Experience the rich cultural traditions of Central Europe on this 15-day tour, from its collections of fine and decorative arts accumulated over the centuries by kings and emperors, to royal palaces and gems of modern architecture, and resplendent musical heritage. The itinerary includes little-visited sites, such as Gustav Klimt’s atelier, and a private tour of the Liechtenstein Garden Palace. The tour is rounded out by the fine musical heritage of the region, with performances in historic venues in Vienna, Prague and Budapest.
The region’s music: from museums dedicated to composers to three performances at historic venues in Vienna, Prague and Budapest
Gems of modern architecture: Mies van der Rohe’s Villa Tugendhat at Brno, and Otto Wagner and Joseph Hoffmann in Vienna
Prague: home of medieval and Renaissance emperors and one of Europe’s most alluring capitals
Private visit of Vienna’s Liechtenstein Garden Palace and its impressive collection of Old Masters
Fascinating Budapest and its recently renovated Museum of Fine Arts
Extraordinary decorative arts, from the regalia of medieval emperors to Biedermeier and beyond
Days 1–4: Arrive Prague; tour the beautiful city and its monuments, from Gothic to Art Nouveau. Explore Prague’s fine collections and enjoy a performance.
Days 5–6: Admire Mies van der Rohe’s Villa Tugendhat near Brno; tour Bratislava and its wonderful new Danubiana Meulensteen Art Museum.
Days 7–9: Discover Budapest’s musical traditions and explore the city’s recently renovated galleries, including the reopened MFA and the Museum Ludwig; enjoy a performance.
Days 10–15: In Vienna, visit Klosterneuburg Abbey and Schonbrunn Palace, survey Vienna’s extraordinary fine and decorative art collections. Enjoy a performance and take a private tour of the Leichtenstein Garden Palace.
The tour begins at our hotel in Prague and ends at our hotel in Vienna. Qatar Airways and Emirates offer suitable connections into Prague and out of Vienna from most Australian cities. Contact us for quotes and bookings.
Included meals are shown with the symbols B, L and D.
Sunday 11 April: Arrive
If you have booked your international air travel through Academy Travel, we will organise a transfer from the airport to the hotel. The tour starts in the late afternoon, when we meet in the hotel for a talk, drinks and canapés. Overnight Prague. (Canapes)
Monday 12 April: Prague – Performance I
Prague is one of Europe’s most beautiful cities and it has been the jewel in the crown of many a monarch, from the medieval kings of Bohemia, to the Habsburg Rudolph I, who transformed the city into a Renaissance capital of the Holy Roman Empire. The city continued to flourish throughout the centuries as the cultural heart of an empire: a musical centre where Mozart, Smetana and Dvorak were adored and, later, for its distinctive art nouveau style. Today we explore the city’s art, history and music. After a talk in the hotel this morning, we take a walking tour of the UNESCO World-Heritage listed Old Town, with its stunningly picturesque lanes and palaces. After a welcome lunch in the historic Municipal House, we visit the museum dedicated to Alphonse Mucha, whose graphic art defined what is quintessentially art nouveau. Overnight Prague. (B, L)
Performance details Venue: Rudolfinium or Smetana Hall
Program: To be confirmed
Performers: To be confirmed
Tuesday 13 April: Prague Castle and its collections
Prague Castle has been a centre of political power for more than a millennium, and as such has accumulated fine examples of Czech architecture from the Romanesque to the Baroque. Today the complex is home to both the President of the Czech Republic and a number of excellent collections. We begin our tour of the area this morning with a visit to the Treasury, followed by a guided tour of St Vitus’ Cathedral and the Old Royal Palace. After a break for lunch we continue with a visit to the 16th-century Lobkowicz Palace, whose collection includes masterpieces by Brueghel, Canaletto and Velazquez as well as an excellent collection of the original manuscripts of Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven. In the later afternoon, there is the option to visit the Sternberg Palace, where the National Gallery displays its antiquities and Old Masters, including Durer’s extraordinary Feast of the Rosary, or to return to the hotel to relax. Overnight Prague. (B)
Wednesday 14 April: Troja Palace
Centuries of royal rule has endowed Prague with a fantastic array of palaces and collections. This morning we visit Troja Palace – a suburban villa built by the Sternberg family, a short drive from the centre of Prague. The 17th-century palace is replete with baroque gardens, frescoes celebrating the apotheosis of the Habsburg dynasty, and the city’s collection of 19th-century Czech art. After a guided visit of the palace, we return to the Old Town, where there is the option to visit another of Prague’s excellent collections with your tour leader, or simply relax and enjoy this fine city. Evening at leisure. Overnight Prague. (B)
