Epic Europe: Central & Italy
Beginning in Germany and ending in Italy, this tour hits seven countries but doesn’t rush them. See historic landmarks, medieval squares, hilltop castles, romantic canals and make memories that will last a lifetime. Beginning in Europe’s alt-capital Berlin, walk the ‘Royal Route’ in Krakow, soak up the terracotta views of Prague and Cesky Krumlov and the classic vibes of Vienna, see the might Danube in Budapest, be charmed by Lake Bled, get (good) lost among the canals of Venice, hit up the charmed towns of the Cinque Terre, marvel in the arts culture in Florence and finish with a pizza in the piazzas of Rome. With plenty of free time to do your own thing, there's no better way to see this epic pocket of Europe, all with a crew of like-minded travellers by your side.
Ages: 18 - 29
Theme: 18 to 29s
Accommodation: Hotel (6 nights) Simple hotel (3 nights) Guesthouse (5 nights) Overnight train (1 night) Hostel (6 nights)
Guten Tag! Welcome to Germany. Your adventure kicks off with a welcome meeting at 6 pm where you’ll meet your tour leader and travel group. There are no other activities planned for today, but why not get to know your new travel crew a bit better and head out for currywurst (hot dogs covered in a mixture of ketchup, Worcester sauce and curry powder) and a stein. If you arrive early, make sure to get out and explore this dynamic city. Berlin is packed with poignant historic sites, cutting-edge galleries and iconic architecture. The city also boasts a party scene that makes NYC’s nightlife seem tame. If you’re keen to see what all the fuss is about, make sure to head out tonight as tomorrow you’ll be on an overnight train bound for Poland.
Today morning and early afternoon is free to explore ever-changing Berlin’s many sites. Evidence of its turbulent past are present everywhere you look. This is a city that was destroyed by WWII and later rebuilt. It was divided in two and the stage for a revolution. It’s also a city with a thriving art scene and incredible architecture. Maybe wander through the Brandenburg Gate, swing by Checkpoint Charlie to see where the main gate between East and West Berlin used to stand and witness the crumbling remnants of the Berlin Wall that are scattered all over the city. Or you could reflect on the past and pay visits to the Jewish Memorial, the empty shelves of Bebelplatz and the confronting Topography of Terror. In the afternoon, meet back up with the group and board an overnight train for Krakow.
Arrive into Krakow and stretch your legs on an orientation walk with your leader. As you stroll the pretty streets of the World Heritage-listed Old Town, you’ll soon discover this is a place that seems frozen in time. Get a glimpse of its gorgeous medieval architecture, castles, churches and sprawling squares with your leader, as well as the chance to try zapiekanka. This beloved street snack consists of a baguette topped with mushroom and cheese. Later, strike out on your own. Maybe visit Wawel Royal Castle, which sits atop a hill next to the Vistula River or glimpse the impressive St Mary's Basilica and its extraordinary wood-carved Gothic altarpiece. If churches are your thing, the neo-Gothic St Francis' Basilica is worth a visit.
Today is free day for you to explore Krakow at your own pace. Walking the ‘Royal Route’ – the former path of Polish monarchs – takes you past most of the Old Town’s greatest treasures including Florianska Gate (a Gothic gateway tower where streets musicians tend to play and local artists often display their work), the Barbician, a grand Baroque theatre, as well as some impressive churches and museums. You could easily spend the whole day leisurely exploring this historic stretch. If you can tear yourself away from Krakow, a number of interesting daytrips are available. Maybe head to Wieliczha to visit its 700-year-old Salt Mine. Buried 135-metres underground, this mind-boggling complex is a vast network of tunnels, pits and chambers – all hewn by hand from solid salt! You’ll also find chapels with elaborate salt chandeliers and lakes deep underground. After a full day of sightseeing, why not hit one of Krakow’s cellar restaurants for plate of pierogis and a cold drink.
