Vienna-Prague-Budapest - Which 2??

Old Jan 15th, 2004, 05:34 AM
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Vienna-Prague-Budapest - Which 2??

Sorry if you've seen this before, but I forgot to select a country designation when I posted the first time.

My husband and I are planning a trip to Central Europe in May and would love to do Vienna, Prague and Budapest. However, we'll only have 8 or 9 days and I don't think we want to do so much moving around on such a short trip, so we're trying to pick 2 of the 3. We've never been to any of them, altho we've travelled quite a bit around other parts of Europe. I have no idea how to decide!

Can anyone offer suggestions? We're in our early 30's, love fine food and wine, good music clubs and bars, art and architecture, getting lost wandering through old cities... I think all 3 places probably have what we're looking for. How do we choose??

One thought is to base ourselves in Prague and Vienna, but take a day trip to Budapest via hydrofoil from Vienna (returning by train at night). Is it worth going to Budapest just for a half-day?
CircleK is offline  
Old Jan 15th, 2004, 06:09 AM
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Hi, I've never been to Budapest. Between Vienna and Prague, I prefer Vienna, but neither city is a favorite. I've only been to each once.

Vienna is impressive, but a bit staid. Artwise, it's hard to beat, with the Kunsthistoriches Museum (Bruegel), the Belvedere (?) (with the Klimt "Kiss") and examples of Secession architecture. I always try to catch the Vienna Philharmonic when they're in NYC, where I live, but sadly I've not yet seen them perform in the Musikverein.
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Old Jan 15th, 2004, 06:18 AM
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I went to all three cities last year -- did it in about 10 days... loved all three cities for different reasons... Prague was charming, walkable and CHEAP, Budapest was pretty, interesting and CHEAP (although you can see how it is still trying to westernize and clean itself up and become more tourist friendly like Prague already is) and Vienna was gorgeous, trendy and EXPENSIVE (they use the Euro and you know how weak the dollar is to the Euro) but you can live on just their desserts and be very satisfied
I don't think that you should do a 1/2 day tour to Budapest b/c it is not enough time but I think 2 days is and the train ride from Budapest to Vienna is only about 3-4 hours. It is only a one hour flight from Prague to Budapest. Whatever you choose I am sure you will be quite satified (but definitely do Prague and buy crystal.. so cheap!)
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Old Jan 15th, 2004, 06:29 AM
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Hi K,

I would go with visiting Budapest as an overnighter from Vienna, and visiting Prague for 3-4 days.
ira is offline  
Old Jan 15th, 2004, 06:31 AM
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In light of the size of the cities, the number of sights and distances (not to mention prices): consider 3 or 4 days each in Prague and Vudapest and do Vienna as a day trip or overnight. This would be the most efficient use of your available time.
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Old Jan 15th, 2004, 06:33 AM
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My husband and I visited all three ciites in Septembe 2003 . I would vote for Budapest and Prague with at least five days in Prague. Vienna was a beautiful city but very expensive and the people were not as friendly as in Prague and Budapest. Let me know if you want a good hotel recommendation for Budapest.
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Old Jan 15th, 2004, 06:36 AM
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We visited these three cities last May but had two weeks. Our hands down favorite was Prague. It is a wonderful city and pretty much has all the things you mentioned you were interested in.

We took trains from Prague to Vienna and Vienna to Budapest. I investigated the hydrofoil from Vienna to Budapest and decided against it because of cost, and advice here that the scenery was not that great, and finally smoking is allowed. I agree that a day trip to Budapest (no matter how you get there) would not do it justice.

I guess if I were making your choices, I would pick flying into Prague and then either flying or taking the train to Budapest. They were my two favorites. We spent less time in Vienna than the other two cities and did enjoy the rehearsal of the Lippizan horses, a tour of Shoenbrun Palace, the Belvedere Museum and a concert at the Musicverein. But the overall feeling of Prague and Budapest made them my favorites out of the three.
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Old Jan 15th, 2004, 07:21 AM
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I would go Prague and Budapest.
People are nicer and the cities are
beautiful. Prague is very different to any other popular city like Paris,
Rome,London etc. Prague is like a fairy tale city. Budapest is very chic like Paris but different taste.
Vienna is beautiful but expensive and the people are not nice at all. Very
cold, very short.
I would do min.3 full days , not inclu-
ding the arrival day in Prague and 3
also in Budapest.
Good luck.
mile is offline  
Old Jan 15th, 2004, 08:42 AM
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Prague has the advantage of being physically undamaged by the war, and has not become modern since. Vienna has the advantage of being in "the west" for much longer (some five times as long), with the economic benefit therefrom. Budapest had neither, but physically is closer to Vienna in terms of size.

