JUNE 2ND TO JULY 1ST
Come and join us on this truly unique tour organised in conjunction with Bespoke Rallies, one of the UK's premier rally and tour operators. The tour takes in the Russian home of the Romanoffs and finishes in Italy, the home of the Romans.
Norway, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia and Italy. A unique event that explores some of Europe’s most extraordinary and seldom visited places. No-one has ever travelled Europe in this way as we take the Hurtigruten ferry north from Bergen, driving by day and sleeping on board by night, before entering Russia from its most northerly border with Norway. Taking unspoiled and seldom driven roads we drive south via Murmansk, the home of the Russian fleet, to St Petersburg. Then through the Baltic States into Poland before making our way to Vicenza and finishing in Portofino on the Ligurian coast.
So, what is so special about the Imperial Rally 2021?
Among the unique aspects of The Imperial Rally are entering Russia from its most northerly border in Europe, driving upwards through Norway and using the Hurtigruten ferry as our floating hotel, visiting Murmansk, the home of the Russian Arctic fleet, spending three nights in St Petersburg to enjoy this most exotic and cultured city. We will include visits to the the Hermitage, the ballet and the historic centre of the town.
We then head into the Baltic states visiting Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania before visiting Bialystok, Warsaw and Kracow in Poland. Beautiful cities, historic buildings and superb scenery abound. Budapest in Hungary, one of Europe’s unspoiled cities follows. We have a day off here to check out the highlights including the vast Buda museum, the amazing parliament building, the thermal spa, Heroes Square and a number of amazing churches, all bordered by the Danube river.
Our next drive is to one of the great hidden gems of Europe, Slovenia. So many things to do here including riding a train through ancient caves, Lake Bled and extraordinary roads in the mountains. Our final country is fabulous Italy where we go to Portofino via Vicenza. Portofino is one of those places that everyone has to visit at least once, set on an idyllic cove.
Itinerary maps are indicative only and subject to final reconnaissance.
Day One - Oslo Norway
Day One - June 2nd - Oslo Norway
Arrive in Oslo Norway and check into the elegant Grand Hotel, which has been a landmark since the days Oslo was called Kristiania and been home to many celebrated film stars and politicians. The Grand Hotel Café was the place to see and be seen in its heyday. Although now modernised it still holds its place as the premier location in Oslo.
Day Two - Oslo Norway
Day Two - June 3rd - Oslo Norway
Today has been set aside for checking our cars and making any last minute adjustments. This afternoon there will be a tour briefing where you’ll receive your rally pack and guides and an opportunity to meet all your fellow travelers and the full Bespoke team. Scrutineering is also on today and this evening our Welcome Dinner will be held in the Grand Hotel.
Day Three - Bergen Norway
Day Three - June 4th - Bergen - Overnight On Board
The first car is flagged away at 0900 and we take a southerly route towards Tyrifjorden, a sort of inland fjord and the first of many stunning sections Drammen, the major car importing port of Norway, before turning off into the spectacular countryside. There is no question that the day is a long drive but there's no rush and plenty of places to stop for coffee, lunch, snack and comfort breaks as we don’t take the fastest route but a slightly longer but more scenic route. Throughout the day we pass spectacular waterfalls, amazing views, snow fields, quaint villages, multi-coloured lakes, white water rivers, mountain passes, tunnels and then more tunnels, bridges in the middle of nowhere spanning yawning caverns, and a combination of bridges and tunnels so large that they have roundabouts in the middle. We’ll arrive in Bergen late afternoon and go straight to the Hurtigruten quay, check in our bags and park the car in the holding area. Loading is via a ramp in plenty of time for our allotted dinner time. The crew on the motor deck will arrange the cars so we can get on and off the ship at our designated ports and tomorrow we are disembarking at Alesund. By the time we finish supper and had a drink the sun will be setting in the most spectacular fashion as the ship sails out of Bergen.
Day Four - Alesund Norway
Day Four - June 5th - Alesund - Overnight On Board
After disembarking at Alesund we take a route to the Atlantic Road before arriving in Kristiansund for lunch, then return to Alesund to re-board in the evening. Atlanterhavsveien, known as the Atlantic Ocean Road, or more simply Atlantic Road, runs across an archipelago of small islands and skerries in Møre og Romsdal county. Throughout its 8.3-kilometre stretch between Kristiansund and Bud, the road connects Averøy island with the mainland thanks to the creative use of bridges. Opened in 1989 after many battles with the elements of nature (namely hurricanes), the toll-free road is officially one of the Norwegian Scenic Routes. You’ll see the striking Norwegian coastal landscape at its best: small ragged islets connected by causeways, picturesque villages like Kårvåg and Vevang and, in between, the majesty of the Norwegian Sea. We’re back on board our ship in plenty of time for dinner at our allotted time of 20.30. It’s a good time to eat as the sun is still high in the sky.
