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2 weeks in Central Europe. Start in Munich and end in Prague

We are flying into Munich and have 15 days to travel around Europe and fly home from Prague.
We’d like to do Salzburg, Vienna, Budapest in between. Any suggestions for best order?

We were thinking Munich to Salzburg. Salzburg to Vienna. Vienna to Budapest all by train. Last leg- should we fly Budapest to Prague? Any way I look at it- there will be one day with a long long train ride- hence the flying?

Posted by
850 posts

I can't imagine doing Munich/Salzburg/Prague in less than two weeks. With travel time you're planning on giving some of the most fantastic places in Europe a whole two days apiece.

Posted by
16547 posts

We were thinking Munich to Salzburg. Salzburg to Vienna. Vienna to Budapest all by train. Last leg- should we fly Budapest to Prague? Any way I look at it- there will be one day with a long long train ride- hence the flying?

That's what I would do. I've done the Budapest to Prague flight, easy and fast thanks to a nice Budapest airport. I wasnt sure if you meant 15 days once in Europe or 15 days total. What I have below is 17 days total and 16 days in Europe. So either way a tad longer than your plans.

To eliminate one day I would shorten Salzburg
To eliminate two days I would shorten Salzburg and shorten either Prague (if you are over 50) or Vienna (if you are under 50).

Otherwise not a bad trip. Sometimes you just want to do a buffet tasting trip and this work with 3 nights per city. What you love, if anything, you can always return to. Better than planning a week in a city you discover you don't enjoy.

0 Depart
28 Munich (1/2 day really)
29 Munich
30 Munich
31 Train Munich to Salzburg (1/2 day Salzburg)
1 Salzburg
2 Salzburg
3 Salzburg to Vienna
4 Vienna
5 Vienna
6 Train Vienna to Budapest (1/2 day Budapest)
7 Budapest
8 Budapest
9 Fly to Prague (1/2 day Prague)
10 Prague
11 Prague
12 Depart

Posted by
7 posts

KGC- what could you imagine/suggest? Our parameters are land in Munich and leave from Prague 16 days later.

Posted by
7 posts

James- Thank you!
We arrive Saturday, August 28th in the morning and leave September 14. So actually 16 full days of travel.

Do you have any experience with Ryanair?

Posted by
16547 posts

I have flown Ryan once and not too impressed. But once isnt a good indicator. Ive flown WizzAir a lot and sort of like them so its not about being a discount carrier. Czech Air use to have cheap flights from Budapest to Prague.

Did I edit my post correctly and you have 2 more days? If you did, then one day has to go to Budapest. The Second day either Prague or Vienna depending on your preference of party or culture (or beer or ... well beer I guess. How about Medieval or Empire?)

Posted by
14 posts

We did almost this same trip (excluding Budapest) 3 years ago. We did it in 10 days and it was entirely too short. We could have easily spent 20 days between Munich, Salzburg, Vienna and Prague. Just my two cents is to eliminate at least one of your cities. If you absolutely have your heart set on these five, I suggest taking the first train of the day to Salzburg, spend the day and then take a late train to Vienna the same day. I love Salzburg but if you're time limited, this could be shortened. If it were me, I would pare down to 3 cities in 15 days to really be able to explore.

Posted by
227 posts

For the most efficient trip, I would leave off Budapest and just travel Munich>Salzburg>Vienna>Prague by train. Budapest is a little out of the way with your current itinerary and it’s so much nicer and convenient to not have to deal with airports while traveling. Removing Budapest will also keep all your train travel times very reasonable. There are several day trips you can take from your destinations to fill your time. You can visit Hallstatt from Salzburg, Bratislava from Vienna, and Kunta Hora from Prague. If you want to squeeze in Budapest, your best bet is to train from Vienna to Budapest then fly to Prague. But both cities have airports a bit out of the historic center and is best reached by taxi or car hire. If you can find a way to switch your return flight from Budapest instead of Prague, then a trip that goes Munich>>Salzburg>Prague>Vienna>Budapest could work well. However the trip might feel a bit rushed. The first time I went to Prague and Budapest, I only gave myself 2 nights in each city and that was not enough at all. I absolutely fell in love with Prague and spent 5 nights there my second visit.

Posted by
1660 posts

I agree with those who suggest skipping Budapest on this trip. I know for some (myself included -- I was there in 1989 before the Iron Curtain came down) it's a favorite city in Europe, but in the time you have, it's all going to feel like a compromise. Christina has given you excellent suggestions.

