The Ultimate cheap European itinerary for 2 to 4 weeks

Reichstag BerlinOne problem that nearly everyone faces when choosing European cities to visit is that the most popular ones also tend to be the most expensive. Many people start with London only to discover that it feels like they are being pick-pocketed all day because trivial-sounding expenses add up so quickly.

Paris and Rome are almost as bad when it comes to your budget, so once you’ve hit the highlights you might be in the mood to travel through places that are wonderful and relatively cheap at the same time.

With that in mind we’ve created a perfect itinerary for those who want to spend between 2 and 4 weeks in Europe on something of a modest budget. There are cheaper cities for sure, but most of the cheapest ones are quite remote and may not be as memorable as the ones we’ve included below. Check the European Backpacker Index to see all major cities ranked by price, and that the ones below are all in the top group.

Note: This article was written in 2012, and revised and expanded in 2016.

Best four cheap European cities to visit together

  • Berlin, Germany
  • Prague, Czech Republic
  • Budapest, Hungary
  • Krakow, Poland

Each of the cities listed above is strong enough to be the highlight of almost any trip, and fortunately they are relatively close together so they work really well as a group. On the map they sort of form a box, so skipping one is easy, and there are plenty of side stops and trips possible in between for shorter or longer stays.

Best cheap and gorgeous small town to add to your trip

  • Český Krumlov, Czech Republic

You may not yet have heard of Český Krumlov, but either way you are in for a treat if you can add 2 or 3 nights to your trip. It’s located just 3 hours south of Prague by bus or train, and it’s an excellent contrast to the large cities on the list. Better still, it’s incredibly cheap, and a favorite of almost all who visit.

Getting there and back

Krakow CathedralWhile none of these cities is among the cheapest in Europe to fly into, at least 3 of them have cheap enough flights that it’s worth flying directly into one of them.

Of the four cities, Berlin will have the cheapest inbound flights from almost anywhere, and Krakow usually only has cheap flights from within Europe. So your best bet is to check airfares from your city to each of these four, and fly into the cheapest of them.

In many cases you can save the most money by buying a one-way ticket into one of them and a one-way ticket back out of another of them, but you have to price them out to see. Keep in mind that if you buy a round-trip ticket it means most of a day and about US$50 to $70 to get back to that first city, so an “open jaw” ticket might still be a better deal even if it’s US$100 more.

Getting between the cities

There’s little doubt that the most enjoyable way to get between these cities (and most European cities) is by train, but you do have two other main options to consider, namely, flights and buses.

Trains

With the exception of Berlin and Prague, which are about 5 hours apart, these cities are about 7 to 10 hours apart by train, and therefore perfect for overnight journeys. If you are the type who sleeps well enough on trains, this method is ideal because you save a night in a hotel or hostel, and you still have all day to see the sights. Taking daytime trains obviously means more scenery, but some of them are quite a bit more expensive than the night trains.

Flights

If you can get a cheap train fare at a time that works well for you then it’s probably best to avoid all the hassles of flying and security and airport transportation. But if the train schedule doesn’t look great, it’s worth checking for low-cost flights between them. Some don’t appear on the aggragator sites so it’s worth checking whichbudget.com to see all your options in one place.

Buses

Rarely discussed in most circles, many don’t even know that most European cities have comfortable and cheap long-distance bus service between them. They aren’t as comfortable as trains, but often they are astonishingly cheap, especially if you find a promotional price. Check the Eurolines website and if you are skilled or patient enough to navigate its quirks, you might find a great deal on a bus that takes about the same time as a train.

Berlin, Germany

2016 Backpacker Index: US$60.78/day

Berlin MitteBerlin isn’t such an obvious tourist city, but it’s absolutely the kind of place where either you love it, or you’ve never been there. Everyone can find something to enjoy about it, partly because it’s especially trendy and dynamic lately as a new hub of European and world culture, picking up where London and Paris left off.

One challenge is that Berlin is a huge and spread-out city, so it’s important to choose where you stay wisely. Most budget travelers will prefer the former East Berlin section around Mitte and Prenzlauer Berg, which is where most hostels are as well as the best and cheapest nightlife and shopping. Check our list of recommended cheap Berlin hotels for a place to start.

What to see and do in Berlin

Start with the Berlin Free Walking Tour on your first morning, and you’ll have enough ideas for what to do for the rest of your stay from that alone. Being honest, the Reichstag (capital building) is a bit disappointing from the inside, although the city does have a handful of great museums clustered together that appeal to many.

But mainly Berlin is about exploring the weird and funky neighborhoods for food, shopping, and nightlife. Fortunately, most of it is quite cheap as well.

Prague, Czech Republic

2016 Backpacker Index: US$41.77/day

Prague Charles viewYou may not realize that most large cities in this part of Europe were practically flattened during WWII and then rebuilt just after. Fortunately, Prague is one where the historic center survived mostly intact, and it remains one of the continent’s most beautiful and interesting. The downside is that the city center is almost always packed with other tourists, so you might have to work around them a bit.

Prague is also fairly compact, with most things walking distance from each other. The city is also quite cheap still, at least compared to Western Europe, although hotel prices can seem high if you want to stay in the middle. Check our list of recommended cheap Prague hotels for some really good ones only a quick and cheap tram ride away.

What to see and do in Prague

Aside from the famous clock in the town square, Prague has a few other very worthwhile checklist attractions. The Prague Castle is one of the largest and most incredible in Europe, and the Charles Bridge and its statues feels like you should have to pay to cross it.

There is plenty more to fill a few days, plus you can catch a cheap classical concert in one of the many venues offering them, or just indulge in cheap and excellent beer like everyone else.

Budapest, Hungary

2016 Backpacker Index: US$30.99/day

Budapest RiverviewThough it’s in the heart of part of Europe that isn’t known for being well off, Budapest is quite a grand city that makes it feel rather rich. Still, it’s among the cheapest European cities, and it offers very good value. Even if the castle up on the Buda side of the river isn’t a stunner, and that the parliament building on the Pest side is a copy of the one in London, this is an attractive city with a feel of its own.

Budapest is also compact enough that budget travelers can stay in the cheap hotels and hostels a bit inland on the Pest side, and still walk everywhere while sightseeing. The Free Budapest Walking Tour covers highlights on both sides, and is a great introduction.

What to see and do in Budapest

During daylight hours, Budapest has the standard selection of munuments and museums in addition to its castle complex, but separates itself from other big cities with its abundant hot springs and spas. Tourists can easily mix with locals and take a dip at a modest fee in one of the unique facilities spread around town.

At night, however, Budapest really comes into its own, with some of the most interesting nightlife in Europe. Head for what are known as “ruin pubs” on the Pest side in the old Jewish Quarter to quaff cheap drinks in converted courtyards that each has its own weird vibe.

Krakow, Poland

2016 Backpacker Index: US$24.71/day

Krakow SquareWhen you hear that Krakow is among the very cheapest cities in Europe you might not expect much. But in reality, Krakow is also one of Europe’s loveliest and most pleasant cities, with quite a lot to do. At its center you’ll find about 30 square blocks of a historic medieval town, surrounded by a peaceful park, and with an enormous cafe-lined town square at its heart.

For those who like hearty portions of meats and sausages, Krakow is wonderful, but there are also many Italian and other international cuisines, including many vegetarian options, so something for everyone. Hotels just on or near the central square are reasonable, but you can stay for a lot less by going a few blocks away.

