3 weeks between Istanbul and Berlin?

My wife and I have started to think about our 10 year anniversary trip. This is still in the very early planning stages (almost a year away) but we are starting to play with the idea of developing a 3 week itinerary starting in Istanbul and ending in Berlin. We would like some stops in Greece, Budapest, Vienna, and Prague in between. We suspect we might be biting off more than we could chew though. What are your thoughts?

Posted by Arnold
Denver, CO, USA
1000 posts

Definitely doable if you have traveled independently in Europe before. The key is to understand that there are very few direct overland routes between Greece and Budapest especially if you choose to visit Montenegro and Croatia enroute. If going direct you should be able to get a train to Belgrade in Serbia and onto Budapest. Alternatively you could fly.

If you bypass the Balkan countries, then travel is much easier. If you plan on visiting the Balkans then you need to do your homework and be well prepared since tourist info is sometimes hard to come by.

Overall, it will come down to how much time you spend in one place and your transport connections.

Posted by Glenn
Chicago, IL, USA
3 posts

thanks for the info.

I totally agree about the balkan train connections. Debating that whole piece because I kind of want to make this a meandering adventure through eastern europe for at least part of it - especially since I suspect the odds I will be in that corner of the world again are low.

Posted by Mike
Tampa, FL, USA
417 posts

There is a train from ThessalonĂ­ki to Belgrade, with stops in Macedonia. You could start in Istanbul, ferry or fly to a Greek island for a few days, fly to Athens for a day or two, then train to Thessaloniki (about 6 hours) and continue on to Skopje, Macedonia (5 hours from Greece)for a few days; continue to Belgrade (9 hours from Skopje) stop for a day or two, then go on up to Zagreb, Croatia for a few days, continue onto Budapest (give at least 3 days here), Vienna, Prague,and end in Berlin.

I think that would be pretty leisurely, and with 3 weeks completely doable. Macedonia sounds like a weird stop at first, but it looks like an incredible country. Croatia is stunning, and Hungary may very well be the highlight of your trip. Istanbul is great too, easily one of my favorite cities in the world.

On the other hand- if you bypass Greece, you could do this: Istanbul- Bulgaria- Belgrade- Romania- Budapest- Vienna- Prague- Berlin. Definitely possible by train.

Posted by Arnold
Denver, CO, USA
1000 posts

Some excellent suggestions from Mike with one possible exception. There isn't a whole lot for a tourist in Skopje. If you want to do Macedonia, head to Lake Ohrid. If you go this route, you may be able to get here from Thessaloniki rather than going to Skopje (do some research).

Some useful sources if you think of traveling through Albania, Macedonia, etc are:
1) balkanology.com
2) free guidebooks available from inyourpocket.com
3) Lonely Planet's Western Balkans guidebook