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Prague - Budapest - Vienna - Munich

We plan to visit Prague, Budapest, Vienna and Munich at the end of August and have a few questions.

Day 0: arrive in Prague
Day 1-2: Prague
Day 3: Prague to Budapest, train is about 7 hours, is it better to fly?
Day 4-5: Budapest, would it be really hot at the end of August? If so should we drop Budapest and add Salzburg instead?
Day 6-7: Vienna
Day 8: Vienna to Salzburg or one more day in Vienna?
Day 9-11: Munich including one day to the Neuschwanstein castle
Day 12: leave from Munich

Question on train ticket in general, do we need to buy in advance? In our past trips to Italy and Spain, it seems buying train tickets in advance gave good discount.

Would there be a lot of tourists at the end of August?

Thanks!

Posted by
14499 posts

Hi,

Chances are that Budapest will be hot at the end of August, maybe even oppressively hot. Admittedly, I have not been there at that time but have been to Vienna at the end of Aug/Sept. which is usually a couple of degrees cooler than BP, still it was hot in Vienna. If it's 33 C in Vienna, Budapest conceivably could be 35 or 36C. Re: cancelling BP, you have to decide that. I wouldn't since I have my own interests there to trackdown.

Posted by
17854 posts

Jamie the averages for August are:

August average temperatures
Budapest 59F to 79F
Vienna 57F to 75F
Prague 54F to 73F
Munich 54F to 73F
http://www.holiday-weather.com/munich/averages/

Buy you say the end of August so the "average" for August is going to be a little high. The average high in September is 72 in Budapest. I would guess on average the temperature would be closer to 75F for a high give or take 10F. All the numbers for all the cities, both high and low are plus or minus 10F. That's just life, you never know. Opressively hot? To be really honest, I don't go anyplace in Europe in August. Between the wall to wall tourists and the near total lack of anything that meets US standards for air conditioning it just isn't that pleasant. But SEPTEMBER! There is no better time to be in this part of Europe. Delay two weeks if possible and it will be 200% better.

As for your schedule, the train despite being 7 hours is probably no better and no worse than a flight but a lot cheaper. Still I would break up the trip and go from Prague to Vienna by train, spend a day then travel on to Budapest by train. On the return you spend another day or two in Vienna and then on to Munich. I think throwing in Salzburg is pushing the schedule too thin, but that's just me. Another option that makes good sense is the night train from Prague to Budapest. Personally I don't do night trains but if it doesn't bother you , then you go to bed the night of day 2 in Prague and you wake up in Budapest the next morning.

Posted by
8124 posts

Your itinerary is a little aggressive for 12 days. All of your cities are each worthy of 4 days or more--and you'll still be missing many popular tourist sights. Remember that your first and last days are spent coming from and going to the airport.

We returned 4/2014 from Budapest, Vienna and Prague. A fourth city really breaks the camel's back.

I say pick three of these great cities. Munich is the best city to fly back to the U.S. from, however. Flying out of Prague and Budapest will go through another gateway European city which means very early a.m. flights.

FYI: We preferred Budapest over Prague, as it was much more reasonably priced. Czech beer's about all that's now cheap in the big city. We also found ourselves to be very comfortable in Budapest. We also liked the incredible grunge bars in Budapest.

Posted by
11294 posts

I agree 1000% with David's comment that in your allotted time, you should only try to see three cities. Remember that two nights in a city equals only one full day, and that you lose a half to a whole day each time you change cities. He's also right that each of your cities is worth 3 full days even on a blitz itinerary.

Which to cut? That's eternally debated. I won't help by stating my experience that even though Prague, Vienna and Budapest are spoken of as triplets, and have both geographic proximity and shared history, they are as different as apples, oranges, and bananas; and Munich is different again. Which ones you will or won't like is something you will only know after you've seen them.

Posted by
2393 posts

Keep Budapest - mid 70's to low 80's should be no problem.

