Itinerary for Eastern/Central Europe

Aug 28th, 2010, 07:45 AM
  #1  
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Itinerary for Eastern/Central Europe

My 20 year old son and I are planning on taking a trip to Central and Eastern Europe next May and I'm looking for input re my proposed itinerary.

Our goal will be to hit the highlights of each city, but not an exhaustive tour. By and large, we're not real interested in visiting smaller towns unless there's an important site/attraction.

Based on what I've been reading, the itinerary seems reasonable. I'm a little concerned, however, that I may be short-cutting one or two of the cities (e.g. Vienna).

One change under consideration is adding another day in Berlin so that we can make a day trip to Wittenberg (Martin Luther's church, burial place). If we decide to do that, we'll either add another day to the itinerary, or drop a day in Bratislava.

Any comments/suggestions are appreciated.

Proposed itinerary:
Days 1-2: Fly overnight to Berlin; arrive in morning of Day 2
Days 2-4: Berlin
Day 5: Train to Prague, arrive in the afternoon
Days 5-7: Prague
Day 7: Night train to Krakow
Days 8-10: Krakow, including day trip to Auschwitz
Day 11: Train to Warsaw, arrive mid/late morning
Days 11-12: Warsaw
Day 12: Night train to Budapest
Days 13-14: Budapest
Day 15: Train to Bratislava, arrive late morning
Days 15-16: Bratislava
Day 17: Train to Vienna, arrive mid morning
Days 17-18: Vienna
Day 19: Fly from Vienna to US
jkessel is offline  
Aug 28th, 2010, 08:22 AM
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If you only want to see a few sights in each city then your itinerary looks OK. You are light on time in Vienna since you'll only have 1 day and a half but if your hotel is central then you can see quite a few things during that time.

Did you know that the Prague to Krakow night train makes 18 stops along the route? Stopping and starting up again may well interrupt your sleep. You might consider flying from Prague to Krakow to save time and get a good night's rest. Your itinerary doesn't allow any room for "down time."

The Warsaw to Budapest night train makes about the same number of stops.
adrienne is offline  
Aug 28th, 2010, 09:26 AM
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I am planning a similar trip next year and from what I have read Bratislava is not worth spending the night. Many will recommend doing it as a daytrip from Vienna.

Also if you want more time in a city, I would cut out Warsaw and take the night train from Krakow to Budapest. We plan on going to Warsaw but most the reviews I have read seem to say it is not worth it but that is where the night train we need is leaving from.
lindy27 is offline  
Aug 28th, 2010, 01:10 PM
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Travel from Budapest to Vienna, and make the one-hour trip to Bratislava as a day (or half-day) excursion.
DalaiLlama is offline  
Aug 29th, 2010, 01:12 PM
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Thanks a lot for the input. I think I'll drop a night or two in Bratislava, and add to the Vienna stay. Also, I appreciate the warning about the multiple stops on the night trains. I was not aware that they stopped that frequently.

To Lindy27, I considered taking the night train from Krakow to Budapest. From what I could determine, however, it didn't look like the night train ran in May. It supposedly starts running in June for a few months. Let me know if you think that conclusion is wrong. (The Rail Europe website lists the night train but when you try to price it is says that it's not available.)

Thanks.
jkessel is offline  
Aug 29th, 2010, 02:08 PM
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It's going to cost you a lot of money to book with RailEurope so you should either book on the country train site or wait until you arrive to make arrangements. The German train site shows train schedules and stops and is a great resource when planning. You can book trains from Germany using this site and print your voucher. Please note that if you book German trains on the internet you need to bring with you the exact credit card that you used to book and pay for the ticket as you will be asked for it for identification as your name will not be on the paper ticket.

I recently booked a ticket from Frankfurt to Prague and it was very easy to do. The farther ahead you book the cheaper the tickets.

Next May is too far out to price tickets; choose a date within the next 3 months to get approximate pricing and schedules.

http://www.bahn.de/i/view/USA/en/index.shtml

Someone on this board used an agent to book night train tickets from Krakow and the fare was discounted. I'll send her an email and ask her to respond on this thread with the info. She mentioned that 2 tickets in a sleeper were about $150 and RailEurope wanted $175 per ticket. Trains from Poland take a very long time to get anywhere because of the frequent stops.
adrienne is offline  
Aug 29th, 2010, 02:24 PM
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Hi jkessel,

although I've never been to Warsaw when we were in Karkow I met some people who had lived there, and based on what they said, it would be the place I'd miss out.

Perhaps this would be better:

Days 1-2: Fly overnight to Berlin; arrive in morning of Day 2
Day 2 : Berlin
day 3 : Berlin
Day 4: Berlin
Day 5: Train to Prague, arrive in the afternoon
Day 6 : Prague
Day 7: Prague; Night train to Krakow
Day 8: Krakow
Day 9: Krakow
Day 10: Krakow, including day trip to Auschwitz
Day 11: train to budapest
Day 12: Budapest
Day 12: Budapest
Day 13: Train to Bratislava
Day 14: Bratislava
Day 15: Train/hydrofoil to Vienna
Day 16: Vienna
Day 17: Vienna,
Day 18: Vienna
Day 19: Fly from Vienna to US

this gives you 2 nights in Bratislava [enough to see the main sights, I suggest staying at the Hotel Marrol's, which was outstanding and very close to the hydrofoil port] and 4 in Vienna, which is much better than you previous itinerary.

