For travel in the mountains or between villages.
Go almost everywhere; the fastest connections are in the west.
Car hire readily available at airports throughout Central Europe; roads are good.
Travel by sea between Poland or Germany and Scandinavia, or from Slovenia to Italy.
Beware of mountainous terrain and bring bike locks for the cities; the west has more dedicated cycle paths than the east.
Budget airlines connect with many destinations in Western Europe and the UK.
When to Go
High Season (Jul–Aug)
- Expect crowds at major attractions; book hotels ahead.
- Temperatures soar, especially in Hungary and Slovenia.
- Higher-elevation hiking trails become accessible.
Shoulder (Apr–Jun & Sep–Oct)
- Prices remain peak, but crowds ease off.
- Moderate weather.
- Village museums and castles remain open.
- Bad timing for Alpine hiking or skiing.
Low Season (Nov–Mar)
- Outside the holidays prices drop 30% to 50%.
- Christmas markets light up cities in late November and December.
- Ski season kicks in.
- Some attractions close.
- Deutsche Bahn (www.bahn.de) Best online train timetable for the region
- Like a Local (www.likealocalguide.com) Online guides to eastern capitals
- In Your Pocket (www.inyourpocket.com) Events listings for major cities
- Lonely Planet (www.lonelyplanet.com) Destination coverage, hotel booking and travellers' forum
- Michelin (www.viamichelin.com) Calculates the best route from A to B by car
- Crown (Koruna česká; Kč) Czech Republic
- Euro (€) Germany, Austria, Slovenia and Slovakia
- Forint (HUF; Ft) Hungary
- Swiss Franc (Sfr) Liechtenstein, Switzerland
- Złoty (PLN; zł) Poland
Arriving in Destination
- Berlin Tegel Airport
Bus – 30 minutes to centre; frequent service.
- Frankfurt Airport
Train – 15 minutes to centre; frequent service.
- Vienna International Airport
Train – 15 to 20 minutes to centre; every 30 minutes.
- Zürich Airport
Train – 10 to 15 minutes to main train station; frequent service.
- Visitors from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan and the US can travel visa-free in Central Europe for 90 days.
- All countries in Central Europe are part of the Schengen Agreement and are considered one 'country' in terms of your 90-day stay.
- As part of the Schengen Agreement, EU citizens generally do not need visas and may be able to work across the region.
What to Take
- Earplugs Helpful for sleeping at hostels and in busy cities, plus you can tune out chatterboxes on planes, trains and buses.
- Ecofriendly shopping bag To use at all the fruit and vegetable markets.
- Extra ziplock bags Keep products from leaking and wet clothes separate from dry.
- Hiking boots For conquering the Alps or the Tatras.
- Lonely Planet's Central Europe Phrasebook
- Pocket knife with bottle-opener For picnics on trains (but check it with your luggage on planes).
- Sandals or thongs (flip-flops) Useful at Baltic beaches and Hungarian spas.
- Plug adaptors If you're coming from the UK, North America or down under.
- Unlocked mobile phone Get a local SIM card and make cheap local calls.