I've always wanted to try train travel, so this spring I am taking my family on a trip across Europe. I thought that I'd lay out the itinerary here so that anyone could make suggestions. It is highly likely that we are trying to cram too much into one trip, but that tends to be the way we do things.
Day 1 - Fly into Brussels train to Ghent to see the city and spend the night at the Ghent Marriott
Day 2 - Early train to Bruges and spend the day their before catching a train back to Brussels to visit friends
Day 3 - In Brussels with friends
Day 4 - Depart Brussels via train to Cologne and spend the night in the Cologne Marriott
Day 5 - See Cologne in the day and then overnight train from Cologne to Prague
Day 6 - Arrive in Prague and stay at the Prague Marriott Boscolo Prague
Day 7 - Tour Prague Train from Prague to Vienna and stay at Imperial Riding School
Day 8 - Tour Prague Vienna
Day 9 - Train from Vienna Prague to Budapest to stay with a friend
Day 10 - Budapest
Day 11 - Most of the day in Budapest and then fly home in the evening
Originally, I planned to go directly from Cologne to Vienna, but the train doesn't seem to be available so I added the stop in Prague. I also originally intended a day trip to Bratislava, but since I'm going to Prague now I figured it's better to get a full day in Vienna. But, I guess I could take a day away from Budapest. But, as I said, it already feels kind of rushed and since I know we'll be living in Europe at least another few years I feel like there will be more opportunities.
Any suggestions on my plan or must see things while in any of these locations?
Well, I already booked the Brussels - Cologne & Cologne - Prague trains, so it's basically too late to make adjustments there (days 4 & 5).
Also, I didn't mention it, since we aren't staying with them, but we do have friends in Vienna that we are stopping to see so we can't really skip it altogether.
I guess there really isn't much room to change anything unless we didn't go to Ghent or Bruges.
My recommendation is: None and all of the above.
The train system is great in Europe. Use that to your advantage. Instead of scheduling yourself all over the place and trying to meet deadlines, get a Eurrail pass. That will allow you several days of train travel over a specified period, but you don't have to commit to anything. You might get to Cologne to start things off then see in the paper something cool in Madrid. So the next day you hop the train to Madrid. You could book a Marriott on your PC before you leave. Then stay 2 or 3 or 4 days until something else catches your eye then hop a train and go there.
Allow yourself the flexibility to go where you want, when you want, rather than feeling you're on a guided tour and only allow certain numbers of hours in each spot.
You won't regret it.
That is a busy schedule you have organised!
I've been to all the cities that you mentioned.
They are all worth a visit.
But you are not going to have much time to see Vienna, Budapest or Prague.
I would prioritize Budapest over Bratislava.
I think to visit Bratislava as well is just too much.
St Bavo'sCathedral in Ghent http://www.visitgent.be/en/essentials?context=tourist
Boat trip in Bruges was good. http://www.discoverbruges.com/freetime.asp?taal=en
Cathedral was very good.
Ludwig Museum was also good.
We visited the Chocolate Museum there also.
The Marriott in Cologne was a good hotel.
It is a while ago since we were in Prague but it was very good.
Vienna, is a beautiful city.
Thoroughly enjoyed the visit to Schonbrunn Directions - Schloss Schönbrunn | Wien | Österreich
Budapest, like Prague we visited some time ago but it was good.
You are visiting some good places, i hope you have time to enjoy!
Wow. Looks more like a horse race than a vacation. You won't even be in any of these places long enough to know what you've missed. But as you mentioned that you want to try train travel, you've definitely set yourself up for plenty of that. You will spend a considerable amount of time and energy training, traveling to/from hotels and checking in and out of hotels. I think one needs to spend three nights in any city (two full days) at a minimum just to be introduced to it's offerings, and just my opinion. As you will be there for a few years, what's the rush? I trust that you have a good stroller with air filled wheels too.
Well, you seem young and up for it and I'm sure you'll have fun. Good luck!
Well, my wife is the type that would check into a new hotel every day if she could. Preferably in a new city. I'm inching more toward cutting out Vienna altogether and spending more time in Prague. I emailed my friend to see if they would be terribly offended. I hate not to go see them as I don't know when we'll have another chance, but I'd probably only get to see them for a few hours and it just doesn't seem practical.
After I posted my reply, I remembered that when my kids lived in Germany for 4 years and I would travel with them, our tastes and priorities were quite different from one another. People travel for different reasons and in different styles (which can also vary/evolve over the seasons of life) and with so many other individual variables to considers (like in your case, you are also wanting to meet up with good friends), the elements which add up to the fulfillment of travel goals and experiences will of course vary from person to person.
sg1974 expressed it best with regards to the idea of staying in one place at least long enough to really get a feel for it (to really discover it's personality and the elements that comprise it, such as cultural, historical, etc.), but again that isn't necessarily everyone's priority. If you like to be on the move and it satisfies you and your family, then of course go for it and enjoy the journey. But also, as others have mentioned, the fabulous cities that you have selected are very rich in sightseeing offerings. There are just so many great things to enjoy in each of the cities you've selected. theolejudge gave you a good sense of all there is to consume in just Prague alone, and I would also add Wencelas Square, the Lennon Wall and the Petrin Tower (for a fabulous view).
