Christmas in Prague, New Year’s in Vienna. Seasonal music and Mozart at The Estates Theatre in Prague, with the Aria Hotel; opera, Musikverein and Konzerthaus (Beethoven 9) in Vienna, with Sacher Hotel. Mozart touring, Upper Belvedere Palace Vienna.
This tour is Old World holiday elegance at every step, with two of the finest hotels in our catalogue, impossible to get tickets for unforgettable performances, off-the-beaten-path tours and a perfect mix of fine dining and the best local cuisine. And Tour Director Richard Koegl will take care of you the entire way.
Prague is a wonderfully-preserved medieval city, and its many traditional charms are equally well-preserved, especially during the festive season. We will tour the city’s important monuments and lesser-known gems, hear a timeless Mozart opera in the Neoclassical jewel that is the Estates Theatre, and we will stay in the preferred Castle District, at the Aria Hotel, one of the finest we have ever used.
Vienna, city of music, is at its best during the Yuletide. Its museums and galleries provide some of the best visual art experiences to be had anywhere, and countless cafés each have their own charm, history and loyal patrons. Here we attend two performances at the Staatsoper, a dress rehearsal of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra’s New Year’s Day Concert at the Musikverein, and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 at the Konzerthaus. Our home in Vienna is the peerless Sacher, the quintessential Old World hotel.
Tuesday, December 22
Independent departures for overnight flights to Prague.
Wednesday, December 23
Morning arrivals in Prague. You will be met at the airport and transferred to the superb Aria Hotel, our music-themed hotel in the charming Castle District. After settling into your room, in the early evening we meet for a Welcome Reception (buffet) followed by a chorale concert at the Estates Theatre (7pm).
Thursday, December 24
After breakfast (included each day) we meet for a coach and walking tour of Prague, featuring Wenceslas Square and the Christmas Market and the Clementinum with its glorious Baroque library. We end by crossing the Charles Bridge on our way back to the hotel. As we go, we uncover the origins of one of the best-preserved medieval cities in the world. Tonight we meet for a festive Christmas Dinner in the hotel’s Library.
Friday, December 25
Spend the morning at leisure, celebrating in your own fashion. This afternoon we enjoy a performance of The Nutcracker at the National Theatre (2pm), followed by a wonderful dinner at U Modré Kachničky.
Saturday, December 26
Today we tour Malá Strana (Lesser Town), including Prague Castle, Saint Vitus Cathedral, the Old Royal Palace and enjoy stunning views over the whole of Prague. Lunch is included at Kampa Park. Tonight (7pm) we attend a performance of a Mozart opera (TBA) at the Estates Theatre.
Sunday, December 27
Today we visit Prague’s historic Jewish Quarter, the best preserved complex of Jewish historical monuments in the whole of Europe. Six synagogues remain, plus the Jewish Town Hall and the Old Jewish Cemetery – the most remarkable in Europe. We will also have the option of visiting the museums devoted to composer Bedřich Smetana and Art Nouveau artist Alfons Mucha. This evening, we attend a performance (TBA)
Monday, December 28
After breakfast, we transfer by luxury mini coach to Vienna. We drive through the beautiful Moravian countryside along the way, stopping in the historic UNESCO World Heritage Site city of Brno. We enjoy lunch and a visit to the homestead of composer Leoš Janáček. Upon arrival in Vienna, we check in The Sacher, the Gold Standard for “Old World” 5-Star hotels, in the heart of Old Town Vienna’s pedestrian Kärntnerstrasse. Once settled, the afternoon is at leisure. This evening we attend a performance (TBA) at the Theater an der Wien.
Tuesday, December 29
After breakfast we meet for a guided walking tour of Old Town Vienna, giving us unique insight into the city’s rich history and musical past. We visit Stephansdom (St. Stephen’s Cathedral), Austria’s most eminent Gothic edifice and home to a wealth of art treasures, some of which can only be seen during a guided tour. We also explore the Imperial Hofburg Palace, which, for seven centuries—until 1918—was inhabited by the Habsburg family and was the centre of its empire. Today, the Gothic Imperial Chapel, where the Vienna Boys’ Choir performs during High Mass on Sunday, is a remnant of the Imperial Palace during the Middle Ages. On our tour, we will also walk in the footsteps of Mozart, who spent his last ten years in Vienna and died here on December 5, 1791. Following the tour, we enjoy a traditional Viennese lunch at the Augustinerkeller Bitzinger. This evening we attend a performance (TBA) at the Vienna State Opera.
Wednesday, December 30
This morning we tour the superb picture gallery at Upper Belvedere Palace. Prince Eugene of Savoy (1663 – 1736), the most brilliant military mind of his age, commissioned Johann Lukas von Hildebrandt to design and build the garden palace Belvedere as a summer residence outside the walls of the city. The exquisite Baroque structure consists of two palaces (Upper and Lower Belvedere). In the Upper Belvedere, the Austrian Gallery of the 19th and 20th Centuries shows a marvellous collection of Austrian as well as international art from the last two centuries: the highlight is “Vienna around 1900 and the Art of the Classical Modern” featuring the largest collection of Klimt paintings (including his gilt pictures The Kiss and Judith), and a number of works by Egon Schiele. It also contains prominent works of the French impressionists, the most important paintings of the Viennese Biedermeier era (with works by Waldmüller, Amerling, and Fendi) and major paintings by Romako, Makart, Boeckl, Wotruba, Hausner, Lehmden, Hundertwasser and many others. In the afternoon, we visit Schönbrunn, the former summer residence of the imperial family, considered one of the most beautiful baroque palaces in Europe. The Habsburgs resided here the better part of each year. Emperor Franz Joseph, who later married the enchanting Sisi and reigned from 1848 to 1916, was born here in 1830. The monarch spent his last years entirely in the palace, which became the property of the new Republic of Austria only two years after his death. Today, the palace is part of UNESCO’s cultural heritage due to its historic importance, its unique grounds and its splendid furnishings. This evening we enjoy a cocktail reception at the historic Hotel Imperial (1873 HalleNsalon) prior to an unforgettable performance of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony at the Konzerthaus, with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra.
Thursday, December 31
Enjoy the day at leisure in Vienna. In the early evening, we walk to the famous Musikverein for the dress rehearsal of the New Year’s Concert (19.30). Riccardo Muti conducts the incomparable Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. Afterwards, we return to the Sacher for an elegant New Year’s Eve Dinner.
Friday, January 1
After a well-deserved sleep in, we meet in the early afternoon for a Farewell Lunch at Ristorante San Carlo. Tonight we attend a performance of Strauss’s Die Fledermaus at the Staatsoper.
Saturday, January 2
Transfers to the airport for departure flights are included.