Traveling Bucharest to Prague via Romania/Hungary/Austria/Czech Republic
Replies: 4 - Last Post: Jun 25, 2012 9:34 PM Last Post By: mkhboulder
Jun 23, 2012 12:13 PM
My current 'plan' is to explore Romania/Hungary/Austria/Czech Republic. Do any fellow travelers have any advice as to how realistic this plan is with my timeframe, and how long traveling between cities will generally take? I anticipate that I'll be taking trains and buses to get from place to place.
Here is my (very) tentative itinerary:
Arrive Bucharest around 5:30pm on 7 July. I'm thinking about only staying one night, and then heading out the next afternoon (or morning, trains permitting). Then on to Transylvania, with these towns in mind: Brasov, Zarnesti, Sighisoara.
On 12 July I would head toward Budapest- are there any towns and cities along the way (in Romania and/or Hungary) that I should stop in? I am considering Kecskemét --> Budapest --> Badacsony/Lake Balaton, --> Sopron. Is it reasonable to stop at these cities in this order? Are any of these towns suitable as day trips, and how much time would anyone recommend I spend in each (or, which should be omitted)?
I would continue to Vienna roughly on 17 July, but am torn as to how long I should stay . I'd like to visit Salzburg and a day trip in a smaller town (Hallstatt, for example). I would love to spend a day at Karwendal, but its a bit out of the way. Looking at my calendar this would be about 4 days in Austria, and I could leave on 20 July (if I wanted to fit a stop in Munich on my way to Prague,) or 21 July if I were to head straight toward Prague.
I would really love check out Munich, but I know this schedule is already packed. This might be one of those instances where I just need someone to tell me its not a good idea :)
As for the Czech Republic, I feel like I could spend all of my time there in Prague, though the North Bohemia region also interests me. My plane departs at 6am on 26 July, and with my current plan that would leave me 4-5 days. I'm debating mainly doing day trips from Prague, but am still on the fence about this.
Would anyone recommend that I book accommodations ahead of time, or upon arrival? I generally book once I'm at my destination, but since its the high season I'm not sure whether it would be best to book before I leave.
Thank you SO much for any help! I apologize for the sheer length of this post- but I'll be certain to reply back with whatever I end up doing & all of that :) I don't generally plan out my trips too much, but with such a short amount of time I'd like to have a rough idea. I enjoy historical sites, nature/hiking/mountains, museums, aimless wandering, and I generally enjoy smaller towns moreso than large cities, so if there are any must sees along those lines I'd love to hear about them as well!
Jun 23, 2012 2:25 PM
1Welcome, Of course this is all personal opinion, but I'd get the heck out of Bucharest even quicker than you have planned. The Transylvania region of Romania is so much better than Bucharest there's no need to waste even a day there.
There is generally good train and bus service between many of the cities you wish to visit. Trains tend to be more comfortable and interesting, but the bus tends to be cheaper and faster. The primary advantage to booking transportation ahead is cost savings. A couple years ago I took an Orangeways bus in the region and was able to purchase the ticket a month ahead of time for USD$5. The walk up fare was around $25.
If you're not to picky about your accomodations and don't mind walking aound a bit if the first couple places are full you'll probably do fine without booking ahead of time.
You can't do everything, but Munich is among my favorite cities in Europe. If it were me I'd see Munich and skip Vienna.
Sounds like a great trip.
Jun 23, 2012 8:13 PM
2sounds like an interesting itenary.
you are trying to see a lot in a small amount of time. I would suggest choosing 5 or 6 main places. The smaller towns can be really worth seeing, however probably best to sus out the feasability of doing them as day trip. just remember that no matter how long each leg is, you pretty much lose a whole day each time you move cities/countries. the trains in romania are VERY slow. so be prepared for that. I would recommend going straight to budapest fro transylvania, and not stopping off in any towns. i think you will waste a lot of time. if you're going to sighisoara, i would recommend doing it as a day trip from either brasov or sibiu. really cool place but only a few hours appeal and not worth spending the night there. i hired a car and drove from sibiu which i would highly recommend, as there are a lot of towns along the way with crunbling fortified churches which are worth stopping at. Biertan is one which has been renovated and definately worth a look. otherwise its prob quite easy to get a bus to sighisoara from brasov.
