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Trip to Czech Republic, Austria and Italy

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Mar 19th, 2017, 05:33 AM
  #1
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Trip to Czech Republic, Austria and Italy

Hi all,

We are planning a trip to Europe this June and would appreciate some input on our itinerary. As this is my first trip to Europe, the options are obviously overwhelming! We would like to do a 10-14 day trip and work in some Czech Republic, some Austria and a little bit of Italy. We are a married couple in our mid-thirties, and enjoy "off the beaten track" travelling more than seeing big Cities. We love quaint little towns filled with culture and beautiful landscapes. We were thinking to do something in the line of starting in Prague (work in an opera), taking the route through small towns towards Cesky Krumlov, then head through to Austria (have seen that Hallstatt is beautiful) and maybe thereafter jump on the Arlberg line after which we end the trip in the country side of Italy (maybe tuscany). We would also like input on whether using train or other public transport would be recommended rather than renting a car? Would appreciate any ideas or suggestions!

Thanks in advance!
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Mar 19th, 2017, 06:20 AM
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Trip to Czech Republic, Austria and Italy
Posted by: Snymanmail123 on Mar 19, 17 at 8:33am
We would also like input on whether using train or other public transport would be recommended rather than renting a car? Would appreciate any ideas or suggestions!


It looks like you want to get out in the country and dodge the big cities. In that case the best way to make use of your time is to drive. If you haven't driven in Europe before here is an illustrated introduction, http://www.enjoy-europe.com/hte/chap18/auto-1.htm.

The biggest caution is for Italy, the Z.T.L.s. Many tourist heavy cities in Italy prohibit cars in the congested centers. The Z.T.L.s are marked and patrolled by cameras. Violations are very expensive.
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Mar 19th, 2017, 07:07 AM
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Thanks! And could you by any chance suggest some stops/must see small towns to add to our itinerary?
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Mar 19th, 2017, 09:41 AM
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Renting a car in one country and returning it in another can be very expensive. Check the surcharges.

Prague to Tuscany in 10-14 days, while focusing on rural rather than urban, doesn't sound realistic to me. You need to research driving times and train timetables. How much time were you planning to spend in Prague and "Tuscany"?
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Mar 19th, 2017, 09:57 AM
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Hi sny,

From your questions, I have deduced that this is your first European visit.

I that case, I suggest that you fly into London for 5-7 nights (with an overnight visit to Edinburgh and/or a daytrip to Cardiff), train to Paris for the rest of your stay and fly home from there.

There are various small towns to visit from Paris as daytrips.

Enjoy your visit.

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Mar 19th, 2017, 09:59 AM
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Hi sny,

If this is not your first visit, rent a car in Munich or Austria, drop Italy, and return the car to wherever you got it.

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Mar 20th, 2017, 09:48 AM
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Snymanmail123 on Mar 19, 17 at 10:07am
Thanks! And could you by any chance suggest some stops/must see small towns to add to our itinerary?


The 16th century armory at Graz is amazing. Also, I favor Hall-in-Tyrol, just east of Innsbruck, because of family connections, but it is one of those ancient little places you might like. A drive over the Brenner Pass is spectacular. Then take a night or two in Bolzano/Bozen.

For a great map with suggested tourist sites, hotels, and restaurants see https://www.viamichelin.com/web/Maps.
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Mar 20th, 2017, 12:41 PM
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We would also like input on whether using train or other public transport would be recommended rather than renting a car?>

Trains for sure for mainly cities where cars are useless - for lots of good info on trains check www.seat61.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.ricksteves.com.
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Mar 21st, 2017, 12:32 AM
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Ceske Budejovice might fit your requirements as your travel from Prague to Cesky Krumlov; there are several crystal shops (with prices lower than in Prague)and a lovely square on which to enjoy lunch (The Hotel Zvon restaurant serves locally sourced, traditional dishes that are outstanding). Also, near to Ceske Budejovice is Hrad Hluboká nad Vltavou, a frothy white neo-gothic castle that can be toured independently.

From Cesky Krumlov toward Hallstatt, Steyr, Austria would also make for a pleasant brief stop, though it would require a small detour. Gmunden and Bad Ischl are obvious choices, as well.

With 10-14 days you could do a driving loop from Prague to Hallstatt and the small, charming villages of the Salzkammergut, enjoy Salzburg for a couple of nights, and then return to Prague via Passau, Germany and Plsen (home of the Czech Pilsner). This might also help to avoid possible steep drop off fees on a rental car.

I hope this is helpful.
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Mar 25th, 2017, 08:07 AM
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Thanks so much for all these suggestions, this is exactly what we were lookig for. Do you think one could do this route by train as well?
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Mar 25th, 2017, 09:34 AM
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I've been to the CR several times, and your trip there is do-able by train, except Cesky Krumlov is a little out of the way. But I know people want to go there. I think you need to research car rental issues before even getting into itinerary as it may be a waste of time. It is possible you cannot rent a car and do what you want (meaning the rental companies won't allow it or the cost is astronomical). I might be wrong, but I thought the CR was a particular problem but it might be renting in another country, they don't allow you to even go into the CR.

