It looks to be a ridiculous question to which there is no "correct" answer, but I have 5 days between Bulgaria (visiting relatives) and joining up with friends to do lots of traveling in Germany, including Passion Play. I cannot decide between going to Prague or to Budapest: have never been to either, and both sound equally charming. I am attempting to read up extensively on both, but would appreciate comments on which of these two intriguing cities I should try first. I am a middle-aged woman travelling alone, but that is not a factor about which I have trepidations - I will plan to come back to the 'untried' city in a couple of years..... Thank you for ideas and your input! Suzanne
My husband and I just got back from a trip that included both cities, and my vote strongly goes to Budapest.
This was actually my second visit to Prague, as my husband hadn't been before, and I may be in the minority but I'm just not a fan. It's a visually stunning city, but the Old Town is completely overrun with tourists and tacky souvenir shops and you have to wander far to try to get a feel for the "real" Prague and Czech culture. I may be out of line but it has a Disney-meets-Vegas feel to it.
Budapest, on the other hand, is not only beautiful but feels much more like a "working" city. I felt like we got a glimpse into actual Hungarian culture (and the food was absolutely outstanding). The people we encountered were very friendly, impossibly stylish, and cosmopolitan, and it is definitely a city we'd like to revisit someday.
Anyhow, that's my vote!
I'm biased, as I used to live in Prague, but I believe it is the single most beautiful city in Europe. I can't say that they will overwhelm you with museums but the city itself is gorgeous, very easy to get around via public transit and relatively inexpensive compared with surrounding euro zone cities. The beer is absolutely marvelous and cheaper than mineral water. I recommend Prague, but have nothing against Budapest.
If you are looking for a little vacation from your vacation, I think this is your place, but again, I'm biased :)
I'll throw my vote for Budapest. Prague is beautiful, to be sure, but in my opinion Budapest wins for a few reasons. First, it really feels like a living city, rather than a museum piece. Second, it is much less expensive than Prague. Third, The sights are more varied and just as spectacular.
Many people feel that two or three days is enough to appreciate Prague and I agree. However, I was in Budapest for four days (with one of those a day trip to Bratislava) and really could have used an additional two days. There is just so much to see!
One tip I always like to mention- go up to the Fisherman's Bastion around sunset. The views across the Danube are spectacular, and like Rick says, just as good from the free area as the pay section.
Definitely Prague --- great sights & amazing beer. The goulash is less spicy compared to the Hungarian ones.
Of course you're right: there is no correct answer. Both cities are equally amazing in their own way. I personally would recommend Prague, tourist crowds and all, but I'm very biased toward the city. It's beautiful and vibrant and inspirational, especially if you don't let yourself get bogged down by the hordes. Budapest, too, is amazing. It's a bit more spread out than Prague, which some like and some don't. With five days in Prague, you would have ample time to do all the "must-sees" and also to strike out and really get to know the city, maybe visit Kutna Hora or Cesky Krumlov, too. Five days is just enough for Budapest, in my opinion.