loathe him, composer Richard Wagner is 19th-century Germany’s dominant cultural figure, and reverence for him runs deep even to this day. His compositional and dramatic style revolutionised music theatre in Europe and laid the ground for modern orchestral music. Thanks to the generosity of the Bavarian prince Ludwig II, Wagner spent much of his career in the Bavarian town of Bayreuth, where an annual festival of the composer’s works takes place. Today’s excursion takes us to this attractive town. In the morning we visit the composer’s home, the Villa Wahnfried, which is today an informative and enjoyable museum. In the afternoon we take a guided tour of the extraordinary Festspielhaus, designed by Wagner himself and possessing remarkable acoustics. Overnight Bamberg (B)
Monday October 5: A day with Balthasar Neumann
Bohemian born 18th-century architect Bathasar Neumann created a visual style which is distinctly Bavarian, combining elements of Bohemian orientalism and Austrian imperial pomp with the exuberance of the Italian baroque. His white and gilded architectural confections influenced designers for a century afterwards, including King Ludwig II, whose fantasy castles famously dot the Bavarian landscape. Today we visit two key sites: the Prince-Archbishop’s residence of Würzburg, where Neumann’s architecture is embellished by magnificent frescoes by Venetian artists Gian Battista Tiepolo, and the Maria Limbach church, a refreshingly modest pilgrimage church midway between Würzburg and Bamberg. Overnight Bamberg (B)
Tuesday October 6: The Romantic Road
The ‘Romantic Road’, which we follow today, is the name given to the route connecting Würzburg to the town of Füssen near the German Alps. Although the name is an invention of the German tourism industry from the 1950s, the route is the same as that taken by medieval pilgrims and merchants, and is full of historical interest and attractive scenery. We take an extended stop in Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Here a local guide shows us the well-preserved medieval town walls, the town hall, and there will be a chance to admire a Renaissance altarpiece by Tillman Riemenschneider, a remarkable artist. We continue to Lindau in the afternoon, and there is dinner in our hotel. Please note that today is a long day of coach travel, covering nearly 400 kilometres in six hours of travel. Overnight Lindau Island (B, D)
Wednesday October 7: Lake Constance
Today is free to relax on Lindau Island or to take a ferry excursion around the lake. For those interested there is also a mid-morning ferry excursion to Friedrichshafen to visit Zeppelin Museum, housing the world’s largest aviation collection and specifically tracing the history of the Zeppelin, which was created here. The museum also has a significant art collection. After the visit we take the train back to Lindau. There is a talk in the early evening. Overnight Lindau Island (B)
Thursday October 8: Artists on the lake
This morning we depart for Munich, visiting a number of sites en route. Our first stop is Linderhof Palace, built for Bavarian King Ludwig II in 1886 and attractively nestled in the hills near the village of Ettau. This afternoon we continue to Lake Starnberg to visit a museum dedicated to former publisher and U-boat captain Lothar-Günther Buchheim. Buchheim gained prominence as the author of the disillusioned WWII novel Das Boot and later became a successful publisher. This lakeside museum houses his private art holdings, including an exceptional collection of early 20th-century German expressionist art. We continue to Munich, where there is dinner in a local restaurant. Overnight Munich (B, D)
Friday October 9: Old Munich
This morning a local guide takes us on a walking tour through the squares and laneways of the historic centre of Munich, explaining the history and development of the city. The walk ends at the Alte Pinakothek, Munich’s main historic gallery of European art. The gallery houses the royal Wittelsbach collection of Bavaria and surveys all the major European schools – German, Flemish, Italian, Spanish, Dutch and French. The afternoon is free. This evening we attend a performance at the National Theatre or the Gasteig concert hall. Overnight Munich (B)
Venue: National Theatre or Gasteig concert hall
Program: to be announced April 2020
Performers: to be announced April 2020
Saturday October 10: Modern Munich
Forward-looking and wealthy, Munich has long played a role in artistic and cultural innovation in Europe. This morning we visit two sites which illustrate this well. Our guided visit of the Lenbachhaus Museum takes us on an artistic journey through the late 19th century ‘Munich painters’ such as Franz von Stuck and Lenbach himself to the famous ‘Blue Rider’ school of Kandinsky, Franz Marc and others and on to outstanding modern art, German and international. This is followed by a visit to the Brandhorst museum, featuring a remarkable cycle by American artist Cy Twombly. This evening we gather for a farewell meal at one of Munich’s better restaurants. Overnight Munich (B, D)
Sunday October 11: Departure
The tour ends after breakfast. For those who have booked flights with Academy travel there will be transfers to Munich airport available. (B)
A cultural historian and founding director of Academy Travel, with a strong interest in visual arts, architecture and music.
Robert Veel is a cultural historian with over 20 years’ experience leading tours to Italy, the USA, Scandinavia and Turkey. He has a strong personal interest in the visual arts, architecture and music, and is a founding director of Academy Travel.
Robert holds a BA, Dip. Ed and M.Ed, all from the University of Sydney. He worked as a lecturer at the University of Sydney before a long stint at the University’s Centre for Continuing Education, lecturing in Italian history and culture and working as Assistant Director. Robert continues to teach occasionally in Continuing Education courses.
