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Vienna, Neuschwanstein, and Prague April Trip

We have an upcoming trip to Vienna end of March to beginning of April. Our top things we want to see are Neuschwanstein and Prague. (We got cheap tickets for flying in and out of Vienna). It was a bit overwhelming to try and plan out our timeline but we finally put something into place last night. I plan to start booking all that I can ahead of time and wanted to double check things make sense first before dropping the $$. It's our first time in this part of Europe and planning out something like this. Here's the plan:

  • Sun - Mon: Arrive in Vienna around 3pm. Rest from traveling and have 1 day to just relax and look around.
  • Tues: Rent car from Vienna and travel to Fussen. Plan to make stops along the way as all day is set aside for travel. Ideas are welcomed!
  • Wed: See Neuschwanstein and castle next to it. Explore surrounding area.
  • Thurs: Drive back to Vienna in early morning, return rental car and take a train to Prague to arrive in Prague in evening.
  • Fri - Mon: Stay and explore Prague. Our Anniversary is on that Sat so we were wanting to do a evening dinner cruise.
  • Mon - Tues: Explore other places in Vienna and then fly home.

Questions I have:

  1. Does our timeline logically make sense and seem feasible? We were thinking to save $ and time, it'd be easiest to just drive back to Vienna after the castles and return the rental car back from where we got it. Is there a better option we aren't thinking of?
  2. Best place to buy train tickets/rental cars from?
  3. Suggestions on places to stay in Vienna, Prague, and Fussen? We've been looking at AirBnbs for Prague.
  4. Any specific river dinner cruises people would recommend in Prague or other fun things to do there? So far we didn't really have any specific ideas besides walking around and touring the sites.
  5. We're big foodies and love yummy and fun food! Any great places we need to check out?

Thanks and sorry for such a long post. I appreciate the help in advance!

Posted by
6871 posts

You might want to look up your three cities on Google Maps. Neuschwanstein is a couple of hours southwest of Munich and a long, long way from either Prague or Vienna. An alternative trip if you must go there would be flying into Munich, visiting Neuschwanstein, Salzburg and Vienna.
Your best bet would probably be to skip Neuschwanstein and just go to Vienna and Prague--traveling between the two cities by train. If you have additional time, Bratislava is a nice small city to visit--39 miles from Vienna. And Budapest is another easy to get to place by train from Vienna--and my favorite city in the region.

Posted by
5 posts

Hey David! Thanks for the reply. We did consider going to Budapest as well, but threw it out in order to save more time for Vienna and Prague. Our original plan was Vienna, Budapest, Munich and Prague in 1.5 weeks and quickly shot that down. Ya Neuschwanstein is a must for us to see, which is why we are going out of the way for that. It looks like it will take about 6 hours to drive there. We figured that way we could stop at small cities on the way and just make a day of it! And then drive the 6 hours back to Vienna to avoid the extra surcharge of returning the rental car at a different location.

Posted by
1306 posts

You might want to do a search here on Neuschwanstein. A large percentage of visitors are disappointed with the experience. Note that you only get about 1/2 hour inside on the required tour.

Posted by
1490 posts

Neuschwanstein is completely overrated. It looks pretty on pictures, i.e. only under certain sunlight it shines white. It is the spawn of a distorted mind with no history behind it. But if it is a must for you, I suggest using the express train (RailJet) from Vienna to Salzburg and back, picking up (and returning) the rental car in Salzburg.

Also I would shorten the stay in Prague one day for having more time in Vienna.

Alternatively you could go from Vienna International Airport to Salzburg directly by train, relax half a day in Salzburg, do your Neuschwanstein tour, go by train to Prague, and then to Vienna, having your anniversary dinner there. I'm sure you will get better food here than on a touristy river cruise.

Posted by
3186 posts

I loved Fussen but Neuschwanstein is very missable. It's not really a castle, but a palace built in the 1800's. Definitely not worth a 12 hr drive from Vienna and back. On the other hand, Vienna is wonderful

Posted by
4690 posts

I have a feeling that you are going to go to Neuschwanstein and get your photo no matter what we say. Not what I would do, but it's what you want to do.

I truly suggest that you take a train directly from the Vienna to Munich - or just fly to Munich upon landing in Vienna. You seem to have grand ideas for stopping along the way from Vienna to Germany, but, honestly, it is just a big, ugly highway and you won't have time to see anything. Rent your car in Munich, drive to the castle, and then return your car in Munich. Take the train from Munich to Prague. Coming all the way back to Vienna and then turning right around to go to Prague makes no logistical sense and would add many unnecessary hours to your travel. Have a look at a map and you'll see what I mean.

So here's what I am suggesting:

Sun - Mon: Arrive in Vienna around 3pm. Rest from traveling and have 1 day to just relax and look around.
Tues: Take a train to Munich and rent a car.
Wed: See Neuschwanstein and castle next to it. Explore surrounding area.
Thurs: Return car in Munich and take the train to Prague.
Fri - Mon: Stay and explore Prague. Our Anniversary is on that Sat so we were wanting to do a evening dinner cruise. Take the train to Vienna.
Mon - Tues: Explore other places in Vienna and then fly home

You can book your car rental through kayak.com.

Instructions for your train travel can be found on the Man in Seat 61 website as follows (do not use Rail Europe):
Train journey from Vienna to Munich - https://www.seat61.com/international-trains/trains-from-Vienna.htm#Vienna-Munich
Train journey from Munich to Prague - https://www.seat61.com/trains-and-routes/munich-to-prague-by-train.htm
Train journey from Prague to Vienna - https://www.seat61.com/trains-and-routes/prague-to-vienna-by-train.htm

For hotels in Vienna, you want to stay in the city center. Hard to make a recommendation without your budget and dates.

