How to See Central Europe the Right Way: A Travel Guide

Travellers go back to Central Europe again and again, and it’s easy to see why this region is so popular. There’s history and culture everywhere you turn and although there are similarities, each town and city has a unique atmosphere you’ll remember long after your trip. Here’s our guide to seeing Central Europe the right way.

Which countries are in Central Europe?

First things first, let’s define what we mean by Central Europe. Central Europe is made up of the following countries:

  • Austria
  • Croatia
  • Czech Republic
  • Germany
  • Liechtenstein
  • Poland
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Switzerland

(Photo by Joss Woodhead on Unsplash)

 

When is the best time to go?

The weather is best between mid May and early June, when the temperatures are warmer and there’s often some sunshine, although rain is still a possibility. Mid June to August is also pleasant, although the crowds will be bigger because of school and university holidays.

Alternatively, you might be tempted by a winter break so you can pay a visit to all the Christmas markets. Wrap up snugly and be prepared for the freezing cold.

For a full rundown of the seasons in Central Europe, check out this comparison so you can decide when to go.

What do I need to bring?

Be ready to prepare all the usual travel documents like passports, tickets and visas (if needed — check this well in advance).

It’s also important to get travel insurance. According to 1Cover, 1 in 6 travellers made a claim in 2016, so while most trips are trouble-free, there’s always a risk things could go wrong. It’s always better (and cheaper) to pay for a policy than have to pay for expensive medical care.

(Photo by Frantisek Duris on Unsplash)

 

How to travel around

Buses are normally cheaper, with companies like Eurolines and Flixbus travelling directly from city to city at budget prices. If you plan to travel by train a lot, a rail pass will work out as better value for money than buying individual tickets.

You could even get budget flights from airlines like Ryanair and Easyjet if you don’t mind spending extra time in the airport. Just be sure to read the small print carefully so you’re not hit with any extra fees for luggage or lateness (Money Saving Expert has a useful guide to budget airline fees here).

No matter which mode of transport you choose, book early to get the best prices.

(Photo by BjörnGrochla on Unsplash)

 

The must-see sights

Not sure where to travel in Central Europe? We’ve got you covered. You’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to picking destinations, but these suggestions should give you a solid starting point.

For history:

Head to Berlin in Germany to view the Brandenburg Gate, which was renovated in the early 2000s after being damaged during the second world war. And don’t forget to try the famous currywurst: cut-up pork sausage with curry powder and ketchup.

BanskáŠtiavnica in Slovakia is also worth visiting — the UNESCO World Heritage Site sits in a caldera (a collapsed volcano) and you can walk in the 17th century mine or bathe in the reservoirs.

For active travellers:

Stop at Lake Bled in Slovenia, where you can enjoy activities like trekking and rafting, plus swimming (when it’s warm). The coastal activities continue in Gdańsk, Poland, which is situated on the Baltic coast.

For decadence:

Vienna in Austria is a must, if only for the beautiful arts and music venues. And St Vitus Cathedral in Prague is stunning, with a mix of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque styles, plus ornately decorated chapels, paintings and stained glass.

Vienna, Austria

For a countryside escape:

Croatia is covered in national parks and ancient beech forests. If you can’t get enough of fresh mountain air, Liechtenstein and Switzerland are the places for you, although remember only experienced climbers can take on the Swiss Matterhorn.

 

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