As far as Prague, we also stayed at the Prague Marriott, which is very well located. You can walk everywhere or else take the tram or the metro if the feet get tired. The cobblestones are pretty hard-core, which is why I mentioned having a stroller with good pneumatic tires so that the little ones brains don't get rattled to death. Near the Marriott, is a fantastic Nepolitana Vera Association restaurant, Pizza Nuova Pizza Nuova | AMBIENTE. The pizzas are made like they are straight out of Naples and the sommelier's viticulture knowledge is amazing. Vinodivino was good too. Also, on your walk over to the Jewish section check out the Bake Shop Bakeshop Praha. There are some great restaurants in Prague, some require reservations be made the day prior however. On the other side of the river is another good Italian restaurant, Carmelita's Home page | RISTORANTE CARMELITA. Their tiramisu is out of this world, and next door is a lovely chocolate shop, Koruna Pralines. One night we dined at the Marriott because we could not get in to any restaurants that interested us (they were booked up) and the food and service at the hotel restaurant was good. The offerings in the CL were good as well. I was really impressed with the food offerings in the Czech Republic. Prague really grew on me. I was really glad for all that I saw and experienced.
Thanks for all the suggestions. Especially the cobblestones. I'm used to the "calçada" here in Portugal and think of that as cobblestone, but it's practically flat unlike most and not quite as uncomfortable to walk on. So, I'm glad you mentioned it so I can remember to wear better shoes.
As for the little girl, she's not been in a stroller for a few years, so that's not a problem.
You are completely right when it comes to different styles of travel. For my wife, if it's famous, she wants to see it if possible if for no other reason than to be able to tell people about it later. For myself, I don't like lines and am not a big fan of paying to see things, so I've become pretty jaded on "tourism" and "sightseeing". I like just walking around different places looking for similarities and differences to other places I've been. Worst experience I've had was going to Versailles in August when it was super packed with tourists. We had to wait in line for hours to get in and then were packed in like sardines and got separated pretty quickly and couldn't find each other until we got out the other end.
To be honest, my hope is that the train travel will give us forced downtime. So, instead of trying to cram in more sights I know I'll have at least a little time to relax and just do nothing but look out the window or read.
You will not go wrong with Boscolo it is just that at the Marriott everyone from the Chief Bellman, Guest Relations Executive (who put a bottle of Znovin De Lux and fresh straw beries in the room) and concierge staff were so helpful. Somethings we did; took a "Prague Sightseeing Tours" Cityrama for a 2 hour + English tour for overview; went to Old Town Square for the Astronomical Clock & Old Town Tower for good view; Jewish Museum Old Jewish Cemetry and synagogues; Charles Bridge and St Nicholas Church; Prague Castle on top of hill & St. Vitus Cathedral; visited Karlovy Vary [Karlsbad] about 85 miles west of Prague via bus Karlovy Vary is a beautiful town with mineral springs; our river boat ride on the Vltava River left a little to be desired; a day trip to the concentration camp at Terezin is well worth it....well enough rambling enjoy and we did not have a bad restaurant in Prague
In addition to the steak house at the Marriott ,and the glowing reviews of the staff here, I think the Boscolo lacks a CL and my daughter really loves to go to the lounge to get a cookie or snack or something. So, I think you have convinced me to go with the Marriott.
Also, I don't know if I mentioned it, but I talked to my friends in Vienna and have decided we are going to skip Vienna after all. That will give us 3 full days in Prague before we move on directly to Budapest.
Reminds me of the 90s when I'd see posters in college "27 countries in 13 days, come ride the bus with us and see things" and me thinking, hell we'd never get off the bus if we were gonna see 27 countries in 13 days
That said, I'll toss in a few tips for the journey as you've already acknowledged the hectic schedule
In Cologne, assuming you come into the main station, there is a place called the Cologne Cathedral right by the station. It's pretty dang impressive and you can spend time climbing the stairs to get a peek over the city. Unless you need the exercise, buy a post card of the view and instead venture outside to the left of the building as you are looking at the front doors. The place you are looking for is called the Treasury and has some of the most impressive items to be seen there. Of course take the normal tour inside, see all the amazing things there but the treasury is often overlooked as it's a separate fee to enter and off to the side a bit. The other thing is just beyond the cathedral is some impressive Roman ruins that have been found and put on display. There's even a tunnel you can walk down a bit (unless they've closed it).
The treasury is really quite something to be seen. The hours are different then the main building so worth checking. Here's a link to some pix from inside it I found on TripAdvisor
They also have various other good stuff to see from long time ago
Looks like a fun trip!
Lots of great places were mentioned before. I thought I add my own 2 cents:
Visit an escape room game!
Did you know these fun escape games are originated from Hungary? There are lots of them in Budapest and Prague, too.
In Budapest, the first one was Parapark, and still the best in my opinion: http://parapark.hu/en
In Prague, the first one opened was MindMaze, and again, it's still the best if you ask me: http://mindmaze.cz/en
If you have time, visit these
All the best,
Because Insiders doesn't have an inactive or whatever you want to call it time line and some just do not look at the date on the posts.
Other than that and Tommo781 wanting to stir the pot I cannot think of any other reasons!!!