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How much time in Salzburg?

Hubby and I flying from Chicago to Salzburg (via Frankfurt) arriving on Saturday, December 21st. We plan to spend a few days there relaxing, listening to music, eating, etc before starting a busy sightseeing trip to either Prague or Budapest (haven't decided yet), Krakow and spending New Year's Eve in Munich, before flying home on January 1st.

We always like to start in a smaller place to get over jet lag and into the holiday mode. Salzburg sounds ideal! Given that it's the easy part of a busy trip, how many nights should we stay? How much is there to see/do? Thinking right nw that we will spend at least the first two nights--Dec. 21 & 22nd--in Salzburg. We have been to Vienna so just want to stay in Salzburg vicinity.

Does it make sense to travel on December 24th as things are shutting down? Plan on taking the train and wondering if it will be packed on that day, or if people are using that day to travel to family?

And while I'm at it, would you choose Prague or Budapest for the 4-night part of our trip? Haven't been to either. Thanks in advance.

Posted by
694 posts

The problem is time of year. I can't advise as to Budapest, but Salzburg and Prague are going to be pretty slow this year with Christmas falling in the middle of the week. Sundays are normally days when only minimal services are available, Mondays are not much better. Christmas is Wednesday, and with Christmas Eve on Tuesday I would expect things to close up early and stay closed until Thursday, and that only gives you 3 days in the entire trip when things will be open as "normal".

Salzburg is an ideal city for taking things slow, Prague is also. I can easy spend 3-4 days in each just walking around and eating and drinking as the mood hits.

I like to stay in boutique hotels (Domus Balthatzar in Prague and Boutique Hotel am Dom in Salzburg) but you may want to try the bigger chain places just to ensure you have services over the holidays.

Posted by
17090 posts

All of Budapest, Prague and Krakow have much lovely architecture to look at on days when everything is pretty much closed. I feel as if I did a lot more walking in Budapest (which is the largest) to see those pretty buildings; public transportation was there to be used, but my preference is to walk most of the time. I believe you can see more in a condensed area of Prague, and of course Krakow is the smallest by a considerable margin.

Unfortunately, the weather may not be so great for strolling outdoors. The historical averages cutting off in 2000 included in the cities' Wikipedia articles show that Krakow is likely to be the chilliest and Budapest the warmest, but the differences are not great. In addition, the Krakow article includes averages for a more recent period that are warmer; perhaps December/January has warmed up in the other two cities as well. You're considerably more likely to face precipitation in Krakow, and it will have only about half as much sun as the others (an average of about 1 hour per day vs. 2 hours).

Posted by
823 posts

We spent 3 1/2 days in Salzburg and feel it was about the right amount of time. The better part of a day was spent at Schloss Hellbrunn but the garden and "trick fountains" tour wouldn't apply in December. Another big chunk of time was spent at Hohensalzburg Fortress and yet another big chunk of time was spent at the DomQuartier museum complex. If you have a car, Hohenwerfen Castle in Werfen, Austria (filming location of Where Eagles Dare) might also be worthy - especially if you're a film buff (we also found the Leonardo Da Vinci museum entertaining).

Posted by
350 posts

We arrived in Budapest on Christmas Eve and stayed for several nights a few years ago. I think you would find enough to do there. We had a nice Christmas Eve Dinner, went to the Christmas Market and took a boat cruise on Christmas day, and saw the Nutcracker Ballet and went to the Baths on the day after Christmas. By the 27th, thing were re-opening. One more day would have been nice. We spent several more days and new years eve in Vienna before flying home on New Year's Day.

So I don't know Prague, but Budapest was fun.

I thought three nights was enough in Salzburg in summer. In winter, your suggested two is probably good.