What to see and do in Krakow

As in many other cities, taking the Krakow Free Walking Tour is a great way to get oriented on your first day so you’ll know what you want to explore more deeply. You can also cover many of the main central sights on that tour, which leaves time for day trips and hanging out. Sad though it may be, a half-day trip to nearby Auschwitz is something you’ll never forget, and there is a fun salt mine attraction not far away as well.

In the evening you’ll probably find out why Krakow is very popular with the weekend party and stag-do crowds. You can sip affordable wine at one of the cafes on the square, but it might be more fun to do a pub crawl through the varied drinking establishments in the nearby Jewish Quarter. It’s easy to find a .5L beer for around US$1.50, so getting carried away is common.

Český Krumlov, Czech Republic

2016 Backpacker Index: US$31.77/day

CeskyKrumlov395With a population of only about 13,000 people, Český Krumlov will be an extremely welcome stop in between Prague and Budapest, or Prague and Vienna or Salzburg. This well preserved town was forgotten and almost abandoned in the later years of Communism, and it wasn’t rediscovered and renovated until well into the 1990s. Since it’s still a relative newcomer to the tourist scene, it isn’t yet “touristy” even though it’s very tourist friendly.

There are almost no chain hotels or restaurants of any kind, so staying here will be a very local experience. Better still, hotels and food here are much cheaper than even in Prague, so the value is outstanding. The historic town center is small enough to walk through in less than 10 minutes, yet you can still get nice hotels in its heart starting at around US$50 per night. If you are willing to stay a few blocks away from the center, it’s even cheaper.

What to see and do in Český Krumlov

Český Krumlov does have an impressive castle perched above the compact town center, and you’ll definitely want to tour at least part of it. But really the main reason to visit the town is to slow down and appreciate being outside of Europe’s large cities for 2 or 3 days. Those other four cities are always busy and crowded, while this one is gentle and lovely, although you will be surrounded by quite a few other tourists.

As with the other cities on the list, there is a highly recommended free walking tour in Český Krumlov, which is a great place to start. That tour will also show you and explain all of the other worthwhile nearby sights, but I won’t blame you if you just prefer to grab a seat at one of the cheap restaurants with outdoor seating on the main square, and relax over a few delicious and inexpensive beers for a while.

Additional photo credits: Berlin by Philippe AMIOT on Flickr, Prague by POldi♬24 on Flickr



60 Responses to “The Ultimate cheap European itinerary for 2 to 4 weeks”

Maulik Shah says:

Hi,

I am from India
Reading this post, am inspired to take this up. This will be my first trip outisde of the Indian subcontinent. Am planning this trip for a 12-14 day itinerary around end March. Apart from these 4, would you recommend any others – Can you suggest the itinerary?

What would the weather be like? Also it’s my first Europe trip and would ideally like to include a small town or village to also get a feel of the countryside…what would be the best option here?

 

    Maulik,

    In late March it will still be cold in most of Europe, but it will be warming up and it’s extremely unlikely that you’d be in a snow storm or freezing weather. Of course, the south will be warmer than the north.

    To add a small (and beautiful and cheap) town to this trip, I highly recommend Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic. It’s about 3 hours from Prague by express bus, and that will give you a nice look at the countryside as well. In fact, you’ll be able to enjoy the views in the countryside between all of these cities because in Europe the towns tend to be in clusters and once you get outside it’s farms and forest and meadows and all that.

    Have a great trip, and let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

     
Maulik Shah says:

Hi Roger,

Thanks for the heads up. My final itinerary is as under
Berlin – 3 nights
Prague -3 days 2 nights (taking overnight train from prague to budapest)
Budapest – 2 nights
Salsburg/Salzkammergut – 3 nights
Vienna – 2 nights – flying out of Vienna

Need your help on the following points
1. Itinerary for 3 nights in Salskammergut – where to stay and towns to visit ?
2. Best way to get from Budapest to Salskammergut – couldnt find any overnight trains
3. Should i take a journey break at Salzburg for 1 night & do 2 nights salskammergut ? Or devote 3 nights entirely to salskammergut ?

 

    Maulik,

    That looks like a very nice itinerary. With your questions I assume you are referring to Salzkammergut (with a z), and to be honest, I don’t know much about it other than Salzburg itself, which is wonderful. And since you know more about Salzkammergut than I do, I can’t really give you much advice. What I can say is that Salzburg itself is worth at least two days, and it will be one of the highlights of your trip. I was just there again about two months ago, and this time I actually did one of the Sound of Music bus tours, which was excellent because it takes you out to several of the most scenic areas near Salzburg.

    From Budapest to Salzburg it takes about 6 hours during the day, or 7.5 overnight. There is also one that leaves at 23:28 and arrives at 09:52, and that could work if you are content to go to Salzburg. I’m not sure where else you’d go to visit Salzkammergut. The daytime trip could be nice because the scenery is quite good.

    Sorry I can’t be of more help on Salzkammergut itself. I’ll have to research more about it. -Roger

     
Maulik shah says:

Thanks a ton roger…
Budapest to Salzburg I would prefer an overnight journey….however the trains I found all had changes required in the middle of the night? Any better options?
Also have booked the plus Berlin hostel based on recommendations on this site, however need some ideas for a great hostel in Prague and Budapest, location and availability of vegetarian food options being the key

 

    Maulik,

    Yes, I’m not surprised those trains require a change in the middle of the night. In most cases they just change carriages and the travelers stay put, but for less popular journeys it can be more complicated.

    I’ll answer your Prague question under the other comment. For Budapest, you’ll want to look for a hostel as close to the river as you can afford. On the west band (Buda) it’s smaller and more touristy, so you’ll have more options on the east (Pest) side. Basically, the closer to the river, the better the location, although restaurants closer to the river are also more touristy and more expensive. The public transport system is good so you can stay nearly anywhere. This one has a good location and good reviews http://www.hostelbookers.com/property/prp/28344/ . -Roger

     
Maulik Shah says:

HI,

Loved the post about Prague. Would be in Prague on 29th March for 2 nights & plan to take the overnight train to Budapest on the 3rd night.

– How would the weather be around that time |?
– Was confused as to which area to select a hostel/hotel in ? with respect to ease of commuting/walking to major attractions.
– Between Old Town Square – Astronomical Clock Area Casino Hotel (on priceline) & New Town square Charles Square Area Casino Hotel – which would be a better place to stay ?

 

    Maulik,

    You can get an idea about what the Prague weather will be like on the main Prague prices page. Basically, it will be cold but it shouldn’t be freezing and probably not raining either.

    Generally, hotels in the Old Town of Prague will be more expensive for what you get than in the New Town area. You can walk from the Astrological Clock to the bottom of Wenceslas Square (New Town) in less than 10 minutes, so both of those are quite central. The thing you want to avoid is staying on the outer edges of town, like behind the train station or across the river and far from the castle. That time of year you should be seeing pretty good room rates, so I think paying a bit more for a central location will pay off, especially if it’s cold and you don’t want to walk long distances. -Roger

     
      Maulik says:

      Thanks a ton roger….it was this article which inspired me to take this trip up…after believing all my life that Europe was always out of budget. Your comments have been most helpful.

      Have got some amazing deals at hotel trevi in the new town area Prague and Novotel Budapest on the riverfront ..both rooms at around 55-60 usd for a double room.. Intend to go ahead with that as prices of private rooms in hostels r coming to be more expensive than these

       
Rachel says:

Hi! I enjoyed this article! Very helpful. However, what does the price listed for every city include? When I was adding up travel expenses, hostels, and food, I was getting much more than listed. Maybe I’m looking in the wrong places? How did y’all get the listed amounts?

