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tplusp Nov 20th, 2006 02:48 PM

Time in Prague and Budapest
We are planning a trip that will divide 7 days between Prague and Budapest. One day will be taken with train travel between the two cities, but I'm having a hard time deciding which place to spend the extra night. I'm leaning on spending the 4 nights in Prague, as it seems there are several small towns within driving distance that might make for a fun day out of the city. But I'm hoping for some of you to weigh in on if that's the best decision - there may be the same outside of Budapest (or more to do in the city itself. Thank you for any suggestions!

amp322 Nov 20th, 2006 03:00 PM

Hello. Depends on when you'll be traveling. In the winter, most chateaus are closed to tourists outside of Prague, so that might limit your day trips, depending on what you want to see. (Cesky Krumlov, for instance, has a castle that is a major attraction. You could still visit the town, and shop, see a concert, and go to museums, though. It is very charming during any season). You could also take day trips to Terezin or Kutna Hora, or stay overnight there.

Padraig Nov 20th, 2006 03:01 PM

First reaction: with only a week, I would not see trips outside those two cities as a great priority: there is enough to see and do in them. If you feel a strong urge to get out into the countryside, that's a different matter.

Three days each, with a day for travel, and your time is filled. You can find some ideas on Budapest in my website:

Padraig Nov 20th, 2006 03:03 PM

My url seems to have been mangled. Cut and paste it if you want to follow it.

lucy_d Nov 20th, 2006 03:08 PM

I would suggest three nights in Budapest and four nights in Prague with a day trip to either Cesky Krumlov or Terezin, depending on your interests.

Whatever you decide, I'm sure you will have a great time! Both cities are wonderful!

risab Nov 20th, 2006 03:59 PM

Would have to agree with 4 nights in Prague. Terezin is an easy trip and very powerful. However, with only four days you may want to spend all your days in Prague. We were in Prague for a week two years ago before heading to Paris and Vienna and we loved every moment -one of our favorite trips. We did a day trip to Terezin. We were going to do Kutna Hora but my daughter and husband found Prague so relaxing that they didn't want to venture anywhere else. But...if you don't think you'll be back that way for a while then I'd split the two cities - I am sorry we didn't get a chance to see Budapest, too.

bandiroot Nov 21st, 2006 05:16 AM

I would also agree with 4 nights in Prague. Or at least 3 nights there with an overnight stay in Cesky Krumlov. My friends and I were in Prague last September. We stayed 2 nights in Prague only so we barely scratched the surface before we proceeded to Cesky for an overnight stay. Then we headed back to Prague where I stayed for another 2 nights while my 2 friends went to Budapest. I had a fun time exploring the other places in Prague, taking a cruise around the Vltava river and shopping for leather goods and garnet jewelry. My friends did not enjoy their stay much in Budapest because that was the time when the student demonstrations were at their height. If they were to do it again, they would just have stayed in Prague.

Padraig Nov 21st, 2006 06:03 AM

I think a visit that co-incided with civil disorder is hardly a good circumstance in which to make a fair judgement about Budapest, especially as civil disorder is uncommon there -- 1956, 2006, that's not too frequent.

I was in Prague shortly after some violent demonstrations, and much damage was still apparent. It didn't put me off Prague.

Leather goods are probably cheaper in Hungary.

yn10 Nov 21st, 2006 06:14 AM

We did the same trip last September. We spent 4 days in Prague with a side trip to Terezin, took an early morning train to Budapest, and an overnight train back to Prague (went straight to the airport from the train station). I loved both cities, but it seems that there is a little more to do in Prague. It is definitely a lot more touristy which means more bars, restaurants and services oriented towards the tourists.
I think it's a great idea to divide your time between 2 cities. We hired a great private guide, Sarka Pletnova (I think, but not sure about the spelling - I found her name on this board). I think this actually helped us a lot with siteseeing - she customizes her tours to your interests.
Good luck.

Myer Nov 23rd, 2006 06:55 AM

In June we went from Prague to Budapest by train. We took a 4:20PM and arrived about 11:30.

The hotel arranged for a taxi to pick us up so that wasn't a hassle.

Leaving Prague at 4:20 meant we left the hotel about 3:30 and had most of the day there.

Depending upon your interest you can see each city in 2 days or 4 days.

I found the castle area in Budapest more interesting than that in Prague.

The tourist areas of Prague are closer together than in Budapest.

The subways (public transportation in general) works well in both cities.

The Jewish area in Prague is right beside the main tourist area, is very clean and well-organized. In Budapest, other than the main synagogue (refurbished by the Tony Curtis foundation) there isn't much. It's rather rundown.

Neither is really a museum city (ala Paris or Florence) so other than 1/2 day in the castle districts, you may find yourself picking areas and wandering.

The Charles Bridge is a focal area and worth visitng at different times of the day.

We not only crossed it several times during the day, but I woke up early and went at sunrise as well as sunset.

I have photos at:

select Europe 2006 - Prague, Budapest, Bruge, Amsterdam

ben_haines Nov 23rd, 2006 10:25 AM

You can avoid a day’s travel between the cities if you book a sleeper. You can ask two agents and compare their offers, Budget Europe Travel Service, phone 800-441-9413 or 800-441-2387, site, and Euraide of Florida, E-mail [email protected], phone 941/480-1555, site The reference library of a city near you may have the Thomas Cook European Rail Timetable. The January issue shows approximate fares, and second class one way in a three berth single sex sleeper costs about 120 euros

The table 60 (winter) shows the Pannonia Express. Eastbound board in Prague Hlavni station about 2230, leave at 2302, reach Budapest at 0753. Westbound leave Budapest Keleti station at 1945, and reach Prague Hlavni at 0605, so it is the less attractive night. Prague Hlavni has pickpockets in gangs of three, who crowd you, so as you go through the station you should carry only a few coins and your rail ticket, with all other valuables, including passport, deep inside a heavy bag, to come out only when you are in your sleeper, or in your hotel reception area. Budapest Keleti station has a good restaurant at the front end of a main platform, good for breakfast from 0800 and near an ATM cash machine (bankautomat) and the taxi stand. On arrival at each station you can see whether a stand has the local weekly paper in English, with news of events, the Budapest Sun and the Prague Post.

