The Real Deal: Six nights' accommodations, six breakfasts, two lunches, four dinners, local transportation by air-conditioned bus, a folklore show in Zakopane, a Chopin concert with a glass of wine in Warsaw, cake and coffee at two cafés, sightseeing tours and entrance fees, and the services of English- and Spanish-speaking tour guides throughout the program, for $1,024 per person—including taxes and service charges.
When: May 23, June 13, July 11, Aug. 8, Sept. 5, 26, 2009.
The fine print: The rate does not cover international airfare. Airport-hotel transfers are not included but can be booked for an additional $25 per person each way. Based on double occupancy; single supplement is $303. Read these guidelines before you book any Real Deal.
Book by: No deadline; based on availability.
Contact: Sophisticated Traveler, 815/301-3482 (fax), email@example.com (e-mail), s-traveler.com. The company prefers to communicate by e-mail or fax to have the details of your request in writing to avoid any mistakes.
Why it's a deal: The $1,024 rate breaks down to about $171 a night and covers six nights' accommodations, some meals, ground transportation, a folklore show, a Chopin concert with wine, cake and coffee at two cafés, entrance fees, sightseeing tours, and the services of tour guides.
Consider, as a Sophisticated Traveler representative points out, that the package price is lower than that of a comparable six-night Poland's Best tour, which starts at a higher price of $1,329 despite using four-star hotels instead of the five-star hotels that Sophisticated Traveler works with.
Tour highlights: The tour begins and ends in Warsaw. You'll enjoy a sightseeing tour of Old Town and of the Royal Castle, a coffee break at Cafe Blikle, and an evening performance of Frederic Chopin's works by a professional pianist.
From Warsaw, there's an excursion to Zelazowa Wola, the birthplace of Chopin; a dinner with two artists in their wooden cottage in Lowicz; a visit to Jasna Góra Monastery in Czestochowa and a memorial tour of the former Nazi concentration camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Then comes Wadowice Basilica in Wadowice, the town where Pope John Paul II was born. In Kraków, you'll see the Royal Castle, the cathedral on Wawel Hill, the main market square in Old Town, Cloth Hall, and have coffee and cake at Jama Michalika café. A half-day sightseeing tour and a dinner with a folkloric dance performance in the resort town Zakopane at the foot of the Tatra Mountains, a stop at Europe's oldest operating salt mine in Wieliczka finish off the itinerary.
Lodging: Two nights each at the 311-room Radisson SAS Centrum Hotel in Warsaw and the 169-room Best Western Premier Krakow Hotel in Kraków. One night each at the 288-room hotel Mercure Kasprowy Zakopane and the 158-room Best Western Hotel Mazurkas, about seven miles from the airport and nine miles from Warsaw.
More: There are no optional tours to purchase because everything is included in the starting rate. However, you can extend your stay in Warsaw for an additional $75 per person per night for a double room and $137 for a single room at the Radisson SAS.
Before you go: For up-to-date travel information and tips, visit the official Web site of the Polish National Tourist Office. In terms of weather, expect warm temperatures, with highs in the 70s and 80s.
Getting there: We did a quick search on Kayak at press time to give you an idea of the cost of airfare to Warsaw for travel in mid-June. The lowest fares are $940 from New York City (Aer Lingus), $1,020 from Houston (KLM), $1,070 from Miami (multiple carriers), $1,125 from Chicago (multiple carriers), $1,207 from L.A. (multiple carriers), and $1,246 from Phoenix (multiple carriers).