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Visiting Prague, Salzburg, Vienna, Budapest maybe Ljubljana

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Aug 9th, 2011, 03:09 PM
  #1
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Visiting Prague, Salzburg, Vienna, Budapest maybe Ljubljana

Hi All,

My wife and I are traveling to Europe for the first time. We have our flights booked arriving in Prague on 9/18. We plan on spending a couple of days in Prague from there to off to Salzburg and Vienna in Austria, Ljubljana in Slovenia and Budapest. We have our return flight from Budapest on 9/29 back to the states.

My plan was to spend 2 days in Prague and take a train to Salzburg. Then from Salzburg take a train to Ljubljana and from there take a train to Vienna and from there take a train to Budapest and fly out of Budapest. Am i being too ambitious?

Do you think we have enough time to visit all these places? Any ideas on how to arrange the itinerary? We were thinking of getting a Eurail pass for 10 days and make use of trains to the above mentioned cities. Do you think that a rail pass is a good idea or should we book individually? Is it better to book in advance?

Our there any affordable airlines that we can look at to save some travel time?

How many days do you think we should give each place? Is it too many places to visit in 11 days?

Any help, suggestions and tips are greatly appreciated.

We are very excited for the trip and want to make the most of it.

Thank you

Ash
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Aug 9th, 2011, 03:31 PM
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I think you are trying to see too many places in a short amount of time. You need to take into consideration the travel time between destinations.

I loved Ljubljana, but for this trip it just doesn't really make sense given that it's out of the way. You will want at least 3-4 days in Vienna, 2 days for Salzburg and mabybe a daytrip, and at least a few days in Budapest.

Happy planning!
Tracy
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Aug 9th, 2011, 03:33 PM
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Forgot to mention that you can use Bahn.de, the website for the German trains, to find information on transportation times from city to city.
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Aug 9th, 2011, 03:43 PM
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Have you looked at the train transit time from city to city? From Prague to Salzburg is about six hours for example - check www.bahn.de . Are you thinking about doing night trains? Otherwise, you'll spend a good portion of your trip just on the train.

I'd probably to to limit your trip to three cities, especially for a first trip to Europe. A few years back I did ten days in Prague, Vienna, and Budapest - which are not far apart by train. Plenty to see in those cities, lots of day trip options. (some people throw in Bratislava, Slovakia after Vienna because it is not much of a detour.)
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Aug 9th, 2011, 04:18 PM
  #5
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Thank you to tcreath and Andrew for your replies.
I was planning on traveling at night between cities to save time during the day. But I see your point that might be too much.
Here's what I'm planning after reading your replies

Arrive Prague 9/18 morning
Stay in Prague 9/18, 9/19, 9/20 (day)

Leave 9/20 night to Salzburg
Days in Salzburg 9/21 and 9/22 day

Leave Salzburg 9/22 night to Vienna
Days in Vienna 9/23, 9/25, 9/26 (day)

Leave Vienna 9/26 night to Budapest
Days in Budapest 9/27,9/28

Depart back home 9/29 morning from Budapest.

What do you think of this?

Andrew: Since you have already visited the cities that I am planning on seeing do you recommend any affordable hotels in the safe areas of these cities?
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Aug 9th, 2011, 05:34 PM
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IMHO you are going to be spending at least half of your very limited time traveling from one place to another.

You actually have only 10 full days on the ground and I think seeing even 3 cities is pushing it - I would limit myself to 2 - if you really want to see anything. Five is way too many destinations.