I think the contrast between Vienna and the other two is quite valuable to witness, and both for that reason and for its many other attractions should be included. Personally, I prefer Budapest to Prague, but opinions differ.

In any case, 9 days is marginal to see all three, and 8 is sub-marginal in my view, so I'd pick Vienna and ______. If you do choose Prague, I suggest saving Budapest for another trip. Actually, I know what would make a wonderful couple of weeks in Hungary alone, and three or four days in Budapest alone can be filled easily and delightfully. I think Prague takes less time to cover, whereas Vienna takes more.
Rod is offline  
Old Jan 15th, 2004, 01:58 PM
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Thank you all so much - these comments are really helpful. Of course, I still can't make up my mind If anyone else wants to weigh in, the more info the better!
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Old Jan 15th, 2004, 03:44 PM
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We spent time in both Vienna and Prague last year on two seperate trips although I've never been to Budapest.

I think as everyone has pointed out the question of cost is central...particularly with the falling dollar Vienna will be expensive. Vienna is wonderful for the incredible Museums (loved the Schiele )and also the sumputuous richness of the Imperial interiors in some of the Palaces. However the city itself is a mixture of old and new because of damage during the war.

In contrastthe old town in Prague has much more of a fairytale feel with a magnificent town square and so many beautuful views of the castle. Prague is fabulous for music and you will be able to afford tickets to whatever you like. We went to the ballet and an Opera and tickets were less than $40 for stalls or boxes. It seemes as if every second church was hosting nightly concerts. As for architecture the Art Nouveau Municipal House is extraordinary and it's vital to sign up for a tour of the interiors...however perhaps because of its Communist history the city didn't have many other fabulously furnished interiors.
Prague is much cheaper and while we did have several good meals the food is not a interesting as many other places in Europe.
Hope that helps!
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Old Jan 15th, 2004, 06:06 PM
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Undoubetdly Prague and Bduapest are much cheaper than Vienna - as are all the other old Iron curtain countries and will stay so for some years until their economies catch up. but I wouldn;t make that the only basis for yur choice.

All three cities are beautiful but in different ways and with different feelings. Vienna is beautiful - and unlike others I found the people very warm and welcoming. but somehow the entire atmosphere is very triste - you feel they've been frozen in a fin de siecle dream.

Prague and Budapest are somehow more different - and to me more exciting than Vienna. In Prague I love the fact that the entire Old Town was complety unscathed in WWII (except for a single shell on the Town Hall) and love the constant musical focus of the city - including Mozart-costumed young people handing out flyers for operas and concerts.

In Budapest I was most struck by the memorial to Atilla - we say "Atilla the Hun" like he's a monster but in fact he was the founder of the Hungarian nation and a natiojnal hero. the Castle district is also fascinating.

I guess I enjoy most seeing how these people are struggling to rejoin the rest of Europe without losing their particular national identities.
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Old Jan 15th, 2004, 08:15 PM
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I would vist Vienna (4 days)and Prague (3-4 days), and take a daytrip or overnighter to Budapest from Vienna. Vienna and Prague are my two favorites of the three, though I only spent a day and a half in Budapest and would love to go back. I thought Vienna was not only very beautiful, but also very friendly and full of helpful people. It was pricey, but well worth it. A great walking city-like an outdoor museum. The same with Prague. I think Prague and Vienna would not only satisfy all of the interests you listed, but also provide the best contrast. Let us know what you decide!
sweet24 is offline  
Old Jan 30th, 2004, 09:38 AM
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I am planning a week-long trip to Vienna for the first week of March. We want to be relaxed and really savor the city, and would like to stay every night in Vienna. However, we are considering a day-trip to Budapest. How do-able is it for one day? Any must-see spots?
travelove is offline  
Old Jan 30th, 2004, 10:05 AM
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Of the three, my order of preference is Budapest, Prague, Vienna. Prague would probably rate first if weren't for the crowds. It really is a beautiful city. Budapest has a run-down charm that really appealed to me. You can see some of the old grandeur beneath all the years of communist neglect, though their achitecture obviously suffered as a result. Vienna, on the other hand, was very impressive, but did not quite have the "soul" of the other two cities. We found plenty of good food and nightlife in all three cities.

