Prague and Vienna

In May 2013 We're going to Prague/ Vienna/Athens/Santorini and finally Istanbul
Assuming we arrive on Monday afternoon, should we allot 3 nights in Prague and 2 nights in Vienna or the reverse? Im thinking if we did the former, we'd take an early train to Vienna and if the latter, a late train.

Posted by Ilja
Seattle
1466 posts

Because you are arriving to Prague I would say 3 nights there. Otherwise you would be left with only one full day in Prague.

Posted by James
Frisco
1799 posts

Again, pretty subjective, but for a middle aged, married professional traveling with my wife (if that adds any context) we both found more sights of interest in Prague than in Vienna. FOr that matter we weren't impressed at all with Vienna and left quickly for Budapest....which we loved.

Posted by Elaine
Columbia, SC
745 posts

I can't imagine how anyone couldn't have been impressed with Vienna!! That said, it just illustratea how travel is so subjective and so personal and should be based on your interests, not others - you have to form your own opinions. You mentioned a late train vs early train to split up the time available in both cities. I assume that you have already checked to determine that there are the scheduled trips to meet these criteria? If you haven't done that yet, the availablity/non-availability in train schedules may solve this dilemma.

Posted by James
Frisco
1799 posts

Elaine, exactly! Traveling is such an essential education of discovery. Discovery of other worlds and discovery of one's self. Elaine, I love Your attitude.

Posted by James
Frisco
1799 posts

Elaine, exactly! Traveling is such an essential education of discovery. Discovery of other worlds and discovery of one's self. Elaine, I love Your attitude.

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
2696 posts

As for me I would pick the reverse...3 nights in Vienna, 2 in Prague. I agree ... how could one not help but to be impressed by Vienna? It's the one capital (of the ones I have visited in Europe) that is haunting, enchanting, depressing, captivating...all together. You might ask why would one want to go back to a city one sees as depressing? Yes, definitely

Posted by Ilja
Seattle
1466 posts

If I should quickly characterize both cities I would say Prague is more picturesque, medieval; Vienna is grandiose (it used to be capital of much bigger country {empire} than in present). IMHO they both deserve at least 3 full days if not more.

Posted by Paul
Sioux Falls, SD, USA
214 posts

Last summer we were in Vienna for 4 days, and could easily have stayed longer. We did the Melk-Krems trip - Melk is fabulous, and Krems is very nice, and the river boat is very relaxing and pleasant. We went to the heuringern. If you enjoy wine and wine bars, this is a must do - these are wonderful little folk bars in the suburbs, easily accessible by bus which runs until late at night - good idea for a drinking evening. We don't often do organized tours, but just enjoy walking around, looking at things. Vienna has so much to offer, and is so easy to get around in. I haven't been to Prague for many years.

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
2852 posts

I'm with the first reply. Since you don't know how you'll feel about each place, allot more time to Prague, since you're arriving there first and will be jet-lagged. For the record, I liked Prague and Budapest much more than Vienna (I'd return to the first two, but see no need to return to the third). However, I can't emphasize enough how different they all are. They're often spoken of as triplets, but despite some shared history and close proximity, they are as different as apples, oranges, and bananas. As for a day trip to Czesky Krumlov: yes, it's lovely (I spend a night), but I don't think you have time on this fast-paced itinerary, as it's 3 hours from Prague.

Posted by tom
belmont, ma, usa
11 posts

Thank you for your posts this has been most helpfull. In fact, Melk may be a place we look into further

Posted by Shanon
Germany
2 posts

Before making a decision I would make a list of your must see sights in both cities and go from there. This should give you an answer to which city deserves/needs more of your time. Due to your short stay in each city I am not sure you will have enough time for side trips this time around. I found both Prague and Vienna beautiful cities and deserving of your full time there.