Day Five - On Board All Day
Day Five - June 6th - Overnight On Board
We spend the day on board today as we cruise north to our next disembarkation at Ornes and overnight we cross the Arctic Circle for the first t time on the rally. Our ship MS Polarlys was refurbished in 2016 and now features a modern, Arctic-inspired interior. On board are three different restaurants, the Multe bakery and ice cream bar, a sauna and fitness room. Out on deck you can enjoy the view from one of the hot tubs and there is a comfortable bar at the front of the ship where you can enjoy a nice traditional drink. The vessel also has a large compass area where you find the reception, the expedition team, conference room and shop. We include an outside Arctic Superior cabin, all onboard meals, passage for your car and packed lunches. There are upgrade options to suites. This is the most luxurious way to travel along the coast of Norway as your hotel meets you each evening. We have a full board ticket, so which includes breakfast up to 10am, lunch from 11.30 to around 14.30 and then seated dinner at an allotted sitting.
Day Six - Stamsund Norway
Day Six - June 7th - Ornes to Stamsund - Overnight On Board
After an excellent breakfast on the ship we take a packed lunch and head on to Stamsund. It’s a day of many tunnels but beware of speeding. Normally in a tunnel and after, the speed limit is 80kmh and there is no quarter given in Norway and the fines are excessive. Today, we have ferry to catch around four hours into the journey. There is a basic restaurant on board so it’s a good lunch point and once off the ferry we take a spectacular route to Svolvaer and a visit to the fascinating Norwegian war museum. We plan to arrive in Stamsund in time to see our ship dock then it’s back on board for Harstad our next port.
Day Seven - Tromso Norway
Day Seven - June 8th - Harstad to Tromso - Overnight On Board
Spectacular scenery today as we follow the fjords to join Route 84 and head through the mountains to Tromso to meet our ship. We’ll spend time at the Arctic Cathedral designed by Architect Jan Inge Hovig who succeeded in creating a masterpiece. The 11 aluminium-coated concrete panels on each side of the roof provide the cathedral’s form. The main entrance on the western side is surrounded by a large glass façade with a pronounced cross with a fantastic glass mosaic on the eastern side that was added in 1972. The glass mosaic is one of artist Victor Sparre’s most prominent works depicting God’s hand from which departs three rays of light: one through Jesus, one through a woman and one through a man. The oak pews, the large prism chandeliers, the altar rail and pulpit are the most significant fittings, all of which are in a style compatible with the cathedral’s severity and simplicity.
Day Eight - Mehamn Norway
Day Eight - June 9th - Honningsvag to Mehamn - Overnight On Board
Today is when everyone gets to visit Nordcap, the most northerly point in mainland Europe. Just thirty three kms from Honningsvag we find the obligatory tourist centre and a metal sculpture of the globe. It is worth coming here but you need to wrap up warm as it’s pretty desolate even though there’s not much snow here. Our final drive in Norway is a gentle run to Mehamn through the home of the reindeer and you will see more of them today than people. We hug the coast all the way down to Lakesby for a fuel stop (and therefore coffee) and a supermarket. As we turn north again the already sparse traffic thins out further and the run up to Mehamn is almost carless. We are above the tree line here and the ground covering is mostly grasses and moss – favourite food of the aforementioned Reindeer. In no time at all we’re back on board and ready for our Reindeer meat dinner!
Day Nine - Murmansk Russia
Day Nine - June 10th - Kirkenes to Murmansk Russia
We leave the Hurtigruten Polarlys for the final time this morning at Kirkenes. The road to Murmansk is open and sparsely used as one would expect in this part of the world and we pass the odd military base with tanks carelessly on view and pens of large military vehicles. En-route we’ll stop at Muzhskoy, a wooden Russian Orthodox monastery where the monks still worship. It’s an extraordinary wooden structure in a wooden stockade and burns down once in a while. It was the most northernmost monastery in the world for many centuries.
