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7 days in Budapest or split the time with Prague?

I've got a business trip coming up this summer that puts me in Budapest. I've never been to anyplace in Eastern Europe before and am looking forward to spending some time there before my business commitment. I've got about 7 days I can spend there and am wondering if I'd be wise to spend it all in Budapest or to split the time, spending 3 days in Prague and then talking the train to Budapest?

I'm leaning toward spending it all in Budapest. If I do, perhaps there are one or two "must-see" day trips I should explore?

Posted by
2079 posts

I've been to both cities and will be returning to Budapest in May for a week, it had a huge impact on me and I have been unable to stop thinking about it and longing for more--my original 4 days were just a small taste. Prague is quite beautiful but has such a hectic vibe, even when I was there in May, so I can scarcely imagine what it's like in summer. If you really want to see a bit of both then 3 days Prague and the rest in Budapest would be adequate, but I think 7 days in Budapest and the immediate environs would be more satisfying.

Others will be along with more detailed suggestions, but for day trips there's a lovely little artist's colony called Szentendre, easily reached on the suburban HEV train, also the towns of Vac, Visegrad and Esztergom. This trip I will be visiting Godollo to see the summer palace of Franz Joseph and the infamous Sissi, and to a small town called Tata, birthplace of my great-grandparents and it also has a castle and lake that draw visitors, and another as yet undecided town.

You can also take the train for a long day trip to Vienna, 3 hours, catching an early train and arriving by 10, leaving around 6, would give you a bit of time to explore quite a bit since Vienna is fairly compact and easy to get around. Bratislava is about 2 1/2 hours away, also worth a day trip.

Posted by
11152 posts

The problem with combining Prague and Budapest on a short trip is that it takes much of a day (door to door) to connect them, whether by flight or train. Vienna is much closer to Budapest than Prague is, so that's an easier combo.

In addition to daytrips to Vac and Szentendre, I took overnight trips to Pécs and Eger. In both cases, I preferred the first of the pair to the second. Pécs and Eger are about 3 hours from Budapest, so they make for a rushed daytrip, but a very nice overnight.

Posted by
10648 posts

This is one of the better travel magazine articles on Budapest I have read in a while. http://www.travelandleisure.com/culture-design/architecture-design/hungary-budapest-transformation It describes the Good, the Bad and the Ugly fairly objectively.

A few notes:

- Don't really agree with the hotel choices other than the Four Seasons (if you want to spend that kind of money)
- Many European countries have adopted the closed border policy following Hungary's lead.
- Fellini Római Kultúrbisztró is about 20 minutes NORTH (not south) of
the city last time I looked. Its about half way to Szentendre.
- The restaurant and Club selections are outstanding; except maybe
Csendes Társ isn't all they say it is in my opinion. Still worth a
visit if you are nearby.

Posted by
40 posts

Such a great question! I can only say that my partner and I went for the 1st time to both last year, and we are returning to Budapest this year again. However, I really did enjoy Prague! (And am glad that I went). The only difference between the 2 is that I was ready to leave Prague, but was really sad after leaving Budapest with only 3 1/2 days.

I guess I would suggest doing both (Prague first). After all: How else will you know which one you liked best?! We did it the other way around, but still enjoyed Prague.

I would suggest doing 3 days in Prague, then taking the train to Budapest and doing an evening dinner cruise on the Danube. (We took Legenda and it was wonderful). It's a great way to see the city! Then spend one day for Buda, 1 day for Pest, and 1 day for the park/baths. This would give you an overview. Just be warned that you WILL want to come back!

Posted by
40 posts

And the best restaurant I've ever been to is called: Keller Bistro!

Posted by
6000 posts

For me it might depend on how long you will be in Budapest for your business (in addition to the 7 days). If you're going to have some evenings in Budapest during your business stay you will get lots of opportunities to wander around. I found Budapest the best place to be on summer evenings and did a lot of my exterior sightseeing then. So if you have that time, then I would definitely spend your first 3 days in Prague then 1 day train to Budapest and the rest of the time there. I enjoyed them both and didn't find Prague crowds as bad as so many people say they are. Yes there were horrendous crowds on the bridge and at the main square with the clock, but I found it easy to get away from those crowds and just wander around and enjoy the atmosphere. I wouldn't miss a chance to spend a few days there. That being said, Budapest was my favorite of the many cities I visited on my last trip - went to Munich, Berlin, Vienna, Prague, Krakow and loved them all but Budapest is the one I would probably return to if the opportunity arose.

Posted by
61 posts

I took the RS Prague-Budapest tour last October, largely for the Budapest part. Much to my surprise, I ended up loving Prague. I did enjoy Budapest, but the city was heavily bombed in WWII and rebuilt in the communist era/style. It is a day trip between the two, though, unless perhaps you fly.

Posted by
10648 posts

Lots of people love Prague. I can't dispute that, but if all you saw in Budapest was 1950s communist structures you need to get your money back from the Rick. Pest is almost entirely intact 1890 to 1938 architecture. Art Deco, Art Nuevo, Classic Revival and some of the best Bauhaus in central Europe. The communist block buildings are out in the suburbs like in Prague. They say that in Pest 98% of the buildings sustained damage in WWII but only 10% were destroyed and that is pretty much the way it is now; 90% original and 10% new infill (if that much). The rest, rebuilt. Buda is another story. The Castle District is probably 90% reconstructed Baroque. Again, no communist block buildings.

After seeing all the Baroque and older in Prague; if you were expecting to see the same in Budapest I can understand your misconception. Pest as a city really didn't develop until the mid to late 19th century while Prague predates that by more than 300 years.

Posted by
4637 posts

Nancy is right. Add Prague. You will see more of Budapest anyway because you will be doing business there. They are seven hours apart by train. They have some similarities. Both are eye candies with wide stunning views over the river. Prague has 2 medieval neighborhoods which Budapest lacks. But in Budapest you feel some Oriental exotic influence. It was occupied by Ottoman Empire for over hundred years. Touristy areas are in those two medieval neighborhoods with narrow zigzagging streets therefore they are crowded. To see them without crowds get up early. Even in absolute numbers Prague gets more visitors. So no wonder. Prague has very good (and cheap) beer. In Budapest instead of beer it's wine. If you browse through this Travel Forum you will find a lot of posts comparing Prague and Budapest.

Posted by
5 posts

You should definitely add Prague to your trip. We went to Hungary and the Czech Republic in November 2015 with my 2 sisters and we loved both of these countries. Prague has beautiful architecture, the best beer in Europe and 2 castles dating back to medieval times. Maybe take 3 days for Prague and then enjoy Budapest. It is worth spending 1 day in the Buda part and 1 day in the Pest part. We took a cruise on the Danube which was so awesome with the sunset on and the majestic Parliament building near us.

Posted by
4637 posts

I am afraid that our advices won't help the OP too much because he stated that he would be there in summer (although technically it's still summer).

Posted by
486 posts

Budapest and Prague are both great cities and I would recommend seeing both. However, you still will not have "been to anyplace in Eastern Europe" after visiting these cities as they are considered to be in central Europe.