Posted by
16547 posts

Personally I think its enough time for all of it. Once I know a place, if it really moves me, I return. But I am always afraid of planning a protracted stay in a place I discover wasn't that special to me. Your stays are longer than stays on most RS tours if that is any indication.

But if you were going to omit one, the least remarkable of the bunch (for me at least) is Munich; but certainly not Budapest.

But no right and no wrong. Each to their own.

Posted by
2672 posts

The order of the places you are visiting are fine. You may also want to compare airfare arriving in Prague and out of Munich to see which way is cheaper. Be sure to visit Dachau from Munich that’s only a direct 10m train ride away.
When you’re in Vienna, take a direct train (1h) to Bratislava for the day. Be sure to buy RS’s Vienna guidebook (not his pocket guide) that’ll help you get around in Salzburg, Vienna and Bratislava. Not sure when you’re going, but an updated version of this book will be available in the fall of 2022. The same applies to Rick’s Budapest (BOO-daw-pesht) book and his Munich pocket guidebook. The next edition for Prague comes out this spring.
Another way to get to Prague from Budapest is to fly nonstop on Ryanair (1h 15m) for less than $50.

Posted by
2672 posts

My least favorite place you’re visiting is Munich. I would spend one night there and see Dachau the following day and then take a train to Salzburg. I wouldn’t give Salzburg more than two nights though. You really want to spend time in Vienna and take a day trip to Bratislava. You also want to slow down while in Budapest and Prague.

Posted by
181 posts

This sounds like an awesome trip! I've been to these five cities and love three of them, like one and am "meh" on the fifth. My count is you have 16 days on the ground, is that right? I think you have enough time to do this, although part of the equation is how fast you like to travel, who/how many you will be with and what you want to see.

I think priority should be given to Vienna, Budapest and Prague, which are the standouts (in my opinion) of this list. My memory is that Budapest is a bit more spread out than the other two, so you will want to take that into consideration in doling out the days. But I think three full days in each city is a good start, although you have time to add another day to one or two cities...

Especially if you take time away from Munich and/or Salzburg. I would take from Salzburg the city. I've just never had a great experience there, and I think more than a day/two nights there will leave you searching for something to do. Again, I know I am pretty much alone on my Salzburg Isn't Great Island, but that's how I feel. HOWEVER, if you were to get out of Salzburg and into the hills - that's a different story. Hallstatt was a highlight of the trip I took with my sister; however, that was in 2010 and I hear Hallstatt can be pretty overrun. I'm sure there would be similar towns in the Salzkammergut you could visit, but I haven't personally been and so leave the suggestions to those who have.

I like Munich, I've enjoyed Munich, but I don't feel like it has the same level of attractions as the other top three. You could probably get away with your arrival day and then two full days - if you are staying in the city. However, again, there are some great day trips around Munich. Dachau has been mentioned. I'll put in my vote for the Mad King's Castles, which I know aren't everyone's stein of beer but I enjoyed going and the countryside was beautiful - even in the rain.

That's my two cents. You seem to mainly be asking if this trip is doable (yes), if your order makes sense (it does) and if you should fly between Budapest and Prague (you should, RyanAir is crap but it will get you there in one piece, just read the fine print about baggage carefully - I did not and literally paid for it - but I liked WIzzAir). If you want to know what to see or do in each of these places, that's a different answer, but one I and I know others would be more than happy to answer.

Posted by
700 posts

Something to consider: if you fly from Budapest to Prague calculate the time from city center to airport, the flight, and airport to city center versus a train from city center to city center. I haven’t looked up fares, but says the total costs for flying are about twice as much as the train, but is two hours faster. So obviously its your call.

A day trip from Vienna to Melk Abbey is great. RS gives a how-to in his Austria book.

Memento Park in Budapest gives one some idea of how things were in the Soviet era. We enjoyed it.

Have a great trip.

Posted by
16547 posts

My memory is that Budapest is a bit more spread out than the other
two, so you will want to take that into consideration in doling out
the days.

It is, so let me know if Budapest stays on your trip and if it does, I will help you plan it out to get the most out of it. The secret is the Trams. Great fun transportation and the equivalent of a HOHO bus at a fraction of the cost.

Posted by
2671 posts

Just curious, but have you considered reversing the order by starting in Prague ... ie continuing there upon arrival in Munich - and then working your way back via Budapest, Vienna, and Salzburg? Might be easier logistically, especially with frequest, cheap, direct flights on Lufthansa from Munich to Prague.

