On the Trail of the Habsburgs with Lake Bled

Imperial cities & iconic coffee houses
 
For centuries, the Habsburgs were Central Europe’s most influential rulers. On this self-guided, cultural journey by train along Europe’s first Alpine railway, complete with a detour to alluring Lake Bled, you can delve into their fascinating past as you follow our self-guided walking tours through Vienna, Graz, Ljubljana and Trieste.
On the Trail of the Habsburgs with Lake Bled. 10 nights
On the Trail of the Habsburgs with Lake Bled. 10 nights
 

Holiday information

 

A rail holiday from Vienna to Trieste

Ruling over an empire that stretched from the Adriatic Sea to the Russian border, the Habsburgs were for centuries Central Europe’s most influential rulers. Their legacy lives on in the form of splendid architecture epitomised by their vast palaces and opulent summer residences, and in the pioneering railway which connects Vienna, Graz, Ljubljana and Trieste.  
Besides their common imperial past, these fascinating cities are united by their shared role in Europe’s first coffee craze. Whether or not it was the Ottoman army who introduced the Habsburgs to coffee (legend has it that the retreating army left behind sacks of beans in Vienna in the 17th century), but coffee houses soon became an integral part of the empire, convivial places purposely designed for lingering. On this holiday, there’s plenty of time to indulge in the delights of the Kaffeehaus, and to succumb to the many other charms of these four captivating cities and sublime Lake Bled.

The city that put coffee in our cups
What have the Habsburgs ever done for us, asks Chris Leadbeater, as he delves into the history of Trieste, Italy's 'unheralded' but fascinating northern port-city. Read the full article >
 
Gallery

 

Itinerary

The key to Inntravel holidays is flexibility. You can start on the day of your choice, and are free to add extra nights.
  • Arrival in Vienna
    Night 1: at Hotel Kaiserhof (the first of two nights here).
    As your first night’s accommodation is on the day of travel, Day 1 is your first day of exploration.
  • Explore Vienna
    Austria’s sophisticated capital is a city which needs little introduction. The former headquarters of the Habsburgs, Vienna is a place with a taste for the finer things in life, be they the exquisite orchestral performances given in the prestigious Musikverein or cups of freshly ground coffee sipped amid the gleaming interiors of a traditional Kaffeehaus. With a full day here, there’s time to take in all of the city’s major sights: see the many works of art and architectural treasures of the Hofburg Palace, described as a ‘city within a city’; and wonder at the no-expense-spared Baroque Schloss Schönbrunn, in whose Hall of Mirrors the six-year-old Mozart astonished the Empress Maria-Theresa with his precocious talents.
    Schoenbrunn Palace
    Beautiful architecture on Graben Street
  • Vienna to Graz
    Leaving Vienna, you follow the trail of imperial ambition south to Graz, on the ground-breaking railway line commissioned by Emperor Franz Josef. Completed in 1854, the UNESCO-listed Semmeringbahn is a monumental feat of engineering, whisking passengers through the mountains by means of a spectacular series of tunnels and double-decker viaducts. Once in Graz, you spend two nights at the Hotel zum Dom, ideally located for seeing the city’s unique blend of ancient and modern sights.
  • Explore Graz
    Often described as a ‘Vienna in miniature’, Austria’s second city has plenty to interest the visitor, yet remains relatively undiscovered. As well as the wonderfully preserved Old Town, iconic Clock Tower, ornate Gothic cathedral and postcard-perfect hill-top castle, Graz is also home to a futuristic art gallery known locally as ‘the friendly alien’, and the Murinsel – an artificial, floating island-cum-bridge where you can enjoy a coffee as the river rushes by.
    Old Town Clock Tower
    View over Graz
  • Graz to Bled
    Today’s rail journey sees you continue south through Mitteleuropa, crossing the border from Austria into Slovenia. You travel as far as Lesce by train, from where a short taxi transfer brings you to Lake Bled, one of Slovenia's best-known landmarks, and the Hotel Vila Bled or Hotel Triglav, where you spend two nights.
  • Explore Lake Bled
    You may wish simply to enjoy the idyllic location, perhaps strolling along the lake's shores to panoramic Bled Castle or hiring a boat to row across the lake to ring the ‘wishing bell’ on the island in the middle of the lake.

