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13 Days Berlin to Prague

Old Aug 20th, 2016, 12:56 PM
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13 Days Berlin to Prague

Flying into Berlin and out of Prague in September 2016. I have this itinerary:
Sept. 3 Saturday: Arrive Berlin Tegal 16:00 Buy 5 day Welcome Card ABC, check into H10 Berlin Kudamm, Visit New Synagogue Berlin for exterior photos, See the Holocaust Memorial Stelenfeld, the info center is not open since the elevator is being worked on this week., Visit the Brandenburg Gate and then we have a 20:00 entry tour of the Reichstag Dome.
Where could we eat dinner in the area before the tour? I hear the food on top the dome is not worth the price.
Sunday-Tuesday: Pergamon Museum, New Museum, *Kunstgewerbemuseum, Berlin Cathedral, Kaiser-Wilhelm Church, St. Nicholas Church, *Charlottenburg Palace, *Berlin Wall Memorial and the East Side Gallery. Some of these (*) are closed on Mondays, so I'll need to arrange the visits accordingly. Suggestions are welcome.
Wed: Travel from Kurfürstendamm near our hotel to Potsdam to visit Sanssouci, New Palace and Friedenskirche. How do I plan public transport from point to point using our ABC card?
We will return to our Berlin hotel Wed night.
Thurs: train to Dresden for 1-2 nights. Would like an early/fast train so we can maximize time in Dresden. Suggestions?
Need to know how early we can reach Dresden so I can prebook our tickets into the Green Vault. Will also see the Zwinger and The Frauenkirche.
Will train from Dresden to Freiberg because I'm crazy about rocks and minerals and am so excited to visit Castle (Schloss) Freudenstein - Terra Mineralia. I don't know if we should return to Dresden to sleep again before moving on to the Saxon Switzerland area or go directly after visiting Freiberg.
Would like to spend 2 days to visit the Königstein fortress, Bastei, and either hike to some of the other rock formations in that area or Pravcicka Brana (large arch) hiking from Hrensko and doing the boat tour in the canyons. Any information from the experts here would be appreciated to use public transport to get from Dresden or Freiberg to the fortress and National Park attractions and where to base for these 2 days before moving on to Prague for our last 3 nights.
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Old Aug 20th, 2016, 01:11 PM
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You'll find lots of info on my pages on Virtualtourist.com:

Dresden: http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/4166c/1091e/
Freiberg: http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/4166c/f6d5/
Königstein: http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/4166c/b100/
Hrensko (for Pravcicka Brana):http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/4166c/634fb/
More on Saxon Switzerland ...
Bad Schandau: http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/4166c/12ca7/
Kurort Rathen (for Bastei viewpoint): http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/4166c/ab24/

Please clarify how many nights you'll have in the Dresden/Saxon Switzerland area. Two for Dresden and two more for Saxon Switzerland? Frankly, I'd pick a base in Dresden, which is *the* hub for the region. By train to Freiberg a half hour (runs at least twice per hour, make sure to visit the cathedral, too) and only 40 minutes to Bad Schandau by train (also runs twice per hour). No need to move, you'll lose too much time.

No need to pre-book Green Vault tickets, I checked a couple of times in the last weeks and there have always been plenty of tickets available for the same day. Exception is if you are set on a particular time, let's say right away after they open or so.

For train schedules see www.bahn.de However, trains on this route (Berlin - Dresden - Prague) have been notoriously late since the regular route south of Berlin is undergoing reconstruction (for two years!) and trains make a detour. Last week a half hour late was standard. Another option: Coach - Flixbus. Cheaper, run hourly, as fast as the trains.
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Old Aug 20th, 2016, 01:16 PM
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for all train schedules involving Germany - www.bahn.de/en - the German Railways official site - can book discounted tickets there to if book early enough to get those limited in number NON-CHANGEABLE from one specific train on a specific date and a hefty refund- and see what full fare is.

If you want to go totally flexible the German Railpass (Twin if two traveling together) will be a great deal - can hop on any train anytime and you can even get to Prague on it if you go via Nurnberg bus I believe. If go to Freiburg and back it may even be a good deal vs discounted tickets (or may not) -but you have several longish trips.

