30 Days in Eastern Europe With a Toddler- Itinerary Help

Hi Everyone:

I've been enjoying reading the helpful advice here on the forums and I'd like to take advantage of your collective knowledge to get some feedback on a trip I am planning. My husband, 2 year old son and I have the opportunity to travel for the entire month of September.

Our plan is to use a rental car for all our travel because confining a 2 year old on a train for any lengthy period will result in our being the least popular people in Eastern Europe. (My understanding is that we should be able to arrange one rental for the whole trip if we disclose our plan and pay whatever outrageous surcharges the rental company tacks on. Please correct me if I'm wrong because the whole trip hinges on the rental car idea).

Our proposed itinerary is below. The reason I set it up as a round trip is because the only cities on this itinerary where we could get a direct flight are Vienna and Prague. My thought was that a transatlantic flight with a toddler would be tricky enough without a stopover. (I will add that my son is a wonderful traveler. He has done numerous cross-country flights in the US without incident. He is, however, a regular, energetic toddler who does not like to be stuck in a seat for too long.)

The whole family enjoys the outdoors and the beach. My husband and I are both history buffs, though my husband's is most interested in medieval history and I am most interested in modern history. We are budget conscious since we need to stretch our budget out over such a long trip.

Here's the suggested itinerary. I haven't given any thought to how many days to spend in each place. Feedback you have on whether the trip order makes sense, whether I'm missing anything great that's along the route, how long to spend, etc. is most appreciated.

• Vienna, Austria
• Hallstatt, Austria
• Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic

• Prague, Czech Republic
• Krakow, Poland
• Somewhere pretty in Slovakia
• Budapest, Hungary
• Plitvice Lakes, Croatia
• Split, Croatia
• Mostar, Bosnia
• Rovinj, Croatia
• Bled, Slovenia
• Vienna, Austria

Posted by gone
2081 posts

Jess,

i havent been to all of the places you are going but i am going to some of the places this sept.

vienna, Austria
Prague, CZR
Budapest, Hungary
Krakow, Poland

For what i want to do/see/experience i have 3 full days in each city.

Prague and Krakow will have short day trips.

just my opinion regarding trains/kids/space. The trains i have been on (so far) have way more space than planes, unless you fly 1st class. Also, there is no reason you can't let your kid walk from car to car to burn off excess energy. just an observation and comment. Also, if you plan your trip and if the places you want to go work out, the train ride may not be that long.

happy trails

Posted by James E.
USA
3354 posts

Vienna, Austria: two nights on arrival (been there)

• Hallstatt, Austria: one night cause you have to spend one night with a kid (haven’t been there)

• Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic: one night so you can enjoy it when the day tourists leave (been there)

• Prague, Czech Republic: three nights so you have two full days is a minimum (been there)

• Krakow, Poland: depending on your interests at least 2 nights maybe 3 (haven’t been there)

• Somewhere pretty in Slovakia: south of Krakow is the lovely high Tatras. Base in Strbske Pieso and do a couple of day trips to castles and mountain tops. At least 2 night (been there) Then another night in Banská Štiavnica (been there) before you go into Budapest

• Budapest, Hungary four nights including a day trip or two (been there)

Okay, there’s about 16 nights. The rest I don’t have any experience with but it looks like another two weeks worth. If you need another night skip the overnight in Banska (but I love the town)

• Plitvice Lakes, Croatia
• Split, Croatia
• Mostar, Bosnia
• Rovinj, Croatia
• Bled, Slovenia
• Vienna, Austria 1 more night

Posted by Jess
Los Angeles
3 posts

Thanks very much for the thoughts so far. I took a look at some pictures of the recommended stops in Slovakia and I'm definitely adding them to our list of possible stops. From the pictures alone, I know that my husband would be really excited about Banska Stiavnica.

Posted by James E.
USA
3354 posts

Slovakia is a really beautiful and well priced country. Google Slovakia Castles and be more amazed. A few of the best are on or near your route. Also check out the Kempinski Grand High Tatra Hotel. Off season (ski) its reasonable but if its still more than you want to pay there are a couple of less expensive but really nice ones that face the same alpine lake. There are two "Banska" towns, both really beautiful but each unique and both on the route to Budapest. And naturally I think your whole trip ought to revolve around Budapest, but that's just the reputation I have. Naaaaaaa, get out and see it all.

Posted by Val
Long Beach, USA
224 posts

If you can avoid being in Prague during a weekend...I would do so. You could avoid crowds and the city would be more magical then. I usually don't mind crowds...but Prague is somewhat compact and it can get very busy.

I've seen plenty of toddlers on trains...and trains are so convenient to use! I would not worry about it.
I took the Student Agency buses to go from Prague to Slovakia. Super comfortable, free internet, free movies, free coffee....pretty good deal.

I did Coratia/Bosnia/Montenegro during the same trip and loved them. You could look at the Montenegro day trips if ever that interests you. It was a nice day away and not too far from Dubrovnik.

A month off? Luck you! Enjoy all these beautiful places!

Posted by Jess
Los Angeles
3 posts

Thank you! (I wish that I could see everyone's posts while typing this instead of just my own first post. I've already forgotten what I wanted to say). In any event, I'm noting everyone's advice and I've also been exploring the forums for more detailed info on each destination on my list. This will be my first time in Eastern Europe, so I'm definitely making use of all of your expertise.

Posted by gone
2081 posts

Jess,

there isn't any right or wrong way of travel. its up to you and your $$, time and how you like to do things. Since you're not a party of one (1), but have 2 others to consider, it makes travel a little more difficult.

Once you get your feet wet with this first trip, you will have learned a lot on what you will or won't like to do the next time. Sometimes you have to fall down a couple time too.

happy trails.

Posted by Cyn
Wheat Ridge, CO, USA
1240 posts

Hi Jess- you may already be anticipating this, but I thought I'd mention a couple things. It's been 10 years since our trip that included Plitvice Lakes Park in Croatia, and even longer since Cesky Krumlov, but unless things have changed, the lakes are visited on foot via trails and boardwalks. Your son may be up for the stroll, but depending on how long you all want to walk, or how wet the boards and/or muddy the trail might be after a rain or from splashing water, that may or may not limit what you see. We didn't have a child, but I remember some parents pushing a stroller, and we gave them a hand getting it down a slope and onto the trail. If you're up for giving a piggyback ride, that might be useful. He'll probably love seeing the fish come right up to the edge of the boardwalk, and he'll be at almost fish-eye level.

Likewise, if you decide to climb the tower at Cesky Krumlov castle, it affords a grand view, but the stairway is narrow, might be crowded, and has lots of steps, so might not be the easiest climb for a 2-year old.

The pastries in Slovenia are superb! Have a great trip.

Posted by Christen
St. Louis
3 posts

Hi Jess,

This trip sounds absolutely spectacular! My only suggestion would be, if you do decide to rent a car for all or part of the trip, make sure the company you rent from allows their cars to be taken to each country you plan to visit. We took a large trip across several countries last year and booked a rental in Amsterdam to begin the journey. About a month before we left, we learned that we couldn't take our rental car to the Czech Republic (we were planning to visit both Prague and Cesky Krumlov), so we had to scramble to find a company that didn't have these restrictions. We ended up doing a short term "lease" which was cheaper and more flexible for our travel plans. Happy Travels!