Next stop is the Trifonov-Pechenga Monastery located in the town of Pechenga, 135 km from the city of Murmansk. Founded in 1533 the monastery is built entirely of wood and has been repeatedly ruined and burned. After the last fire in 2007 restoration of the monastery began on the site of its original location in the village of Luostari. About 75 kilometres from Murmansk lies the Valley of Glory, formerly known as the Valley of Death, one of the most famous military sites in the Murmansk region, keeping many memories of the Great Patriotic War. Back on the road we arrive in Murmansk in the middle of the afternoon. With a population of over 300,000 Murmansk is the largest city in the Arctic and an important Russian naval base and commercial port. The highlight of the evening will be a cocktail on the world’s first nuclear-powered icebreaker, LENIN, the first surface ship with nuclear propulsion built in the Soviet Union to serve the Northern Sea Route. We’ll be treated to the “Bread and Salt” ceremony, an old Russian tradition of greeting guests with a taste of "Karavy" - a bread with salt on it and a drink of Russian Vodka. The ceremony is accompanied by Russian folklore music and Russian girls in traditional Russian costume. Our hotel is the Azimut which has been recently refurbished from a traditional Russian Stalinesque monolith – microphones and all – into a modern hotel.
Day Ten - Kem Russia
Day 10 - June 11th - Murmansk to Kem Russia
At 66° 33’ North, an invisible line sweeps across Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Alaska, Canada, Greenland and Iceland. The magic number marks the Arctic Circle, north of which the midnight sun shines. Above the line, you can see the sun 24 hours a day throughout the summer - or weather permitting, the Northern Lights in the winter. As we come out of the Arctic zone there is marker on the right where you can stop for a selfie as you leave the frozen north!
Kem is known to most visitors as a major route to the Solovetsky Archipelago and its great Monastery of the Transfiguration. Yet the town has a dramatic history of its own, which, like that of the Solovetsky islands, combines elements of the spiritual with human tragedy. Established in 1436 as a land base for Solovetsky Monastery, because of its strategic location, Kem was gaining the unwanted attentions of hostile neighbours through all its history. Kem's growth was stimulated during World War I with the construction of a strategic railroad through the town to the new port of Murmansk. Later Kem rapidly became a part of the system of supply and administration for a penal camp established by the Soviets on the territory of the former Solovetsky Monastery.
But, today is really about the arrival in Kem – a town that is as Soviet as you ever imagined. And it’s locked in the past. It was once prosperous as a manufacturer of trains and train running gear. The remnants are still there but it is slowly crumbling away. The rows of Soviet style accommodation blocks in need of urgent repair, next to shops with nearly bare shelves. However, all is not lost as the statue of Lenin is well looked after with fresh flowers placed on it every day. This is a heartland of the wish to return to the Soviet ways before capitalism ruined their lives. Our Hotel tonight is the Kemka Hotel.
Day Eleven - Petrozavadsk Russia
Day 11 - June 12th - Kem to Petrozavodsk Russia
Approaching Petrozavodsk in the early afternoon you will be amazed at the grandeur of this out of the way town. Broad avenues, a magnificent fine arts museum, a splendid 19th-century, gold-domed Alexander Nevsky Cathedral which houses sacred icons, the National Museum of the Republic of Karelia which traces local history through archaeology and natural history displays and so much more. Petrozavodsk is situated on the shore of the Onega Lake with population of approximately 280,000 people. In 1703 a cannon factory was built here by the order of Peter the Great with a small settlement for workers established. The factory developed quickly and produced cannons and decoration elements. Then in 1777 during the reign of Catherine the Great, the settlement obtained the status of a town and new name – Petrozavodsk (Peter’s Plant). Our hotel is the recently modernised Frigate which sits on Lake Onega by the jetty for the fast boat to Kizhi and the amazing Church of the Transfiguration.
Day Twelve - Sortavala Russia
Day 12 - June 13th - Petrozavodsk to Sortavala Russia
Before we leave Petrozavodsk we’ll board the hydrofoil to Kizhi Island. The boat travels through beautiful scenery and the second part of the journey is especially dramatic with the boat gliding through labyrinths of flat islands, covered with pine, fir and birch trees. The first things you’ll notice are three wooden structures that appear to be rising from the water: Kizhi Pogost. Unesco has included these two churches and a bell tower in its World Heritage Site list. Any easy drive this afternoon through great scenery to Tochka Na Karte, our hotel on the shore of Lake Lagoda.