There doesn't seem to be much consensus on Vienna. I've been there twice, both around christmas time, i absolutely love the place and i would go back every year if i could. However, it may be that it doesn't quite have the same appeal in summertime (without christmas lights and markets..). maybe only spend 2-3 days there. Salzburg is definetely worth seeing, but prob best done as a day trip. you can easily get there from munich, or maybe they have luggage storge at the train station and you can spend the day there on the way to much from vienna,
I would opt for spending more time in munich than prague. To me prague is the most over-touristy city in central europe, and while it is physically beautiful, it really lacks any sort of ambience, the people just try and rip you off and is not the place you really need to spend more than 2 days. basically go there, take a few photo's and leave.
as far as booking tickets in advance. i would advise booking oraneways buses in advance. they are dirt cheap but book out well in advance. i wouldn't stress to much about trains. possibly buy your ticket out once you actally arrive in the city is prob fine. www.bahn.de has the train timatable for pretty much every train in europe. good way to get an idea of travel times. However you can only book trains online which go in or out of germany. there are lots of local buses in romania, none of which are adverstised on the internet, so will just have to turn up sort it out once you're there.
my only takehome message is that it takes an eternity to get anywhere once you're east of austria, so just be prepared for that and don't waste too much time travelling
anyway, you've chosen some great places to visit so im sure you'l have a great time!
Jun 23, 2012 10:15 PM
3Solid advice in #1 and #2. Allow me for a moment to argue against Munich - maybe it will help you decide. From what you say you like, Munich may deserve a separate trip. You prefer smaller towns over big cities, and with excellent, fast transport you can cover a lot of ground in Bavaria more quickly than in the countries you'll see in this trip. Well, OK, except for Austria perhaps. Bavaria has loads of interesting places. Yet after watching fTT or a few months, almost everyone talks about Munich, Salzburg and the rest of the border area: FÃ¼ssen and Berchtesgaden. Very little talk about places like Passau, Regensburg and the lot. And then there's the whole neighboring Land of Baden- WÃ¼rttenberg with lovely places like TÃ¼bingen which American seem not to even consider. Combine that with Salzburg and western Austria and you could fill many weeks. The problem with a quick stop in Munich now is that you may not have much time for these side trips.
Now back to your current trip. 1 and 2 inform that transport is slow in places. Why not go with that flow? Use the extra time to make more stops, closer together, in perhaps Moravia and not just Bohemia for example. Skip Salzburg for now and do closer side-trips from Vienna.
Perhaps it's more satisfying going home with the feeling that you were more thorough in your originally-planned countries and not with some places still on your mind that you wished you saw?
Just a philosophical argument really. Maybe it resonates with you, maybe not. EIther way you're going to have a great time.
Edited by: emd_two on Mar 5, 2013 9:10 AM
Jun 25, 2012 9:34 PM
4Wow, thank you for such detailed & helpful responses!
laketraveller, I definitely think that I'll aim to get out of Bucharest the night I arrive. It looks like there are trains going to Brasov until 10:05pm, particularly one at 8:40pm that would get me there around 11:30pm (aside from any delays). There's also a 7:15pm train, but that would be cutting it close if I have any flight issues.
I tend to pack pretty lightly (just a 40L backpack) so walking around to search for accommodations should be easy enough, though on my first night in Brasov I'll definitely book ahead of time. As a solo 23 year old girl who could pass as a teenager, I don't think I'll want to be wandering around in complete confusion on my first night in the region, especially when I'm sure I'll already be pretty confused :)
I would LOVE to rent a car as you suggest, chrisliss, but unfortunately, I'm really not the best driver. Even here at home I avoid it as much as possible! (though I've been told that the trains in there region are confusing in their own right- either way it'll be interesting getting around). Maybe I'll get lucky and meet people along the way who want to rent a car- I can always hope! Good advice on not stopping between Transylvania/Budapest, I don't think I will on this trip.
The main attraction, for me at least, in Vienna is the Spanish Riding School. But seeing as the horses are on summer break I really am debating leaving it for another time and focusing on Salzburg/surrounding areas for this trip.
pizwat you bring up some really good points, too. My normal method of travel really is on the slower side of things, but I'd also like to give a more fast-paced itinerary a try (mostly because I've never done it before...though that's likely not the best of reasons, ha). The blog you linked to is super helpful, also. So many places, so little time.
The three of you have given me a lot to think about, that's for sure! Looks like its back to more planning.
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