Robert’s historical and artistic knowledge stretches from the Middle Ages through the early 20th century. In Italy he has led many tours focusing on the Medieval and Renaissance periods. In the United States he likes to focus on the founding of the Republic and the Gilded Age of the early 20th century. In Scandinavia he is particularly interested in national identity and its role in Scandinavian literature, design and architecture. Robert speaks fluent Italian.
Robert led his first tour to Italy in 1990 and has not looked back! He has led more than 50 tours and designed many of Academy Travel’s most popular tours, including Sicily, New York, Rome and Venice residential tours, and our Scandinavia tours. More recently Robert led the first offering of Academy Travel’s tours to Tasmania and New Zealand.
We asked Robert, what do you enjoy most about leading tours?
“I really enjoy travelling with like-minded, interested travellers who are up for a bit of an intellectual adventure. It’s often the unexpected things that create the ‘shared joy’ of group travel”, says Robert “a wonderful, but little-known painting, a great performance or a fabulous meal. These are the things we travel for.”
“Over the years travellers have commented on my seemingly boundless enthusiasm. It’s true that I am curious about most things – people, places, history and artistic expression. There’s a kind of alchemy when this enthusiasm rubs off on others – hopefully with a bit of useful information as well!”
Hotels are in the four or five-star category and have been selected principally for their central location and overall quality. All of the hotels on this tour have either been used on previous Academy Travel tours or inspected by Academy Travel staff. Rooms in Lindau have a lake view.
Unless otherwise stated in the itinerary, our tours include the following:
Any flights mentioned in the itinerary that take place during a tour
Land travel by private air-conditioned coach. Where appropriate, taxis or public transport are also used for short distance travel on some tours
All accommodation in hotels or apartments as stated in the itinerary
Breakfasts, lunches and dinners specifically stated as included in the itinerary
Drinks at welcome and farewell meals. Other meals may not have drinks included
Background talks on tour, site notes and online resources
Services of tour leader throughout tour
All entrance fees to sites mentioned in the itinerary
Local guides at some sites
Tips for drivers, local guides and restaurants for included meals
Costs involved in obtaining visas for countries visited, where required and when stated as included
Tours begin either at the arrival airport or the first hotel, depending on the itinerary. If you have booked your international flights with Academy Travel and arrive before the tour commences, we will provide airport to hotel transfers to the closest main city on your arrival, and to the closest airport at the end of the tour. These may be either individual or group transfers.
What is not included in the tour price?
Our tours do not include the following:
Return international/domestic air travel unless those flights take place during the tour
Special taxes and airport levies that can only be paid in cash at the destination. We will advise you of these charges (if any) before you depart
Travel insurance. We require all participants to have comprehensive travel insurance. A typical policy for one of our tours will cost from $160 upwards, depending on your age, pre-existing medical conditions, the countries you are visiting and the overall length of your trip
Lunches and dinners not specifically mentioned as included in the itinerary
Personal expenses such as laundry and phone calls
Costs associated with any activity mentioned as “optional” in the itinerary, or any suggested free time activity
You will be asked to sign an acknowledgement of these conditions when you book a place on a tour.
A deposit of $500 per person is required to confirm your booking on a tour. Final payment of the tour fee, insurance and any additional travel will be due 60 days before departure.
If you decide to cancel your booking the following charges apply:
More than 60 days before departure: $500*
60-45 days before tour start: 25% of total amount due
44-15 days before tour start: 75% of total amount due
14 days or less before departure: 100% of total amount due
*This amount may be credited to another Academy Travel tour within 12 months of the original tour you booked.
Unused Portions of the tour
We regret that refunds will not be given for any unused portions of the tour, such as meals, entry fees, accommodation, flights or transfers.
Academy Travel requires all participants to obtain comprehensive travel insurance. We offer a comprehensive policy with a reputable insurer if required.
Passport and Visa
A valid passport is required for all international travel. If you do not hold an Australian passport you may require a re-entry permit. Some countries require a visa to be issued before you depart Australia. We will advise you of all passport and visa requirements, but it is your responsibility to ensure that you meet passport and visa requirements before you depart.
Will the tour price change?
If the number of participants in a tour is significantly less than budgeted, or if there is a significant change in exchange rates Academy Travel reserves the right to amend the advertised price. If this occurs you will be given the option of cancelling your booking and obtaining a full refund. If an Academy Travel tour is forced to cancel you will get a full refund of all monies paid.
Will the itinerary change?
Occasionally circumstances beyond the control of Academy Travel make it necessary to change airline, hotel or to make slight amendments to daily itineraries. We will inform you of any changes as soon as they occur.
Full and final payment for the tour, airfare travel, insurance and any additional travel you book is due 60 days before departure. Payment may be made by bank deposit, cheque, cash or credit card. Please note there is a surcharge for payments made by credit card.
Academy Travel reserves the right to decline the booking or terminate the holiday of any traveller. We aim to be fair and reasonable in all our dealings with our clients. We aim to provide full and accurate information about our tours and promptly provide information of any changes or alterations that take place before departure.