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Eastern Europe (Kraków, Prague, Vienna, Budapest) 16-day 8/26-9/12/19 itinerary dilemma

I will go to Eastern Europe and my top priorities are Prague and Budapest. I also really want to fit in Vienna and Kraków, and if possible Český Krumlov and Bratislava as well. I will leave Monday 8/26/19 and return on Thursday 9/12/19. So I will have 16 days. I'm a solo traveler and middle-aged guy with good health/fitness. it will be my big milestone birthday celebration. I have been to France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Turkey, UK, and Austria (not Vienna). Currently, I will fly into Kraków from Portland Oregon on Monday 8/26 and return to US from Budapest on 9/12. I can still change the flight in the next 10 hours. I plan to take trains and all public transportations.

So would you think it's a too busy itinerary or I have enough time to visit and enjoy all cities? Should I remove Kraków and instead fly into Prague and spend more time in Budapest and Prague perhaps to add some side-trip e.g. Eger etc? If you were me, how would you do?

I haven't booked my lodging yet. So if you have any hotel recommendations and restaurants for a solo male traveler in these places, I appreciate that you let me know. Also, should I book a hotel or find something with AirBnb for my situation?

Thank you so much in advance for your feedback. Since I need to change my flight very soon, I appreciate your quick response.

Posted by
9643 posts

Do not remove Krakow! It is our favorite Central European city, lacking the crowds of Prague, smaller. We walked the whole city in our four night stay. We have also visited Budapest which we preferred to Prague.

Posted by
3158 posts

we have been to all those places and I would leave krakow for another trip, because you can easily spend 16 days in Poland there are many wonderful cities to visit. That said, I don’t know how in depth you like to get. We can’t walk by a museum, castle, historic house, Church, factory, etc without going in. Heck, my husband is a chef and going to grocery stores is sightseeing for him. You might move faster being solo and this itinerary is fine for you. We also like the smaller cities and towns and there are so many just a bus or train ride away, especially in Czech Republic and Hungary. Except for Poland, we have been to all the places you list multiple times and we would still go back to visit them again - except for Bratislava, one day was enough. It wasn’t bad, just small. Another trip to Poland is on our agenda too. Also, remember traveling from place to place can eat up a lot of your time.
Added - like Suki said, we liked Krakow the best too but all of Poland was wonderful, a country you can definitely make multiple trips to.

Posted by
3628 posts

Your trip is nearly identical to the one I did last fall, including flying into Krakow and leaving from Budapest. I had 17 full days and wished that I had 1 more. I made it work by taking the night train from Krakow to Prague to "save" a day of sightseeing.

I loved the duration of my visits as a "sampler." I could easily have spent more time in Prague, Vienna and Budapest. But I learned which cities I liked and which I want to go back to. I'm going back to Prague this fall for day trips. I'll return to Vienna and Budapest (after Budapest opera house reopens) for more of everything!

My itinerary (with hotels, where notable) was:

  • flight arrived late evening

4 full days Krakow
- Hotel Maltanski was ideally situated near Wawel Castle and Old Town (10 minute walk from main square)
- overnight train Krakow to Prague

3 full days Prague
- not enough time for side trips
- morning train to CK

1.5 days Cesky Krumlov
- my mid-trip "vacation from my vacation"
- Pension Barbakan, wonderful people, located just at top of town outside pedestrian zone
- morning CK Shuttle to Vienna

3.5 days Vienna
- did not take side trip to Bratislava, too much to see in Vienna
- morning train to Budapest

3.5 days Budapest
- did not take side trips, too much to see in Budapest!
- K&K Hotel is a great location, though not a budget hotel
- early morning flight

Posted by
3628 posts

If you are thinking if this as a "sampler" itinerary and you like to stay busy during your trips, I would encourage you to add 1 more day, or 2 if you're taking a day train from Krakow to Prague. If "fast-paced" is your style, I encourage you to leave Krakow in your itinerary. I absolutely loved Krakow and it has made me want to see more of Poland, including Wroclaw this fall.

