Prague, Vienna and Budapest
A trip between these 3 iconic cities is as easy as it is rewarding. With major flight gateways in and out, and efficient trains connecting them, you can easily experience three of the Austro-Hungarian Empire's stunning historic capitals in one itinerary. With more time, easy day trips will get you out of the city and into the countryside for deeper encounters with local food, wine and artisan crafts ,each with their own cultural history and flavor.
Prague is a wonder of Gothic architecture, medieval preservation and Austro-Hungarian romance. They don't call it the "Paris of Eastern Europe" for nothing. In addition to its famous Astronomical Clock, the Insta-worthy Klementinum library, and the Disney-villain style spires of Our Lady Before Tyn, the rest of the city stuns with preserved bridges, churches that rival Notre Dame, and its own Castle complex representing centuries of history. Day trip options from here include Karlovy Vary - a town that features a series of bubbling mineral waters of various temperatures for drinking out of special cups sold all over town, Cesky Krumlov - a bohemian gem featuring a perfect 13th century castle, and Kunta Hora - home of the famous Bone Church. Bratislava is also just short train ride away, on the way to Budapest.
Perched along the Danube, Buda and Pest combine to form one of Eastern Europe's most unique and enchanting cities. On the Buda side, the Castle complex holds the national gallery and historical collections of the Magyar people - Hungary's original ancestors. A short walk through narrow cobblestone paths leads to the Fisherman's Bastion and its panoramic view to the iconic Parliament Building. Across the famous Chain Bridge the Pest side is a cosmopolitan city with art-deco buildings, luxurious accommodations and fancy dining options mixed with monuments that remind of the freedom from communist rule. Don't miss the chance to enjoy the thermal baths, a welcoming community tradition now available to women and co-ed groups. Budapest is a major gateway to magical Danube cruises, but even without boarding a major cruise ship, you can still float down this famous river to small artisan towns like Szentendre on a day trip.
Exploring Austria is a trip in its own right, but the closeness to Budapest, Prague and Bratislava make Vienna a doable day trip or add on to your Eastern European dream trip. Central Train stations connect in just over 2 hours, and from there the colonnade of museums, the opera house, famous shopping centers, the Volksgarten, and even Lipanzer stallions are all within walking distance in an afternoon. Venture a little further afield for the massive Hapsburg palace Schonbrunn (think Versailles!) and still make it back to Budapest for dinner - or of course stay on for the luxury of wine tasting in Mozart's apartment and hearing Beethoven symphonies performed in their home town