 

    Rachel,

    I’m glad you found the article helpful, and you’ve reminded me that it’s very much in need of updating so I’m going to do that in the coming weeks. The numbers mentioned in the article are from our Europe Backpacker Index, which is meant to help backpackers figure out budgets. However, those numbers are based on sleeping in hostel beds and eating only in inexpensive restaurants.

    You will get more realistic daily budget numbers on our Europe 3-star Traveler Index, which has also just been updated for 2015. Thanks again for reminding me to update this article. -Roger

     
Ana R says:

Hi,
I need help with my 3 week itinerary. My friend and I will be traveling in Europe for the very first time. We bought the Eurail
Global pass.Despite reading a lot, I am still confused about how the trains operate. My itinerary is as follow:
London-Paris:5 nights combined
Paris-Bruges:early morning or overnight train?
Bruges-Amsterdam-1n in Amsterdam?
Amsterdam-Berlin:overnight train
Berlin-Prague:day train
Prague-Pisa 1 night Praga? Overnight train to pisa.
Pisa-Rome: explore Pisa for half a day
Rome-Barcelona: spend 3-4 daysin Rome
Barcelona-Zaragoza 1 night in each Spanish city?
Zaragoza-Madrid-returning to the U.S. From Madrid
Please help me. Thank you.

 

    Ana R,

    I think your itinerary looks quite good for the most part, and I think the Global Eurail Pass will come in handy. I’m not sure what specific questions you have in mind, so I’ll just make a few comments and you can ask more questions if you still have them.

    London to Paris will be on the Eurostar train, which is a separate company and not part of Eurail. Make your reservation as early as possible for the best price. If you book through the same company where you bought the Eurail Pass, you should get about a 25% discount.

    Paris to Bruges will be a 2-hour highspeed train from Paris to Brussels and then a change of trains to a one-hour ride to Bruges. The first part will require a seat reservation, which might cost around €20 because it’s a fancy and fast train. Get that reservation as early as possible because there is a limited number of seats for Eurail pass holders. For the train to Bruges you should just be able to hop aboard with no reservation.

    For Bruges to Amsterdam you’ll take the train back to Brussels (no reservation) and then a high-speed train from there to Amsterdam in a bit over an hour.

    Amsterdam to Berlin only takes about 5.5 hours if you do it during the day, but doing it at night isn’t a bad idea because the scenery is very plain. Even with a Eurail Pass, you have to reserve a seat, couchette (small bunk), or bed in the sleeper car, and there will be a small fee. If you go during the day you can just climb aboard and find a seat for free.

    Berlin to Prague takes about 5 hours.

    Prague to Pisa is very complicated and would take 16 hours during the day and even longer at night. The trains in the Czech Republic are quite slow so you can’t get very far in a day. I’ll highly recommend breaking that trip up into two parts. First go from Prague to Salzburg, which will take a bit over 6 hours. Salzburg is a wonderful town that you’ll love. Then from Salzburg to Pisa it will take about 10 hours during the day, or a bit longer at night, so it’s a good journey length.

    From Pisa to Rome only takes a couple hours.

    Rome to Barcelona is also a long and complicated journey and it would take about 24 hours if you did it in one go. The problem is that the trains that run along the southern coast of France aren’t fast and the changes are complicated. If you can fly, it would obviously be very fast and also cheap. But if you wanted to do it by train you’d be better off stopping in Nice for the night and going to Barcelona the following day.

    Barcelona and Madrid are both huge and wonderful cities, and I recommend 3 nights in each. Zaragoza is a large city but not really known for tourist destinations, so I’d skip it and just take the 3-hour high-speed train from Barcelona to Madrid. You’ll need a reservation for that one as well.

    Hopefully this helps. Let me know if you have other questions. -Roger

     
Ana R says:

Hi again,
thanks so much for replying. It helps a lot to get some advice. Planning this trip has been more stressful than I thought LOL.We have the Eurail Global Pass (10 days flexi) I guess my trouble is putting things together as it takes lots of research IMO. if you have never done it before. And also because my friend is interested in seeing her dreamed places as well.
So, we have decided to taken Bruges off the list and this is what we have so far.Trip is from Sept.29-Oct.21
London-2 nights-Already got the Eurostar tickets to Paris.
Paris-3 nights. Accommodations booked and confirmed.Centrally located.
Paris-Amsterdam Planning to pay for the reservation fee and start our journey early.We will be spending 1 night in Amsterdam.
Amsterdam-Berlin:Oct.5 Planning to do the day trip.Arriving to Berlin around 7p.m.Will be spending 1 night in Berlin.already booked a placed to stay close to station and touristic attractions.
Berlin-Prague: Leaving around 4ish from Berlin and getting to Prague around 9 or so. Spending 1 night in Prague. Room already booked. Centrally located as well.
I initially had Salzburg on the list because I was doubtful. So I have decided to add it to our list.
Prague-Salzburgh. 1 night?
Now, the challenge is that my friend wants to stop for a few hours in Venice and Florence before heading to Pisa. I do not know what to do. Do you think is doable. She only has a couple of places in mind she wants to see in each city and that is it.
Pisa: I really like to see the leaning tower. just a quick stop. I do not need to climb it.
Rome: MY friend would like to spend at least 2-3 days because she would like to attend the papal mass on Sunday October 11th.
After Rome I initially had Monaco and then I was planning to do an overnight trip from Monaco to Barcelona but an Eurail representative told me there is no overnight train from Monaco to Barcelona.
I would not mind spending the night in Nice before heading to Barcelona. As it was on my original list as well.
Barcelona-Zaragoza: The reason we have Zaragoza is because my friend has a niece in Zaragoza whom she wants to visit but I am trying to convince her to convince her niece to come either to Madrid or Barcelona?
And finally we have Madrid on the list because that is where we are flying back to the U.S. mid-morning flight.
I know this is a lot. I have spent hours and hours reading and I am still not that clear. So, I need more guidance. THanks so much for your help. Do you think this is doable? SHall we take Zaragoza off the list? My friend really wants to see her niece. But we will have to make decisions to make this work.

 

    Ana R,

    I agree that planning complicated trips like this is stressful, but so far you’ve done an excellent job and I’m sure it’s going to work out great. Many other people just wing it, and they are usually the ones who end up being stressed once the trip begins, while the planners can usually relax at that point. I’ll make comments in order on your new plans…

    I think saving Bruges for another trip is a good choice. Honestly, it looks a lot like Amsterdam, though it’s smaller and more relaxed. It’ll be good for a future trip.

    One night in Amsterdam is a very short stay. In fact, before I comment further, I generally recommend staying 3 nights in most European cities and 2 nights in the smaller ones. You only get a bit of sightseeing time on the arrival day, so a one-night stay means seeing very little.

    Berlin is a huge and fascinating city and one night there is too little to see more than one or two fast things. Honestly, if I were you I’d cut out some cities and stay longer in others. Traveling between cities every day is a bit exhausting and you’ll be in such a rush to even see one thing that it’s barely worth it.

    Prague is quite a large city, but at least most of the attractions are close to each other. If you go to Salzburg during the day from Prague you’ll arrive just as many things are closing.

    From Salzburg it would take you 7.5 hours to reach Venice. It’s an unbelievably scenic trip so do it during the day for sure. Once you arrive in Venice you could take a vaporetto to St. Marks Square and look around for an hour or two and that would be a fun visit, but at that point you’ll be exhausted again and getting into a hotel room will be your top priority.