Day Thirteen - St Petersburg Russia
Day 13 - June 14th - Sortavala to St Petersburg Russia
It’s not a long drive today, some 300kms including our visit to the marble mine that supplied St Petersburg with the vast majority of its stone. Just a 15km drive from the hotel, on an easy road, it’s now a tourist park aimed at the Russians and is surprisingly well organised. We can spend about two hours here before getting back on the road to St Petersburg, the jewel in the crown of this event. We’ll settle into our rooms then off to dinner at the Russian Vodka Room – of course, a cross between a vodka room, vodka bar and restaurant. It’s a great experience for the first night in this amazing city. Beef Stroganoff and a few Vodkas later we’ll be ready for bed.
Day Fourteen St Petersburg Russia
Day 14 - June 15th - St Petersburg Russia
The City of St. Petersburg was established in 1703 by the Russian emperor Peter the Great, who wanted to move the capital city from the landlocked Moscow to a new city with a harbour for commerce and military navy. Peter wanted to build a modern European capital and for that purpose he invited famous Italian architects and Peter named his new creation after Saint Peter. Many of the original historical, architecturally interesting and unique sites and buildings Peter's architects designed are still standing today, and our tour today will give you a thorough introduction to all the major sights of today's St. Petersburg. The Astoria Hotel is in a great location by St Isaac’s Square and Cathedral with a short walk to the English Embankment and the Hermitage Museum for which we will have pre-book tickets. Also nearby there’s Nickholas’ Palace and the Russian Museum of Vodka which is close to the heart of most Russians.
Day Fifteen - St Petersburg Russia
Day 15 - June 16th - St Petersburg Russia
One of the most famous art museums in the world, the Hermitage is housed in the Winter Palace, and contains over 2.7 million exhibits including some of the world's greatest works. From the 1760s onwards the Winter Palace was the main residence of the Russian Tsars. Magnificently located on the bank of the Neva River, this Baroque-style palace is perhaps St. Petersburg’s most impressive attraction. Many visitors also know it as the main building of the Hermitage Museum. The green-and-white three-storey palace is a marvel of Baroque architecture and boasts 1,786 doors, 1,945 windows and 1,057 elegantly and lavishly decorated halls and rooms, many of which are open to the public.
Day Sixteen - Tallin Estonia
Day 16 - June 17th - Tallin Estonia
On the way to Tallin, we’ll stop at Peterhof the Palace of Peter the Great. On the august of 1723 the ceremony of the official opening of Peterhof took place, by that time the Sea channel and the Lower Park were already planned, and most of the fountains were functioning and palaces like "Monplaisir" and "Marli" were built. The main idea of Peter the Great was to make Peterhof the best summer residence of Europe and to become the triumphal representation of the victory in the Northern War.
En-route to Tallin, we’ll stop at Narva Castle the most diverse and best preserved defense structure in Estonia established n the seventh decade of the 13th century by the Danes as a residence for the Danish King’s vice-Regent. The area of the castle is 3.2 hectares, and the highest point is the Tall Hermann Tower (51 metres). Next stop is the Valaste Waterfall, located on the limestone cliff more than 30 m high, making it the highest waterfall in Estonia. Our hotel tonight is The Telergraaf in Tallin Old Town and we dine at the Olde Hansa Medieval restaurant just a few steps from the Town Hall Square.
Day Seventeen - Riga Latvia
Day 17 - June 18th - Riga Latvia
A very full day today. Our first stop is Parnu on the shore of the Gulf of Riga. Founded in 1251, this picturesque town nestled between the Baltic Sea and Parnu River quickly grew into an important port and was incorporated into the prosperous Hanseatic League, which thrived during the late Middle Ages. The pearl of Parnu, the luxurious mansion Ammende Villa was built in 1905 by a family of wealthy German traders. Used as a casino and then a health center by the Soviets after WWII, Ammende Villa has been fully restored to its Art Nouveau glory and converted into a boutique hotel and restaurant. Our route takes us across the Gauja River on the only ferry in the Baltics driven by the strength of the river currents. This afternoon we tour the Riga Motor Museum that showcases more than a hundred unique antique vehicles with several significant acquisitions.
Knows as ‘The Paris of the North’ –, Riga has the largest and most impressive showing of art-nouveau architecture in Europe. Nightmarish gargoyles and praying goddesses adorn more than 750 buildings along the stately boulevards radiating out from Riga’s castle core.
