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your opinion on our central europe itinerary - does this sound reasonable?

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Jan 3rd, 2012, 10:50 AM
  #1
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your opinion on our central europe itinerary - does this sound reasonable?

Happy New Year, y'all!

After reading tons of posts and guidebooks, we've decided that next year's vacation will be Budapest, Vienna, Salzburg, and Prague. We have about 2.5 weeks, probably in mid-late May, and hope to use public transportation for the most part. We want amazing scenery, historic architecture, a little art and classical music, and unique shopping and dining.

So here's what we propose for your expert critique! I've listed possible attractions as placeholders so we can make sure we've got enough time in each place, but we won't necessarily do those exact things on those exact days. At this point we're just trying to figure out how many nights we want in each city so we can decide where to fly in/out and book our hotels. We do not like short (1- or 2-night) stops, but we're willing to make an exception for Cesky Krumlov, especially since it breaks up the travel between cities. We haven't booked our airfare yet, so we could do this in reverse as well.

B day 1: arrive in Budapest (morning), walk off jetlag exploring the old town, opera house, view from Gellert Hill; sleep Budapest
B day 2: explore more of Budapest, possibly terror museum and baths, Danube river cruise; sleep Bud.
B day 3: more Budapest or daytrip to Szentendre; sleep Bud.
V day 4: depart for Vienna (2.5h train ride); spend afternoon exploring Vienna's cathedral, Schonbrunn palace; catch a concert at nite; sleep Vienna
V day 5: more Vienna: naschmarkt, Belvedere Palace, St. Michael's crypt, tour opera house; evening concert; sleep V.
V day 6: Hofburg Palace, more Vienna; concert; sleep V.
V day 7: Melks/Krems Danube daytrip (2h train/boat); sleep V.
S day 8: depart for Salzburg via Mauthausen concentration camp (2.5h train to M., 2h on to S.); sleep Salzburg
S day 9: Hellbrunn Castle, funicular to Hohensalzburg for views, marionnette theatre; sleep Salz.
S day 10: SOM tour (I think Bob's includes the Fuschl luge?), evening concert; sleep Salz.
S day 11: daytrip to St. Gilgen and St. Wolfgang, Schafberg, find the luge if we didn't get to do the one in Fuschl (2h on bus/train); sleep Salz.
S day 12: daytrip to Hallstatt and the ice caves (rent a car this day to reduce travel time to 3h); sleep Salz.
S day 13: daytrip to Berchtesgaden, salt mines, and Konigsee (2h on train/bus); sleep Salz
S day 14: more Salzbg in morning, catch Lobo/CK shuttle to Cesky Krumlov (3h); evening in CK; sleep CK
C day 15: Cesky Krumlov; Student Agency bus to Prague (3h); sleep Prague
P day 16: explore Prague old town, beer museum; sleep Pr.
P day 17: more Prague, music, food, and beer festivals, Prosek bobsled; sleep Pr.
P day 18: more Prague or daytrip to Terezin, Konopiste, Kutna Hora, or Karlstejn; sleep Pr.
day 19: depart for US

What do you think? Does it look reasonable? Anything you'd rearrange for better logistics?

Thanks so much for your help already!
- M
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Jan 3rd, 2012, 11:17 AM
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I've been to several of these places, but not the fine points you mention, so can't comment on them (the particular attractions or day trips in Austria). But it seems you are not spending hardly any time in Cesky Krumlov, I would have though you'd spend at least a day there, not just a couple hours (you aren't arriving until evening on day and then you are leaving by bus to Prague the next day). SO I guess that leaves you a half day in CK. YOu can see the castle in that time, sure, just seems kind of hectic.

In case you don't know, but maybe you do, the end of May is the time of two major festivals in Prague (the Spring Music Festival is from 5/12-6/4) and the beer festival during almost same time. I've been there twice in that time as I love classical music, so just a warning. YOu must reserve hotels way far in advance due to that, to get what you want. Also, if you do want to go to any music festival concert, those tickets sell out months in advance, also. It sounds like you are mainly interested in the beer festival, so that won't be a concern (concert tickets), but the acccomodations reservations will be.
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Jan 3rd, 2012, 12:21 PM
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http://www.ceskypivnifestival.cz/en/
the czech Veer festival has moved venues for this year to Holesovice,which is a much easier and quicker site to get to from the city centre.i am in the preocess of organising my trip there at the moment (my 4th to the festival)I see you mention the beer museum ,you do realise it is not a museum but a pub, a very good pub but a pub none the less,it only opend about 16 months ago, Your day trip suggestions from Prague are more than doable Karlsteijn is really only a half day trip.there are several tour companies that will be able to do day trips that may include 2 or more places on a day trip so have a look at some of those.I did one a few years back that did Konopiste and the Kozel brewery in a 5 hour os so trip, a bit rushed but ok.
Kutna hora is easy to do on your own, an hour from Prague by train, again several tour companies do this trip but i have been there twice under my own steam.
Your day 13 seems to me to be a bit crowded
it is a lot to try and fit in especially if you want to go to the Eagles nest whilst in Berchtesgaden,there may be a tour company that will do this trip from Salzberg so consider that saves a lot of hassle with public transport.
to me the itinary just seems a bit too packed a very little time to relax but if thats your travel style who am I to complain.
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Jan 3rd, 2012, 12:23 PM
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must spell check before hitting submit button
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Jan 3rd, 2012, 12:36 PM
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Looks well crafted to me eurocheapo.com
great budget tourist tips for you also
headed there April 2012 got 2 ihg.com
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got almost all nice 4-5* city hotels
free with the points.Saved me a tonne.