Thursday 15 April: Villa Tugendhat
This morning we depart by coach for Bratislava, stopping to visit the UNESCO World-Heritage listed Villa Tugendhat, outside of Brno. Mies van der Rohe designed the villa in 1929 for Grete Tugendhat, who had long been an admirer of his work, and its clean, modernist lines melded with noble materials is a perfect embodiment of his architectural principles. The three-storey villa has been recently restored, along with its original furnishings, also designed by the architect and his collaborators. In the late afternoon, we continue to Bratislava. Dinner in a local restaurant. Overnight Bratislava. (B, D)
Friday 16 April: Bratislava
Bratislava has long been overshadowed by its neighbours, and consequently it is a much less well-touristed city. This morning, after a later start, we take a guided tour of the city, exploring its history, from its time as the temporary capital of Hungary (when Budapest was part of the Ottoman Empire), to its modern transformation as the capital of Slovakia following the ‘Velvet Divorce’ from the Czech Republic. In the afternoon, we visit one of the region’s best new art galleries: the Danubiana Museum of Modern Art. The museum on the Danube takes full advantage of its views, and its collection includes an international modern art collection – on permanent loan from Muellensteen, a Dutch art collector who helped found the museum – Slovakian modern and contemporary art, and a sculpture park. We return to the hotel via Devin Castle, which stands above the line of the Iron Curtain and commands views across the Morava and Danube rivers. Overnight Bratislava. (B)
Saturday 17 April: Budapest
We depart by coach this morning for Budapest. On arrival, we tour the city by coach and on foot ending at Hero’s Square. After a break for lunch, we visit the Museum of Fine Arts. The Museum reopened in 2019, after extensive renovations, and houses Hungary’s finest collection of visual arts. The collections are diverse, ranging from Egyptian and Classical antiquities, through to Old Master paintings by the likes of Durer, Lucas Cranach, Claude Lorrain and John Constable, as well as baroque sculpture and an impressive prints and drawings cabinet. In the late afternoon, we check into our hotel. Dinner and overnight Budapest. (B, D)
Sunday 18 April: Fine art in Budapest – Performance II
Budapest and Vienna were sister capitols of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and developed an at times intense rivalry. A key part of this rivalry was the development of Budapest’s art collections, which had to present the city as a European capital while also preserving and promoting its unique culture. This morning, after a talk in the hotel, we visit the Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Art, which displays Hungarian and International art from the 1960s to the present. After a break for lunch, we take the scenic city stroll from Fisherman’s Bastion to Mathyas’ Church, and then visit the Hungarian National Gallery. The gallery has an excellent collection of Hungarian art from the Middle Ages to the 19th century, and is situated inside Buda Castle, allowing you to explore the fascinating art and history of Hungary. In the later afternoon, we return to the hotel to relax before an evening performance. Overnight Budapest. (B)
Performance details Venue: Erkel Theatre, Liszt Academy, or MUPA
Program: To be confirmed
Performers: To be confirmed
Monday 19 April: Budapest history and architecture
Budapest’s reputation as the ‘Pearl of the Danube’ is well earned, and the city extends elegantly from the riverbanks along its belle époque boulevards. This morning we explore the city, its history and architecture on a guided walking tour, including a visit of the cathedral. The Cathedral, dedicated to St Stephen I of Hungary, continues to dominate the inner-city skyline and it is beautifully decorated with stained glass windows, and baroque and neoclassical sculptures. The afternoon and evening are at leisure. Ovenight Budapest. (B)
Tuesday 20 April: Pannonhalma Abbey
This morning, we depart by coach for Vienna, stopping to visit the UNESCO World-Heritage listed Pannonhalma Archabbey. The abbey encapsulates the national story of Hungary: it was established in the 10th century, when the Magyar rulers converted to Christianity and brought in Benedictine monks from Italy and Prague. The complex was expanded in the 13th century, neglected during the Ottoman period, and restored harmoniously in the 18th and 19th centuries. After touring the Abbey, we continue on to Vienna. In the evening we enjoy dinner in a local restaurant, which has been owned by the same family since it opened in the 1920s. Overnight Vienna. (B, D)
Wednesday 21 April: Imperial Vienna
