Central Europe, the heart of Europe includes Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Liechtenstein, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Switzerland. Some of the Central European countries are off and on counted among Western Europe, Southern Europe, and Eastern Europe.
Central Europe is perfect for culture, history, and nature-loving families. The region has so much to offer regardless of the season you visit.
Our Central Europe itinerary includes Europe’s 3 epic cities – Prague, Vienna, and Budapest along with 1 lesser-known yet awesome city – Bratislava. All the cities are brimming with family-friendly attractions.
The itinerary starts with Prague, a city settled along the Vltava River is best known for its stunning architecture and beer. It then moves to Vienna, loved for its imperial architecture, coffee houses, and wine taverns.
Next, it takes you to Bratislava, a city steadily gaining attention (long due) among travelers. The itinerary ends with one of my favorite cities in Europe, Budapest, a stunning city along the Danube River enchants travelers for its bridges, parliament building, and thermal baths.
A side trip to the quaint and utterly scenic Lake Balaton, the Hungarian Sea is a great addition to the itinerary.
Prague: 2 Days Vienna: 3 Days Bratislava: 1 Day Budapest: 3 Days
This itinerary fits family travelers as well as couple travelers who love to explore everything the big cities have to offer – history, art, culture, architecture and beyond. I’d recommend renting a car to discover more in less time effortlessly.
- Day 1: Arrive in Prague
- Day 2: Explore Prague
- Day 3: Drive from Prague to Vienna; Explore Brno on the way
- Day 4: Explore Vienna
- Day 5: Explore Vienna
- Day 6: Drive from Vienna to Bratislava; Explore Bratislava
- Day 7: Drive from Bratislava to Budapest; Explore Budapest
- Day 8: Explore Budapest
- Day 9: Day Trip to Lake Balaton
- Day 10: Fly Out from Budapest
Day 1: Arrive in Prague
Depending upon the flight you choose, your arrival time in Prague will vary. You can plan your day accordingly. We’d recommend checking into your hotel or apartment, relax and then maybe take a stroll around the area nearby to get the vibe of the city.
Prague Old Town Square is a good place to start your Prague exploration.
Walk the Prague Old Town (Staré Mesto) taking a sneak-peek into the famous attractions. Climb the Old Town Hall Tower to drink in the views of Prague all lit up.
The most famous aspect of the tower is the Prague Astronomical Clock (Prague Orloj). As the oldest astronomical clock in the world strikes the hour (9 am – 11 pm), 12 apostles appear.
End your day with a beautiful evening walk across the historic Charles Bridge.
Have dinner at V Zatisi, a 5-minute walk from the Charles Bridge. Try their Indian infused menu. Thank me later.
We recommend High Heaven Apartments. Located less than 350 m from Prague Astronomical Clock and about a 4-minute walk from Old Town Square, most of the major attractions in Prague are within walking distance from here. It’s rated highly by family travelers.
Day 2: Explore Prague
As they say – Army marches on its stomach so before you start exploring, have a scrumptious breakfast. We recommend Café Savoy, a cafe right in the heart of the city is famous among locals as well as travelers. Try their Savoy Breakfast.
It’s time to climb the narrow staircase of the Old Town Bridge Tower to drink in the mesmerizing views over the Prague Old Town and the Vltava River.
The best places to enjoy the best views over Prague are Old Town Hall Tower, the Old Town Bridge Tower, the Lesser Town Bridge Tower, Letná Park, Prague Castle, Town Belfy by St. Nicholas Church, and the Powder Tower.
Head to Jewish Quarter (Josefov). The quarter houses 6 synagogues, the Jewish Ceremonial Hall, and the Old Jewish Cemetery. All the monuments (except the Old-New Synagogue) together form the Jewish Museum in Prague. You can book a Jewish Quarter Tour (admission ticket included) to see all the museum monuments and know the history of the Jewish community in Prague.
Cross the Charles Bridge to reach Prague Castle complex, one of the largest complexes in the world. We did a mistake of not buying the tickets in advance and had to wait too long to get the tickets. With GetYourGuide you can get your tickets well in advance and skip the long lines. Buy your Prague Castle Skip-the-line tickets here.
The highlights of Prague Castle complex are St. Vitus Cathedral, the Old Royal Palace, St. Geroge’s Basilica, and the Golden Lane.
If you’re keen for your kids to know the overwhelming amount of history and art attached to the castle, book this small-group tour with a local guide that includes the admission ticket as well.
Have lunch with a view at Terasa U Zlate studne. A bit expensive, but worth every penny. In fact, a bargain for a Michelin restaurant.
Visit the Lennon Wall or John Lennon Wall (Lennonova Zed), known for its thought-provoking graffiti is a great photo spot in Prague.
There are many amazing photo spots in Prague you can head to for some stunning shots.