Posted by
227 posts

After a little research, the train from Budapest to Prague is 6.5 hours which isn’t terrible. You could easily break the ride up by stopping for a few hours in Brno on your way North. It’s about 4 hours from Budapest to Brno and 2.5 hours from Brno to Prague. If you have a long distance to travel, might as well get a new experience out of it. Just another option to think about. I would also agree with others that you should allocate more days for Prague, Vienna, Budapest over Salzburg and Munich.

Posted by
1583 posts

Think about heading to Budapest from Vienna and back, splitting your time in Vienna to avoid a long train ride or a flight from Budapest to Prague on one day.

Posted by
16547 posts

plane or train they both work
For the train you will leave your hotel at 6:45am and arrive at your Prague hotel probably no later than 5pm
For the flight, well the RyanAir schedule is different every day, but lets just say a Wednesday so you would leave your hotel at 10:00am and be in your Prague hotel at 2:15 pm.

Train 20 euro, plus maybe 10 euro for a taxi
Flight $40 (advertised, but plan on spending closer to $60), then add about $25 for the taxi.

Posted by
227 posts

I’m not sure where you’re getting your estimates James, but if you took the 7:40 train from Budapest, you would be getting into Prague by 2:15, plus another 15 minutes to get to your hotel at most but if you’re staying central you can just walk to your accommodations. I would also allot closer to 5 hours if you fly between airport transfers, customs, and arriving at the airport early. So flying over the train will likely save about 2 hours travel time max and a train is far less hassle and stress than flying IMO.

Posted by
1450 posts

I am planning the same trip. Flight in to Munich and out of Prague, 15 days on the ground. We are doing something like this:
The number refers to number of nights.

1 Munich: Land at 8 am, spend whatever time we have that day seeing the Old Town, roughly follow Rick's walk. The next
morning train to Salzburg or Berchtesgaden.
2,3,4: Berchtesgaden and Salzburg
5,6,7,8,9: Vienna. Day trip to Bratislava.
10-15: Prague: 1 or 2 Day trips.

My son chose the destinations. I want to go to Budapest, but I don't want to be hurried, so it will have to be another trip. If Budapest is a must, maybe skip Vienna or Salzburg and shorten Munich? My suggestion if you plan on seeing them all is to have a back up plan to weed something out if you find you need more time in one place. Traveling is more exhausting than you think.

Posted by
7 posts

I want to Thank each and every one of you!!
I am always so amazed at this forum and people taking the time to be helpful.

My husband and I are traveling alone, in our 50’s and very active. We really enjoyed our time in Italy when we did the 3 day “tastes” of each city.
I’m considering shortening the Salzburg stay and Munich. I think we will easily be able to spend 5 in Vienna. That being said, I will consider the idea of splitting Vienna time to make a train more doable.
My husband is 6’4, and a 6-8 hour train ride would literally cripple him. He’s already had hip replacement and back surgeries.
We cannot change our plane tickets.
I am 75% set on Budapest...
So our decision is drop Budapest, split Vienna, or fly to Prague. Ryanair is the only one flying there at present. It’s cheap- could be a bad sign!! And yes I appreciate the reminder of airport time and travel vs train.
Thank you thank you...
Any votes by you guys is greatly appreciated!

Posted by
16547 posts

I wasnt promoting one over the other. Personally I have no issue flying. One of the things I love about Budapest is that it is a Wizzair hub so you can reach all over Europe non-stop and under $100. I guess I have just gotten use to it. But I get people that like to sit in a seat for 6 and a half hours and read (not much scenery).

But you were correct. I fumbled it….. here, this one I beat to death.
There is a 5:40 train, but I don’t get up that early on vacation. There is a 7:40 train, but it takes longer and goes to the wrong station, and I don’t really get up that early either. So the 9:40 train is the one I would choose.

9:00 am hop in Taxi (you could walk or take the metro, I am just being lazy)
9:10 am at Nyugati Station Budapest
9:40 am train departs
4:13 pm arrive Praha hlavní nádraží station and find taxi stand
4:23 pm in taxi or check your map, find the front of the station and start walking
4:40 pm Hotel Ventana, old town square (taxi or walk about the same)
Total 7 hours 40 minutes

The flight I listed was non-stop and its in the Schengen area. No customs. I have done downtown Budapest to the airport literally 100 times. So, I got that down pat. Each day of the week Ryan had different flight times. I just picked a Wednesday in July. Other days have earlier and later flights.

10:00 am hop in Taxi
10:30 am arrive airport
12:00 pm flight departure (I used RyanAir on Wednesday, 14 July)
1:15 pm arrival
1:45 pm in taxi (add 15 minutes if you checked luggage)
2:15 pm Hotel Ventana, old town square
Total 4 hours 15 minutes to 4 hours 30 minutes with checked luggage

Posted by
16547 posts

klschwartz90; our posts overlapped.