    You can see the center of Florence in a few hours as well, but unlike Venice, I’m not sure such a short visit is worth it. This strategy is like walking two hours to reach a famous restaurant and then having one bite of a dish, then walking two more hours to another famous restaurant and having one bite of another famous dish, and so on. On one hand, you get to see the inside of a bunch of famous restaurants and also have a tiny taste of the food there, but it’s a LOT of work and you never get even one full meal that way.

    Pisa is kind of a dud of a city, except for the Field of Miracles (where the Leaning Tower is). It’s only about an hour by train from Florence so it’s a popular day trip from there. If you take a train to the small, closer train station to the Field of Miracles, you can walk to the Leaning Tower in about 8 minutes and it’s free to see from the outside.

    Rome is huge and amazing, and I recommend at least 3 nights there. Two nights is a rush and even then there will be many famous things that you just can’t fit into your short time there.

    Monaco is a gorgeous and tiny city that is 20 minutes by train from Nice. So even if you want to visit Monaco, it’s best to stay in Nice unless you want to pay US$400 for small hotel room in Monaco.

    Definitely get the niece to come to Barcelona or Madrid. She’ll probably be thrilled to visit either of those cities, and you’ll be far better off.

    I doubt this is what you wanted to hear, but hopefully you can cancel one or two of those hotel reservations and drop a couple cities from your trip. Your itinerary right now looks like you are running a courier service going through Europe as quickly as possible, rather than taking a holiday. I’m happy to help you sort more of this out, so don’t despair. -Roger

     
      Ana R says:

      Thank you so much for your help. I truly appreciate your help. It definitely helps. I will have to restudy the list….sigh.

       
Dhwani says:

hi,
i need your help in planning my 10 day itinerary to a few destinations in europe. my husband will be joining from poland and i will be travelling from INDIA. destinations in my mind are TURKEY, AUSTRIA, GREECE, SWITZERLAND, ITALY. PLEASE HELP ME CHOOSE THE BEST 3 OF THIS AND which are interconnected by road/train/bus. i will be travelling in the month of march end april 2016.
thanks

Dhwani

 

    Dhwani,

    If you have 10 days and want to visit 3 of these countries, it’s a pretty each choice. Turkey is huge and Greece is complicated by the fact that many of the best sights are on its islands, not to mention the fact that neither of those border the others. So you’ll want to visit Italy, Austria, and Switzerland for sure. However, Switzerland is quite expensive so it’s not ideal for every visitor, especially considering this discussion is beneath an article about “cheap European itineraries.”

    For sure you’ll want to visit Italy, and you really need at least 6 days to do it in a way that isn’t overly rushed.

    Rome: 3 nights, Florence: 2 nights, Venice: 1 night

    You can go in that order or the reverse order, and flights into Rome can be cheap from within Europe. You’ll want to take the train between them, and those train tickets will be quite cheap if you buy them at least 2 months or so in advance, and still pretty reasonable if you buy them shortly before you go.

    After Venice you’ll only have 4 days left, which isn’t really enough time to properly see both of the other countries. So what I’d recommend is to choose either Switzerland OR Austria, keeping in mind that Switzerland will probably be about 40% more expensive than Austria, and perhaps a bit more memorable as well. If you want to go to Switzerland then I highly recommend spending 2 nights in the Interlaken area and 2 nights in Lucerne. Both of those are explained in detail on my article about where to go in Switzerland.

    Your other choice is to visit Vienna for 2 nights and Salzburg for 2 nights. Vienna is a classic and grand European capital, while Salzburg is a gorgeous and historic town at the base of the Alps, so they are very different from one another.

    Whichever you decide, you can take a train from Venice to any of those four cities and then another train to the last one. The train from Venice to any of those places will cost more than your other train rides, so buying early is really helpful for the best price. But it will also be a gorgeous and scenic trip through the Alps, which will be a highlight unto itself. It’s probably best to end in Vienna for a flight home for Austria. If you choose Switzerland you can get from either of those towns to the Zurich Airport in about two hours, and there are surprisingly cheap flights from that airport in spite of high prices for everything else.

    I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions and I’ll be happy to try to help further. -Roger

     
Juan P says:

My wife and I want to go for our anniversary at the end of next December to Europe for 2 weeks. Paris is the only must. We are thinking either head over to Amsterdam for a couple of days and then the Alps, either French or Swiss. OR head south from Paris and hit somewhere in the Alps for 1 or 2 days, then Italy, finishing in Rome. We want to keep it affordable but we are in our late 30s and want it to be romantic and memorable.

 

    Juan,

    If you want one or two memorable days in the Alps starting from Paris, I’ll once again recommend the area above Interlaken in Switzerland. It is absolutely stunning and has views you’ll never forget. I’d recommend staying in Gimmelwald and visiting the Schilthorn observation area. It’s not cheap, but it’s the best and easiest place to get those incredible views in a short time. The French Alps are mostly ski resorts with fewer famous view points.

    You can take a train from Paris to Interlaken and then two days later take another train to Milan and then to Rome. Or you could head to Amsterdam. The views from the train to Italy will also be excellent, while it’s pretty much flat going to Amsterdam. And the weather will be better down south in March as well. This article about where to go in Switzerland will explain where to go and what to do.

    By the way, the Shilthorn cable car is expensive, but as long as the weather on top is clear it’s well worth it. It’ll be a very romantic splurge. Have a great trip. -Roger

     
Indu says:

Roger,
We are planning a 4 week trip to Europe and would like to go to Paris, Italy (Rome, Milan, Venice, Florence, Naples/Pompeii) and then to Germany. We want to fly in from the US to one point and then fly back from Stuttgart back to US. Can you suggest a good route for us to be able to see everything. One week we would ideally like to spend in Germany.
thank you

 

    Indu,

    For the cities you have in mind you’ll be best off flying into Rome because it tends to have pretty good airfares. After a few days in Rome take a train down to Sorrento to spend a couple days in Naples and Pompeii. By the way, Sorrento is much nicer and easier as a base in this area compared to Naples.

    After Sorrento take a train back through Rome and to Florence and then Venice. After Venice you will go to Milan, which is a major transport hub, and then a flight or train to Paris. After Paris you head to Germany. I’d recommend Munich and Berlin on your way back to Stuttgart, but there are many other great choices in Germany. Have a great trip and let me know if you have other questions. -Roger

     
Shalini says:

Hi Roger. Nice to see you helping the fellow travelers out there. Even I have few questions to you.
So, I am planning a 24 days backpacking trip to Europe along with my male cousin. We would be travelling outside India for the first time.
Our Budget: ~1000 Euros per person
Time frame: 24 days
Countries: Netherlands, France, Belgium and Italy, if possible.
We don’t want to rush from place A to B. Rather we would love to feel the city/country, understand the culture and just soak in.
Please suggest an itinerary and/or any tips that you may have. Thanks a lot for reading through and helping others and me. Best Regards.

 

    Shalini,

    Assuming that you aren’t including your inbound and outbound flights in the US$1,000 per person, that’s still only about US$40 per day, which isn’t much in those areas. For example, in Amsterdam, Paris, or Rome, a bunk in a hostel in a decent location will cost around US$30/night, or maybe a bit less. If you also have to pay for your transportation during the 24 days, that makes it even tougher.

