Prague or Budapest

Old Feb 8th, 2010, 10:40 AM
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Prague or Budapest

I am looking into an extended vacation in a European city in the fall and have narrowed it down to Prague and Budapest. I haven't been to either city but have heard great things about both. I have decided to temporarily rent an apartment and travel to other cities in between exploring my "base" city. Most people have expressed a preference for Prague but is the city big enough to explore for a few months?
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Old Feb 8th, 2010, 11:54 AM
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I like Prague a lot, some here prefer Budapest..
Neither one is Paris or London ( big enough to explore for a few months, full of great museums, galleries etc)... depends where you wish to travel from your "base", what language or culture interests you more, what are the connections to the rest of the country or Europe..
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Old Feb 9th, 2010, 04:05 PM
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Both are about equal for things to do, I think it really comes down to the "feel" of each city.

Prague is more compact with a definite center. It really is a beautiful city, it's medieval and beautifully preserved turn of the century archicture having survived WWII intact. Prague is also very touristy and can be mobbed in the high season. Outside of the center and away from the crowds is more authentic but newer, with less asthetic appeal and less money. There is little trace of communist rule and the whole place is pretty well kept up.

Budapest seems more concerned with day to day life than with attracting tourists, not that it isn't a huge industry (especially near the castle). The whole city has the feel of being a lot seedier than Prague as well. Just walking around you clearly see that money is just returning after nearly a century of neglect. Beautiful public buildings and fantastic parks contrast with blocks of crumbling appartments that would be listed as historic in the USA. Soot seems to be the defining color scheme. To contrast though, people were friendlier here, the nightlife was insane and they have their world famous baths.

Prague is more cultured and contained while Budapest works hard and the traces of communism linger on. Both have hundreds of dark corners to explore if you have the time. Neither one is great when it comes to safety (I have friends who have been shaken down by police and/or mugged in both cities, and corruption is rampant).

In the end I personally would suggest Prague because with a trip lasting months it will afford you more daytrips and better connections to the rest of Europe. And outside Budapest I find Hungary boring. Its very flat.
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Old Feb 9th, 2010, 10:17 PM
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If I had a few months (to me, that is 3 months), I'd split it between Prague, Vienna and Budapest... not like your changing hotels every few nights!

I loved each of these cities but found Prague to be more beautiful and would have liked to spend more time there. But, I also enjoyed Budapest very much. Vienna is good but wasn't my favorite of this trip.

From all of these cities, you can enjoy day or overnight trips to other places. Highly recommend an overnight in Cesky Krumlov! Do the train/boat to Melk Abbey from Vienna, see the wine villages in both Austria and Hungary. Terezin, although not a joyous day will be a sober and memorable day.
And, of course, you can easily see Salzburg, etc. There is so much more that I'm not even going to hit on here.

Gosh, I'm jealous, I would love to have a few months in Europe instead of my annual 2-3 weeks!
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Old Feb 10th, 2010, 09:13 PM
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there is so much to do i think prague is the right place. i have been there four times, the first time it was for a month and i have still not done it all. so much time will be spent just living and shoping. i had a appartment in prague and i would back a small pack and i want on weekend trips to budapest, munich, and cities in czech rep. its in the center of it all! i even stayed in some hostles in the city center just to meet other travelers.
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Old Feb 11th, 2010, 05:12 AM
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Another vote for Prague. hayestrip's descriptions of both cities is right on the money.

Though there were parts of Budapest that I found to be truly beautiful, there are also large blocks dominated by dark grey, grim, communist-era structures - reminded me of Gestapo headquarters. It's the only place in Europe that I've visited where I'd say "no thanks" if presented with an opportunity to return.

Prague is drop-dead gorgeous, but we did run into more cantankerous locals there than any other European city we've visited. Go and see the old town square to get a few pictures and a feel for the place, but don't eat or drink there unless you like to pay 4x more than you'd have to if you went a block or two away. The place is so beautiful though, that I'd return in a heartbeat. And the beer is spectacular!
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Old Feb 11th, 2010, 07:12 AM
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Loved Budapest - I like that it's not pristine. You really get a sense of its history. I loved seeing the restored buildings as well as those that need a good cleaning. There's a depth there that a more pristine city doesn't have, IMO.

Statue Park has Communist era statues and we really enjoyed ourselves. It's a bit away from the city center - they sent all these statues there to get them out of the city proper. Guess they don't want to be reminded. But so glad they didn't get rid of them completely. They are monumental and very fine sculptures.

Also went to opening night at the Ballet. They did a full length ballet of "Gone with the Wind"!! That was an eye opener!

Would go back again for the "real" feeling. (Also, the rates are great.)
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Old Feb 11th, 2010, 07:16 AM
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Oooops just realized you're gong to be there for a couple of months. We did a two day trip to Eger by train from Budapest. Why not move around 2-3 cities, rather than stay only in one city? After all, you have so much time.
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Old Feb 11th, 2010, 08:03 AM
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I also vote for Prague, Budapest and Vienna. Staying in each for a period of time would let you see everything about the cities and around the areas.
You could still get an apartment in each city.
I loved Prague and Budapest when I went in December and I am going back to Prague in the spring to see it without snow but I really liked Budapest also and would not want to pick just one.
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Old Feb 14th, 2010, 10:17 AM
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Is Budapest getting better? Ar there restored, lived in neighborhoods? Don't mean the Castel District in Buda. I have been to Prague tghree times and we are going back soon. There are places I have not seen on the fringes of the old city, Vinorhady,Baba, etc.
also Dresden is not to be missed. You can take a trams through the Elbe Valley sout of the center. There are thousands of turn of the century villas old subrban towns on the hillsides. also the resurrection fo the Frauenkirche and the entire Neumarkt district which surrounds it is uplifting
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Old Feb 14th, 2010, 12:51 PM
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East Berlin - "Is Budapest getting better? Ar there restored, lived in neighborhoods? Don't mean the Castel District in Buda. "

Of course! We saw many building being cleaned and restored and turned into housing. Also, not sure if tourists go to the neighborhoods that are "lived in", (where people actually live?) in Prague.