Definitely drop Salzburg and stay in Vienna one more day.

there is a direct flight from Prague to Budapest 1hr 25 mins at either 7:20 am or 5:45 pm but it'll cost you $250 - 275 per person - figure 4 -5 hrs for flying - transport to/from airports and waiting time at airport

the train will run $28 2nd class & $48 first class and take you from city center to city center

Posted by
12 posts

I agree with the others. I just got back from a very similar trip with my BFF:
4 days in Budapest. We covered it pretty well, but I loved this city and want more time there!
3 days in Vienna. Not nearly enough time. There is a seemingly endless amount of stuff you can do here!
2.5 in Salzburg (the other .5 was the train to Munich and an evening there). 2.5 days was enough time, maybe even 2 would do it, but I really liked Salzburg's small town feel.
1 full day to see Neuschwanstein from Munich. So other than the evening after we arrived from Salzburg, and the evening after our 10-hour tour returned, we didn't see or do much in Munich itself.

Even that itinerary felt a little crunched, and you're trying to pack in Prague! Of the options, Prague is the one that's the farthest from the cluster, so though it's one of my favorite cities, I'd advise saving it for later. Or look into low cost flights that could save you time. Budapest is also awesome, and even if it's very hot you can cool off at Szechenyi or another Turkish bath! My trip was in the beginning of July, and our destinations were a bit crowded but not inconveniently so. So your trip in August should be even better since it's more off peak.

My BFF and I did buy tickets in advance from Raileurope, and they arrived by snail mail before the trip. I would buy tickets very soon before economy seats get booked up, and so you receive the tickets on time.

P.S. just in case you need pronunciation help like I did, Neuschwanstein is pronounced "Noy-shvahn-stine." And I was pretty happy with the Grey Line Linderhof+Neuschwanstein tour booked through Viator.com.

P.P.S I'm almost done blogging about the trip as a resource for others - let me know if you're interested in those insights.

Posted by
14499 posts

Hi,

Since you're in the Bay Area (San Jose?) keep in mind the temperatures are relative. Experiencing, say 84F in Sacramento or Bakersfield is a lot more tolerable (even comfortable?) than 80 F in Vienna or Budapest, which you may find oppressively hot.

As for what to cut out, that is, if you must, I suggest Prague. Weigh the alternatives.

Posted by
17854 posts

To Fred's comment. He may be correct. And remember there is almost no "real" or "American Style" air conditioning in Europe. Which is why I don't do July or August in Europe.

If you need help with Budapest, that's my hobby so let me know.

This works. It gives you some reasonable time in each city:
Prague: The equivalent of three productive days. A little much for my view of Prague but I am unique.
Budapest: Also the equivalent of three productive days. My personal taste would be to steal a day from Prague and add it to Budapest but I am very biased. If you get bored in Prague you can always leave a day early.
Vienna: Again, based on my personal bias the equivalent of two and a half productive days is more than enough.
Munich: Never been there. Just put the number of days you chose.

0 Depart the US
0 Arrive in Prague at 3pm, clean up and see the square until early bed (jet lagged)
1 Real full day in Prague
2 Real full day in Prague
3 Night train to Budapest
4 Good Morning, its Budapest
5 Budapest
6 Budapest
7 Morning train to Vienna
8 Vienna
9 Afternoon train to Munich
10 Munich
11 Munich
12 Munich to home
However if it were my trip or I was planning it for a friend it would go like this:
0 Depart the US
0 Arrive in Prague at 3pm, clean up and see the square until early bed (jet lagged)
1 Real full day in Prague
2 Real full day in Prague
3 Morning Bean Shuttle to Cesky Krumlov
4 Afternoon Bean Shuttle to Vienna
5 Vienna
6 Vienna
7 Morning train to Gyor & Archabbey at Pannonhalma
8 Morning train to Budapest
9 Budapest
10 Budapest
11 Budapest
12 Home
WAIT, No Munich!!! If Germany interests you I would spend a week or two on another vacation to see Germany.