Let me be honest with you. I was in Vienna about 20 years ago. As great as Vienna is, it just didnt speak to me. I didnt care for it. So I went to the train station and took the first available train to Budapest. I fell in love with the city. I returned so many times that I finally bought an apartment in town. So I am stupid biased.

And dont let Ryan Air's price scare you. I fly all over the region for $25 to $100 on WizzAir and there are a handful of other discount airlines. They are actually run pretty well. They have to be efficient or go broke. But I promise that cheap fare quote will go up quick. For the $24 you get a under the seat bag. You want a carry on or if you want to check a bag? Now the ticket costs $60. Want some extra leg room? Now the ticket is $112 but you get a checked bag, carry on and the under the seat bag. Just the game they all play.

Posted by
81 posts

Just my two cents, but I tend to agree with James. I was on a similar trip (+Krakow, Berlin, -Salzburg but have been there) 12 years ago, and Vienna did nothing for me. Very pleasantly surprised by Budapest, it ended up being my favorite of Vienna, Krakow, Munich, Berlin, Prague.

Posted by
283 posts

Good day,
In 2018 we flew in to Munich and from there we did the following:
We flew out of Munich as well so it was a simple round trip ticket. Trains around the region were easy and efficient. It was one of the best trips we ever had. If you have any questions about those cities I’d be glad to contribute.

Posted by
5697 posts

If Budapest stays in your plan towards the end of the trip, I highly recommend spending an afternoon at the baths doing nothing but relaxing and recharging.

Posted by
15 posts

I can highly recommend Flixbus from Munich to Prague or Flixbus in general ... It's not the most convenient but the cheapest option

Posted by
1196 posts

I suggest you cut Munich by 1.5 days. Most German cities are less interesting than their central EU counterparts. There's so much to see in all your other city destionations.

Posted by
23 posts

Adding to Laura B's comment: The Szechenyi baths in Budapest have a 6 to 8 am rate that is separate from the usual rates, and I loved being there early in the morning with fewer people around. I've been there in midday and it's absolutely jam-packed.

Budapest is such a great city - don't miss it if you can.

Posted by
16547 posts

I dont know if the OP is still around. But the EU is looking a bit dicey for this summer. Hungary might actually be the first EU country to reach sufficient vaccinations to open ... but will they? The Hungarian government is anything but predictable and if they decide yes I don't think they will care about the EU or Schengen when making that decision. They didn't when they extended their opening last year. But if it does open, and the rest of the EU is closed, there are still great options for vacations. I gave up guessing but feel certain 3 or 4 of my favorite non-EU European countries will be open and I will choose when the time comes (May). That's possible because I booked my round trip to Istanbul. Its relatively cheap and from Istanbul there are few places in Europe you cant reach. I will decide and buy those connections when the time is closer. Countries to look at are the Balkan states (Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Montenegro, N. Macedonia, Serbia, Albania), Georgia and Ukraine. Not exactly mainstream, but isn't that the RS idea? I've been to most of them and a return will be treat. Of course, never take a trip for the sake of taking a trip. If they don't light your fire, you may have to wait. If you like trains, the train from Bar to Belgrade is supposed to be a great ride.

Posted by
7 posts

Hi OP here-
My husband and I are nurses and both been vaccinated since December. Our trip is scheduled for August 27-September 14. I hope for everyone’s sake the world will be open!
Our tickets are flexible and our hotels are refundable. I guess we will get to plan a new trip if some of our picks are closed.
We have “planned”
2.5 days in Munich, with a private tour of Dachau
3 days in Salzburg with a day trip to Hallstatt
4 days in Vienna with day trip to Bratislava and a day long bike trip to their wine country.
3 days in Budapest- flying to Prague
3 days in Prague.
3 days in Budapest

If one or more of these countries, are closed- we will have to pivot.
Trust me- I’ll be back here looking for everyone’s insight again.

Posted by
16547 posts

I am confused with this

3 days in Budapest- flying to Prague
3 days in Prague.
3 days in Budapest

So Budapest to Prague and back to Budapest . or a typo?

Posted by
7 posts

That’s what happens when you don’t have your coffee or glasses on in the morning.

Posted by
577 posts

I think it is doable in 15 days if you make Munich and Salzburg day trips from one or the other (I am bias towards staying in Salzburg and daytrip to Munich). You could do Prague(3)- Munich/Salzburg(4)-Vienna(4)-Budapest(4). Land in Prague and leave from Budapest. You might only be able to touch the major sites.
Have fun.