Vienna became the capital of the Habsburg Holy Roman Empire in the 1400s and as such has received centuries of embellishment. This morning we explore the history and architecture of Imperial Vienna, from the Gothic St Stephen’s Cathedral to the Imperial Palace and the monuments that ring the old city. After a break for lunch we visit the Kaiserliche Schatzkammer – the Imperial Treasury of the Habsburgs – an extraordinary collection, including the Imperial Crown and regalia, the treasury of the Order of the Golden Fleece, and the late-antique agate bowl that was once thought to be the Holy Grail. The later afternoon is at leisure, and you may wish to visit one of the other excellent museums in this area. Overnight Vienna. (B)
Thursday 22 April: Secessionist Vienna
The Vienna Secession was a key moment in the broader modernist movement. Today we explore the Secession, and its roots in Viennese history. After a talk in the hotel, we take a walking tour of secessionist and modernist architecture in central Vienna, including the Secession Building, whose interiors were decorated by Klimt, and Otto Wagner’s Postparkasse. After a lunch break, and an optional visit of the Wien Museum, we take a coach to some smaller, less well-visited sites on the outskirts of Vienna. We start with a guided tour of the Kirche am Steinhof, a modernist gem designed by Otto Wagner as the Catholic oratory for the new Steinhof Psychiatric hospital nearby. We continue in to Gutsav Klimt’s Atelier, where we can see where the artist toiled away on his masterpieces from 1911-1918. Returning to the hotel, the evening at leisure. Overnight Vienna. (B)
Friday 23 April: Klosterneuburg – Performance III
This morning we travel by coach to Klosterneuburg monastery. The monastery was founded in the 12th century, but it was substantially renovated in the 16th century, and then radically expanded in the early 18th century by Emperor Charles VI, who sought to make it an Austrian Escorial. The Monastery also contains some exceptional masterpieces, including the extraordinary altarpiece by Nicholas of Verdun, the greatest goldsmith of the Middle Ages, the Holy Crown of Austria, and decorative arts from the 14th to 20th century. Returning to Vienna, the afternoon is at leisure. In the evening we enjoy a performance. Overnight Vienna. (B)
Performance details Venue: Statsoper, Musikverein or Konzerthaus
Program: To be confirmed
Performers: To be confirmed
Saturday 24 April: Kunsthistorisches and the Liechtenstein Garden Palace
Vienna’s art collections are among the finest in the world, rivalling Paris, London and New York for their scope and quality. We explore two of the city’s premier collections today. This morning, after a talk in the hotel, we enjoy a private tour of the Liechtenstein Garden Palace. This beautifully restored 18th-century palace and its collections remain in the hands of the House of Liechtenstein, and our tour allows us to see their Renaissance and baroque collections as they were intended: free from crowds, in frescoed and stuccoed rooms, side by side with Neoclassical and Biedermeier furnishings. We spend the afternoon at the Kunsthistorisches Museum, with its collections of antiquities, Old Masters – including masterpieces by Caravaggio, Jan van Eyck, Durer, Vermeer, Velazquez and an exceptional collection of Pieter Brueghel the Elder – and Kunstkammer, where extraordinary works of goldsmithing, ivory and gem carving, and decorative arts are displayed. In the evening, after time to relax in the hotel, we enjoy a farewell dinner at one of Vienna’s excellent restaurants. Overnight Vienna. (B, D)
Sunday 25 April: Departure
The tour ends in the hotel this morning after breakfast. Please consult your individual travel plans. (B)
A former art museum director and curator, with expertise in the arts and music throughout Europe, the USA and Australia.
Christopher Menz is a former art museum director and curator and has been leading cultural tours in Europe, the United States and Australia since 2013. He has expertise and interest in the visual arts and music.
Christopher has a BA (Hons) from Flinders University. He is a former director of the Art Gallery of South Australia. Before that he was a curator, specialising in decorative arts, and worked at the National Gallery of Australia, Art Gallery of South Australia, and National Gallery of Victoria. He has published and lectured extensively on Australian and European decorative arts, notably on the design work of William Morris, and curated numerous exhibitions. Christopher is based in Melbourne where he is an art consultant and valuer, and Development Consultant for Australian Book Review.
Christopher has led cultural tours to Germany, England, the United States, as well as in Australia. He has also been a tour leader on European river cruises.
We asked Christopher, what do you think clients get from travelling with you?
“It is always a great thrill to be able to introduce clients to new experiences and to places they might otherwise not have visited or not have visited recently. I always hope to give tour guests something that adds to the experiences of the places, cities, museums and art galleries, and performances that they would not get if travelling alone.”
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.