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18 Days Central Europe Itinerary

European countries are amazing and our heart are hooked there after a 2 weeks trip to Belgium and France in mid of 2018. The memories of beautiful vintage cities, grandeur architecture and delicious food there tempted us to return for another Europe trip in mid-2019, but this round for a 18-days trip in Central Europe. That is the maximum days I am allowed to take time off my work, and we planned for 5 countries within these 18 days - Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia, Czech Republic and Austria, albeit we extended it to Germany for a day in last minute

One of the great reason visiting Central Europe is better value for money. The food and accommodation here are relatively cheaper compared to popular spots in Western Europe such as France, Spain or United Kingdom but the experience is equally rewarding. On top of that, smaller number of tourists in particularly Slovenia and Slovakia allow us to maneuver these places in much relaxing mood. 

Our 18 days itinerary in Central Europe is suitable for those who are looking for:
1) City sight seeing and photography
2) Trying various cuisine
3) Enjoying Nature
4) History and cultural appreciation

Here is our 18 days itinerary in Central Europe:

Day 1: Arrive in Budapest
Day 2: Budapest
Day 3: Budapest, travel to Poprad from Budapest
Day 4: High Tatras
Day 5: High Tatras, travel to Bratislava
Day 6: Bratislava, midnight train to Ljubljana via a quick stop at Vienna
Day 7: Ljubljana
Day 8: Ljubljana (supposedly go to Kamnik but cancelled the plan after heavy downpour)
Day 9: Lake Bled
Day 10: Salzburg
Day 11: Day trip to Hallstatt from Salzburg
Day 12: Prague
Day 13: Prague
Day 14: Day trip to Dresden from Prague
Day 15: Brno (for International Fireworks Competition, IGNIS BRUNENSIS)
Day 16: Vienna
Day 17: Vienna
Day 18: Vienna, depart to Malaysia via Doha

Day 1: Arrival in Budapest, visit Central Market Hall

We arrived in Budapest International Airport early in the morning and head straight to Budapest-Nyugati station. Fatigue avalanches us after a sleepless flight onboard Qatar Airways despite the topnotch service. We decided to get some sleep in Airbnb after exploring the surrounding point of interest near Budapest-Nyugati such as Budapest Parliament and Danube Promenade.

18 Days Central Europe Itinerary
View of Hungarian Parliament opposite Danube River

The need for sleeping overtook lunch, but we head to Central Market Hall and spend considerable time exploring there and filled our tummy with strudels. Nevertheless, we compensated ourselves with a great dinner at Gulyas near Deák Ferenc before trying to get a great night view photograph of Hungary Parliament across the Danube River.

Day 2: Budapest - Szechenyi Thermal Bath, Vajdahunyad Castle, Fisherman's Bastion

18 Days Central Europe Itinerary
Szechenyi Thermal Bath

Early morning is a good time for hot bat at Szechenyi Thermal Bath, as the crowd is lesser and the chilling weather makes hot bath even comfortable. After that, we explored the neighbouring Vajduhunyad Castle and Heroes Square before adjourned to Paprika Vendeglo for a satisfying lunch. 

18 Days Central Europe Itinerary

We took our time indulging in the big portion lunch and head to Fisherman's Bastion for sightseeing and photography opportunity. Crowd is enormous and tourist fill up every corner here. Then we waited for the dusk to set in at Buda Castle to take the night shot of Budapest Parliament and Szechenyi Bridge. Dinner was forfeited in exchange for the time slot for taking the awesome night photograph but we got a surprise by enjoying the best street food ever in Budapest - Langos!

Day 3: Budapest - St Stephen's Basilica, Kürtőskalács and travel to Poprad

This will be our last day in Budapest and we have to embark on a lengthy train journey to Poprad at 3pm. We woke up late, spent some time packing our stuff and headed to St. Stephen's Basilica which store the holy relic of right hand of Stephen, the first king of Hungary. 

18 Days Central Europe Itinerary

Not far from St Stephen's Basilica is Molnar's Kürtőskalács, selling the popular Kürtőskalács which is a must try whenever you visit Budapest. 

Then it is the long and tiring journey to Poprad via Bratislava. The train via a stop at Kosice supposedly to be our route but it was not viable due to our visiting time. We arrived late, close to 11pm at Poprad and struggled to locate our Airbnb as the surrounding was dark. 