The journey kicks on to country number three today: the Czech Republic. First, travel by minivan to Ostrava, then board a train bound for Prague. Then entire journey should take about 6 hours. After checking into your hotel, your leader will show you some of Prague’s best sites on an orientation walk. Afterwards, you are free to explore on your own. Maybe wander the streets of the Jewish Quarter and check out the oldest surviving synagogue in Europe or learn about Prague’s favourite son at the Franz Kafka Museum. Make sure to take a scenic stroll along the Charles Bridge and watch the Astronomical Clock in action as it ticks over.
Enjoy more free time in Prague to visit the sites you missed yesterday. Prague Castle has a great viewpoint that provides sweeping views of the city’s red rooftops and Medieval architecture. Consider a day-trip to Kutna Hora where you can visit Sedlec Ossuary, an eerie chapel decorated with human skeletons, or St Barbara Church and its medieval frescoes. Prague’s Old Town becomes particularly magical at night. Return for an evening stroll to soak up the atmosphere before checking out some of the town’s cosy cellar hangouts or underground absinthe bars. If you’re into jazz, Prague also boasts one of the best scenes in Europe. Ask your tour leader for suggestions if you’re not sure where to head out tonight.
Bid farewell to Prague and travel about 4 hours south to the fairytale-like town of Cesky Krumlov. Dating back to the 13th century, this tiny town closely resembles Prague with its gorgeous castle across the river and pretty mix of Renaissance and Baroque architecture. And it’s extremely walkable. Your tour leader will lead a walk around town, providing insight into architectural symbolism and Old Town mysteries along the way. Afterwards, use free time to head to the top of the Castle Tower for a great view of the town’s red rooftops and distant rolling green hills, explore the castle and its gardens or browse the shops that line the riverfront. If you’re feeling active, ask your tour leader about rafting and canoeing activities on offer (time and weather permitting).
Hop into a minivan and travel across the border to Austria and the Baroque city of Vienna. A perennial favourite for world’s most liveable city, Vienna is also a dream for starry-eyed travellers looking for delicious coffee and pastries (sachertorte, in particular), classical music and grand palaces. Get acquainted with the city on a leader-led walking tour before free time to explore on your own. Art-lovers have their pick of museums to explore. Perhaps check out modern Austrian art at the Leopold Museum, paintings by Monet, Degas and Picasso at the neo-classical Albertina or the world’s largest collection of paintings by Austrian painter Gustav Klimt at Belvedere Palace. This evening, why not sample Vienna’s incredible musical heritage and catch a performance at one of the city’s historic venues such as the Vienna State Opera House. Your tour leader can help if you need advice or help booking tickets.
Spend another day exploring Vienna’s rich artistic and intellectual heritage. Maybe head to Schloss Belvedere (Belvedere Palace), Schoenbrunn Palace or the Hofburg palace complex to discover Austria’s symmetrical take on over-the-top grandeur. Exploring some of the city’s more specific museums such as the Schnapps Museum, the Sigmund Freud Museum or the Globe Museum, which is located inside the impressive Austrian National Museum. Climb the tower of St Stephen’s Cathedral, take a spin on the Prater Ferris Wheel or catch a dressage show at the Spanish Riding School. If you didn’t head out last night, maybe cap off a culture-filled day with a spot of Mozart Bach or Schubert at the opera house.
Continue your exploration of Europe’s opulent past in Budapest today. It’ll take 3 hours to get here by train. Upon arrival, your leader will show you around the city on an orientation walk. Later, visit the cavernous Great Market Hall to stock up on Hungarian specialties like langos (fried dough) and Mangalica (an endemic pig) meat and then enjoy a picnic with a view at one of the city’s picturesque parks or viewpoints. More than just fairy-tale-like ode to the past, Budapest is also a bustling city with hip bars, trendy cafes and plenty of cheap eats. Your evening is free, so maybe ask your leader which ones to bless with your presence.