If you like to linger during your vacations, you may wish you had 1 less big destination or more days.

Posted by
3628 posts

I wanted to add one more note because it made such a difference to my very similar itinerary to yours.

Whereas the transit between Prague-CK, CK-Vienna and Vienna-Budapest will chew up several hours (I allowed for half a day, door to door), the train or bus journey from Krakow to Prague is 6+ hours and more. Basically a full day, unless you take the night train, as I did. I loved the night train, slept well, woke up in Prague and was on a tour bus by mid-morning. Many people can't sleep on them and it would ruin their next day of sightseeing.

If you don't want to take the night train, you'll want to allow nearly a full day for the transfer from Krakow to Prague.

Posted by
10 posts

Thank you all for great insights/feedback/input. They are really helpful. I will skip Kraków this time and will make it into another trip to Poland, as I agree it would be too much and I could not add another day to the trip. It's the maximum that I can do.

So If I just focus on Prague, Vienna, and Budapest as my major stays for 16 days. How should I divide to those cities and what other side trips and smaller cities that I should add to my itinerary? Should I shorten it to 15 days as it would allow me more recovery time back to US?

Thank you for your quick response as I need to change my flight in the next few hours.

Posted by
3628 posts

I'm not clear whether you leave home on Aug 26 or arrive in Europe on Aug 26, but here's a rough itinerary assuming the latter.

Aug 26 Arrive in Prague (assumes evening arrival, bonus time if earlier arrival)
5N Prague Aug 26, 27, 28, 29, 30
- 3 full days Prague
- plus 1 day trip from Prague

Aug 31 morning train/bus to Cesky Krumlov
1N Cesky Krumlov

Sept 1 morning train or shuttle CK to Vienna
5N Vienna Sept 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
- 3.5 days Vienna
- plus 1 day trip from Vienna

Sept 6 morning train Vienna to Budapest
(corrected) 6N Budapest Sept 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11
- 4.5 days Budapest
- plus 1 day trip from Budapest

Sept 12 fly home

Adjust according to the sights and day trips that interest you!

Posted by
3628 posts

If you depart the US on Aug 26 and arrive in Prague on Aug 27th, be cautious of how you adjust your timing in Prague and Cesky Krumlov as the castle in Cesky Krumlov is closed on Mondays - Sept 2nd in your itinerary.

Posted by
10 posts

Thank you so much CWsocial!!! This looks so great! In fact, I will 7am Aug 27 in Prague. So would you think I should adjust the schedule that you proposed? Also do I need to stay one night (or two) at Bratislava? What are your suggestions for side trip from Prague, Vienna, and Budapest?

Posted by
10 posts

Based on CWsocial's proposed itineray, I would stay in Budapest for 6 nights. Would you think that would be too long and I can fly home one day earlier (9/11 instead of 9/12) or I can add Bratislava in between Vienna and Budapest? Or I can add another city (what would that city be?)

Thank you!

Posted by
3628 posts

Based on arriving on August 27th at 7am in Prague, you would still have 3 near-full days in Prague. So you don't have to adjust the itinerary. But you may wish to add a night/day in Prague if, for example, you want to allow for jet lag.

Beyond that, it's really up to you as to the sights and day-trips that interest you and how many days you want in each city.

Posted by
13820 posts

Hi,

What Krakow and Prague have in common is that these two cities survived the war intact, basically undamaged from the horrors of the war.

There are night train connections between Prague and Krakow and Budapest and Krakow, and Vienna and Krakow if you want to consider those options. I would, since I have no problems going by night train. I go solo too, at least in Wien and BP.

Posted by
10 posts

Thanks so much CWsocial and Fred.

Fred, thanks a lot for the info. I will skip Krakow this time and will come back to Poland for another trip. Enjoy your trip!

Posted by
13820 posts

Yes, what James really is saying is "enjoy east-central Europe !"

Exactly...save Poland for another trip when you can relax and visit without being rushed and under a time constraint.

Posted by
15159 posts

No, James is saying enjoy Eastern Europe; Eastern Europe being a compound noun. Central as in central Europe would be an adjective.