Happy Travels!
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Jan 3rd, 2012, 12:37 PM
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always just hop nice trains seat61.com RailJet for me last
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Jan 3rd, 2012, 12:41 PM
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On day 4 I would tour the Hofburg and switch Schonbrunn to Day 6.

Don't forget the covered market and pedestrian shopping street in Pest and the castle district in Buda.

I thought Szentendre was just okay, the best part was coming back by boat to Budapest as night was falling. You could do that instead of a separate cruise.

We took a private walking tour for 4 in Prague which was excellent and a private walking/driving tour in Budapest, also excellent and great for orientation. The opera house tour in Pest was very good.
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Jan 3rd, 2012, 01:11 PM
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You're lacking time in Budapest itself. Too much to see there to bop off for Szentendre for one of your 2.5 days. Go inside the Parliament in Budapest and St. Stephens. Consider this tour:

http://absolutetours.com/tours/regul...ckle-tour.html

You could catch the hydrofoil from Budapest to Vienna. The ride is longer than the train, esp. because you're going upriver, but the scenery may be better (look into that). I'm thinking the boat will go hard by Bratislava Castle, which I don't recall the train doing.

The old Jewish Quarter in Budapest is interesting too, esp. the Dohany Street Synagogue and the Tree of Life Memorial, aka "the Weeping Willow," which was paid for by a grant from Tony Curtis' Emanuel Foundation. Curtis is of Hungarian descent; Emanuel was his father's name. One of the least-known facts of the Holocaust is that Hungary had the second-highest number of victims (Poland was first) even though the Nazis didn't begin deporting Hungarians until 1944 (Hungary's government had collaborated with the Nazis until the country became the last one eaten by the alligator).

See here: http://www.bohemianink.net/?p=2180
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Jan 3rd, 2012, 02:13 PM
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cathinjoe time said what I was going to - too much to get to and tour the Schönbrunn on the day you arrive in vienna. Plus, if you buy a "sissy" ticket at the Hofburg, it will get you into the Schönbrunn without having to queue again, and is valid for the longest tour there.

one evening, instead of a concert [make sure you book a long time ahead if you want the Musikverein] why not go to the Prater? - lovely on a warm night and you can eat in the Biergarten for not very much.

After the Belvedere, consider getting a tram and bus to the top of the Kalhenberg and then walking down through the vineyards to Heiligenstadt and the Huerige near the Beethovenhaus. only worth doing on a nice day but a lot of fun if the sun is shining.

have a great trip!
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Jan 3rd, 2012, 08:11 PM
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You're going to visit some lovely places!

If you have any interest in museums, I would add at least a day - if not 2 - to Vienna. (And even if you aren't that interested in art, consider stopping in the Kunsthistorisches Museum for Klimt's entry stairwell.)

As I recall, I spent 3 full days in both Budapest and Prague, closer to 5 in VIenna, and about 2 in Salzburg. But how much time to give these places really depends on your interests, and it sounds like you have made some reasonable choices based on the things you want to see and experience.

Hope that helps!
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Jan 4th, 2012, 09:55 AM
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Thanks so much for your input! We will skip Szentendre and just enjoy Budapest. I'll definitely look into the hydrofoil from Budapest to Vienna - that sounds beautiful! The Prater looks like a lovely way to take a break from all the stuffy classical art, so thanks for that suggestion, too I definitely want to see some Klimt, which is why I have the Belvedere Palace on the list, so it sounds like I should look into the Kunsthistorisches as well! Have to keep the museums/palace visits balanced, though, since DH doesn't enjoy that much

The Kahlenberg sounds beautiful as well, but is it reasonably accessible via public transportation (looks like it's bus 38A)?

On day 13 being too cramped: We're not too interested in the exhibits at Eagle's Nest, just the beautiful views. If we just do the observation point, will we have time to go to Konigsee on the same day?

On Prague: I was already worried about crowds in Prague, so it sounds like maybe it would be better to avoid Prague during the festivals? Which is worse crowd-wise: festival time in May or summer crowds in early June?

Thanks so much for your help! I'm so excited about this trip
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Jan 4th, 2012, 10:00 AM
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forgot to say that thanks to your input we will also plan to take the shuttle to CK in the morning so we have most of day 14 there, then take an evening bus on day 15 so we have almost 2 full days in CK.
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Jan 4th, 2012, 10:16 AM
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Don't know what to recommend about Prague crowds, it was very crowded when we were there in October a few years ago; the cathedral and Charles Bridge were mobbed. We were advised to watch out for pickpockets, reasonable advice in crowds anywhere.