If you want to take overnight trains (have you checked the schedules?) rather than sleeping (unless you know you will sleep well on a train) your revised schedule is somewhat more doable. But to me you are still giving short shrift to Prague, Vienna and Budapest.
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Aug 9th, 2011, 07:30 PM
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marking
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Aug 9th, 2011, 08:04 PM
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If you want to save money, you can actually use Priceline.com's "Name Your Own Price" service in most of the cities (Prague, Venice, and Budapest for sure) to save money. But, you have to understand how this works: you "bid" for a hotel and give Priceline your credit card and if they accept, they charge your card and then tell you what hotel...and you can't change it. It may sound scary, but you can save a ton of money on hotels with Priceline and if you do a bit of homework ahead of time, you can do really well. For example, I got a fantastic deal in Vienna on my trip ($55/night for a Renaissance/Marriott, in September too) - of course that was a few years ago...

I stayed four nights in Prague - the first two in some private rooms (which I wouldn't recommend) in Lesser Town (Mala Strana), close to the castle west of the river. This is a beautiful part of town, but my rooms were up a huge sloping hill (toward the castle) so walking up to my rooms was tedious. So be careful if you book a place in this part of town.

The other two nights I stayed in the Old Town on the east side of the river (I got the Intercontinental on Priceline). The Old Town was much more convenient but had less character than Mala Strana.

Honestly, I think Prague is very safe - the biggest worry (in any of these cities) is probably pickpockets not violence. This is especially something for new travelers to watch out for - but if you mind your wits and use common sense you'll be fine. Before you book any hotel, read the reviews on Trip Advisor. People will note if it's unsafe.

In Vienna, the place I stayed was a bit away from the Ring (center of Vienna) but directly on a U-bahn line so I could get into the Ring or nearly anywhere else very quickly. Vienna has a great system of trams and subways. Prague and Budapest do, too; Prague is very compact and easily walkable. Budapest is much less so - it's a huge city - but you can still get around by tram and subway. I didn't stay near the center but probably would if staying again. (I didn't use Priceline, I stayed at a busy time and things were pretty booked.)

By the way, what's you're interest in Vienna vs. Budapest? Personally, I had no interest in the music scene in Vienna (maybe you do) so I didn't need much time there - Budapest had much more that interested me so you might at least consider moving one of your days from Vienna to Budapest. Just look at what is of the most interest to you in both cities. Your interests may differ from mine.

One last tip: in Budapest, do clime the hills at dusk on the Buda side (the city is literally split by the Danube into two sections, "Buda" (hilly side) and "Pest" (flat side). From the hills on the Buda side, you get a breathtaking view of the Chain Bridge lit up at night with the Parliament building behind it, very beautiful.
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Aug 9th, 2011, 08:16 PM
  #9
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I am also of the opinion that you may be trying to do too much in the time you have available, even with your revised schedule.

It depends on what you want to see and experience, but I wonder if you might be underestimating the time that will be available for you to explore cities in between overnight trains. I'm actually quite a fan of overnight trains and am happy to use them when convenient. I sleep surprising well on trains, but with all the noises and the motion I don't sleep as well as I do in a stationary bed, and that means I'm more tired after a night train than I would otherwise be, so I need to turn in for the night earlier than I otherwise would. And I've only very rarely found a place to shower soon after arriving, so even if I'm ready to begin exploring my new location (and even if things things are open), I usually find a need to interrupt my arrival day to go to my hotel to actually check in and shower. More lost time.

I'm not saying you shouldn't use overnight trains - they can be a great option for saving travel time and for keeping costs down. But if you are to take overnight trains, I think you need to allow a bit more time for each destination that you might otherwise plan.
Also, I'm not sure I'm following your dates: What happened to the 24th? If you're planning on 4 days in Venice and 2 in Budapest, you might want to consider 3 days in each instead.

You'll be visiting some wonderful places, even if you cut any of these from you plans. Enjoy!
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Aug 10th, 2011, 07:20 AM
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In that short time plan a max of 3 destinations.
I would do Prague--3 nites
Salzburg---3 nites with day trip to Wolfgangsee
Vienna---4 nites with day trip to Wachau

Have fun !
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Aug 10th, 2011, 09:06 AM
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Arrive Prague 9/18 morning
Stay in Prague 9/18, 9/19, 9/20 (day)

Leave 9/20 night to Salzburg
Days in Salzburg 9/21 and 9/22 day

Leave Salzburg 9/22 night to Vienna
Days in Vienna 9/23, 9/25, 9/26 (day)

Leave Vienna 9/26 night to Budapest
Days in Budapest 9/27,9/28

Depart back home 9/29 morning from Budapest.

