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Prague or not to visit Prague is the question..

Prague or not to visit Prague. Yes, I realize I am posting this in the Hungary forum and yes I have read guidebooks and thought about what we want to see. 😂 My husband and I have tickets into Budapest and out of Vienna late September to mid October. We will have 16 nights upon arrival. These were booked with points so we are stuck. No changes at this point. I realize an open jaw into Prague and out of Budapest would have been the best option but the flights out of Prague or into the city to/from our home airport were terrible. Now, here is why I am posting on this forum; Initially we had planned on flying or taking the train to Prague after 5-6 nights in Budapest but I stopped today and thought to myself, "There is literally an entire country here that must be much more than just Budapest." Part of me thinks we may just need to slow ourselves down spend some time in Hungary train to Vienna for four nights at the end which we have been before but have some unfinished business. Such as a day trip to Melk & the Wachau Valley, and a few museums we missed on our last visit etc. However Prague has been on that mystical "buck list" for sometime. While it seems crowded it also seems pretty magical. So I purpose to you, those that have visited not only Budapest but some of the nearby towns etc. as well as Prague should we bite the bullet and check off a bucket list item or save it for next time?

Posted by
329 posts

We were in Prague for RS BOEE. It’s a fascinating city. Entirely different from Budapest. I would suggest hiring a local guide so you can maximize your time there.

Posted by
805 posts

If you're that close and Prague is on your bucket list, go for it. We were in Prague several years ago in early October and crowds weren't too bad once you got away from the square and bridge. Be sure to take the Municipal House tour.

The web site Living Prague is an excellent resource for planning your visit, and Jason's walking tours are informative and enjoyable.

Cesky Krumlov is between Prague and Vienna, and worth a visit if you're looking for an historic small town experience. CK Shuttle provides excellent connections for both legs of that trip.

I can't offer any opinions re other sites in Hungary, but I'm sure others will.

Posted by
27352 posts

I should perhaps not mention this, but not only does Hungary have much more to see than Budapest, Czechia has much more to see than Prague.

I tend to spend a good bit of time in each country (multiple weeks rather than days), then I hit additional countries on a later trip. There are at least three advantages to that approach: lower transportation costs, less time sitting on trains/buses/planes (I average less than one flight per month on the road), and I get a better mix of large cities and smaller towns than would be the case if I hopped from major city in Country A to major city in Country B.

However, Prague is a physically beautiful city, very worth visiting, so I understand why it's on your list.

I really liked Pecs, Kecskemet, Szeged, Gyor and Sopron in Hungary. I didn't have enough time to complete even my minimum hit list in Czechia but did like Olomouc, Brno and Hradec Kralove.

Posted by
166 posts

Thank you all that have commented so far. Each of you has made a great point and I truly appreciate your suggestions.

Mo R- We do tend to hire a guide for at least a half day when we first visit a major city so we would more than likely do that.

markcw- Thanks for the Prague suggestions. I had looked at a night in Cesky Krumlov if we head that way on our way to Vienna. I am not much of a one night stay fan but it seems that is all it needs. From reading it sort of reminds me of Rothenberg or Hallstatt with all the day trippers.

acraven- Thank you once again for your perspective. You have replied to my post before and I have always enjoyed your feedback. Out of curiosity how many times have you been to Hungary and have you traveled by car or train? You mentioned, Pecs, Kecskemet, Szeged, Gyor and Sopron. Do you have a favorite out of these? We tend to try and have a few nights rather than blitz through. How much time would you dedicate to Budapest alone? We like, history, art, & wine.

Posted by
27352 posts

I have only been to Hungary once, in 2018. I would like to return and hope to do so; at 71 I can't be sure how much longer I'll be lucky with my health! This was my 24-night itinerary in Hungary, arriving on May 2:

Budapest (7 nights)
Sopron (2 nights)
Gyor (2 nights--Pannonhalma Abbey and many little museums)
Balatonfured (3 nights; Lake Balaton without a car was underwhelming)
Pecs (3 nights)
Budapest again (3 nights with side trip to Szentendre)
Szeged (3 nights with side trips to Subotica in Serbia and Kecskemet)
Debrecen (1 night; en route to Ukraine)

Your interests and mine are rather different, so my thoughts may not be very helpful. I'm big on art and varied architecture, especially Art Nouveau (of which Hungary has quite a lot). I also like a lot of relatively recent decorative arts (thus Pecs for the 20th-century ceramics)--not so much the earlier stuff. I have a very strong interest in WWII and Cold War history. I like interesting food and appreciated what I found in Hungary, but I don't enjoy fancy/expensive meals enough to justify paying for them. I do not like wine at all.