Posted by
14499 posts

@ Jamie...If I wasn't clear, I meant being out in the open in Vienna or Budapest with the temp at 84F as opposed to being in Bakersfield or Sacramento or Fresno with that temperature beaming at you. You'll see which is oppresive in July and August

Posted by
17854 posts

@Fred, I agree. I think the problem is compounded because there is no place to duck in for relief. Here in Texas it may be 104F on occasions but we go from AC house to AC car to AC store and its okay. Even at 85F that's pretty much the life style. In most of Europe my experience has been that somewhere between 80F and 85F depending on the humidity and air circulation is pretty much my limit for a comfortable and enjoyable trip. Mostly because there is no "real" AC to duck into; not in the bars or the restaurants or the shops. But I have gotten up there in years. When I was younger, much younger I backpacked across southern Europe and into Egypt in August and the last thing I remember is the heat. You know I love Budapest, but even in June I demand accommodations with "REAL" AC.

Another drawback of traveling in July and August is that a lot of the theaters are on break and this part of the world is a wonderful place to enjoy good music and good theater.

On the other hand, if August is only opportunity I was going to have to see these wonderful places - Budapest included = I would suck it up and go. Go to BassPro, buy some lightweight fishing clothing that you can pack tight, stay cool in and wash the sweat out of in the sink each evening and go for it. Oh, don't forget the hotel room or apartment with really, really good AC. Another technique might be to get up early, have a blast in the morning as most of these places have relatively cool mornings, the sleep until sunset as most of these places have cool evenings and great night life. Heck, dinner in most of Europe doesn't begin until 7pm and drinks can last till midnight in some street side café. It's all adaptable as long as you are in the right mindset.

Posted by
52 posts

Thank you for everyone's input. I agree with most of you that it's a little tight to pack 4 great cities in a 12-day visit. We're hoping to see Prague, Vienna, and Munich (mainly for the Neuschwanstein castle) on this trip. Initially we had Salzburg as a short stop between Vienna and Munich but later decided to add Budapest instead. Maybe too ambitious?

We would prefer to spend less days in Munich if it wasn't for the BMW factory tour booked on day 9. Maybe we should rethink about whether to drop the BMW factory tour so that we can spend a couple of more days in Prague or Budapest.

Kara, I'd love to check out your blog about your recent visit if it's available.

Thanks!

Posted by
17854 posts

Here are the events in Budapest in August and Sept. Maybe that will help you decide.

http://visitbudapest.travel/budapest-events/
St. Stephen's Day is the biggest celebration each year in Budapest and the Jewish Festival is a lot of fun with food and music in what was the WWII Deportation Ghetto.

Also This was filmed almost entirely in Budapest
http://www.ispot.tv/ad/7wvw/viking-river-cruises-see-things-differently-
and https://www.youtube.com/embed/o_TVq1UJw8I?showinfo=1&modestbranding=1&rel=0&wmode=opaque&autoplay=0&enablejsapi=1&origin=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.vikingrivercruises.com
and
http://www.vikingrivercruises.com/holiday-cruises/2014/videos.html#video/shopping-budapest

Posted by
1646 posts

Just got back from Budapest-Vienna-Prague-Cesky Krumlov-Salzburg-Munich.

Salzburg was my least favourite, so, given your time constraints, my suggestion is that you don't try to add Salzburg if you want to include Budapest in your trip.

Budapest and Prague were my favourite cities. Nymphenburg Palace in Munich was one of my favourite palaces. If you have only a couple of days in Munich, stay in Munich and see that as well as the Residenz. (I didn't go to the Ludwig castles, though, so I can't really compare.)

All those places were hot most days in July, and all had some days that were cooler/hotter than others. Our hottest day was one of our Budapest days (+37). It was bearable because 1) we had a place with air conditioning, and 2) Budapest has the baths, so there is someplace to go to get wet.

I do think your schedule is a bit ambitious. We had 20 nights plus our days/nights flying to and from Europe, and our days were full. Mind you, we do like to take our time to get to know a place a little and explore (e.g. walking the moat path in Prague, going to 3 different baths in Budapest, etc.).

I think someone else may have mentioned this, but geographically, it would make more sense to stop in Vienna in between Prague and Budapest. Consider doing something like Munich-Prague-Vienna-Budapest, or vice-versa, to minimize your travel time and maximize your sightseeing time.

Since you asked, given your time constraints, I do suggest you consider dropping one city. It would make sense to go to Munich-Salzburg-Vienna-Prague (or vice versa), for instance. Or leave out Munich and Salzburg, and just go to Prague, Vienna, and Budapest.