The heart of the city – Old Town – is a fairy-tale kingdom of winding, wobbly lanes and gingerbread trim that beats to the sound of a bumping discotheque.
Only remnants of the fortification wall remain that enclosed the city from the 13th to 18th century. But the narrow streets of cobblestone, and a multitude of Medieval architectural wonders are still standing, first and foremost being the churches and their steeples – making for a solely unique skyline. Our hotel tonight is The Grand Palace.
Day Eighteen - Vilnius Lithuania
Day 18 - June 19th - Vilnius Lithuania
Set in a peaceful rural area just 1 hour from Riga, Rundale Palace is a masterpiece of baroque and rococo architecture surrounded by an exquisite French garden. The Palace was designed by the extravagant Russian-Italian architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli whose body of work includes several of Saint Petersburg’s most famous buildings. On the tour you will see the Palace’s lavish interiors, learn about its captivating history and your guide will also share stories about the people involved in creating this magnificent masterpiece. The tour will end with a walk through the spectacular French garden that surrounds the Palace.
Vilnius, contains one of the largest surviving medieval quarters in Europe with almost two thousand medieval, gothic, renaissance, and baroque buildings, all centered on the neo- classical cathedral and town hall. Attractions include the KGB Museum, located in a former Soviet prison, and the 13th century Higher Castle, which affords a glorious view of the city center. Our hotel tonight tis the luxurious Kempinski in the heart of the Old Town.
Day Nineteen - Bialystok Poland
Day 19 - June 20th - Bialystok Poland
A new country and time zone today but one more stop before we leave Lithuania, the island Castle of Trakia. The majestic 15th century island castle is a miniature wooden town interestingly featuring three windows on most house facades. Dating back to the 13th century, Trakai was inhabited by a number of difference nationalities simultaneously. Karaims, Tatars, Lithuanians, Russsians, Poles and Jews all lived in Trakai. On to Bialystok which unlike most cities in Poland, has been settled by various nationalities (Poles, Russians, Belorussians and Tartars) and religious groups (Catholic and Orthodox) who coexist peacefully. The palace in Bialystok has been dubbed the “small Versailles” and the whole region is dotted with Catholic, Orthodox, Muslim and Jewish temples, attracting both pilgrims and tourists. Our hotel tonight is The Royal Hotel and Spa.
Day Twenty - Warsaw Poland
Day 20 - June 21st - Warsaw Poland
A picturesque drive today though an area that was massively depopulated during both World Wars and hasn’t completely recovered. However, this has allowed the existence of the last remaining European primeval forest. Now the UNESCO-protected wilderness reserve - Białowieża National Park is the world’s largest wild bison habitat, and we’ll visit this primeval forest that used to cover a large part of the Old Continent.
Warsaw has undergone some rapid changes in the last 20 years since the fall of communism. It has developed into a city for new business, turned into a tourist hub and really proved why this is the true capital city. When you tour a historic city centre you’re normally out for genuine, untouched architecture and monuments. But after Warsaw’s experiences in the 20th century, when almost nine tenths of the city was wiped out, the Old Town’s rebirth was an incredible feat that has earned it Old Town UNESCO World Heritage Status so you’d never imagine that this was all just a pile of debris 70 years ago. To experience the best, we’ll take a tour of Warsaw by classic Nysa 522 vans.
Day Twenty-one - Krakow Poland
Day 21 - June 22nd - Krakow Poland
First stop today is quaint and handsome Kazimierz Dolny, a well-known tourist destination amongst native Poles, who flock here in the summer to wander the cobbled streets and leafy squares. The town is also a designated heritage attraction, famed for its countless independent art galleries and workshops.
Hopefully you’re not totally old-towned-out by this point, because 1,000-year-old Sandomierz is surely home to one of the prettiest in the country.
On the east bank of the Vistula River shines the most valuable and most beautiful of former Polish magnate residences – the Castle in Baranów Sandomierski. Finally, just to the east of Krakow there’s the cobble-packed town of Tarnow considered one of the richest historical city centers in Lesser Poland. The Bachleda Luxury hotel is our home for the next two nights.
