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tours/attractions worth paying for in Prague/Vienna/Budapest/Krakow

tours/attractions worth paying for in Prague/Vienna/Budapest/Krakow

Jan 13th, 2017, 06:30 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2016
Posts: 59
tours/attractions worth paying for in Prague/Vienna/Budapest/Krakow

My husband and I will be traveling to Prague, Vienna, Budapest, and Krakow in June. We are trying to limit unnecessary spending as much as possible. We enjoy trying new-to-us foods, good beer, and exploring by bike and on foot. While we are content exploring a city by wandering the streets and don't lean toward guided tours or spending hours in tourist attractions, we don't want to miss something "essential" to these cities. For example, Prague Castle, Schonbrunn, Buda Castle, etc. I know parts of these places can be visited for free. Do any attractions stand out to you as "must-dos" or something we might regret not seeing thoroughly?

Thanks so much!
cchamp is offline  
Jan 13th, 2017, 06:43 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
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Depends on your interests. I (solo traveler) paid for Art Nouveau walking tours of Prague and Budapest, but if you have no interest in AN that would be a waste of money.

I do think the main synagogue in Budapest is worth seeing, and also the relatively new Gold Museum, but again, you may not. Buy some guidebooks and make your own decisions.
thursdaysd is offline  
Jan 13th, 2017, 07:16 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
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I paid to see the Lippizzaner horses in Vienna.On the days I was there was no show so they give tours of the facilities and the stables and you can see the horses very close up. It was interesting and informative and I loved the horses.
MarthaT is offline  
Jan 13th, 2017, 07:29 AM
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I don't really know of much in Prague that is totally free that involves going inside a building. I guess going into some church is (I know they are charging a fee just to go into St Mary's in Krakow now, I forget about Prague's church on the Old Town square). The only thing you can visit free at the castle is walking into the courtyard area where you buy tickets, as I recall. Of course you can look at the outside of buildings for free, or the bridge. I don't believe you can even go into some of the historic synagogues for free (like the Spanish synagogue). Perhaps you know about something I don't. Same with Krakow, their fees are very reasonable but I can't think of much that is totally free there other than walking around.

I don't think there is anything unexpected about the attractions in Prague or the other cities that you wouldn't know by reading their descriptions, so I'd go with what appeals to you. Ticket entry prices to PRague museums and attractions are very reasonable compared to many cities. I found some things essential that you would not, I'm sure, because of my personal interests and likes -- such as the modern art museum in Veletrzni Palace in Prague and the Musical Instrument museum in Vienna. I also am very interested in classical music and Central European composers (Dvorak, Martinu, Bartok, etc), not to mention the giants such as Haydn, Mozart, etc. So I thought visiting their homes/museums was essential to visiting those cities but that would be of no interest to many.

But obviously, I'd pick the big castles in all as essential, as well as the main squares in Prague and Krakow and the churches there. I really liked the main art museum in Vienna, and the others I mentioned already. in Krakow, I visited the Gestapo headquarters which was fascinating, as well as several of the known art museums.

I have done tours outside some of those cities but not in them, reflecting my interests. I did one of Nowa Huta in Krakow recently, and really enjoyed it but I'm particularly interested in WWII and Communist history. I did some day bus tours from Prague to Kutna Hora and Cesky Krumlov, really liked them both.
Christina is offline  
Jan 13th, 2017, 08:46 AM
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I don't remember how much it cost, but the synagogue in Budapest was a highlight of our trip there. It might mean nothing to you, though. You have to make your own decisions.
StCirq is offline  
Jan 13th, 2017, 10:13 AM
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Wileiczkasaltmines krakow
PalenQ is online now  
Jan 13th, 2017, 10:16 AM
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Just south of Krakow - really liked it -just take train or bus there and get tours on site. UNESCO World Heritage Site - whole rooms with chandeliers and such all hewn out of salt deposits.
PalenQ is online now  
Jan 13th, 2017, 10:28 AM
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I enjoyed classical concerts in those cities. Very reasonably priced. You may also be interested in free walking tours (tip is appreciated). Overall, Eastern and Central Europe is a bargain compared to Western Europe, especially Scandinavia.
Treesa is offline  
Jan 13th, 2017, 10:40 AM
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You need to determine why you're going there in the first place - what attracted you?