Good decision about Szentendre, I didn't want to come down on it too hard but I found it loaded with tacky souvenir shops and not much else. Pest's main pedestrian shopping street, Vasi Utca, is really interesting. Apart from some nice shops, there's interesting architecture spanning centuries, a gorgeous art nouneau flower shop, a 17th c church, etc.

As annig described, the bus goes to the top of Kahlenberg and the walking path down through the vineyards is well-signed.
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Jan 4th, 2012, 10:29 AM
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The problem with the Eagles nest is that you have to used specially timed buses,you get given a bus number and tiem on which to go up and the same again to go down,it is pretty strict and walking up and down is not really an option. I wouldd't take one of the optional tours as this just takes up too much time . have a look at one of the later episodes of Band of Brothers to get an idea of the place. the salt mines are much the same you really have to have a timed visit and you are lead by a guide If you are trying to do all this by public transport then you may have difficulty ,with a hired car it should not be a major problem
Prague in May can be pretty busy but not as bad as July and August,get up early and get to the sites you want to visit before the main tourist hoards get up.,some of the streets of the old town can get very packed and the castle area can have big queues to get into some places. I was last in Prague in late October but spent little time in the tourist areas,i did however walk through some of the Royal route through the Old town ,they were digging up all the roads to install some type of pipe and made the place much more crowded than it should have been,walking pace was about a mile an hour,hopefully this should be better in may.
the beer festival is worth going to,some great beer,good food and live entertainment,easy to get to by tram as well but walkable to from some parts of the city.
I hope to be in the Czech republic from the 25th may to 1st june spending a few days at the beer festival with some friends and then heading to Brno for a couple of days before coming back to Prague for one or 2 nights
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Jan 4th, 2012, 11:09 AM
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I'm beginning to think it might make most sense to rent a car for a few days while we're in the Salzkammergut. It would make Hallstatt more do-able as a daytrip, give us more flexibility for the Gilgen/Wolfgang trip, and maybe make the Berchtesgaden day more reasonable - what do you think?
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Jan 4th, 2012, 12:13 PM
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Prague just tends to be crowded - it's a big draw for tourists. Not necessarily a reason to avoid it because it is a great place to visit.
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Jan 4th, 2012, 02:03 PM
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I wouldn't avoid Prague because of the festivals, I've been there twice for that, although the avg tourist doesn't care about the classical music festival. It is very well-known in the classical music world, but that alone isn't going to change your experience. I don't think they had that beer festival when I was there, I don't remember it. But it's probably not going to be great any popular time in Prague (which is probably April-Fall some time).

Both those festivals go into early June, anyway, although not too far, but the first week.
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Jan 4th, 2012, 02:37 PM
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meriberi,

i seem to remember that we got a tram to Heiligenstadt station from just round the corner from the downhill exit from the Belvedere [you can get the bus to the top and walk down through the gardens after you've seen the upper section] and then got a bus from there to the top of the Kahlenberg.

I'll try to find my trip report and see if I put in this detail.

as for museums, the KHM was the one we enjoyed least. by the time you've seen the Hofburg, the Schönbrunn and the Belvedere, you may feel that you've had enough! However included with the sissy ticket is the imperial furniture depository - where they went to furnish the palaces if they wanted 100 chairs for a banquet - we did enjoy that!

don't avoid Prague - like everywhere I've ever been, the very touristy bits are very touristy, but once you walk 50 yards down the road, it all changes.
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Jan 4th, 2012, 02:53 PM
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Hello again,

here's my trip report from our visit ito Vienna and beyond in the summer of 2009.

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...an-odessey.cfm

Vienna was our 2nd stop after Bratislava, so the bits about Vienna are towards the top, including how after we had seen the Belvedere, we got a tram from Schwarzenberplatz to Heiligenstadt station and then a 38A bus to the top of the Kahlenberg.
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Jan 4th, 2012, 03:25 PM
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Might i suggest that one of the first things to do when you arrive in Vienna is to take the yellow Ring Tram around the Ring? Go all the way around the Ring at least once and better twice, since it's only 30 minutes long to go once around the Ring. This is the fastest way to become familiar with the major sights around the Ring.

http://www.wien.info/en/sightseeing/...w-routes-trams

It's the TRAM, not the yellow tour bus, which is hawked by period dress people and is a private bus. The TRAM is a special city tram.

Although the yellow tram stops at several stations, the only station I can remember is the one in front of the Opera house on the corner of the Opernring and Kartnerstrasse. The tram station is on the other side of Kartnerstrasse whereas the private yellow tour bus parks right in front of the opera house. They go along the same route, but the tram is way cheaper and easier to use.

You need at least 4-5 hours to wander around Schonnbrunn Palace gardens to see the different buildings. Pick a nice day weather-wise to do this. This is not a palace/gardens to dash through. You need to go up to the Gloriette which is at the opposite end from the Palace itself. Take your time.


I agree with droppping Szentendre. by itself it's not worth the trip, but if you wanted to go all around the Great Bend of the Danube to the other cities like Esztergom, that will be more worthwhile, but you need more time and probably best to have a car.


There's not much at Karlstejn, rooms pretty much empty. Better Kutna Hora. Agree that you need more time in Cesky Krumlov.
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