Day TwentyTwo - Krakow Poland
Day 22 - June 23rd - Krakow Poland
Kraków may no longer be Poland's political capital, but it makes a strong case for being the country's cultural capital. Architecture buffs will think they died and went to heaven. Over the thousand years of Kraków's existence, all of the great European architectural styles – Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, baroque and art nouveau – have cycled through and left behind traces that prove the whole is infinitely greater than the sum of the parts. The world's largest late-Gothic altarpiece is within the darkened interiors of St Mary's Basilica then step out into the sunshine to see the gleaming 16th-century Renaissance Cloth Hall, built at a time when Kraków's royal authority was at its apex.
We have two tour options today. The “Wieliczka” Salt Mine is one of the most valuable monuments of material and spiritual culture in Poland. Magnificent chambers chiseled out in rock salt, amazing underground saline lakes, majestic timber constructions and unique statues sculpted, all in salt. With almost 3 kilometres of meandering corridors, there are 800 steps to climb of which 350 have to be descended to reach the depth of 135 meters underground. There are 20 chambers to visit - the Chapel of St. Kinga is the most brilliant. Option two is to visit both Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau - the symbol of the Holocaust as well as Nazi crimes against Poles, Romas, and other groups. You can visit the remaining prison blocks, gas chambers, and crematoria buildings and see the remains of the railway ramp in Birkenau, where the prisoners would be transported.
Day TwentyThree - Viglas Slovakia
Day 23 - June 24th - Viglas Slovakia
Near the Polish and Slovak borders, the Czech Republic’s third largest city is known for being unattractively industrial historically producing pig-iron and coal. We visit Dolní Vitkovice - the unique factory which served for a black coal mining and production of raw steel between the years 1828 and 1998 but has now been converted into a unique educational, cultural, and social center. In Koprivnice we stop at the Tatra Museum for all the history of Tatra and a unique collection of Tatra. This afternoon’s a great drive across the Tatra Mountains to reach Viglas Castle where we’ll enjoy a medieval feast in one of the castle’s banquet rooms.
Day TwentyFour - Budapest Hungary
Day 24 - June 25th - Budapest Hungary
Leafy Visegrád (from the Slavic words for ‘high castle’) has the most history of the main towns on the Danube Bend. While much of it has crumbled to dust over the centuries, reminders of its grand past can still be seen in its 13th- century citadel, which offers spectacular views from high above a curve in the river. Following the banks of the Danube south, we’ll cross the river by pontoon ferry to the Corinthia Budapest Hotel our base for the next two nights.
Day TwentyFive - Budapest Hungary
Day 25 - June 26th Budapest Hungary
Budapest, Hungary’s capital, is bisected by the River Danube. Its 19th-century Chain Bridge connects the hilly Buda district with flat Pest. Trinity Square is home to 13th-century Matthias Church and the turrets of the Fishermen’s Bastion, which offer sweeping views. We’ll take a funicular up to the Castle Hill and walk to the Fisherman's Bastion to take in the amazing views around sunset time to make the moment even more special. This evening we are invited for an hour’s panoramic boat ride. Glass in hand we experience how the legends of Budapest come alive and see behind the walls of the Royal Palace, the Parliament, the bridges, and other splendid sights.
Day TwentySix - Ljubljana Slovenia
Day 26 - June 27th - Ljubljana Slovenia
Further South today to skirt Balaton -the “Hungarian Sea”. At nearly 50 miles long it is the largest lake in central Europe and our route to Keszthely offers some sweeping views across the lake. In Keszthely we visit a private Cadillac collection just a few minutes’ walk from the Festetics Palace. The glimmering white Palace was begun in 1745. Some 18 splendid rooms in the baroque south wing are now part of the Helikon Palace Museum which houses the palace’s greatest treasure, the Helikon Library, with its 90,000 volumes and splendid carved furniture. The Palace also hosts a Coach Exhibition with a collection of more than 50 coaches, carriages and sleighs related to the aristocratic lifestyle of the 18th and 19th centuries, and one of Europe’s largest model railway exhibitions where 75 trains run according to timetable on 2700 meters of tracks surrounded by 1800 buildings.
Slovenia, wedged between Austria and Italy, has always been proud of its unique heritage. The capital, Ljubljana, is a perfect example of this blend of German, Mediterranean, and Slovenian culture. The old town is a blend of Baroque, Renaissance, and Art Nouveau buildings, watched over by a medieval castle. You can cut through the gardens of Tivoli Park to the National Museum of Contemporary History for a history of modern Slovenia.
