through four of Eastern Europe’s biggest cities: Berlin, Vienna, Prague,
Germany, Austria, Hungary, and the Czech Republic come under the Schengen Area, and thus don’t require separate visas.
has been the pioneer of the cultural, technological, and societal
development of the world for a few centuries. The geopolitical and
cultural history of the second smallest continent on earth invites
travelers of all kinds. Eastern Europe, long hidden under the Iron
Curtain, holds many spectacular examples of European heritage.Berlin,
the city that has had probably the most influence over the geopolitical
evolution of Europe through the ages, is one of the largest cities in
the continent, and the second most populous. It is the ideal city to
start one of the most culturally enriching and deservedly popular travel
routes in Europe: the Berlin-Prague-Vienna-Budapest journey.
This route is one of the most
popular among travelers from Europe and elsewhere, and not without good
reason! These cities are among the most advanced in Europe, and offer a
standard of living seen in few places elsewhere. Behind their modern,
sophisticated face, however, lies a treasure trove of wonders from times
gone by. All three were crucial at various times in European history,
and offer an irreplaceable glimpse into medieval times. Here are some
handy tips that will enable you to enjoy this vacation as it should be.
June to October. Traveling during this duration will allow you to enjoy
the full benefits of all travel-oriented facilities.
off-season is usually a useful tip to lower the costs of any trip, but
braving the freezing winters or annoying rainfall just to save some
bucks can be pointless in this case. Unlike most tourist hotspots,
Berlin, Prague, Vienna, and Budapest are all bustling capital cities,
and don’t rely extensively on tourism for generating income for the
locals. Hence, the prices in such urban travel hotspots tend to not vary
too much seasonally. But going off-season will ensure that you at least
beat the rush, and still can sneak in a good deal or two. If you notice
most of the rooms’ keys still on the racks, you can often bring the
quoted price down to surprising amounts. Pretend to be a cash-strapped
student or beleaguered artist, if you must!
➙ Going in the winter by
design, to experience the Christmas and New Year celebrations, is
another excellent option. This way, you can be prepared for the bracing
cold, but still beat the peak-time rush of tourists. Off-season is also a
better time to pursue artistic endeavors. Given the vibrant cultural
and artistic background flaunted by cities like Prague and Vienna,
dodging the rush of tourists is the way to go.
➙ All in all, going just before or just after the peak time, i.e., April-May or October-November, should work out well.
world. Berlin, especially, will almost definitely be within your reach.
If this trail is just one of many sections of your European vacation,
the Eurail is the most convenient option. However, last minute
reservations on the train can be expensive, and buses or low-cost
airlines emerge as better options.
➙ As for traveling between the
four cities, many tour operators offer an 8-night, two-nights-per-city
package. If you are not the sort of traveler who likes having things
done his own way, this is an excellent choice. Some operators also offer
11-day packages.➙ If you plan to travel on your own, getting a
Eurail pass is your best choice; most commercial operators also use the
train. If you want to fly, try low-cost airlines such as Wizz Air.
For visiting tourist sights in a city, use the local bus or tram
network. This is more often than not the cheapest option, and will also
allow you to experience day-to-day life in that city. In some cities,
especially Berlin, you can also hire bicycles and explore the city’s
myriad streets on your own.
Where Should I Stay?
➙ If you are a
premium traveler, these cities will leave you spoiled for choice with
their collection of high-end hotels and resorts. Being national
capitals, all four contain countless high- and mid-range options for
➙ If you are traveling on a budget, couchsurfing can be a
huge help, since it will cut down on the cost of accommodation
altogether. If not couchsurfing, look for other options of homestays,
which is quite popular in Europe. This will also reduce your cost of
food quite drastically. Though some homeowners may charge a fee (which
is not the norm, but is understandably common), it is much less than any
hotel or even hostel.
➙ European hostels are an important part of
the experience of traveling through this continent, and are a lot
cheaper than hotels. Budget travel guru Nomadic Matt personally
recommends hostels such as ‘Aboriginal’ in Budapest, and ‘Wombats’ in
Berlin and Vienna.
How Much Will It Cost?
➙ Most commercial tour
packages charge well below USD 2,000 per person for this sojourn. If you
are traveling on your own, a standard 8-day itinerary will cost,
according to your starting point in the U.S., up to USD 2,200.
down on needless, frivolous spending. Go to bars during happy hours, or
buy your liquor in stores. Or else, just jump onto the wagon for the
duration of your trip; your liver will thank you for that! Cut down on
impulse buying. Put aside a certain amount of shopping money before
leaving, and if you see something you really like, compensate elsewhere
to make up the extra expense.
What Should I Beware Of?
➙ Get your
mobile coverage and credit cards sorted out well in advance of your
departure date. You don’t want to come home to see a huge mobile bill
that you weren’t aware you were accruing, and you really don’t want to
have any problems with your credit cards in a foreign country!
general, Europe is a very peaceful continent, and violent crimes are
rare. But tourists are scammed quite often, and in ingenious ways. So,
take some necessary precautions. Always order your cab from your hotel,
or if you are staying with someone, ask them the rates. If a cabbie
demands more than adequate, let him know that you know the correct
rates; most cabbies gamble on travelers not knowing the correct charge.
Another notorious scam is fake police demanding to check your money, and
taking some without you being any wiser. If a suspiciously dressed or
mannered cop does stop you and makes such a demand, politely ask for his
ID. Explain that you aren’t making any accusations, but you are a
tourist and really don’t know if he is a cop. Be pessimistic, and always
assume that any spontaneous scuffle on the streets is meant as a ruse
for pickpockets to get to work, and stay well away from such crowds.
Even if you are not a ‘mark’, you don’t want to get caught up in matter
you don’t understand, in a foreign country.
Why This Route?
Europe, particularly France and Italy, have become so popular among
global tourists that the previously Soviet-aligned Eastern Europe
remains criminally underrated. Berlin is, of course, one of the most
influential cities in human history, having been a crucial junction in
Charlemagne’s kingdom, Barbarossa’s Holy Roman Empire, and the Third
Reich. It also houses the most notorious symbol of the Cold War: the
Berlin Wall. In modern times, the city’s progress has gathered
tremendous pace, and it now has one of the best standards of living in
Empire and the Austro-Hungarian Empire, has been an important cultural
and commercial center for centuries. It is one of the most attractive
and appealing cities in Europe, and its city center is a UNESCO Heritage
Site. Before the German annexation of Czechoslovakia, Prague was home
to a flourishing Jewish community, and artifacts from the period have
now become very popular tourist sites. It is also famous for its busy
cultures, and flaunts its Baroque past with pride. It has a long
tradition of music, having been home to legendary musicians such as
Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, and Strauss. Other performing arts, such as
drama, are also held sacred in Vienna, with the city housing the oldest
English-language theater outside the UK. Vienna’s cafes are also very
Budapest, like Prague, is considered one of the most
beautiful cities in Europe, and lies on the picturesque location beside
the Danube. The banks of the iconic river are a World Heritage Site
complex. Like Vienna, Budapest is famous for its cafe culture. It is
also the best place to sample various Hungarian delicacies, such as a
plum cake. Various sightseeing programs can be arranged to properly
enjoy the numerous sights of Budapest. Hungary has a rich political and
cultural history, and Budapest’s museums pay a fitting tribute to that
very aspect of Hungarian life.
architecture and exploring another of its disparate cultures, you can
take the Danube Express from Budapest to Istanbul―another bedazzling
jewel in the wonder that is Europe.So, when you plan your
once-in-a-lifetime European vacation, don’t forget to include this
stunning journey through the sands of time!