Prague/Vienna/Venice or Edinburgh/Belfast/London

Hello everyone and hope I can get some good advice. I'm a 40-ish guy and I'm doing a trip to Europe this summer, flying solo on this one for a 10-11 day trip. Last summer went to Germany for two weeks with a friend and just can't wait to do another trip. Did Hamburg, Wacken, and Munich over 10 days. As much as I'd love to go to Germany again I need to branch out and have been thinking of a few options. Prague has always had a draw for me, great city and apparently cheaper costs. Plus I'm a big beer drinker and love Czech beers. Prague castle would be a must as well. From there I was thinking maybe Vienna and then Venice. I'm a castle fan and I'd love to see some real castles, unlike Neuschwanstein which was quite interesting but not an "authentic" castle. Not a huge classical music fan so that part of Austria is not a draw but there is so much history there, and some cool castles especially if I make a trip to the Salzburg area. Venice would be just to go to Italy and see such a classic city though I understand its better to visit with someone for romance.

But at the same time I've always wanted to go to Great Britain since I started watching Dr. Who as a kid. Amazing castles up in Northern Ireland, as well as around Edinburgh. Sterling and Edinburgh castle look amazing and a dream for a knights and castles fan like me. Then of course London and maybe Bath or one of the smaller areas around there to finish for a few days. A pint in a real English pub is a dream of mine. But I know London is a very expensive city, then again I'm guessing Venice and Vienna are as well. The medieval history of Britain would be what I would focus my site seeing around.

I would probably be doing 3 days at each stop, with an extra day or two to see things between cities, stop at Český Krumlov for a day or two for example before heading to Vienna if I do the Prague trip.

So I'm just looking for advice. Info on how much cheaper one plan would be than the other and so forth. Things I should see and such. Thanks for any advice and for reading this.


Posted by Ed
9110 posts

London and Venice will match one another as the most costly cities on either option. Vienna is close.

Belfast is not on Great Britain, so there will be additional flight costs to get between the two islands.

The largest concentration of the best British castles is in Wales.

British ale is better than the Czech stuff.

The continental trip can all easily be done by train. Ten or eleven days would work for only three stops.

The British trip would work best by car (if you include Wales). Going up to Scotland would make it about twenty-four hours of road time, but there's good stuff every two hours, max. Knocking off Scotland would halve the road time. Figuring three days for London (which is very short) a week is tight for both Wales and Scotland, but adequate for either one or the other. Using a car, you could stay in small town/rural hostels outside of London and Edinburgh for about twenty-five bucks a night. I don't use urban hostels.

Bath doesn't match what it seems like the rest of your interests are.

Northern Ireland will be a logistical mess in the amount of time you'll have - - coming and going will easily eat more than a half day each way.

Posted by bigern314
Saint Louis, MO USA
23 posts

Thanks for the info, though we have to disagree about the Czech pils vs the English ales. But I do love a good English bitter. I've read about the great castles in Wales and have been considering that as well. I'd just like to hit Ireland for a bit since who knows when I'll be back there.

Again thanks for the information!

Posted by Emily
Vienna, Austria
1395 posts

No castles anywhere around Vienna of note; you are correct that the one in Salzburg is worth seeing, but that is quite a distance from Vienna. Maybe Prague/Salzburg/Venice?

Posted by Cyn
Wheat Ridge, CO, USA
1491 posts

Vienna is tops if you're a fan of great pastry. Prague is also a hotbed of classical music, but that won't appeal to your plans. Not a castle, but as big as a castle, hulking over the town like a lavishly ornate fortress is the Melk Abbey, up the Danube from Vienna in Melk. Its library is stunning and we really enjoyed our time there, but if you're looking for a castle it won't qualify. The Doge's palace in Venice may not fit your definition of "castle" either, but it's a grand and formidable place.

