Euro itinerary question

Hello! This August, my husband and I will be traveling to Europe for the first time. We'll be backpacking in true Rick Steves style and plan on using the eurail and public transportation. As well, as staying in hostels and guesthouses. My main concern is if my tentative itinerary is allotting us enough time in each place. So, travel experts, what are your thoughts on this? Am I taking on too much? Should I spend more or less time in certain cities? Any info would be much appreciated! Auguest 10-26 Trip Day 1-2 BERLIN Day 2-3 DRESDEN Day 3-6 PRAGUE Day 6-7 CESKY KRUMLOV Day 7-9 VIENNA Day 9-10 BRATISLAVA Day 10-12 BUDAPEST
Day 12-16 work our way back to BERLIN Thank you! Tiffany

Posted by Tiffany
Williamsport, Pa, USA
8 posts

Alright, I think we're going to definitely scrap Bratislava and Budapest from the itinerary. Hopefully, that will make the trip easier on us. Another quick question! lol We anticipated using public transport. However, hearing about all the lovely towns between Berlin and Dresden has me wondering whether renting a car in Berlin would be best. We could access the smaller towns and then return the car in Dresden upon arrival. Thoughts?

Posted by Ilja
1979 posts

IMHO it's too much. Cities like Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest needs at least 3 days not counting days of arrival and departure. Dresden 1-2 days, Cesky Krumlov and Bratislava one day each.

Posted by Nancy
Costa Mesa, CA, USA
159 posts

Hello Tiffany, Just a couple of thoughts... 4 countries in 16 days is too ambitious IMO. Bear in mind that although distances are much shorter than they are in the US it still takes time - plan on 1/2 to up 3/4 day to change locations - check out of hostel/guesthouse, travel to train station, train trip, find new hostel, etc. With 7 cities in 16 days (and I'm assuming those are full vacation days and don't include arrival/departure days) I think you will be spending the bulk of your time in transit versus actually seeing what you've come all that way to see! Another thought - any way you can change fly open jaw? This would free up significant time which could be better spent seeing the sights.
Given your time frame I'd pick 2 countries (Germany and Austria perhaps?) and focus on those - both countries have an amazing amount to see and you could easily fill 16 days between them.

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
12886 posts

Too many locations. First, use open jaw and don't waste time and money return to Berlin. Eurail is not a transportation system or a train system. It is a travel agency selling rail passes that may or may not be cost effective. Don't underestimate the amount of time lost getting from one location to another. It can be substantial.

Posted by Tiffany
Williamsport, Pa, USA
8 posts

Thank you for the quick responses. I worried as much that this was a lot to take on in the little amount of time. Unfortunately, we have to do the return flight from Berlin though. I'm looking at my itinerary and considering what should be cut out. Do you think going as far as Cesky Krumlov is realistic? My husband has his heart set on that town for some reason... Also, any lovely small towns to suggest that would make wonderful nearby stops? Thank you again for your honesty! Your insight is greatly appreciated!

Posted by James E.
3375 posts

This is what I would think would be rational for our travel enjoyment (but everyone is different, so no judgment one way or another) Day 0 Depart PA Day 1 Arrive Berlin tired Day 2 Berlin sight seeing Day 3 Berlin Sight Seeing Day 4 Travel to Dresden Day 5 Dresden Sight Seeing Day 6 Travel to Prague Day 7 Prague Sight Seeing Day 8 Travel to Cesky Krumlov Day 9 Travel back to Prague Day 10 Prague Sight Seeing Day 11 Travel to Vienna Day 12 Vienna Sight Seeing Day 13 Vienna Sigh Seeing Day 14 Travel to Budapest Day 15 Budapest Sight Seeing Day 16 Budapest Sight Seeing Day 17 Budapest Sight Seeing Day 18 Fly home to PA out of Budapest or if you need to be in Berlin, fly to Berlin.
Now this sort of works, but it's a couple of days longer than you planned. If that is a problem then skip something. I would skip Dresden personally; but....................

Posted by Martin
407 posts

You should skip at least one city, better two, especially if you want to see more "lovely small towns". In this case I wouldn't drop Dresden from the list, probably the city with the biggest number of such towns close-by. You could visit Görlitz, Bautzen, Pirna, Meissen or Freiberg from there, which are all lovely... especially Meissen and Görlitz. Prague, Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest were all part of the Habsburg empire and are relatively similar, that's why I would drop Bratislava and Budapest from the list. Bratislava is relatively small and a mix of Prague and Vienna, and Budapest, while definitely a wonderful city, was mostly built in the 19th century, a style you can also find in Vienna.
Otherwise skip Dresden and Bratislava.

Posted by Martin
407 posts

No, you don't need a car. All these towns can easily be reached by train, and both Meissen and Pirna also by S-Bahn and ship. The "White Fleet", that connects Dresden with many touristic sights along the Elbe (whine villages, Pillnitz castle, Königstein fortress, Saxon Switzerland), is the biggest paddle steamer fleet in the world: Click me Here are some pics of Görlitz and Bautzen (actually of the entire region to the east of Dresden): And Meissen and Freiberg:

Posted by Kelly
St Petersburg Florida
951 posts

This is what I would do with your trip 1. Fly into Berlin, go directly to Dresden 2. Dresden 3. Prague 4. Prague 5. Prague 6. Cesky Krum 7. Vienna 8. Vienna 9. Vienna 10. Budapest 11. Budapest 13. Budapest 14. Berlin 15. Berlin
16. Berlin If you are leaving on the 16th day, I would skip Dresden, maybe stay first night in Berlin and go to prague the next day. The big cities you list need at least 3 nights in each city. I so would never ever skip a chance to go to Budapest. It was my favorite of the above cities. We stayed on the Buda side. It was great. So were the thermal baths.

Posted by Angela
Sammamish, WA
403 posts

I like Kelly's itinerary. It think it works really well. For this trip, a Eurail pass is probably not cost effective. All of these train connections are easy, and will cost less if you purchase the tickets individually. is a good place to research schedules and book trains within Germany. There are great discounts for advance purchase if you are willing to commit to a specific departure in advance. Even if you decide to retain your flexibility and purchase train tickets as you go, that will be cheaper than a pass. A good strategy is to purchase the tickets for your next destination when you arrive in a city. For example, when you arrive in Vienna, purchase your tickets to Budapest before you leave the station.

Posted by Tiffany
Williamsport, Pa, USA
8 posts

Thank you everyone for the advice! You've been incredibly helpful.
I looked into the individual prices of passes and, surprisingly, they were a lot cheaper than the pass! Thanks again!

Posted by Chani
Tel Aviv
5135 posts

I don't know if it would work with your destinations, but sometimes you can get a really early train in the morning, leave your bags at the station, sightsee for a day, then take an evening train on to your next stop. So you get to spend a day in another town, but avoid a hotel change. Sightseeing is more important to me than fine dining, so I try to take evening trains, after a full day (or 3/4) of touring. I'll get sandwiches or similar and eat on the train. I also liked Budapest a lot, so I'd go with Kelly's itinerary. Budapest has lots to see, great food and wine (and not expensive). I'd try for 2 days of touring in Vienna and at least 3 in Budapest.