Eastern Explore

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Eastern Explore

from £1,207
Duration: 21 days
Countries: Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Netherlands, Poland, Serbia, Slovakia, Turkey
This tour of Eastern Europe begins at the very edge of a continent. From the exotic charms of Istanbul, just a bridge-length from Asia, we will explore the very best the region has to offer.

Eastern Explore

Travel through the stunningly beautiful yet recently reborn Balkan nations and uncover opulent capitals and bustling cities as we make our way to London. Along they way we’ll experience spectacular scenery and discover varied cultures; try deliciously different dishes and enjoy vibrant nights out. Enjoy all this and more on this Eastern Europe tour of discovery.

N.B. Price includes food fund of £255


Day 1: Istanbul

If the world were a state Istanbul would be its capital, according to Napoleon. Two continents, four empires and a fusion of culture makes for an eclectic start to our trip. Grand Bazaar anyone?

Included today:
-Welcome meeting with Trip Leader

Day 2: Sofia

Travel Day: Istanbul, Turkey to Sofia, Bulgaria.

Bed, Breakfast, Bus, Bulgaria. Founded seven thousand years ago, the second oldest capital in Europe, Sofia, continues to expand as the country’s cultural and economic hub.

Get amongst it on a guided tour of the city's most renowned religious sites, including St Alexander Nevsky’s Cathedral, St George’s 4th century Church, and St Sophia's Church. We’ve cleared your schedule this afternoon (you’re welcome).

Included today:
-Guided tour with a local guide

Meals: Breakfast, lunch.

Did you know:
-Don’t let a local shaking their head turn you away. That’s how Bulgarians express approval. #noddingissowesterneurope
-Bulgarians get two birthdays. Well, kind of. Locals also celebrate ‘name days’. And get this, it’s a bigger party.

Day 3: Belgrade

Travel Day: Sofia, Bulgaria to Belgrade, Serbia.

More of Eastern Europe's unique mix of glasnost and capitalism as we dig into Belgrade, capital of modern-day Serbia as well as the former Yugoslavia. A product of the former nations of Yugoslavia, Serbia's religious and political past has cultivated a diverse cultural landscape throughout the city.

Take a tour along the banks of the mighty Danube and into Belgrade’s Old Town district to investigate the local hot spots down Prince Michael Street, the main pedestrian walk about town. Thank your patient hunger with a local stew and sip some traditional plum brandy. You’ll fit right in.

Included today:
-Guided tour of Belgrade

Meals: Breakfast.

Did you know:
-Vampire is the only Serbian word that is used and accepted worldwide. At least they got a good one.
-The Serbs were the actual pioneers of the clock-making industry, making and designing their own clocks 600 years before the Swiss did.

Day 4: Sarajevo

Travel Day: Belgrade, Serbia to Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Next: beat the crowds in up-and-coming Sarajevo. Recovering from a dark past (think Archduke Franz Ferdinand circa 1914), torn apart by war, the beautiful city is still heroically rebuilding itself and is widely underrated.

Meals: Breakfast, dinner.

Did you know:
-Upon hearing the Bosnian War was over, U2 cancelled their concert in Switzerland, forgoing $4 million in earnings to fork out $1 million of their own to put on a concert for war-torn Sarajevo, celebrating the end of the war.
-Births and weddings are often celebrated with celebratory gunfire.

Day 5: Dubrovnik

Travel Day: Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina to Dubrovnik, Croatia (via Mostar).

We make the most of Mostar before lots more stunning gets pushed past the window as we head for the most famous walled city in Europe (nope, not history. See: Game of Thrones). Wander Dubrovnik's tiny cobblestoned streets and explore hidden cafés and shops before grabbing some dinner and checking out the glitzy nightlife.

Included today:
-Mostar visit

Meals: Breakfast, dinner.

Day 6: Dubrovnik

Free day in King's Lan… sorry, Dubrovnik. Check out the residential homes further up in the old town for awesome views and a local perspective. Then: a cold beer on the wall as the sun sets over the Adriatic. This is the good life.