    In cities like Prague, Budapest, and Krakow you can have a decent time on US$40/day per person. So I’ll be happy to help with specifics, but I think first you’ll need to figure out if you want to shorten your stay a bit, or raise your budget a bit, or focus more on budget-friendly destinations in Europe. Let me know which of those you can do and I’ll be happy to help with it. Sorry for the disappointing news but the only way to see those places for 24 days would be to get involved in the couchsurfing community and I don’t know too much about that these days. -Roger

     
Mithilesh says:

Hi Roger,

Me and 2 of my other friends are planning a backpacking tour across countries in Europe. It is going to be a 12 day trip starting June. The budget is about 900$ per head exclusive of the air tickets to and fro from India. Can you please let me know the best corridor to cover? we are essentially looking at good nightlife, a bit of heritage, country side and a few big cities. If you can give me an outline for the 12 day trip as to places i can cover, itl be of great help!

Thanks in advance 🙂

 

    Mithilesh,

    For a 12-day trip I’d recommend 4 or maybe 5 total cities. Since it looks like you want to do good nightlife cities that are on the affordable side, I’ll highly recommend starting in Berlin for at least 3 days. Then take a train to Prague for 3 days. After Prague you might consider taking a 3-hour bus ride down to the wonderful town of Cesky Krumlov for 2 days or so. You could instead go to Vienna, but it’s a bit expensive and stuffy (not much of a party town). Lastly I’d go to Budapest for 3 days or so. That route, which includes a bit of countryside around Cesky Krumlov, should be perfect for what you have in mind. Take a train from Berlin to Prague and then buses the rest of the way for the best price and easiest service.

    Hopefully this helps. Let me know if you have other questions. -Roger

     
deepa says:

I am planning a trip starting from Prague – Vienna – Bratislava – Budapest – Venice for 16 days from 13th May. Can you please suggest travel iteniary and will we need a tour operator or is it easy to travel through all these cities on our own. Will a budget of 2200 euros be enough for per person? we will be 2 adults plus 1 child travelling with us? Also can i pre-book euro-rail pass online? Will train or flights be cheaper to take? Or a drive between these cities?

 

    Deepa,

    This looks like a really good trip, although I honestly think you’ll have time to add another city or two. Venice is quite compact so you can see the main sights in a day or two, and it’s so crowded that you won’t want to stay any longer. Honestly, I would plan no more than two nights there.

    Bratislava is nice enough, but it wouldn’t make a list of the 50 most interesting cities in Europe. It’s close enough to Vienna to get there by taxi, but unless you have something specific you want to see there I’d recommend choosing another destination instead such as Salzburg.

    You’ll definitely want to get around by train, and a rail pass wouldn’t be good value on an itinerary like this. Some of these journeys will be fairly cheap if you buy them online in advance (from the official rail websites for each country) so you’ll save money that way. Driving would mean tolls and endless parking hassles, so I wouldn’t recommend it at all.

    My recommendation is to spend 3 nights in each city, except for very large ones like Paris or London (4 nights) or small ones like Venice (1 or 2 nights). So you really could add some cities and still be able to enjoy a leisurely pace. Part of it is that you can see all of the main sights in most cities in 2 or 3 days, so Day 4 is spent going to second-tier sights or just walking around because you’ve seen the top places.

    I’ll be happy to help you figure this out more, and I think your budget will be enough. If you are sure that these 4 cities are the only ones you want to see then I’ll help with an itinerary, but honestly I’d recommend adding Salzburg and maybe Berlin or Krakow or even a visit to Split, Croatia. Keep in touch and I’ll help more if you like. -Roger

     
Clare says:

Hi, Your tips are very helpful! I’m Looking at planning a 3 week trip with my partner starting mid September, using your itinerary as a guide do you know roughly how much we should budget for the trip?

 

    Clare,

    Most of this site is actually dedicated to answering that question. It obviously depends on where you’ll be going and how much traveling you’ll be doing along the way. If you are a backpacker or low-budget traveler then consult our Europe Backpacker Index, which shows a daily budget that should be easy to keep with.

    If you are more of a 3-star traveler then you’ll get a better idea by looking at our Europe 3-star Traveler Index.

    If you are concentrating on the cheaper cities then you’ll be taking cheap trains and buses between them, so it doesn’t add up to much. But if you are traveling through France, Germany, or Spain, the transportation can add up. Let me know if you have other questions. -Roger

     
      Clare says:

      Thanks for the links Rodger,
      At the moment looking at air bnb, havnt had much experience with hostels but are open to anything that will be cost effective. Would a eurail pass be cost effective if only travelling for 3 weeks? We are looking at starting in Berlin, krakow, budapest and then to Barcelona. Also considering Bruges. We will be flying in and out of london. Not sure if we are best to use trains, buses or by air or a mixture? Any advice appreciated. Will be our first time travelling in this part of the world

       

        Clare,

        For the itinerary you have in mind, a Eurail Pass probably wouldn’t be good value, although it could be close. The main appeal of a Eurail Pass is that it allows you to make your plans as you go and not worry about very high last-minute train fares. In other words, if you can decide on your itinerary in advance and buy those train (and bus) tickets at least a month out, it should be cheaper than a rail pass.

        I’m not sure what you mean when you say that you are looking at starting in Berlin, and flying in and out of London. Does this mean you are starting in London and want to fly to Berlin to begin the trip? Or will you be flying into London and THEN want to head out for the rest of the trip? I’ll be happy to help you put a great route together once I’m sure where you want to go.

        But to begin, from Berlin to Krakow to Budapest would be best by train or even bus, and those should be fairly cheap even if you buy at the last minute. Barcelona is a LONG way from all of those, so a flight will be much cheaper and obviously faster. Bruges can be reached by train from London on the Eurostar and changing trains in Brussels.

        If you’ve never been to any of those places then I’d highly recommend going to Amsterdam instead of Bruges. Amsterdam and Bruges have similar gorgeous architecture, but Amsterdam has many world-class sights like the Van Gogh Museum and Anne Frank House, while Bruges is mostly just a pleasant town with few checklist attractions.

        And again, I’m happy to help more with this once we clarify a few things. -Roger

         
samidha says:

Hi Roger,
I am planning a two week trip with my husband. We plan to cover Berlin, Prague, Budapest and Vienna. What smaller towns would you recommend along with these? We are flying in and out of Vienna, so what would be best itinerary to follow? We are a young couple and would want the trip to be a mix of sight seeing, nightlife and we love walking around the cities (we fell in love with Amsterdam and Florence last year.)

 

    Samidha,

    If you have 14 nights to spend in Europe, I’d recommend no more than 5 total cities, partly because each transit day is not really a sightseeing day. In other words, when going from, say, Berlin to Prague, the train trip is 4.5 hours, but if you count from the time you check out of one hotel until you get to your hotel in the next city, it’s more like 7 hours. And those 7 hours will be in the middle of the day, so if you check out at 9am then you’ll check into your next room at 4pm. After that, you’ll be a bit tired and maybe you’ll have enough time and energy to see one sight before dinner.

    So my general recommendation is to spend 3 nights in most cities, and 4 nights in the largest ones, or maybe 2 nights in smaller cities. None of the cities on your list are especially close together, so they will all take most of a day to get between them. To answer your first question, the best smaller town to visit that is along your route is Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic. It’s gorgeous, quite inexpensive, and compact enough that you can see it in two nights.

    If you don’t really want to do Cesky Krumlov, or you really want to move quickly and add another city, the I’ll recommend Salzburg, Austria. Actually, depending on how locked into visiting Budapest you are, you might replace it with Salzburg, which would make your route more efficient.

