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Help for Three Weeks Travel

My sister and I are planning a three week trip to Europe for June 2014. We have been before and have spent time in Paris and Prague and absolutely love the 'friendliness' of both cities...but, we always default to Paris because we enjoy the safety, ease of transport, and the 'feel' of it. We still want to spend one of the three weeks in Paris, but would like suggestions as to where to spend the other two weeks. We are not museum aficionados, and certainly don't mind being in touristy areas. Shopping is not a draw for either of us, although we will pick up trinkets to share with family. We will walk off the beaten path, but will not drive. We enjoy the squares, enjoy segway tours, and such. So, if you have suggestions as to beautiful cities in Europe which can meet some of our criteria: user friendly transportation, walker friendly, relative safety, beautiful squares, a Paris-like feel, we would certainly appreciate your help.

Thank you,

Judith C.

Posted by
11805 posts

You might enjoy any of these (not in order of preference, just in the order that they popped into my head): Munich, Salzburg, Venice, Copenhagen, Vienna, or Barcelona (although Barcelona is the least "safe" of the group).

Posted by
4637 posts

Vienna has certain grandeur and little bit like Paris atmosphere. Budapest is sometimes called Paris of the east. Maybe because of its wide boulevards and Danube. But Danube River would be like several Seinas next to each other. I also heard Bucuresti being called Paris of the east but IMHO I did not see any similarities. Maybe Romanians who haven't seen Paris thought so. And of course Prague which lacks wide boulevards but the center has medieval feeling and of course view of Hradcany Castle across the river is stunning but you've already been there. Although not looking like Paris at all, nevertheless exciting and logistically easy to get are London and Amsterdam. Some parts of Brussels with its boulevards (also easy to get to from Paris) reminded me little of Paris. And if you have time left and like exciting city then Berlin, mix of old and modern architecture. Now I noticed you also want Paris like feel. OK, I will try to put them in order. So IMHO: Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Brussels, Rome. But Rome is much more intense.

Posted by
13532 posts

If you read the posts here you might notice that I am somewhat biased. But you will also note that I rarely respond to a “where should I go” question. You however have struck a chord where I think my bias can put into proper perspective. Like you I enjoy Paris immensely, like its reputation suggests Paris is a city to be lived; not visited. Prague is more a great place to visit which is why maybe it did not have the same impact on you. Another great city that is best served if you live it is Budapest.

Budapest is called the Paris of the East for a good reason. Budapest is sort of a Paris in the midst of being restored. It’s a little rough around the edges but that only serves to make it more real. Like Paris it has a distinct culture and a love of the arts. And like Paris (and unlike places like Prague and to a lesser degree Vienna) you don’t go to see a Tourist District you go to experience the various zones and live within the culture.

Safety? Budapest always ranks as one of the safest cities in Europe. The first few times we went we were amazed to see young ladies walking home alone after dark had set in. Later through local friends and a little internet research we discovered just how safe the place really was. We generally stay in a ground level street facing apartment and we have absolutely no concerns; beyond a little common sense I guess.

If you love Paris I think Budapest will speak to you in many similar ways. Get a well located place to stay, spend at least four full days. Some sort of self-catering arrangement would be an excellent idea. A place where you are forced a little into the daily life of Budapest by having to do a little grocery shopping. The Markets are wonderful. Possibly take a cooking class while you are there. Then there are the theaters and concerts (but come early in June because like much of Europe much closes by mid-June).

The transportation in Budapest is part of the attraction and character of the city; especially the yellow trams and the almost Mario Brothers like M1 Metro Line (the oldest on the continent of Europe). You will find the metro system extremely easy and extremely affordable. Even the weather curiously enough is very similar to Paris. If you look at all the averages for both cities there are very few differences.

But you have three weeks, so where else? Vienna is a natural and some of the smaller towns between Vienna and Budapest you might find interesting. By working Vienna and Budapest and either Pecs or Salzburg as three hubs you will see more and spend less time traveling. If you are brave head for Bulgaria or Romania; two other places I love dearly. I love the region and can help if you are interested.

Posted by
2246 posts

@James: That's a great, considered response, thanks for taking the time and illuminating Budapest a bit for us. It sounds wonderful.

Posted by
6869 posts

If you like the friendliness of Paris, you'll go nuts over Budapest.

I vote for Munich, Salzburg, Vienna and ending in Budapest. All are great cities and worthy of a 3 week total trip. They all have exactly what you're looking for on your trip.

Posted by
837 posts

Definitely London. For the second, I have not been to Budapest, so cannot comment, but another choice would be Rome.

Posted by
6869 posts

The reason I suggested Munich, Salzburg, Vienna and ending in Budapest is that they're cities that compliment each other in history and they're very much in the old European continental style. And the cities are geographically close to each other via trains.

The Hapsburgs' empire had great music, art, architecture and colonialism with these being crossroad cities for world trade.

Posted by
46 posts

Wow! I cannot thank each of you enough for your thought out responses! We are so excited about this trip, and although it will not be until June....I enjoy the planning of a European trip almost as much as the trip itself! You guys have certainly come through with what seem to be exceptional ideas. Once again, thank you so much for taking the time to share in our journey!