With the amount of time you have, you really should stick to two cities. Good luck with your choice.

BTW, Budapest's pastries are just as good as Vienna's, and you can afford more of them!
Mel is offline  
Old Feb 1st, 2004, 06:23 AM
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Gotta do all three.
Start with Prague for 3/4 days lots to see and cheap. Very interesting city but definately bouncing back and people know it so they are happy go lucky - get outside the city one day you will see the real Czech people. Train ride to Vienna is 4 hours but very nice and - book a table in the dinning car while on route. You can do Vienna in a 2 days. Stay in the ring and take the Sightseeing tour - in vienna it si worht it cause you get priority escorted tour of the Hapsburg Castle WOW - see the UN and all the key points. Staying downtown you can walk to see the Lipinzanners and eat nothing but deserts for a whole day - dont forget the Sacher Torte. Vienna is great and EXPESNISVE but since it really an old WEST city you can get in and out in 2 days. Gotta take 1st class train to Budapest 2 hours but fun ride lots to see - take in the late AM if you can. Budapest if you can stay 2 days in the city and 2 days in the Castles section - great City and CHEAP. Day trisp to Lake Baloton and Tihany very interesting - Old chruch ther 1200's with graves from 1090. If you can get to Herendy factory and buy your porcelain there - they can ship anywhere in the world.

Good luck
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Old Feb 6th, 2004, 09:50 AM
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Unless you are 22 and backpacking, go to Vienna over Prague (I do not know anything about Budapest, but hoping to go next year). My boyfriend and I (both in our early 30's) just returned from a 5 country tour (Paris, Krakow, Vienna, Prague and Munich). I too couldn't decide between Prague and Vienna. It so happened to work out to sorta of do both. Prague is good for about 2 days. The only thing we enjoyed was the cheap food and beer. We found ourselves looking for stuff to do. We were taking naps cuz it killed 2 hours. We both loved Vienna. Like any city, yes it can be expensive. However, if you take a little extra time and don't jump at the first menu, it's affordable. We stayed in a great place for 47euro. Was in the right place at the right time, and got tickets to a sold-out opera for 36euro each. We had 3 drinks and 2 sacher tortes at the Hotel Sacher for 22euro. We discovered a wine bar in the heart of the city and tried 10 wines for about 25euro. I found the people to be pleasant, unlike Prague. We found Prague to be very crowded, along with a lineup of change bureaus, crystal & jewerly shops, and way too many McDonalds. I travel to see that culture, not to see signs for McDonalds - 200m ahead. Have a great trip in no matter where you go.

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Old Feb 7th, 2004, 02:34 AM
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I live in Vienna and thus have already a preference but must add some comments. Yes, Vienna can be expensive. It can also be much cheaper if you take a little time to find a small local restaurant where prices are low and food better.Good hotels can be found at reasonable prices. See this website.
If you wish the Demel or Sacher experience- you pay 2-times as much as some other places.

You can also get great prices on Opera tickets by sitting in the Balcony-Sound ,just as good but cost 25-50 euros or less.
I find the people here friendly. Usually they will treat you as you treat them. Often locals can be seen helping lost tourists with a map or giving directions.

Culture opportunities of all types can be found as in few cities.
Great nightlife- Try the " Bermuda Triangle" area. Named because you enter only to find your way out after many days in some instances.
If you go to Budapest, the train is the best way.It takes 21/2 hours versus all day with the boat. The scenery is not worth the boat trip.
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Old Feb 9th, 2004, 06:37 PM
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I went to all three cities last spring, we did 3-4 days in each. Of the three, Budapest was my least favorite, although still wonderful. If i only could do 2 though, it would definately be Vienna and Prauge. Vienna is completely perfect, while Prague is like Disneyland, it's unreal.
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Old Feb 11th, 2004, 04:53 AM
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Never underestimate the power of getting things cheaply. If you love good food and wine, you can eat at THE most expenbsoive reatuarants in Prague and Budapest without blowing your budget at all. In Vienna, that expense will add up quite quickly, especially with such an unfavorable currency situation. I just feel so very rich when I'm in situations like that that it really does matter to me more than I care to admit.

I haven;t yet been to Budapest but I prefer Prague over Vienna...Vienne didn;t seem all that different to me from other pretty European's quite lovely but didn't have the "WOW" factor that I got from Prague.

I love these posts--so much fun, and no such thing as a wrong opinion....
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