Thinking of visiting other Central European cities during your stay in Budapest? You can’t go wrong with Vienna and Prague – read on to find out why.
Granted we’re biased towards Budapest, but when it comes to picturesque cities in Central Europe, there is definitely a strong competition. If you’re contemplating making the most of your stay and visiting more beautiful cities in the region aside Budapest, let us recommend two gems you won’t regret adding to your trip: Vienna and Prague.
Lying just 250 kms away from Budapest (and less than 50 kms from the Hungarian border, for that matter), the Austrian capital is the perfect destination for those that want to check out another beautiful city, but aren’t thrilled by long trips. Similarly to Budapest, Vienna – or Wien in German and Bécs in Hungarian – is bisected by the Danube, and is the cultural, economic, and political center, as well as the largest and most populous city of its country. In fact, before the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in World War I (that’s right, Austria and Hungary used to share a constitutional monarchy), the city had 2 million inhabitants. What’s more, until the early 20th century, Vienna was the largest German-speaking city in the world; and even today, it has approximately 1.9 million inhabitants, which makes it the second largest German-speaking city after Berlin.
Vienna’s history goes back to the ancient Celts, who were the first to settle in the land that’s known as Austria today. In the centuries to come, the area was invaded by several peoples including the Romans, Slavs, Franks, and the Germans before the Habsburgs came, saw, and conquered. Today, Vienna is known and admired for a number of things, including its high quality of life. In 2018 and 2019, the city was ranked first as the world’s most livable city (after maintaining second place for years, and even being first in a tie once), leaving behind the likes of San Francisco, Vancouver, and Melbourne. Vienna is also famous for its unique architecture boasting a wide range of styles from classical to modern, as demonstrated by the spectacular clash of imperial palaces and contemporary buildings that can be found in the city.
In addition to all this, Vienna is often called the “City of Music”, as it was home to many famous classical musicians such as Beethoven and Mozart. Of course, the central role it played in musical innovation at the time didn’t hurt this reputation either.
Let us recommend 3 attractions you won’t want to miss when visiting beautiful Vienna.
Located in Vienna’s 13th district, Hietzing, the 300-year Schönbrunn Palace is a must-see for visitors of Vienna. The 1,441-room Rococo palace served as the main summer residence for Habsburg rulers, and is one of the most important architectural, cultural, and historic monuments in Austria to this day – no wonder it’s been on the to-see list of tourists for decades.
09:00 – 17:00
Over the course of its nearly 1000-year existence, St. Stephen’s Cathedral witnessed many important events of Austrian history and is the most important religious building in Vienna, as well as one of the city’s most well-known symbols. Although the name of the Cathedral chimes in with that of St. Stephen’s Basilica in Budapest, the two magnificent edifices were not named for the same person. Vienna’s cathedral was dedicated to the first Christian martyr, Saint Stephen, and the basilica in Budapest was named in honor of Stephen, the first King of Hungary.
tuesday 06:00 – 22:00
wednesday 06:00 – 22:00
thursday 06:00 – 22:00
friday 06:00 – 22:00
saturday 07:00 – 22:00
sunday 07:00 – 22:00
Located in Vienna’s 2nd district, the Prater is a large public park in the heart of the city equipped with a superb amusement park (often referred to as ‘Prater’ by the locals) and the Viennese Giant Ferris Wheel. For lovers of nature and fun, Prater should be high on the Vienna-list.
10:00 – 21:45
As we mentioned earlier, Vienna is fairly close to Budapest, therefore it’s quickly and easily accessible even by car (in less than 3 hours), in case road trips are your thing. But even if they’re not, you don’t need to worry – traveling to Vienna by bus or train is just as convenient. For more information on buses and trains going to Vienna, check out our articles below:
Should you prefer flying, numerous flights depart from Budapest to Vienna every day, but they’re mostly operated by big national airlines, so air travel might be a bit pricey.