    If you are travelling between May and mid-October, you could also choose to walk to the Vintgar Gorge. Paths lead alongside the lake, then through a string of small villages and finally through woodland to the gorge (small entrance fee payable), a series of boardwalks and bridges lead you spectacularly upstream along the entire length of the gorge. A gentle country trail then leads you back to Lake Bled. (16km, 5hrs)
    The island on Lake Bled
    Walk beside the lake's shores to Bled Castle
  • Bled to Ljubljana
    Leaving Bled, you make your way – first by taxi and then by train – to Ljubljana, Slovenia's welcoming capital. Here, you stay centrally at the Angel Hotel or Pension Slamic.
  • Explore Ljubljana
    Slovenia's verdant capital rivals Vienna as a pocket-sized, easily navigated city shaped by the Art Nouveau and Viennese architects of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Key sights include the intriguing Triple Bridge and panoramic 12th-century castle, but the best way to get to know Ljubljana is simply to stroll its narrow, traffic-free streets, take a boat tour along the willow-lined Ljubljanica River which flows through the middle of the city, or visit the vibrant farmers' market held in the heart of the Old Town (closed Sundays).
    Explore the traffic-free streets of Ljubljana
    Walk beside the willow-lined Ljubljanica River
  • Ljubljana to Trieste
    Departing Ljubljana today, you cross the Slovenian Karst by train and make your way towards your final destination, the Italian port-city of Trieste. As the journey progresses, the sense of being at the crossroads of Europe intensifies – especially when you pass through the former Iron Curtain border at Sežana, featured in Ian Fleming’s From Russia with Love. From here, your route leads into the heart of Prosecco country before eventually arriving in Trieste, where your final two nights are spent at the Savoia Excelsior Palace or Grand Hotel Duchi d'Aosta, both of which boast superb locations.
  • Explore Trieste
    Declared a free port in 1719, Trieste has long been a melting pot of cultures, languages and ethnicities, a juncture of east and west and gateway to the rest of the Habsburgs’ lands. You’ll feel it in the incredible variety of architecture – Orthodox cathedrals rub shoulders with ancient Roman remains and Italianate squares – and in the ubiquitous coffee houses, remnants from the days when this coastal city was the trading heart of a mighty empire (even today Trieste remains the headquarters of coffee giants Illy). Spend your full day here exploring the impressive neoclassical buildings and boulevards of the medieval core; the huge Piazza Unità d'Italia and Canal Grande, both of which bear more than a passing resemblance to their more famous counterparts in Venice; Viale Joyce – a street named for the Irish author James Joyce, who made Trieste his home for many years; and the nearby Miramare Castle, a 19th-century Gothic masterpiece situated on a rocky outcrop.
    Pause for coffee beside the Canal Grande
    Piazza Unità d'Italia
 

Accommodation

All five hotels are very well located for exploring.

Please note: most beds in Austrian hotels are normally one large base with two mattresses/duvets. We refer to these as 'Austrian Twins' and they are locally regarded to serve requests for both double and twin bedded rooms. Separate twin beds or traditional double beds with one large mattress are rare and cannot be guaranteed.

In some places, we work with more than one hotel, as shown below. All are hand-picked by us and, unless there is a price implication (in which case we will contact you to discuss your options), we will tell you which one we have booked for you on your booking confirmation.

Wherever you stay in Ljubljana, Bled or Trieste, we recommend an extra night to take in more of the sights. In fact, we recommend adding an extra night in all five bases, as there is plenty to explore in each!
 

