Central Europe Itinerary

10 Day Central Europe Itinerary: Budapest, Vienna, & Prague

Julie Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Itinerary 189 Comments

For those who want to tour three of Europe’s great cities, this central Europe itinerary is perfect. Start with Budapest, a gorgeous city known for its thermal baths, unique architecture, and stunning setting along the Danube River. Next, travel to Vienna, a sophisticated city rich in history and culture. End with Prague, the most beautiful of the three cities (in our opinion), laced with Gothic architecture that somehow remained unharmed during World War II. We even added in a side trip to the quaint but incredibly scenic Cesky Krumlov, one of Europe’s great small towns.

Be prepared to walk through some of Europe’s most beautiful cities, dine in outdoor cafes, learn some important European history, go to the opera (for only a few euros!!), and sample some of Europe’s best beer.

10 Day Itinerary Prague Vienna Budapest

This Central Europe Itinerary is Good For:

  • Those who love exploring cities
  • European History, especially WWII
  • Cafe Culture
  • Museums
  • Photographers

Day 1

Arrive in Budapest

Depending on your flight, most likely you will arrive in Budapest in the morning or early afternoon. Check into your hotel, get settled, and do some exploring around your hotel. Have dinner and go to bed early, doing your best to get adjusted to the time change as quickly as possible.

We recommend: Hilton Budapest in the Castle District. From your hotel window, gaze across the Danube River to the beautiful Parliament building, one of the icons of Budapest. The Fisherman’s Bastion is just a few minutes away, offering more of the best views over Budapest.

Fisherman’s Bastion

Fishermans Bastion

Day 2

Budapest: Fisherman’s Bastion, Szechenyi Chain Bridge, St. Istvan’s Basilica, and Parliament

Budapest is really “two cities,” Buda and Pest, that are split by the Danube River. There is much more to visit on the Pest side of Budapest.

Start your day by touring Buda: Fisherman’s Bastion, Matthias Church, and Buda Castle. These are some of Budapest’s most popular sights and from here you will get some of the best views over the city.

Budapest Itinerary

Have lunch at Pest-Buda Bistro or Cafe Pierrot.

Take the funicular down to the Szechenyi Chain Bridge, another Budapest icon. Walk across the Szechenyi Bridge to the Pest side of Budapest. Take a peek inside the Four Seasons Hotel, also known as the Gresham Palace…this place is beautiful!! It’s worth a quick look.

Budapest Bridge

From Gresham Palace, it is just a short walk along a pedestrian-only street to St. Istvan’s Basilica, a Roman Catholic Basilica. Tour the Basilica and if you have the energy, climb the dome for more views over Budapest.

Walk back to the Danube by way of the pedestrian street, turn right once you get to the Danube River, and walk along the promenade. In a few blocks you will arrive at “Shoes on the Danube,” a memorial to Jewish people who were shot and killed during WWII.  This is a very important piece of history in Budapest and should not be missed.

Continue your walk along the Danube to Parliament. Take a tour of Parliament, learn more about Hungarian history, and view another gorgeous Budapest building.

Day 3

Budapest: Opera, House of Terror Museum, New York Cafe, Szechenyi Baths

Start your day by walking along Andrassy Ut, one of the main streets that runs through Budapest. This avenue is modeled after the Champs-Elysees in Paris. Walk past the Opera house, cafes, and shopping stores to the House of Terror Museum.

The House of Terror Museum is hardcore. This museum is one of the best museums we have ever been to. Journey back in time to WWII. Learn about the atrocities committed by the Nazi’s, not only to Jewish people but to the entire city of Budapest. Continue the history lesson as you learn about Communist rule in Budapest enforced by the Soviet Union. This museum holds nothing back. Be prepared to be shocked, saddened, and outraged by what you will see here. The House of Terror Museum really sends a message about what it was like to live in this city during the 20th century. This is not the place to bring young children…the exhibits are visually explicit and can be quite shocking.

House of Terror Prague

Take a detour to the New York Cafe for lunch. This is an opulent cafe in Budapest, the perfect place for fancy drinks and fancy food. This is the perfect antidote after your shocking history lesson at the House of Terror.

