Central European Itinerary: Part 1

For a little over 9 months, my husband and I had been planning our Central Europe Trip…and boy did it live up to all our hype! From pork knuckle, to beer gardens to castles galore. We saw it all…plus a celebrity sighting which won’t disappoint (keep reading to find out who we met!). So if you are planning a trip to Germany, Austria, Czech Republic and/or Hungary (or you’re just daydreaming about it!), keep reading to learn our tips and tricks for a seamless Central European tour!

Copyright Longing to Travel - Central Europe Itinerary Map


June 18 – July 2 (15 days)
4 Buses, 4 Trains, 2 Boats, 2 Shuttles
4 AirBnBs, 1 Hotel
1,000+ Photos


Length of Stay: 3 days / If I could Do It Again: 3 days

Munich was the first official stop of our 2 week adventure where we reunited with my husband’s family after nearly a year apart. They were on a Rick Steve’s tour and we kind of crashed the party in Munich for a few days with them. Although our stay was too short, we feel that we have a good idea of what Bavaria has to offer. Some highlights of our trip included:

Beer Halls & Beer Gardens – How can we talk about Munich without mentioning beer. We spent practically every night in a beer hall/garden, either to soak in the ambiance or to watch a little Euro Cup. We found many locals in the beer gardens and also ate our fair share of pork knuckle during our few days in Munich! It was delicious, but man, was it filling! The most famous beer hall is called Hofbrauhaus which you should definitely check out. We recommend not eating there because the food isn’t the best, but definitely head over for some beer and music and just enjoy. A few of the places we visited were: MaxE [beer garden] at Adalbertstraße 33, Hofbrauhaus (beer hall) at Hofbräuhaus am Platzl 9, and the beer garden at Chinesischer Turm in the English Garden (Englischer Garten 3). And just because we love all things Turkish, head to Cafe Altschwabing at Maxvorstadt, Schellingstraße 56 for a nice Turkish breakfast or coffee!

HISTORICAL FACT: Some famous patrons of the Hofbrauhaus include Mozart, Vladimir Lenin, and even Adolf Hitler (In 1919, the Munich Communist government set up headquarters in the beer hall, and in February 1920 Hitler and the National Socialists held their first meeting in the Festsaal, the Festival Room, on the third floor).

Asam’s Church – This baroque church was built in the 1700s and sits smack dab in the middle of a bustling shopping street. It would be easy to miss if it weren’t for the amazingly ornate exterior of the church. While often overlooked, I say it’s well worth the free visit, just open the door and take a look around.

Urban Surfing – I didn’t know about this before arriving, but you can surf (yes, on the water, with waves an all) in the city center. If you head to Eisbachwelle (Prinzregentenstraße), near the Nationalmuseum/Haus d.Kunst, you are sure to find young adrenaline junkies surfing the waves of this man-made river. It’s really cool, so don’t miss it.


Actual: 2 days (½ day in the city, 1 day trip out of the city) / If I could Do It Again: 2 full days in the city

Salzburg was the city I was least excited to visit, but it turned out to be a pleasant surprise. While I was aware of it’s most famous resident, Mozart and, of course, it’s connection to The Sound of Music, we didn’t really get the musical experience during our extremely short stay. We mostly wandered around during our first day in the city, visiting Fortress Hohensalzburg, which had excellent views. We suggest catching a ride up, but walking down (the walk down isn’t so tough, I promise). On our way down, we wandered through Petersfriedhof, a cemetery with  beautiful headstones and gardens. We paid the extra few euros to see the catacombs which were very underwhelming. It was interesting that the catacombs were built into the mountain side, but other than that, it was just like walking into an empty cave.

After the catacombs, we visited one more church (Stiftskirche Sankt Peter Salzburg) before heading home for a quick rest. Then, off to a Die Weisse (beer garden) on Rupertgasse 10 for dinner and Euro Cup. The atmosphere was awesome, but we weren’t super impressed with the burgers. Maybe it was just bad luck. But it’s worth a visit for a nice outdoor beer garden experience.


