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Central Europe tour or plan it myself

Old Jan 17th, 2014, 04:39 PM
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Central Europe tour or plan it myself

I am planning on going to Europe this May and would like to go to Germany, Poland , Czech , Hungary , and Austria. I have looked at tours with Gate 1, Globus, Cosmos, and Gap Adventure. Any everyone ever travel with one of these companies? Would you use a tour company or just plan it your self?
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Old Jan 17th, 2014, 05:10 PM
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We almost always do our own planning and travel on our own. However, we did take a one-week tour with Cosmos some years ago and, as tours go, it was fine for the price. Are you traveling alone? Have you been to Europe before? Length of your trip? Are you interested in renting a car and driving? Come back with more details and I'm sure you will get some help.
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Old Jan 17th, 2014, 05:15 PM
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I took a Globus tour once and would never book one of their tours again.

Five countries in four weeks is a lot of traveling. You should narrow your scope to particular areas or towns to get the most out of your time.

I wouldn't use a tour company for these countries as it's easy enough to plan your own trip.
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Old Jan 17th, 2014, 05:31 PM
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Adrienne, I don't think the OP told us how long he/she has for the trip. Perhaps you assumed "in May" to mean "all of May". I would not make the same assumption.

Travel- You are actually asking two separate questions. One- has anyone used these companies/can recommend? Two- Would we go with a tour or plan our own?

Frankly, I have never taken an entire vacation with a tour company. I have hired private guides for a single-day trip or for certain sites in certain cities. Otherwise, I plan all my own travel.

Depending on what these "tours" consist of might be the deciding question. Many "affordable" tours include lots of time on a bus and hotels that our well outside of city center.

I would ask how much time you have and what cities you want to see in all these countries? Along with, how is your health (can you carry your own luggage/any mobility issues?) and where is your budget at?
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Old Jan 17th, 2014, 06:00 PM
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Many of us have found it quite easy to visit these places independently. You do not need to consider a tour unless that is your preference.
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Old Jan 17th, 2014, 06:00 PM
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Yes, I was assuming that the trip covers the entire month of May because the OP wants to visit 5 countries. If the trip is less than a month then I would seriously cut back on the geographical area.

Anyway, I answered the original 2 questions.
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Old Jan 17th, 2014, 06:39 PM
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We took Cosmos’ Central Europe tour 14 years ago, so it might have changed since then, but I can tell you something about our experience.

The trip covered Berlin, Warsaw, Krakow, Budapest, Vienna, Prague, Munich, and the Romantic Road. We spent two nights in Berlin, Warsaw, Krakow, Budapest, and Prague. We had included inside visits at the Jasna Gora Monastery and Auchwitz and lunch stops at Weimar and Poznan. We stopped for about an hour on the Romantic Road at Nordlingen, and for about three hours in Rothenburg, where we concidentally encountered two high school bands from the U.S. playing in the central square. In Prague, we calculated that we walked about 8 miles one day. Although the days were full, we did a fair amount of time just to explore on our own and to sit around and enjoy the major squares and pedestrian centers of the cities we visited. We also enjoyed the companionship of our fellow travelers (although there was, as I think is common, one or two PITAs among our group).

On “getaway” days we were typically on the bus by about 7:30 a.m., and on the second day in a city we typically left the hotel around 8:00 or 8:30. The tour guide was a young Hungarian woman who was excellent (however, we’ve found that you can never predict how good a tour guide will be). The bus was comfortable and had an emergency “loo.” On the road, the bus typically stopped every two hours or so. Hotels were adequate (the east had just opened up a decade before and facilities for tourists weren’t too good yet) and usually located away from the center, but close to public transportation if you wanted to go to the center. Hotel meals were also just adequate, but we did have opportunities to eat in local restaurants, and had one of the best (and least expensive) meals in our lives at a restaurant in Budapest where neither we nor the restaurant personnel spoke the other’s language.

The tour typically delivered us to a city and gave us an included orientation tour. However, to really get a “feel” for the city, you either had to take some of the optional tours or do things on your own. We did a number of the optional tours (such as a Chopin recital in Warsaw, a visit to a salt mine in Krakow, and a gypsy dinner and dance in Budapest), which added immensely to our enjoyment. I would say these increased the cost of the tour by about 65-70% over the land portion of the tour.

We wanted a tour on which we would be able to see the major highlights of the eastern European cities we had heard so much about, and we were not disappointed.

If you want a nice leisurely vacation where you can go at your own pace and you don’t mind planning and doing the logistics involved in a European trip, then a tour is probably not for you.

However, if you don’t want to do a lot of planning and understand what a bus tour involves, then maybe that kind of experience would be what you’re looking for.

Either way, you should know the pros and cons of both independent travel and bus tours, and then decide which one best suits you and your needs.

However you go, eastern Europe is a great place and I hope you have a great trip.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2014, 04:09 PM
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Travel1999,

my husband and myself have also been looking at tours. I have thought about this for quite some time. We are seniors and at this point to travel on our own is not something we want to do. I think it is important to know how much you want to see in the time frame you have to work with. We have been at odds between a river cruise or a regular tour. DH just does not think he would like a river cruise. I am looking at 11 days with several days in each city, I think this would work best for us. 3 days in Budapest, 3 in Vienna 3 in Prague 11 days total I would rather spend more time in one city then just drive through more cities but see less. I am not totally thrilled to be on a bus any longer than 11 days. Budapest is high on my list of cities to see. Good luck.
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Old May 7th, 2014, 08:58 AM
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I think taking tours are a great way to get to the know the city. Usually, I book a 3 hour walking guide just to get the basics. Places to eat, important sites to visit and some local tips. I find it is a great value and gets you feeling like a local.

Good luck there!
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Old May 7th, 2014, 10:34 PM
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I traveled around Austria,Czech Republic and a little of Germany last year, I found it extremely hassle free and easy to travel, it's easy, no matter what your budget is, even with a lower budget one could travel easily. It's easy to book train tickets, easy to travel around the town(s),easy to book hotels and people on this forum can always help you with your itinerary.
You can have a look at my trip report here,: http://ashwinbahulkar.wordpress.com/...ia-and-prague/
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