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Prague vs. Budapest

We are planning a trip this spring to take my boyfriend's parents to Europe for 3 weeks. We plan to either go to Prague or Budapest and spend the rest of the time in Italy and Switzerland. We both have been to Prague and want to go back at some point but the parents have not. We are not considering travel times to and from as that will be built in with plenty of sight-seeing time (3 full days, I think). We are not the type of travelers to hit every museum (parents are same). We will likely go back to Europe in a couple years so we could do Prague later again.

Can anyone provide an opinion on the 2 cities and whether one is better than the other for first time visitors? Thank you!!

Posted by
1358 posts

Having been to both cities gives me the right to an opinion. Prague is better.

Do the google search for both cities, e.g. 'Prague sights' and 'Budapest sights.'

You will find descriptions of important attractions which will help you decide.

Posted by
2788 posts

I spent time in both cities in August & September of this year. Prague was full of tourists and expensive.

Budapest had way fewer tourists and was much more reasonably priced. I would go back to Budapest if given the opportunity, not Prague.

Posted by
67 posts

I do believe that my wife, Diane, and I are among the few that preferred Budapest to Prague. I have to put my two cents with Charlie on this.

One question to answer is the in-laws wishes. What will they tell their friends when they admit that they did not go to Prague? Any way you can change your plans and see both? You could probably shave a few days off Italy and Switzerland and see both. We have been to Italy, Switzerland and both Prague and Budapest. Try to analyze your trip again.

Posted by
289 posts

Thanks for all your replies - there is a lot on this topic over on the Trip Advisor forums as well.

The Italy and Switzerland piece is set and we don't want to shave any time off those countries so it's just figuring out the Prague or Budapest piece.

It's tough to decide on this one. I do read a lot of negative posts about crowds in Prague but I have realized most people don't post the time of year they are actually visiting. Last year we were there in late May and the crowds were completely tolerable but I could see how it could be worse. A big difference I see between the two is around seeing the sights - it's easier to see them in Prague because of the concentration and in Budapest everything is spread out.

Posted by
13 posts

Living in Budapest,and having been to Prague, I have to say that there is more to see here than in Prague. You can see all of the major sights, without being rushed, in 2 days. You can walk across Lanchid bridge (chain bridge), and take the funiclar up to the Castle District, and see the whole area including Fisherman's Bastion, and Mattyas Templom in an afternoon, or less. Walking back across the bridge, you can see the holocaust memorial (the shoes)on the side of the Danube river, and stroll up to Vorosmarty Square, to Gerbaud's Coffee house, and up the pedestrian zone of Vaci utca. And you should see St. Istvan's Basilica as well, and all is within walking distance. The trams and metro system here are very easy to use, so you don't really have to stay in the city center to see the sights. Hope this helps you a little.

Posted by
289 posts

We've done extensive reading to figure out what there is see and do in both cities. We are cutting one day somewhere else (Italy or Switzerland) and the extending the whole trip one day and will fly to Budapest for 2 nights and then on to Prague. It fits with the schedule, the flights are inexpensive enough so we won't be wasting all our time on trains and although we'll spend more time in Prague, we will get an opportunity to get a good flavor of Budapest and decide if it's a place we'll return to. Thanks for all the replies!

Posted by
2993 posts

Hi Ali, Your revised plan sounds like a great one! It's perfect that you have the flexibility to see both Prague and Budapest--have a great trip!

Posted by
67 posts

One thing is certain. Travelers are unique in their interests. This "Helpline" clearly shows that we experience travels in different ways. One of us loves Prague, the other loves Budapest.

I find this true in other comparisions as well. My wife and I were unimpressed with Paris, yet 85% of travelers love the ctiy.

In your case, I was glad to read that you will take in both cities and spend less time in Italy or Switzerland. Many contributors have been to both countries and will give you opinions on what to see and what to miss. For me it depends on what part of the country you were planning on visiting. We just cam back from Switzerland and was in Italy last year. For us, the Berner Oberland area of Switzerland was breathtaking while the rest of Switzerland was "just" beautiful.

Italy is equally diverse.

Good luck on your planning.

Posted by
289 posts

Thank you for your thoughts Dean.

I have to agree this forum and others is invaluable.

We have never been to Italy and will not cut time there. We have been to Switzerland and will not be cutting into our 4 nights in the Berner Oberland since we loved being there so much and cannot wait to share that experience with my boyfriends parents. We will cut one day in another part of Switzerland which we are more than okay with. :)