My only comment otherwise is that you are seeing an awful lot of cities, [which can get very samey] and very little countryside. if you stayed longer in fewer places, you might have time to get out and explore a little.
annhig is offline  
Aug 29th, 2010, 05:56 PM
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I also use bahn.de to find train schedules. I can't look to next May, but I looked up through the end of October this year and the night train between Krakow and Budapest was still running. You can find out the exact schedule 3 months in advance.

Last time we were in Europe we booked night trains once we made it to the city we were going to take it from, or about 4 days in advance.
lindy27 is offline  
Aug 29th, 2010, 06:36 PM
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jkessel. First of all for any itinerary which included train travel in Central Europe I would post a question on www.europetrainsguide.com. The advice they gave me has been invaluable.
There is a train from Krakow to Budapest. I am taking it in October. The ticket cannot be booked online by an individual as in Poland that is considered an International ticket and must be booked thorough an agency.
The schedule is available about sixty days out when the promotional fares become available. I consulted both Rail Europe and Polrail who were willing to book my tickets at a price of about $170 per ticket for a second class ticket with a two person sleeper compartment.
The cost of that ticket, could you book it in Krakow 60 days out would be E49. Even if you were able to book it in Krakow a couple of days before travel it would only be about E98.

I decided to book the ticket through an agency in Poland through Paypal for the E49 per ticket and they charge E10 for service charge. I have not as yet received the tickets, it takes two to four weeks for the mail. The total price in $ through Paypal was $155 for TWO tickets. They even offered to send them to the hotel in Krakow. But I decided to have them mailed directly to me.
I can post when I receive the tickets and you might feel more confident booking through them. Europe train guide did not recommend booking through any outside agency. But the cost was so vast between what I paid and what I would have to pay that I took a leap of faith.
If something happens I feel I will be able to protest the charge through Paypal and my credit card which is and has been registered with Paypal.
Sher is offline  
Aug 30th, 2010, 07:03 AM
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I would also suggest you look into some of the discount airlines. We used Easyjet to fly in and out of Berlin, Budapest and Prague.
Snowflake25 is offline  
Aug 30th, 2010, 07:29 AM
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As of now, there really is not easy way to fly from Krakow to Budapest. There are no direct flights on any ailines.
Sher is offline  
Aug 30th, 2010, 07:55 AM
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If doing all that by train, and i think that that is fine - then be sure to look at the European East Railpass, valid in all the countries you are going to -for lots on rail travel and passes in Eastern Europe i always point out these info-packed sites: www.budgeteuropetravel.com; www.ricksteves.com; www.seat61.com. For train schedules for all of Europe i like the German Rail site - www.bahn.de -easiest to use that i have seen - great for planning and to see for example what type of sleeping-couchette cars say overnight trains offer.
PalenQ is offline  
Aug 30th, 2010, 08:06 AM
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I agree with the advice to drop Warsaw, which I found underwhelming. I also agree with the advice to do Bratislava as a day trip, or drop it altogether (sorry annhig!). I'd add the time to Budapest and Vienna - and do some day trips from both.
thursdaysd is offline  
Aug 30th, 2010, 09:51 AM
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I did Bratislava as a day trip from Vienna - about an hour away by rail. To me packing up and unpacking, etc is a dread and if i could combine two overnights into one all the better

Plus though i found Bratislava's historic center all spruced up and nice i did not see much more here than what i did on the day trip - Vienna however has so so many various things to do.l
PalenQ is offline  
Aug 30th, 2010, 09:59 AM
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If possible, I would add a visit to Cesky Krumlov and maybe cut 1 day from Krakow. It is a small town, but a very special one. You might want to consider it, anyway.
Delaine is offline  
Aug 30th, 2010, 11:38 AM
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Folks who have gone to Cesky Krumlov all do RAVE about it - all!
PalenQ is offline  
Aug 30th, 2010, 11:53 AM
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I know that there are flights from Berlin to Budapest. Perhaps you could change the order of your visits to some of the cities. From Budapest you could take a train to Vienna, on to Linz, catch a shuttle to Cesky Krumlov, train or bus to Prague and then to Krakow.
Snowflake25 is offline  
Aug 30th, 2010, 11:54 AM
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Well, not all of them. Pleasant enough, but overrun with tourists. I actually stayed in Ceske Budejovice, better able to absorb the crowds and with a very attractive central square.
thursdaysd is offline  
Aug 30th, 2010, 12:38 PM
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I also agree with the advice to do Bratislava as a day trip, or drop it altogether (sorry annhig!). I'd add the time to Budapest and Vienna - and do some day trips from both.>>

well, i concede that my perference of Bratislava may be something to do with the excellence of the hotel we stayed in - i'd go back just for that! you could certainly gain a night by staying there for one night only - probably not enough to get to know Bratislava well, but well enough. the trip up the Danube on the hydrofoil was fun, even though it had started to rain [and continued to do so in biblical quantities] and would make a change from the train.

and I agree that Vienna has a huge amount to offer.
annhig is offline  
Aug 30th, 2010, 12:54 PM
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<< Folks who have gone to Cesky Krumlov all do RAVE about it - all! >>

It was a nice town but I wouldn't rave about it. And I certainly wouldn't give up a day in Krakow to see Cesky Krumlov.
adrienne is offline  

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