I recently spent a few weeks traveling around Central Europe – a trip that’s been on my bucket list for quite a while. I spent time in Slovenia, Hungary, Austria, and the Czech Republic and loved every minute of it. The cities in Central Europe are full of culture and history and each town is unique from the last. The food is delicious, the beers are cheap and the nightlife is second to none. If you’re thinking of traveling to Central Europe, either with friends or by yourself, I’ve outlined a few tips from my recent experience.
1. Carry cash in different currencies
Slovenia, Hungary, Austria and the Czech Republic are all part of the European Union, but only Slovenia and Austria use the Euro. Hungary uses the forint and the Czech Republic uses the koruna. The Euro is not universally accepted in Hungary and in the Czech Republic and when it is, there is usually a hefty fee that goes along with the exchange. Plan to bring the right currency for each country. Central Europe accepts credit cards at all major hotels, restaurants, and attractions, but there are plenty of markets, cafes, and shops that prefer (or only accept) cash. So plan ahead so you don’t waste an afternoon looking for a bank machine or money exchange.
2. Consider taking the bus
Although Europe is renowned for its train system, buses are a cheaper, and sometimes a more convenient option. I used Flixbus to travel between countries and typically paid about half the price of a train ticket. The bus services in Central Europe are reliable, punctual, and a great option for traveling between cities and countries.
3. Book accommodations early
Central Europe is growing in popularity and that means hotels can fill up early – especially in cities like Prague and Vienna. If you know where and when you’re traveling, don’t waste time in booking your accommodations. When I book my hotels, the first thing I check for is the location. You want a hotel that is centrally located so you can walk to all the major attractions or stumble back to after a delicious dinner or night on the town. Try using NextTrip to find hotels or other accommodations a few months before your departure.
4. Consider the off or shoulder season
Central Europe is not the hidden gem it once was. Cities like Prague, Vienna, and Budapest are swarming with tourists. Try to escape the crowds (and sky-high prices) by booking a trip in the off or shoulder season. I recommend Central Europe in September/October. Most of the sun-seeking vacationers have left and it’s still warm enough to eat and drink outside. Depending on where you go, the temperature may fluctuate quite a bid – in October Budapest is warm enough to walk around in jeans and a t-shirt, whereas Prague will require sweaters and scarves.
5. Use free walking tours
Many Central European cities offer free walking tours, which are not only a great way to get your bearings on a city, but also a great way to get local tips and advice. I like to take advantage of these tours on my first day in the city and then spend the remainder of my time exploring on my own and learning new and awesome information. Here are some cities currently offering free walking tours:
Central Europe is a fantastic part of the world to visit. Follow these tips and you’ll be on your way to the vacation of a lifetime!