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Order of travel before and after Budapest

I will be traveling to Central Europe in June. We fly in to Prague and 16 days later fly home out of Vienna. We are thinking 4-5 days each in Prague, Budapest, and Vienna, and 1-2 days each in Salzburg and Hallstatt. We are trying to decide on the order of our travels. Would it make more sense to do Prague, Salzburg, Hallstatt, Budapest, Vienna or go to Budapest after Prague before heading to Hallstatt, Salzburg, and then Vienna?

It may not matter, but I thought I’d see if there’s something I don’t know that would make one itinerary better than the other.

Thank you!

Posted by
13414 posts

If it were just Prague, Vienna, Budapest with no other stops in Czech Republic I think it makes more sense to fly from Prague to Budapest (a view not widely shared by train buffs.) because its faster and for my peace of mind, less boring. But then you threw in Hallstatt and Salzburg. I am thinking, Prague to Budapest by plane (with some luck you can find $125 fares. Then up to Vienna for a few days, then off to Salzburg and Hallstatt for a couple of days before returning to Vienna for a few more days; then I presume home. I think, but I could be wrong, that will give you the least time sitting on trains.

Posted by
1044 posts

Well, I would start in Prague, fly to Budapest, train it to Vienna, then Hallstatt, then Salzburg, and fly out of Munich. If your flights aren't changeable that makes the places you want to go a little more logistically problematic. Especially with Budapest being a little further out there. You could start in Prague, add in Krakow, go to Budapest, and end in Vienna leaving out Salzburg and Hallstatt. Or you could do Prague, fly to Budapest, train it to Vienna and do a few days out to Hallstatt and Salzburg before heading back to Vienna to fly home. That seems clunky though and I'm not crazy about it. You could also do Prague, Munich, Salzburg, Hallstatt, Vienna and leave out Budapest. I guess if your flights aren't changeable then you need to figure out what places you really want to go to and what can wait for the next trip.

Posted by
3 posts

Thank you both! If we can get a cheap flight, I think we'll try flying to Budapest from Prague. And I think the idea of breaking Vienna up into two stops (after Budapest and then again to end the trip) is a really good way to avoid such long train rides. I hadn't considered that as an option! Thank you!

Posted by
13414 posts

Check the prices for flights for travel in both directions. Starting in Prague and starting in Vienna.

Posted by
3 posts

We already purchased our tickets. Starting in Prague was the cheapest route for us. :)

Posted by
912 posts

There are those who love to fly and struggling to get out to the airport, waiting and wading through security, pre-boarding, and the reverse upon arrival is not counted as a cost in time to fly. The train station in Prague is RIGHT THERE. A case of hop on and the train pulls out. Then that 'horrible' sitting time gives you two options, see the countryside or snooze. I keep my nose pressed against the window. Arrival in one of Budapest's train stations and you are in the CITY. Enjoy.

The bus/taxi, tram ride out to the Prague airport is not that bad depending upon traffic. Same with Budapest, the airport is of course out of the city. The Airport bus/tram or taxi will bring you in. But train station to train station is difficult to beat. I guess I just hate airports. Not one of my favorite meals has been in an airport. Not one of my favorite meals has been on an airplane. A train station, some of those meals have been very memorable. Plus you can pack a solid sandwich and a drink and enjoy the trip. Or eat in the club car, have a drink. Memorable.

In a way air travel is like taking the don't see much. And a train is like taking a tram or bus where the view is constantly changing.

Why are you in this strange country other than to see new things and meet new people.

wayne iNWI

Posted by
13414 posts

Wayner is correct. It’s a matter of preference. If you love trains then that is the way to go. Or if you hate airports then the train is the way to go. But for reference.

Prague Old town to the main station (by taxi) is about 10 minutes.
Me at least, especially in a new station, I arrive no less than 30 minutes early find the platform, validate the ticket, find the new platform when it changes, get my reserved seat before anyone else sits in it, etc…..
The fastest train is 7:30 hours
The time from Keleti to the Opera House by taxi or metro is 15 minutes but throw in another 10 to call and find your taxi. Same would be true about buying metro tickets.

So, door to door = 8:35 hours
Now for me personally, I will have my morning coffee and croissant first so add 25 minutes for an even 9:00 hours.

Prague Old Town to the airport by taxi is about 30 minutes.
Pre Arrival time 2:00 hours (to be honest I never arrive more than 1.5 hours early)
Flight time 1:10 hours
Deplane, luggage, passport control, walk to taxi stand: 30 minutes
Order taxi, wait for taxi: 5 minutes (really is that fast they way they have it set up)
Ride to Opera House 30 minutes on average (it can be half that if there is no traffic). Metro will take you that long too.

So, door to door = 4:45 hours
Now for me personally, I will have my morning coffee and croissant first so add …. Well nothing … I get it in the airport. So, still 4:45.

Cost? Well the train is about $30 last time I checked, the flight $20 to $120. Then you might spend another $40 extra per couple for the longer taxi ride if you fly.

While the plane is at least 4 hours faster, the time options are limited; right now one flight a day with departure time varying by the day of the week, but anything from morning to late night. There are a lot more train options, but few with the 7:30 time, many take more than 8 hours.

The view? To be honest I have never taken the train from Prague to Budapest; but I have been on few trains with much to look at along the way.

So each has its good and bad and in the end you cant do wrong.

Posted by
836 posts

You have received great advice above.

In Budapest, spend some time in their beautiful cafes, tht rival those in Vienna.

Posted by
14784 posts

I would eliminate Hallstatt for 2 reasons, first it's a shlep to get to unless you have a car and second, it's not so enjoyable if it's packed with tourists. Instead, consider 1-2 N in Pecs from Budapest, though that might be complicated if the train to Vienna is from a different Budapest station than the one to Pecs. Or spend more time in Salzburg.

Posted by
13414 posts

Chani, excellent idea. Or Eger. The train station to Pecs is the same as the train station from Vienna. Or you could put it in the middle of the Budapest stay. Short term rentals are so cheap, you just leave the heavy stuff an go light to Pecs. Or I know a good storage locker facility you put the heavy stuff in.

Posted by
180 posts

If you want to do all overland travel, Prague to Salzburg (5h45m-7h15m depending on route) skip Hallstatt, Salzburg to Budapest (5h15m) Budapest to Vienna (2h45m). I think this avoids a lot of back tracking. It’s probably possible to still keep Hallstatt in this itinerary but it adds a bit of time and makes the trip a little more complicated.

If you want to do a route similar to what’s being suggested, you could break up the long train ride to Budapest with an overnight in Bratislava. I’m definitely on team train just because I try to avoid the stress of flying as much as possible as well as all the baggage restrictions that come along with it.

Posted by
13414 posts

you could break up the long train ride to Budapest with an overnight
in Bratislava.

By the time you reach Bratislava you are faced with the decision to spend time there or ride 2.5 more hours (out of about a 9 hour ride) to get on to Budapest where the time I think would be better spent. With lest than 4 days in Budapest,, I wouldn't give any away to Bratislava. Also the one train I checked, you had to walk between stations in Bratislava, but if you are spending the night that's no big thing.

Take the fast train if you want to ride a train. It goes thorough Vienna (I think you have to make a change in Vienna but If I read the schedule correctly, you will have a full 20 minutes to find the platform).

By train there are literally dozens of options. You just have to do some research.