Christmas markets & winter magic in the heart of Europe
Explore the Christmas markets of Vienna, Bratislava and Krakow; take a horse-and-carriage ride through the Low Tatras National Park; and navigate the labyrinthine salt tunnels of Krakow.
Christmas markets & winter magic in the heart of Europe
About your trip
Mulled wine, the scent of roasted chestnuts, the chill of snow; nowhere is more magical than Central Europe at Christmas.
This eight-day adventure begins in Vienna and ends in Krakow – two beautiful, Austro-Hungarian cities that capture the Central European character perfectly. In that time you’ll enjoy a cooking class, wander world-famous Christmas markets, meet stallions at Vienna’s iconic Spanish Riding School, discover architectural beauty in some of Europe’s oldest cities, as well as delve into their dramatic pasts.
Cafe-lined streets and vibrant markets are to be expected here, as are unique tastes – such as local honey mead in Bratislava and Soviet-style cuisine in Krakow – natural mountain beauty (which you’ll uncover in the Low Tatras) and, as always with Flash Pack, a touch of the unexpected.
- Accommodation in twin rooms
- Local transport
- Most meals included
- Max 14 travellers per group
- ATOL protected
- Private airport transfers
Remember, flights aren't included and prices are based on sharing a twin room. If you'd like to upgrade to a single room, you can add this during the booking process or by contacting our Customer Experience team.
Day 01 TOUCH DOWN IN MAGICAL VIENNA
Welcome to Vienna, the majestic former capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The City of Music comes to life during the Christmas season, its streets illuminated with twinkling lights and lined with festive markets. Upon arrival, a private transfer will greet you off your flight and whisk you away to your hotel in the city. Meet your fellow travellers and guide at the hotel, then you’re off into the Old Town. Your first evening will see you meander through the Christmas markets, with a warming mug of mulled wine (our recommendation) to ease you into the spirit, before dining at a nearby restaurant.
Day 02 CITY TOUR & A VIENNESE COOKING CLASS
This morning, you’ll explore Vienna on a relaxed walking tour. The city’s architecture is a sight to savour, from Art Nouveau facades to Baroque cathedrals. For lunch, be sure to explore Vienna’s ample street food opportunities, with Christmas markets serving up everything from schnitzel to wurst. You’ll then meet the world-famous stallions at the Spanish Riding School, before settling into an afternoon cooking class with a local chef. Learn how to make Vienna’s signature dishes, from apfelstrudel to wienerschnitzel. In the evening, you’ll have the chance to enjoy a Viennese opera, or relax in the hotel sauna. We’ll leave it up to you.
Day 03 CASTLES, CHRISTMAS MARKETS & CUISINE IN BRATISLAVA
Today, you’re off to Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. Check into your new hotel, then you’ll get your first taste of your new city on a walking tour of the Old Town. Sample some traditional mead (a local speciality made of honey wine), explore the city’s Christmas markets and admire picturesque views of the Danube from the vantage point of Bratislava Castle. Find lunch from one of the many Christmas market stalls or cafes (we’d recommend bryndzové halušky: a typical Slovak dish consisting of gnocchi-like dumplings sprinkled with sheep’s cheese and bacon). This evening, you’ll then enjoy an exclusive beer tasting at one of the city’s breweries.
Day 04 Carriage rides & warming bonfires in Besenova
You’re heading to Besenova, a small town located in the Low Tatras National Park. Upon arrival, you’ll check into your hotel, before taking a horse and carriage through the countryside. Admire scenic views of the mountains rising around you (where you’ll be hiking tomorrow), slowly making your way to a wilderness bonfire, where you’ll enjoy some sausages, wine and tea. Back at the hotel, the rest of the evening is yours to relax, before dining with your fellow travellers in the hotel restaurant.
Day 05 HIKE THE LOW TATRAS MOUNTAINS
You’ll return to the national park this morning, where you’ll be hiking the Low Tatras Mountains. Situated in the valley between two rivers (the Vah and the Hron), these picturesque mountains are home to dense green forests, caves and waterfalls, and offer beautiful views over the neighbouring High Tatras. Depending on the levels of snowfall, you may have to don snowshoes to navigate the Dumbier and Chopok peaks. Back at the hotel, you’ll have all afternoon to relax in the thermal springs and saunas.
Day 06 WELCOME TO KRAKÓW
Leave Slovakia behind as you cross the border into Poland, heading straight to the city of Krakow. If you are on our December departure you will check into the hotel before exploring the city on an introductory walking tour. Christmas brings a vibrant warmth to the city, it’s streets lively with market stalls and festive locals. If you are booked onto our November departure, you will stop en-route to Krakow to visit the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum. A sombre yet vital historic landmark, the museum and memorial offer a chance to reflect upon the tragedy and horrors of the past.
Day 07 Vodka Tasting, salt mines and a communist past
Today is all about immersing yourself in Krakow’s history. If you are on our December departure you will uncover a truly unique sight: the subterranean tunnels of Wieliczka Salt Mines. Spread over nine levels underground, these labyrinthine walkways are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you are booked onto our November departure you will spend the morning exploring the city of Krakow and it’s lively Christmas markets. Your afternoon will be the same on both departures where you will visit the Nowa Huta District. A concrete neighbourhood built on Soviet architectural ideals, this was constructed with the intention of being a model communist city. Delve into a nuclear bunker for a communist-style cold buffet lunch (paired with vodka, naturally) and then cruise through the neighbourhood in an old-school Eastern Bloc Trabant. Follow this up with an exclusive vodka tasting and closing feast at a traditional Polish restaurant.
Day 08 DO WIDZENIA POLSKA
On your final day, it will be up to you to make your own way to the airport – your guide will be on hand to help you arrange a transfer. If you would like to combine this trip with one of our other European adventures, you can find the full list of trips here, from Sicily to Croatia.
Our Favourite Hotels
Browse a selection of our favourite hotels, for a flavour of where you may stay on this trip.
Rubinstein Hotel, Krakow
Converted 15th-century townhouse in old Kraków
The sights of Kazimierz, Kraków’s Old Jewish Quarter, are on your doorstep at this beautifully restored townhouse with original timber ceilings.
Why we stay here
The Rubinstein comes with a library, jacuzzi and restaurant serving hearty Polish cuisine – plus, there are bicycles to hire here. But the real highlight is its roof terrace Sky Bar, with panoramic views of Wawel Castle.
Hotel Devin, Bratislava
Traditional and centrally located hotel overlooking the Danube
Soak in evocative views of Old Bratislava from this plush hotel with a French restaurant and heated indoor pool.
Why we stay here
We love the character of this elegant hotel: the à la carterestaurant is an ode to old-school opulence. Meanwhile, the spa, with a Finnish sauna and steam room, is a lovely place to hang out in after exploring Slovakia’s capital.
Fly into Vienna International Airport (VIE) and out of Krakow International Airport (KRK).
Try to arrive before 6pm if you can on Day 1, in order to leave time for dinner, but we can pick you up anytime.
Please be aware that the itinerary, activities and hotels are subject to change. These changes can happen with little notice due to availability, poor weather, seasonal changes, or other circumstances beyond our control. From time to time we may also make changes to your itinerary to try out new ideas and keep things fresh.
We take safety very seriously on Flash Pack adventures, read more here.
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