Day 4: High Tatras - Štrbské Pleso

I have been anticipating to visit High Tatras after I am aware of its existence. This place is beautiful, magnificent, serene,  and beyond word to describe its beauty after seeing its picture in the Internet. However, the supposedly great morning turned ugly as I lost close to 200 in cash unknowingly. Like it or not, it put a serious dent onto my mood and I tried hard to wrap up the negativity in my mind.

Journey from Budapest to High Tatras with a Night in Poprad
Morning breakfast at Oto & Oto 

We realized time is running late at 9am so we rushed to a nice cafe - Oto & Oto in the small town of Poprad for a quick breakfast before taking the local rail heading to Tatranská Lomnica. Upon checking into hotel and ditch all the luggage into the room, we took a nice lunch in the town and head to Štrbské Pleso.

18 Days Central Europe Itinerary
Štrbské Pleso

Štrbské Pleso is a beautiful lake. We had a  stroll surrounding the lake, spotting couple organizing wedding, couples taking brides photo, a walk with dogs and et cetera. I think we spent close to 3 hours in the lake including taking photograph too.

At 5pm, we took the local train back to Tatranská Lomnica and elated about tomorrow plan to Lomnický štít, one of the highest peak in High Tatras reachable via a cable car (which needs advance booking that only open 7 days before travelling date)

Day 5: High Tatras - Lomnický štít, Skalnaté pleso and travel to Bratislava

Finally this is the day! We woke up with an excited mood, enjoying a cup of coffee at Bongusto Cafe just adjacent to Tatranská Lomnica train station before heading to the cable car station to Lomnický štít. It is imperative to reach the cable car station at least 15 minutes prior your booked time, otherwise you risk forfeiting your tickets and the sole valuable opportunity to explore the majestic peak! 

18 Days Central Europe Itinerary
Lomnický štít

The cable car journey was exhilarating and surrounded by thick fog when reaching near the top. Every cable car group is allocated 50 minutes to speak at the peak, which is more than enough for us to take some photos, played with snow and enjoyed some serene views up there. Try to book yourself for an early slot to avoid large crowd in the afternoon, as some groups tend to make a day trip from Poprad and only will be reaching here late.

18 Days Central Europe Itinerary
Walking around Skalnaté pleso

After descending from Lomnický štít, we did not rush but spend considerable time strolling around another beautiful lake - Skalnaté pleso. You could be lucky to get the beautiful reflection picture of the mountain on the lake! 

We then departed to Tatranská Lomnica, picked our stored luggage in hotel and continue our journey to Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia.

Day 6: Bratislava - Most SNP Bridge, Michael's Gate, Bratislava Castle, Blue Church, Devin's Castle

18 Days Central Europe Itinerary
Michael's Gate
18 Days Central Europe Itinerary
King Svatopluk I Statue at Bratislava Castle

Bratislava is a beautiful city with medieval architectural that is easy to explored by foot. We enjoyed the relative calmness in this city as tourists here are smaller in number compared to other European capitals. A quick 2 day 1 night stay, like what we did is more than enough to explore the attractions here such as Most SNP Bridge, Michael's Gate, Bratislava Castle, Blue Church and et cetera. 

We also take a short excursion out from the old town to Devin's Castle, which is located 12km off the old town of Bratislava and bordering to Austria. 

If you have budget to spare, do try out one of the biggest restaurant in Central Europe - Bratislava Flagship which offers nice Slovakian dishes. 

It was a short 2 day 1 night stay in Bratislava, and we depart to Ljubljana using FlixBus via a stop in Vienna.

Day 7: Ljubljana - Old Town, Dragon Bridge, Ljubljana Castle

Flixbus dropped us at Ljubljana train station in the wee hours 4am in the morning was a bad move, and situation got worse by the rain. A small roof shielded us from getting wet but we were shivering cold under such weather, and the train station only open its door at 5am. What a day to begin with!

18 Days Central Europe Itinerary
The Dragon Bridge (Zmajski Most)

18 Days Central Europe Itinerary

We park our luggage at the luggage storage in the train station and grab a light breakfast in McDonalds, before heading to explore Old Town of Ljubljana, Dragon Bridge and Ljubljana Castle. Do not forget to grab Craniolan Sausage (a traditional sausage patented by Slovenia) in Klobasarna, it tasted real good and this motivates us to go for more sausages in our trip subsequently!