Enjoy a free day to further explore Budapest. Visible from pretty much everywhere in the city, the 13th-century Buda Castle is a must-see – literally. Why not imagine how Hungarian kings used to live by touring the palace complex, which houses the Hungarian National Gallery and the Budapest History Museum. Or you could head to Fisherman’s Bastion for the best view of the city before taking a leisurely stroll along the cobbled streets of the Castle District. Another option is a boat trip along the Danube River where you’ll get a different view of the Parliament buildings, the Castle District and the bridges that link Buda and Pest. Chat to your leader about your options.
Get ready for a long day of travel as you board a train and make the 8-hour journey to Ljubljana. From there, you’ll board a bus bound for Bled, an impossibly scenic lakeside town tucked at the foothills of the Julian Alps. You visit plenty of pretty towns on this trip but Bled truly is out of a fairy-tale. Arrive in the late afternoon and head to its gorgeous lake. Here your leader will point out the town’s best attractions, like its 11th-century clifftop castle and the small island located in the lake’s centre. Use the rest of the day to search for Bled’s famous cream cake (which shouldn’t be hard, every cafe in town claims to make the best one) or choose to join the group for an optional dinner of Slovenian specialties.
Postcard-perfect Bled is also tailor-made for adventure. And as today is a free day, it’s up to you how (and if) you’d like to get active. Hiking, biking, canoeing and rafting are all on the cards. Choose to hire a bike and explore the surrounds, head to Vintgar Gorge for a walk through its natural canyon or go rafting along the Soca River. If you’d like to keep it more lowkey, head to Bled Castle for some exploration or take a plenta (small wooden boat) to the church on the island in the middle of the lake to ring the wishing bell. You could even venture further afield and take a daytrip to Bohinj, another pretty lakeside town. As always, your leader is there for a reason! Grill them about the options.
Board the train and brace yourself for some amazing scenery on the way to Venice (approximately 5.5 hours). Venice is one of a kind, built over a hundred small islands connected by 400 bridges. As well as all those romantic canals, it has all the hallmarks of a fine old Italian city: world-class food, performance, art and architecture. Use your free time to explore – the best way to go is on foot. Try to take in all the famous sights, like the Grand Canal, the shops of the Rialto Bridge, the Palace of the Doge (ruler of Venice), the Piazza San Marco and its golden basilica, and the Bridge of Sighs. Don't even think about leaving until you've eaten some tiramisu. This is where the dish was born, and they know how to do it just right.
Today is as clear as Murano glass, so let Venice weave its magic on you. Maybe you’d like to visit the island of Murano, where colourful glass products are still produced and sold all over the world. Otherwise, you could just hunt down the best gelato you can find, and you’ll need it after walking a mile, trekking through the cobbled lanes past the never-ending canals. At around 6 pm tonight, head to another meeting, where you might gain an extra few travellers for this leg of the journey. After this quick briefing, why not grab a feed with your new group at a local restaurant – your group leader will know of some good spots to go.
Today is free to go out and explore the splendour of Venice. Your group leader will orientate you to the lay of the land in Venice, which includes a traghetto (public transport gondola) to cross the famous Grand Canal. Once you have your bearings, walk the stone laneways to Doge's Palace, the Piazza and Basilica di San Marco and the Bridge of Sighs. Otherwise, wind through the narrow canals on a Venetian gondola – it’s worth the ticket. Also, you could take a vaporetto (water bus) to the island of San Giorgio to climb the bell tower for the best view of Venice. It's no problem if your legs get tired – pull up a seat at one of the piazzas and tuck into an Italian coffee or a local tiramisu, and enjoy watching visitors and locals soak in the magic of the city. For something a bit more artsy, visit the Palazzo Ducale to see paintings by the Italian masters then head to the modern Peggy Guggenheim Collection. You’re on Italian time now, so relax into the evening with an aperol spritz, and go in search for Venice’s seafood spaghetti specialities, like fresh lobster or squid ink, to get your pasta fix.
