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Short Danube cruise/tour? Also Cesky Krumlov, Melk questions

Hey Stevers! (Is there a name for Rick Steves fans? Rickets?) I'm leaving Prague on April 16 and stopping in Salzburg and Vienna before flying home from Budapest on May 3. I need advice from somebody who's been there.

I want to take trains on every leg of the journey, except I HAVE to do some kind of Danube boat thing, right? Any idea where? In between cities, or a day trip out of a city?

I realize this is a looong time to see this part of the world. I figured 6 days in Salzburg, 6 in Vienna, and 4 in Budapest. Should I stop in Cesky Krumlov? Melk? Would I need a car in either location? I love Unesco World Heritage Sites.

Also, is there somewhere in the neighborhood I missed? I'm in no hurry and have no problem with hanging out somewhere picturesque and drinking coffee and/or mulled wine.

Posted by
5697 posts

The train/boat combo from Vienna to Melk and back is a quite pleasant day trip.

Posted by
13569 posts

First stay flexible so if on place doesn't light your fire you can move on to the next.

Since you say that you will be flying home from Budapest for the boat trip you might consider the train from Budapest to Szentendre and then the boat back to Budapest. Its only about a 45 minute boat trip but Budapest is wonderful when you enter it on the river.

Posted by
4695 posts

The Wachau is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a great day trip from Vienna. Take the train from Vienna to Melk; take the boat from Melk to Durnstein; rent bikes; check out Durnstein; take the WL1 bus to Krems train station and get back to Vienna.

Also along your route worth checking out - the Salzkammergut region south of Salzburg (personally, I'd stay there, St. Wolfgang or St. Gilgen, and make a day trip to Salzburg). Gmunden, Enns, Regensburg, Passau, Brno also nice.

Posted by
6880 posts

Salzburg is a very small city but 3 days would be better spent elsewhere--like more days in Budapest.

If you've got 6 days scheduled in Vienna, you certainly could take a day trip to Melk--a popular stop.

You can catch a hydrofoil from downtown Vienna to Bratislava, Slovakia--about 39 miles and 75 minutes. Bratislava is also a very popular day trip from Vienna, and it would be a good stopover between Vienna and Budapest. Trains go right into Budapest from there.

Posted by
527 posts

Agree with Emily...the Wachau is wunderbar. I don't know why people keep recommending Hungary on the Austria is no longer part of the old Habsburg empire. :-) Here comes the flamers!

Posted by
527 posts

As far as I have heard, all is back in place, however, Emily would have the best knowledge about what is current up there.

Posted by
4637 posts

To avoid too much backtracking stop in Cesky Krumlov on the way to Salzburg. I would recommend at least one overnight. You can do some day trips from Salzburg like Hallstadt, salt mines. Stop in Melk. Take a hydrofoil from Vienna to Bratislava. You have enough time to overnight there, too. From Bratislava to Budapest you can go also by hydrofoil (or train).

Posted by
4695 posts

All was back in order and cleaned up two weeks after the flooding. You'd never know it happened.

Posted by
10 posts

Thank you so much, everyone. Okay, I've made another rough cut at plans.

We take a bus from Prague to Cesky Krumlov and stay there one night. From there we take a bus to St. Wolfgang and stay three nights. We do a day trip to Hallstadt and maybe Salzburg. From there we go to Vienna for six nights. We do day trips to Melk, Wachau, and Bratislava. We take a hydrofoil or train (leaning toward train, since we'll already have done a boat trip) to Budapest for six more nights, and we do a day boat trip to Szentendre.

Next round of questions. I'm tempted to take the train from Prague to CK. Supposedly it's gorgeous and quaint (and cheap) but it's also time-consuming. Thoughts? I'm not going to miss anything without having a car? And any tips on hotels and/or B&Bs?

Thanks again! I'm really starting to get excited about this.

Posted by
4695 posts

"We do day trips to Melk, Wachau, and Bratislava."

Melk is in the Wachau, so I am assuming you are describing 2 day trips, not 3 day trips?

Are you really sure about Bratislava? It's ok, but with so few days in Vienna, I think you can skip it.

Take the train to Budapest. The boat/hydrofoil isn't a good move.

Posted by
2134 posts

In regards to your question about needing a car in CK, you do not. It's tiny and very walkable. We went there from Prague but ended up using CKShuttle, which was $85 and took three hours. After I researched train times, I found this to be a reasonable option, but then again, I got to split it with someone so the price was cut in half. We stayed at the Castle View apartments for $130 per night. They were excellent - clean, modern and spacious, but not cookie cutter at all.

Posted by
781 posts

We stayed in St Wolfgang in May of 13 and traveled the region,spent six nights at a great Hotel on the lakefront called Seebocken Hotel,one of the best hotels I have stayed anywhere,ther are a lot of things to see from there,maybe three days in Salzburg and three in St Wolfgang,also close to Hallstat.We have also been to Cesky Krumluv,worth the trip,it is Rothenburg without the crowds.

