We have just returned from an incredible 10 days in Europe! My husband and I celebrated an anniversary and spent 4 nights in Vienna (with a day trip to Bratislava), 2 nights in Salzburg, and 3 nights in Prague. It was fantastic! Rick Steves' recommendations for everything from hotels, to transfers, to restaurants, were all spot on. You cannot go wrong working your way through a trip Rick style! We started our trip in Vienna where we stayed at the Do & Co Stephansdom (the only non-Rick recommended hotel) but it was a great place nonetheless. The location was very central, only steps away from St. Stephen's Cathedral and within walking distance to most major attractions. It was modern, clean, and very friendly! While in Vienna, we loosely worked our way through one of the suggested itineraries in the guidebook and tried to see most of the 3 star sights with several others sprinkled in. We enjoyed the history of the Hapsburgs and bought the Sisi ticket which included the tour through the Hofburg palace (including the Sisi museum) in town as well as Schoenbrunn. Both were highlights! The Sisi ticket allowed you to pass through the lines at Schoenbrunn without a reservation time. Fortunately for us, this was not high season, so we didn't fight too many crowds. The best view we experienced in the city was from the top of the Belvedere Palace gardens. Wow! Totally worth the trip out there. And the Christmas markets!! They were everywhere! Definitely no shortage of gluwhein, punsch, and tons of other Austrian specialties. Some were more touristy than others which many stalls selling the same, clearly mass produced, items. But they were so fun to browse around! We loved the cafe culture and went to several of Rick's recommended cafes, all with a different feel. Another favorite of ours, was the recommended Chamber Music concert at Mozarthaus. It was a lovely hour of classics in an authentic setting. We toured the Opera House which was worth seeing, particularly if you don't have tickets to a show. Our day to trip to Bratislava was fun and well worth the hour train ride. Trains and metros were a breeze with Rick's instructions included in the guidebooks.
Salzburg was next. We took the train from Vienna--about 2 1/2 hours. We overpacked and our luggage was the only thing that made this transfer difficult. We should have known better!! It rained the entire time we were in Salzburg, so that made it a little less fun than the other places, but it didn't stop us from seeing the sights. We actually enjoyed the Sound of Music Tour most of all! We used Panorama tours and were able to get on a small 8 person van. It was a lot of fun and a good way to avoid the driving rain. We stayed at the Rick recommended Hotel Weisse Taube and it was a nice, centrally located small hotel. The staff were very friendly and they had a nice breakfast.
We transferred to Prague using Mike's Chauffeur Service as recommended in the guidebooks and we can't say enough about how fantastic this service was! It was a 5 hour drive to Prague and our driver made the round trip! He was prompt and courteous and got us there safely and comfortably. We stayed at Hotel Maximilian in Prague, which was recommended. This was one of the nicest hotels we have ever used. The amenities were fantastic, the included breakfast delicious, and the location perfect for exploring. It was only a 5 minute to Old Town Square and walkable to almost everything else! Prague is a beautiful, romantic city which speaks for itself. We saw the main attractions (Charles Bridge, the Castle, Old Town) and marveled at the architecture and beauty. The Christmas Markets there were tons of fun! And a highlight for us was the Slav Epic. It was incredible!
With the guidebooks in hand, you can't go wrong. We found ourselves asking, "What would Rick do?" on several occasions!