What do you think of this?

Personally it would be fine with me - but Bob makes a nice point of doing day trips from Salzburg to the Sound of Music Country - fantastically lovely area of lakes and mountains and from Vienna the boat ride thru the tremendous Wachau Valley - vineyards galore - cute wine towns - these two day trips would IME be perhaps the absolute highlights of your trip - get out of the cities and see some of the sweet countryside, yes indeedy.
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Aug 10th, 2011, 09:15 AM
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Thank you to everyone above for all your suggestions. These forums have made it so much easier to plan trips to new places. After reading all your reviews and doing a little more research I think we are going to narrow our trip down to Prague, Vienna and Budapest.

Andrew: Thank you for the tips on Priceline. I will do more research on hotels and give Priceline a try.

Kja: I meant to write 9/23 - 9/25 in Vienna and 9/26 - 9/28 in Budapest. However, after reading the replies have decided to skip on Salzburg that will give me more time in Prague and Budapest.

bobthenavigator: Since we are flying back out of Budapest, we cannot leave it out of our itinerary
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Aug 10th, 2011, 11:47 AM
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OK---good decision !
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Aug 10th, 2011, 12:30 PM
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Yes, I think simplifying your trip especially a first one to Europe is a great idea. As I said, I did almost this exact trip a few years ago and it was great (my biggest regret is that I didn't add more time and do more day trips; should have pushed it and done a trip to Cesky Kromlov from Prague!). Since you have greatly cut back on your train travel time, you won't even have to do night trains. Train travel between those big cities is really easy.

Everyone has different preferences, as I keep saying. But, I *LOVED* Prague (so many do) even though it will still be mobbed with tourists when you get there. I woke up early one morning to photograph the Charles Bridge at daybreak when it was completely EMPTY. At dusk, it would be the opposite: mobs of people. Just be prepared for that and be prepared to wander a bit from the crowds to find more of the charm of Prague.

I didn't care for Vienna as much but others adore it. Budapest I found very rewarding and almost intriguing but not as charming as Prague (it's a larger city).


I'm also a big fan of Rick Steves. His Eastern Europe book covers all these cities, I think.

Priceline is *NOT* for everyone. It's a bit intimidating at first because you don't even know what you are getting until after they charge you credit card, and you can't change it!!! But, if it turns out you are the type of person willing to risk a bit of uncertainty to save a lot of money (or get a much nicer place for the money), you may find Priceline addictive as so many of us have. Try visiting the website www.betterbidding.com to see what hotels people have been getting in Europe with Priceline to give you an idea of what to expect - and feel free to ask Priceline questions here or there - there are a lot of Priceline users on Fodor's as well.
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Aug 10th, 2011, 07:05 PM
  #15
kja
 
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I think you've made a good decision!
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Aug 11th, 2011, 01:50 PM
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I would also have lefrt both Buda and Pest out but not possible.
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Aug 11th, 2011, 02:48 PM
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We rented an apartment in Budapest and Prague. I think it’s better option then Priceline and you can choose the location.
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Aug 11th, 2011, 08:30 PM
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While in Vienna, I hope you can fit a day trip in to Melk! There's a combo ticket available... train to Melk, boat to Krems, train to Vienna. Durnstein is also well worth a visit on that day trip.

The Melk Abbey is unbelieveably gorgeous!!!
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Aug 12th, 2011, 07:28 AM
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Check out the Aldstadt Hotel in Vienna. My wife and I stayed there a few years ago and loved it It is not cheap - middle of the road - but ideally located and wonderful inside. The breakfast ( included ) is to die for.
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