But again, Budapest is not pristine. You really feel its history. I found it wonderful.
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Old Feb 14th, 2010, 01:09 PM
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"Also, not sure if tourists go to the neighborhoods that are "lived in", (where people actually live?) in Prague."

I stayed in a residential area Vinohrady and found it great. I understand it is an upscale area, but there are many places in Paris, Rome, London, Venice etc.., where people actually live and tourists never venture.
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Old Apr 9th, 2010, 08:12 AM
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hayestrip: Mostly I agree with you, but as a hungarian from Budapest I'd choose definitely my city
One comment though on your thought about Hungary beeing boring. Have you been at lake Balaton, one of the biggest lakes of Europe? Have you been around Eger and Tokaj, where the world famous wines are produced? Or at Hortobàgy? There are many interesting and beautiful places in Hungary, believe me.
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Old Apr 9th, 2010, 08:15 AM
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beeing -> being
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Old Apr 13th, 2010, 09:05 AM
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Hi, just a quick comment, i have been living a few years in the area, and 1.5 years in prague, one year in Wien and a few years now in Budapest (as well in Florence and Barcelone but that is different story).

Now, in my opinion Prague is one of the unique cities that everyone has to visit at least once, in the same category like Firenze, Venice etc. As it has been saved from demolision in wars for several hundred years (as more or less only area in central europe from warsaw to budapest)and consequently it is in fabulous condition and has amazing architecture from medieval to belle epoque, when almost all other cities, warsaw of course about worst but also Budapest suffering quite a lot. Budapest luckily has suprisingly lot of it either saved or restored considering that it was indeed battlefield even in 2nd WW a few times.

Prague is really a golden city for a reason.

Both of them are spectacular cities, personally i find the view in Budapest center even more majestic with Danube splitting the city in two. Budapest has also lot of fantastic architecture that is either nicely restored or is about to be restored. It has also very fancy new architecture and quite lot of old communist one as well, although not so much in city center. Outside of old town also the Prague is less than polished, i think especially last years had made it a bit dirtier than it used to be (i just spent there long weekend meeting friends).

As to city to live i think Budapest wins hands down, it is much more active (if you exclude touristic activities as Prague center is so full of tourists that you can hardly walk sometimes, including less than exciting british lads looking for striptease clubs), it has very good night life as well as cultural life offering everything from experimental theater to world class opera. Not that Prague would not have great cultural offering as well, but it is more tourist oriented than art oriented (in my opinion).

In terms of weather Bp is better, if you like sunny and warm weather (hot in july-august), Prague is clearly colder.

So as touristic destination Prague is "must", everybody has to see the "golden city" at least once. We are all lucky that it has survived over the centuries of warware in the middle of the europe. But long term living and enjoying life i like Budapest better, so i personally i would chose (as i have..) BP as the base as Czech republic is just a 4-5 hours by train-car anyhow. Both countries have great places to see out of capital.

From Prague the connections to north-northwest are better but budapest have better connections to austria-croatia-italy etc as it further to south.

Wien, well, that has maybe the best cultural life of all and is about cleanest and best organized cities in the world but it is also significantly more expensive so just for normal life you end up spending considerably more than Bp or Prg. Anyhow, Wien is just 2hrs away from BP. In terms of countryside and places to visit out of Wien, Austria is fabulous, breathtaking scenary, beautiful cities and skiing etc. But it is very easy to reach from either city.
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Old Aug 1st, 2010, 02:21 PM
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Szcsongor, thanks for your suggestions! I'm going to be traveling through again next year and I'll definitely check them out. It's always best to get ideas from people who actually live there.
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Old Dec 10th, 2010, 01:02 AM
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Prague and Budapest.... the answer is BOTH

Prague is very pristine and outside the beautiful city center and old town is sort of boring, budapest is more massive and more rough, many parts still give you the feeling of the cold war era, with the commie blocks and so.....

I must admit I liked Budapest more, because I love history.... ad pristine is not always my thing! In Budapest you sort of feel the history...... some parts are beautiful some are falling apart which makes for a very artistic city!
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Old Mar 18th, 2011, 06:12 AM
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hayestrip: szcsongor is totally right, that "flat area" is wonderful, and of course its not boring at all. if you will rent a car, and go through Hortobágy (for example on the way to Debrecen) , you will be amazed
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Old Mar 18th, 2011, 06:48 AM
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Prague is a favorite and as others note, there are good opportunities for interesting day trips from the city.

Here is an off the wall idea though. Do you need any dental work done? Budapest promotes dental tourism. The quality of the work is high and the prices are fraction of what similar procedures would cost in the US.
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