I've paid for a trip to Terezin, a Nowa Huta tour with crazyguides.com (and a trip to Oswiecjm), and a Commie Walk in Prague, Krakow and Budapest and each was money well spent.
BigRuss is offline  
Jan 13th, 2017, 11:06 AM
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Budapest: the House of Terror. http://www.terrorhaza.hu/en
Prague: Prague Castle
Krakow: Wawel Cathedral, Oskar Schindler's Factory, Church of the Virgin Mary (gorgeous interior, free admission)
halfapair is offline  
Jan 13th, 2017, 11:10 AM
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Wawel Castle, special admission ticket to see da Vinci's Lady with Ermine. You do not have to buy the ticket for the rest of the castle if you only want to see this incredible painting.
Auschwitz- transportation only. No fee for entry nor guided tour if I recall correctly.
HappyTrvlr is offline  
Jan 13th, 2017, 11:40 AM
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Thanks for the responses. I have spent a lot of time working on our itinerary and tend to include walking tours over admission to one attraction i.e. Prague Castle. At the same time, I don't want to miss one of those "everybody visits here for a reason" places.

Our must-dos include:

Prague- Strahow Monastery, Riegrovy Sady Beer Garden, Vysehrad area, and likely a free walking tour

Vienna- cafes, Naschmarket, & I think we will do a guided tour of Schonbrunn.

Budapest- House of Terror, ruin bars, baths, free walking tour

Krakow- definitely doing a full day Schindler's list/Auschwitz tour, riding bikes from Wawel Castle to Tyniec, & going to a milkbar
cchamp is offline  
Jan 13th, 2017, 12:37 PM
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a Nowa Huta tour with crazyguides.com >

Ah Nowa Huta- the planned new town of Krakow under commie rule - as locals say, I've been told: "Rome wasn't built in a day but Nowa Huta was!"

Many folks come mainly to pay homage to where the Polish Pope hung out before becoming Pope.
PalenQ is online now  
Jan 14th, 2017, 08:41 AM
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Thanks. Definitely adding that to our itinerary.

Any recommendations on ruin bars in Budapest? We are not so much into a clubbing atmosphere.

Also, is there typically outdoor music performances in Prague or Vienna in June? I've heard about open air opera but can't find too many details.
cchamp is offline  
Jan 14th, 2017, 09:11 AM
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You need some guidebooks. The outdoor opera and ruin pubs will certainly be listed in any good guidebook.

If you are too cheap to actually pay for useful info (which may well save you money on the ground), or unwilling to visit your local library, try this:

thursdaysd is offline  
Jan 14th, 2017, 11:01 AM
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We used the hop on hop off buses in Budapest and Vienna and were able to get to most of the sights this way.

Were also able to get to Schonbrunn palace in Vienna like this and then just toured on our own. The St Stephans cathedral is a must to see.

We enjoyed visiting Margret Island in Budapest - amazing musical fountains show every hour and a 5km tartan running track all around the Ireland if you fancy some exercise. The hop on hop off bus also includes a Danube river cruise which is a great way to see the beautiful buildings.

