Uncovering the Secrets (and Great Value) of Central Europe

Jay Ternavan
Founder and CEO
JayWay Travel

The strong dollar has made visiting Europe cheaper in general, but there are ways for travelers to stretch their budget even further without forgoing the finer things in life. The countries of the former Soviet satellite states of East Germany, the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary, nostalgically referred to as Eastern Europe by some, have been working hard over the past quarter century to shake off their former image as destinations that were unwelcoming or behind the times. Increased investment in reconstruction and new development, especially in the capitals, has resulted in cities that offer all the upsides of the bustling metropoles of London or Paris, plus an intriguing recent past and often more stunning historic architecture. Yet prices in the region are about half of what you’d pay in Western Europe. And it’s not just hotels that are less expensive. Everything from museum admissions and public transport to eating out and entertainment are surprisingly affordable.

JayWay Travel guests are always telling us how much they love the custom tours we arrange in Central Europe. They especially appreciate the ease of getting around, the friendly locals, the fascinating history, the surprisingly delightful cuisine (the foodie revolution is in full effect there!) and above all, how reasonably priced everything is. The region really will allow your clients to travel like VIPs. Read on as we take you on a tour of some of our favorite destinations throughout Central Europe.

A vibrant cosmopolitan city that’s rich in history and contemporary culture, Berlin is constantly evolving. From the ruins of World War II to the Cold War division of the Berlin wall, the city has always emerged intact. You’ll find a little of everything here, from history to high gastronomy, art museums to palaces, and plenty of lively bars and venues that bolster Berlin’s claim to be Europe’s coolest city. An exploration of the long and volatile history of the city’s Jewish culture is eye-opening, as Jewish life in Berlin has been meticulously documented. Many of the city’s art and culture museums offer unforgettable glimpses into local culture. Potsdam is a perfect diversion for an afternoon, and Sanssouci Palace, with its well-tended gardens, is a beautiful reminder of the city’s impressive past.

“The Golden City,” “The City of 100 Spires,” “The Mother of Cities”… Prague has no shortage of nicknames, and they all pay homage to the city’s charm and beauty. Prague’s winding cobblestone streets, its gorgeous architecture, and its atmospheric bridges are fabled, and for good reason: this is a destination like no other. Prague is a city of history that comes to life for every visitor. No matter what your interests, you’ll find yourself intrigued by the inviting magic of the Czech capital in the heart of Europe. Be sure to sample the famous Bohemian beer. We’d be happy to offer several delightful gastronomic experiences, including a tasty food tour, and a relaxing afternoon at an actual beer spa!

The Paris of Central Europe, Budapest is the Queen of the Danube, a sprawling, regal city split in two by a mighty river. The city’s UNESCO-listed halves, ancient Buda and modern Pest, both have their charms and are linked by numerous picturesque bridges. Budapest has all the attractions of Western Europe at a fraction of the price. Here you can taste excellent wines produced throughout the country, and even enjoy Michelin-star dining. Voted Best City in Europe in 2013 by Condé Nast Traveler readers and continually near the top of the list, Budapest really is a special city with activities to cater to every interest.

Krakow may not be the largest city in Poland, but it is by far the most popular with tourists. Less industrial than Warsaw, Krakow was once Poland’s royal capital, and unlike the rest of the country, came out of World War II with its gorgeous architecture largely unscathed. One glance at the city’s perfectly preserved Old Town and it will be abundantly clear why Krakow is on the UNESCO World Heritage list. This compact historical district houses the largest square in Europe, where you can stroll, shop from the market and sample some tasty Polish delicacies. Of course, not all of the city’s history is happy, and both the Jewish Heritage in Krakow and the nearby Auschwitz concentration camp are a vivid reminder of World War II. But the city’s rich contemporary cultural life and warm atmosphere are the perfect rejoinder to this difficult past.

JayWay Travel for Custom Tours to Central Europe

We work with travel agents to provide their clients with the very best customized tours throughout Central Europe and into neighboring Austria, Slovakia, the relatively undiscovered Baltic countries to the north, and the Adriatic, where Croatia and Slovenia are very popular. Some of our latest additions include lesser-known but up-and-coming destinations such as Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria and Romania. Our travel packages cover accommodation in hand-picked hotels, B&Bs and apartments as well as the essentials of transfers, transport, private city tours and excursions. All of this is backed up by our own team of local staff who will welcome your clients and support them via the local cellphone we provide while they travel.