Your Central Europe Travel Itinerary
Yay, time for you to figure out your Central Europe travel itinerary! Waaaaaay back in the summer of 2015, I embarked on an epic trip around Central Europe which lasted a grand total of 6-7 weeks. Needless to say, I fell in crazy passionate love with this region and wish I had a big plate of dumplings, pork, and beer right now prepared for my dinner. Ah, memories.
Now, to tell you the truth, Central Europe is a destination that requires deeper exploration. My advice to travelers going to Europe is to focus on a region rather than race across the entire continent. Yup, this advice is even relevant for first time travelers. You didn’t venture all this way to see the insides of trains and buses, did you? I didn’t think so!
Enclosed in this post are my favorite destinations in Central Europe. I did my best to include a mixture of small towns, big cosmopolitan cities, and spectacular Alpine nature. And, of course, I always welcome suggestions in the comments.
So, grab your guidebook and get planning! This Central Europe travel itinerary is for you, kiddos!
1. Berlin, Germany
Berlin is Germany’s capital city, and a must-see for your Central Europe adventure. History buffs will be fascinated by Berlin’s complex past. There are an abundance of walking tours you can take in order to truly understand the turmoil Berlin endured throughout the years.
Not too big into history. Perhaps you are a lover of nightlife instead? Then Berlin has some of the most intense clubs in all of Europe. Make sure you know how to get by the bouncers, haha! Some of the clubs are difficult to get into.
Furthermore, if you’re traveling solo, Berlin has several amazing hotels and hostels to choose from. My personal favorite is East Seven Hostel located in the trendy and beautiful Prenzlauerberg district.
Ultimately, Berlin has a ton to offer you and deserves a concentrated effort. Be sure to check it out!
2. Potsdam, Germany
Do you prefer smaller cities? Then hop on a train and explore Potsdam, which is only 40 minutes away from Berlin. Potsdam is UNESCO World Heritage Site and the capital of Brandenburg.
In particular, you must see the grand Sanssouci Palace where King Frederick the Great (king of Prussia) resided in the summer months. Potsdam also has many scenic parks which are cool places to relax on a warm summer’s day. Taking a Potsdam day trip from Berlin needs to top your Central Europe travel itinerary.
3. Dresden, Germany
Ready for something a little different? Tucked in eastern Germany is the scenic and often overlooked city of Dresden.
Like Berlin, Dresden has a depressing recent history. In February of 1945, Dresden was bombed and many of its buildings utterly decimated. More than 35,000 civilians perished in the bombings. Today everything has been intricately rebuilt. You’ll be surprised some of the buildings aren’t originals.
Finally, for a special treat, go to Grünes Gewölbe and let the collection of treasures bedazzle you! You won’t regret it! Just make sure to go to the treasury at the appropriate time on your ticket. Otherwise you might be denied entry.
4. Munich, Germany
Yet another big city for our Central Europe travel itinerary! Who can talk about Germany and forget Munich? Not me!
You can spend as little as two days in Munich and still develop a deep appreciation for the city. In particular, I loved the art museums and beer halls! Despite attracting tons of tourists, Hofbräuhaus am Platzl is legendary for buying gigantic liters of beer and sitting outside with new friends. I had a great time.
You also don’t want to miss the surfers showing off their mad skills in the English Garden. Needless to say, Munich has so much to offer and my recommendation is to stay awhile and enjoy it. Munich’s ideal location in Bavaria is a great place to base yourself. After all, Bavaria is what I immediately think of whenever the word “Germany” crosses my mind.
5. Fussen, Germany
We’re all familiar with those glossy travel photos of Neuschwanstein Castle, right? The epic white palace that looks as if it houses a dark and handsome prince? So venture out to Fussen and see this Disney inspired wonder in person! You won’t regret the trip!
Are castles not “your thing?” No worries! Fussen’s natural wonders, forests and mountains, will still capture your heart. Why not rent a bike and go exploring? You can also dip your toes into some crystal clear Alpine lakes.
6. Prague, Czechia (Czech Republic)
Stunning Prague, capital of Czechia, is a historically lush city that invites you to dig deeper than the tourist surface seen in vlogs and magazine. Bring a quality guide to truly discover this magical place.
My advice for Prague is waking up early in the morning, preferably with the sunrise. Sure, it’s painful to set an alarm, but Prague’s magic truly exists in the early hours. Prague is popular and therefore tourists pack the main squares and streets most of the year, especially in the summer.
However, if you force yourself out of bed while everyone’s still fast sleep, you can stroll along Charles Bridge with only the legendary statues for company. You can also take pictures of the Old Town Square without guides hassling you to join a pub crawl. Morning in Prague is where the 10th century magic awaits you.
7. Cesky Krumlov, Czechia (Czech Republic)
Is visiting Cesky Krumlov worth it? Absolutely! This picturesque town is so, so, so cute, and packed with great outdoor activities that are perfect for any Central European trip. For example, take a beer crawl rafting ride down the river and make random stops at other small Czech towns, some of them being practically unheard of in travel magazines.
And, of course, take a pleasant walk to the castle and savor the view. Um. Hello? Did I just land in the middle of Hyrule? Yes I did!
8. Krakow, Poland
Don’t forget Poland when creating your Central Europe travel itinerary. Krakow is the most popular city in Poland for tourists to visit and it’s so easy to see why when you step into Rynek Główny, or Main Square. Rynek Główny is definitely one of the largest medieval squares I’ve ever seen in Europe!
