We have pretty much settled on Prague plus smaller towns in the Czech Republic for a trip this spring. We want to tack another country on, and we are torn between Budapest + Eger, or Karkow + perhaps Warsaw. That is where we can use the advice of the RS community, to choose between the two. For Czech Republic, we are looking at four nights in Prague, two in Cesky Krumlov, one in Trebic, two in Olomouc. We really want to see some of the smaller cities too, not just the big cities. So doing an trip on in the big cities is not an option -- as much as I realize that we could do all three countries if were willing to stick to the big cities. We go to Europe pretty much every year, so it's not as if this is our only or last trip. We could combine Krakow with a future trip to Berlin/Dresden/Goerlitz. And Budapest could be combined with a repeat trip to Austria. So, what are your thoughts?
I liked Krakow, didn't like Budapest, and I'm sure that some travellers would say the opposite. I really think it's a matter of what works best schedule wise. Krakow is much smaller than Budapest and can be seen in a much shorter time. If you'd like to visit the salt mine and Auschwitz than you'd need to add an extra day or
two. I would look at train connections btw the places you're visiting and Krakow and Budapest. I haven't been to Warsaw simply because it doesn't come across as a city with much to offer tourists. When I was planning my trip the people who I'd spoken to who had visited Warsaw didn't have anything positive to say about the city.
If, as you say, you will eventually visit whichever one you don't see this time, then you really can't go wrong. That said, though I love Krakow - it's my favorite city, frankly and I can't say enough good things about it - Budapest has more to do and see. Plus the Budapest/Eger trip would keep more to your big city/small city mix. ( Disclosure: I've been to Budapest and really enjoyed it, but I've not been to Eger) But Krakow is amazingly charming and has quite a bit to do and see even though it can't compete with other destinations when it comes to "must see's". As for Warsaw, I was very pleasantly surprised. The old town is not only very pretty -maybe not as pretty as other major European cities - but truly inspirational. The Warsaw old town was completely destroyed during the war: The Nazis numbered the buildings according to historical and cultural importance and made sure to demolish those buildings first. Everything in the old town has now been carefully restored in every detail and it feels vibrant. It's the outlying, newer parts of town that give Warsaw its rather sad reputation as the "ugliest city in Europe". Another option to go with Krakow would be Wroclaw which is about three(?) hours west-ish of Krakow. It's a small university town; very pretty, very lively. Whatever you decide, enjoy your trip!