As if Adventures by Disney’s Central Europe itinerary didn’t pack a punch on its own, we’ve found a few more things to do while touring through Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic. Here, I share a few unforgettable experiences that families can enjoy when they have some free time.
- During the day tour through Prague, Adventures by Disney offers a couple of hours for families to explore the city-center on their own. Tell clients to head to the Old Jewish Cemetery in Prague’s Jewish Town. Founded in the first half of the 15th century, it’s one of the oldest surviving Jewish burial grounds in the world with the oldest tombstone dating back to 1439. Due to lack of space, graves are sometimes stacked 12 layers deep and it’s evident in the row upon row of inclined and snug tombstones. Here, lush trees, splashes of sunlight and ancient tombstones come together to create one of the most mesmerizing sites in the city-center. You clients can add to the mystical aura by leaving a few wishes on the tombstones—they’ll notice little pieces of paper with wishes written on them, weighed down by little stones; it is said, that to this day, the dead can fulfill wishes. Make sure, too, to pay special attention to Rabi Jehuda Loew Ben Bezalel’s grave, who, it is said, created the famous Golem, a monster made of clay that defended the Jews during bad times, but later became violent and had to be destroyed.
- After a day filled with exploring the Eishole Ice Cave and watching a jaw-dropping falconry show that is framed by an even more jaw-dropping setting, tour participants head back to the Kempinski Hotel Berchtesgaden (where they spend three nights) for an evening on their own. We dined at the hotel restaurant, but before that headed to the resort’s pool, which I highly recommend, especially after the active-laden day. The hotel is surrounded by the Bavarian Alps, and it offers an indoor and outdoor pool—it’s the heated outdoor pool that was too much of a lure for me to pass on. Enjoying the intimate-size pool for an hour or so under the cool mist of the Bavarian Alps, all while easing away sore muscle tensions and aching feet, is a top recommendation; this is the Alps, after all, so a swim in a heated pool is a must.
- If they look up, up, up from their location at the Kempinski Hotel Berchtesgaden, travelers will feast their eyes on one of the area’s most though-provoking sights: The Eagles’ Nest. If you delved into the history of Hitler, you’ll recognize this as a Third Reich-era edifice that was presented to Hitler for his 50th birthday. It’s high, very high up, located atop Kehlstein at some 6,000 ft. Funny thing, though, Hitler was afraid of heights, so he didn’t visit this retreat very often. Afraid of heights? Not to worry, so am I and I wouldn’t have missed visiting Eagle’s Nest for anything. The “Adventure Guides” who conduct the Central Europe tour will give your clients detailed instructions on how to get to Eagle’s Nest. During our stay, we visited very early one morning, and what seemed like an overcast day at the resort, turned into a luminous morning once we arrived at Eagle’s Nest. Although not part of the Adventures by Disney itinerary, this is just an unbeatable experience: a) one is walking in Hitler’s footsteps; and b) the views from this vantage point standing over the clouds and seeing the peaks of mountains peeping through is mind-blowing. Don’t miss the chimney Mussolini gave Hitler as a gift and look carefully at the pictures of when Hitler did visit the retreat—he keeps his distance from the edge of the balcony.
- In Vienna, it’s all about the museums. Since most of your clients will be taking this tour with families, a top recommendation is the Natural History Museum—dinosaurs, colorful precious stones, taxidermy, anthropology…it’s all here, in engaging exhibits that will have the kids’ (and adults’) tongues wagging for days. And the building itself is an architectural marvel—it was founded 250 years ago by Maria Theresa’s husband. One of the coolest exhibits is the anthropology exhibition about human evolution—tell clients to make it to the end of this exhibit to view a watch that gives real-time data on births and deaths around the world.
- Ever watch “The Third Man” with Orson Welles? If so, you’ll appreciate what fun it is to be able to take a ride on Vienna’s famous giant ferris wheel. It’s a quick ride, but the bird’s-eye view of the city is nothing shy of magnificent (I recommend a nighttime view with the shower of lights—like small gems—throughout the city). Once they’ve gone up high, your clients will want to come back down and explore the Prater, Vienna’s amusement park. It’s jam-packed with all sorts of carnival rides (I recommend both the haunted house and the fun house). This is some of the most fun your clients will have in Vienna when they aren’t exploring the destination with the rest of the Adventures by Disney group.
- While in Vienna, make ample time to walk around the Ringstrasse, a circular road surrounding the Old Quarter of Vienna. Adventures by Disney clients stay at The Ritz-Carlton, Vienna, located right on the Ring, so it’s as easy as stepping out of one’s sumptuous accommodations and exploring the magnificent architecture Vienna is known for. St. Stephen’s Cathedral, with its tiled, multicolored roof is a big lure and can be the last stop on a tour through the area. Don’t miss, too, walking through—and sitting down to eat—at Naschmarkt.