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I am now already one-third through my trip around Europe – it’s going by so fast!  So far, I have visited Berlin, Prague and Budapest. My next stop is Bratislava, then I will move on to Vienna, Salzburg and then 5 great cities of Italy.   Here is my list of must-visits so far:

Berlin Dom and TV Tower

Berlin Dom and TV Tower

Berlin
Berlin is a cosmopolitan city, has transformed itself since the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989. I would recommend spending at least 5 days in Berlin, if it’s possible with your itinerary, to really get to know the city and explore.

Here are my top 3 attractions:


1) Museum Island
As the name suggests, this is an island on the river Spree with Museums which are now a UNESCO Heritage site. There is not just 1 museum, but 5. A day ticket to cover all of the museums costs 19 euros, one ticket to just one museum is 10 euros, so it is great deal. You just need a whole day to see them all.
2) Brewer’s Berlin Walking Tour
This was one of the most interesting tours during the whole of my stay in Berlin.. There are two types of tour, the “free Berlin tour” which is every day at 1pm and lasts around 3.5 to 4 hours. They also do offer a Brewer’s Best of Berlin, which takes place every day at 10:30 at a cost of 15 euros. The tour guides are very well informed and can answer any of your questions.
3) The Berlin Wall
The 148km wall that divided a city from 1961 until 1989 is now a popular destination for tourists. There are three areas of the wall that you must visit, Checkpoint Charlie, the wall by the Topograpfie des Terrors and the East Berlin Gallery. You will be able to visit all three on the Berlin tour and the tour guide will give you a brief history lesson of each one including some of the great escape stories where some people escaped to the west.

East side Gallery

East side Gallery

Prague
Berlin to Prague can be reached via train from the Central Berlin station to Prague Hlavni Nadraz in 5 hours. I took one of the walking tours around Prague and as in Berlin, it was very informative. There are many attractions to see in Prague, but I have focused on the three most important ones:
1) Prague Castle and Charles Bridge
Prague castle is the biggest medieval castle in the world. It is 570 m long covering an area of around 7.3 hectares. Spend at least half a day here exploring the courtyards and side streets. The Charles Bridge, built in 1357, was at one point the only way to access the Castle and is named after King Charles IV who is seen as the father of the Czech Republic as he did so much for the country.
2) Old Town Square
Located in the heart of Prague, the square is home the Astronomical Clock which is on the Old Town Hall. The Tower which is adjacent to the Hall was built in 1338 and for a small fee you can either walk up the stairs of take an elevator up to the top and enjoy fantastic views of the Old Town Square.
3) The Jewish Quarter
I really recommend a visit to the Jewish area of Prague, if you are on a walking tour, they will be stopping by this quarter and highlighting key buildings. One is the Pinkas Synagogue which is one of the memorials to the Jews who died in the Holocaust. The building contains a collection the drawings made by the children in the Terezin concentration camp and written on the wall are more than 70,000 names of those Jews who died in this camp.

View of Prague from Castle

View of Prague from Castle

 

View of Prague

View of Prague

Budapest
It took 7 hours from Prague to Budapest, there was no fast train service. I stayed in a hotel on the river which had beautiful views of the Danube. Here are just three attractions to city in the capital of Hungary:
1) Take a cruise down the Danube
As part of the hop on, hop off bus, it also includes a trip down the river. It is a relaxing and peaceful way to see the city and you can take fantastic photos of the Elizabeth Bridge, Parliament, plus panoramic views of both sides of the river.
2) Váci utca
Walk down this main shopping street, filled with international shops, bars and cafes. Close by is the Erzsebet ter, a square that is the largest inner city green space in Budapest where many people come to relax and chill out on warm and sunny days.
3) Margaret Island
This 2.5 km long and 500 m wide island is a recreation centre in the middle of the Danube. It has a rose garden, Japanese garden, open air bath, cinema stage and two hotels.

Budapest Parliament

Budapest Parliament

The former Eastern European countries have a wealth of architectural masterpieces. From Checkpoint Charlie, to the remains of the Berlin Wall, the castle in Prague and the Charles Bridge, not to mention the fantastic views over the Danube River and even as in Budapest remnants of what life was like under the Communists, reveals a depth of history and culture unparalleled.

Checkpoint Charlie

Checkpoint Charlie

For a completely different experience, take a trip through former Eastern Europe and discover the gems of history, culture and architecture that the west had been deprived of for so long.

All photos property of Jo Turnbull

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One Comment

  1. JohnNo Gravatar
    Posted July 6, 2012 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    Glad you had the chance to experience Budapest, it is one of Europe’s most beautiful cities. Please check freehungarianvoice.blogspot.com
    for English news on Hungary.

    Regards

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