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In and Out of Paris - suggestions for what to see in Eastern Europe

Hello! My husband and I have awards tickets that fly in and out of Paris in July. We would love to see some of Eastern Europe! We will have two weeks. We are willing to fly or train anywhere from Paris. I would appreciate suggestions of an itinerary. I would really like to see Budapest. Other than that I don't know! Maybe Croatia, Prague or Vienna?? I have read the posts about trains and planes to and from Prague, Budapest and Vienna. Is Croatia a possibility? Is is worth it? I know all of this is subject to personal interests. I really love experiencing different cultures and not necessarily any specific landmark. I would enjoy hearing what you fellow travelers enjoyed most! This will help me narrow down our itinerary! Thanks so much in advance for your advice!

Posted by
5187 posts

Well I know that James E recently posted a great deal of information about Budapest on a thread that you would probably find helpful.

I would probably go to the other sections of this website to get some ideas. First, look at some of the TV programs where Rick goes to some of the countries you are interested in. Does anything interest you in particular? Next, look at the tour itineraries for the tours that go through the areas you are interested in. Normally, places on the tour will be those considered of high interest. Does anything there catch your interest?

Two weeks will give you time to visit several places. I do encourage avoiding one night stays anywhere unless you are simply transiting that location. Most people find that focusing in on a few areas vs. trying to see everything works best.

You have a fun problem to solve! Enjoy your trip.

Posted by
1077 posts

That is a long train to get to even the most westerly place you mentioned of Prague, so I would fly it. You didn't mention Krakow but I love it there and you could fly to Krakow from Paris, train it down to Vienna (8 hours) and then train it to Prague (4 hours) before flying back to Paris and home. Of the 3 I mention Vienna was my least favorite.

Posted by
355 posts

Do you want to go to Eastern Europe or Central Europe? Paris is nowhere near so pick a city and fly to it. We are considering flying to Budapest and then training down to Serbia/Macedonia/Monetengro/Croatia / Slovenia- butt that's over 6 weeks.

Prague is quite hard to get to from Budapest - Vienna is only a few hours by train. IF I only had 2 weeks I'd probably look at Hungary and Slovenia

Posted by
13556 posts

Prague is quite hard to get to from Budapest - Vienna is only a few
hours by train. IF I only had 2 weeks I'd probably look at Hungary and
Slovenia

Actually I think you can get to Prague (its a quick flight) as fast if not faster than Slovenia (sort of a long train ride) from Budapest.

Plan A

If you have two weeks and you want to see Eastern Europe (and some of Central Europe) then do the Classic Imperial Tour.

1 Paris to Prague (CSA/SmartWings non-stop in about 1:45 starting at $50.00)
2 Prague
3 Prague
4 Prague
5 Prague to Cesky Krumlov on the early train (about 2.5 hours), but if you hire a guide/driver there are some interesting castle stops
6 Cesky Krumlov to Vienna after lunch (about 3 hours with CK Shuttle or Bean Shuttle)
7 Vienna
8 Vienna (day trip to Melk; about an hour each way)
9 Vienna
10 Vienna to Gyor (about 1.5 hours on the train). Lunch in Gyor old town, then a taxi to the Archabbey at Pannonhalma (about 30 minutes), then back to the train station for the journey into Budapest (about 1.5 hours). You can make Budapest by maybe 5pm.
11 Budapest
12 Budapest (day trip to Szentendre. City train up about 30 minutes, boat back about 45 minutes)
13 Budapest
14 Budapest to Paris (EasyJet to CDG or Wizz Air to ORY non-stop in about 2:45 starting at about $50)

I think it’s a pretty good tour. Gives you four nights in each Prague, Vienna and Budapest and you get to see some interesting places along the way to break up the land travel.

That gives you
four nights in Prague
one night in Cesky Krumlov (reduce to one night if you like. Just arrive early and depart after lunch)
four nights in Vienna
four nights in Budapest

Posted by
13556 posts

Plan B Hard Core Eastern Europe Tour

I don’t know your budget or what interests you or much of anything. But I recommended something similar to this to a friend and his wife a few months ago and they have the time of their life.