Actual: ½ day / If I could Do It Again: ½ day (unless you want to do more hiking, then maybe 1-2 full days)

We took a bus from Salzburg to neighboring Berteschgaden (45-60min bus ride) so my husband, the history buff, could visit The Eagle’s Nest (it belonged to Adolf Hitler). Little did I know that it would be one of my favorite parts of the trip. A few days before the tour, we called up Eagle’s Nest Historical Tours to reserve our space on the tour. Upon arrival to Berteschgaden, we headed straight for the local grocery store (just behind the information office) to buy some bread, meat and cheese to make some sandwiches for lunch. Then we started our tour and had an incredible 4 hour journey back in time.

Tour Logistics (from their website w/ commentary from me!):

  • Tour bus for 40 minutes (continuous narration)
  • Short walk to Documentation Center
  • Short tour in Documentation Center
  • Bunker tour (short walk through the tunnels)
  • Climb up 2 flights of steps, walk across parking lot and down 1 flight of steps to Eagle’s Nest bus departure point
  • Bus trip to top (15 minutes commentary) ← sit on right side of bus on the way up to eagle’s nest
  • Walk through tunnel (406 ft / 124m) for elevator ride into the building
  • Tour of building (about 20 steps) (30 minute commentary)
  • Free time at Eagle’s Nest (about 40 minutes) ← eat before the tour or wait until the end (4hrs later at Eagle’s Nest) where there is a restaurant. If you want to make the most of your hour at the Eagle’s Nest, don’t spend it eating. Spend it on the cliffs and walking down to the bus pick-up
  • Return ride on mountain bus (15 minutes)
  • Climb 1 flight of steps to our private coach for return to visitors center (15 minute commentary) ← sit on the left side of the bus on the way down for incredible views (same as the ones you’d see on the way up)

This tour was very efficient, the guide knowledgeable and the transportation made it the best option for a half-day visit. Well worth the 40 euros!


Actual: half day / If I could Do It Again: 1 full day

After our 2 days sleeping in Salzburg, we loaded our things onto a bus headed for Bad Ischl where we took a few hours to visit Kaiservilla.

Insider tip: it on left side of bus from Salzburg to Bad Ischl.

Kaiservilla was the summer residence of Emperor Franz Joseph I and Empress Elisabeth of Austria, known as Sisi. The reason we visited here is because on 28 July 1914, Franz Josef signed the declaration of war on Serbia that basically started WWI! (Can you guess who found this spot for us to visit?).

After picking up our bags from the lockers in the station, we boarded a train headed to the place I was most excited to visit on this trip: Hallstatt.

Insider Tip: sit on the right side of the train from Bad Ischl to Hallstatt.

When we arrived, we walked down a little path from the train tracks to a little ferry which carried us across Hallstätter See (Lake Hallstatt). Guys, it was so magical to see this super cute little lake village. It was about 10,000 degrees outside, but that didn’t spoil the magic…

…until about 5 minutes later when we were dying of heat. Instead of visiting the typical tourist spots (the Salt Mines and super cool church), we opted to spend our afternoon out of the sun and on the lake. We rented a boat for a few hours and just enjoyed the views.

Boating on Hallstätter See (Hallstatt, Austria)
Boating on Hallstätter See (Hallstatt, Austria)

We also took the Funicular up to the UNESCO World Heritage Skywalk to check it out from above.

UNESCO World Heritage Skywalk (Hallstatt, Austria)
UNESCO World Heritage Skywalk (Hallstatt, Austria)

I’ll admit, it was way too hot to truly enjoy this little lake village, but I’d recommend coming for a day and staying after 6pm. That was the time we were leaving and it was nearly a ghost town by then (most tourists come for a day trip and don’t spend the night, although you could if you wanted).

Soaked in sweat, we picked up our luggage from the Tourism Office (3 euros per bag) and met up with our CK Shuttle driver who drove us in a van from Hallstatt to our next destination: Cesky Krumlov.

