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Advice and suggestions for 5 days in Budapest - last minute travel using points.

Thanks in advance for any comments and opinions. First some background info for context: We are planning some last minute travel and we are doing so on points/miles so that effects our options in booking so close to travel time.
That being said, we are able to get airline reservations as well as hotel reservations for 5 days in Prague and 5 days in Budapest for travel in end of June early July.

Adjusting the number of days in each city would not be possible without drastically increasing the points and miles, so at least for this itinerary (if we keep it) we are locked in to 5 days in each city in that order-Prague first, then Budapest.
Lastly we might be able to add a day or two in Vienna at the end- but might not.

With all of that being said, in looking at past forum comments it seems most suggest spending more time in Prague (and Vienna) than Budapest - so just wondering about 5 days in Budapest - with the possibility of some day trips.
It seems we can really get a "feel" for the city and might enjoy having the time to explore- but again would welcome suggestions of how to spend the time, or should we rebook and adjust the days for travel at another time.

**As for hotel in Budapest we would be staying at the Hilton Budapest

One final point - getting from Prague to Budapest wouldn't be a mainly be a travel day (6 hrs by train) - so, it would be 4 full days (and 1/2 day) in Budapest- but 5 nights.

Alternatively, we can plan this more carefully and travel later - possibly end of August or September and have more flexibility with itinerary and days in each city.

Thanks in again for any comments.

Posted by
1948 posts

I have been to both--just returned from my 5th trip in as many years to Budapest last week--and think the number in each is perfect. Prague is gorgeous and exceedingly crowded because much of what everyone wants to see is in a very small area, while Budapest has its sites spread out--to me, ending in Budapest is always desirable, nice place to wind down even if you've never been there, it has a pleasantly busy vibe but I cannot recall ever being annoyed by crowds.

While it's tempting to add Vienna, which can be reached in just under 3 hrs via train, I say stay in Budapest. Perhaps a day trip to Szentendre or Eger would suffice to give you something different to look at, but Budapest is quite wonderful--you may find yourself returning again, and again, and again...

Posted by
9192 posts

I am not sure what has you locked in, but the direction of travel is good. Prague is hectic and crowded with tourists, so Budapest makes a better end so you can recover a bit.

I might go nutty with 5 days in Prague, but other dont. Of the two thats the one I would worry most about planning so you stay busy. Maybe do an overnight trip to Cesky Krumlov or someplace similar. Again, dont know what your limitations are on the structure of the trip.

As for Prague to Budapest, its always debatable, but I would fly. Its about $125. 6.5 hours on a train would make me batty. The flight is about 1.5 hours; and after early arrival at the airport and boarding time you can walk, eat, shop; and generally be free. Door to door it will save you at least 3 hours. But its a preference thing mostly.

Five days Budapest is just about a perfect trip. So thats good.

I'd do it. Go have fun.

Posted by
169 posts

Thanks for the replies. What I meant by locked in to the itinerary we currently have is that we are traveling using miles and points for airfares and hotel. Changing the itinerary in any way will dramatically change the points and miles (by a lot) and/or we couldn't use points because days are "blacked out" for award travel. So we can't change the dates of travel as reserved.

Posted by
9192 posts

Okay, that means you still might consider the plane to Budapest. Either way its a good trip to two totally different, but beautiful, cities.

Posted by
169 posts

Yes, we do have flexibility getting between Prague and Budapest. On the day we are planning to travel, the only choice of airlines seems to be Ryanair or CSA. I've never traveled on either but I've heard mixed reviews about Ryanair and about their fees.
We will just have one carry on bag each, but even with a higher airfare, we were still thinking about CSA.

Doing a google flight search, those are the only airlines offering non-stop flights, everything else is connecting.

If there is another airline, please let me know - as well as CSA over Ryanair.

  • The only reason we were considering the train was it is city center to city center, the time to get to the airport and through security etc - so maybe the train might end up being 2-3 hours longer if you include travel to and from the airport, etc.

One more train question: We've taken (high speed trains) in Italy, from Amsterdam to Paris, etc. Just wondering if the service/trains are similar between Prague and Budapest

Thanks again for your advice

Posted by
9192 posts

People tend to forget that you have to get to and from the train station. Since it's a new station for you, you are arriving 45 min early. Upon arrival it's at least 30 min to your hotel. So, that 6.5 hour train is 7.75 hours, okay, 7.5 hours at best. With the plane you have 2.5 hours at the front and one at the back (with nothing but carryon), so 5 hours tops and you spend that in freedom, shopping, walking and eating. For me, and yes its subjective, 2.5 hours and freedom is worth $75 to $100. Czech airlines has been great the few times I've used them.

Posted by
146 posts

We travelled to Prague and Budapest last summer. We loved it. We had five days, almost 6 in Budapest and for us it was teh perfect amount of time. We did do a day trip outside the city to the Danube Bend. I do a family blog so if you're interested, I have one on our five day itinerary, a list of things to do in Budapest, restaurants, etc and also talk about our guide. We booked with Timea at Budapest Jewish Walks for a walking tour in Budapest and for our day trip. We aren't Jewish btw. She was absolutely incredible. We learned so much with her. https://sunsetsandrollercoasters.com/destinations/europe/hungary/

Posted by
11705 posts

Fantastic that you have 5 full days for Budapest. Time to see numerous historical (good, bad, and the ugly), lots of that, if you're deeply into it, and the cultural sights. The "Rough Guide Budapest" is where I suggest the research.

Posted by
1530 posts

We are Buda-Pest for the 3rd time. We have done most of the big tourist things, so we are doing other things.

1) Trip to Gödöllő: This was a minor palace of Franz Joseph and Sisi, his empress and the subject of a ridiculous amount of mythologizing. It is a fabulous palace, not that is it so great, but do to the fine detail of the signage and explanation. Every sign is in English and Hungarian. As I have family from A-H, it answered several questions - why did my grandma have a middle name of "Gisela" (3rd daughter of F-J and Sisi)? Who were the members of the A-H family?

2) Trip to Szentendre: Really pleasant. They are having an art festival (which they do all the time, I believe). We bought a all-exhibit pass (which we could have gotten cheaper as there is a 1-day family pass for 2400 hf). Many small museums, which include a fabulous Hungarian surrealism exhibit, and an exhibit of the wonderful Martha Kovacs ceramics. She was a ceramatist who was active 1920-1977, and did much folk and religious art in ceramic. Szentendre is pretty touristic, but hey! we're tourists. Very pleasant day. We had dinner, a beer, glass of wine and bottle of Egri Bukever (Hungarian "bull's blood") for 10440 hf, which is $36. We also tipped 1000 Hf, or about $3.50. In a resort town.

3) If you want opera/ballet, look at the Budapest opera website NOW and see if there is anything available. Tickets sell out.

Posted by
22 posts

Definitely a good amount of time in each city and you're definitely starting out in a city that is a lot more crowded and busy with tourists, so Budapest will be a little less hectic.

Budapest is a great city and you can easily spend 5 days there and still have more to see and do. Budapest also has a lot of great options for day trips like Eger, Szendentre, Esztergom, etc. To maximize time, try to plan activities that are around one another or sequential as far as location goes so you can easily walk between them. I find Budapest to be a very walk-able city.

I would probably go a bit crazy in Prague for 5 days though, so I would heavily consider a day trip or two there. The city was very crowded and busy and that took a lot out of me.