Meals: Breakfast.

Day 7: Plitvice

Travel Day: Dubrovnik, Croatia to Plitvice Lakes, Croatia (via Zadar).

Listen to the ocean play an instrument in Zadar. The Sea Organ is a quirky art installation that sits amongst the city’s eclectic mix of Roman ruins and public art. More cool facts await you on a guided city tour with your Topdeck TL. Next up: bliss and waterfalls at the Plitvice Lakes National Park to catch some z’s.

Included today:
-Guided tour of Zadar

Meals: Breakfast.

Did you know:
-Zadar has the most beautiful sunsets in the world. Well, according to Alfred Hitchcock at least.
-Zadar’s local sea organ sings the songs of the sea by taking in water through pipes underneath and pushing out air through a series of slots in the marble staircase frontage. Vrlo opuštanje (or, very relaxing).

Day 8: Plitvice

Today is brought to you by Mother Nature. Made up of 16 lakes connected by streams and waterfalls and surrounded by 300 square kilometres of national park, Plitvice Lakes didn't make it onto the UNESCO World Heritage list without reason. Hike up to see the tallest waterfall in Croatia or glide across the crystal blue lakes in a rowboat. Mindfulness just got a whole new meaning.

Included today:
-Free day

Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner.

Optional activities:
-Plitvice National Park

Day 9: Budapest

Travel Day: Plitvice Lakes, Croatia to Budapest, Hungary.

Your house in Budapest awaits. Meet your Trip Leader and set off on a driving tour to get down and Danube (that be the river) with twin cities, Buda and Pest. Check out Hero's Square, Parliament House, the National Palace, Fisherman’s Bastion and swanky Andrássy Ave. Then it’s time to meet the major food groups: goulash, cabbage rolls and dumplings, oh my!

Included today:
-Budapest driving tour
-Dinner at a local restaurant

Meals: Breakfast, dinner.

Day 10: Budapest

Free day = Put down your Rubik's Cube and take on a city with enough baroque, neoclassical and art nouveau architecture to keep you puzzled for hours. Take to the waters at the art nouveau Gellert Baths and don't leave til you're pruny.

There are 80+ thermal springs in Budapest but this is its most famous. Wave pool, anyone?! Indulge in a spa treatment then visit the Buda Castle or House of Terror Museum. Tonight, hang with the hipsters and drink local fruit brandy at Szimpla Kertmozi - the original ruin bar.

Included today:
-Free day

Meals: Breakfast.

Day 11: Vienna

Travel Day: Budapest, Hungary to Vienna, Austria (via Bratislava).

So long Budapest, we're off to Austria via Bratislava. Only independent since 1993, the Slovakian capital offers equal parts 18th century charm, socialist era architecture and modern art.

Next up: Pick your Baroque from Rococo as we slide into The City of Dreams (kudos, Freud). The Vienna Orchestra provides the soundtrack while we check out Europe's classiest capital on a driving tour. Wave hello to the President as we go past the Hofburg Palace. And because one palace isn't enough, we also take peek at the Schönbrunn. Top off your day with a schnitzel and apple strudel at Cafe Central, the regular hangout of Freud, Trotsky and Lenin.

Included today:
-Bratislava walking tour
-Vienna driving tour

Meals: Breakfast, dinner.

Did you know:
-Josip Broz Tito, Freud, Hitler, Vladimir Lenin, and Trotsky were all patrons of the same Viennese cafe (Café Central) in January 1913. #somethinginthecoffee?
-Vienna has a cat cafe, so if you want some real-life LOL cats in your life, grab a coffee and cake at Cafe Neko while stroking the oh-so-cute felines (and making the most of the free WiFi).
-When asked why they were taking Finnish as a language, 97% of students at the University of Vienna answered so that they could understand heavy metal music.