Insider’s Tip: We used this shuttle service twice during this trip and enjoyed both experiences. We chose to take the shuttle because it was almost twice as fast as taking the train for about the same price. We also got a free bottle of water from each driver who picked us up, which was a nice touch. The vans were super clean, new and the rides were very smooth.

Český Krumlov

Actual: 1 full day (2 nights) / If I could Do It Again: 2-3 days

Český Krumlov. Where do I even begin. I’d say this little city stole the show as the unexpected darling of our entire itinerary. In addition to all the obvious things one could do (visit the castle, walk the city streets and enjoy the architecture, etc.), our AirBnB host gave us the great idea of renting a canoe and touring the city and surrounding area by river! It was by far one of the coolest things I’ve done. The company we chose was Maleček rafting & canoe (it was right down the street from where we were staying). They drove us a little bit out of the city and dropped us off with a canoe, oars, life jackets, a dry bag, and a map! Then, we hit the rapids (not really, it was very peaceful, but WARNING: You will get wet, especially when passing through the locks!). It was really worth it and if you do nothing else in Český Krumlov, do this!

We also got a tour of the castle, which was alright. A much better way to spend a few bucks is to visit the castle tower for breathtaking views of the city, the river and the canoers passing through! Another highlight was eating at Krčma on Šatlavská street and Libon on Parkán 105. The first place was a meat-lover’s paradise on the cheap. The second is a vegetarian option which was good with great city views, but a bit overpriced. I’d say grab a drink and an appetizer there just to enjoy the river views and then head somewhere else to eat.

One interesting observation was seeing mostly local and regional tourists from the Czech Republic and Hungary. It felt a bit off the beaten path, but this city was made four tourism, so you have everything you need (including English speakers!).

Overall, this city was very affordable, the people friendly and the scenery incredible. I’ll definitely be back!

Melk / Krems

Actual: hours in Melk, dinner and sleeping in Krems / If I could Do It Again: 1 day in Melk, 1 day in Krems

To get from Český Krumlov to the second part of our 2-week vacation (Vienna) we had one extra day to make some magic happen. And that we did! We began the last day of travels by shuttle from Český Krumlov to Melk (same shuttle company as from Hallstatt to Cesky Krumlov) where we hiked up the hill to see the famous Melk Abbey. Due to time constraints we didn’t take the Abbey tour, but we roamed around the grounds for a bit before heading to one of my bucket list items: a cruise on the Danube.

Ferry from Melk to Krems – With all our luggage in hand, we boarded a ferry which took us from Melk to Krems. This was a fun mode of transportation as we soaked up some sun on the upper deck, listened to the guided tour and slowly made our way down the Danubue river. Some important things to know about this ferry:

  • It’s cash only on the boat, so either bring your own food and beverages, or bring cash to buy something.
  • Be aware that the tourists tend to flock to the railings to take pictures of each castle, vinyard or cute town the boat passes…so choose your seating wisely. There are ample photo ops, so don’t worry too much about this, but just be warned that you may be surrounded by crowds if you sit near the railings.
  • There are two companies which take people by boat from Melk to Krems: DDSG Blue Danube Schiffahrt GmbH and Brandner Schiffahrt. Both are the same price and take the same route. We took the Brandner cruise since the other one was fully booked. My husband managed to score a student discount (without showing his student ID) and we paid with credit card upon arrival. It is strongly advised to book in advance either by calling or online via their websites.

Upon arrival in Krems, we found a taxi (with a lot of difficulty) and headed to our hotel. Desperate for for food, we did what anyone would do: head to a beer garden (Restaurant Brauhof-Krems,  Utzstraße 1) to enjoy some food, cold beverages and of course, more Euro Cup!

Unlike Cesky Krumlov where the city was built for overnight tourists, Krems seemed to be more of a day-trip destination. There weren’t many hotels or pensions around town and although we entered the city center around 6pm on a Saturday, all the shops were closed and there were hardly any people in the streets.

After a good night’s rest, we woke up the next morning and began our journey to Vienna, where we begin Part 2 of our Central European Tour.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of our Central European Tour (Vienna & Budapest)…as well as the big reveal of our celebrity sighting!

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