    Flying in and out of Vienna makes this tricky because it’s one of the middle cities on your list, at least as long as you also want to visit Budapest. Either way, I think your best bet will be to land in Vienna and immediately fly to Berlin to spend 3 nights. Then take a train to Prague for 3 nights. Those two are your best nightlife cities, by the way.

    After Prague you can take a bus to Cesky Krumlov (or a train, but the bus is actually a bit faster) for two nights. Then you could take a bus or train to Salzburg or Budapest or Vienna, depending on how you want to do it. From Cesky Krumlov to Budapest would be a long trip, but at least it would make the final leg from Budapest to Vienna faster and easier. I’d recommend 3 nights in Budapest and/or 2 or 3 nights in Vienna or 2 nights in Salzburg. Again, it all depends on what you prefer from the suggestions above.

    All of the above might seem confusing. If you write back below with your preferences among what I’ve discussed, I’ll be happy to try to map it out even more precisely. I’m sure it’ll be an excellent trip, as all of the cities on your list (and the extra ones I’ve mentioned) are top tier destinations. -Roger

     
      samidha says:

      Hi,
      Thanks for the quick response. Out of Cesky Krumlov, Salzburg and Krakow if I have two choose two cities which ones would you recommend. I understand doing Cesky Krumlov & Salzburg would be convenient, but i want to choose cities which are not similar in terms of their feel and life. You said I can miss Budapest.. is it not a good city compared to Cesky Krumlov, Salzburg.

       

        Samidha,

        Budapest is definitely one of Europe’s great cities and I recommend going there in general. In your case, Budapest is somewhat out of the way, so it might require a 7-hour train trip rather than a 3-hour trip to reach Cesky Krumlov or Salzburg. Also, Budapest actually has a lot in common with Prague in its size and even quite a bit of its architecture. The layout of the cities are also similar, to the point that there are stories of people using a basic tourist map of one while in the other, and not realizing it for some time. So it’s worthwhile, and the main issue is whether it’s worth it to go out of your way on this trip to see it.

        As for the other two, Cesky Krumlov is tiny, gorgeous, and its tourist scene is only about 10 years old so it still feels a bit “undiscovered.” Salzburg has a beautiful location at the foot of the Alps, with a very nice Old Town center. The two main draws in Salzburg are that it’s Mozart’s birthplace (several attractions dedicated to that) and that it’s the location for the movie The Sound of Music. There are bus tours that visit many of the key filming locations, and even if you’ve never seen the movie, the bus tour is really fun and offers excellent scenery.

        Also, for what it’s worth, Cesky Krumlov is the cheapest of the three cities, and amazing value. Budapest is a bit more expensive, and Salzburg is the priciest of the three. As always, let me know if you have other questions. -Roger

         
samidha says:

Hi, we would be there for 16 nights.. Out of these which is a better itinerary –

1. Vienna to Budapest to Berlin to Prague to Cesky Krumlov to Salzburg to Vienna
2. Vienna to Budapest to Berlin to Prague to Cesky Krumlov to Wachau Valley to Vienna
3. Vienna to Krakow to Budapest to Berlin to Prague to Cesky Krumlov to Vienna

 

    Samidha,

    I just answered this question for someone named Robin in the other thread on Europe Itinerary questions, so please have a look there and let me know if you have more questions. -Roger

     
Ismail says:

Roger,
infinite thanks, your posts have helped me a lot.
However, any extra suggestion into planning our itinerary as well as transportation and accommodation options is highly appreciated.
A friend and I are planning to visit Europe in the summer for 3-4 weeks, we will kick off on July 15th,
I’ll start off with countries that we have interest in.
we intend to start off with Spain because it’s very close to Morocco (our departure point) and also because we plan to spend a few days with a relative of mine who lives near Alicante, a coastal city in east/south Spain, France makes second on our list of interest and then come other countries. we are open to any input and also consider our budget would be something around $2000-$2500 each including air fares.

Thank you again

 

    Ismail,

    I’ll be happy to try to help, though I’m a bit unsure of what you are asking. Interestingly, I’m in Spain myself at the moment, in the Malaga area. The high speed trains here in Spain are quite expensive unless you buy way in advance, but they have a good bus network here that is still pretty cheap. In other words, check train fares but plan on probably doing buses until you get to France.

    Southern France in late July or early August will be incredibly crowded and expensive. If you budget is limited, I’d probably skip it on this trip because it would also cost a lot to take trains into Italy or Switzerland. Your best budget bet would be to fly from Barcelona to Budapest or Prague, and then carry on in that area. Your budget will go twice or three times as far in Hungary, Czechia, and Poland, as it would in Italy, Germany, or Austria. Berlin can be a decent bargain and it’s interesting.

    I hope this helps and I’m happy to be more specific if you have specific questions. -Roger

     
      Ismail says:

      Thanks again Roger for your valuable tips.
      Regarding France, what we have interest in is the north part of France actually, we have a network of friends who live there and we plan to pay most of them a visit and hang out. with that being said, do you think northern France would cost much as well ?
      As of transportation, from what you said, I understand that to travel within Spain, buses are my best choice. do you have any names in mind? Do I need to book tickets now?
      What is my best transportation option(s) when Traveling inter-countries. ?

       

        Ismail,

        In the peak of summer, northern France won’t be too crowded and in fact it will be partly empty because so many have gone south. And if you have places to stay for free, it will be very reasonable. The main thing to avoid is staying in the beach resorts in summer, where you have to compete with millions of Europeans who are there for a whole month.

        There are many different bus companies in Spain, and they all offer similar service from what I’ve seen and read. I don’t believe there are many competing companies on specific routes, so if you want to go from, say, Seville to Madrid, you’ll probably have one company doing it. Buses tend to have the same prices no matter when you buy, but some of these companies have started with “dynamic pricing” where prices go up as more seats are sold. You should just google a route that you might do, like “Seville to Madrid bus” and you’ll see results from a few new bus fare aggregator sites. Once you find one of those sites, busbud.com is one of them, you’ll be able to check fares on all routes and see if they are cheaper if you buy longer in advance.

        For bus travel between countries there is a company and website called Eurolines.com. They run a network of buses that go between all major cities in Europe, and fares on those do tend to be cheaper if you buy them in advance. I’m sure it’ll all make sense when you start researching the specific legs you are planning. Best of luck. -Roger

         
Karthik says:

Hey Roger,

Many thanks for helping fellow travelers with their backpacking schedules.. Me and a couple of friends are planning a 20-day backpacking trip to Europe. We are budget travelers and will be looking at bunking in hostels. Some places we would like to cover – London, Amsterdam, Prague, Paris, Italy – Rome, Venice, Switzerland, etc. We would want to spend considerable time in each of these places depending on the area that needs to be covered and to blend in and experience the culture of each of these. It would also help if you could suggest country sides that we can visit as we go along. Also, how expensive or viable is it to hire a car to drive through some of these places as we are 4 of us traveling and the costs may be divided .. compared to train journeys. If you could help us with routing to the mentioned cities and what mode of transport to take.. it would help a great deal for us. Thanks again for all the help you have and you will be doing to all travelers. Cheers!

 

    Karthik,

    I’ll be happy to try to help, but I think this is going to be at least a 2-step process. I’ll give you some things to think about, and you’ll have to sort out your preferences before I can really make concrete suggestions.