Options to extend or shorten your stay

 
Prices & travel options
All prices are in £ sterling (GBP). If you'd like to see what they equate to in your currency, use the converter. For general information on pricing, see the 'your holiday price explained' page.
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  • 10 nights: 01 April 2024 - 31 October 2024 & 01 April 2025 - 31 October 2025

    Start any day | End by latest date(s) shown above

    Starting Price Single room
    1 - 25 Apr 2024 £1825 £790
    26 Apr - 20 Jun 2024 £1975 £865
    21 - 30 Jun 2024 £2290 £925
    1 - 5 Jul 2024 £2245 £985
    6 Jul - 31 Aug 2024 £1925 £920
    1 - 26 Sep 2024 £1975 £865
    27 - 30 Sep 2024 £1925 £920
    1 - 21 Oct 2024 £1880 £840
    1 - 25 Apr 2025 £1900 £825
    26 Apr - 20 Jun 2025 £2055 £900
    21 - 30 Jun 2025 £2385 £965
    1 - 5 Jul 2025 £2335 £1025
    6 Jul - 31 Aug 2025 £2005 £960
    1 - 26 Sep 2025 £2055 £900
    27 - 30 Sep 2025 £2005 £960
    1 - 21 Oct 2025 £1960 £875
    3rd & 4th person discount £0
    Single traveller supplement £0

    Includes accommodation, meals, travel between hotels and any other services integral to the holiday as described, plus a detailed information pack, but no travel from the UK, nor any connecting travel from the airport unless stated below.

    Included travel: Vienna-Graz-Lesce Bled-Ljubljana-Trieste by rail and return transfer Lesce Bled-Vila Bled

    Pay locally for taxis between other railway stations and hotels.

    Book your flights through us and we'll find the best route and times to suit you. Please contact us to find out more about our flight booking service. We can also book connecting travel - see below.

  • Room upgrades (£ per person per night)

    Hotel Kaiserhof, Vienna
    Junior suite: 01 Apr - 31 Oct 2024 £55
    Junior suite: 01 Apr - 31 Oct 2025 £57
    Kaiserhof Klassik: 01 Apr - 31 Oct 2024 £6
    Kaiserhof Klassik: 01 Apr - 31 Oct 2025 £6
    Boutiquehotel Dom, Graz
    Comfort: 01 Apr - 31 Oct 2024 £18
    Comfort: 01 Apr - 31 Oct 2025 £19
    Superior: 01 Apr - 31 Oct 2024 £26
    Superior: 01 Apr - 31 Oct 2025 £27
    Vila Bled, Bled
    Suite with lake view: 01 Apr - 30 Apr 2024 £54
    Suite with lake view: 01 May - 31 Oct 2024 £54
    Suite with lake view: 01 Apr - 30 Apr 2025 £56
    Suite with lake view: 01 May - 31 Oct 2025 £56
    Suite with park view: 01 Apr - 31 Oct 2024 £28
    Suite with park view: 01 Apr - 31 Oct 2025 £29
    Angel Hotel, Ljubljana
    Deluxe: 01 Apr - 31 Oct 2024 £31
    Deluxe: 01 Apr - 31 Oct 2025 £32
    Superior: 01 Apr - 31 Oct 2024 £15
    Superior: 01 Apr - 31 Oct 2025 £16
    Savoia Excelsior Palace, Trieste
    Deluxe with sea view & balcony: 01 Apr - 31 Oct 2024 £35
    Deluxe with sea view & balcony: 01 Apr - 31 Oct 2025 £36
    Superior: 01 Apr - 27 Jun 2024 £22
    Superior: 28 Jun - 11 Jul 2024 £42
    Superior: 12 Jul - 31 Oct 2024 £22
    Superior: 01 Apr - 27 Jun 2025 £23
    Superior: 28 Jun - 11 Jul 2025 £44
    Superior: 12 Jul - 31 Oct 2025 £23

