On Location in Central Europe
July 2017 | By Susan Milne | 5 minute read |
Get off the beaten track with unique experiences in Central Europe and countries along the Adriatic. Our On Location partner, Boutique Journeys of Europe, specializes in this region which offers a mix of countryside, cultures and historic cities. Co-Founder Nathalie Nagy is here with ideas and info for travel in this part of the world.
Q: How would you describe the region of Central Europe for travelers?
Our Central European and partially Adriatic portfolio includes destinations which share some historical and cultural ties, but are also extremely different from each other. Much of our region is still undiscovered by the American traveler, but once they arrive in these regions, they find an eclectic mix of beautiful countryside, historical cities offering extensive cultural opportunities, a vast array of cuisines from fresh fish and oysters on the Croatian coast, to tasty sausages in Germany, and everything in between.
Q: In which countries do you offer your tailor-made services?
The following 10 countries: Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany (only parts of Germany, mainly Berlin/Dresden/Munich), Hungary, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia.
Q: Are there any special features of your services we should know about?
We provide seamless service to our multiple destinations, making the process of booking the arrangements much simpler for agents and guests alike.
Q: What do you consider highlights that should not be missed?
As we cover 10 countries, it’s hard to choose only a few highlights:
- In Budapest, a private speedboat tour on the Danube is definitely one of our most highly recommended programs, and also most popular with our guests.
- The Jewish quarters of Prague, Budapest, Krakow are not to be missed, and if visiting Krakow, then a visit to Auschwitz Birkenau concentration camp is a very poignant and must-do as well.
- In Croatia, we always recommend at least a half day, but a full day if time allows, on a private motorized yacht to go island hopping around the islands of Hvar, Vis, Mljet, Korcula.
Q: For river cruise passengers, what day tours of Budapest would you recommend?
If they opt out of the city highlights cruise tours, then a Buda and Pest highlights tour is a must, along with Gellert Hill for some of the best views over the city, a drive or walk along Andrassy Boulevard, the Champs Elysees of Budapest, a stop at Heroes Square, and an elevator ride up to the top of St. Stephen's Basilica – the highest manmade structure in the city center.
We also highly recommend a culinary tour to sample some of Hungary's delicious cuisine, or museums, including Terror House, the Hospital in the Rock, or the Pinball Museum.
Etyek wine country, situated 40 minutes outside of the city, also makes for a fantastic trip – the villages are enchanting, and the wineries are a mix of traditional and contemporary styles.
Q: Tell us about some of the culinary tours you can arrange.
We have fantastic guides in Budapest, Vienna, Prague and Berlin where we arrange for private culinary and market tours. They mainly focus on local cuisines and flavors, but can also be specialized, for example one of our popular culinary tours in Budapest focuses on Jewish dishes and specialties, like 'flodni' – an elaborate layered cake filled with plum, apple, poppy seeds, and walnut.
Q: What destination do you recommend for those looking for active adventures?
Croatia and Slovenia would be our top recommendations for those seeking active adventures. Slovenia more land-based, but in Croatia there are both land and water-based programs. We recommend ziplining, canyoning, rafting, hiking, sea kayaking, cycling, or cycling, combined with wine tastings.
Q: Describe some of the most popular Christmas Markets.
Vienna has one of the largest selections of Christmas Markets in our region, offering markets in many popular areas of the cities, but also in smaller, hidden neighborhoods which are usually frequented by locals. Everything from handmade holiday ornaments, hot mulled wine, strudels and ice skating rinks can be found at some of these markets. Budapest, Salzburg, Munich, Prague, Berlin, also have a great selection of Christmas or Winter Markets which makes travel to these destination during the holidays very festive.
Q: Can you arrange shore excursions for cruise passengers in Croatia, Slovenia and Montenegro?
Yes, in all three destinations we can arrange shore excursions for cruise passengers.
Q: Tell us about some of the unique accommodation in the region.
Two of our favorite boutique hotels in our region are sister hotels, the Aria Hotel Prague and the Aria Hotel Budapest. They’re musical themed hotels which ties in nicely with our region, which has very rich musical heritage and culture.
- In Prague, the Aria Hotel has 4 floors, and each floor focuses on a musical genre – classical, opera, contemporary and jazz. The rooms on these floors are dedicated to those composers or musicians.
- In Budapest, it’s similar, but due to the architecture of the hotel building, the hotel is dividing into the same 4 genres but as wings of the hotel, with 4 elevator banks.
Both hotels offer special music concierges and an enormous library selection of music, ipads in every room pre-programmed with many music selections. The Budapest Aria also has a fabulous rooftop skybar where you can almost touch the dome of St. Stephen's Basilica.
Glamping has also become quite popular in our region the past few years, and one of our favorite properties offering this is the Garden Village Bled, near Lake Bled in Slovenia. This is an eco-resort offering well-appointed tree house style lodging and luxurious tents for visitors. Lake Bled is only a stone's throw away, Triglav National Park is 15 minutes away, Lake Bohinj only 30 minutes, and Ljubljana is a 45 minute drive.
Wine-tasting in the Barossa Valley, swimming with the whale sharks at Ningaloo Reef, and heli-hiking over glaciers in New Zealand? Yes please!