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When to travel to Eastern Europe

We always try to avoid peek tourist season so most of our trips to Europe have been in May. We avoid August as we know that Europeans take their vacations then. However, we are planning to go to Prague, Vienna and Budapest and guide books say that July--August are off season for them. What are the upsides and downsides to travelling at that time? When do the Czech, Austrians and Hungarians take their vacations?

Posted by
7049 posts

July-August will likely be very hot with some crazy thunderstorms. If locals are off to the beach (or mountains or countryside), the tourists take their place and it still feels like "peak season". Off season would be October - much more comfortable then. Downside is days are shorter but it's much cooler.

Posted by
2634 posts

We did a trip there from late September into early October. It was a great time to travel. It was warm when we set out in Croatia. By October in Prague, we were wearing our polar fleece jackets but the weather was clear and sunny.

Posted by
2645 posts

what guide books are you reading,, for the places you mention( which are central Europe not eastern Europe) are busy places all year round.I would not worry about when the locals take holiday but when others who visit take theirs. All these places are very popular places for other Europeans to take short breaks and that is why there are busy year round.
I speak for the Czech republic here in that weekends in the summer the Czechs tend to head to the countryside to enjoy the outside spaces in the warmer weather so the cities do tend to have less traffic then but the influx of short break visitors more than makes up for it.We Europeans tend to get quite a lot more holidays that those of you across the pond and we spread them across the year .I have had a holiday to the Canaries, I am back in Prague in April and again in August and still have to book somewhere for a holiday later in the year.

Posted by
2610 posts

I can't speak to the vacation habits of Europeans, but I visited Prague in late May and it seemed horribly crowded, can't imagine how much worse it can get in the summer months. I visited Vienna and Budapest in late August and both had great weather and felt only moderately busy/crowded.

Posted by
5 posts

Thank you all for your input. We've decided to schedule our trip for October.

Posted by
2645 posts

Roberta, October is a good time to visit , the summer crowds have gone though it will still be busy, the weather can also be quite good generally quite pleasant during the day and a bit colder at night.
I am often in the city at that time of year and really enjoy it then ,if the weather is nice the beer gardens are often open and late October last year we even had a barbeque in my friends garden, though it was getting a bit cold to be sitting out after about 5.00pm.

Posted by
292 posts

What about March? What will the weather be like then in Prague and Vienna? That is when I am thinking of visiting.

Posted by
5837 posts

We visited Prague late February 2012 and found the weather generally comfortable when dressed for the conditions. (No Bermuda shorts and flip flops). The only time I felt cold was touring the interior of the St. Vitus Cathedral where the heating system wasn't very good.

Benefits included smaller crowds, even waiting for the Clock to chime. At the same time, streets and the Bridge were not ghost-town empty, just not elbow to elbow. Other benefits is with cool weather, jackets cover pockets and pickpockets seem to have followed the tourist to warmer destinations.

Cost is a big benefit. We stayed at the Green Garland (on the RS list, at least when we visited). Prices were half of the peak.
Low season is Jan 07 to March 31 and November 01 to Dec 22. Mid-season: Jul 01 to Aug 31. High season: Mar 01 to June 30 and Sep 01 to Oct 31.

The other advantage is night life is longer (meaning the disadvantage being daylight hours are shorter) than warm summer nights.

In place of your question "When do the Czech, Austrians and Hungarians take their vacations?" you should find out when Brits visit the Prague. Cheap air fares and cheap pivo have attracted large crowds of young British men to Prague.