Day 1 : Vienna
Arrival into Vienna, where your private driver will welcome you for transfer to your deluxe hotel located in the center of the city.
Vienna is a city whose history stretches back over 2,000 years. Originally a Celtic Settlement, it became part of the Roman Empire in 15 BC. The Romans were forced to leave the region during the fourth century as northern tribes regained their foothold in Eastern Europe. By 1155, the Babenbergs declared Vienna a “civitas” indicating that it was developing into a well-ordered community. From this time forward Vienna grew under the influence of the Byzantium Empire, the Orient, Martin Luther, the threat of the Turks, Emperor Franz Joseph, Maria Theresa, Richard the Lion Heart, Karl Marx, and a host of other fascinating events and people, creating one of the world’s great cultural centers.
Check-in at your hotel in the heart of the city and enjoy an evening at your leisure strolling through the lively pedestrian area.
Day 2 : Vienna
This morning, your guide will again meet you in your hotel lobby at 10:00AM to begin your exploration of Vienna. Your walk will lead you into the Hofburg Palace Complex and the Spanishe Hofreitschule – the Spanish Riding School. This is the oldest and last Riding School in the world where classic dressage is still practiced in its purest form.
This Institute was founded in 1572 and its very name gives away the fact that the horses were of Spanish origin. The Lipizzaner is regarded as the oldest classic horse race in Europe. The superb arena - the Winter Riding School in the Vienna Hofburg (Imperial Palace) in which the Riders of the Spanish Riding School train the horses and where they perform was commissioned by Emperor Karl VI. His portrait decorates the white baroque hall built by Josef Emanuel Fischer von Erlach from 1729 to 1735. Since 1920 the presentations of classical dressage have been open to the public.
This morning, schedule permitting, you may visit a practice session of the Spanish Riding School. You may depart at your leisure and continue with your tour.
Afterwards, you can continue on your walking tour of the Hofburg Palace complex. Your guide will take you into the State Treasuries, which house a vast and opulent collection of Hapsburg treasures, from 10th Century regalia and relics of the Holy Roman Empire to the private living quarters of Empress Elizabeth and Emperor Franz Joseph from the 18th and 19th Centuries. This is one of the greatest Imperial collections of Europe.
When you exit the Hofburg, your guide will show you some of the most famous coffeehouses of Vienna, including Demel, located not far from the Hofburg. Demel is the perfect place to stop for a rest and a snack.
You will have this afternoon to explore on your own in Vienna. Some of the finest shopping in Europe is in this quarter, including the best antique shops of the city!
You may wish to see one of the finest art museums in Europe - the Museum of the History of Art (Kunsthistorisches Museum) in the Museum quarter. Here you will find a vast array of paintings including Bruegel, Vermeer, Velazquez, Rubens, and Rembrandt. Also in the collection you will find an important Egyptian collection and other items from antiquity. This museum houses the personal art collection of the Hapsburgs, built up over the centuries. Indeed, the building itself was constructed for the sole purpose of housing the ever-expanding collection.
Across from the Kunsthistorisches Museum, you will find the Natural History Museum. This collection features dinosaur skeletons and the famous Venus of Willendorf. Also in the Museumquarter is the Museum of Modern Art, the Leopold Museum (featuring the world’s largest private collection of works by Egon Schiele) and the Kunsthalle Exhibition Hall.
Special Note: All touring today is on foot. Please wear comfortable footwear. If you are tired at any time, your guide can arrange for taxi service on the spot and you can pay locally.
Day 3 : Vienna
Exeter International Extraordinary Experience
This morning cross the street from your hotel to meet your special guide for a private tour of the Vienna State Opera. On this tour you will follow the footsteps of the most famous composers. Your guide will show you where Joseph Haydn''s career began, where Mozart and Constance got married, Beethoven''s "Eroica" was performed for the first time and much more of this historic venue. The Vienna State Opera still reflects a touch of the Imperial Glory and will enhance your overall impression of this musical city, especially in 2006 – the 250th anniversary of Mozart.
This afternoon, your private driver and guide will take you to the famous Schönbrunn Palace, the summer home of the Hapsburgs. The design of Schönbrunn is bound largely with the personality of Maria Theresa, one of the Hapsburg’s greatest Empresses. Originally designed by Johann Bernhard Fischer Von Erlach, Maria Theresa gave Nikolaus Pacassi the contract to expand the summer palace. The palace stands today as a combination of Austrian Rococo and Classic Baroque symmetry.
Later, as time allows, your driver and guide will take you to Belvedere Palace and Gardens. This palace, built as the summer residence of Prince Eugene of Savoy, is situated on a gently sloping hill. The two main palaces (upper and lower) are linked by formal French gardens and both now house wonderful art collections. Upper Belvedere holds a wonderful collection of 19th and 20th century art, while the lower palace houses a fine collection of art and sculpture from Vienna’s Golden Age (approx. 1683 to 1780).
Day 4 : Vienna – Salzburg
Morning transfer to the train station for the three-hour train to Salzburg. Arrival in Salzburg, where your personal driver will welcome you for transfer to your deluxe hotel in the city center.
After check-in and some time to settle in, your English-speaking guide will meet you in the hotel lobby at 2 PM for this afternoon’s overview walking tour of historic Salzburg. Salzburg''s Old Town with its world famous baroque architecture is one of the best-preserved city centers in Europe and was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Hohensalzburg fortress, strategically located on a hill overlooking the old town, is one of the largest medieval castles in Europe. Originally built in the 11th century as a simple bailey with wooden walls, the structure was gradually expanded and strengthened in the following centuries. Because the fortress actually never came under a military siege and was surrendered without a fight to Napoleon’s army, this is one of the best-preserved castles in Europe.
You will also see the Salzburg Cathedral, a 17th-century Baroque building which was the site of Mozart''s baptism. The church is dedicated to St. Rupert – Salzburg’s patron saint. According to a legend, St. Rupert was the founder of the city, as in the 7th Century he chose to start his Christian mission on the site of an old Roman settlement and called it Salzburg (Salt Castle) after the barges which carried salt from the local salt mines and across the Salzach River.
St. Rupert also founded the Benedictine St. Peter’s abbey, the oldest monaste