    Extra nights (£ per person per night) in a double or single room

    Hotel Kaiserhof, Vienna (B&B) Double room Single room
    01 Apr - 30 Jun 2024 £155 £219
    01 Jul - 04 Sep 2024 £145 £198
    05 Sep - 31 Oct 2024 £155 £219
    01 Apr - 30 Jun 2025 £165 £232
    01 Jul - 04 Sep 2025 £155 £210
    05 Sep - 31 Oct 2025 £165 £232
    # ADD £36pp/n (£42pn in a single room) if staying in Vienna on 18-20 May, 26-28 May, 8-10 Jun, 5-8 Jul & 21-25 Oct 2023
    Boutiquehotel Dom, Graz (B&B) Double room Single room
    01 Apr - 30 Apr 2024 £117 £159
    01 May - 30 Jun 2024 £125 £167
    01 Jul - 31 Aug 2024 £117 £159
    01 Sep - 30 Sep 2024 £125 £167
    01 Oct - 31 Oct 2024 £117 £159
    01 Apr - 30 Apr 2025 £122 £166
    01 May - 30 Jun 2025 £130 £174
    01 Jul - 31 Aug 2025 £122 £166
    01 Sep - 30 Sep 2025 £130 £174
    01 Oct - 31 Oct 2025 £122 £166
    Vila Bled, Bled (B&B) Double room Single room
    01 Apr - 30 Apr 2024 £112 £189
    01 May - 31 Oct 2024 £145 £246
    01 Apr - 30 Apr 2025 £116 £196
    01 May - 31 Oct 2025 £155 £260
    Angel Hotel, Ljubljana (B&B) Double room Single room
    05 Jan - 02 Apr 2024 £80 £131
    03 Apr - 31 Oct 2024 £135 £221
    01 Apr - 02 Apr 2025 £83 £136
    03 Apr - 31 Oct 2025 £145 £234
    Savoia Excelsior Palace, Trieste (B&B) Double room Single room
    01 Apr - 26 Jun 2024 £106 £190
    27 Jun - 11 Jul 2024 £275 £392
    12 Jul - 31 Oct 2024 £106 £190
    01 Apr - 26 Jun 2025 £110 £197
    27 Jun - 11 Jul 2025 £290 £412
    12 Jul - 31 Oct 2025 £110 £197
  • RECOMMENDED AIRPORT(S):
    Vienna for the outward flight; Trieste or Venice Marco Polo for the homeward flight
    As an alternative to flying, we can arrange rail travel from London

    Travelling from the UK

    Travelling from outside the UK

    If you are flying from outside Europe,  we recommend flying into Munich and out of Milan. To discuss onward connecting travel to the start of your holiday, please contact us.

    Outward route Airline
    Birmingham - Vienna Austrian Airlines,  Eurowings 
    Birmingham - Vienna (via Munich) Lufthansa 
    Return route Airline
    Trieste - Birmingham (via Frankfurt) Lufthansa 
    Venice - Birmingham (via Frankfurt) Lufthansa 
    Outward route Airline
    Edinburgh - Vienna (via Amsterdam Schiphol) KLM 
    Edinburgh - Vienna (via Munich) Lufthansa 
    Return route Airline
    Venice Marco Polo - Edinburgh easyJet,  jet2,  Ryanair 
    Venice Marco Polo - Edinburgh (via Amsterdam Schiphol) KLM 
    Venice Marco Polo - Edinburgh (via Gatwick) British Airways 
    Outward route Airline
    Gatwick - Vienna British Airways,  Wizz Air 
    Return route Airline
    Venice Marco Polo - Gatwick British Airways,  easyJet,  TUI,  Wizz Air 
    Outward route Airline
    Heathrow - Vienna Austrian Airlines,  British Airways 
    Return route Airline
    Trieste - Heathrow (via Frankfurt) Lufthansa 
    Trieste - Heathrow (via Munich) Lufthansa 
    Trieste - Heathrow (via Rome Fiumicino) Alitalia 
    Venice Marco Polo - Heathrow British Airways 
    Outward route Airline
    Luton - Vienna Wizz Air 
    Return route Airline
    Venice Marco Polo - Luton easyJet 
    Outward route Airline
    Stansted - Vienna Eurowings,  Ryanair 
    Return route Airline
    Trieste - Stansted Ryanair 
    Venice Marco Polo - Stansted Ryanair 
    Outward route Airline
    Manchester - Vienna Austrian Airlines 
    Return route Airline
    Venice - Manchester Ryanair 
    Venice Marco Polo - Manchester easyJet,  jet2,  TUI 
    Outward route Airline
    Newcastle - Vienna (via Amsterdam Schiphol) KLM 
    Return route Airline
    Trieste - Newcastle (via Frankfurt) Lufthansa 
    Trieste - Newcastle (via Rome Fiumicino and Amsterdam Schiphol) KLM 
    Venice Marco Polo - Newcastle (via Amsterdam Schiphol) KLM 
    Travelling from outside the UK

    If you are flying from outside Europe,  we recommend flying into Munich and out of Milan. To discuss onward connecting travel to the start of your holiday, please contact us.

