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Salzburg Zell Am See/Vienna/Budapest Prague itinerary help

Salzburg Zell Am See/Vienna/Budapest Prague itinerary help

Old Jun 16th, 2024, 10:00 PM
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Salzburg Zell Am See/Vienna/Budapest Prague itinerary help

Hi all, planning a 20-day trip to Europe this year since DH is finally retiring!
As usual, confused about the time at each destination, & as is typical for me, it is rushed despite being longer than our usual trips.

We arrive in Paris on Sept 1st morning with 3 nights there. We have spent a week in Paris previously so hopefully that will be more chilled.

Sept 4th pm - Flight from Paris to Munich. Walk around Marienplatz, our hotel is quite close. Overnight in Munich.

Sept 5th - Train to Salzburg. Time- TBD. Half day in Salzburg.

Sept 6th - Rent a car in Salzburg. Stay one more night? Or leave in the evening & spend that night in Hallstat or Bad Ischl instead?

Sept 7th Drive to Zell Am, with stops in St Gilgen, Wolfgangsee, Bad Ischl, Hallstat. Spend evening in Hallstat
Continue to Zell Am See

Sept 7th & 8th - Zell Am See (Sept 8th - Drive the Grossglockner?)

Sept 9th - Drive back to Salzburg. Return rental car & take the train to Vienna

Sept 9th, 10th, 11th - Vienna Take the evening train to Budapest on the 12th

Sept 12th, 13th, 14th - Budapest - If we take a morning train to Prague, that's really 2 days in Budapest.

Sept 15th, 16th, 17th - Prague

Sept 18th - 5.45 pm flight from Prague to Paris (not booked yet)

Sept 19th - 6.45 pm flight from Paris

OR Air France flight directly from Prague to Boston at 12.35 pm on Sept 19th with a stop in Paris (flight is on hold for 48 hours) so trying to decide the most efficient use of that one night if we skip the night in Paris, This wasn't available when I booked Paris-Boston.

Although we have 3 nights in each of the last 3 cities, I realize that travel from one to another will take half the day. More in the case of Budapest to Prague.

Please feel free to suggest tweaks in the itinerary or a more efficient way of planning the above! Don't really want to cut out any of the places, but can reallocate as needed. For example, we could do Hallstat & the other stops on the way back from Zell Am See instead of on the way there but then we would not get back to Salzburg until late & Vienna even later.

FYI, we are not much into museums, one in each place maybe, and definitely an opera & ballet. We enjoy shows, good local restaurants, love scenic beauty & are fascinated with architecture so I'm thinking this trip will be a feast for the eyes!

Looking forward to getting the help I always rely on from fellow Fodorites! Have 48 hours to decide on that return flight!!

Thanks in advance.


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Old Jun 17th, 2024, 03:56 AM
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zell am zee, just take the cable car up. Nothing really in the town, just restaurants and walks. Two nights seem over kill but maybe a rest period on a long trip?
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Old Jun 17th, 2024, 05:14 AM
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As you probably know, you can reach all the places on your Austria list by train and bus.

Half a day in Salzburg is giving it serious short shrift. I've spent five nights there on two separate trips and have barely scratched the surface. Lots of interesting architecture...don't miss the Dom Cathedral.

The Salzkammergut can easily be reached by bus from Salzburg - I believe it's bus 150. As can Hallstatt, via train/bus and ferry, albeit a bit more time consuming. Sept 7 looks pretty full on. We visited Hallstatt from St Giglen and would have been hard pressed to properly visit St Wolfgang and Bad Ischl in the same day, but we also visited in winter when days are much shorter. I guess it depends on what you want to do in each place - taking the ferry from St Gilgen to St Wolfgang will be time consuming, as will taking the cable cars...assuming that even interests you.

Keep in mind that parking in Hallstatt can be problematic.
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Old Jun 17th, 2024, 05:14 AM
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Went into moderation. Stay tuned.
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Old Jun 17th, 2024, 05:40 AM
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Having lived in Vienna for many years, and helping refine the, shall I write, enthusiastic itineraries of visiting family and friends, I will share some thoughts.

Without knowing your interests, my first thought is that you are shortchanging Salzburg and the Salzkammergut. By the time you drive and park and walk around you will have experienced very little.

