By Riding the Rails in Poland, Hungary & Beyond
Europe is known for being one of the best destinations to travel by rail, namely because the countries are so close together and the trains have a reputation for being high speed, comfortable, clean and safe. The European East Pass provides travelers with such an experience, with access to these neighboring countries: Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria and Hungary.
The European East Pass is valid for 5 to 10 flexible days of travel within 1 month in first or standard class. What would you do with up to 10 rail days to visit these Eastern European countries rich in culture? Here are some suggestions to get you started…
In Poland we suggest you visit Warsaw and stroll through its pristine Old Town and Royal Castle by day and upbeat bar and music scene by night. Move on to Krakow, a city that draws visitors thanks to its spectacular Gothic and Renaissance architecture, especially Wawel Castle and Rynek Główny, Europe’s largest medieval market square. And a stop in Zakopane, a fashionable town nestled in the foothills of the Tatras mountains, is a must, with great opportunities to hike and ski.
In Slovakia we suggest you visit Bratislava, a city that has old-town charm, sophisticated restaurants, traditional pubs, good music ranging from jazz to opera, and small shops and cafes lining the Danube River. The intimate old town, overlooked by the castle, is studded with mediaeval churches and Baroque palaces and at its centre is the beautiful Old Town Square.
The edge of the city is home to hillsides with vineyards that have been around for centuries, and nearby towns are great for wine tastings. Bratislava holds many annual cultural events, where the Bratislava Music Festival in September and the Bratislava Jazz Days in October are among the best.
In Czech Republic we suggest you visit Prague, popular for strolling along the cobblestone streets of the old town, observing the fantastic architecture of the buildings, the churches and the magnificent Prague Castle. The Czech capital’s city centre displays a stunning mix of architectural overachievement, from Gothic, Renaissance and baroque to neoclassical, art nouveau and cubist. Visitors will also enjoy the riverside parks, lively bars and beer gardens, music clubs, museums and art galleries. Next make your way to Brno, for a more laid back Czech experience where parks and café culture make for an almost Parisian ambience. In the evening be sure to sample a good vintage from the Moravian wine country.
In Austria we suggest you visit the capital, Vienna, where you can explore its numerous districts, from the 1st district where you’ll find medieval Vienna with its old houses, narrow cobbled streets and romantic squares, to the city’s 2nd district, separated from the center by the Danube Canal, where you’ll find beautiful parks to relax. Top attractions include the imperial Hofburg Palace, the Danube Tower for a bird’s eye view, Alpine Garden on the grounds of Belvedere Castle and much more! Now venture to the East to Salzburg, known for being a great classical music and art destination, it has a number of art galleries and annual music festivals to honour Mozart. Another attraction is one of Europe’s largest castles, the 11th-century Hohensalzburg Fortress offers unbeatable views of the northern city and Alpine peaks to the south.
In Hungary we suggest you visit Budapest, with views of the romantic Danube River, a castle district and outstanding hotels, nightclubs and shopping. Here’s to ending a days’ travels with a wine tasting in Buda Castle. To the West, visit the famous Balaton Lake cities such as Siofok. Many Europeans now visit here due to its clean beaches, good climate and fabulous restaurants. To the East, visit cities such as Debrecen, Hungary’s 2nd largest city. Visit the Hortobagy National Park, the Aquaticum Medicinal and Thermal Baths or even the Debrechen zoo. Debrecen is also known for its famous soccer club as well as the many sporting events that it hosts.