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College student's first Europe trip: Rome/Florence vs Prague/Budapest?

College student's first Europe trip: Rome/Florence vs Prague/Budapest?

Old Feb 18th, 2018, 11:18 AM
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College student's first Europe trip: Rome/Florence vs Prague/Budapest?

Hello everyone! I am a college student traveling to Europe for the first time this spring. I'll be studying abroad at a university in England from April to June and wanted to do a week of traveling before the term begins. I am torn between going to Italy (Rome and Florence) or Eastern/Central Europe (Prague and Budapest). Rome and Florence seem like the classic choice for a first-time trip to Europe and I would be thrilled to go to Italy, but I am worried about expenses - prices for food and attractions seem very high. I wonder if I should go there later in life, when I'll have more money to blow and maybe could enjoy it more fully. However, it seems somehow wrong to go to Europe and not see Italy! I've wanted to visit eastern Europe for a while now - I'm very interested in its history and culture, particularly seeing the remnants of Communism.

We'll be traveling from around the end of March through the first week of April - 9 days total. This will include Easter.

I will be traveling with my boyfriend, so we can split AirBnBs to get fairly cheap accommodation in either place.

Could any more seasoned travelers give me advice on this decision? I'd also appreciate tips on how to not break the bank traveling through Italy, too!

Thank you so much.
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Old Feb 18th, 2018, 11:42 AM
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Either would work and can be done on a budget. The main issue would be Rome over Easter when things are more crowded and more expensive - plus a lot of the cheaper accommodations will already be booked up but still doable. You have all sorts of choices -- if these are the two main regions that interest you then basically flip a coin.
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Old Feb 18th, 2018, 11:53 AM
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Staying in hostels can also be an inexpensive way to travel and a nice way to meet other travelers. Both locations are worthwhile - you may need to flip a coin. You may well have other opportunities to travel when you are studying abroad as airfares can be quite inexpensive on airlines such as RyanAir or easyJet. Save every penny now!
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Old Feb 18th, 2018, 12:35 PM
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Remnants of commie days vs remants of classical Rome's days? Much better weather in Italy at that time and not sure overall costs will be that much lower in those two cities than in Italy - especially if you use airbnbs or hostels and do own cooking and have an ISTC Student Card for free entry or discounts to museums and sights. Available at your university.

Cut down on train fares between whichever two you chose by booking your trains far in advance online yourselves - www.seat61.com has tons of advice on that - general info trains in each area- www.ricksteves.com and BETS-European Rail Experts.
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Old Feb 18th, 2018, 02:30 PM
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I would go to Rome and Florence, especially as a uni student. They are much more intoxicating and there is a greater emotional and intellectual connection. We have been Italy many times but once to Prague and Budapest. To give you an idea of the political climate in Hungary, yesterday their PM claimed Hungary was the last bastion of hope for Christianity in Europe against Islam.

Some hints on saving money:
If you are checking in your bags take forks, knives, spoons, and a wine opener. We carry a back pack and while we walk the city we buy cheese, meat, bread, chocolate, wine, etc and have a feast back in the room at night. In Florence and Rome just have gelati every time you pass one, you will not be sorry, And if you just have carry -ons, scramble for utensils.

Lunch is a cheaper meal.

See what days the museums might be free.

I am sure others have told you, while the cheap-o airlines like Ryan and Easyjet are reliable, they have more rules than a cloister for nuns and fine you every time you slam the door.
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Old Feb 18th, 2018, 02:45 PM
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Originally Posted by minna1 View Post
it seems somehow wrong to go to Europe and not see Italy! I've wanted to visit eastern Europe for a while now - I'm very interested in its history and culture, particularly seeing the remnants of Communism.
My advice: Go to the place that has the greatest pull for you! I didn't go to Italy until my 6th international trip. I had always wanted to see it, but I wanted to see other things more.
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Old Feb 18th, 2018, 02:58 PM
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I too would choose Rome and Florence and leave the others to a time when you've gotten to know Europe a bit. Rome and Florence would ease you into Europe, IMO, instead of flinging you into uncharted territory.

I can't see prices in Italy being a shock if you're going to be based in England, which I invariably find expensive.
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Old Feb 18th, 2018, 05:47 PM
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The only thing I dislike about Florence is people like us-tourists. When you are near El Duomo, you do not hear any Italian being spoken and feels like a football stadium just emptied.
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Old Feb 18th, 2018, 05:50 PM
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Thank you for all of your help! I think I've decided on Italy. I'll book the train from Rome to Florence (and transportation from Florence to the Pisa airport from which I'll head to London) in advance. @IMDonohere - the tips on buying a feast at the grocery store and not skimping on gelato were very helpful - we love our tasty food!
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Old Feb 18th, 2018, 06:41 PM
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If you want to climb the Leaning Tower as you're passing through Pisa, you need to make a timed reservation. There is a bag check at the Tower, or you can use the bag check at the Pisa Centrale train station.
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Old Feb 18th, 2018, 08:32 PM
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@IMDonohere - the tips on buying a feast at the grocery store and not skimping on gelato were very helpful - we love our tasty food!

Thanks, we have been doing for decades. And even though we can now afford to eat at better restaurants now, it is still one of my favorite meals. The freakin gelati is addictive. I remember one day in Florence we had it four different times.
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Old Feb 26th, 2018, 11:45 AM
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We just got back from Prague, and I will say it was the most party place I have ever been to! Now, I'm old (48) but my 18 yo and 23 yo had a GREAT time!! Plus, it was actually one of the most beautiful places I have ever been (2nd only to Venice). Prague was also VERY cheap (food, drinks, etc). Hope that helps!
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Old Feb 26th, 2018, 02:01 PM
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If Prague is Party Central then Amsterdam must be a bit more than that. Of course legalizing for all practical purposes cannabis and having coffeeshops in which to legally smoke it helps but also a very active music scene and everyone speaks English it seems.
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Old Feb 26th, 2018, 03:31 PM
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I would have also suggested Rome and Florence. But because you'll be studying in England, plan to take RyanAir or EasyJet to Prague and Budapest for the weekend (ideally, two separate weekends). If you're like my 22yo son, you can fit a weekend of clothes in a backpack and fit within the those airlines' rules. Yes, I would agree that Prague is party central especially for the younger crowd (IMHO even more so than Amsterdam), but if you like history and culture, you can find it there, too.
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Old Mar 1st, 2018, 05:31 AM
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Hi, I recommend you to make Segway or E-scooter tour in each cities. I've done this in Rome, Prague and Budapest, they were very fun and knowledgeable. You can visit more places with this tours and save up more money to make them separate. You can easily find this tours in Rome and Budapest but its hard to find in Prague. I was riding with company pragueonsegway.com they have guided and non-guided tours on E-scooter and Segway which covers all historical city.
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Old Mar 2nd, 2018, 04:12 AM
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Let's Go Europe is a great guidebook for younger folk to have - insights on hostels and entertainment for your age, etc.
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Old Mar 2nd, 2018, 06:35 AM
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Try Ibiza for partying.
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