Experience the rich cultural traditions of Central Europe, from collections of fine and decorative arts accumulated over the centuries by kings and emperors, to royal palaces and gems of modern architecture, on this new 14-day tour. The tour is rounded out with the fine musical traditions of the region, and enjoys performances in Vienna, Prague and Budapest.
The history of Central Europe, from the Habsburgs to re-emergence from behind the Iron Curtain
Art collections, from Old Masters to Klimt, Schiele and the Secessionists
Decorative arts collections and palaces, including Schonbrunn and the Kaizerliche Schatzkammer
Gems of modern architecture, including Mies van der Rohe’s Villa Tugendhat at Brno, and Otto Wagner and Joseph Hoffmann in Vienna
The rich musical traditions of the region and their deep cultural histories
Mies van der Rohe’s Villa Tugendhat near Brno, a beautifully renovated modernist masterpiece
Prague, one of Europe’s most alluring capitals
Vienna’s extraordinary fine and decorative arts collections, including the Kunsthistoriches Institut and a private visit of the Liechtenstein Garden Palace
Explore Budapest, including the Franz Liszt Academy and Hungary’s recently renovated Museum of Fine Arts
Performances in Vienna, Prague and Budapest (details TBA when the Autumn 2018 program is released)
Days 1–4: Arrive Prague; tour the beautiful city and its monuments from the Gothic to art nouveau, visit the Lobkowicz Palace and Cathedral of St Vitus.
Days 5–6: Admire Mies van der Rohe’s Villa Tugendhat near Brno; tour Bratislava and the Danubiana Museum of Modern Art; visit Pannonhalma Archabbey
Days 7–9: Explore the musical traditions of Budapest at the Liszt Academy and the city’s excellent galleries, including the recently reopened MFA and the Museum Ludwig.
Days 10–14: Visit Klosterneuburg and Schonbrunn Palace, explore Vienna’s extraordinary fine and decorative art collections and visit Gustav Klimt’s villa
A limited number of places remain on this tour and as such, internet bookings are not taken. Please contact our travel consultant listed above if you wish to make a booking.
Qatar offers flights into Prague and out of Vienna daily. Contact us for quotes and bookings.
Included meals are shown with the symbols B, L and D.
Monday 17 September: Arrive
The tour starts in the late afternoon, when we meet in the hotel for a talk, drinks and canapés. If you have booked your air travel through Academy Travel, we will organise a transfer from the airport to the hotel. Overnight Prague. (Canapes)
Tuesday 18 September: Prague
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 a superior restaurant, we visit the museum dedicated to Alphonse Mucha, whose graphic art defined what is quintessentially art nouveau. Evening at leisure Overnight Prague. (B, L)
Wednesday 19 September: Prague Castle and its collections – Lisitsa Recital
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 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. After a break for lunch, we have a guided tour of St Vitus’ Cathedral and its treasury, and a visit to the Sternberg Palace, where the National Gallery displays its antiquities and Old Masters, including Durer’s extraordinary Feast of the Rosary. This evening we enjoy a piano recital by the acclaimed Ukrainian pianist, Valentina Lisitsa, at the Rudolfinium. Overnight Prague. (B)
Performance details Venue: Rudolfinium Program: Schubert – Liszt: Swan Song, D. 957; Ravel, Gaspard de la nuit; Musorgskij, Pictures at an Exhibition Performers: Vaelntina Lisitsa
Thursday 20 September: Kutna Hora and Villa Tugendhat
This morning we depart by coach for Bratislava, stopping to visit two UNESCO World Heritage sites, representing two very different sides of Czech history and culture. Our first stop is Kutna Hora, a town born in the 12th century around Bohemia’s first Cistercian abbey, which later grew rich enough from silver mining to rival Prague. Our second stop is 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 21 September: 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 22 September: Pannonhalma Abbey and Budapest
We depart by coach for Budapest this morning, 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 a guided tour of the abbey, we continue on to Budapest, where we take a coach tour of Buda – the historic capital of Hungary, which grew up in the Middle Ages – before settling into our hotel. Dinner. Overnight Budapest. (B, D)
Sunday 23 September: Fine art in Budapest
Budapest’s art collections reflect the city’s quest to rival Vienna, its sister capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. A key part of this rivalry was the development of its 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 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 mid-afternoon, we visit the Ludwig Museum of Contemporary Art, which displays Hungarian and International art from the 1960s to the present. In the later evening, we cruise along the Danube to enjoy the spectacle of the city lit up at night. Overnight Budapest. (B)
Monday 24 September: Budapest – Liszt Academy
Budapest’s reputation as the jewel 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 of Pest, its history and architecture on foot, followed by a guided visit of the Franz Liszt Academy, the heart of Budapest’s musical life, founded by Liszt and home to the Liszt Memorial Museum – a fine reconstruction of Liszt’s final residence in Budapest. The afternoon is at leisure, and there is the option of visiting Memento Park – an outdoor sculpture museum of communist-era statuary that was removed from the city following the end of Soviet occupation. This evening we enjoy a performance, at the Liszt Academy. Overnight Budapest. (B)
Performance details Venue: Liszt Academy Program: Purcell, Excerpts from The Fairy Queen and Dido and Aeneas, Britten, Variations and fugue on a theme of Henry Purcell, Op. 34, and excerpts from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Op. 64. Performers: Dame Emma Kirkby, Zita Szemere (Soprano), Peter Barany (counter tenor, Istvan Kovacs (bass)
Tuesday 25 September: To Vienna
This morning, we depart by coach for Vienna, visiting Esterháza Palace on the way. Esterháza, a glorious 18th-century palace in the countryside, sometimes known as “the Hungarian Versailles”, is perhaps best known because Haydn lived there from 1766 until 1790, and regularly conducted performances of his work for the court. After touring the palace and its collections, we continue on to Vienna. Overnight Vienna. (B)
Wednesday 26 September: 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 27 September: 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 Villa Klimt, where the artist toiled away on his masterpieces from 1911-1918, and then see two wonderful, and very different, buildings by Otto Wagner – Villa Fuchs, residence of expressionist painter Ernst Fuchs, and the Kirche am Steinhof. Returning to the hotel, the evening at leisure. Overnight Vienna. (B)
Friday 28 September: Schonbrunn and Klosterneuberg – Werther
This morning we visit Schönbrunn Palace. The palace began as a hunting lodge in the 16th century, but was redeveloped in the 18th century to become an imperial residence to rival the magnificence of Versailles and the Winter Palace. After touring the palace and its extensive gardens, we break for lunch, and then travel to Klosterneuberg monastery. The monastery, founded in the 12th century, and expanded and renovated in subsequent centuries, is home to the extraordinary altarpiece by Nicholas of Verdun, the greatest goldsmith of the Middle Ages. In the evening we enjoy Jules Massenet’s Werther performed by the Vienna State Opera. (B)
Performance details Venue: Vienna State Opera Program: Jules Massenet, Werther Performers: Dmitry Korchak (Werther), Clemens Unterreiner (Albert), Sophie Koch (Charlotte)
Saturday 29 September: 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. After a talk in the hotel, we visit 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 later afternoon, 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. In the evening, we enjoy a farewell dinner at one of Vienna’s excellent restaurants. Overnight Vienna. (B, D)
Sunday 30 September: Departure
The tour ends in the hotel this morning. Please consult your individual travel plans. (B)
A former Director of the Art Gallery of South Australia and previously a curator of decorative arts. He is also an experienced cultural tour leader.
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.”
What is included in the tour price? 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 public transport is 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
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? Open-age 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
Costs involved in obtaining visas for countries visited, where required
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.