Central Europe Trip Planning

Dec 16th, 2015, 09:04 AM
  #1  
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Central Europe Trip Planning

Hello Folks, I'm a 38 year old male solo traveller. I'm interested in seeing Old Europe- music, architecture and arts- and accordingly, need a little help with planning a trip through Central Europe. I basically have about 38 days, and I want to see the major cities of Italy- Rome, Florence and Venice, plus Austria - Salzburg and Vienna, Budapest in Hungary and Prague in the Czech Republic. In between, i would like to hop across to the Romanian city of Timisoara, which is right across the border from Hungary.Please let me know if this plan is do-able within the 38 days if i want an unrushed experience. If any of you feel i need to subtract something from this itinerary, could you please let me know which one to knock off. This is my first trip through Europe, so I'm also looking for tips on where to get inexpensive accommodation and how to best optimize travel..Would be grateful for route suggestions and any other travel tips. Cheers!!
Jay3008 is offline  
Dec 16th, 2015, 09:11 AM
  #2  
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Oh, just one really important point I missed out. The trip is from mid Feb to end March. Would appreciate comments on the direction the trip should take based on the weather as well.. Thanks Again!!
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Dec 16th, 2015, 10:10 AM
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Start in the farthest south and move north - March can still be dicey in northern-central Europe so start in Italy - fly into Rome and work your way to Austria, Czech Republic and Hungary - side-stepping over to Timsoara (where I stayed long long ago and felt it was one of the better cities in then commie Romania - large student town - fly back from Budapest or Vienna.

Trains are the only means of travel a solo person should consider if going mainly to large cities which novice travelers tend to understandably want to do - cars are useless in large cities and urban transports so so good. With that much train travel look at the Global Eurailpass valid on all those countries - even into Romania and in all your countries except Italy you can hop on most trains anytime - just show up - such fully flexible tickets often cost a fortune.

and if over 25 years old the pass is automatically first class - a huge benefit IME over 2nd class in most countries - often a lot of empty seats so you can just show up and hop on - 2nd class is often fairly full or SRO at times.

For lots of great info on European trains and passes check out these IMO superb sites: www.ricksteves.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com (check out their free online European Planning & Rail Guide for loads of rail-oriented itineraries in all countries and www.seat61.com.

To save day time travel time and the cost of a night in an accommodation you could take overnight trains on several of your legs.
PalenQ is offline  
Dec 16th, 2015, 12:36 PM
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Actually talking about railpasses -- instead of the Global Eurailpass you may consider doing discounted tickets in Italy (www.trenitalia.com) and then using the Eastern European Railpass, which is much cheaper per day than the Eurail and also has a 2nd class option should you want to economize even more.

The Eastern European Railpass covers trains in Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland - but the cheap ticket from Hungarian border to Timsoara and deep discounted tickets in Italy and it all may give you more unlimited travel days in those other countries besides Italy at a cheaper price. Can also hop any train virutally in the countries covered (some domestic Hungarian trains demand reservations before boarding - no problem.)
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Dec 17th, 2015, 05:15 AM
  #5  
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Thats a really detailed reply, thank you. Shall get back to you with more queries.
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Dec 17th, 2015, 06:18 AM
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Before you decide to buy a rail pass (something I have never done in well over a decade of riding trains in Europe), read this:

http://www.seat61.com/Railpass-and-E...m#.VnLQkL-naS0

Definitely travel south to north, but if there is any way you can go later I would do so. See http://www.wunderground.com/ for historical weather.

I do recommend including Timisoara, and if you are going to Timisoara you should also see Szeged in Hungary, and, if possible, Pecs in Hungary and Subotica in Serbia. See: https://mytimetotravel.wordpress.com...a-all-torn-up/ and following posts (links at the top of the page) and https://mytimetotravel.wordpress.com...d-vs-subotica/.

I would add Innsbruck in Austria, the train ride from Venice is very scenic. You have a lot of cities and no countryside, consider stopping off in the Dolomites in Italy or the Alps in Austria.