    This list of flight options should be used as a guide only, and you should check each airline’s website for current routes, frequency and schedules. Not all flights operate daily, and may not run for the entire season. You should also heed the latest flight arrival time and earliest flight departure time, as it may not be possible to arrange connecting travel outside these times. Please do not book your flights until we have confirmed your accommodation to you. Alternatively, our expert reservations team will be happy to offer advice and to make flight bookings for you for any of the options listed above. We charge £35 per person for our flight booking service. Your flights are then covered by our package-booking conditions, which give you greater protection in the event of delay or cancellation, as well as providing ATOL cover.

  • Prices below are based on 2 people travelling together.

    Unless otherwise stated, connecting travel by rail or bus tends to be from the city centre station, rather than from its airport, and connections between the two should be paid for locally.

    Where a price range is given, the price you pay depends on your date of travel.

    Connecting travel options - flying via Trieste

    Outward route
    not recommended in this direction
    Homeward route Price per person Earliest flight
    departure time
    own travel arrangements from hotel to airport pay locally flexible

    Connecting travel options - flying via Venice Marco Polo

    Outward route
    not recommended in this direction
    Homeward route Price per person Earliest flight
    departure time
    bus Trieste to Venice airport (1h50) £24-£25 varies daily
    rail Trieste to Venice Mestre station (1h55) £31-£32 1300

    Connecting travel options - flying via Vienna

    Outward route Price per person Latest flight
    arrival time
    own travel arrangements from airport to hotel pay locally flexible
    Homeward route
    not recommended in this direction
What is included
  • 10 nights
  • 1 dinner
    10 breakfasts
  • city maps and notes for walking tours
  • detailed cultural information
  • rail travel Vienna-Graz-Lesce-Ljubljana-Trieste
  • return transfer Lesce-Vila Bled
 
Reviews

If you've experienced this holiday first hand, why not write a review?

We are keen for as many customers as possible to review their holiday. To make it easier to do so, we include a specific review section on our post-holiday questionnaire, and this is what we publish here, unedited. Read our full review policy >

 

FAQs

If you have any questions relating to this or any other Inntravel holiday, our friendly travel experts will be happy to help. You might also find our General FAQs section helpful.
  • The information that we send to you 2-3 weeks before your holiday includes practical information about each stage of your journey so that you can travel confidently from one hotel to another, recommendations for places to visit and eat out in each place, plus cultural information about the area. Where applicable, we also provide notes for a self-guided walking tour of most cities, and some large towns. Sample travel pack >
  • We can book a wide range of routes from the UK with a variety of airlines. As well as being more convenient for you to book all elements of your holiday together, it also means that we’ll accept liability for your travel arrangements, so if things go wrong, such as the airline going bust, we’ll make suitable alternative arrangements for you. The fee for this service is £35 per person (£15 for children aged 2-11). More information on flights >
  • Absolutely! We are experts in tailored rail travel. Making use of sleeper trains or stopovers in cities along the route, we can get you from London to virtually anywhere in mainland Europe. We can even make arrangements to Mallorca, Sicily and Norway with a combination of ferries and rail. Please contact us to discuss your plans.
  • We can’t book flights that originate outside the UK, but if you wanted to book your own flights to London (or elsewhere in the UK), we can make all onward travel arrangements (including flights) from there. Alternatively, if you are booking your own flights to an airport in continental Europe that’s appropriate for your holiday, we can book onward rail travel and/or taxis. More information about how we can tailor holidays for customers outside the UK >
  • Once you’ve decided on your exact itinerary (our travel experts will be happy to offer advice), you need to provide us with your party’s details, either by phone or via our booking form. At this point we also ask you to pay a deposit so that we can secure a room for you immediately on confirming availability with the hotel(s). If it turns out that we can’t secure the accommodation for the holiday you’ve requested, or offer an acceptable alternative, we’ll refund your deposit promptly and in full. After booking your accommodation and other key elements, we'll then book your travel (or you can do so if you’re making your own arrangements) and send you a Booking Confirmation and Invoice.

