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Elizabeth_S Apr 11th, 2017 07:02 AM

5 weeks Central Europe in May/June - suggestions welcome
We've decided on short notice to go to Central Europe next month (we're between houses until late June - figure if we have to pay to stay somewhere it may as well be part of traveling!)

Long list of possible destinations include

- Prague (fly in/out of here; pick up rental car)
- Cesky Krumlov
- Brno (our nephew went to a semester of university there and recommends it)
- Krakow (Auschwitz)
- Budapest
- Bratislava
- Zagreb
- Vienna
- Salzburg
- Munich
- Nuremburg

We are committed to a rental car not the train - it's essential for my husband's bad back and we're used to dealing with a car/parking in cities.

I'm assuming 5 nights each in Prague, Budapest and Vienna......looking at the above list it's city-centric so will want to add maybe 5 days in a country location (where we could do day trips -- we don't mind long day trips). Suggestions?

I'm also wondering if we can play it a bit by ear or if we need to have apartments or hotels booked in advance in the major destinations - have had a quick look on and there is decent availability now - any thoughts on that? (our dates are roughly May 8 - June 14)

Heading off to buy guidebooks! TIA for any suggestions

Dogeared Apr 11th, 2017 07:52 AM

There is no problem playing it by ear.

tonfromleiden Apr 11th, 2017 08:44 AM

I've have stayed a few days in Telc in the Moravian part of the Czech Republic. Beautiful village and a nice region for day-tripping, such as to Slavonice.

Elizabeth_S Apr 11th, 2017 08:59 AM

Thanks Dogeared.

tonfromleiden - Wow! What a beautiful village - thanks!

tonfromleiden Apr 11th, 2017 09:47 AM

Yes, ain't it cute? We had a cosy apartment on the square.
Not too far from Brno you'll find the palaces of Slavkov and Bucovice. In the same region Kromeriz is also a surprise.
Try to fit in Olomouc when going from Brno to Krakow. Beautiful city centre with two large and lively squares.

fourfortravel Apr 11th, 2017 09:51 AM

Your timing allows you to benefit with respect to lodging, as most European schools are still in session until the end of June. Living in Austria and with our daughter attending an international school, we take advantage of the last two weeks of June for our family holiday. :)

With five weeks, perhaps take a little time to choose a few places from which to "base," enjoying day outings as inspired. There is no harm in finding lodging now that offers "more," like barbecues or sunny terraces or having other particular features (like laundry); with five weeks of travel, hotel rooms will get old quickly.

Plan an extra 20% for driving times. This part of Europe has lots of road construction going on, especially on the autobahns that were once behind the Iron Curtain. Also plan to carry relevant cash, as your proposed travels will require vignettes, and many WC's require change.

Please don't think of driving in the cities. Many on your list have pedestrian-only zones; there are trams to consider; and, frankly, it's unnecessary. Here in Vienna we only use our car on weekends when we leave the city; and when we travel to Prague or Bratislava or Budapest, or really, any city, the first thing we do is tuck the car into known garages.

I hope this is helpful.

Elizabeth_S Apr 11th, 2017 11:58 AM

fourfortravel - thank you so much for your advice. With respect to cities - we are used to having a car and arriving and dumping it in the nearest parking lot to our accommodation. Then it's foot power!

Just booked our flights - got a good deal from Toronto to Prague with a stopover in Amsterdam for 4 nights on our return home. Very excited now!

okszi Apr 12th, 2017 10:13 AM

Your choice of a rent a car is a perfect option.
As a private guide I am driving quite a lot and you will have ABSOLUTELY no problems in driving around all the cities in your list. Also no problems in Český Krumlov, Kroměříž or any other small towns.
I will never agree with fourfortravel on problems of driving a car in Vienna.
I've been there tons of times since 1995 and sometimes I go there from Budapest a few times a week. ALWAYS takes not more than 10 minutes to find a parking place, even downtown.
Also having a car in Vienna you can easily get to the Schönbrunn Palace or the Donauturm observation deck for excellent views of the city (clear sky is a must of course). Public transportation is not so cheap to say the least in some cities, so the car (even with the parking fees inclusive) saves you a lot of money and you have the most important thing at your disposal:
FREEDOM of Movement, anytime, anywhere:))
Same thing applies for Budapest.
You can leave your car at the heroes square free parking even for the whole day and explore the city from there. On weekends parking is free here, so you can park whenever you want, just watch the No Stopping or No parking Signs.
In Bratislava there a few shopping centers not far from downtown. You can park your car in one of them (some even have free hours). Just check the Googles Maps.
I know, I know, pollution, greener environment, etc, but sometimes you simply want a little comfort if you know what I mean. :))

okszi Apr 12th, 2017 10:21 AM

Oh, almost forgot.
I would definitely skip Zagreb and go to Ljubljana instead.
Also would recommend to visit the little towns on the Czech-Slovakian border, like Lednice, Valtice, Mikulov, the parts of the “The Lednice-Valtice Cultural Landscape “
There is a chance you’ll probably like them more than the over-hyped Český Krumlov”.

5alive Apr 12th, 2017 01:42 PM

We went to Prague and Vienna almost two years ago. Was already posting but didn't finish--and see that another poster also mentioned southern Moravia as a destination. It's just off the freeway between Prague and Vienna--so hardly a detour in time. Mikulov is a nicer, more historic town than Breclav. There is a long Jewish history in the area (one of the most most famous rabbis of the 1500s was from there), and I would have liked to stay longer to see the Jewish baths. There are also wineries in the area. My favorite place was Lednice. It is a phenomenal palace, but the grounds are really incredible.