    First off, my general recommendation is to plan on 3 nights in almost any city you visit, or even 4 nights in large and top-tier cities like London and Paris. Smaller cities like Venice can be done in one or two nights, but most cities you want to spend 3 nights in because if you go faster than that you’ll end up spending too much of your trip on trains and in train stations.

    As for renting a car and driving, I normally don’t recommend it for visiting cities in Europe. It can be the best way to tour wine regions and small towns and even some coastal areas, but for going from one city to another, a car is an expensive burden because parking is very costly and hard to find unless you stay on the edge of town. So I highly recommend taking trains, or perhaps a few buses.

    If you only have 20 days I’d shoot for 6 or 7 total cities. You can’t do better than London (3 or 4 days), Paris (3 or 4 days), and Amsterdam (3 days). If you did them in that order then you next best stop is to Berlin (3 days) and then to Prague (3 days). If you did that, you’d only have about 5 days left, which isn’t really enough time to do Italy.

    Also, you’d want to take a minimum of 3 or 4 days in Switzerland (Interlaken and Lucerne), and as gorgeous as it is, it’s extremely expensive so it may be better for a future trip.

    From London to Paris you’ll want to take the Eurostar train, and then normal trains until Prague. From there you might take buses, depending on where you want to go next.

    If you want to include Italy, which of course is one of Europe’s highlights, the fastest trip that I could recommend is 1 night in Venice, 2 nights in Florence, and 3 nights in Rome. Even that is too fast for many people. It might be better to save Italy for a future trip, or you’d want to cut out some of the other possible stops.

    So consider what I’ve written and let me know which cities you really want to include on this trip for sure. After that I’ll be happy to provide more details and suggestions. -Roger

     
Ash says:

Hi, I am a single mother and I want to travel with 2 kids 5 and 9. Not sure but I don’t want to wait and I can’t go solo. Should I be looking at a different itinerary or take a chance with yours?
Awesome work and thanks to people like you who keep inspiring people like us! Thanks

 

    Ash,

    The four cities listed are all interesting and tourist-friendly cities, and they are all quite affordable compared to, say, London, Paris, or Rome. So if you visited these four cities I’m sure you and the kids would enjoy them. But I hope you really consider each of them and then go only to the places that really interest you. This itinerary is just a suggestion for great cities that are fairly cheap and fairly close together, but there are many other options.

    Especially when traveling with young ones, I highly recommend at least 3 nights in each city you visit. Going between cities takes some effort and will likely be a bit of a hassle with kids in tow, so I recommend trying not to move too quickly. If you have any other questions on this I’ll be happy to answer them. -Roger

     
Rebecca says:

Hi Roger,

Your replies to others are so helpful! I’m hoping you have some advice for me. My boyfriend and I are looking to do a trip to Europe in January 2017. We’re from New Zealand, and were planning to fly into London to visit family – but to spend 2-3 weeks in Europe too before either venturing to Spain or returning to the UK before departing back to NZ. We know it’s the coldest time of the year but thought we might do some skiing. Our budget is about 3000 Euro each for the entire trip (including London expenses but not flights from NZ to UK). While in London we can probably stay with family so accommodation costs are reduced. Can you suggest a possible itinerary for the trip? I’ve previously been to Paris, Nimes, Nice, Cinque Terre, Pisa, Florence and Rome on a very whirlwind trip. I don’t mind returning to any of these places although I am interested to see other parts of Europe. Any thoughts would be much appreciated!

 

    Rebecca,

    As long as you focus more on cities and mountain resorts as opposed to beaches (obviously) and other outdoor-oriented places, then Europe in the winter is very nice. The tourist crowds are gone, hotels are at their lowest rates of the year, and the cities are still bustling with life because all of the residents are still there.

    If you want to do some skiing you might have a look at this article I put together a few years ago about Europe’s cheapest ski areas.

    It’s hard to confidently suggest anything without knowing more about where you might want to go. Your budget seems like it should be fine for almost any area in Europe that time of year, although in some places you might have to cut more corners than in others. It looks like you’ve hit the main highlights in Italy and France, and later you might head to Spain, so that already takes care of most of southern Europe. Obviously there are many other places you could stop in Italy or France, but aside from Venice, most of those tend to be a bit deserted that time of year, unlike the larger cities.

    If you don’t mind packing winter clothes, then you should seriously consider the cities on the article above, namely Berlin, Krakow, Prague, and Budapest. They are all large cities with good public transport, and they will be full of (indoor) life in January.

    If you’d prefer places that are at least a bit warmer then you might tour Portugal before Spain, particularly in Lisbon and Porto. Or you could go to Croatia with some time in Split and Dubrovnik. Those are more warm-weather places, though Split is a proper city so everything will be open there.

    Let me know what you think about any of these suggestions, and I’ll be happy to add more details if you like. -Roger

     
Ranganath Nehere says:

Hi Roger!

Great help indeed.
can you please tell me which simcard is cheaper to use in these four cities. data as well as calling.

 

    Ranganath,

    At this point you still have to get a new SIM card for each country you enter, as charges for data, texts, and calls are much higher when you use a SIM from one country while in another. Actually, a new law has reduced those “roaming” rates between countries as of last month, so if you aren’t going to need much data then you could buy a one-month card in the first country and use it in the others. That would work for emails and maps and texts, but if you want to do anything more you’ll be better off getting a new SIM in each country. For what it’s worth, as of April, 2017, those roaming rates will go away, so you will be able to use any SIM anywhere in Europe.

    Fortunately, getting a SIM here in Europe is usually pretty quick and inexpensive, especially in these cheaper countries. You can just walk into any of the dozens of mobile phone shops you’ll see on the shopping streets, and buy a card with data loaded into the account for anywhere from €5 to €15. You’ll often need to show your passport, but usually you can be out the door in maybe 10 or 15 minutes. So if you want to use quite a bit of data then it’s worth the trouble, but if you only need email and maps, you can buy one in your first country and add extra credit, and you should be okay for the whole trip. -Roger

     
      Ranganath Nehere says:

      Thanks Roger!
      I am already in Warsaw, Poland for business tour. my wife will join me end of month & we will continue our vacation. Krakow-Budapest- Prague-Berlin would be best route I hope. Please suggest. what should be cheaper mode of transport? train or bus? if Train/bus which website should be used for booking? or booking at local train station is the best option?

      what about local travel within these cities? is it cheaper otherwise we will have to choose the stay near to attraction. we are just travelling to get experience of European cities so may be sightseeing is important. we are vegetarian so will not try much of restaurants.

      Please suggest accordingly.

      I will spend
      1)2 days(1 night) in Krakow – Bus travel in the night to Budapest
      2)2 days (1 night) in Budapest – Bus Travel in the night to Prague
      3)3 days (2 nights) in Prague – Bus travel in the afternoon to berlin
      4)2 days(2 nights) in berlin – fly during to Paris
      5)3 days (3 nights) in Paris fly back home

      please suggest.

       

        Ranganath,

        I think your plan looks pretty good, at least if your goal is to spend as little as possible. The buses in Poland, Czech Republic, and Hungary are cheaper and usually just as fast as the trains, and they usually have more departures as well. So I highly recommend buses in that area, and you can just Google the names of the cities to find the best providers. In the Czech Republic you probably want to take a company called Student Agency (open to anyone), but I suspect that their competitors are good as well.