My second thought is that there might be an Almabtriebe (decorated cows coming down from the mountain after the summer season) that is always a delight.

My third thought is to skip Zell am See. Pretentious ski town.

Driving the Gro▀glockner is beautiful. I would stay in Lienz instead.

My final thought is that you are shortchanging Vienna, Budapest, and Prague. You haven't factored the travel/hotel check-in/navigating a strange city times that can suck the life out of a multi-country holiday.
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Old Jun 17th, 2024, 08:55 AM
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As others have said, without knowing your interests it's hard to know where to start.

Some observations....

It looks to me like you've picked a long list of places to check off - been there/done that. Sept 7 as an example...
Drive to Zell Am, with stops in St Gilgen, Wolfgangsee, Bad Ischl, Hallstat

That's enough time in each town to jump out of the car at a stop light, everybody run around the car, and hop back in before the light turns green. Not sure there is even time to park and walk around....

With the number of days you have, I would cut the number of stops/destinations in half, and actually enjoy being where you already are rather than running off to the next place. But that's my own travel style. Only you know what makes the most sense for you.

As for flying back, a one night stop over makes no sense. If you want an extra day in Paris then add it on the front end, otherwise book a connecting flight from Prague through Paris on AF (or some other more direct Prague to home routing if there is one available).


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Old Jun 17th, 2024, 09:11 AM
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Thanks for the quick input! Sounds like I should keep the 2 nights in Salzburg.

The drive to Hallstatt need not have so many stops, these are just places I have seen pics of and look appealing and seemed to be on the way but would appreciate suggestions on what we need to focus on. The other reason was to reach Hallstat late so the crowds are thinning if we get to Hallstat around 4pm. But that may not be enough time in Hallstat...?

We kept 2 nights in Zell Am See because I figured we would be arriving late. And because we want to do the Gro▀glockner on the following day. Was also hoping to have some downtime there to enjoy the lake & the Grand Hotel. Will look up Lienz as well.

I can change the return flight to the one from Prague on the 19th that I have on hold, where should we add the extra night?

Thoughts? TIA!
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Old Jun 17th, 2024, 09:41 AM
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Melnq8, we would have the half day Plus the almost whole next day in Salzburg if we stayed one night there & one night in Hallstat. But that would probably mean cutting out all our stops along the way & driving straight to Hallstat.
OR we could stay the 2 nights in Salzburg & do the day trip to Hallstat as stated above, continuing to Zell Am See the same day, with fewer stops. Did not realize there was a ferry from St Gilgen to St Wolfgang, will not visit Sr Wolfgang in that case.
OR we would stay one night in Hallstat & 1 night in Zell Am See but do not particularly like one-night stays & not sure how we could drive the Grossglockner then!

fourfortravel, the Almabtriebe sounds lovely, hope we get a chance to see it!

Suggestions welcome everyone!
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Old Jun 17th, 2024, 10:51 AM
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How about going straight to Munich and skipping Paris? It seems to be the outlier in this itinerary and it would free up a few days for the Salzkammergut; or, better yet go straight to Salzburg and also skip Munich this time, which gives you an extra night in Salzburg.
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Old Jun 17th, 2024, 12:26 PM
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"That's enough time in each town to jump out of the car at a stop light, everybody run around the car, and hop back in before the light turns green. Not sure there is even time to park and walk around...."

Honestly, that is the most polite way to describe your plans. Believe me, I totally get the desire to tour Europe (again, over our 7 years on the continent we were like kids in a travel candy store), but your approach misses so much.

Slow the entire itinerary WAY down.
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Old Jun 17th, 2024, 02:45 PM
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You're retired! Add a couple of weeks!
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Old Jun 17th, 2024, 03:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Melnq8
You're retired! Add a couple of weeks!
Best idea yet.
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Old Jun 17th, 2024, 03:57 PM
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I agree, too many stops and short-changing Salzburg, Vienna, Prague and Budapest as well as Munich. Agree with the above posters, why fly into Paris but again three nights in Paris would be a nice start to the trip, especially as you have likely seen many of the major sites, but you can never be bored in Paris as so much to see and do. Again we don't know your interests so hard to recommend how to spend your time. Are you interested in going to the Opera in Salzburg or Vienna?
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Old Jun 17th, 2024, 05:32 PM
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I was thinking of doing the Opera in Prague or Budapest & maybe the ballet in Vienna?

