3 weeks in Baltics, Poland and Berlin

Old Sep 17th, 2015, 09:32 AM
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3 weeks in Baltics, Poland and Berlin

I’m in the early stages of planning for April/May 2016 in Europe; we have three weeks, but could stretch it a little longer. We enjoy architecture, history, local color/culture, cafes, art, local markets, and walking tours. We enjoy very formal museums, churches, and castles, but only to a certain extent.

We start with a cruise from US to Rome and immediately would fly to Riga, Latvia. The plan below uses award miles for 2 of the intra-Europe flights and for the flight from Gdansk back to the US. All these locations are new to us; Estonia is not included since we have already been there. We have never done this long a trip or included this many different new locations. Would you allocate the number of nights differently?

Fly to Riga 3 nights
Bus to Vilnius 3 nts
Fly to Krakow 5 nts (includes an all-day stopover in Warsaw on way to Krakow)
Fly to Berlin 7 nts
Fly to Gdansk 3 nts

For Krakow and Berlin I am leaning toward apartment rentals; for the shorter stays probably a hotel with some local flair would be best. Any suggestions?

Any and all advice is certainly appreciated!
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Old Sep 17th, 2015, 10:12 PM
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kja
 
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Sorry, but I haven't been to Riga, Vilnius, or Gdansk yet, so can't comment on them.

5 nights for Krakaw, with one of 4 days devoted to Warsaw, seems to me the bare minimum for those cities. For my interests, I would probably go for at least 2 days (so 3 nights) in Warsaw and at least another 4 days (so 5 nights) in Krakow, but that's just me. You might want to consult a few good guidebooks (always a worthy investment, IME, or consult some at a library) to decide what YOU want to see and experience, and then plan your time around opening hours.

Enjoy!
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Old Sep 17th, 2015, 11:06 PM
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We recently spent four nights each in Berlin and Krakow and that worked well for us. We took a day trip out in each city, Berlin to Potsdam and Krakow to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Of course there is more to see but the weather wasn't good so we were happy with our four day stays.
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Old Sep 17th, 2015, 11:28 PM
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Sorry -- I got distracted and forget to comment on Berlin. Again, it depends on your interests, but FWIW, I wanted 5 full days there. JMO.
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Old Sep 18th, 2015, 05:53 AM
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Thanks, kJ and HappyTrvlr, for your feedback. I do have the guidebooks and have been researching this board as well.

I am struggling with Warsaw -- I know there are some positive comments, but I can't help noticing that so many seem disappointed. This current plan would give us the better part of a Sunday to take a walking tour and visit one museum. I think I am OK with that given what I see it guidebooks.

We still have 4 full days in Krakow; our priorities are a walking tour, Schindler's factory, Auschwitz, Cloth Hall Market, Planty, Nowa Huta and a museum and church or two.

I haven't worked on planning the 6 days in Berlin yet, but given its size, I thought I'd allow more time there than Krakow. Many comments refer to the fabulous museums, but I know there's only so much of that we enjoy. I figure I can always take a day trip to Leipzig if we need a break from the city.

Are you thinking I should redistribute Krakow and Berlin evenly?

(If it helps for comparison, with 4 nights each in Budapest, Vienna and Prague recently, I couldn't get enough of Budapest and definitely want to return for a longer trip, Prague was touristy and Disney-esque, and Vienna was worthwhile but not worth repeating.)
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Old Sep 18th, 2015, 07:22 AM
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Five nights in Krakow with a stop in Warsaw should be adequate. I had three nights in Krakow. I loved the city, wouldn't have minded spending one more day but it didn't feel like a mistake not to. You seem to have your items picked to see there - sounds about right then.

I also spent three nights in Gdansk including a day trip to Malbork castle (highly recommended, easy to visit from Gdansk by train), and I felt that was about right too.

I also spent a night in the beautiful town of Torun, which you could do as a day trip from Gdansk, but with three nights that's probably more than you'd want to do.

Berlin is HUGE and spread out, and it is time consuming to see everything you might be interested in. Some people love Berlin, but I wasn't crazy about it as a city; but there are plenty of interesting things to see, of course.
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Old Sep 18th, 2015, 08:18 AM
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Gdansk is great - had three nights there with a day-trip to Malbork in the winter and could have done with another 1/2 day or so, which you'll effectively have if you go in spring or summer (days longer, stuff open later, etc).
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Old Sep 18th, 2015, 08:48 AM
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"I couldn't get enough of Budapest and definitely want to return for a longer trip, Prague was touristy and Disney-esque, and Vienna was worthwhile but not worth repeating.)"

I've been all three places (Budapest twice) and have similar feelings, so that may help when you hear my comments. Of the five places you list, I've only been to two--Krakow (twice so we obviously liked it and felt a return trip was warranted) and Vilnius. You may want to click on my name to read my Lithuania trip report. We rented an apartment there.


The biggest thing that jumps out at me when looking at your tentative itinerary is that you are only including larger cities. In all of these areas there are other, very interesting places that are not so well-known. I'd definitely try to include some of these smaller places rather than only focusing or the larger towns/cities.
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Old Sep 21st, 2015, 04:22 PM
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Thanks Andrew, BigRuss and Julies. I had seen and bookmarked your trip report, Julies; it was important in helping us decide to include Vilnius. We prefer to travel in Europe without a car, so I could try to incorporate smaller towns by venturing out from these main bases.

I have reworked the itinerary into this:

Fly Rome to Riga - 3 nights
Bus to Vilnius - 3 nts
Fly to Krakow - 5 nts
Train to Warsaw - 2 nts
Train to Gdansk -3 nts
Fly to Berlin - 6 nts
Fly home from Berlin after 22 nights (already booked)

It still feels like a lot of moving around, even for 22 nights. Still considering whether to skip Warsaw, or maybe just do 1 night there at a hotel by the train station.

Does this look like a better plan?
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Old Sep 21st, 2015, 04:48 PM
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Yes, better, IMO!

In contrast to most Fodorites, I'm not bothered by frequent relocations, and often plan on not just overnight stays, but multiple consecutive one-night stays! But then, I travel solo, and that makes a difference....

"Still considering whether to skip Warsaw, or maybe just do 1 night there...."

Many people seem not to like Warsaw. While it is not my favorite city by any means, I was glad that I saw it. Questions to consider: Will you ever be in the area again? Will you regret skipping it? What are you giving up to make time for it? How much more time will it take to get there and beyond, in comparison to the time it will take to get from Krakow to Gdansk? Have you identified specific things you would want to see if you go to Warsaw, and have you confirmed that those things will be open on the days when you would be there?

Hope that helps!
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