Day TwentySeven - Postojinska Slovenia
Day 27 - June 28th - Postojinska
We tend North today towards the alps and Lake Bled, one of the most picturesque spots to visit in Slovenia. With its bluish-green lake, picture-postcard church on an islet, a medieval castle clinging to a rocky cliff and some of the highest peaks of the Julian Alps and the Karavanke as backdrops, Bled is Slovenia's most popular resort. Located in on an island in the middle of the aforementioned Lake Bled, the Church of the Assumption was built in the mid-15th century and looks pretty much the way it did back then. Bled Castle is built on a precipice above the town, overlooking the lake.
Predjama Castle is an impregnable medieval marvel perched in the middle of a 123-metre-high cliff for more than 800 years. Behind the largest cave castle in the world, there is a network of secret tunnels, from where the knight Erazem of Predjama would set out on his plundering expeditions. The Cave under Predjama Castle is the home of a colony of bats but next is Postojna Cave, the only place where you can see brilliant cave formations and also meet the baby dragons. Just like the world above the surface, Postojna Cave boasts towering mountains, murmuring rivers and vast subterranean halls. After a private visit of Postojna cave, when we without other tourists, we dine together at Hotel Jama, on a beautiful terrace hall that offers a spectacular sunset view.
Day TwentyEight - Vicenza Italy
Day 28 - June 29th - Vicenza Italy
Crossing into Italy this morning to the tiny little town of Arcugnano, nestled amidst the verdant hills just South of Vicenza, for our overnight at Villa Michelangelo that dates all the way back to the 18th century, when it was built as the palatial country residence for a noble family from nearby Venice. Now a stunning four star hotel, Villa Michelangelo conserves countless traces of its patrician past, from the Palladian style facade to the sumptuous interiors and meticulously manicured gardens. Dinner can be held in the magnificent Gran Salone, by the pool, or in the gardens of the villa.
Day TwentyNine - Portofino Italy
Day 29 - June 30th - Portofino Italy
Our last day on the tour but a spectacular one as we cross Veneto to Modena and the Ferrari Museum at Modena. Then more great roads and scenery as we cross the Apenines down to the coast and onto the Grand Hotel Miramare at Portofino for our Farewell Gala Dinner.
Day Thirty - Farewell from Portofino
Our tour ends after breakfast when it’s time to bid farewell to new and old friends, head home or continue touring
The ultimate Imperial Adventure
Norway – The Land of Fjords. Following the ferry north is one of the best ways to see this great country. By night we are on the ship and by day we are out exploring the wonderful fjords, stunning scenery and the midnight sun.
Russia – A unique entry point. No rally has done this before – enter from the North and then travel down to St Petersburg. After Murmansk we stop in Kem, Petrozavodska and Sortavala – do you know anyone else who has done that? In St Petersburg we make the most of our visit arriving on the Red Sails and White Nights weekend!
Hurtigruten Ferry - We include an outside Arctic Superior cabin, all onboard meals, passage for your car and packed lunches. There are upgrade options to suites. This is the most luxurious way to travel along the coast of Norway as your hotel meets you each evening.
Incredible Italy - We visit magnificent Italy via Vicenza and our port of destination, the sublime Portofino.
The best available Hotels
Most evening meals
Packed lunches in Norway
The Midnight Sun
St Petersburg and the Hermitage Museum
Poland Hungary and Slovenia
Fabulous mountain roads
Rally plates, decals and Navigation by Tulip Roadbook and GPS
The experienced Bespoke Team and mechanical support
Pre 1980 preferred and others subject to approval. We can assist with car rental if required.
Welcome Dinner at The Grand Hotel Oslo
The Hermitage St Petersburg
Buda Museum, Thermal Spa and Heroes Square in Budapest
Lake Bled and the cave train in Slovakia
Grand Farewell Dinner at Grand Hotel Miramre in Portofino
€27,850 per car based on two sharing a room.
A non-refundable deposit of €10,000 is required to be sent with the Booking Form and received by us in clear funds to secure your booking. The balance owing for the Tour is due and payable by January 15th 2021, however an instalment plan is available. Single supplement (includes own cabin on board ship) €7,750. Please see the Classic Driving Tours Purchase Terms & Conditions for more information.
WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED
• Airfares and airport transfers
• Cost of meals and drinks and entry to places of interest other than those specifically included in the final itinerary
• Personal expenses including personal insurances, visas, vehicle repairs and other costs not included in the itinerary
• Fuel and Tolls