Last Minute (sort of) Eastern Europe


Oct 3rd, 2016, 03:35 PM
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Last Minute (sort of) Eastern Europe

Found a super good flight Seattle to Munich and despite not having the year I normally take to plan a trip, I pressed the purchase button. Now I am reading as much as possible as quickly as I can but figured I would ask the experts for help. We fly Delta on November 27, returning December 19. We are slow travellers and will want to plan for a "city" trip in anticipation of winter weather. We plan on Munich and Salzburg but are stymied on where else to visit and what order makes sense. These are the cities on our bucket list: Vienna, Budapest, Prague, Berlin. We would like to take the train but are willing to drive to areas outside the city for sightseeing or outdoor activity. We normally spend 7-10 days in a city (retired) but willing to limit to 5 in order to see more of Eastern Europe. Please give us feedback on a loop that might make sense.
Many thanks.
cindyjo is offline  
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Oct 3rd, 2016, 04:23 PM
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First question: Did you book the return flight to be also from Munich? That limits you of course, but I guess it's too late to make it an "open-jaw" ticket that would let you fly home from maybe Budapest or Prague?

At the rate of 6-7 days per city you will have to curtail the wish list a bit. But you knew that.

Once you've spent a couple of days in Salzburg (a week is too long at that time of the year), Vienna suggests itself.

Now count the days: You get in on Nov. 28, spend maybe six days in Munich, on Dec. 5 you train to Salzburg (timetables at, on Dec. 8 it's on to Vienna.

You won't need a car unless you really really want to get out into the sticks, and why would you at that time of the year?

Vienna is a capital of high culture - if music, opera and such does it for you, you'll be in heaven. And the historic buildings etc. can take up a lot of time to visit. Evenings are dark, the sun sets at 4PM.

In the area, easily accessed by public transport, are gems like Linz, Passau, Melk, and more. Hope for good weather so that they show themselves from their best sides...

For the next and last city - four hours on the train get you to Prague, 2 1/2 hrs to Budapest. Which will it be?

To get back to Munich (without taking a cheap flight that you might find at or or, by train it will take you a bit under six hours from Prague and around 7 hours from Budapest. So you'll definitely need to book a night in Munich for the 18th.

There would be other routes to consider, of course - heading west and north from Munich for example, for gems like Ulm, Nürnberg, Würzburg, Bamberg etc., but none of those would warrant a 6-7 day stay.

You could base yourselves in, for example, Nürnberg for a week and make day trips to some of these - that could be a nice way of doing it. Look at a map and you'll see what I mean. German trains are at
michelhuebeli is offline  
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Oct 3rd, 2016, 04:57 PM
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Based on your bucket list, I'd suggest this loop by train:
Munich --> Salzburg --> Vienna --> Prague --> Berlin --> Munich

Whether you want to squeeze in Budapest between Vienna and Prague is up to you. I agree that 3 days in Salzburg will be sufficient.
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Oct 3rd, 2016, 06:11 PM
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It might be helpful for us to know more about your interests and why these particular places are on your destination wish list.
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Oct 3rd, 2016, 06:32 PM
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I would do this trip by train, given the limited hours of daylight and your desire to be based in cities. you can take a bus or train out to visit other sites.

You have 21 days not including your travel days.

Reading54's suggestion makes sense if you are flying in and out of Munich. Think about how many times you want to change accommodations and the time you will need to travel from place to place.

take a look at for information about train travel including various time table changes that go into effect on December 11.

Once at the station : Munich to Salzburg, hourly train, takes about 2 hours; Salzburg to Vienna about 2 1/2 hours; Vienna to Prague about 4 hours; Prague to Berlin about 4 1/2 hours; and Berlin to Munich is at least 6 to 6 1/2 hours depending on the train you take.

If you are flying in and out of Munich, spend your last night in Munich.

You can see all the major sites in Salzburg in 2 days, 3 days at the most.

Vienna has lots of museums, in addition to concerts and opera. and lots of café when you need a hot drink and a pastry. You can take the subway (UBann) to Schonbrunn Palace, its a 20 minute ride from the center of Vienna, and a short walk to the palace, the tours are timed with the use of audio guides. you could also do a day trip to Bratislava as its an hour away by train.
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Oct 3rd, 2016, 09:41 PM
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As slow travelers with 21 days, 6 destinations, travel time between, and in winter (think cold, damp cobblestones), you have a great deal of planning ahead. All of the destinations will be abuzz with Christmas markets, too, so if wandering amongst them appeals to you that becomes a factor to consider, and plan for, as well.

Across your destinations, many museums will be closed on Mondays, and Austria is generally closed on Sundays (stores and many restaurants). 8 December is a public holiday in Austria, too, though it doesn't affect train travel.

In Vienna, as but one example, touring Schloss Schönbrunn can take a half day with transportation to/from and the palace tour (the gardens in winter are not all that compelling; the fountain will be closed; and walking to the Gloriette will likely not yield the prettiest views). Add to that time to wander its Christmas market, and it's easy for the best-planned itinerary to go awry.

I hope this is helpful.
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Oct 6th, 2016, 07:12 PM
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Thanks for the cold water splash! Your comments made me realize it was an impossible plan for us. We usually take longer on trips and I don't think the limits of 3 weeks quite registered.

We now have the following plan and I hope it is somewhat to firmly set.

- Munich 4 nights
- Train to Berlin for 6 nights
- Fly to Munich arriving early morning, pick up rental car and head to Alpenstrasse for 5 nights using Ettal and Berchtesgaden as bases to explore, returning the car to Munich and then train to Salzburg for 4 or 5 nights.
- Train back to Munich in preparation for our departure the next day.

I also wonder if we should spend our last night at the airport as we have an 11am international flight and we are leaving on a Monday. Any thoughts on that one?

Thank you very much for all your comments. They were most helpful in recasting a more doable trip for us.
cindyjo is offline  
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Oct 6th, 2016, 11:22 PM
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Congrats on regrouping, it makes sense! Yes, sleep near the airport (or in the city with easy access to the trains) the night before your flight home, even an 11AM departure requires an early breakfast.
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Oct 6th, 2016, 11:59 PM
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For your style of travel, the itinerary is perfect. I agree with the suggestion to stay near the airport for your final night, too.

Happy Travels!
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Oct 7th, 2016, 06:47 AM
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Well, since I have your ears.....

The Hilton Airport website states that construction for their addition won't be completed until 2017. Does anyone have an idea of how bad it is right now?
Would also appreciate further suggestions for an airport hotel.
Thank you.
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