Posted by Chani
Tel Aviv
3509 posts

When I was there a couple of years ago, it was almost 5 hours on the train from Vienna to Prague. And you still have to get from hotel to train with enough time, then train to hotel, check in, etc. That's most of a day lost. Assuming you are flying from Vienna to Athens, you will have to leave Vienna in plenty of time to get to the airport, security, etc. You should seriously consider if you have enough time to see Prague AND Vienna. Your 5 nights sound like they will be just 2 days of sightseeing, one of which is the day after a long-haul flight.

Posted by Kathleen
Dover
3 posts

My husband and I just got back from that area - we spent 5 days in Prague, 3 in Cesky Krumlov and 5 days in Vienna. We loved Prague and Cesky Krumlov the best. We had a good time in Vienna and did some enjoyable things (Melk to Krems riverboat cruise was nice, as was a Strauss-Mozart concert, and the Vienna Boys Choir) but we really preferred Prague and Cesky Krumlov over Vienna. If we ever went back, it would be Prague for us.

Posted by Ray
Tigard, OR, USA
145 posts

I agree with the posters who suggest it depends on what you like. There were some great sights in Prague and I did a day trip to Kutna Hora which I really enjoyed. However, Vienna had stellar museums and palaces....plus some very good art. So it kind of depends on you. I liked the idea of 3 days in Prague because you are arriving there, but however you spend your time you really can't go wrong.

Posted by Liz
Watertown, MA, USA
16 posts

Definitely spend more time in Prague. I found it to be exceedingly beautiful, and while my family are willing to spend money on good food, the cost of getting a decent meal in Vienna was breathtaking! Prague, at least several years ago, was not cheap but was still a veritable bargain in comparison to Vienna. Also, Prague seemed more unique, given that most of my European travelling has been in the western areas. And the Czech people were friendlier than the Austrians, at least to me. But, you should also look at the sites you really want to see - list them out on a paper (or spreadsheet) and see which city has more you personally want to see.

Posted by Sarah
Stuttgart, Germany
2012 posts

I haven't been to Prague, but I'm always surprised by how many people don't like Vienna. It's in my top 3 capitals of Europe. I think I'd rather live there than Paris or Berlin (my other two). But I don't go for the opera or the horses, but more for the history, art, awesome food scene, and the sheer physical beauty of the city. And while Vienna certainly isn't cheap, cheap eats are available - the Nachsmarkt is a fun place to try a lot of different things and very affordable. Not that this really helps you with your decision, I just wouldn't underestimate Vienna because some people don't like it. Particularly if you're a history person, Vienna is absolutely fascinating because of the Hapsburgs/Holy Roman Empire/WWI. So many important historical figures have called Vienna their home, often at the same time. Before you go I'd read the book "Thunder at Twilight: Vienna 1913/14" which reads like a novel and really emphasizes how important the city used to be on the world stage.

Posted by Martin
Germany
208 posts

>"I haven't been to Prague, but I'm always surprised by how many people don't like Vienna. It's in my top 3 capitals of Europe." I visit Prague very often and think Vienna is much better, but I can understand people who prefer Prague. For the casual visitor who spends just one or two days in the city Prague is simply more rewarding. Just follow the main tourist route and you see all the famous highlights, the architecture is more picturesque, everything is catered to tourism, everyone speaks English etc..
To find Viennas charme you have to make an effort. There is no route that leads you to all the highlights, there is no famous view that instantly tells you that you are in Vienna, the architecture doesn't look like the cliche of "Old Europe", the people are sometimes a bit grumpy etc.. but if you found Viennnas charme you know what Prague lacks: a soul. In Vienna there is the waiter who looks down on you if you only want a "coffee". There is the tailor whose shop already worked for the Emperor. The cakes of all the famous bakeries taste like they did 100 years ago, the restaurants serve local food for the locals. All these things were lost in Prague, because of the Czechs/Commies, Germans/Nazis and in the last 20 years because of mass tourism.

Posted by James
Frisco
1799 posts

Martin, you are probably entirely correct. I've curtailed my black and white attitude some since my earlier posts. The truth is these are wonderful places that will speak to different people in different ways and a lot of how any one will react has a lot to do with the circumstances of the trip. No one should ever pass up an opportunity visit either Vienna or Prague.