Where would be the best location to spend 3 nights while in route traveling from Prague to Budapest by train? We are trying to keep the time lost in the train travel to a minimum and desire to stay at a location that offers scenery and nature hiking (mild), for a diversion between the two city stays.
Not sure why I didn't think of this in my private message, but what about
Olomouc, Czech Republic..it's a Unesco World Heritage Site, and wonderful! Not to many tourists and lots to see and do...reference Lonely Planet for this...also I have pictures on my site.
Bratislava, Slovak Republic....I loved this old town, the castle was wonderful. I found it very charming, enjoyed the architecture. Again Lonely Planet and inyourpocket.com have info for you.
Bratislava is worth a night (the castle and strolling along the Danube). One interesting fact is if traveling by train, is that you can travel on one ticket while breaking your journey in differnt cities. You just need to pay for individual reservations on the separate legs. We traveled this route 5 or 6 years ago: went PRG-Bratislava (1 night) - Budapest all on one ticket.
I'm for Bratislava for at least one night. In addition to the castle/Danube, get directions to the Jewish 'Museum' and spend an hour or two viewing the exhibits and very old gravestones in the basement. Very small, simple, but well done; I'm gentile but the history and demise of the Jewish enclave in Brat is quite sad (as it is in many places in Europe). I'm told the approaches to the modern, suspended bridge crossing the Danube were planned purposely to allow destruction of a formerly vibrant Jewish community in Brat. The large church/abbey/cathedral across the 'expressway'/bridge approaches from the castle is also quite impressive and worth a visit/walk. As is venturing a bit beyond the restored 'old town' to the communist built, and very grey, commercial/apartment/office buildings which comprise most of the city; the best old/new/communist contrast I've ever seen in such a short distance. If Brat's too much of a contrast, Vienna's just down the road with strudel/ribs/schnitzel to die for.
From Bratislava, you can easily take a bus to Devin and visit the old Castle as well as take a nice hike.
Maybe trails lead you close to the city again where you can take a tram/bus back downtown to your hotel.
Winter has been mild in Slovakia this year and spring has already arrived. I hiked to Devin yesterday and witnessed many beautiful wildflowers on the way.
Bratislava is another big city (although not as big as Prague or Budapest). My suggestion: Get off train in Breclav, change to train to Valtice (only 13 minutes from Breclav), get off at Valtice mesto and walk for about 10 to 15 minutes to the chateau. There is hotel Hubertus there where you can stay overnight and also medieval wine cellar where you can go for tasting. See: www.salonvin.cz. Website is also in English. At the chateau you can also rent bicycles and go through a large park to another chateau Lednice about 8 km away. It is worth it. Then you can go by train from Valtice to nearby Mikulov and from there by bus to Pavlov and do some hikes in Palava hills. If you like wine, there are countless wine cellars in the area. See Rick Steves book: Prague and the Czech Republic.