The rain did not appear to be ceding and we retreated to check in airbnb, have a short rest before continuing the journey. We go to Old Town again, and our dinner was Gelato from Cacao as most of the restaurants were close.

It was a long, dreadful and tiring day due to the sleepless midnight bus ride and the non-stop raining.

Day 8: Ljubljana - Metelkova, Enjoying Desserts at Lolita | Kaval Group, Tivoli Park, and Horse Burger at Hot Horse

The heavy downpour in the early morning forced us cancel our trip to Kamnik and we have to stretch our visit in Ljubljana city for another day. However, Ljubljana city in small and one day is sufficient to explore the old town and this motivates us to find some other thing to do. In fact, we take today slow and just make it an ordinary day without visiting any prominent attractions. 

We continued sleeping to recharge our tired body and wake up at 9am to do groceries shopping to prepare our own breakfast and dinner tonight. Then, we head to Lolita | Kaval Group in Ljubljana old town to enjoy some fine desserts and continue with a stroll at Tivoli Park.

18 Days Central Europe Itinerary
Tivoli Park
18 Days Central Europe Itinerary
Horse Meat Burger at Hot Horse

Tivoli Park is huge! We ended up in Hot Horse Restaurant in the park and having horse meat burger there, which marked our first times having horse meat. It did not taste significantly different from a tender beef in our opinion. As a matter of fact, I would not know I was having horse meat if nobody told me that.

The day ended with a self prepared dinner at airbnb.

Day 9: Lake Bled & Vintgar Gorge 

We started our day early with an own prepared muesli with fruits and took a local bus to Lake Bled. It was a short 75 minutes journey to reach Lake Bled.

18 Days Central Europe Itinerary
at Lake Bled

Upon deposition of luggage in hotel, we booked a shuttle van from Mamut (a private transporting and tour company) to Vintgar Gorge. Personally, we highly recommend this place and this is one of the best natural spot we have ever been. It is flushing green, brimming with fresh air and crystal clear water stream. The shuttle bus leave us there for 2 hours 15 minutes, which is more than enough to complete the 1.6km trail in Vintgar Gorge.

18 Days Central Europe Itinerary
Vintgar Gorge

After returning from Vintgar Gorge, we had our late lunch / early dinner and take a stroll surrounding Lake Bled, bought a bottle of wine and ended our stay in Lake Bled. We had a quality sleep after finishing the bottle of wine and prepared for a great sunrise hike to take a good sunrise photo.

Day 10: Salzburg - Old Town of Salzburg

We missed the sunrise due to our own fault! The bottle of wine got us and we were totally in deep sleep. We left Lake Bled in despair and head to Salzburg, Austria.

18 Days Central Europe Itinerary

Our stay in Salzburg was mainly as a gateway to Hallstatt, which was not a wise decision actually. We should have allocated more time to explore Salzburg, as our stay here was less than 24 hours and we can only explore the old town and overwhelmed by Mozart stuff - from gelato, desserts, food, souvenirs, shop and et cetera.

Despite the short time in Salzburg, we manage to get a good lunch at Restaurant Triangel in old town, a rather traditional restaurant as the crews were fully dressed in Austrian costume.

Day 11: Hallstatt Town and Five Fingers

We arrived at Hallstatt at 11am+ after a 2 hours bus journey from Salzburg. We have seen numerous pictures in Instagram showcasing this beautiful salt production town but the feeling of physically being here is different. Because the beautiful sight here are accompanied by an exodus of people, crowding every corner of Hallstatt.

18 Days Central Europe Itinerary
Hallstatt so called postcard view picture

After taking pictures of the famous postcard view in Hallstatt, we feel overwhelmed by the excessive number of tourists here and decided to leave this place. However, we hope to come back here again in future to witness the winter view here. The magical charm spelled by this place is unquestionable.

18 Days Central Europe Itinerary
5 Fingers

Then we made an impulsive decision - take a bus to Obertraun and purchase a pair of cable car ticket to 5 fingers. The view there is breathtaking, but not recommended for those heart fainted people though.

