An Austro-Hungarian Christmas


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    Immerse yourself in the magic of the Christmas season on this tour of Austria, Slovenia, Croatia and Hungary’s most festive attractions. Starting in enchanting Vienna and finishing in cheerful Budapest, this seasonal adventure is filled with music, natural wonders, delicious foods and bustling markets – making it the ideal winter break for those seeking a taste of traditional Central Europe.

    Highlights

    • Stirring classical Christmas concert at the Kursalon in Vienna
    • Learn traditional Slovenian recipes at a cooking class in Ljubljana
    • Browse the stalls at Zagreb Christmas market

    Itinerary

    Day 1 – Vienna
    Our tour will begin in magical Vienna, where we’ll visit St Stephen’s Cathedral and explore the historic town centre’s most iconic landmarks. Along the way, we’ll stop off at an authentic Viennese coffee house – where we’ll learn about the importance of cafés in Viennese history. After enjoying a freshly brewed coffee (complete with traditional liqueur and delicious slice of Sachertorte), our tour will continue with a visit to the impressive City Hall – where the Vienna Christmas Dream Market awaits us. We’ll spend some time strolling the sparkling stalls before moving on to a nearby restaurant for dinner. We’ll round off the day at the elegant Kursalon, where we’ll be treated to a classical concert featuring the music of Strauss and Mozart. (D)

    Day 2 – Vienna – Piber – Graz
    After breakfast, our first stop of the day will be Piber – where we’ve an appointment to keep at the Lipizzaner Stud, the home of Europe’s oldest purebred horses. While we’re here, we’ll learn about blacksmithing and visit the carriage museum – we’ll also have the chance to see the foals with their mothers. Then, it’s onwards to a nearby dairy, where we’ll gain a fascinating insight into the cheesemaking process (and sample some local cheese, ham and wines while we’re at it). This afternoon, we’ll set a course for Graz – which will be bustling with Christmas markets and lit up with decorations at this special time of year. (B)

    Day 3 – Graz – Lake Bled – Ljubljana
    Farewell, Austria! Today our journey will continue into Slovenia as we set our sights on the awe-inspiring Lake Bled. When we get there, a unique experience awaits us at the castle: a visit to the famous Beehouse, which celebrates the Carniolan bee. After enjoying a honey tasting session, we’ll move on to Ljubljana – where we’ll wrap up warm for an enchanting walking tour of the illuminated streets. Treat yourself to a cup of mulled wine and a honey cookie as we learn the story behind the city’s Christmas decorations – which are the brainchild of renowned painter Zmago Modic. (B)

    Day 4 – Ljubljana – Postojna Cave – Ljubljana
    After breakfast, we’ll board the mini-coach and make tracks to a true natural wonder: the breath-taking Postojna Cave. While we’re here, we’ll be lucky enough to take a ride on the underground train, taking a closer look at the cave system’s towering rock formations, sparkling rivers and vast subterranean halls as we go. The afternoon will see us back in Ljubljana, where we’ll have the opportunity to try our hands at a Slovenian recipe or two at an included cookery class. The best part? We’ll be able to eat our creations afterwards! Appetites satisfied, the evening will be yours to spend as you please. (B, D)

    Day 5 – Ljubljana – Novo Mesto – Zagreb
    On today’s agenda: a stop at Novo Mesto, a city situated on a picturesque bend of the Krka River. After enjoying a traditional Slovenian snack in the historic centre, we’ll move on to Zagreb – where we’ll tuck into a two-course lunch before embarking on a city tour. Then: one of the best Christmas markets in Europe is calling! Expect colourful displays, festive food and drink, concerts, choirs and much more. It’s no wonder this bustling Advent attraction draws visitors from all over the world! (B, L)

    Day 6 – Zagreb – Heviz
    Today we’ll shake off the chill of winter with a visit to the biggest thermal lake in Europe: Hévíz, where we’ll have the chance to take a dip in the warm waters. With beautiful water lilies peppering the lake’s surface – and humid air rising all around us – this truly is an unforgettable experience, especially during the winter. Back on dry land, the afternoon will see us exploring the area’s Christmas market. Expect lots of hearty foods – including sausages, pickles, peppers and lángos. (B)

    Day 7 – Heviz – Budapest
    There’s nowhere more festive at Christmas time than Budapest – making it the perfect place to round off our trip. Our last hurrah? A cruise along the Danube, with a buffet-style lunch. Then: time to say goodbye. (B, L)

    Tour Inclusions

    • 6 Nights hotel accommodation
    • 10 Meals: 6 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners

    BR-BEHAHVB

    Images courtesy of BackRoads Touring