Day 12: Vienna

Vienna is yours for the day. Walk the grounds of the Schönbrunn Palace, see the Spanish Riding School train (if it's in town) or feed your brain exploring the Museum Quarter. Primp your pinkie for an optional Schnapps Museum visit to taste the local aperitif. Classical music fans, opt in for a night out to hear the works of Mozart, Beethoven, Bach and Strauss at the Viennese Chamber Orchestra. #adulting

Included today:
-Free day

Meals: Breakfast.

Optional activities:
-Alt-Wiener Schnapps Museum Excursion
-Viennese Chamber Orchestra
-Orchestra with dinner

Day 13: Krakow

Travel Day: Vienna, Austria to Krakow, Poland.

Pay your respects and learn more about the Holocaust at the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. Sombre, yes, but an important introduction to the region’s history. Next: crack on to Krakow.

Legend has it a dragon had to be smited in order for Krakow to be built (with a sulphur-stuffed lamb as bait). Bit tougher than the usual council approvals, no? Miraculously untouched by the effects of war, this city boasts some serious Middle Ages swag and another quaint Old Town neighbourhood. Tonight: check in, scarf down and snooze.

Included today:
-Auschwitz-Birkenau visit

Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner.

Day 14: Krakow

Get all up in the streets of Krakow today on a walking tour. Then let the statement, “Whoever saves one life, saves the world entire” really sink in at Oskar Schindler's factory (optional). Go 327 metres underground to see hundreds of shades of rock salt in the Wieliczka Salt Mine, visit a centuries-old synagogue and discover the city's inner-hipster in the Jewish district and shop for Amber in the UNESCO-listed Cloth Hall. Your day, your choice.

Included today:
-Krakow orientation tour

Meals: Breakfast.

Did you know:
-Attention foodies, sweet local cuisine ahead. The candy section is always the biggest section of any Polish grocery store.
-Krakus, a legendary Polish prince defeated the Wawel Dragon by feeding him a dead sheep filled with sulfur. Krakow was then established in his name and honour.

Day 15: Prague

Travel Day: Krakow to Prague, Czech Republic.

Keep your Frozen fantasies rolling as the medieval beauty reigns on in Prague. Fuel up on trdelník (pastry deliciousness) before a walking tour amongst spires and cobblestone streets. Suss out the castle deemed worthy by Guinness World Records as being the largest ancient castle in the world, cross medieval Charles Bridge and watch ‘Death’ toll the hour on an astronomical clock that’s over 600 years old.

Included today:
-Prague walking tour

Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner.

Did you know:
-There’s a bar in Prague where your beer is delivered on a miniature train. #efficiency
-The act of throwing someone out of a window is known as defenestration. It caused a thirty year war to break out after two Catholic officials were thrown out of a window in Prague Castle in 1618.
-In black light theatres scattered throughout the city performers put on shows in pitch black spaces with fluoro clothing and props. Daft Punk, eat your heart out.

Day 16: Prague

Another free day for the win. Channel your inner bohemian and seek out the John Lennon memorial wall, then soak up some more Czech history at the National or Communist Museum or get a taste of the quirky local culture at a marionette puppet opera (you gotta see it to believe it).

Snap a selfie at Prague's own Eiffel Tower, visit a miniatures museum, eat roast pork from one of the street vendors lining Old Town Square and drink beer. Good beer.

Included today:
-Free day

Meals: Breakfast.

Day 17: Berlin

Travel Day: Prague to Berlin, Germany.

Get acquainted with 800 year-old Dresden - a city virtually destroyed in WWII and then rebuilt - and ogle the Frauenkirche before making your beard all the more ironic in Berlin. Prep yourself for currywurst, absinthe and more hipsters per capita than anywhere else. We'll drive you around to see (what's left of) the Berlin Wall, Checkpoint Charlie, the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag building before making your food baby sing with a hearty German meal.

Included today:
-Dresden walking tour
-Berlin driving tour.

Meals: Breakfast, dinner.

Did you know:
-The Doner Kebab was invented in 1972 by the Turkish immigrant, Kadir Nurman, in West Berlin, obviously knowing it would make an ideal midnight snack.
-Berlin is said to have more museums than rainy days, boasting an impressive 175 to choose from.