In Prague we just walked and took the local trams. We enjoyed an evening cruise on the Vltava river which was very relaxing with a glass of wine in hand. I walked early in the mornings in Prague along the river, over the bridges and up to the park above the old town - no one around and the sun coming up. It was amazing.
buzzcolin is offline  
Jan 14th, 2017, 12:27 PM
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Ah Nowa Huta- the planned new town of Krakow under commie rule - as locals say, I've been told: "Rome wasn't built in a day but Nowa Huta was!">>

I had a private tour with a local and never heard that and don't understand what that phrase is supposed to mean, but I presume it is meant to be derogatory. I didn't use "crazyguides" either, I wanted something else, but tours in these places are very reasonable. Nowa Huta is a planned community for workers in the nearby steel mill, and was well-designed and built, those apts would go for big bucks in some US cities, they aren't tacky nor cheaply built, and the town area is very well-planned with park areas, a market space, playgrounds, etc. Yes, they didn't dawdle in building it or waste time, and workers came from around the country, but it didn't happen overnight--I think 2 years. It was quite impressive, actually, and that is one of the most interesting things I've done in Krakow. There aren't a lot of planned cities like that.

This is the company I used, the guide was very educated (I think a historian) and fluent in several languages and could tell me stories since he grew up there.

They don't seem to offer the one I took, now I guess they are competing with that crazy company as they have something similar. I did a walking tour that used the trams to/from. I got a private tour by accident, no one else signed up. But that company was good, they have tons of stuff.

I booked through Viator (Cracow Tours turned out to be the operator) and they have bike tours of Nowa Huta for only $30. They do offer the one I took here, but it's more like $60 per person.

I chose that because I wasn't interested in riding in an old car and those guides can be offensive to some people. I also wanted to learn more about using the trams and that was a good way to do it.

I'm of any special outdoor music performances in June (not sure what that means). There are musical performances around, but they aren't outside. There is a beer festival on the banks of the river that includes music (outdoors) on June 16-17th. It's near metro stop Karlovo namesti. At least that's what I've read.
Christina is offline  
Jan 14th, 2017, 01:07 PM
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About the salt mines near Krakow, as recommended by PalenQ above:

In Krakow you will be offered "tours" to the salt mines (as you will to everwhere else).

No need to pay for that kind of "tour" - it can only involve transportation since, at the mine site itself, only groups are admitted, sorted by language, with a guide provided by the mine.

So, yes, go to the train station (the modern one next to the still standing old station building with the big blue "Glowny" neon sign), buy a return-trip ticket for Wieliczka, write down and show the ticket seller "Wieliczka - bilet powrotny".'

None of the agents I dealt with spoke a lick of English, so this helps - it means "return ticket" (what Americans call roundtrip, although it is not "round" but straight point-to-point of course).

and hop on the next train. It is a slow regional train that stops frequently - watch for the station name and walk up a coupoe of hundred yards to the mine.

There is one common line for tickets, as you get to the agent you mention which language group you wish to join, and go stand by that sign/flag until your group is asked to follow the guide. In you go, and down down down you go. If your knees don't like descending stairs, don't go. (You will eventually come back up by lift).

Around the corner from the ticket office there is a fellow heating sausages as quick as he can - buy the meal ticket at the window next to him, and wait for your sausage and slab of bread. That's it. No condiments, and none needed, it is TASTY!
michelhuebeli is offline  
Jan 15th, 2017, 10:20 AM
Join Date: Jul 2013
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Still about Krakow - tours worth taking are Auschwitz, and the Tatra mountains, where most likely a tour will go to Zakopane where you can take the gondola up to lofty heights. I just did this in June and there was plenty of snow on the ground (and a fresh breeze - bring your jacket!). It makes for a nice alpine change from all the cities on your list.
michelhuebeli is offline  
Jan 24th, 2017, 09:06 AM
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 595
We love Budapest -- our favorite ruin bar is Mazel Tov. Make reservations for dinner and be sure to sit in the garden area if possible (not inside).

Re the Budapest walking tours -- suggest you do the one on Communism. It was one of the best tours we have had anywhere, paid or 'free.'

And re "free" tours -- the guides do this for a living, and need to hand over some of what they are "tipped" to their organization. So please be sure to tip/pay them what you believe the tour was worth, not just a fraction or "tip" of what the cost would be.
GinnyJo is offline  

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