We made a huge blunder during the returning train trip to Salzburg. We were supposed to get down from the train at Attnang-Puchheim and transit to another train, but we overlook it and the train was heading to Berlin. We quickly get down at Linz, and purchase another pair of train ticket back to Salzburg. Eventually, we got back late and had our late dinner at Hotel IMALAUER, as this is the dining option still operating.

Day 12: Prague - Old Town Square, Charles Bridge, Prague Orloj

After a lengthy and miserable train ride (changing a train at Ceske Budejovice, then took a bus to Tabor before boarded a humid old train at Veseli to Prague), we arrived Prague at 6.30pm, way later than we expected. Misery continued as we could not figure out how to purchase the tram ticket from the ticketing machine (or the machine was at fault), and we ended up taking the tram illegally without a ticket to our airbnb.

Sunday in Prague complicated the matter for changing our Euro to Czech Koruna. Most of the exchange office did not open, and finally we manage to find one after checking a few streets. We are aware that possibly exchange office near to old town square in Prague might be still operating but many Internet articles have advised to avoid changing there, possibly due to scams and unfavourable rate.

18 Days Central Europe Itinerary
Charles Bridge
18 Days Central Europe Itinerary
Church of Our Lady Before Tyn and Prague Orloj

As time is running late, we can only afford to check out the surrounding of Old Town Square, Charles Bridge, Prague Orloj and had our dinner at Restaurace Mincovna near to Old Town Square. Prague is charmingly beautiful at night when the medieval buildings are shined with yellow tungsten light.

Day 13: Prague - Wencesles Square, Statue of Kafka, Prague Dancing House, Prague City Hall Paternoster

10 Things to Do in Prague, Czech Republic
Statue of Kafka
18 Days Central Europe Itinerary
Dancing House
Just when we thought our dream come true for able to be in Prague physically (have been always admiring Prague's charm after seeing her pictures), the scams by hawker in Wencesles Square and the old Prague ham scam (which we almost fall into) dampened our mood significantly.

That makes us have the thought of leaving Prague as soon as possible, even though we still have another day booked in the airbnb.

Today we managed to explore Wencesles Square, Statue of Kafka, Prague Dancing House and Prague City Hall Paternoster.

Day 14: Dresden - Furstenzug, Frauenkirche Dresden, Zwinger Dresden, Bruhl Terrace, Dresden Schloßplatz, Golden Horse Statue, Kunsthofpassage

18 Days Central Europe Itinerary
Dresden Schloßplatz (Castle Square)

After a whole night thought, we decided not to spend Day 14 in Prague and took a train for a day trip to Dresden, Germany. The German federal state of Saxony is beautiful, and exploration by foot is possible in the old town. We checked in at Furstenzug, Frauenkirche Dresden, Zwinger Dresden, Bruhl Terrace and Dresden Schloßplatz. The lunch at Sophienkellar, a beautiful underground restaurant with crews dressed in Drindl is memorable.

18 Days Central Europe Itinerary
We also explored bit of new town of Dresden, or better known as Neustadt-Dresden to locals by foot. Truth is the going to new town is such a bad idea, as we really worn out ourselves for making this bold decision.

Day 15: Brno - Ignis Brunesis (International Fireworks Competition), Vegetable Market, Labyrinth under Vegetable Market, Spilberk Castle, Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul

When we googled special events happening in the countries we will be visiting in Central Europe, we got so excited to know that International Fireworks Competition, or known as Ignis Brunesis to locals will be happening during our visit (though not the final) in Brno, a small town in Czech Republic. Therefore, we planned and make several adjustments to our itinerary so we could be in Brno to witness this annual event on 5th of June 2019.

18 Days Central Europe Itinerary
Labyrinth under Vegetable Market 

Since there are time after we checked into our apartment, we went to explore Vegetable Market, one of the historical point of the city. Under the Vegetable Market is an extensive network of labyrinth, which only open to public access in 2011 with a small fees. It was a fun experience exploring there.