Posted by
1437 posts

You would need a car, if staying in St-Wolfgang, IMO. See if you can pick it up in Salzburg and return it on arrival in Vienna.

This would give you the freedom to just head down the road to Hallstatt (do visit the salt mine!), afterwards, you can head to Durnstein (on the Danube, surrounded by vineyards) where you can spend 1-2 nights to explore the Wachau valley and Melk.

Bratislava is an easy hour by train from Vienna.

Which time of the year are you heading out? Do you cycle?

Posted by
10 posts

Thanks again, everybody. Here's the itinerary now:

Prague to Cesky Krumlov by train. (We like trains, and it's supposed to be scenic.) 2 nights.
Cesky Krumlov to Salzburg by either train or Bean shuttle. 3 nights.
Salzburg to St. Wolfgang by bus. (They leave frequently, cost around 8 euros, and arrive in 1 3/4 hrs, apparently.) 3 nights.
St. Wolfgang back to Salzburg by bus, then immediately on to Vienna by Westbahn train. (24 euros, buy on the train.) 6 nights.
Vienna to Budapest by bus. 5 nights.

I know there's backtracking but we have plenty of time and all legs seem to be pretty cheap.

Too long in Salzburg or St. Wolfgang (car-less)? Also, someone suggested stopping in Gyor for one night between Vienna and Budapest so that's an option.

Day trips:
Out of St. Wolfgang for Hallstadt, salt mines.
Out of Vienna to Wachau/Melk by train, maybe from there boat to Durnstein, bus to Krems, train back to Vienna
Out of Vienna to Bratislava by train
Out of Budapest to Szentendre

Diane, I decided against a car. Too expensive and worrisome. (I live in NY and haven't driven in 13 years.) We'll be fine drinking cappuccinos and eating pastries in St. Wolfgang. We're going in the middle of April, haven't even thought about the weather. And my co-traveler was hit by a car while riding a bicycle when he was five and hasn't gotten onto another one since. :(

Posted by
4695 posts

I think this is a great itinerary. If you really insist on Bratislava, then be sure to take the bus, not the train. The bus will drop you off at the center, unlike the train which lets you off far from center. For the bus (Blaguss or Eurolines) take the U3 to Erdberg Bus station (there are signs). Get on a bus going to the Bratislava Airport as it will stop at the Nový most (the monstrous 'UFO' - type bridge), which is a short walk to the center. Here is an article to get you started:

Since you will be in Vienna in mid-April, be sure to go to the Easter Markets at Freyung in the First District and at Schonbrunn.

Note the spelling of Hallstatt.

Posted by
7616 posts

With that schedule, I would advise you to skip Bratislava. If you really want time to enjoy
Vienna itself and the Wachau, I think Bratislava is just one day trip too many.

Posted by
10 posts

Just to double-check, do I really want to go to St. Wolfgang? I've been looking at pictures and don't see much there, plus Tripadvisor lists like FIVE attractions. We're not huge fans of hiking or scenery, though walking around villages is great.(It doesn't make sense to hike through a forest in Austria when it could be Maine for all we know.) A boat ride to St. Gilgen sounds great, railway sounds great, and the salt mine thing sounds good. It's worthwhile, and doable without a private car?

Unfortunately we arrive in Vienna after the Easter market but we'll be in Prague for theirs. Emily, thanks for the tip!

Posted by
15 posts

we have 10 days. Please help. We are flying into Budapest. 3/4 days Budapest - possible train to Szentendre and the boat back to Budapest. Train to Vienna. I would like to see the Wachau valley on the way to Cesky krumlov. On the map it looks like Vienna to Krems, krems to Melk, then I would like to go from Melk to Cesky Krumlov. We end our trip in Prague and fly out of Prague.

Please give details about how to do the Vienna to Cesky Krumlov part. Someone wrote a train/boat/bus trip through there. Should we spend one night at the end of this journey in the Wachau Valley before going on to Cesky Krumlov? I can't figure out how to do this and would appreciate the help. We bought our airline tickets so now i have to figure out the land part.



Posted by
4695 posts

Yes, it looks simple on a map, but getting from Melk to Cesky Krumlov is no easy thing on public transport. To get from one to the other in under 6 hours, you would need to make 3-4 changes. I also don't think you want to explore the Wachau Valley lugging your suitcases behind you.

My suggestion would be to visit the Wachau as a day trip from Vienna and then take the Bean Shuttle from Vienna to Cesky Krumlov. You can then have flexible dates for the Wachau and visit on a nice weather day as well. To do the day trip, take the train from Vienna to Melk. Take the boat from Melk to Spitz, Weissenkirchen or Durnstein. Explore those villages on foot or by bike. Take the WL1 bus to the Krems train station. Take the train back to Vienna.

The Bean Shuttle picks you up/drops you off at your hotel for a reasonable price. Google them. From Vienna to Cesky Krumlov, the journey is equally complicated and long.