21 Days in Central Europe

Apr 15th, 2014, 03:49 AM
  #1  
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21 Days in Central Europe

Hi, there. I'm planning a three week solo travel trip for this summer to Central Europe, and wanted to see the southern part of Central Europe, and am wondering if I am giving it too much time.

I want to focus on Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Austria, and Slovenia.

Doing some research, it seems that Prague makes for a good 3-4 day trip, Vienna 3-4 days, and Budapest 4-5 days. I'm thinking that I should put in another main stop, or perhaps even two, but not sure what. I think I would like to leave Germany and Poland for a separate trip, I hope to take next year with some friends. I also tend to think that Northern Italy and Switzerland would fit well together, but that is a total guess.

Any suggestions on how to nail down my final itinerary? There are so many options, it gets a bit overwhelming!

Thanks,
Josh
jsfatl is offline  
Apr 15th, 2014, 04:20 AM
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Are you taking trains? I would strongly suggest so - and to learn lots about trains in eastern/central Europe check out these sources for lots of great info: www.seat61.com; www.ricksteves.com and www.budgeteuropetravel.com - especially download the latter's free and excellent online European Planning & Rail Guide that gives possible rail itineraries in those countries.
And by all means check out the Eastern European Railpass that lets you hop on just about any train in Austria, Czech Republic, Slovkia, Poland and Hungary.
Be sure to incorporate the Wachau Valley near Vienna in your plans - take a boat from Melk to Durnstein and Krems - this could be the highlight of your trip.
PalenQ is offline  
Apr 15th, 2014, 04:20 AM
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Focusing on 5 countries in 3 weeks is a bit much. If you are only interested in a few cities then 3 weeks is a good amount o time.

Will you have a car or rely on public transportation? I did a combination of both on a trip a few years ago and spent 2 weeks in the Czech Republic, part of which was driving around the southern part.

Between Prague and Vienna you could visit Cesky Krumlov and the surrounding area via public transportation.

There are day trips from these 3 cities that are interesting (Kutna Hora, Melk, Szentendre and others in Hungary).

There aren't many main cities along this route. I guess you could add Bratislava (not been there but I don't think you would want more than a day or two).

The only main city that makes sense with the Budapest, Vienna, Prague route is Krakow. You could fly into Prague and home from Krakow and take trains between the other cities. It's difficult to get from Krakow to any other place by train (other than Warsaw) so you would want to start or end there.

Northern Italy is a bit out of the way unless you also include Ljubljana and then go on to Venice.

I would do at least 4 days in Prague, Vienna, and Budapest. Three days is not enough time for any of them. Your first day after landing will only be about a half day and you may be jet lagged.
adrienne is offline  
Apr 15th, 2014, 05:49 AM
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We did Budapest (5 nights) and Vienna (8 nights) with a day trip to Bratislava from Vienna. While I loved Budapest, I can see that 4 days would be plenty, and after about 6 days in Vienna I was really wanting to see something else. You can't go wrong with adding Prague or Krakow... I'm heading to those 2 places in the fall!
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Apr 15th, 2014, 08:53 AM
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With the 3 cities you mentioned, 10-11 days should get used up.
With the remaining 10, you could spend 4-5 in the Austrian Alps and Salzburg , or maybe even 7-8, instead of going all the way upto Italy or Switzerland. Or maybe Bavaria..I would rule out Slovakia, Slovenia and Italy totally, because they are quite out of the way.
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Apr 15th, 2014, 11:10 AM
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I did a day trip to Bratislava, capital of Slovakia, from Vienna - just an hour by train - and this is a neat city - all rehabbed from grimy commie days when I first visited - the city center is compact and one day is enough for most.

So if you want to add another country and a neat old city on the Danube day trip from Vienna to Bratislava (you can also take hydrofoils on the Danube if you want. Trains roll hourly between the two cities.
PalenQ is offline  
Apr 15th, 2014, 12:17 PM
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I want to focus on Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Austria, and Slovenia>

21 days

Land in Prague - 4 days there

Train to Vienna
5 days there - two day trips - one to nearby Wachau Valley and one to Slovakia - Bratislava

train or hydrofoil to Budapest
4 days there

Train to Slovenia - 5 days there

figure 4 travel days and you have about 21 days in a fairly leisurely fashion, to me at least.
PalenQ is offline  
Apr 15th, 2014, 03:08 PM
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Cut a day off Slovenia and Budapest and you could easily end up with a few days in Venice, a short train ride from Slovenia. Fly home from there - perhaps better air fares and more options than from Zagreb or Llulbjana?
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Apr 16th, 2014, 07:47 AM
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Thanks to all for the great insights. I am not planning on renting a car, unless someone strongly recommends, I should.

What if I took out Slovakia and Slovenia, and instead added in Munich? So the basic route would be Munich -> Prague -> Vienna -> Budapest?

I am a solo traveler, so I'm thinking I might just start with a place to stay in Munich, then plan things as I go, if that is a good option. I'm fine in Hostels, as long as I can find lodging pretty easily last minute...

Thoughts?