For lots of info on German trains and passes: www.seat61.com- great info on discounted tickets; www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.ricksteves.com.
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Old Aug 20th, 2016, 05:57 PM
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Thanks for your replies. Ingo, I've gotten most of my planning info from your "Pages". I will leave Berlin Thurs morning for Dresden and then have what's left of that day, plus Friday to visit Dresden and then leave for Freiberg Saturday morning. Was planning on Sunday and Monday in Saxon Switzerland, heading to Prague on Tuesday Sept.20th. So, I figured I'd move hotels the evening after visiting Freiberg going towards Prague. Won't I loose more hiking time if I travel back and forth the 40 min to Dresden versus staying in Bad Schandau or Rathen for 2 nights? Do you think the park portion would be easier with a car, getting to the hiking trailheads and back to our room afterwards?

PalenQ I will check on the rail passes thanks for your help.
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Old Aug 21st, 2016, 10:10 AM
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Need a little more help with the train travel: If I get a twin Rail pass $550 7 day flexi or 10 consecutive days pass $417 (first class) I see it does cover IC bus travel to Prague. Would I ride trains covered with this pass within Berlin between tourist sites? Or, just when we (two of us) travel to Potsdam, Freiberg and Dresden?
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Old Aug 21st, 2016, 10:20 AM
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Stay away from this pass! Way too expensive. IC bus travel to Prague? That's from Nuremberg, which is not anywhere near your route.

Berlin - Dresden can be booked for 19 Euro per person if you book a few days ahead. However, bus is a very good option on this route - Flixbus goes directly from Berlin to Dresden for 7 Euro if booked one or two days ahead, hourly!

The ride to Freiberg and back for two is only 27 Euro (if you travel after 9 am) with Sachsen Ticket for two persons. This includes trams and buses in Dresden and Freiberg, too, and also the ride to Saxon Switzerland if you want to stay overnight there after visiting Freiberg.

From Saxon Switzerland (Bad Schandau e.g.) take a regional train to Decin/Czech Republic, for example dep. 8.50 am in Bad Schandau, arr. 9.17 am in Decin. Hop on the fast train to Prague there, which departs 9.24 and arrives about 11 am in Prague. No sweat, you can even buy the tickets in the regional train from Bad Schandau to Decin (it's a Czech train) and pay in either Euro or CZK. Credit card, too, I guess. It's only 136 CZK, about 5 Euro per person (plus about 2 Euro from Bad Schandau to Decin)!
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Old Sep 1st, 2016, 09:04 AM
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Thanks again, Ingo. So if we take a train from Freiberg, it goes back through Dresden? Then we could continue onto Bad Schandau to check into our hotel, and then backtrack to visit Konigstein Fortress, Hike to Pfaffenstein to see the Barbarine, and do the Rathen-Bastei-Wehlen hike. Does this hike go through the Schwedenlocher? We could also get off the train after we tour Freiberg and rent a car, and drive so we could leave our luggage in the car and maybe see some of those sites before checking into Bad Schandau that evening. If we have time to see any of those on Saturday, it would give us more time Sunday and Monday to see either the the Schrammsteine massif or the Heilige Stiege - Frienstein area. How would you order these site visits and can you recommend which places to see? The Pravcicka Brana and river in the canyon looks so pretty too. But with only 2 days and perhaps the evening after Freiberg, we need help planning.
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Old Sep 1st, 2016, 09:33 AM
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Would you recommend a private guide that could take us to each trailhead and maybe lead the full hike or at least provide maps and directions? Most commercial tours are pretty limited with the sites they visit and larger groups use up more time. We could use public transport that way and not need a car rental if the guide transported us between hikes too.
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Old Sep 1st, 2016, 12:10 PM
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I'm thinking I could skip Konigstein Fortress since we saw Hohensalzburg Fortress in Salzburg last year and another castel/fortress in Edinburgh Scotland the year before that. The site https://www.festung-koenigstein.de/en/welcome.html photos looks similar. I'd rather spend more time seeing the natural beauty of that area. If we happen to drive up to Pfaffendorf for the Pfaffenstein hike, we may just stop briefly to see the exterior of the Fortress.
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Old Sep 1st, 2016, 01:27 PM
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If I get a twin Rail pass $550 7 day flexi or 10 consecutive days pass $417 (first class) I see it does cover IC bus travel to Prague.>

Yes it would cover all your German trains even S-Bahn to Potsdam though that is just a handful of euros.