Spend the day travelling by train to the town of La Spezia: the gateway to the stunning Cinque Terre region (approximately 5-7 hours, depending on train connections). The journey is a beautifully scenic trip through Italy's north. The name Cinque Terre comes from the five tiny villages – Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore – whose position, wedged into a series of coves between sheer cliffs, makes this one of the highlights of the whole of Italy. There won't be too much time to explore the towns on arrival, but once you've checked in, you may like to take a walk around the pedestrian zone on Via del Prione and to the waterside gardens. Keep an eye out for a buzzing restaurant on the harbour – you’re sure to be hungry.
Today it's time to get out and explore the walking tracks of Cinque Terre, a region of Italy famed for its rocky coastline and pastel villages. The footpaths that run between the villages were once the only way to travel in the region, and take you through olive groves, vineyards and on to spectacular views of the towns below hugging the cliffs. Included today is the 'Cinque Terre Card' to get you into the national park and provide train travel between towns and, depending on the group’s agreed fitness level, your leader will take you on a scenic hike. How far, and how many sections to walk is up to you, and it's possible to take the train between any of the villages or back to the base in La Spezia whenever you'd like. If food is more your thing, take advantage of the culinary-rich Liguria region with an optional pesto making class, or perhaps just load up on focaccia, another local speciality. Return to La Spezia in the evening and feel free to keep the food exploration going – there's no better way to recover from a day of walking than indulging in more Mediterranean delights.
Leave the Cinque Terre and catch a train to Florence (approximately 3.5 hours). On arrival, check into the hostel and take a brief walk around the immediate area to get your bearings. Florence is one of the most culturally rich and beautiful cities in Italy, known to many as the heart of Tuscany. The Medicis, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Brunelleschi, Machiavelli, Donatello and Michelangelo all lived in Florence at the height of their creative reign, and food is a major part of the city's identity, so get stuck into some of the regional specialities. Meat lovers should try the bistecca alla fiorentina, a large sliced steak that's usually shared between two people, or ribollita, a thick delicious vegetable soup with bread, beans and greens. Panforte is the signature sweet treat, and trust us, it's oh so sweet.
Head out into the centre of Florence. It's impossible to see everything in this Renaissance wonderland, so take your time, enjoy it and discover the city's culture-rich atmosphere, from family-run vineyards on the outskirts, to the Duomo’s magnificent marble facade. If you are up for it you could visit the local market, potentially culminating in a picnic of traditional Florentine and Tuscan treats. You could then visit the Galleria dell'Accademia to see Michelangelo's famous statue of David, or marvel in the spectacle of the Uffizi: one of the world's oldest art galleries. For sweeping views of the city, walk up to Piazzale Michelangelo, which is set on a hill on the south bank of the Arno River. On your way down, head toward the Ponte Vecchio and stop by a trattoria to fill up with Florence's renowned food and wine. After all, you are in the thriving centre of Tuscany.
Take the train to Rome (approximately 2 hours) and remember, when in Rome – well, you tell us. Join your group on a visit to the Vatican, catching the metro from the main Termini station, and enjoying a leader-led visit to the magnificent St Peter’s Basilica. The country within a city is the home of the Catholic Church and the basilica attracts thousands of visitors for its grand scale, famous iconography and huge forecourt. Afterwards, spend time walking up to the Gianicolo lookout with your group, and witness a panoramic snapshot of the nation’s capital. Later, perhaps head to the Trevi Fountain to see its extravagance under lights, and while you’re walking, maybe grab a gelato – you’re only in Rome once! Make sure you don't miss out on seeing the other iconic Roman sights such as the Colosseum, Arch of Constantine, the Forum, the Pantheon and the Spanish Steps.
There are no activities planned for today and you're free to depart the accommodation at any time. If you have some more time in Rome, why not head back to the Vatican museum, or check out the day trips offered by Urban Adventures, like the Tasting La Dolce Vita tour, exploring the city’s most iconic monuments, piazzas, fountains and movie locations, with some (well-deserved) food stops on the way. Check out urbanadventures.com/destination/Rome-tours for more information.