I have on disc a note on getting the best from sleepers: please ask me if you would like a copy, or if otherwise I can help.

Ben Haines, London
[email protected]

ba739 Apr 3rd, 2007 08:30 PM


Can you send me the info as to where to get a sleepers. Thanks

kenav Apr 7th, 2007 01:35 PM

Frankly, we just came back from Budapest and I felt we just scratched the surface.

kenav Apr 8th, 2007 04:23 AM

Oops - what I meant to say was that we just came back from A WEEK in Budapest and felt that we just scratched the surface.

danny1980 Apr 11th, 2007 01:31 AM

You could easily spend seven days in either city, although my preference would be Budapest because its considerably more mysterious than Prague, which is incredibly tourist orientated.

twoflower Apr 11th, 2007 02:05 AM

I too am planning an itinerary that includes Prague (3 nights), Ceske Krumlov (2 nights)...(Durnstein, Vienna, Bratislava)...Budapest (3 nights) and on to Lake Balaton and beyond...(Banja Luka, Dubrovnik...)

Hadn't heard of Terezin, but Google tells me it is a Concentration Camp site. If on previous trips I've side-tripped from Munich to see Dachau, would you recommend I include Terezin?

MademoiselleFifi Apr 13th, 2007 08:41 PM


Thanks for the restaurant info and trip summary on the other thread (since my question was off-topic on the tipping thread, I'm putting this here). Just 15 more days until my 1-week vacation in Budapest; seeing so many books recommending just 2-3 days, I was beginning to question my whole-week itinerary, but your trip report was reassuring.

What are some must-sees you would recommend (for another New Yorker who enjoys museums, ballet, and art nouveau and was also intrigued by the organic architecture on another thread)? Did you go to the Palvolgyi or Szepvolgyi caves?

kenav Apr 14th, 2007 05:22 AM

Hi Mademoiselle Fifi- Never went to the caves -although we would have liked to.

We did go outside the city for a day - to Eger. This is a 2 1/2 hour train ride. It's a beautiful town - much larger with more things to see than we thought there would be. We stayed overnight and were lucky to have gorgeous weather. Spent a few hours at the Fort and even went up (way up) to an observatory in which they had a camera obscura which was demonstraed to us. Pretty fun.

Anyway - just walk around a lot. One thing - went to Vaci Utca, a pedestrain street which is written up in guide books. It's so touristy, we stayed aobut 5 minutes. It was proably the only real touristy spot we saw.

Walk around the Buda side - in addition to
Fisherman's Bastion and Mattias Church. There's also a museum up there with the aforementioned two places. Forgot the name - we didn't go in.

Wish we had gone to the Szechenyi (spelling?) Baths - but I wasn't feeling well that day and so it wasn't a good idea at that time. Looked wonderful, though.

Got tickets to the Ballet at the Opera House. That place is somehitng else! And the ballet, too ("Gone with the Wind" if you can believe it.) Standing outside on the patio during intermission with a drink was wonderful.

Take the trams up and down the Danube - get the weekly metro card, that way you won't have to keep buying one and you can always flash it to the guards who will inevitably be there to check on you. It covers metro and all buses, trams, trolleys.

There are also small towns that are within 45 minutes from Budapest that we've heard good things about (but didn't get a chance to go to, again). The suburban line HEV will take you there most probably (it's located at the Batthyany metro station on the Buda side), and your metro card wiill pay for it if it's within the official Budpest city area.

The Art Nouveau is everywhere in the buildings (both restored and in badly need of restoration. Just walk and see. That was my favoite part. The entrance to the Zoo is an art Nouveau fantasy. Didn't go inside (see, again, not enough time).

Went to a flea market in City Park on Sat. morning. (Took a while to find.) If you're into that sort of thing, it's fun. Lots of junk and some good stuff. We bought an old porcelain Hungarian sign for $5 and it's now hanging over our bathroom door Ttranslated it says "smoking area". Got it even though we don't smoke.

The Dohany Ut. synagogue is something to see - so elaborate. Not like a regular Jewish temple at all (it was desinged by architects who were Catholic and so designed it like a Catholic Church).

Just keep exploring. If something doesn't suit you, go somewhere else. We just happened on many things - for example: it was Spring Festival and so music was discovered by us in the streets, and in Mattias Church when we entered (A Japanese choir).

Enjoy. Let me and Fodor's know who the trip went when you get back.

Where are you staying?

MademoiselleFifi Apr 14th, 2007 07:13 AM

Hi Kenav, thanks for the tips!

We'll be staying at Kalvin Haz in Pest, near the Central Market. Not sure what to expect-- the hotel's website shows beautiful rooms, but some of the pictures posted on Trip Advisor don't look as nice.

I got tickets for Romeo and Juliet as well as an obscure Hungarian opera. (Too bad GWTW is over-- I'm very curious; what a costumer's dream! Were their costumes based on those in the movie? How I'd love to adapt that red velvet/ostrich gown for ballet! And the curtains dress and the barbecue dress too...)

One of my guide books had a section on Organic Architecture, and I also found this online:

MademoiselleFifi Apr 14th, 2007 07:25 AM

twoflower, if you're interested in Terezin , one of the synagogs in Prague has a collection of photos and memorabilia from there.

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