But if getting discounted tickets from www.bahn.de/en as many do that would be much cheaper than a pass - first-class tickets are also discounted.

But if you want fully flexible travel to hop any train anytime and are going Berlin- Dresden-Freiburg-Prague then Nurnberg would or could well be on the way for the bus to be covered too. First class full fares can be dauntingly high - not sure it would be a good deal but no one can say unless looking at full first class fares.

I think that pass may cover buses from Munich to Prague as well?

A Twin Pass is for 2 folks traveling together on one pass - one person can use it alone without any problem - the railways do not care if the other person is traveling with you or not but you cannot take separate trains at the same time as you only have one pass.
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Old Sep 1st, 2016, 11:55 PM
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Fortress Königstein offers natural beauty, too, from the sandstone cliffs it's built on to the woods on the plateau and the views. It is quite different from Hohensalzburg, I'd say, but if you feel you've already seen enough castles and fortresses you are of course free to skip it

No, I would not recommend a private guide. You can easily buy maps yourselves and if you don't want to use public transportation, you can rent a car. Frankly, private guides in this region - at least as far as I know - are scarce in general and specialised in climbing.

There is too much to see and do in this region for only two days (and one afternoon maybe). Don't underestimate the time you'll need in Freiberg! The Terra Mineralia exhibit is huge, and please do yourselves a favour and visit at least the cathedral! (Which means you'll skip the Krüger Haus with the exhibit on German minerals, right? And the minerals exhibit in the Bergakademie University, eh?)

Calculate time for picking up the car (half hour) plus driving from Freiberg to Saxon Switzerland (one and a half hour). So this won't leave much time for seeing anything that evening - maximum the Bastei viewpoint, but no hiking.

(Btw, did you know the most famous viewpoint, the 'nose' above the river, is closed for construction/stabilization works until 2017? There are lots of other viewpoints, but this is the best one. Still worth going there, of course, but if you're aiming for the famous photos you'll be out of luck.)

For the Rathen-Bastei-Wehlen hike you have two options: One directly up to Bastei, the other via the little lake Amselsee and Schwedenlöcher (longer). With the latter option you must walk down a bit from Bastei to get to the Bastei bridge and the "Felsenburg" relics, while with the former option you pass right by those.

It's hard to rank the areas. They are very different. Schrammsteine massif or the Heilige Stiege - Frienstein area give you the dramatic views of the Elbe river canyon and the rugged, bizarre sandstone rock formations. The Pravcicka brana is a single, very special rock formation, the canyons with the boat rides on this hike are also special, but this region lacks the bizarre rock formations and the dramatic views from high up. All these are full day hikes and a car is of no use here.

To sum it up - my recommendation is to do the Pravcicka Brana hike on Sunday and either the Schrammsteine massif or Heilige Stiege-Frienstein hike on Monday. In case there's enough time see Bastei on Saturday late afternoon.
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Old Sep 2nd, 2016, 02:07 PM
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Stay away from this pass! Way too expensive. IC bus travel to Prague? That's from Nuremberg, which is not anywhere near your route>

I agree -my quick reading of OP's first post was thinking of Freiburg in the Black Forest - thinking OP was going over there and back - since it is one near Dresden yes for a Berlin - Dresden- S Swiss - Prague trip no pass would be of any value - forget my above post about passes in your case.
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Old Sep 3rd, 2016, 05:50 AM
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PalenQ, ah, Freiburg and Freiberg confuse even search engines on my computer. But I appreciate your input and insights. >visit at least the cathedral! (Which means you'll skip the Krüger Haus with the exhibit on German minerals, right? And the minerals exhibit in the Bergakademie) . We are adding the Cathedral and should we try to see the other two as well? Ingo, no, I did not know the Bastei nose view was closed. That view started our desire to travel to this region. I still have not booked accommodations for Saxon or Prague so we could still change to 3 days for hiking but then we would only have 2 days for Prague. Such a difficult decision. And, even though I booked 2 nights in Dresden at the Swissotel, I could extend that and keep Dresden as the base for our hikes too. I was thinking we could use the evening after Freiberg for travel time to a base like Bad Schandau, Rathen or Wehlen. I tend to overthink logistics and end up waiting until the last minute to finalize my itinerary. I would only want to utilize a car if it made it easier to get to and from the hiking areas. More suggestions, please?
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Old Sep 3rd, 2016, 10:21 AM
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The exhibit on German minerals in the Kruger house could be overkill after the huge exhibit in the Terra Mineralia. On the other hand, the combi ticket is only a surcharge of 2 Euro, so ...