    More information about the booking process >
    Information about accommodation, general practicalities and more >
    Booking conditions >
  • Yes, it’s something we insist on, even for holidays in the UK. The vast majority of holidays go smoothly, but when things go wrong, it can be expensive to put them right. Buying a new pair of walking boots after your suitcase is stolen mightn’t seem so bad, but the bill for being airlifted down from a mountain with a broken leg or flown home while still recovering from an illness or accident can incur a five or six-figure bill.

    Many insurers offer travel insurance (you can find details on our insurance page of a policy that you may like to consider if you are a UK resident), but you do need to make sure that you’re covered for medical emergencies – including falling ill with Covid-19 while on holiday – and repatriation. We also recommend that you are covered for other eventualities, such as cancellation and loss of luggage and passports.

    When you purchase a policy, be sure to check that it covers the activities you'll be doing on holiday and that it is adequate for your own individual needs.
  • It is your responsibility to ensure you are in possession of the correct travel documents, with the correct validity. If you’re a UK citizen, you need a full British passport to travel to Austria, but not a visa (please note, however, that a new travel authorisation system is being introduced). If you are a citizen of another country, you’ll need to check requirements with the national embassy or your own consulate.

    Current information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice for UK citizens can be found through the Travel Health Pro website. You must make sure you have adequate insurance cover for illness, accidents and repatriation (see the insurance question). You should also apply for a Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) if your EHIC has expired (if you have a still-valid EHIC, you can use this until it expires).
  • (Austrian) German is the most commonly spoken language. The currency is the Euro. Austrian time is GMT/UTC + 1. It uses Daylight Saving Time, so in summer is on BST + 1.
  • It is your responsibility to ensure you are in possession of the correct travel documents, with the correct validity. If you’re a UK citizen, you need a full British passport to travel to Slovenia, but not a visa (please note, however, that a new travel authorisation system is being introduced). If you are a citizen of another country, you’ll need to check requirements with the national embassy or your own consulate.

    Current information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice for UK citizens can be found through the Travel Health Pro website. You must make sure you have adequate insurance cover for illness, accidents and repatriation (see the insurance question). You should also apply for a Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) if your EHIC has expired (if you have a still-valid EHIC, you can use this until it expires).
  • The official language is Slovene, although Italian is spoken by many people along the border with Italy. The currency is the Euro. Slovenian time is GMT/UTC + 1. It uses Daylight Saving Time, so in summer is on BST + 1.
  • It is your responsibility to ensure you are in possession of the correct travel documents, with the correct validity. If you’re a UK citizen, you need a full British passport to travel to Italy, but not a visa (please note, however, that a new travel authorisation system is being introduced). If you are a citizen of another country, you’ll need to check requirements with the national embassy or your own consulate.

    Current information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice for UK citizens can be found through the Travel Health Pro website. You must make sure you have adequate insurance cover for illness, accidents and repatriation (see the insurance question). You should also apply for a Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) if your EHIC has expired (if you have a still-valid EHIC, you can use this until it expires).
  • The principal official language is Italian, though some regions have a second official language, such as South Tyrol, where German is widely spoken. The currency is the Euro. Italian time is GMT/UTC + 1. It uses Daylight Saving Time, so in summer is on BST + 1.
  • For information on the practicalities of travel now that the UK is no longer part of the European Union, visit www.gov.uk/visit-eu-switzerland-norway-iceland-liechtenstein.
  • The UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) provides up-to-date, country-by-country travel advice, as well as information on security, local laws, passports and visas for UK citizens.

    If you live outside the UK, see our essential travel information page for a list of relevant websites.
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