The charms of winding cobbled lanes, the grandeur of Gothic cathedrals and medieval castles, outstanding art and music coupled with authentic local delicacies - be sure, central Europe has it all. Just like the mysterious Bermuda Triangle, the gorgeous European capitals: Prague, Vienna, and Budapest will make you lose in their bohemian beauty and the infinite variety of attractions. So what should a flawless trip around these three European classics include in order to become a truly memorable journey without a glitch? In this piece, we are glad to introduce you to the most attractive landmarks you’ll regret missing during an Imperial capitals tour.
The Golden City of Prague
You may start your exploration of the heart of Europe from any “tip of the triangle” you like. However, we advise you begin from the glorious capital of the Czech Republic, fascinating Prague. A city with more than a thousand-year history, Prague has an amazing ability not to change in essence, changing in form. Cobbled paved streets, spires scraping the sky, fancy gaslights, tiled roofs, shady gardens: everything here is imbued with the spirit of antiquity and majesty. And along with this, Prague is a modern and lively city full of energetic youth, music, and art in all its manifestations and forms.
The ideal way to start your “first date” with Prague is visiting the all-time favorite, the Old Town or Staré Mesto. Being the oldest district in Prague, this medieval settlement has a lot to delight your eyes with!
The true center of gravity for travelers is the Old Town Square surrounded by a number of important landmarks like the gothic Church of Our Lady before Týn, the baroque Church of Saint Nicholas, and the outstanding example of rococo, Kinský Palace, which now houses an art museum.
One more reason why you should visit the Square is to see the famous Astronomical Clock on the wall of the City Hall, dating back to the 15th century and being the oldest clock on the world still operating. Then you may proceed your Prague travel to the medieval Charles Bridge, the beautiful historic construction shrouded in myths and being the true pride of all Prague citizens.
The Bridge is decorated with 30 statues, the most notable of which is the statue of St. John of Nepomuk. Thus, walking along the Charles Bridge, you may challenge your luck and make a wish while touching the sculpture, as, according to the legend, it will definitely come true!
After observing the Old Town from the very possible angle, you can continue the immersion into the city’s history by exploring the Vysehrad Castle and the former Jewish ghetto Josefov, set off on the modern art tour or spice up your Czech Republic travel by savoring into the delights of the local gastronomy.
Of course, eating tasty Czech dumplings, gulás, and schnitzel can be done even tastier combined with the degustation of authentic Czech beer. For sure, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the incredibly rich selection from the famed brands like Staropramen to craft beer in top local breweries!
In addition, you may not only enjoy a beer or two, but you can also even dive headlong into the beer bath visiting the world’s first Original Beer Spa!
Austrian Capital of Music and Art
The most musical city in Europe, stunning Vienna, is a true rhapsody of unsurpassed bohemian architecture, outstanding legacy of world-known musicians and artists, remarkable museums and galleries, all dressed with the subtle spirit of splendor. A nice recipe for a memorable journey, isn’t it?
In fact, Vienna cherishes its rich history, not being afraid to share it with travelers from abroad. The Viennese cultural program traditionally covers the historical center of the city, starting with the gorgeous edifice of the Vienna Opera, waltzing to St. Stephen's Cathedral and the Hofburg Palace Complex.
You may continue your scenic Vienna walking tour by strolling along the tramway ring that has such marvels as the Parliament, the Town Hall and the University of Vienna along its way.
For more than 10 centuries of its existence, the Austrian capital has preserved lots of other notable sights, inherent for the cities of such scale. For the touch of royal legacy, set off on a tour around the amazing Vienna palaces.
The wonderful facades of Belvedere and the fascinating gardens of a former Habsburg summer residence, Schonbrunn, will definitely cause the wow-effect.
In case you would like some relaxing time to unite with nature, save a day (or half) to explore the Vienna Woods. The Vienna forest has inspired numerous authors and composers, offering a great setting for many fairytales and brilliant melodies. Speaking of composers, Vienna is the motherland of Strauss and Schubert as well as the source of inspiration for many other musicians.
So if you are an admirer of classical music, spend an evening in Kursalon, one of the best concert venues in the city to listen to outstanding classical symphonies and operettas.
All art lovers will find their blast at the Museum Quarter. One of the most popular destinations among the youth and the landmark from the ‘must-visit’ section, the area houses a range of various exhibitions for all tastes, from such mighty museums as the Leopold Museum and the MUMOK to smaller unique installations.
To top it all, Vienna is a true paradise for sweet teeth boasting numerous cafes and restaurants that have already become an integral part of the city’s ensemble. The classic “Maria Theresia”, the respectable “Sacher”, Sigmund Freud's favorite “Landtmann”... you just can’t consider your Austrian trip complete without tasting delicious apple strudel, Viennese waffles, and Zaher cake with a cup of Viennese coffee.
The Gem on the Danube River
The last but not the least stop of the triangle, captivating Budapest has lots of reasons to be on your travel radar. The Hungarian capital is divided by the Danube River into two parts: the western bank is occupied by hilly and relaxed Buda while the eastern one houses pompous and secular Pest. The districts merged about 140 years ago but still you are likely to have the feeling that you’ve visited different cities.
We strongly recommend starting your Budapest sightseeing from the Danube Promenade, located on the Pest side of the city. Here you can see the iconic building of the Budapest Parliament, built in 1904.
Being the second largest Parliament edifice in Europe, the out-of-the-way Gothic palace has about 700 halls, 10 yards, 29 staircases, and is decorated with statues of Hungarian kings and dukes. The good thing is that this remarkable landmark is open for public visiting so you’ll have a chance to admire the beauty of the Parliament from the inside as well!
Walking along the Danube Promenade, you will probably be surprised by seeing several pairs of shoes just on the embankment. Those shoes were installed here as a memorial to the victims of the Holocaust during World War II, so the place is definitely the one that provides some food for thought and empathy.
Getting to the Buda side by the historic Chain Bridge, which became the symbol of the city’s unification, you should make a stop by the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Buda Castle, which previously served as a royal palace and houses the Hungarian National Gallery and History Museum today.
The nice addition to your itinerary would be a stroll along the Fisherman’s Bastion, situated on the Castle Hill around the Roman Matthias Church.
Moreover, Budapest is a resort city with an impressive number of hot thermal springs so visiting one of them seems to be a great idea, following an extensive sightseeing tour.
The spa-centers vary from huge complexes like Palatinus Baths and Szechenyi to some smaller local pools like Veli Bej and Rudas. So treat yourself with a joyful moment of relaxation and, indeed, an authentic Hungarian experience!
For another relaxing experience during your trip to Hungary, consider spending several hours on a ship cruising the Danube River to discover even more Budapest attractions from the water side.
To sum up, planning a travel itinerary around these 3 European capitals sounds like a nice option for a memorable getaway as the charms of Prague, Vienna and Budapest will make you lose track of time! So don’t hesitate and browse the collection of our Central Europe tours and get more ideas to enrich your upcoming Europe vacation.