Not sure if you have gotten any of your lodgings, but you may want to get them in Vienna earlier as it was more expensive and especially on weekends, things can fill up. We were a party of three and mostly preferred apartments. We found a lot more of them and small B&Bs for Czech on than on the other main travel sites.

Since you will have a car, the Klosterneuberg Abbey just outside Vienna (45 min?) is really nice.

kja Apr 12th, 2017 05:12 PM

I think it would be difficult to appreciate all the places you list in the time you have. Five weeks will go very fast! I think trying to prioritize your wish list would serve you well. JMO.

Andrew Apr 12th, 2017 05:15 PM

I agree about going to Ljubljana instead of Zagreb. But if you do visit Zagreb, consider going two hours south to the beautiful Plitvice Lakes National Park - well worth the detour!

kja Apr 12th, 2017 05:55 PM

The Plitvice Lakes National Park is glorious, but ... you would probably want an overnight if you go there. And if you go someplace that far from you starting point, you might want to take advantage of all the time and money you spend getting there to actually see / explore the area, and a trip to Croatia / Slovenia / Mostar / Sarajevo / Kotor can easily take a full month just for the highlights....

Definitely worth considering! But IMO, worth thinking through in advance....

GinnyJo Apr 12th, 2017 06:21 PM

We were very comfortable in this Budapest apartment for 9 nights last Fall; the hosts are wonderful:

If you make it to Belgrade, I also highly recommend this apartment – we were there for 5 nights last Fall. We took advantage of the two full baths to really spread out. If this apartment is booked, there is a mirror apartment next door. Again, really lovely hosts:

For Vienna, we stayed about two blocks outside the inner city in 2015 and returned for a second stay in 2016:

Since you mention your husband’s back condition, one thing I will say about airb&b’s especially in Europe is that often the mattresses are much more flimsy than what you’d typically find in hotels.

Lastly, you don't mention Sarajevo, but if you have any interest in the former Yugoslavia, seriously consider going there.

Leely2 Apr 12th, 2017 07:17 PM

I wasn't crazy about Cesky Krumlov--stayed two or three nights, could have been a one-night stop. But I liked Telc, Jindřichův Hradec and some other towns in southern Bohemia. We had a car as well and toured that area 3 or 4 years ago. Very relaxing. I also thought Prague was terrific.

LOVED Poland (Krakow and Warsaw) and definitely want to return.

Andrew Apr 12th, 2017 07:37 PM

I didn't love Cesky Krumlov, either - and I also had three nights. I had planned to use it as a base for other cities, but it turned out to be not so central to where I wanted to go. I kind of wished I'd stayed only a night. I did day stops in Telc and Jindřichův Hradec, too and liked them both.

Dogeared Apr 13th, 2017 07:38 AM

Ahhhh Andrew, do you realize what you said?

"I kind of wished I'd stayed only a night."

Then why didn't you? I never stay anywhere longer than I want to and try to also never stay anywhere for less time than I want to. It's called winging it.

Any hotel will let you check-in and check-out when you please. I know that's a radical thought for some people but trust me it's true.

I often find a hotel and when asked at check-in, 'how long will you be staying for?', I reply, 'I don't know. Why don't you book us in for a week and if we decide to leave before that, I'll let you know the evening before.'

There is no law that says you must decide up-front how long you will stay anywhere.

Dogeared Apr 13th, 2017 07:48 AM

When Elizabeth_S asks about 'playing it by ear', I take that to mean they do not want to pre-plan everything and prefer to be flexible depending on what they find of interest as they go.

From my perspective, anyone that stays longer than they want to in a place has the wrong idea of how to travel.

Okszi mentions how a car gives you 'freedom of movement, anytime, anywhere.' The same applies to hotels if you have the right mindset. Nothing is making you have to stay somewhere if you don't want to. You just check-out.

Elizabeth_S Apr 13th, 2017 10:39 AM

Thanks for all the great ideas! Off to check out the apartment listings.

Re the list of destinations - as mentioned that was the "long list" - to be whittled down!

Have now booked a car - not permitted to enter Serbia so Belgrade is off the list.

Re Zagreb - if we go there we *might* continue on to Plitvice as we have not seen it. We spent a month in Croatia a few years ago and loved it but it was February/March and Plitvice was ice covered. If we play it by ear as we're considering we might do a sprint down from Budapest and then back up to Vienna.

Have now booked a lovely apartment in Prague for the first 5 nights....and an airport hotel for the last night. As advised above I'm considering having hard dates for Vienna to ensure suitable accommodation but otherwise leaving things open for now.

Thank you all for your help!

Elizabeth_S Apr 22nd, 2017 11:36 AM

So I have the first couple of weeks scoped out -

Day 1 - arrive Prague - apartment in Old Town
Day 2 - Prague
Day 3 - Prague
Day 4 - Prague
Day 5 - Prague
Day 6 - drive to hotel near Auschwitz
Day 7 - visit Auschwitz
Day 8 - drive to Krakow
Day 9 - Krakow
Day 10 - Krakow
Day 11 - drive to Budapest
Day 12 - Budapest
Day 13 - Budapest
Day 14 - Budapest
Day 15 - Budapest

At this point we have are exactly half way through our nights before we return to Prague to fly to Amsterdam.

Next I am leaning towards backtracking a bit back into Czech Republic and spending some time in a rural area setting as we've had pretty much all cities up until now - perhaps as many as 6 nights. From that base we'll do day trips. (looking at Telc area).

I know we'll want 4-5 nights in Vienna and then up to Prague via Munich (possibly staying there but have been there) and stopping in Nuremberg (definite).

Still pondering itinerary - haven't booked past Auschwitz and still may not (other than Vienna)...... comments appreciated.

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