Walk or take a taxi to Heroes’ Square and then stroll around the park. Spend an hour relaxing in the thermal baths at the world famous Szechenyi Baths. End the day by having drinks and maybe even dinner at nearby Gundel restaurant.


See Also:  2 Days in Budapest: The Perfect Itinerary


Thermal Bath Budapest

Day 4

Travel from Budapest to Vienna, tour Vienna

Take a train from Budapest to Vienna. The journey takes between two to three hours and is very scenic. Once in Vienna, take the metro or a taxi to your hotel.

We recommend: Hotel am Stephensplatz. This hotel is located at Stephensplatz, one of the main squares of Vienna. Enjoy views out of your hotel window of Stephensdom, the church that is one of the icons of Vienna. From here, most of the main sites are within walking distance. If you need to take the metro, the station is literally just around the corner from the hotel. It does not get any more convenient or scenic than this!

Spend the afternoon touring the area around Stephensplatz. Go inside Stephensdom and climb the tower for some of the best views over Vienna. Walk down Graben, a famous shopping street, and make sure you visit Demel, famous for its gourmet chocolate and desserts.

Graben

Have an early dinner and then it is time to go to the opera!! The Vienna Opera is one of the premiere spots in the world to watch the opera and did you know that you can watch a performance here almost for free? Standing room tickets are sold for just a few euros…the perfect opportunity to tour this beautiful building and watch a world class opera performance in Europe.

End your day by having a slice of the world famous Sacher Torte at Cafe Sacher.


See Also:  Top Ten Vienna


Vienna Opera House

Day 5

Vienna: Schönbrunn Palace, Hofburg Palace, Vienna at Night

Vienna has one of the best cafe scenes in all of Europe. Start your day by having a breakfast you will not soon forget at one of these cafes. We recommend Cafe Central.

Visit Schönbrunn Palace, the summer residence of the Hapsburgs. For those who have been to Versailles, you may experience deja vu, as these two residences are very similar.

Schonbrunn Palace

Return to the heart of Vienna and continue your journey through the history of the Hapsburgs by visiting the Hofburg Palace (the home of the Hapsburgs) and the Kaisergruft (the crypt that holds the remains of the Hapsburgs).

Have dinner in town. After dinner, for an almost free tour of Vienna illuminated at night, take the tram along Ringstrasse, watching as the Opera, Hofburg Palace, Rathaus, and other famous buildings glide by.

Day 6

Vienna: Kunsthistorisches Museum, Belvedere Palace, Heuriger

The Kunsthistorisches Museum is home to works of art by Vermeer, Caravaggio, Titian, and Raphael. The interior of the museum is just as impressive as the artwork.

Kunsthistorisches

After a leisurely lunch, tour the Belvedere Palace, which is the place to see artwork by Gustav Klimt.

From the Belvedere Palace it is a long tram ride out of the heart of Vienna to the Vienna Woods. Now you will be on the outskirts of Vienna and your tour of Vienna will end with a truly authentic Viennese experience.

Tonight, dine at a heuriger. A heuriger is a wine garden serving homemade wine and small meals of traditional Viennese foods. This is one of the best ways to get off of the tourist track and get a different glimpse of Vienna and its culture.

Heuriger

Day 7

Drive from Vienna to Prague, Visiting Cesky Krumlov Along the Way

Yes, you can take a train from Vienna to Prague, but you would be missing one of Europe’s lesser known  treasures…Cesky Krumlov. This requires renting a car for one day (or hiring a shuttle service) and driving from Vienna to Prague, but trust us, it is worth it!

From Vienna it is a two to three hour drive on the autobahn to the small, medieval town of Cesky Krumlov. On this itinerary, you have just a few hours to wander the streets of this quaint, little town, but it is just enough time…Prague is waiting.

Central Europe Itinerary Cesky Krumlov


For full details on visiting Cesky Krumlov, including how to arrange transportation between Vienna, Cesky Krumlov, and Prague, read our post: How to Plan a Day Trip to Cesky Krumlov.


From Cesky Krumlov, it is a two hour drive to Prague. Once in town, return your rental car. By now, it is most likely late afternoon. You have just enough time to visit the Old Town (Stare Mesto) and climb the Town Hall tower for amazing Prague views. Don’t miss the astronomical clock, which puts on a brief show at the top of every hour.