- Vatican City & St Peter's Basilica
Moxy Berlin Ostbahnhof
Phone: +49 30726218540
Via Castelfidardo 51
Phone: +39 064441078
This trip can be enjoyed by just about anyone with a reasonable level of fitness.
Single supplement is not available on this trip.
All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. 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 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 aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.
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 trip. We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air 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, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. 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: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/contact-us/safety 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. 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 money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.
VENICE GONDOLAS Please note, life jackets are not provided on Gondolas in Venice.
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.
Australian, New Zealand, Canadian, US and British citizens currently do not require a visa to enter countries visited on this trip. Other nationalities should check with the relevant embassy or consulate in their home country for up to date visa information.
Passports have to be carried, but normally you do not need to show them. Stamps are no longer issued at border crossings.
Why we love it
Central Europe is all about the narrow alleyways, cobblestone streets and ancient staircases – good thing you’ll be getting around with a small, unobtrusive group, and able to check things out at your own pace – not just catch a glimpse from a bus window.
So much of what is great about Europe – art, history, music – can be found in Vienna, but it’s sometimes overlooked by younger travellers. Not on our watch!
Step into the pages of a fairy-tale on the shore of Slovenia’s Lake Bled. See the church on the island in the lake’s centre and treat yourself to a slice of cream cake.
Never go hungry (or thirsty) with mouth-watering seafood along Italy's coast, fine wine in Tuscany and endless pasta dishes on offer in Rome.
Discover the country within a city at the Vatican with a leader-led tour of St Peter’s Basilica, packed with rich history and full of religious icons and unforgettable artwork.
Is this trip right for you
This is a trip designed for travellers aged 18 to 29s – full of fun, flexibility and plenty of free time to explore at your own pace.
Less daylight hours spent travelling; more time to explore each destination. This trip includes an overnight train journey from Berlin to Krakow. 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 but can sometimes be quite busy.
Europe is steeped in history, which means sometimes infrastructure is old. Often there are no lifts or escalators, particularly in some train stations or hotels. You may have to carry your bags up and down stairs, as well as some short distances to the hotel (no longer than 30min), so make sure it doesn’t exceed our weight and size recommendations in the 'Packing' section of the Essential Trip Information.
The best way to experience a city is by doing as the locals do – and in this case that means using public transport such as trams, buses or metro at some locations. You’ll get an authentic look at daily life; just be aware you may find yourself sharing a busy bus ride with local commuters.
Don’t let the heat keep you from exploring the world! Summer temperatures can be very high in Europe, which can make things uncomfortable. It’s important to use sun protection, wear layers to combat the heat, and drink plenty of water.
It’s bunking season! As some accommodation on this trip is twin-share, solo travellers will share a room with other travellers of the same gender, a great opportunity to get to know other like-minded people. Please note that a single supplement is not available on this trip as space is at a premium in Europe and your hotel is no exception. For those travelling as a pair, hotels in Europe often don't have double beds, but rather two single beds that can be pushed together.
Some of the best scenery is found on the Cinque Terre walks, which can be quite steep and long at times. While this trip doesn't require a high level of fitness, it’s essential to be at least moderately fit if you want to take part in all activities.
All Intrepid 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. Pharmacies are well equipped in Europe and widely available, however, we recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained in some of the rural locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. 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 the 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.
Food in Europe is varied and differs significantly between countries and regions. Expect to sample delicious local meals in almost every location you’ll visit on this trip. However, if you do not feel like having a local delicacy, world type food is also widely available, especially in bigger cities. European diet is mostly meat based; vegetarians might find the menu selection less varied than they would see at home. Vegetarianism is not as common in this region and choices may be limited to soups, salads, bread, cheese, fruit, yoghurt, eggs etc. Vegans and those on gluten-free diets will 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 included meals, but there may be times when those with special requirements may need to provide their own.
European breakfasts are often basic and may simply include bread/toast or pastries, butter, jam, coffee/tea/juice (or similar.)