Once you’ve your stock of Instagram-worthy pictures, walk across the Charles Bridge to the Museum of Senses, a must-visit museum in Prague with kids. Buy your Prague Museum of Senses Skip-the-line ticket here to save time and hassle. Time’s an important factor when you’ve just a day or two to explore the place. Isn’t it?
The Prague City Pass is a very good product especially if you only have a few days in the city and want to dedicate it all to Museums and Attractions. It’s definitely worth it!
You can check Havel’s Market (Havelské tržiště) to buy souvenirs.
Wenceslas Square and Petrin Hill are the other two must-see attractions in Prague if you can manage to squeeze in these into your two days in Prague.
End the day with some delicious Czech food in dinner at Restaurace Tiskarna. Though limited, they’ve some great options for vegetarians and vegans.
We spent a perfect weekend in Prague without rushing around attractions. So, I guess it’s enough time to see the best of Prague.
Day 3: Drive from Prague to Vienna | Explore Brno on the way
It’s time to say goodbye to Prague as Vienna is waiting to welcome you. A little less than 4 hours’ drive from Prague will take you to Vienna. Start early to make the most of your time.
There are some amazing things to do in Vienna with a family that your kids wouldn’t want to leave.
There are two routes you can follow:
If you take route 1, you can stop by and explore the charming Brno, the second-largest city of Czech Republic fondly known as the Hidden Heart of Europe. Check out the Náměstí Svobody, Veveří Castle, and Cathedral of St Peter and Paul. Have a cup of coffee and traditional větrník at Cafe Momenta.
Route 2 allows you to discover the little gem in Bohemia, Český Krumlov. It’s a delight to walk the streets of this stunningly beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visit Český Krumlov Castle for the best views over the town.
I know, you’d crave for a good cup of coffee after you’re done walking and photographing the town. Head to Cafe Hradek for they brew the best coffee in the town. Hey, couple your cup of coffee with their homemade ginger cake and you’re sorted.
You’ll be in Vienna by late afternoon most likely if you leave Brno or Český Krumlov on time.
Check-in at your hotel in Vienna. We recommend Singerstrasse 21/25 Apartments, a family-friendly apartment conveniently located in the heart of town about 300 m from Stephansplatz Underground Station.
After freshening up, stroll the Stephansplatz, the beautiful center of Vienna that’s always live with activity no matter what time fo the day.
Admire one of the tallest cathedrals in the world, St. Stephen’s and a beautiful post-modern building, Haas-Haus.
Climb the South Tower of St. Stephen’s Cathedral (Stephansdom) for the mind-boggling views over Vienna. It’s open from 9 am to 5:30 pm and costs 6 Euros per adult and 2.50 Euros per child aged 6 to 14 years.
Make your way to Graben, one of the most famous streets in Vienna. Choose a cafe and spend some time relaxing or maybe people watching. We recommend Demel located in Kohlmarkt, a famous confectionery in Vienna since 1856. It’s known for its chocolates and Sachertorte.
Have dinner at Gasthaus Poschl, a great place to dine in Vienna just about a few minutes away from St. Stephen’s Cathedral.
Day 4: Explore Vienna
Take a tour of Hofburg Palace, the former imperial palace of the Habsburg or take your kids to the Spanish Riding School Morning Excercise.
Take a U-Bahn to Schönbrunn Palace. You can choose to visit Schönbrunn Zoo or attend the Viennese Strudel Show with Tasting at Schönbrunn Palace or Children’s Museum Schönbrunn Palace with kids.
You’d love to stroll the Mariahilfer Strasse, Vienna’s longest shopping street. You might want to take your kids to Technisches Museum Wien while you’re there.
Come back to the city center (Innere Stadt). Head straight to The Cafe Tree, one of the loveliest cafes in Vienna. The cafe is super child-friendly and serves the best coffee and cakes in Vienna. Believe you me, you’ll come back to this blog and thank us for this recommendation 🙂
It’s time to head to Prater, one of the oldest amusement parks in the world. Let kids have fun exploring the grounds. Don’t forget to ride the world’s first-ever Ferris wheel, Wiener Riesenrad.
End your day with a rolling dinner at ROLLERCOASTERRestaurant, a great experience for kids.
Day 5: Explore Vienna
Dedicate this day to MuseumsQuartier Wien, an art and creativity hub in Vienna. There are numerous architectural splendors and famous museums here.
Stroll the MQ Main Courtyard and visit one of the many museums – Leopold Museum, MUMOK, Kunsthalle Wien, and Museum of Natural History.
We spend an entire day at MQ but you can choose to visit Belevedere Palace and Museum to see Gustav Klimt’s famous work ‘The Kiss’.
And yes, you can’t leave Vienna before you relish the famous Sachertorte at Cafe Sacher Wien.
Day 6: Drive from Vienna to Bratislava | Explore Bratislava
In just about 50 minutes from Vienna, the historical capital city of Slovakia, Bratislava is a hidden gem. You can’t do without adding Bratislava to your Austria itinerary.
