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Vienna, Budapest & Prague - 8 nights

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I'm taking a trip to these 3 cities in late March and was hoping for good restaurants, hotels (4-5 star) and activities. 2 nights in Vienna, 2 in Budapest and 4 in Prague. Trip will be me and my girlfriend, no kids. We like good food, decent nightlife and are otherwise pretty open.

Also, we basically speak English only - so how hard will communication be?


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    I have stayed at the Grand Wien and Bristol in Vienna. They have great locations (a block away and across the street, respectively, from the Staatsoper) and are beautiful hotels. I have had dinner at the Rote Bar Restaurant at the Sacher Hotel; it was a wonderful (fancy) dinner before the opera, and the hotel has a good location too. I have been in the Imperial (down from the Grand and Bristol) but have not stayed there.

    In Budapest I stayed at the Buda Hilton. I liked the location in the Castle District (next to the Fishermen's Bastion), and the view over the Danube to Pest and Parliament across the river. The Four Seasons Gresham Palace is in a historic building in Pest right at the Chain Bridge.

    Unless you are planning a day trip from Prague (e.g. to Cesky Krumlov, which is charming), I would take one day from Prague and add it to Vienna, which is larger and has more to see.

    I stayed at the Intercontinetal in Prague, on the bank of the Vltava in the Josefov. It was a nice hotel, close to the Old Town, but I might look at something right in Old Town or Mala Strana for a return visit. Options would include the U Prince (great roof terrace bar and restaurant) or Mandarin Oriental.

    You will find that people speak English pretty much everywhere, most in Vienna, fewer in Prague and the least in Budapest. I took the time to learn basic words and phrases in German, Czech and Hungarian, but that is something I like to do. Locals also like it when you make the effort.

    There are tons of activities, depending on your interests -- wonderful art museums, castles, palaces, gardens, churches, views, shopping...It would help if you give some information on what you like.

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    <<we basically speak English only - so how hard will communication be?>>

    Not. Pointing and gesturing works even if you're completely illiterate (e.g., Japan, unless you know Japanese characters).

    Vienna has been part of the EU for decades and part of the "West" for well over 1/2 a century. Much English will be spoken. German too. ;-)

    Prague was the first Warsaw pact destination for college students to wander off and "teach" English after the Wall fell. Lots of English spoken there too, especially in the touristy areas like Old Town.

    Budapest is about 5-7 years behind Prague. Then again, you could also go to a restaurant at a hotel on the Danube, sit down, and have the waiter greet you in various languages until hitting the one that clicks (this happened to us: "Guten Tag?" [no reaction] "Bon Soir?" [no reaction] "Good Evening?" ["ahh, good evening to you too!"]).

    If you know English, then in Europe, others speak your language more than the reverse. Blunt truth, but truth. After all, Scandinavians and Dutch realize that no one is trying to learn their language to get about in the world.

    Don't stay on the Buda side like Delaine did if you're into nightlife. The Rick Steves description from years ago still applies "sleepy Buda, bustling Pest." We stayed at the K&K Hotel Opera which is on a quiet street about 1/2 mile from Deak Ter, which is the commercial heart of Budapest, 1/4 mile from St. Iztvan's Cathedral, six blocks from the Danube, and 1/4 mile from Liszt Ter (a good night spot).

    <<I would take one day from Prague and add it to Vienna, which is larger and has more to see>>

    Depends on what you want to see.

    You probably just have a decent amount of time in Prague and too little in the others - to be honest, two cities in the eight days would be better. Other day trips from Prague (Cesky is a bit of a haul) include Karlstejn Castle and Terezin. Not sure I'd do any of them unless I had a specific interest with only four nights in Prague, which means just 3.5 days.

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