Prague Clock

End the day with a sunset walk across Charles Bridge.

We recommend: Hotel Paris Prague. Located just a few blocks from the Old Square, this beautiful hotel is in a prime location. It is clean, comfortable, and quiet. From here, you can walk to most of Prague’s main sites.


See Also:  13 Must-Have Experiences in Prague


Day 8

Prague: Jewish Quarter, Charles Bridge, Prague Castle, Pub Crawl

Start your day by touring the Jewish Quarter of Prague. Visit the old Jewish cemetery and the Old New Synagogue (the oldest synagogue is central and eastern Europe).

Prague Jewish Cemetery

Prague is called the “Golden City of a Hundred Spires.” The best way to see this is by climbing the towers that dot Prague’s skyline. For one of the best views over Prague, climb the Old Town Tower Bridge, located at Charles Bridge. From here, get a bird’s eye view of Charles Bridge with Prague Castle forming the backdrop. It’s a great view!

Prague Itinerary

Walk across the Charles Bridge and enjoy the view. Take a quick detour to Lennonova Zed, also known as the Lennon Wall. Covered with ever-changing graffiti, this is one of the most colorful spots in Prague.

Have lunch at Coda Restaurant or Baracnicka Rychta before touring Prague Castle and  St. Vitus’ Cathedral.

End the day with a pub crawl in Prague. The Czech Republic brews fantastic beer and there’s no better place to sample it than in Prague. Popular spots are U Fleku, U Medvidku, and U Pinkasu.

Day 9

Prague: Powder Tower, Wenceslas Square, Petrin Tower

Ideas for things to do today include a climb up the Powder Tower for a different view of Prague, a walk up to Wenceslas Square (the sight of several uprisings in Prague during the past one hundred years), or a visit to the Mucha Museum for art lovers.

View from the Powder Tower

Powder Tower View

Spend the afternoon on a food tour of Prague and end the day at Petrin Tower for one, final amazing view over Prague.

Day 10

Depart Prague

Catch your flight home or continue on to your next destination.

When to Go to Central Europe

The best time to visit Budapest, Vienna, and Prague are during the spring and fall months. Weather is pleasant and tourist numbers are low. The weather is still very pleasant during the summer months but these cities can get very crowded. The winter months have bitterly cold temperatures and snow but very few tourists.


Do you have plans to travel to Central Europe? If you have any questions, leave a comment below!

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10 day Itinerary: Prague, Vienna, Budapest, and Cesky Krumlov #centraleurope #prague #vienna #budapest

Comments 189

  1. Hello there!

    I’m planning a trip there in October (Budapest, Vienna, Prague) – I’ve never been to Europe before. I’ve wanted to visit Budapest as that’s part of my heritage.

    For a trip like this how much should one save up? Is it expensive there for food, gifts etc etc?

    Are taxis in Budapest pricey? I have so many questions!

    Any help is appreciated!!

    Keep up the great work! I love reading these!

    1. Post
      Author

      Hello Mike. These cities are about average for Europe right now as far as how much things will cost. It was 2011 when we were in Budapest. This was before the age of Uber. In general, we tend to use Uber rather than taxis, because Uber is much cheaper, even in Europe. I just did a search and Uber is available in Budapest. It’s also very cheap to get around by metro, which is available in all 3 cities.

      For a budget estimate, it can vary quite a lot depending on how you like to travel…budget vs midrange vs luxury. As for hotels, you can get a rough idea of hotel costs by looking at Booking.com or Trip Advisor and consider making your reservations several months in advance. Our Budapest post will give you some hotels to start with but there are a lot more options to consider. Food costs can range from $25 USD to $100 USD per person per day, depending if you eat in restaurants for all 3 meals vs grocery shopping/breakfast included in your hotel stay.

      I don’t have an exact number to give you just because there are so many variables. At a bare minimum I would think you would need $200 USD per person per day for accommodations, food, activities, and transportation if you are on a strict budget and of course it can go up from there. Hope this helps! Cheers, Julie

      1. I was hoping UBER was a thing in Budapest. I am looking at the hotel you recommended while in Hungary.
        I’m planning on going to Eger as well. Is transportation (the trains) fairly easy to navigate?
        Since I plan on learning basic Hungarian phrases – are there English speaking locals there?