The mineralogical exhibit in the Bergakademie University is the historic origin, so to speak. It's important in that regard. But again ... visual overload? You can still decide on the spot.

There are plenty of other excellent viewpoints around Bastei, but I just wanted you to know that this famous viewpoint is closed. It's very unfortunate, but there are stability problems in the underground and they had to do something about it before a horrible accident happened. It will be closed until mid summer 2017.

Frankly, Bastei is so very famous (in my opinion) because it is so easily accessible. The views from other places, like the main crest of the Schrammsteine massif e.g., can compete, but they must be 'earned' with a longer hike. Since you do plan to do some hikes, you'll definitely pass by some amazing viewpoints. No big deal if you skip Bastei in my opinion.

Of course you can stay in Dresden all the time. It would save time packing/unpacking/checking in/out. Public transportation in the Saxon Switzerland area is timed with the commuter trains Dresden - Bad Schandau (-Schöna). They run twice an hour, travel time from Dresden to Bad Schandau is 40 minutes - no big deal. And the Swissotel is really an excellent choice!

Why not spending the full day in Freiberg? And the evening in Dresden? Or even the evening in Freiberg? Interested in theatre (opera, concert or so)? A train would take you back to Dresden after the show. Or enjoy opera/concert or so in Dresden.

Only you can decide if hiking is so important to you that you'd want to extend your stay and deduct one day from Prague. There is never enough time ... maybe you could make a last minute decision - weather is an important factor. Better a rainy day (or showers on/off) in Prague than hiking in the National Park. And vice versa.
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Old Sep 5th, 2016, 01:50 PM
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Freiburg and Freiberg <

yeh the old burg for castle and berg for city (or do I have it opposite?) and there is a Bergburg I hear or is it Burgberg?

Lucky to have such a local as ingo willing to give time to give all those valuable inputs!

I rather like Bad Schandau - about the last German Saxon Swiss town before the Czech Republic - famous old tram goes into the bucolci hinterlands from town.
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Old Sep 5th, 2016, 05:38 PM
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I cannot get googlemaps to find the hbf railstation in Freiberg so I can get walking directions from the train station to Terra Mineralia. I think Ingo said there was also a bus, but it takes odd routes. We will also need to leave our luggage somewhere since we are arriving and departing Freiberg by rail.
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Old Sep 5th, 2016, 06:20 PM
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Okay, so I did finally get the maps to work,but it shows it is a 20 min walk. I would prefer to take a bus, I think, if anyone knows which bus # and route to take. Also, someone mentioned a great cafe in Freiberg. Can you recommend where to eat? Thank you again.
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Old Sep 6th, 2016, 01:25 AM
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You could leave your luggage at Dresden Hbf in a locker as you must backtrack through Dresden anyway.

Frankly, the bus takes *way* longer than the train. The central bus terminal in Freiberg is just outside the old town, but it's only a 5-10 minutes walk from there the railway station to this bus terminal. So you don't really save time by taking the bus.

The great cafe in Freiberg is Cafe Hartmann, at the southwest corner of the Obermarkt square. You may want to (re?)check my Freiberg page over on Virtualtourist.com:
http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/4166c/f6d5/
This is the list of my restaurant reviews, among them Cafe Hartmann:
http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/4166c/f6d5/2/

For lunch I'd recommend Himmel und Hölle, not too far from Terra Mineralia and cathedral (Dom).
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Old Sep 6th, 2016, 10:11 AM
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Bookmarking.
I have been several times to Freiberg - didn't know there was so much to see.
Info do you post elsewhere than on VT ?
I asked them to remove me so don't go there anymore.
( I used to be Pariswat - give my regards to some nice people there ! )
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Old Sep 6th, 2016, 12:38 PM
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Whathell: You've been several times to Freiberg? It doesn't get too many international visitors, any particular reason for you?

I post on Tripadvisor, too (eagle2002).

There have been some changes on VT recently that I don't like much, the tip writing process has become more time consuming e.g. (Will forward to regards.)
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