I just got back from a great trip through Eastern Europe and wanted to share the itinerary and some tips! Eastern Europe is a region that I have never been to before, and I packed a lot in during this trip. I went with a tour company since I have never been to these cities before, but I definitely would feel comfortable going back on my own. Most of the cities are walkable or have great public transportation. Many of the tours and touristy places in these cities focus on World War II, so if you like history these are interesting places to visit.
Two Week Eastern Europe Itinerary
Berlin -> Warsaw -> Krakow -> Prague -> Vienna -> Budapest
So far in Europe I have traveled to Northern Europe, the Mediterranean, and Western Europe. This September I finally went to Eastern Europe on a trip that I had been planning for a year and a half. This two week Eastern Europe itinerary certainly packs a lot in, but I enjoyed it and know that when I visit again I would like to spend more time in these cities to see more besides the tourist areas. But for this trip I fully embraced my tourist self and did plenty of sightseeing and souvenir shopping.
Because when you are traveling, things don’t always go as planned. My flights going to Berlin got all screwed up. I was supposed to land in Berlin at 11:00am, but didn’t end up getting there until 6:00pm. I was disappointed because that was pretty much a whole day gone. Luckily, though, my luggage made it with me! I was supposed to fly with Delta/KLM, but I was switched to Lufthansa due to Delta delaying my first flight 5 hours so I would have missed my connecting flight. My original flights were supposed to be Tampa to JFK to Berlin, but I ended up going Tampa to Frankfurt to Berlin. I was slightly disappointed that I didn’t get my passport stamped in Berlin, but oh well. Any passport stamp is exciting! This was my first time flying with Lufthansa, and they were both very pleasant flights. I would definitely fly with them again.
The capital city of Germany has a lot of beautiful sites to see as well some dark history to learn about. When you think of Berlin, you might think of Hitler and the Berlin Wall. This city has come a long way from its past, but still makes sure to acknowledge and educate those who come visit about what happened here. This is definitely a great city to do a guided tour.
Besides the important historical sites, Berlin has great restaurants, shops and nightlife. After doing a guided tour, we suggest just talking some time to explore on your own. If you are a museum lover, check out Museum Island.
Must See: Brandenburg Gate, Pariszer Square, Holocaust Memorial, Site of Hitler’s bunker, Mall of Berlin, Plaza of the Uprising, Berlin Wall, Topography of Terror, Mauer Park, TV Tower, Museum Island.
Berlin to Warsaw drive time approximately 5.5 hours. There is also train that takes about the same amount of time,or you can fly.
Travel Tip: Stop in Poznan, Poland for lunch to break up the drive. It’s about halfway between Berlin and Warsaw. It’s a cute city with lots of great restaurants and shops!
The capital city of Poland also has a dark and sad history as it was basically leveled by the Nazis during World War II. Almost all of the buildings in Old Warsaw are replicas, and the city seems kind of haphazardly put back together. It is obviously still a beautiful city with plenty to see and do. There are some great museums that go through everything from the life of Marie Curie to the horrifying story of the Jewish ghetto. Besides the history, the food here is pretty amazing, the people are nice, and the nightlight is fun. It is also affordable. Be sure to check out a milk bar while you are here.
Must Sees: Copernicus statue, Chopin musical benches, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Royal Route, Center for Culture & Science, Skybar at Marriott Warsaw.
It is about a four drive from Warsaw to Krakow. You can also take the train or bus.
This former capital is one of the oldest cities in the country and is reminiscent of the more royal times in Poland. It also has reminders of World War II, like the phenomenal museum at the former Oskar Schindler Factory. Also consider a tour at the Wielicza Salt Mine. I wasn’t super excited that our tour was stopping here, but it actually was really interesting and the underground cathedral is 100% worth seeing. You do have to get permission to take photographs (i.e. pay money).
Krakow is also located near the infamous Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. While visiting places like this is not easy, I think it is necessary and important for people to see it for themselves. It is uncomfortable walking around and walking into some of the original buildings that weren’t destroyed, seeing the train tracks leading into Auschwitz and Birkenau, and thinking about how terrible it must have been for the people imprisoned here. Our tour guide was very informative and matter-of-fact about the Auschwitz complex, but most of the times the exhibits spoke for themselves. The employees who worked in the bookstore were also very informative and recommended some great books to read about this time.
Must Sees: Royal Route, Market Square, Oskar Schindler apartment, Holy Cross Cathedral, Jewish Quarter, Schindler Factory & Museum, Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Drive from Krakow to Prague in about five and a half hours. You can also take a train or bus.
