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Berlin, Prague & Budapest in July - To train or not to train?

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We are a group of 6, aged 7 to 77 years, interests ranging from history/art to the outdoors planning the above for July. So want a mix of both musea and the outdoors - a rural/mountain day trip if possible, nearby.

After combing through the helpful forums, came up with this itinerary. Critique and advise please.

Berlin - 5/6 nights - apartment at Mitte/Charlottenburg area. Is a day trip to Potsdam and Spreewald (Lubbenau areas) worth it? Are trains better or day hire cars?
Dresden - 2/3 nights. Train or car? Day trip to Meissen, may be Leipzig too. Ferry to Bad Schanau and then train to Prague.
Prague - 5/6 nights. Apartment at Mala Strada or the like. Day trips to KV, CK, Kutna Hora. Any other? Drive or take the train to these places?
Budapest - 2 days. But not sure yet: to go or not to go? What say? Train or plane? Might have to fly out of Berlin so debating Budapest-Berlin flight or return to Prague and then take train back?

Combed through train threads and enjoyed the banter. But, don't quite want to fork out some 2000 Euros for rail passes - point to point cheaper - But then, we are six, so is driving a cheaper option? Checked with Hertz - driving across borders is STEEP, day trips works out to about 100+ Euros a day. Is that the way to go? Do I buy train tickets in advance or go there and buy? Please help!

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