I use public transportation only. The Hungarian trains and buses tend to fan out from Budapest, thus my need to loop back to that city mid-way through the trip. I took advantage of that to add some extra time to see things I missed during my initial stay. Most visitors wouldn't need even the initial 7 nights in Budapest, though I found it a very nice city for simply wandering around; I spent a lot of time tracking down all the Art Nouveau buildings I knew about in the city--except I didn't get to the zoo. I also went to some obscure sights that wouldn't be on most visitors' radar. On the other hand, there were three important museums closed for renovation/relocation at the time of my trip; it would have taken me more than an extra day to see them. I also didn't have time to go to Obuda, so I missed several art museums there. There's never enough time, it seems.

There are definitely many additional worthwhile towns in Hungary I didn't see. I'm always running up against the 90-day limit in Schengen countries, so I knew I couldn't spend as much time as I wanted to in Hungary.

Posted by
3961 posts

We did an independent tour in 2019 that started in Budapest 5N>Vienna 6N>Cesky Krumlov2N>Prague5N. We hired guides along the way that were highly recommended by relatives, friends & blogs. All excellent. Budapest- Timea Tarjani, Prague- Jason (Living Prague), Yvonne Weisgrab, Pavel Batel (Terezin) www.Terezin-private-tours, Cesky Krumlov (Karolina) Krumlov tours.cz. Our transportation: train from Budapest to Vienna, ck Shuttle Vienna>Cesky Krumlov>Prague. More info on Budapest & Prague from a favorite blog: https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=&ved=2ahUKEwjUw9aVlMr8AhUCCDQIHTdzA-0QFnoECBEQAQ&url=https%3A%2F%2Fsunsetsandrollercoasters.com%2F&usg=AOvVaw0egDwFU1LRJGxv1YRiWt7N

Posted by
18523 posts

Ive only been to Prague once, to Vienna mabe 4 times and my time in Budapest adds up to just shy of two years over the last 20 years; and if it were me (and everyone is different and there is no right or wrong) I would skip Prague on this trip.

You have a lot of good suggestions listed above about where to go in Hungary and I will add Lillafüred and Eger to the list and suggest if you go to Lake Balaton you stay in Tihany (the sweetest town on the lake, but with limited accommodations near the center so find something early).

I would take the train from Vienna and get an Airbnb or similar in Budapest (location will be everything to getting the most out of it) and keep it the full time you are there as everything listed to visit is accessible by train but all trains return to Budapest so it’s a few days in Budapest then a train to Eger, back to Budapest for a few nights then on to Pecs then back to Budapest …. Etc…. and because they are all relatively short rides it works.

The alternate plan is to see Prague, and for that it will be a quick trip to Budapest, then a flight to Prague (about an hour and under $100 vs about 8 hours on a train), then Bean or CK Shuttle to Cesky Krumlov for a night (arrive mid afternoon and leave after lunch to avoid the worst of the day trip tourism crush); then the shuttle to Vienna for a few days before you depart.

You might be able to work in a day trip to Szentendre out of Budapest and maybe Melk out of Vienna if you see Prague too, but that about the extent of it I suspect.

I will leave Vienna and Prague suggestions to the more educated on the subject, but once you have a plan in hand if you want, PM and I will give you more detail on Budapest and Hungary.

Posted by
18523 posts

"shooting you a PM" reminds me of certain incident involving a Hungarian hearing-aid sales woman, a Texan and a number of semi-automatic weapons. TexasTravelMom, you know that one.

Posted by
4290 posts

Mister E, yesssssss.

islandfam2008, I think only you can decide. I have been to Prague three times (for a total of about a week) and would happily go back (and may). Indeed it and a number of small towns to the south were on a scheduled 2021 trip that didn’t happen. I have been in June, December, and January - burning hot and freezing cold and I like it all.

However I went to Budapest in October for two weeks, intending to take a couple of trips out of town - and couldn’t make myself leave. So I still have all those places outside of Budapest I intend to get to but haven’t yet. It’s a good thing it is so convenient from other places I will be this year and next.

If you think you will get back to Prague, I would suggest taking your time in Hungary and Austria and saving more time for Prague and more of the Czech Republic next time.

Posted by
166 posts

Hi TexasTravelMom- Thank you for your input. Looks like the Budapest is a very special place. I look forward to getting my plans nailed down. Thanks again!