prague + budapest: oct/nov/dec?
August 28, 2014 12:16 PM   Subscribe

I'm planning a trip to Prague and Budapest in the fourth quarter of this year, and would love to hear your suggestions on which time would be best!

I'm mainly trying to choose between (1) early Oct, (2) late Oct and (3)early Dec, though am open to November if that happens to make more sense.
The total trip would likely be 8-9 days, and I may squeeze in another city that isn't Vienna -- only because I've been there before -- in the middle. Haven't decided which city yet but I've heard good things about Brno, suggestions for which city would be welcome too though this isn't be the main question :) I'm thinking of starting in Prague and finishing in Budapest.

On the one hand, I initially thought of going in early December mainly because Christmas markets will be open in both cities. I really love their atmosphere, and all the snacks and mulled wine and handicrafts. I can deal with ice and snow.
On the other hand, I tend to find winter's overcast grey skies and early nightfall rather depressing (in the S.A.D. kind of way), so I thought it might be better to go in October instead if I'm spending more than a week there. I'm not sure if late October will still provide decent amounts of sunlight though.

If it helps to sway things either way, I'm into:
- trying as many local food specialties as humanly possible, especially if there are some awesome dishes that can only be found at certain times of the year;
- walking around the old quarters of cities and just soaking in the atmosphere (perhaps while snacking along the way, because hurray food!) and how people live;
- seeing and experiencing things that are fairly unique to, or defining of, the country or city. This one's a bit vague, I know.

Museums and performances and galleries aren't a top priority, not that interested in standard tourist attractions either.

I'll be a solo Asian girl on a budget that's one or two rungs above backpacker. Probably hostels all the way. This will be my first time in central/eastern Europe, and I don't speak the languages there. I've generally had no issues in western Europe, though I was with friends then. I know I'll have to be extra careful about avoiding potentially dangerous places, particularly after dark.

Thanks so much for your help!
posted by swimmingly to Travel & Transportation (4 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Early October. Still usually nice, weather-wise (I lived in Prague, and have been to Budapest many times), and you won't be sneezing black from all the coal furnaces (seriously). Longer daylight hours for walking around is a better thing than a few Christmas markets, in my opinion. Brno and Bratislava are both nice but I might skip both and go to Cesky Krumlov instead, especially if you like Egon Schiele's art.
posted by at 2:39 PM on August 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I went in about the 2nd week of October 2 years ago, and it was glorious. Certainly chilly at times, I did have to bring a medium winter coat, scarf and hat, but the autumn colors in the countryside were lovely and I found it to be a wonderful time to visit. We had relatively sunny weather.

I second bitter-girl, I went to Bratislava and it was nowhere near as pretty as Cesky Krumlov. That place is like a fairytale.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 7:11 PM on August 28, 2014

Best answer: I lived in Hungary a long time ago, and went back to Budapest last October. It was a perfect time to go -- weather was perfect (usually just a sweater, though sometimes a very light coat over it), you're just hitting the very tail end of tourist season, so everything is still open but the crowds are lighter. Also, you should definitely check out the Palinka and Sausage Festival (if you're a meat-eater), which I missed but sounds fantastic. I'd recommend looking at AirBnB and a few other things; I found an amazing apartment in a beautiful part of town (across the street from the National Museum, just a block or two from the river) for a really reasonable rate.
posted by wandering steve at 8:42 PM on August 28, 2014

Best answer: Yes, go in the early October for the weather, should still be quite sunny if you are lucky. Since your objective is walking, that's no brainer.

However, last few years (if memory serves) winters have been quite mild in the pre-Christmas period, in case you decide to go in December.

Don't go to Brno. It's okay and pleasant to walk through, but absolutely nothing exceptional. Just spend one more day in Prague or google some UNESCO heritage sites in the area if you want to see something outside of the city.
Same for Bratislava.
posted by desultory_banyan at 3:44 AM on August 29, 2014

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