Have not got around to planning activities yet, just trying to wrap my head around how to make this itinerary work best! We fly Lufthansa through Munich often so can save Munich for another time hence I only had one night.

We bought Airfrance tickets to Munich with a free 3 day stopover in Paris since DH wanted to revisit. I could book a separate earlier flight from Paris but that would be skip lagging & in any case flights from Paris to Munich on Sept 2nd or 3rd are not cheap.

Perhaps if we go to Zell Am See first directly from Salzburg, we could leave from there early & make it to Hallstat before the crowds hit. Spend a few hours there & still stop at one of the other spots before heading back to Salzburg?

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Old Jun 18th, 2024, 05:29 AM
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Perhaps if we go to Zell Am See first directly from Salzburg, we could leave from there early & make it to Hallstat before the crowds hit. Spend a few hours there & still stop at one of the other spots before heading back to Salzburg?

The drive from Zell am See to Hallstatt is ~2 hours. The only way to "beat the crowds" is to stay the night and enjoy the town before the first tour buses roll in around 10:00 a.m., and then again when the last bus rolls out.
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Old Jun 18th, 2024, 09:42 AM
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Agree that this is...a lot. But others are better equipped to help you narrow as I've only been to some of these places.

I did, however, live in Prague - so wanted to recommend going to the opera in Prague. The opera house is breathtakingly beautiful!
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Old Jun 18th, 2024, 02:25 PM
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You are visiting a lot of truly wonderful places, all of which deserve more time (except Grossglockner, possibly). You might think about what your true priorities are for this trip, concentrate on those, and save the rest for a future adventure. Keep in mind that three nights are 2 days in a city. Whatever you choose, I'm sure you'll have a great time, of course.
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Old Jun 27th, 2024, 08:28 PM
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Hi, added a couple of nights to the itinerary based on comments here
This is what we have now:
Sept 4-7th - Salzburg 3 nights Rent a car on Sept 6th?
Sept 7-9th - Zell Am See - 2 nights
Sept 9th - Hallstat or similar -1 night
Sept 10-13th -Vienna -3 nights Return car in Salzburg on Sept 10th and take the train to Vienna around 4-5pm.
Sept 13-16 - Budapest - 3 nights
Sept 16-20th - Prague - 4 nights

Depart from Prague on Sept 20th. I know it's not much better but can't really increase the number of days anymore.

Just trying to decide if we should do one night in Zell Am See & 2 in Hallstat or a similar town (If not Hallstat, where?) or keep it as per the above itinerary.
I would have preferred doing the night in Hallstat first & then Zell Am See but that gets us to Hallstat on the weekend.

Hotel suggestions (usually 4 star-upto $250-350 per night) are welcome. I know one cannot avoid walking in Europe but would like to minimize what we can by staying in the center or main areas.

Thanks again all, sorry for the silence, it took me a while to figure out how to add the days!

Last edited by excited_confused; Jun 27th, 2024 at 08:30 PM. Reason: need to change amount
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Old Jun 27th, 2024, 09:08 PM
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Wow, that's quite the adventure you've got planned! I'd echo what others have said about giving Salzburg more time - half a day isn't enough to really soak it in.
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Old Jun 28th, 2024, 08:19 AM
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Sept 4-7th - Salzburg 3 nights Rent a car on Sept 6th?
Are you now going directly from Munich to Salzburg? That leaves you 2-ish days in Salzburg.

Sept 7-9th - Zell Am See - 2 nights
Two nights? Why even one night?


Sept 9th - Hallstat or similar -1 night
I would skip Zell am See and go directly to Hallstatt; or skip both and add the days elsewhere.


Sept 10-13th -Vienna -3 nights Return car in Salzburg on Sept 10th and take the train to Vienna around 4-5pm.
If you're coming from Hallstatt, what would you do all day before your train?
You now have 2 days in Vienna. (September 11 and 12). I had two days in Vienna this past April; having lived there I knew how to get around and could maximize my day. You will start at a disadvantage (which sucks time).


Sept 13-16 - Budapest - 3 nights
Again, you now have 2 days in Budapest.

Sept 16-20th - Prague - 4 nights
3 days in Prague. You'll lose an entire day on the train from Budapest to Prague.

Just my €0,02, but this itinerary is still overwhelming.
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