Please sign in to post.

hungary-greece-italy

a) i have never been to europe before, and am somewhat overwhelmed b) i am am middle aged guy traveling by himself :) c) i am gong to budapest around easter to visit relatives. will be able to stay with them some but also need to find hostels. d) i plan on going for a month or so. e) i have looked @ eurail pass for 3 countries as i would like to go to italy and greece, and found a 'decent' fare. is that the best rail way to do as i will be stopping in cities for a # of days at a time. f) PLEASE give me some ideas for an 'itinerary' i don't plan on being in hungary too long (10 days max). g) i love seeing historical places/ruins/etc but do not really know how to plan this out especially if i am only going by train, and want to stay at 'inexpensive' places.
I KNOW THIS ALLOT TO ASK and i appreciate anyone's help and guidance for what will be the biggest event of my life! THX,geo

Posted by
2129 posts

You need to be a little more specific. Greece? Do you mean Athens, Piraeus, the islands? Start with a list. Start with each country. Each country is very large, and has many places. Hungary is Budapest, many other cities. Which do you want to visit? Have you bought Rick's books for each country? We have all those countries. So, before you ask for help, start by asking yourself for help. What do YOU want to do? Which cities? For Hungary, Budapest is 3-4 days, with maybe a day trip to Eger. There are also some other small cities. Rick has lists of 2 and 3 day trips. I've never been to Greece and was in Italy 50 years ago. Each of those has a separate help line in the Rick Steves helpline. You don't say when you are going. I hope it is a couple months. I envy you, since I have been to Europe many times and plan to go back next summer. We love Budapest, and this was the city my grandmother was born in. You will find it charming and funky. If you ever see a Viking Cruise ad, they always open with a panora of Budapest, with the Pariament building.

Posted by
2129 posts

I just happened to notice that Rick was running his "Basics of European Travel" show. This sketches out how to think about travel - mixing different kinds of experiences. etc. Do a google search or look on Rick's site. There's a lot of programs or discussions about planning and that is what you need to do.

Posted by
12320 posts

PART ONE Don't sweat it. Its going to be a blast. For perspective, I am 50-something and go to Budapest 2 to 3 times a year and A. Relax. Get a passport, book your flights and enjoy B. Budapest is one of the safest cities in Europe and one of the easiest and most enjoyable to get around. Even after all these years of visiting I must still look like a tourist because on almost every trip I am approached at least once by a Hungarian wanting to help me. I guess I look lost a lot. These are nice people. C. April is a great time to visit Budapest. Great weather. For the hostels I understand the Wombat Hostel on Kiraly utca is very nice. Since I don't stay in a lot of hotels I generally recommend a zone. That zone is from the Oktogon down the center of Andrassy ut and on to the river. Now find a place you like one or two blocks above and two or three blocks below the line. This is the prime spot for a tourist in my opinion.
D. For a month? That's great. But still don't try and do too much. E. Italy and Greece are not exactly convenient to Budapest. Why don't you look at Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia. Italy will be Italy for a thousand years to come, central and eastern Europe is pretty unique right now but it wont stay this way forever. Go google images of the countries and you might be surprised.

Posted by
12320 posts

F. This is something you have to work through on your own based on your own interests but don't try and do too much. Personally if I could get 30 days off I would fly into Istanbul and work my way to Prague (by the way I have done many of the parts of that trip and if it interests you I can give you my notes). But here are some other ideas in the region. Budapest 5 or 6 days, more if the family keeps you busy Eger, Pecs, Gyor each two days including travel Vienna 4 days including travel Melk one day (day trip from Vienna) Prague 4 days including travel Romaina 5 day guided tour for about $2,000 including hotels and transportation to and from Budapest. Slovakia Kosice to High Tatras to Bratislav and Vienna for 6 days. (great trip. Add a couple of days and see Krakow in Poland)
G. The inexpensive comment brings me back to places like Romania and Bulgaria and Slovakia. I would be glad to help.

Posted by
3 posts

i just want to thank everyone for their input. i am OVERWHELMED by this fantastic opprotuity!
THX,geo

Posted by
2788 posts

Get a copy of RS "Europe thru the Back Door" and read it carefully. It is very helpful to those folks who have never been to Europe before or those who have only been a time or two and still want to learn good travel skills.

Posted by
11613 posts

Railpasses are usually not the best option for Greece or Italy. Greece has great bus and ferry service, Italy has inexpensive train tickets and a good rail system. Try not to overestimate what you can do - get a map, some guidebooks, and check into each country's railway site to compare fares and travel times. Come back to post more questions as you work on this great trip.

Posted by
2858 posts

You should know that there is no international train service into Greece from any other country. I'm assuming you can take a train to somewhere close to the border and then a bus the rest of the way into Greece to Athens or Thessaloniki, or perhaps to the nearest Greek train station where domestic Greek trains are stopping.

Posted by
3 posts

i took y'all's advice and just ordered europe thru the back door. so we may suspend further answers for a bit. i think that is the best idea (i have watched his show for years, i guess i should have done it from the beginning, lol) THX for everyone's help!
geo

Posted by
12251 posts

Hi, Good that you're going solo. You could choose to spend the entire 4-5 weeks in one/two countries, France/Italy, France/Germany, Germany/Austria, Hungary/Germany, etc, if staying in cities, say, to see the historical sights a rental car is not needed. You say your preference is at this point Italy and Greece but I know that you're still in the planning stage. Depending on where you're planning to go for the 4-5 weeks, which I've done, and how and where you travel, a rail Pass could be useful. That's what I do. As for itinerary after visiting Budapest, decide on your priorities, what's important to you to see and visit: Paris, Munich, Rome, Milan, Vienna?