Prague (Praha for locals and Prága for Hungarians) is the capital of the Czech Republic, and the largest city in the country with about 1.3 million inhabitants. Although a trip to the ‘City of a Hundred Spires’ – as Prague is often called for its abundance of cathedrals – requires significantly more time and planning, (it’s twice as far from Budapest than Vienna), it‘s definitely worth the time and effort put in. This picturesque Central European gem boasts a rich history and many popular tourist attractions, which make it one of the most visited European cities (it got 5th place in 2017 after London, Paris, Rome, and Istanbul). As of 1992, the historic center of the city has also been on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Just like Budapest and Vienna are halved by the Danube, Prague is bisected by the Vlatava river.
The area of Prague has been inhabited since around the 5th century BC, when a Celtic tribe named Boii settled and named the region Bohemia, and the river Vltava. The following centuries were characterized by the migration Germanic, Salvic and, lastly, Czech tribes, but by the Gothic era, Prague was flourishing as the capital of the Kingdom of Bohemia, became the main residence of several Holy Roman Emperors, and continued to be an important city to the Habsburg Monarchy and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Today, thanks to its vastly rich history, Prague is the political, cultural, and economic center of not just its country, but all of Central Europe, too.
Although it has a lot more to offer, let us bring your attention to 3 of the most popular attractions of Prague.
Built in the 9th century, Prague Castle has served as a seat of power for Bohemian kings, Holy Roman emperors, Habsburg monarchs, and presidents of Czechoslovakia – to this day, it’s the official office of the President of the Czech Republic. Lying on an area of almost 70,000 square meters, Prague Castle is featured in the Guinness Book of Records for being the largest ancient castle in the world. Prague Castle is also home to St. Vitus Cathedral, the largest and most important church in the country, famous for housing the tombs of many Bohemian kings and Holy Roman Emperors, as well as the Bohemian Crown Jewels.
06:00 – 22:00
Commissioned by King Charles IV in 1357, Charles Bridge is the oldest remaining bridge in Prague. As the bridge served as the only means of crossing the Vltava river until 1841, it made Prague an important trade route between Eastern and Western Europe and thus the most important city of the region at the time. The most striking characteristic of Charles Bridge is the duality between the gothic bridge and bridge towers and the mostly baroque-style statues along the balustrades on both sides. The reason for this duality is simple: while the crossing itself was completed in 1402, the statues depicting various saints were erected around 1700.
Fascinated by bridges? Check out our article on the gorgeous bridges of Budapest.
First installed in 1410, the Prague Astronomical Clock is the third-oldest astronomical clock in the world and the oldest operating one. It features an astronomic dial with the position of the Sun and the Moon, a calendar dial representing the months and zodiac signs, as well as a number of statues depicting Catholic Saints, Death, archangel Michael, and more. As impressive as this piece of craftsmanship is at first glance, it gets even more exciting. At every hour exactly, some of the statues are set in motion to put in the show for the bystanders, making it appear that Death strikes the hour while other statues shake their heads in horror, and the twelve apostles take turns looking out the two windows above the clock.
And while you’re there, take a long walk on the Old Town Square, Prague’s historic square rich in architectural styles from gothic, baroque and more.
Lying over 400 kms away from Budapest as the crow flies, Prague isn’t as ideal for a quick getaway as Vienna, but still manageable for those who don’t mind driving for around 6 hours (by car, the shortest route is well over 500 kms). However, if you’re not a big fan of long drives, there are still a number of ways to conveniently visit Prague from Budapest including bus, train, and even air travel at a reasonable price. For more information on buses and trains going to Prague, check out our articles below:
If you’re considering traveling to Prague from Budapest by air, Ryanair operates flights between the two cities at unbeatable prices from as low as $24. If you’d like to spare yourself the hassle of dragging your luggage across the city, use our airport transfer service to get to the airport. Click here for more info.
- How far is Vienne from Budapest?
- Vienna is located only 250 kms away from Budapest, which makes it easily accessible by bus, train, and even car.
- How far is Prague from Budapest?
- Prague is approximately 400 kms away from Budapest as the crow flies, and over 500 kms away by car.
- What’s the best way to visit Vienna from Budapest?
- Vienna is easily accessible from Budapest by bus, train, and even car, as it only takes a couple of hours to get there.
- What’s the best way to visit Prague from Budapest?
- There are numerous coach and train lines available between Budapest and Prague, and you can even travel by air at a reasonable price.