The Euro (EUR) is the official currency in the following destinations: Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Spain. All other European countries still have their own national currencies. 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 obtain local currencies easily at airports and major train stations, but be sure to bring some extra emergency cash in a major currency that can be exchanged if the ATMs are not functioning. The safest option is to bring cash in either Euro or US dollars. 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. While travelling we recommend you carry some cash to pay for restaurant bills and other services. Change can be difficult to obtain so throughout the day, try to gain as many small denominations as you can.
You might be advised to take some of your money as travellers' cheques from a major financial institute. Travellers' cheques have security advantages, however please be aware that the exchange rates may not be favourable and that it is difficult to change Travellers' cheques in most countries. Be particularly aware that after hours money exchanges and hotel receptions carry high commissions- sometimes up to 20%. Taking all that in to account, we do not advise bringing traveller’s cheques to Europe.
For money safety we recommend that you carry your cash and credit cards in a secure money belt or pouch concealed under your clothes.
The local currency in Poland is the Polish Zloty (PLN).
The local currency in the Czech Republic is the Koruna (CZK).
The local currency in Hungary is the Hungarian Forint (HUF)
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).
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.
We try to plan for every eventuality, but there are still some things beyond our control. Please make sure you bring an extra USD500 for emergencies (e.g. natural disasters or civil unrest). Sometimes these things necessitate last minute changes to our itineraries, and we can’t guarantee there won’t be some extra costs involved.
What to take
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.
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, for when it comes to travelling on local buses and trains it's often only the smaller bags that will fit into the storage areas inside the bus or your cabin. To ensure maximum comfort, try to pack small and light.
Where Intrepid covers the cost of luggage storage during included day trips, we allow for one bag/backpack only, so it's advisable that you travel lightly and keep luggage to a limit of one item (plus your day pack). Extra luggage storage will be at your own expense.
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 consider water purification techniques such as iodine or micropur and use the water dispensers which are provided at some of our accommodation. When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day.
On some of our trips in Europe it is possible to purchase responsibly sourced reusable water bottles. Thirty per cent of the cost of each bottle is donated to the Intrepid Foundation, specifically to the Support to Life project, which offers humanitarian assistance to Syrian Refugees in Turkey. Please ask your leader for further information regarding this initiative and the availability of the bottles.
Climate and seasonal
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.
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.
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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/
In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, Intrepid's Europe Office can be reached on the number listed below:
Intrepid's Local Operator: +49 8677 9186 657
Intrepid's Local Operator: +49 8677 918 66 57
We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller.
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.
We've sourced our accommodation very carefully and picked the best possible hotels in line with the Intrepid 18-29 style of travel. Our first accommodation choice is always as close to the main attraction of the destination as possible, however, sometimes we are not in the right centre of action, which means you may need to hop on a public transport to get to the city centre. Please note that service and accommodation in Europe may be different to the standards you are used to. Your accommodation will not always have private en suite facilities or air-conditioning. European hotels generally don't provide kettles or fridges and in particular destinations, rooms may be rather small.
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 basis. Please note there may be times where facilities will be shared rather than ensuite and rare occasions when you share a room with passengers travelling on different Intrepid trips than your own.
SINGLE ROOM SUPPLEMENT
Please note that on our 18 -29 trips in Europe we do not provide a single room supplement option.
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.
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.
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.
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 Trip Notes. 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.
BOOKING MUSEUMS AND ATTRACTIONS IN ADVANCE:
To avoid disappointment we have outlined (where applicable) some important information on some of the major museums and attractions in Europe. Some of our groups have experienced long lines of up to four hours to visit some of the major sights, while some sights are so popular they are booked out completely months in advance, making it impossible for you or your leader to arrange a visit while you are on the trip. Please note that many museums and attractions in Europe are closed on Mondays or 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 possible. If applicable we've given you information in the day-to-day itinerary which outlines which day of the trip is a suitable time to make your reservations, as well as any other information that may help with planning your visit.
Hotel (6 nights) Simple hotel (3 nights) Guesthouse (5 nights) Overnight train (1 night) Hostel (6 nights)
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