        However, I’ve never taken a night bus in Europe and I’d highly suggest you do research on those. I’ve taken overnight buses in other parts of the world, and the buses can be wildly different. They can range from reclining first-class seats that almost anyone can sleep in, to normal crowded bus seats that almost no one can sleep in. I struggle to sleep in those conditions so I won’t take them unless it’s a proper sleeper seat. If you are not an easy sleeper, then you might arrive in your next city having gotten almost no sleep, still 6 hours before check-in time at your next hotel. That can be brutal. The night trains are much better because you can reserve a bunk (couchette) for about €20 more than a regular seat.

        As for local travel, Krakow is compact enough that you will probably walk to everything that you want to see and do, although there are buses and a tram system. Budapest has an underground system that is very cheap and pretty easy to use, but if you are staying near the river you might not even need it.

        Prague is similar to Budapest, with very cheap trams as well. You probably wouldn’t want a day pass because you won’t use it much as long as you stay in a reasonably central area. Berlin is huge, and a day pass for the underground is probably worthwhile, which will cost €6.90 for one day, so pretty cheap.

        Paris is also very large, and the hotels in the center are quite expensive, so you’ll want to get around mostly on the Metro. A day pass will cost about the same as in Berlin, so it’s a good bargain. You can get a 3-day pass before your first ride, and then just use them as you please.

        You should have little problem finding vegetarian restaurants in all of those cities, although it might take a bit of looking in the first few. There are Indian restaurants in all of these cities, and many visitors from India, so this is not an unusual situation in any of these places. Have a great trip. -Roger

         
Ranganath Nehere says:

Thanks Roger

 
Vanessa Mattu says:

Dear Roger,
have been seeing all your posts . i wanted to know a few things.
me and my husband fly to amsterdam in late september . then to meet a friend in copenhagen and back. from amsterdam we are planning to hire a car and drive through the countrysides in netherland , germany , austria,chez republic , poland , hungary, croatia , slovakia and back to amsterdam.
do u think it is doable in car if e don’t go to main cities. and stay on the outskirts. we r planning to do absolutely non touristy spots.
our trip is for about 3 weeks.
how will the weather be during that time.

 

    Vanessa,

    The weather in northern and central Europe should be wonderful in late September. It’ll still be warm, and there are no areas in Europe where rainfall is problematic, especially that time of year.

    You can definitely do this trip by hired car, although it seems like you’d be spending most days on the road in order to hit all of those spots in 3 weeks. And as you mentioned, hired cars and city centers are a bad combination in Europe because driving is confusing and parking is usually very expensive and sometimes hard to find. So as long as you plan on staying more on the edge of cities, or in smaller towns, you should be fine.

    Hopefully you are aware of the relatively high fuel costs in Europe. They aren’t a big factor for most people because distances tend to be short, and the hired cars tend to be small and fuel efficient. But you’ll be covering a lot of ground, so it will add up.

    Also, I feel compelled to mention that most of the countries on your list aren’t really very scenic by car, at least while you are driving. The Netherlands is the worst because it is flat as a pancake, but most of central Germany is the same, and most of Poland as well. In those cases you’d be driving on busy highways at 100 to 120 KPH, and the scenery will be endless lines of identical trees on both sides, or sometimes grass fields. Anywhere near the Alps or other mountain ranges is gorgeous from a car, or along bodies of water. But most of your drive will be very plain, just so you know.

    Austria and Bavaria (Germany) are very scenic, as much of Croatia. You should definitely plan on visiting Plitvice Falls National Park in Croatia, which is best visited by car anyway.

    So again, if you want to visit quirky roadside attractions and historic small towns and such, a car trip could be great. But much of the driving won’t be all that scenic, and you are planning quite a long trip. Let me know if you have any other questions, and best of luck with this. -Roger

     
Joha says:

Hi Roger,
I would appreciate some help with our itinerary. My husband is working in Bucharest (we are originally from USA) and we are thinking on making a trip by train leaving from Bucharest visiting Budapest and Prague. Can you help us with a suitable itinerary? He has two weeks vacations and we have thought about spending one week on this trip and the other week in Greece. Any suggestions for Greece as well? Also I f you have any suggestions on what to visit, see while in Bucharest, I mean during the weekends…thanks in advanced

 

    Joha,

    My own first visit to Romania will be in a few months, so I won’t be of much help for Bucharest. My own plans are to explore Bucharest for 2 days and then take a train to Braşov for maybe 3 days, as it’s usually sited as the most interesting place for foreign visitors.

    The main reason that Romania is literally one of the last few corners of Europe that I’ve yet to explore is something you’ll soon find out, that it’s remote and travel is slow. Budapest is indeed the closest tourist city anywhere in that direction, and yet it takes a bit over 14 hours to reach on the fastest train. They are still mostly Soviet-era trains on older tracks, so they are just slow. The good news is that Budapest-based Wizzair is quite cheap, and also uses Bucharest as one of its bases. So you should be able to get cheap flights from Bucharest to Budapest, as well as many other worthwhile places.

    The trains from Budapest to Prague are also fairly slow, but that’s only 6 hours and 42 minutes, so it’s probably better than flying because it’s zero stress, far more comfortable, and the views are pretty nice. I’d suggest three nights in each of those cities, or even 4 nights in Prague. They have many similarities actually, and you can practically use a map of one to get around the other.

    Greece is a fine option, and again you’ll probably want to fly from Bucharest to Athens and spend 2 or 3 nights there. From Athens you can take a ferry to one of the closer islands for the remainder of the week, or get a cheap flight to one of the more remote islands. Santorini, Mykonos, Crete, and Rhodes are the most popular Greek islands, and most people fly into those because none is very close to Athens, and they all have plenty of cheap incoming flights in season.

    It’s worth noting, however, that most people who go to Greek islands simply do so to relax during the day, and maybe have a few drinks over dinner at night. There are ruins and a few cultural attractions on some of the islands, but most people just go to relax. So if you are part of that crowd, you might be better off choosing one of the islands closer to Athens. I spent more than a week on the closest island, which is called Ageana, and it was lovely. The ferry takes about an hour from the Athens port of Piraeus, so it’s very convenient. There are some others that are only a bit farther as well.

    Especially since you’ll probably be flying, you should consider Turkey as well. Istanbul is a pretty amazing city, and Turkey has more than its share of interesting sights. You could spend 3 days in Istanbul and then two days in Cappadocia, and two days in Antalya before a flight back home. You can get between them on affordable and comfortable buses, although they also all have airports.

    Let me know if you have any questions about any of this. -Roger

     
      Joha says:

      Thanks so much for all your insight.. I didn’t realize the trip to Budapest by train was so long….we might follow your suggestions and fly there instead. We did Istanbul two years ago and it was great place indeed….even thought we were ripped off at a restaurant by the coast….but that’s another story to be told….LOL….one last thing…we will have a 12 hours overlay in Berlin…any suggestions on what to do in one day in Berlin? Thanks and blessings

       

        Joha,

        Berlin is one of my favorite cities in Europe, although it actually lacks any real must-see “checklist attractions.” As a result, it’s hard to pick just a couple things to recommend without knowing your tastes. You definitely want to take the metro to the Brandenburg Gate area, which is the most famous landmark. If you are in town at the right time I can also recommend the free walking tours (tips are encouraged) leaving from by the Brandenburg Gate, which take you to all the most interesting things in that area in a couple hours.

        In my opinion, the former East is more interesting than the former West Berlin, as West Berlin is still mainly high-end shopping streets. Just have a look at the Berlin page on wikitravel.org, or on Lonelyplanet.com, and you’ll see several good things to choose from. -Roger

         

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