Travel by Train Through Classic Europe
The most authentic way to soak up the romance of Mitteleuropa is, without a doubt, through traveling by train. All you need is a rail pass and you’re ready to rail-hop from one imperial capital to the next.
Vienna is fit for royalty, from the grandeur of Hofburg Palace, where beloved Empress Sisi once resided, to Schönbrunn Palace, cloaked in decadent gilt and crystal. But manners are optional while you devour a dark, rich, chocolatey slice of Sachertorte in a Viennese café. Speaking of cafés, you could spend hours just soaking up the coffeehouse culture here.
First-time visitors to Budapest should own up to doing “that really touristy thing” and ride the wooden funicular up to imposing Buda Castle. Then dip into the mosaic-lined Gellért Baths for a soak and a steam. As you wander the city, you can’t miss the Hungarian Parliament building, where the glittering Holy Crown, commissioned by Pope Sylvester II for King Stephen’s coronation in 1000 A.D., is on display. (Come back at night when the building is aglow with fairy lights.)
Spies and shadowy figures lurk behind every corner of Prague’s stormy history. Set out to discover a thousand years of imperial history and Cold War intrigue woven into a tapestry of real events and myth. Or, to lighten the mood, raise a glass of Pilsner by the ancient cobbled Charles Bridge of Prague.