1 Paris to Budapest (see above)
2 Budapest
3 Budapest
4 Budapest
5 Budapest to Podgorica on a Tuesday or Saturday (WizzAir non-stop in 1 hour starting at $70) then transfer to Budva (about 30 minutes)
6 Budva
7 Budva day trip to either the mountains or Stari Bar or Ulcinj. All good.
8 Budva to Kotor to Perast to Herceg Novi to Dubrovnik
9 Dubrovnik
10 Dubrovnik
11 Dubrovnik to Mostar
12 Mostar to Split
13 Split
14 Split to Paris (EasyJet, non-stop in about 2 hours starting at $40)

This requires private transportation to cover the ground efficiently in the time allowed (Like I said, I know a company).

But it gives you:
Four nights in Budapest
Three nights in Budva (so you can do some great Montenegro day trips)
Three nights in Dubrovnik
One night in Mostar
Two nights in Split

Posted by
13556 posts

We are considering flying to Budapest and then training down to
Serbia/ North Macedonia/Monetengro/Croatia / Slovenia- butt that's
over 6 weeks.

Great Eastern Europe trip. I have been to all but North Macedonia (but I've done it over several trips and by car and plane).

Okay I think the logical order for doing all of this on the ground (arent many trains in the Balkans) I think would be (just picking capitals, naturally with 6 weeks you can make all sorts of stops along the way).

Oh, and your list skips Bosnia & Herzegovina and that is well worth a stop.

Budapest to Ljubljana: 8 hour train ride
Ljubljana to Dubrovnik: 13 hour drive time not sure how long on busses (but a number of good stops along the way)
Dubrovnik to Podgorica: 4 hours on a bus. Good stops along the way, but on the bus, not sure how you can capitalize on the stops.

(now here, in Bar, there is a train to Belgrade, but the next stop would be Skopje)

Podgorica to Skopje: about 6 hours drive time, not sure how long on the bus, through Kosovo. Great scenery in the mountains of Montenegro. Again, break it up with a lot of busses.
Skopje to Belgrade: maybe 5 hours drive time, and again don’t know on busses
Belgrade Fly Home

Or you can go the other way and fly out of Ljubljana.

Posted by
9718 posts

Just something for you to think about....since you will likely be flying on separate tickets - in to Paris on your award one and to your next destination on another, give yourselves plenty of time or even an overnight or two in Paris before your onward segment. If your international flight arrives late you won't be covered by the airline for you onward flight if you miss it. If you were on one ticket if you missed your second flight the airline would simply put you on the next plane but that doesn't happen on separate ticketings.

I think you will have to go thru immigration, pick up your bags and check in at your next airline for the onward flight.

Posted by
3830 posts

Some cheaper flights from Paris to Eastern Europe leave out of Beauvais airport, too, so be careful when you book. Going to Beauvais is only worth it if it is much cheaper; it takes a while!

Posted by
21 posts

Wow!! Thanks so much for all of the great advice and the details. I really appreciate all of you taking time to reply! I am excited to dive deeper into the itinerary now. I just didn't know where to begin! Thanks again!!

Posted by
13556 posts

I tend to favor the obscure. To that end look here and scroll down for some videos. A few of the places are in my suggestions above. https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/general-europe/back-doors-to-the-back-doors-of-europe

You know, you cold spend a good two weeks with Vienna, Salzburg, Melk, etc and then Budapest, Pannonhalma, Gyor, Eger, maybe Pecs. What you would do would be to get a nice Airbnb in Vienna and then in Budapest, each for a week, then do a few day trips and overnights.

Posted by
1782 posts

You can fly nonstop from Paris CDG to Prague for < $100 then a direct train from the Praha hl.n station to the Vienna Hbf station (4h 45m). While in Vienna take a day trip to Bratislava, Slovakia and visit the old town (1h). You can then take a direct train from the Vienna Hbf station to Budapest (2h 45m).

Posted by
13556 posts

MaryPat, forgive me for being redundant but I think you get a little better use of your time to fly Prague to Budapest, then train up to Vienna. Unless you just love train rides ... some do and not a bad experience.

Posted by
4690 posts

Never tell a Viennese person that Austria is in Eastern Europe. That’s my tip.

Posted by
130 posts

The beauty of an award ticket is that it cost the same amount of miles to go most anywhere in Europe.
So why are you flying to Paris if you want to go elsewhere? Can you not fly to Budapest, or Prague with the same amount of miles as to Paris?