Posted by
14499 posts

Very good to know but not surprising for Budapest having had the hottest temperature at +37 C. I'll keep that in mind when I am there next summer. Having been in Vienna at 33 to 35C was stifling enough. Rule of thumb in the summer, the further east you go in Europe, the hotter it will be.

Posted by
1646 posts

Most of our days in Budapest were mid-20s to low-30s, and I believe that July is the hottest month there. I didn't find it a lot hotter than the other places, except for that one day, and there were other places where I found the heat more oppressive, since it was harder to escape.

If I had my druthers, I would not have been in any of those places in July or August, but one doesn't always have a choice--it's go then or don't go at all.

Posted by
17854 posts

If heat does bother you, don’t have a miserable time. Look at places like the Tatras of Slovakia and Poland instead of Budapest. Budapest will continue to be there in the future and maybe you will be able to visit when the weather is better. But you are correct, see the world when you can, plan for what is likely and then ignore it and have a great time.

Human comfort is a factor of temperature, humidity and air movement; not to mention cold beer consumption. The Czech Republic and Germany have the edge on the cold beer factor. The average daily temperature in July and August is 20C (70F) while the average high is 26C (79F). Global Warming or Climate Change or whatever they are calling it this week has by the worst estimates changed the temperature of the earth something like 1/10 of 1 degree so the averages should hold pretty true. But there are days, weeks, months that ignore the averages. The humidity in Budapest runs about 60% all year long which isn’t half bad. So 79F in Budapest would be a little more comfortable than 79F in Houston, Texas where the humidity averages about 80% most of the year. On a really hot day you might also find a little additional relief on the river front where there is a little breeze more often than not and where the evaporation creates a little cooling. Because of all the variable you are probably as likely to have comfortable weather in Budapest as in Paris, Rome or Istanbul for that matter. Of course I have only been to Budapest in July once and in August once.

Posted by
14499 posts

Given such direct drastic choice of going or not going at all (in the summer) to Prague, Vienna or Budapest, I would go.

At 79F I would rather be in San Antonio in Aug rather than in Houston. I did that my first time there in August of 1976, even though I was advised against it, which I rejected, spent a couple of days in Houston, then left to spend the rest of the week in San Antonio.

Posted by
17854 posts

I grew up in Houston and tend to agree with you Fred. We may complain about Europe's summer Temps and the lack of AC, but few of us would reject the opportunity.

Posted by
255 posts

Kara,

If allowed can you post your blog where your trip report is. If not maybe pm it to me please.
We are doing Prague August 24-27, Vienna 27-30 and Budapest August 30-Sept 2.
Thanks

Posted by
17854 posts

@Ann and @Jamie you are in luck

http://zsidonyarifesztival.hu/kerdezem-a-csillagokat-a-budapest-klezmer-band-koncertje/?lang=en

The Budapest Klezmer Band is an amazing band and puts on a show that's hard to forget. Seeing them in the Synagogue would also be amazing; although maybe just a bit constrained.

The rest of the Summer Festival is amazing. In addition to the program events on the website there is generally smaller food stalls an vendors set up along some of the streets in the ghetto. This part of the culture and history of Budapest is one of the city's best draws. We've done it twice now, its a good time to be in Budapest.

James

Posted by
17854 posts

When I can, I plan trips around events and festivals. Here is what is going on in Budapest in September

10 – 14: Budapest International Wine Festival. We went last year and it was a lot of fun. Set up around the Castle in Buda. Not a drunken orgy as a is often the case where the booze is free or cheap. This was very well done and just an enjoyable way to spend a few hours. Very nice. http://www.aborfesztival.hu/index.php

19 – 21: The National Gallop (Nemzeti Vágta): They close off the streets that circle Hero’s Square then they lay down dirt and they race the circuit. The uniforms and the horses are amazing. Great fun. They also close Andrassy ut from Hero’s Square to the Oktogon and they turn it into a mile long expanse of tent like booths selling food, crafts and stages with music. I had wanted to go for years and finally made it last year. It was a blast. http://vagta.hu/menu/180/2013