Print off some blank calendar pages and lay this out day-by-day, including transport time. Use bahn.de for train schedules.
thursdaysd is offline  
Dec 17th, 2015, 08:41 AM
  #7  
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Thank you very much thursdaysd. Much appreciate your detailed reply.
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Dec 17th, 2015, 10:59 AM
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For unlimited train travel for 5 days anytime over a one-month period - chose your days as you go along - the East European Railpass costs $60 a day in first class and $40 a day in 2nd class - it would be hard to beat $40 a day on discounted tickets or would not be much less and then you have all the restriction on changing from a specific train and need to book in advance. And after the base 5 days extra days are just $36 and $30 or so respectively for each additional day - thus much cheaper than a Global Eurailpass for those countries - flexibility to me is key as is first class travel - for others it may not be - cheapest ain't always the best IMO.
PalenQ is offline  
Dec 17th, 2015, 01:32 PM
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The OP doesn't need five days. Plus, from seat61.com:

Salzburg to Vienna: "With Westbahn, a Salzburg-Vienna ticket costs just €24.90 and can be bought on board the train on the day, no prior reservation necessary or possible." Or 19 euro on OBB pre-booked.

Vienna to Budapest: You can buy Vienna-Budapest tickets at the station on the day for €39 (the full-flex price), unlimited availability, no prior reservation required, or you can save money by buying online at www.oebb.at (the Austrian Railways website) with cheap advance-purchase fares from €19 each way in 2nd class or €29 in 1st class - specified train only, limited or no changes or refunds

Budapest to Prague: " Fares start at just €19 in 2nd class or €35 in 1st class if you book online even a few days in advance direct with Hungarian Railways .... Bought on the day, a full-price 2nd class one-way is around €61 but there's an unlimited special offer 4-day round trip price of €49 which you can use even for a one-way trip. This can be bought even on the day of travel."

I wish you would get over this fixation on rail passes.
thursdaysd is offline  
Dec 18th, 2015, 09:19 AM
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with cheap advance-purchase fares from €19 each way in 2nd class or €29 in 1st class - specified train only, limited or no changes or refunds>

what does 'from' mean- a few tickets at that price - what if they can't get the from 19 but from much higher - since you are the expert at such tickets how much chance does one have of getting the from price and if not what would they have to pay.

I suggest your series of discounted (full in Westbahn) tickets may save just a little bit or none if the 'from 19'(sounds like a used car salesman!) - do you understand the concept that I at least like - just heading to the station and boarding any train - what is the total of your tickets for the OP? Hard to figure with that 'from 19' in there - could end up paying more than the pass if the 'from 19' ain't available?

Now if one could save a lot I'd see spending hours often on line to get those tickets but a relatively little then the pass allows you to roll out of the hotel and head to the next train - many discounted tickets are train-specific and if you miss the train then you have to buy at full price.

I always mention www.seat61.com along with the pass and usually save compare prices there etc and tell person to do the maths - I see nothing wrong with mentioning a railpass to consider and no I do not know all the various possible at times iffy discounts for all the trains to compare with the pass - that is the traveler's job - I will continue to give info on passes and tell folks to compare prices as you did and also point out the benefits of a pass - just heading to the station and hopping any train - breaking your journey at any place without penalty, etc.

cheers!
PalenQ is offline  
Dec 18th, 2015, 09:37 AM
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How many people posting here do you really think just wing their trips these days? If you want good hotels you need to book ahead, so there is no reason not to book your transport ahead too. I have only had trouble getting the cheapest prices when I have left it late to book. And even then I don't remember the cost equally a day on a rail pass - but my trips are either fairly short, or overnight, and I certainly wouldn't leave the overnight booking to the last minute.

In any case, this OP only has three train days in Eastern Europe, so a five day rail pass is an obvious waste of money.