The drive is short yet breathtaking with oodles of windmills on either side of the road.
Bratislava is small enough to be explored on foot. The old town is fun to walk around with several interesting statues.
Take a fun city tour in Prešporáčik Oldtimer and discover almost all the major attractions like Bratislava Castle, St. Martin’s Cathedral, Old Town Hall, Primate’s Palace, Michael’s Gate, Blue Church, Slavin, and UFO.
Need tips to plan your trip to Bratislava? We’ve got you covered! Here’s everything you need to know before traveling to Bratislava, Slovakia.
Have an early dinner at Bratislava Flagship Restaurant, one of Europe’s largest restaurants is, in fact, an icon of Bratislava.
We recommend LOFT Hotel Bratislava located right in the heart of Bratislava Old Town.
Day 7: Drive from Bratislava to Budapest | Explore Budapest
Start your day early to reach Budapest on time. You’d want to buy more time to explore the more of the vibrant capital of Hungary. The list of best things to do in Budapest is real long.
It’s about 2 hours journey from Bratislava to Budapest via M1. You can stop by at the lovely compact old town of Esztergom on the way.
Stroll the beautiful streets of the town and have breakfast at Isler Bakery, Bistro, and Kitchen before you start your drive to your final destination.
You’ll most likely reach Budapest by late afternoon. You can choose to check-in and relax at your hotel and then start the sightseeing.
We recommend A Golden Star Modern Luxury Apartments Budapest for it’s super family-friendly and is located in the city center with all the major attractions nearby. You can check it out on TripAdvisor and Booking.com.
Walk across the iconic Chain Bridge and admire the beautiful Budapest all lit up. A quintessential and the most beautiful introduction to Budapest is the Danube River Sunset cruise. We booked it here on GetYourGuide. This one-hour cruise comes cheap and is the best way to admire Budapest.
There are other cruise options like the one that includes a candle-lit dinner or the one that includes a dinner with live music on board.
Day 8: Explore Budapest
Did you know Budapest is actually a blend of two cities – Buda (hilly side) and Pest (flat side)? Both sides are connected by the Chain Bridge.
Start your exploration with the Buda side. Take a Castle Shuttle Budapest to reach the Castle Hill. Stroll the cobbled streets of Castle Hill’s Old Town. The most popular sights of Buda include Fisherman’s Bastion, Matthias Church, and Buda Castle.
The hilly Buda gives you a chance to drink in the beautiful views over Budapest and its iconic sights. You can hike the Gellért Hill to get some of the best views over the city.
It’s really helpful to take a Hop-on-Hop-off bus tour to discover the city when you’re short on time. It not only saves time but saves a hassle of public transportation and you can explore more in less time.
Walk across the Chain Bridge to reach the Pest Side. The classic attractions here include Shoes on the Danube Bank, Hungarian Parliament, Andrássy Avenue, St Stephen’s Basilica, and Jewish Quarter.
You can’t really say you’ve visited Budapest without indulging in the authentic thermal spa. Széchenyi Bath is the most popular thermal baths in Budapest. Thus, it becomes super important to book tickets online.
We booked skip the line full-day entrance pass for Szechenyi Baths and that was the wisest thing we did for our trip to Budapest as the ticket lines were super long!
You can also consider going to Gellért Spa, the Art Nouveau Bath which is the second most famous thermal bath after Széchenyi Thermal Bath.
Taste the traditional Hungarian Chimeny Cake at Cafe Molnár’s Kütrőskalács before you take a night bus tour with Hop-on-Hop-off.
End your day with dinner at Karaván.
Day 9: Day Trip to Lake Balaton from Budapest
You’ve two options today. You can choose to see more of Budapest or take a day trip to quaint and peaceful Lake Balaton, Hungary’s second most visited destination after Budapest. This is a perfect day trip from Budapest in summer.
Know as Hungarian Sea, the 50 miles long lake sprinkled with resort towns, villages, and vineyards; Lake Balaton is Central Europe’s largest freshwater lake and beautiful too.
You can take a Lake Balaton Tour from Budapest. It includes lunch, Lake Balaton cruise, a visit to Balatonfured, and Tihany.
It’s a breathtaking road trip where you can stop by at innumerable towns, vineyards, and beaches on the way. We loved the Lake Cave in Tapolca.
Day 10: Shopping in Budapest | Fly Back Home
Plan your last day in Budapest or rather Central Europe however you want to. Another attraction? A visit to your favorite cafe or restaurant in the town? Shopping?
We use our last day for last-minute souvenir shopping before we catch our flight back home. We loved strolling the Váci Street, one of the famous pedestrian streets in central Budapest. It’s lined with lovely cafes and shops that make it a perfect place to shop for souvenirs.
Whatever you do, plan to reach the airport on time as you’ve to drop your rental car before boarding the flight.
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