Travel Tip: Stop in Wroclaw, Poland for lunch and try to find as many of the approximately 400 gnomes hidden throughout the city.
The overall beauty of Prague is truly breathtaking. The baroque and Gothic style buildings are absolutely worth seeing in person. Prague was mostly spared during World War II, so you are seeing the original buildings. My stop in Prague was unfortunately marred by poor weather and an unbelievable amount of tourists. I knew Prague had gotten really popular recently, but wow! Nevertheless, I loved walking around and exploring Old Town and the Charles Bridge. This is definitely a city I would like to come back to and spend more time exploring. If you are a beer drinker, Prague is definitely the place to be as the Czech Republic ranks number one in the world for beer consumption per capita.
Must Sees: Prague Castle, Charles Bridge, Old Town Square, Astronomical Clock, St. Vitus Cathedral, Underground Tour, Jewish Quarter, Dancing House.
The drive time from Prague to Vienna is about 3.5 hours. You can also take the train or bus.
Travel Tip: Stop at Kutná Hora and see The Bone Church.
Vienna evokes the more royal time in Europe’s history, as this was the former home of the Habsburg monarchy. The art and culture is also superb. After all, this is where Mozart, Beethoven, Strauss, Brahms and many others composed and performed their masterpieces. Vienna is also known for its great cuisine and coffee houses. You don’t need to worry about buying flat water bottles here. The fresh tap water comes from the Alps. You can drink straight from the faucet or the taps on the street. Vienna was the city I was least interested in, but I had a really great time here and learned a lot.
Must Sees: Schonbrunn Palace, Hundertwasserhaus, Vienna Naschmarkt, Riesenrad at Prater amusement park, Museum District, Hofburg Palace.
Vienna to Budapest is about a 2.5 hour drive, or you can take the train or bus.
Travel Tip: Stop in Brastislava, Slovakia for lunch or for an overnight stop. This was an unexpectedly great city!
I think Budapest may have been my favorite city we visited on this trip (although they all were great!). The way the Danube River splits Budapest into Buda and Pest (pronounced Pesht) makes for some spectacular views. Our hostel was located right near the Great Synagogue, which is the 2nd largest synagogue in the world. The Holocaust Memorial in the back of the synagogue was a stark reminder of how terribly the Hungarian Jews suffered during World War II, something that I think many people don’t realize.
Budapest is a city I really enjoyed wandering around. Buda is the hilly side with more of the older architecture, while Pest is the flat, more modern side. Budapest is famous for its thermal baths. I didn’t go during this trip because I was pressed for time, but this is definitely something I will do if I visit again. Another popular experience here is the ruin bars. Even if nightlife is not really your thing, this is definitely worth checking out. Ruin bars are bars that popped up in abandoned buildings. The one I went to (Szimpla Kert) was huge and eclectic. The drinks are cheap, there is live music, and the people watching is prime. Also consider taking a nighttime river cruise on the Danube. The city is beautiful lit up at night.
Must Sees: Great Synagogue, St. Stephen Basilica, House of Terror, Hero Square, Budapest Zoo, Thermal Baths, Elizabeth Square, Vajdahunyad vara, Chain Bridge, Matthias Church, Fashion Street, Central Market Hall.
And that’s it! This is a lot to pack into two weeks. Obviously you will not be able to see everything. While this type of travel is a little fast paced for me, I am glad I was able to visit all these cities and see the important sites. Now when I go back, I will have time to explore and see more of the off the beaten path areas. Since I was with an organized tour group, the local tours were pre-planned. All of these cities offer plenty of tour options, whether it be the Hop-On, Hop-Off bus or walking tours. You can also try doing a self-guided tour.
- Wear comfortable shoes: Walking tours are a great way to see these cities, so comfortable shoes are a must.
- Pack layers: The weather was forecasted to be nice the whole trip, and then halfway through the temperature dropped and it was chilly the rest of the trip. Be prepared!
- Download Maps.Me or Google Maps Offline: If you don’t want to use your data, these offline maps can be super helpful. WiFi is easy to find, but there were plenty of times I had no WiFi connection. The citywide WiFi spots were not reliable.
- Use public transportation: In the cities that were a little more spread out, the public transportation systems were great to use. The first couple times you might have to stand aside for a few moments and really figure out where you’re going, but I got the hang of it pretty quickly.
What destinations do you recommend for an Eastern Europe trip? Share your tips and recommendations below!
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