For food in Vienna, you must have a Wiener Schnitzel, a sausage from a sausage stand, a cake and coffee from a coffehouse and perhaps goulash or tafelspitz.

PS - None of these locations are in Eastern Europe. This term can be offensive to locals. You will be visiting Central Europe.

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks everyone for the info! Ya, Neuschwanstein is a must for us, but now we have the right expectations going into it so we won't be too disappointed. Emily - thanks so much for the suggested revisions! For some reason I remember reading in one of the 3 RS's books we got that there was a beautiful driving route from Vienna to Munich, but I think I confused it with the Romantic road, which after looking it up definitely isn't the same.

I am not sure why we originally avoided taking a train from Vienna to Munich. I think we'll go that route now (after first seeing how much extra it would cost to switch our plane to fly into Munich). And then go from Munich to Prague by train. Those websites are perfect as previously I was searching on Rail Europe.

Also Emily, I really appreciate your feedback on the name of this region of Europe as I had no intention to offend anyone. I will not make that mistake again.

Posted by
505 posts

** We've been looking at AirBnbs for Prague. **

We were very pleased with this AirBnB in the Smichov neighborhood during a 4-night stay in 2017: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/9086038?

It's not in the heart of the tourist areas, but the handy public transportation by tram (across the street) and Metro (5 minute stroll) made for a convenient and economical stay. The more current reviews are consistent with our experience. It is a tiny studio, but spotlessly clean and tidy. Jan, the host, was extremely courteous, met us on arrival for a briefing, and was professional and prompt in all communications.

Sounds like a great Anniversary plan. Bon Voyage!

rca

Posted by
588 posts

Since you are "foodies" you might enjoy a food tour in Prague. We took one with Taste of Prague; Anna was our guide. https://www.tasteofprague.com/prague-foodie-tour/#top

It was a fun evening -- fantastic food, wonderful information about Prague, and an opportunity to see the city by walking and taking the tram. Check it out.

Posted by
1767 posts

Take Emily’s advice.
I’ve been to Neuschwanstein 3 times. If I was in the area tomorrow, I’d go again

Posted by
14 posts

Kim you might want to consider taking the Westbahn train from Vienna to Salzburg. They run every hour and no advance purchase is neccessary. You can just show up at the station and pay the conducter. 20 euros for advance ticket purchase and 33 euro on board. Takes about 2.5 hours and you can rent a car in Salzburg and drive to Neuschwanstein and return your car in Salzburg and take a train back. Check out seat61.com for your best train options. My suggestion is you visit Hohenschwangau and view Neuschwanstein from the outside either by walking up to it or by viewing it from Mary's Bridge. There is a path around the lake and a museum that is very good. Remember if you purchase your tickets and don't make it up to the castle by your assigned time, you won't be able to get in. They tightly control the flow of tourists so you must be punctual and watch the electronic sign for your time to show up.

Posted by
1490 posts

... previously I was searching on Rail Europe

NEVER buy tickets from RailEurope, always use the websites of the respective national carrier.

Posted by
795 posts

I wish you luck and a clear day at Neuschwanstein, you should expect rain in April though. And take Emily's advice, the direct drive from Vienna is nothing great, but when you have the time to drive the secondary roads and make a 3-4 day trip out of it crossing Austria is glorious.

The best place I know in Prague is Domus Bathazar; a small boutique hotel with fantastic location and really nice rooms. Try to get the top floor apartment, the bathroom is fabulous!

Posted by
114 posts

We had a great anniversary lunch at Bellevue restaurant in Prague last year. It’s near Charles Bridge. The food was excellent. We tend to book lunch not dinners at expensive restaurants as it is usually easier to get a booking and you get the same standard of food for les $$.

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks all for your advice and suggestions! Tried to switch our flight to come into Munich but would have been $1K more per person...so that's out. But we are going to do what a lot of you suggested and just take the train from Vienna to Munich. Rent a car to see Neuschwanstein. Then train from Munich to Prague. Also, I appreciate all the lodging and food suggestions. Writing them all down and gonna start working on booking them this week!

These might be silly questions but do we have to buy any special tickets for the trains if we are traveling with all our luggage? (Will there be a place to put it?) Also, my husband is a larger individual at 6'2 (played rugby in college) and very broad. Should we consider getting 1st class on the train mainly so there is more room in the seats or will 2nd class be OK?

Posted by
539 posts

Kim: Regarding your train question...check to make certain if your trip requires a reservation. If so, you must make a reservation if it has not already been included in the cost of your ticket. The train trip to Prague will be 4 hours so you could find more comfort in 1st class. I suspect it will be €25 - €50 more per ticket to go from 2nd to 1st. Also, choose your times carefully as you can save a lot by taking certain times. Also, look if there are no stops as well or changes. Book directly on the ÖBB web site.

Regarding Prague, Loď Pivovar is on the river and has good food and a microbrewery. U Tří růží is a great restaurant that locals go to that is near the old center. See if you can get a table near the windows upstairs. DM me for an interesting and cheap place for lunch in the city center. Definitely will be the only tourists there for a €1 beer and cheap eats.

Posted by
27735 posts

how much luggage is "all our luggage"? It makes a difference on the trains.

Posted by
4690 posts

Seriously, 2nd class is just as spacious as 1st class. Do not waste your money. Train seats are not like airplane seats. There is no extra cost for luggage, you are just expected to handle it and store it yourself once you enter the train. Austrians are pretty tall people, as a general rule. A 6'2" person is normal here. My 15 year old is taller.

Posted by
5 posts

Perfect! Thanks for the info! And not excessive amounts of luggage, just a large carry on bag each and possibly book bags each.