Thanks,
Josh
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Apr 16th, 2014, 07:51 AM
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That looks better-Munich fits in well with the rest of your itinerary I'd add Salzburg in Austria and probably take the train from Vienna to Prague and back, then a cruise to Budapest.
dwdvagamundo is offline  
Apr 16th, 2014, 08:02 AM
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Actually, how does this sound from an itinerary perspective?

Prague (5 days total)
City of Prague (4 days)
Day trip to Ceske Krumlov from Prague (1 day)

Vienna (6 days total)
Vienna City (4 days)
Bratislava day trip from Vienna (1 day)
Danube's Wachau Valley day trip from Vienna (1 day)

Budapest
City of Budapest (5 days)

That's a total of 16 days. Looking at my flights, I have a full 22 days, which 2 will be travel days to and from the states, so that leaves me with 20 days to explore the region. So I'm thinking I have about four days left. I could add in Salzberg as a day trip from Vienna or even stay there a few days, perhaps. What about other day trips, or some other natural place to stop if my focus are these three cities only? I certainly don't want to eat up all my vacation in traveling from place to place, if it isn't adding additional value!

Thanks so much,
Josh
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Apr 17th, 2014, 10:15 PM
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I would seriously consider cutting a day each from every city, and spend those(3+ 6)=9 remaining days somewhere in the little towns and villages of Austria and Bavaria, which are extremely beautiful and charming. Munich and Salzburg would be good bases to explore those regions.
It's better if you stay in Salzburg for a whole day and then continue towards Salzkammergut(Lake district) or Munich.
Even if you're not willing to cut days in the cities, you still should spend 1 day in Salzburg, 2 is the LAke district and atleast 1 day in Munich.
ashwinb is offline  
Apr 17th, 2014, 11:21 PM
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kja
 
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I like your latest plan! Granted, what works really depends on personal interests and preferred travel pace, but I think this plan is quite solid.

NOTE that I am assuming that your travel time is NOT included in this outline -- so, for example, I am assuming that you have 5 full days In Prague and Ceske Krumlov NOT COUNTING the time you will spend getting to/from Prague, and 6 full days in Vienna/Baislava/the Wachau NOT COUNTING the time you will spend getting to/from Vienna, etc.

And that means you really have as little as 2 days left, because each transition takes about 1/2 day. I loved Salzburg, and think it would fit in your schedule quite nicely! It is small and can be easily seen in 2 or 3 days -- which could fit into your plan quite nicely if you time the transitions well and make wise choices about where to trim you time.

I respectfully disagree with ashwinb: I would not cut time from any of your current plans unless you are very certain that you can do so without curtailing your aspirations for these places. If you were to cut back to make time for Munich and/or other places, you would - IMO - end up skimming on everything AND spending a disproportionate time in transit rather than on the ground. Just my opinion -- YMMV.

Hope that helps!
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Apr 18th, 2014, 07:16 AM
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I'm with ashwinb on time in cities. Too many days in big cities and too few in smaller places. We stayed in Prague and Vienna for four nights (three days) each and felt we got a good look at each city. We'd like to go back to Vienna one day and go to Budapset as well, but three full days is enough.

Also concur in stopping in Salzburg. One of the lovelier smaller cities in Europe.
dwdvagamundo is offline  
Apr 18th, 2014, 07:24 AM
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If we are determining this by vote (josh, hope you are ok with this), I vote with Kja. I too like Salzburg and with day trips, you will have the option to visit small towns.

My preference is to move as little as I can.
JulieCallahan is offline  
Apr 18th, 2014, 10:08 AM
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I think 15 days in cities can be a bit much, too much of a cultural overdose, ofcourse it depends on what jsfatl would like to do, but most people will/do find need a change after 15 days.
ashwinb is offline  
Apr 18th, 2014, 11:41 AM
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Ashwinb... You only get one vote!
JulieCallahan is offline  
Apr 18th, 2014, 02:22 PM
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5 days in Budapest? I've been in Budapest several times and like it but after a few days I'd be looking for some kind of day trip.

You could cut a few days there - I know there are others here who say you could spend even longer there - it's just my observation of what I and an average tourist may find - five days in a heavily polluted, loud and heavy traffic may be too much - I guess there are sweet day trips to the Danube bend, etc so I would say in those five days do two day trips.
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Apr 18th, 2014, 04:49 PM
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kja
 
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"Budapest? ... five days in a heavily polluted, loud and heavy traffic may be too much" -- that is certainly NOT the Budapest that I saw and enjoyed!
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Apr 18th, 2014, 08:36 PM
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I live in Vienna, and add that you might find yourself schloss-weary after four days in Vienna, depending on your interests, of course. I would consider using one of the four days for a day trip to Salzburg, or if you want something closer, a day in Klosterneuburg at the monastery and the perhaps the Gugging Museum, a museum dedicated to the art of the psychiatric patients who live on the adjacent campus. Klosterneuburg is easy to reach via OBB.

Having just spent two days in Budapest last week, I'll second PalenQ's comment that there is traffic, no worse or louder than Vienna or Prague, though. Heavily polluted? Didn't see anything but blue skies and sunshine. I don't think I could spend five days in Budapest proper, though. We added a day trip to Szentendre; Esztergom would also be an easy day outing.
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