Thinking of doing a road trip with the three cities. It's about 1,000 miles. I could use some help with the timeframe because the roads are an unknown to me. Or do you suggest a train or bus instead?
If you want to get fast from one city to another take a train. If you have more time and want to stop now and then on your way then car makes sense.
Thanks Ilja. Going one step further, for all of you out there, I want to know how well the roads are marked and whether my english will get me through any challenges.
Roads are marked pretty good. When I travel by car there I use local road atlas with a scale 1:100,000 or so. Never got lost yet. Since the fall of communism English is mandatory at school therefore your chances with your English are better with young people. And of course speak slowly and clearly, no slang. If they don't understand use different words. There is some pretty countryside between Prague and Krakow and absolutely gorgeous between Krakow and Budapest. From Budapest you can stop in Vienna. Then very scenic drive through the Danube valley, cross into Czech Republic and stop in picturesque Cesky Krumlov. Then 2 to 3 hours to Prague depending on traffic.
I would use Google Maps to set your course and estimate your time. It's been pretty accurate when I have used it for trips in the region. The longest time drive is Krakow to Budapest at about 6 hours. Parts of the drive are quite beautiful and none of it is boring. There really isn't a great train route to replace the drive and the other native is Orangeways Bus which I understand is quite comfortable; but still 6 hours on a bus. If you have the time break the trip with a stop in one of the Banska towns. If you have them money hire a car and driver (about $500) which isnt bad if there are 3 or 4 of you. Or split the difference with a driver to Kosice and then the train to Budapest. The Prague to Krakow link is also not a great train route. I'm not sure of public transport on that route but I think you can get something to work if you go to Warsaw for a night or two and then on to Krakow. Budapest to Prague is a pretty good train or car route. Your choice. If you drive a route might be Prague, Warsaw, Krakow, Banská Štiavnica, Budapest, Vienna, Cesky Krumlov, Prague with a night or two in each. But remember you may end paying an arm and a leg just to park the car in the larger cities.
James. What do you mean by not a great train route between Krakow and Budapest, and Prague to Krakow? Lacking scenery? Many stops? Poor service? ??? When I mentioned my concern about getting by only speaking English, I meant using it between large cities. Again, will my English be enough to get me by in the countryside?
Train connection between Prague and Krakow and between Budapest and Krakow has only one direct train which is overnight. Otherwise you would have to change trains at least once or twice. Stops, service and scenery on those routes are not spectacular but OK. Between Budapest and Prague are many direct trains and also freeway. You can check your options and timetable on Deutsche Bahn website. Even in the countryside young people speak some English. Don't give up. If you drive then the most spectacular route is between Krakow and Budapest through Slovakia: first through High Tatras mountains then Low Tatras. Get a local road atlas of Slovakia and choose your route out of the beaten path. Visitor centers should be able to advise you. Slovakia is not a big country and villages and towns are just several kilometres apart. It's of course faster to stay on freeways and main highways but if it was about speed you would fly.
ilja is right on with her comments. How much time do you have and what is your budget?. if you can make it work financially this is a beautiful trip. BTW personally I would avoid night trains in the region. Others don't term to mind them.