I think you over-romanticize what is in many small towns, they are not necessarily "full of culture." They may be dull. And you may have more trouble communicating unless you know the language.

You want to do too much in only 10-14 days. I'd limit it to the CR and Austria, which is possible.

In the CR, to the south, I've taken the train from Prague to Tabor (which is a wonderful town) and to Olomouc to the SE, which I also really liked, and you can go to Ceske Budejovice by train although that is not a small town. But Olomouc is not exactly the same direction as Tabor.

For the CR, this is a train plan:

1) Prague to Tabor (when I took that train, for some reason it wasn't working that day from some station down the line and we had to transfer to a bus, but this is unpredictable and may be fixed by now), about 1.5 hours at most.

2) Tabor to Prague, about 1.5 hours. You can get a direct train from Tabor to Cesky Krumlov. It does stop in Ceske Budejovice on the way, actually, so decide if you want to stop over there or not. In fact, some of these trains are the ones going from Prague to Tabor. This is the schedule of one of them in the morning, leaving prague at 8:02 am:

https://czech-transport.com/index.ph...n=1930&lang=fr


It's just the Cesky Krumlov that will take up time as it isn't a good point to then go somewhere else. Hallstatt is also really inconvenient as a location.

Train from Cesky Krumlov to Hallstatt takes requires a change, perhaps in Ceske Budejovice and in Linz, Austria). And then you can't go home from there, no doubt (Hallstatt). You could also change in Linz to go to Salzberg. This train trip will take up about 6 hours. YOu could go to Cesky Krumlov first, then move to Ceske Budejovice and at least that would cut off some time from the train from there to Austria. You could also just go from Linz to Vienna, actually, as you could easily get home from there.

If you really want some small town in the CR plus Hallstatt, you can do Prague (3 nights) to Tabor and/or to CK (let's say 2 overnights), then CK to Hallstatt (that train trip takes up a lot of the day). Hallstatt 2 nights (which gives you basically one day for sightseeing as the other day is mostly the 6 hr train trip). Hallstatt to Vienna for the end of trip. That train trip is 4 hrs but I think requires a transfer. Then you'd have at least a couple nights in Vienna. That's about 10 days, you can play with it a bit. If you had 14, you could throw in both Tabor and Cesky Krumlov.

Just one idea by train, you have to decide where you want to spend most time (which country).

Fourfortravel's plan sounds interesting as a driving trip, also, I guess it's hard for me to grasp that trip from Prague to CK to Austria, then back through Germany and the CR in only 10-14 days. But that will give you fairly cheap car rates, from what I checked, even if you need an automatic. Prague to Prague might be better, not sure what good it does to end up in Plzen, after all. I'm sure you can't get home from there (nor from the Tuscan countryside, obviously). Prague airport is out of the city and it shouldn't be too tricky to drive there as an end point (maybe last day, then stay in airport hotel). Plzen isn't really small town, either, though. The nearest airport is Prague or Karlovy Vary.

How did you plan to get home from the Tuscan countryside? I don't know where you are from, I'm just assuming you need an airport.
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Mar 25th, 2017, 09:52 AM
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I based in Ceske Budejovice and day tripped to Cesky Krumlov. Much more convenient for transport, and CB has a wonderful central square and is less touristy than CK.
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Mar 25th, 2017, 12:06 PM
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Thanks guys. We are from South Africa, so really have no clue on how things work best that side - so this is great input! Yes, we'll need to fly in and out of major airports. Totally hear what you're saying about some small towns that might be dull, we just also love the country side. I think a balance between big cities and small towns would be great. Would you say it's worth it to get a euro rail pass?
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Mar 25th, 2017, 12:49 PM
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Rail passes:

Read this: http://seat61.com/Railpass-and-Eurail-pass-guide.htm
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Mar 25th, 2017, 02:21 PM
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Hi Snymanmail. I am also from South Africa and have travelled all over Europe by train over the last 10 years. I have always found the Railcard or Euro rail pass to be more expensive than booking direct with the rail company for the specific country. The Man in seat 61 website is great for giving lots of excellent information. See our costing from 2014 (for one) to give you some idea of the prices if booked early enough. Probably a bit more now but still less than a railcard. The exchange rate was about R14.50 to 1 Euro.

TRAIN PRAGUE/BUDAPEST R348.00
TRAIN BUDAPEST/VIENNA R205.45
TRAIN VIENNA/ VENICE R904.00
TRAIN VENICE/NICE R635.00
TRAIN NICE / PARIS R467.55

All these cities are easily walked and a car would have been more of a hindrance. Only in Nice would it have been great to get around to all the small hill towns but we made do with the good bus system.
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