These are the 4 cities I'm going to visit. I've done a fair amount of research on each of them, but I'd really like to get some advice from others that have visited. The main thing I'm having trouble with is finding where I'd like to fly into and where I'd like to fly out of. Then I'd like to know the most efficient/cost effective way to travel from city to city. I've gone on several sites like Orbitz and Europeandestinations and tried several combinations....some that include air and others that don't. However, like I said before, I just want to hear it from someone who has already experienced it. Any advice on this trip would be much appreciated!
Unlike America, Europe is made up of many countries, each with specialist airlines, and travel hubs. You have picked four different countries with often no easy flight routes between them, so little competition on prices.
Probably train or coach will be your best way to get around. You can normally book such trips online.
I'd recommend the same as the previous member. Train is probably the best option. It's cheaper than flying, but still reasonably comfortable. Vienna and Budapest should be about 3 hours away by train. Vienna and Krakow about 8 hours, and I'm sure you can buy a sleeper coach on that train. The only bigger distance is Dubrovnik-Budapest (or Dubrovnik-Vienna). Sure flying is faster, but taking the train is cheaper and on top of that you get to know the countries better, because you get to see the beautiful scenery all around you.
Looks like you have an exciting trip ahead of you! I can comment on Budapest as I travelled there for work last summer for a few days. As my first day was foggy from flying in from Toronto ON, Canada, then to Munich, Germany and then finally off to Budapest, Hungary just to find myself with another 4 hour drive to where I was staying. Budapest is a beautiful city, filled with amazing architecture and interesting nooks and crannies for the city tourist. I found the people to be very friendly and english, at least in my experiences, is common to know as a hungarian. I also found it pretty affordable for the budget of a backpacker as there are a lot of little cafes, restaurants and bars throughout the city. The nightlife is great too! by the end of my second night I found myself hanging out with some people form the UK, New Zealand, US and Spain. There is one particular part I suggest you must see!
Lake Balaton. Im not sure if you have experienced the great lakes up hear in Canada, but the culture and life around the water is amazing! Lake Balaton is the exact same. It is the largest lake in Central Europe and it is surrounded with cottages to rent, nightlife, restaurants, yearly festivals and relaxing beaches. Here is the link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Balaton
Like any country, there are things to be cautious about. In the heart of Budapest there has been situations where one can find themselves in a bar, and a stunning younger lady may come sit down just for conversation...This is not what they are intending, and they most likely work for the bar. After having a few drinks with them, you may find yourself paying for their drinks and their time sitting with you...and it isn't cheap. This is common when they hear you speak and realize your a north american. Just a friendly reminder. beside that, Budapest is one of the safest cities in Europe. Have fun!!!
Thank you so much for the thorough responses! I just joined this site yesterday and I love it already!
I have just completed a trip around Europe going to three of your destinations. I travelled by train as it is the easiest way to get around, you see a lot more, more environmentally friendly, less stress (just turn up and get on the train) and clean modern trains.
Dubrovnik is not connected to the railway system but there are lots of buses heading up the coast towards Split.
Split to Vienna can be done in a long day (change in Zagreb). Book a few of days ahead in Split, cost 188 kunas / 25 euro.
Vienna to Krakow is about 7 hours with a change in Katowice. It cost me 42 euro. Book ahead on oebb.at to get the best prices.
For great train information go to Seat 61. This site has all sorts of information about travelling around Europe (and the world) on trains, how to buy tickets, prices etc.
Also DBahn (German railways) is very useful for timetables and for tickets that encompass Germany. If you book far enough ahead you can get some very good deals (just like the airlines).
Cheapest way to travel between Krakow, Budapest, Vienna is by bus: orangeways.com (Krakow-Budapest, Budapest-Vienna, Prague-Budapest) or studentagency.com (Krakow-Prague, Prague-Vienna).
Both are very comfortable couches with regular service. You can buy tickets online or at their offices (that are at the bus stations).
Eurolines may have good deals too, however their buses are not that nice, and often more expensive.
The route between Krakow and Budapest is very scenic.
From Vienna/Budapest to Dubrovnic, your best choice will be by train.