Travelling to Central Europe - A Perspective
Central Europe is one of the popular circuits visited by experienced travellers looking for a an experience that is a mix of heritage, countryside, national parks, islands and culture.
The Circuit is typically accessed from Vienna (Austria) and is an 1800 km circuit ending at Coastal town of Dubrovnik.
Circuit comprises destinations as under:
# Large Capital Cities Prague (Czech Republic), Zagreb and Dubrovnik (Croatia) and Budapest (Hungary)
# Offbeat destinations such as Bled (Slovenia), Hvar (Slovakia), Piran (Slovenia) and Plitvice (Croatia)
# Smaller capital cities - Bratislava (Slovakia) and Ljubljana (Slovakia)
Starting from Prague (331 kms from Vienna), which is a major historical, political and cultural centre. Main attractions include the Prague Castle, the Charles Bridge, Old Town Square with the Prague astronomical clock, the Jewish Quarter, Petřín hill and Vyšehrad. Since 1992, the extensive historic centre of Prague has been included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.
The city boasts more than ten major museums, along with numerous theatres, galleries, cinemas, and other historical exhibits.
Bratislava (328 kms from Prague) is the political, cultural and economic centre of Slovakia and excellent stopover on the Prague - Budapest Route.
From Bratislava, one can visit Banská Štiavnica (173 kms to the east) a completely preserved medieval town and a UNESCO world heritage site.
Budapest (525 kms from Prague via Slovakia) is the capital and the largest city of Hungary, and one of the largest cities of the Central Europe. Cited as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, Budapest's extensive World Heritage Site includes the banks of the Danube, the Buda Castle Quarter, Andrássy Avenue, Heroes' Square and the Millennium Underground Railway (the second-oldest metro line in the world). It has around 80 geothermal springs, the world's largest thermal water cave system, second largest synagogue, and third largest Parliament building.
Pecs (208 kms from Budapest), is a heritage city renowned for Christian necropolis, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Pecs is an excellent stopover between Budapest and Zagreb (234 kms).
Alternatively Tihany (130 kms from Budapest) is another popular stopover on the Budapest - Zagreb Route. The Tihany is know for The Tiihany Abbey, a Benedictine monastery established in 1055 and a popular tourist visit option.
Zagreb (343 kms from Budapest) has a vibrant and bustling night life and is a popular city break for travellers from around Europe. Zagreb enjoys pleasant weather all through Summer and therefore popular with travellers looking to beat the Summer heat. Zagreb works as a stopover for travellers looking to travel between Budapest to Coastal town of Dubrovnik. Plitvice Lakes National Park (130 kms from Zagreb) is renowned for its lakes, reserve forest and country side and is first natural site to be listed under UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Ljubljana (140 kms East of Zagreb) is capital city of Slovenia and one visited for its character and charm. Piran (120 kms further east) is a town overlooking Adriatic Sea and Triste Penninsula with Italy on other side. Its one of those little medieval towns that is huge on character with little streets, walkways, cafes etc making it one of the Slovenia's major tourist attractions.
Bled (50 kms from Ljubljana) is another attraction in Slovenia, known for the glacial Lake Bled and Bled Castle. The town is also known in Slovenia for its vanilla and cream pastry. Today it is an important convention centre and tourist resort, offering a wide range of sports activities. It is a starting point for mountain treks and hikes, especially within nearby Triglav National Park and Soca Valley.
Hvar (300 kms from Plitvice) is a popular Island destination of Croatia renowned for its Wines and Stari Grad UNESCO world heritage site. The climate of Hvar is characterized by mild winters and pleasant summers. Hvar offers a welcome small town character to an itinerary otherwise dominated by large cities.
Dubrovnik (470 kms from Plitvice) is Croatia’s most popular coastal town (Adriatic Sea) and is one of the most prominent tourist destinations in the Mediterranean Sea. Dubrovnik is one of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, being one of the world's preserved medieval walled cities. Dubrovnik is home to many cafes and restaurants serving fine local cuisine and wine and is a good good base destination to explore nearby archipelagos and towns. The Seaside of Dubrovnik offers an excellent variety to the itinerary which otherwise is predominantly about heritage sites, Lakes, countryside and national Parks. Its a place where one can end the itinerary and spend a few days by the Mediterranean.
Central Europe offers a relatively less expensive itinerary as compard to Western Europe destination and can be rewarding for those interested in Heritage sites, lakes, countryside, islands etc.
The roads are excellent with many stopovers enroute. The population in cities in general are decent with English and therefore Language is not a major barrier.
Guests who are flexible with cuisine and look forward to some ethnic varieties will find this circuit especially rewarding.
May-Sept would be the best time to Travel with May-June giving lower rates (July-Sept - Otherwise is a high season for Europe).
While one may think that with so many countries involved Visa process may be daunting. However it is exactly opposite. Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia are Schengen Visa countries and therefore guests only need to get Schengen Visa pre-approved. Croatia does not require an additional visa once Schengen Visa is pre-approved.
Central Europe in a nutshell is a circuit for those who look to explore beyond the regular circuits and looking to explore amazing history, heritage and countryside of the Central Europe.