Day 18: Berlin

Shake off last night with a wander around the German capital. Optional: Third Reich walking tour and local insight into what the city was like under Nazi rule during World War II. Hackescher Markt is a hit for lunch. Afternoon suggestion? Have a picnic at the historic Tempelhof airport turned public park #picniconthetarmac. Tonight: hit the hot spots on an optional nightlife tour.

Meals: Breakfast.

Optional Activities:
-Third Reich walking tour
-Berlin nightlife tour

Day 19: Amsterdam

Travel Day: Berlin to Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Cheese lovers, rejoice. Your next stop is a local Dutch farm to see how cheddar (and clogs) gets made. Next: Amsterdam, mayo-dipped fries and red lights. Get your bearings on a walking tour of the vibrant capital and see the Dam Square, Royal Palace and National Monument. Then: explore all that this notoriously liberal city has to offer.

Included today:
-Dutch cheese and clogs demonstration
-Guided Amsterdam walking tour

Meals: Breakfast, lunch

Day 20: Amsterdam

Join the 881,000 bicycles and get local on a city bike tour of Amsterdam's iconic canals, bridges and parks. Culture fiends, delve deeper with a visit to Anne Frank House, Van Gogh or Rijksmuseum. Still thirsty for more? Check out the Heineken Experience for an interactive visit and tasting at the brewery. Top it off with a dinner cruise on the canal. #imonaboat

Included today:
-Canal dinner cruise
-Amsterdam bike tour

Meals: Breakfast, dinner.

Day 21: London

Travel Day: Amsterdam to London.

Gluten intolerant? We’re sorry. Really. With chocolate, waffles and beer at top of the national list of pride in Bruges it makes for a damn fine walking tour stop. Stock up on the sweet stuff, climb the 366-step belfry and nip the post-holiday blues in the bud before London calls with a serving of the local specialty – chips by the cone fried in beef and horse fat. Mmm. Then it’s back on the ferry to ol’ Blighty to start planning your next adventure. Facebook friends?

Included today:
-Bruges walking tour

Meals: Breakfast.

Did you know:
-The 13th-century belfry houses a carillon with 48 bells and employs a full-time carillonneur to clang them around regularly, serving up a free concert with no noise restrictions.
-“Somebody that you used to know” Australian musician Gotye was born in Bruges.
-Just when you thought nothing could top Belgian chocolate, Bruges dishes up a museum paying homage to the humble potato – Frietmuseum. Well, this is the home of the French fry, after all (it’s a long story).

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Further Details

More information about this gap year opportunity...

Price details:

from £1,207


Call 0333 333 9923 to enquire or book


Dutch cheese & clogs demonstration
Bicycle tour of Amsterdam
Local guide Sofia
Local guide Dubrovnik
Guided tour of former concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau
Canal dinner cruise in Amsterdam

More Inclusions

20 breakfasts, 5 lunches, 9 dinners
7 nights hotel upgrade, 11 nights in hostels & 2 nights in bungalows at European campsites
English Channel ferry crossing
Modern air-conditioned coach
Guided tours of all major cities
Awesome Trip Leader + Driver


This tour is suitable for people aged 18-39

About StudentUniverse

StudentUniverse has been supplying the best flight, hotel and tours deals to students around the world for years now and we’re delighted to be the preferred travel partner of gapyear.com and to make your travel experience even more amazing.

We have a great team of travel gurus that understand what a gap year is all about just waiting to help you, and since we are part of the Flight Centre Travel Group we are able to offer the best flights, gap year packages, hostels, tours, volunteer placements and insurance - the works. This is not your average travel agency, it’s the ultimate backpacker travel agency.

If you’d like to get in touch to chat about your travels, even if you’re in the preliminary stages and you’d just like some advice, give us a call on 0333 333 9923 or submit an enquiry to StudentUniverse – we’d love to hear from you.

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