        I’m looking at more of a budget kind of trip – as you had stated – having a breakfast part of the Hotel stay.

        Also – I’ve heard a few things about the cost of trains from Budapest to Vienna. I’ve seen 125 usd to 20 usd. Im not sure where to look for train tickets. Ive used google, but I’d rather have someone who knows (and has been there) to give me some advice on that.

        I was also planning taking a shuttle from Vienna and spend some time in Cesky Krumlov. I’ve read it’s about 45 usd from Vienna to there. Would it be cheaper to take the train from Cesky Krumlov to Prague? Or would a shuttle be our best bet?

        Thank you again!

        1. Post
          Author

          There are many English speaking locals in Budapest…we had no issues communicating. As far as trains go, I highly recommend the Man in Seat 61 website…he explains all of the options with money saving tips and how to book your trains. It’s a great guide for any train travel in Europe. Here’s another link specifically for Budapest to Vienna. We booked a direct train from Budapest to Vienna and I believe it was on Railjet like mentioned by Seat 61. We used a combo of buses and the metro to get from the Hilton to the train station and we were so proud of ourselves. 🙂 This was our third trip to Europe so we got a lot more comfortable using public transportation rather than taxis. As for Cesky Krumlov, we have an article that explains your transportation options with links to check train prices to see if it’s cheaper than the shuttle. I have a hunch that the train will be considerably cheaper but will take more time than the shuttle. It’s your call if it’s worth the time and convenience for the extra cost. And just so you know, the Hilton isn’t a budget hotel (and you should to see if breakfast is included with your stay) but what a view across the Danube! Cheers, Julie

    1. Post
      Author

      We do not have a budget for this since costs vary depending upon time of year you travel, level of accommodations, etc. Also, we do not run tours…this is a sample itinerary to help you plan your trip to Europe. Cheers!

  2. Julie,

    Thank you for sharing such detail and good information. We love your site. We are planning on doing
    this trip in mid April 2019. I do not think it will too cold. Any suggestion you have for April travelers other then everything you have already mentioned in your post.

    1. Post
      Author

      I think April is a very nice time to visit. We did this exact itinerary at the end of April into May. The weather will be a little cool but that makes it even more pleasant for sightseeing and walking through the cities. With your trip being mid-April, crowds will mostly like be a little higher than normal because you will be traveling around Easter. Make sure you book any tickets you can in advance to avoid waiting in line. And if you have any restaurants in mind, make reservations in advance for these, too. It’s a great 10 day trip…have fun! Cheers, Julie

  3. Hi, we’re looking at sometime in early December for the christmas markets, would all the places here still be advisable then?

    Also we’re also looking to do a day trip to Karlovy Vary, and maybe just do Cesky Krumlov as a day trip from Prague, would it be best to extend another day for this? Thanks!

    1. Post
      Author

      I think this would be a wonderful trip in December. I know that Prague is a nice place to visit for the Christmas markets and I would imagine that Vienna and Budapest would be nice as well. For the day trip to Cesky Krumlov, yes, you should allow a full day for that, as well as the day trip to Karlovy Vary. Cheers, Julie

  4. Hello and thank you kindly for the excellent itinerary and great tips! We are planning a trip to Central Europe in September 2019. We would like to visit Vienna, Salzburg, Cesy Krumlov, Prague, Bratislava and Budapest. Is this the route you would recommend? It’s less expensive for a round trip flight to Vienna so we’ll need to return back from Budapest to Vienna. Is it easy to go to Vienna by train from Budapest? Thanks in advance for your response,
    Hanna

    1. Post
      Author

      Hello Hanna. Yes, your order of cities works well, especially if you have to get back to Vienna. The train from Budapest to Vienna is fairly quick. We traveled by train and in my memory it took about 2 to 3 hours and took us right to the city center of Vienna. We booked our tickets in advance. I don’t know if you have traveled by train in Europe yet but it is very cost effective and efficient. September sounds like a very nice time to visit…great weather and fewer crowds than during the busy summer months. I’m glad you added in Bratislava…it’s a small city and a quick visit and we really liked it. Cheers, Julie

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