I wouldn't have a problem if you just "mentioned" rail passes and linked to the seat61 and Rick Steves pages, but you have to go on, and on, and on. Every time.
thursdaysd is offline  
Dec 18th, 2015, 01:08 PM
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Your do what you like and let others do what they like - no one ever mentions railpasses anymore but automatically says discounted booked in stone often 2nd class tickets are the only way to go - fine but there is for me at least the total flexibility aspect.

and how does the East European Railpass stack up against discounted and full first class fares - I also highly encourage first class travel - something no one else does. I have ridden European trains about yearly since too long to remember - first class is a more relaxed ride, especially if carrying around too much luggage - so how does the pass stack up against first class?

I go on to mention the benefit of the pass - no navigating often bulky web site and yes choosing which train to take once there - do you want to stay an extra half day in some city to see something you did not have time for, etc.

You are being the prescriptive one=- your way or the highway not thinking folks may want total flexibility on trains and also that there is a significant difference between classes. Again I always givbe Man in Seat 61's site and tell folks to do the maths (usually) and if they do they'll find what's best for them - I will continue to go 'on and on' about railpasses so the traveler can make a wise decision - many passes are great deals, especially in first class.

Now would the East European Pass be a good deal if someone wanted first class - you're the self-proclaimed expert on fares so answer this one please.

and think the East European Railpass prices have been the same since the dollar was a $1.40 to the $ - would they have been a good deal then? I mention railpasses without checking all the various discounted fares and tell the traveler to do that.

Now tell me - is the East European Pass a good deal in first class for the OP or others will 5 or more travel days?

Cheers!
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Dec 19th, 2015, 01:50 AM
  #13  
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Thank a lot for your input, guys... I have a question for you both, since you are experienced travellers. I'm basicallly interested in old europe,, history, buildings, museums museums etc.. so how much time do you think i should devote to Italy, Austria, Hungary and Czech Republic in a 40 day trip. Do you think i'm being too ambitious in trying to cover so many countries in 40 days, considering the travel involved? I would like to see Rome, florence, Venice, Innsbruck, Vienna, Salzburg, Szeged, Pecs, Budapest, Timisoara and Prague, before catching the return flight from Rome. Thanks guys... I'm a little overwhelmed here...would appreciate any help possible.
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Dec 19th, 2015, 04:29 AM
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Try plotting this on Google Maps to get a sense of your travel requirements, and look at train schedules to understand how much time will be needed for traveling. Are all of these cities "must see" or can you prioritize? Having an interest in "old Europe" and museums can mean anything; here in Vienna a week could be easily given to "history, buildings, museums;" the same could be said for many of the other cities on your list. I would gather guide books from your library and start identifying what it is you want to see; alternatively, just use the "Top Ten" list for a sampler and plot your travels accordingly.

Also keep in mind that late February/March weather across Central Europe may not be all that tourist-friendly; plus, you'll have the pre- and post-Easter week closings and crowds to consider toward the end of March that could impact lodging.

Good Luck.
fourfortravel is online now  
Dec 19th, 2015, 05:00 AM
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First, you do not want to fly into and out of the same city. backtracking costs time and money. Fly into Rome and out of Prague, for instance.

Second, you need to count nights per city, not days. Two nights gets you one full day of sightseeing. Night trains help, where they exist (they are becoming rare as trains get faster.)

Third, you need to allow time for transit. Maybe you can get a half day's sightseeing in on a travel day (in one of the cities, not both), maybe not.

I lay my trips out on blank calendar pages and then transfer them to a spreadsheet, but there are higher tech methods these days.

You want to see 11 cities, just one day per city and you are already up to 22 nights. Your first post said you had 38 days, now you say 40. Does that include the day you arrive and depart, because they don't really count. As fft says, you need to research the things YOU want to see and do in each of these places, and then figure out how much time you need.
thursdaysd is offline  
Dec 19th, 2015, 08:47 AM
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In any case, this OP only has three train days in Eastern Europe, so a five day rail pass is an obvious waste of money>

OP has 5 travel days in Eastern Europe - Austrian border to Salzburg
Salzburg to Vienna; Vienna to Prague; Prague to Budapest and one to Timsoara (just across Hungarian border) and one back.