Furthermore you don’t want to miss Oskar’s Schindler Factory if you’re interested in World War II history. Finally Krakow has many day trips, such as the Wieliczka Salt Mine and notorious Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum.
If you have time, venture to Poland’s capital city Warsaw. Warsaw is one of the cheapest cities in Europe with plenty to offer solo travelers.
Don’t skip Poland, my friends.
9. Zakopane, Poland
Want to check out some mountainous nature? Away from the “traditional” backpacking route? Then you ought to head south to the mountain resort town of Zakopane.
In Poland’s prettiest vacation spot, you’ll find many outdoor activities for reasonable prices especially if you’re traveling here from the United States, Canada, UK, etc etc. Breathe in the fresh mountain air.
10. Budapest, Hungary
Personally, I loved solo travel in Budapest. It’s truly one of my favorite cities in the world, and I think everyone should visit here at least once in their lives. Yes, I love Budapest that much.
Where should I even begin? The food (mmm, paprika) is magnificent. So is the architecture. Like Fishermans Bastion? How do those fairy buildings, all overlooking the Danube River, even exist in real life? Let’s not even forget the history you learn in Budapest’s many excellent museums such as the House of Terror and Hospital in the Rock Nuclear Bunker Museum. And the best part of visiting Budapest? The thermal bathes, obviously! Dip into that lovely hot water and feel your muscles relaaaaax. Perfect after a long day of sightseeing.
So, yeah, you gotta visit Budapest or otherwise you’ll make me cry.
11. Zagreb, Croatia
Okay, I don’t know if you can really count Croatia as part of Central Europe, but you can tie the northern part of the county easily enough into your trip. So why not include it here? Honestly, I mostly love Zagreb for its awesome Museum of Broken Relationships. Sometimes I feel like the only person who doesn’t “get” relationships, and this hilarious and sad museum reminds me that I’m not alone at all. It’s definitely worth a visit.
Another one of Zagreb’s most popular attractions is St. Mark’s Church. I especially like the colorful tiled roof. Makes the medieval church pop in photographs, for sure!
12. Plitvice National Park, Croatia
Plitvice National Park is one of the most beautiful spots I have ever visited in my life. The lush emerald landscape and waterfalls make you feel as if you’ve transported into the pages of some imagery-packed fantasy novel. If your Central Europe travel itinerary takes you a bit further south, then please don’t skip Plitvice National Park, because there’s no other place quite like it.
Sadly you can’t swim in Plitvice National Park, which is understandable given the fragile ego system. Still worth your time, though!
13. Lake Bled, Slovenia
Are you ready for even more wonderful nature? Of course you are! Hikers, this spot is especially for you. Without a doubt, Lake Bled is a “must see” on your tour throughout Central Europe. Go beyond the classic photograph of Mary Pilgrimage Church on Lake Bled Island (even though they’re awesome), and return to nature’s warm embrace by taking hikes in the Julian Alps.
And Lake Bled is sentimental for me since I faced my fears and went paragliding over the mountains.
14. Ljubljana, Slovenia
I seriously think Ljubljana is the most adorable capital city in the history of the world. Personally, I had a special fondness for Dragon Bridge. Posing for pictures with the famous dragon statues was a lot of fun.
Additionally, take a walk to the Ljubljana Castle complex, which has stood on the hill over Ljubljana for over 900 years. Impressive amount of time, right? You can spend a lot of time here exploring the puppet museum, Chapel of Saint George, the Slovenian history exhibition, and much more! And, of course, don’t miss the views!
15. Grunau im Almtal, Austria
Time to venture off the beaten path. Welcome to Grunau aim Almtal, a piece of paradise in Austria. You come to this lovely valley to relax. No sights, no insane running around. Just hop on a bike and ride to some lakes, or go hiking through the mountains.
My favorite lake here was Almsee, roughly 11 kilometers south of the village Grunau. See scenic mountains without the crowds.
16. Salzburg, Austria
Are you a music lover? Are you a fan of Mozart or Julie Andrews’s classic film The Sound of Music? Then Salzburg is absolutely for you! If you come in the summer, you’ll see many musical freelancers performing in the parks, and if you come in winter, then the opera is in season and all you music fans need to book a show!
Salzburg is more than music, though. Scale the fortress to learn all about the city and see excellent views of the snow-capped mountains.
A word of advice. Book your accommodation ahead of time. Salzburg is a small city and very popular especially in the summer months.
17. Vienna, Austria
Without a doubt, I love Vienna and consider it one of the few cities where I’d actually live rather than just visit.
I highly recommend Vienna if you love museums and palaces. For example, Schönbrunn Palace, which was the summer residence for the ubiquitous Habsburg family, is one of the most elegant royal palaces I’ve ever seen along with Versailles. Meanwhile Belvedere Palace houses an incredible art museum that includes the largest collection of Gustav Klint paintings.
Vienna has a very high quality of life, which is apparent as you walk the streets and people watch. You’ll want to stay forever.
18. Bratislava, Slovakia
The final spot for your Central Europe travel itinerary: Bratislava! “Uh, where?” you might be thinking. Hear me out. I only spent an afternoon in Slovakia’s capital Bratislava, but I loved the city’s atmosphere. In particular, the symbolic statues throughout the Old Town made me smile, and each one has a story behind it. For example, Cumil (photographed above) is rumored to be looking under women’s skirts!
Bratislava also has a really lovely castle where you can walk and see a great view of the city. Worth checking out!
Have you ever visited Central Europe? What are your favorite spots? Share in the comments.
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