We're visiting Scotland this summer, flying from the US to London and catching the next cheap Virgin Air flight to Edinburgh, faster and cheaper than taking the train since we'll be at the airport already. August is festival time, and the city will be packed with visitors and events. Lodging will be cheaper and more available outside of Festival time. It appears a number of castle viewing tours can be booked that leave from Edinburgh, if you're not looking at renting a car and driving yourself. Some castles are ruins, some are rebuilt, and some have been maintained throughout the centuries. Scotland has (in addition to many whisky distilleries) real ales, although a pub is just as likely to have Coors Light on tap too :-p

Either trip sounds appealing, and you could find less-expensive lodging options and modes of transport on either itinerary. Have you consulted Rick Steves' and/or Lonely Planet guidebooks (maybe at your library) for pricing options?

Posted by David
Florence, AL, USA
3399 posts

We returned from Budapest, Bratislava, Vienna and Prague in April.

Prague is a great beer town, but it's no longer a budget destination--except the low price of beer. I really liked the Prague, but I was much more comfortable in Budapest--another great beer town with its grunge bars.

We absolutely adore Vienna which is a busy, classy European city in the continental style. It's hard to beat the museums of the Hapsburgs, and it's truly the Music City of Europe.

We've been to Venice many times, but find it very difficult to get there from Vienna or Budapest. And Prague is pretty far, too.

I would suggest your trip include Prague, Vienna and Budapest, and you can easily travel via frequent trains. Save Venice for a dedicated Italy trip--Venice-Florence-Rome.

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
5051 posts


Are you including historical museums and sites in Vienna or elsewhere in Austria? I realise this depends on the level of your historical interest. Some pretty good "stuff" is one or will be exhibited later on this summer. The general trend in Vienna is that hotel rates are lower or the lowest in July and August.

Posted by Lola
Seattle, WA
6816 posts

Listen to Ed; he knows whereof he speaks. Especially in the UK and castles in particular. The one area in which I would differ is train vs. car. We just returned from a great trip that included London, Scotland, Wales, Shropshire, and Cornwall, all by train. Buy your tickets in advance and you can get great fares. London to Edinburgh is under 4 hours but I suggest you break the journey at York for an overnight. Lots of castles, some ruined some not, in both Scotland and Wales. Skip Bath, which does not match your interests.

Posted by bigern314
Saint Louis, MO USA
23 posts

Thanks for all the great information, I really appreciate it. Yeah despite the price increase I've decided to go to the UK. First solo trip abroad I may as well go somewhere I can communicate a bit.

Landing in Belfast for 3 days. Take a black cab tour of the city is one thing, along with a day trip north to the Bushmills distillery and the giants causeway. Will need to figure out some other things other than sitting in Pubs...oh the horror. Then over to Edinburgh for another 3-4 days. Trips there would be a day trip to Stirling, the Edinburgh castle and bumming around the city itself, a day trip to Alnwick castle and the Scottish coast. Plus a lot of exploring the intricacies of Scotch whisky as time permits. Then head south, via plane to London or train. I have an extra day to spend and maybe stopping in somewhere like York would be cool. I'm going to research that. London has enough for a month so I'll have plenty to do in the 3 or 4 days I spend there. Bath is out, just a place from Rick's videos but I've got more interesting things to do.

Would love to see the castles in Wales but I think I'll like Scotland more, and then that gives me somewhere to go when I take a trip eventually to the Republic of Ireland.

Posted by bigern314
Saint Louis, MO USA
23 posts

I'm not renting a car, I'll do everything by train or plane. I'd like to but it just keeps adding more and more expense to the trip with insurance and rental and all that.

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
8186 posts

In the summer months, I'd lean toward Edinburgh/Belfast/London. You wan't to visit them in the warmer months. While there will be crowds of tourists, London is plenty big enough to absorb them, Edinburgh will probably feel a little crowded, and Belfast probably won't be overly crowded.

Both Venice and Prague are places I'd want to visit in shoulder season (May/Sept. for Prague, April/May/Sept./Oct. for Venice). In summer, Venice will be both too hot and too crowded to really enjoy. You are likely to also feel the crowds in Prague in the summer. Vienna is another city that's big enough to absorb the crowds.

Posted by bigern314
Saint Louis, MO USA
23 posts

I booked my plane tickets to Belfast and back from London to Saint Louis. Very excited. Going to see several castles and a lot of Irish, Scottish, and English history. Thanks again everyone!