18 Days Central Europe Itinerary
Fireworks display during Ignis Brunensis by GRUPO LUSO PIROTECNIA from Portugal. Not exactly a good shot but that is what we managed to get

The time still allowed us to go to Spilberk Castle for a quick tour before heading to Brno Dam, the venue where Ignis Brunesis is being held. It was such a happening event, just like an annual carnival with theme park, rows of hawker food, and the night ended with the team participating showcasing the creativity in fireworks. After the event, everybody cramp into the train to go back to the city and we were lucky to be in the front of the queue.

Day 16: Vienna - St. Stephen Cathedral, Belvedere Palace, Rathaus Town Hall, Votive Church

The first thing we did upon arrival in Vienna is getting a public transportation pass, then only it came to our knowledge the transportation cost in other countries are cheaper compared to Vienna relatively. A 48-hours transportation pass in Vienna cost €14.10, while a 3-day pass in Hungary only cost about €12, that is a huge difference!

18 Days Central Europe Itinerary
at St. Stephen Cathedral

Vienna is a beautiful city and the architecture is magnificent. We were caught in awe the first moment we see St. Stephen Cathedral upon emerging from the metro station, it is so beautiful! 

18 Days Central Europe Itinerary

We had a late lunch at Geleteria Castelletto. Well, regardless where you have your lunch or dinner, remember to try out Einspanner, a classic Viennese coffee.

Our first day in Vienna was too short for us to do anything, so we only manage to visit Belvedere Palace, Rathaus and Votice Church before call it a day.

Day 17: Vienna - Naschmarkt, Republik Kugelmugel, Prater Amusement Park, Cafe Landtmann, Hundertwasser, KunstHausWien, SchonBrunn Palace, Vienna Opera House

Our second last day in Central Europe before departing to Malaysia. The mood is heavy and we felt reluctant to arrange the luggage to continue the working life, as our mode of life has been adjusted to vacation mode instead of working.

We try to do something different in the beginning of today. Instead of going to popular tourists spot for photography, we went to a local market - Naschmarkt, albeit it is getting touristy. It is the largest market in Vienna, and there are stalls selling various items such as olives, pickles, Balkan food, restaurants and etc. We gave up dining here eventually as these restaurants appear to cater more for tourists, offering Vietnamese, Japanese, Thailand, Korean and et cetera.

12 Places We Visited during 3 days in Vienna, Austria
Republik Kugelmugel
Then we went to explore Prater Amusement Park, an outdoor theme park that opens 365 days per year! Within a park there is an interesting spot - Republik Kugelmugel, which is quite a contrast to its surrounding. You can google for more information about here.

18 Days Central Europe Itinerary
at Cafe Landtmann
18 Days Central Europe Itinerary
SchonBrunn Palace

As Vienna is renowned for its cafe culture, we spend the afternoon in Cafe Landtmann, a renowned and impressive cafe within its interior look like high-ended restaurant. Since it is still early, we took a detour to explore Hundertwasser and KunsHausWien, before heading to SchonBrunn Palace. 

It was lucky as there was free livecast of Vienna Opera House at the side of building during our visit, but we were late and only be able to make it after the show finishes. We ended the night with Chinese hawker food - fried noodles with fried chicken which surprisingly tasted good!

Day 18: Vienna - Demel Cafe, The Hofburg, Depart to Malaysia

Finally it is the day for us to go back to Malaysia. The feeling is complicated, we are missing our hometown, while feeling sad to end our 18-days Central Europe trip. 

18 Days Central Europe Itinerary
Cakes at Demel Cafe

As the time is limited, we brought our luggage to Demel Cafe, had brunch there and scout The Hofburg before heading to airport. We were harassed by a scammer as we were seated at the porch area of The Demel cafe, and they attempted to throw a dirty prawn shell to our cup of drink. What a way to end our trip.

Our verdict - Vienna is a beautiful city. Even though expenditure here is relatively high compared to other Central European cities, but the cafes are nice, transportation network are near to perfect, and it is a nice city to walk.


Overall, we hope to have chance to do similar trip again, or perhaps even longer? We are looking forward for a trip to Germany, Italy, or even Eastern Europe countries. 

However with the current Covid-19 pandemic, it is likely these plans will be put on hold, until we can live with Covid-19 with an ease of mind. On top of that, we are beginning a new chapter of life by welcoming a new family member in the month of June, which put so much happiness along with uncertainties in our life.

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Check out Shirleen & Ee Pin's Instagram for more beautiful photos we have taken.



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