And again please respond to the question if one wanted first class travel - which I highly recommend of course - how would the pass stack up against discounted tickets and fully flexible tickets.

thursdays has ignored this simple request after making the charge a railpass is a waste of money - let's see the analysis on first class discounts and if one wants flexibility to hop any train?

I suppose since you can paste and copy from Seat 61 this info there will be none? I suppose you think 1st class is a waste of money too - well many folks will dispute you on that - 2nd class is OK but first class so much more OK - especially again for someone with a lot of luggage.

Waiting for your response to document fully your statement the pass is a waste of money even in first class I guess?

Cheers!
PalenQ is offline  
Dec 19th, 2015, 08:50 AM
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My post included info on first class. I have done all the math I intend to. The OP can do the math relevant to his trip himself. Get over yourself.
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Dec 19th, 2015, 12:35 PM
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Budapest to Prague: " Fares start at just €19 in 2nd class or €35 in 1st class if you book online even a few days in advance direct with Hungarian Railways ....>

What does 'from 19 mean - does it mean they could pay much more - how easy is it to book a 19 euro fare and how long in advance must you do so- same with 'fares start at' - well how high do they go?

Seems one could pay much higher from the language - to really compare prices one has to know exactly what the will pay and as discounted tickets are sold in limited numbers who knows - and what if someone does not want to book weeks/months in advance to get some of those - book in stone?

Point is a railpass can or may not be a good deal depending on a person's desires - to carpet blanketly say 'it's a waste of money' is daft/

You gave some first class fares but none for Salzburg to Vienna and one other I think - you need all the info to make a decision and if the cost of discounted tickets IMO is even remotely close to the pass price go for the pass - no having to get to the station for that train-specific discounted ticket, etc.

Cheers!
PalenQ is offline  
Dec 19th, 2015, 05:35 PM
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With 11 places in 40 days - and allowing 8 or 9 days for arrival/departure days and travel between cities you are allowing 3 days per city. This will work for Innsbruck but really isn;t enough for Rome, Vienna, Budapest and Prague. And that gives you NO days for trips outside any of the cities.

I understand what you want to see - I majored in history and want to see every cathedral, museum, palace, fortress and do walking tours of typical local architecture/neighborhoods - and I would find this trip very frustrating.

Taking the trip in Feb/Mach is good for cultural activities - since they will be in full swing but several of the places you are going can still be in the midst of winter then (snow certainly possible) and your outdoor time can be limited by weather and dark (so sightseeing late into the evening as in summer).

So if it were me I would remove at least 3 places from your list and probably do 2 days each in Innsbruck.

Separately, note that you have not included the UK, France, Bel/Netherland or Germ - which have their own completely different cultures - unless you have already seen those.
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Dec 21st, 2015, 01:25 AM
  #20  
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Firstly , my sincere gratitude to nytraveler, PalenQ, thursdaysd and fourfortravel. Your comments were very helpful, guys!!
Now, nytraveler, you seem to have got a closer feel of what i want to see in those places, so can you tell me how you could go about planning this trip if you were in my place. The timing of this trip is not really in my hands, since i can't get leave any other time. So i just have to live with it, and enjoy the cold as it comes. But other than that, DO you think i should just knock off Czech Republic altogether, since it is the northernmost country.. and focus my attention and time on Italy, Austria and Hungary?
Thank you for your inputs on planning, fourfortravel. I paid heed and have got a couple of guide books to chalk out exactly what i would like to see.
PalenQ and thursdaysd, you guys have totally overwhelmed me!!! I need some time to process all this info you shot out!! I'm interested in the inexpensive option of 2nd Class travel. So, given the itinerary above, would buying a East European Pass work cheaper?
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