Back in October my husband and I took off on a long dreamt about trip to three European cities, Prague, Vienna and Budapest. I knew we wanted to do an organized tour, even though it doesn’t seem to be the cool thing to do these days. Still it is cost effective way to travel to multiple cities and countries over a relatively short period of time. It also saved us organizing everything ourselves in areas we were in no way familiar with. I am going to do a future post about all the reasons I think tours are awesome but for now I just want to tell you about our Cosmos tour 6050. This is my Cosmos Prague Vienna Budapest tour review.
The Cosmos Prague Vienna Budapest tour starts in Munich. We were able to get a direct flight from Toronto to Munich which made for easier travel. In fact when I was doing my research of the various tour companies offering similar tours at similar price points, the Cosmos 6050 tour was the only one flying out of Munich. Others flew out of Prague and Budapest and in the fall this would have meant either connecting flights or flying into a different city and taking the train. Since connections can mean delays we thought it made more sense to start in a city that was more easily accessible for us. Plus in the end it meant we got to see many smaller cities on the road which enriched the tour further.
We arrived in Munich on a Sunday morning. Timing was not in our favour as we missed the first transfer from the airport to our hotel. We paid the fee to have Cosmos manage our transfer since it seemed like a better idea that figuring out what cab companies might be trustworthy. Unfortunately we had to wait 2 hours at the airport for our transfer. Thinking back we should have just taken a cab and had it reimbursed but jet lag had us thinking waiting made more sense.
Our first hotel (NH Muenchen Neue Messe) was situated outside of the city center of Munich. We had to wait until almost 3 pm to get our rooms which was not ideal with jet lag sinking in by the minute. Our original plan to tour around the city center disappeared as soon as we had access to a bed. A nap for the afternoon was all we needed. The beds at this hotel were quite comfortable. We woke up later to have a walk around the hotel neighbourhood and dinner at a pizza place close to the hotel. We saved our leftover slices for the road the next day. Our tour started in earnest in the morning.
Cosmos Prague Vienna Budapest Tour Review: Day 2 & 3 Nuremberg and Prague
Day 1 consisted of Arriving in Munich. Depending on when your flight comes in you should have time to see around the city. However with the jet lag all we wanted to do was sleep. As much as I was disappointed I was also so glad to rest that I didn’t mind missing out. The next moring we were on the bus by 8 am and on the road to Nuremberg.
Nuremburg was about a 2 hour stop on the road to Prague. You have enough time to see a few of the sights like St. Lorenz Church, Nuremburg Castle, the Hauptmarkt and der Schoene Brunnen. A quick walk to the central square and then you have free time to pick which sights you are going to see. We had left over pizza and chose to hike up to Nuremburg Castle. This is a great option if you want a view over the city and a wander through the town center.
There isn’t time to see everything and have lunch. You will have to pick one or two things to dedicate the time to before getting back on the bus and off to Prague.
We arrived in Prague in the evening. If you choose to do the excursion you will be heading out again this evening. The consensus from those that partook was that it was a hilariously fun evening with great food. We choose to find a restaurant close to the hotel (the International) and had one of our best meals of the vacation and really cheap beer. The Hotel International in Prague is a national landmark because it is an example of Stalinesque architecture. The rooms we stayed in were old and unrenovated. Also the air conditioning was not working. The superior rooms look as though they have been modernized, however we were not staying in these rooms unfortunately. Supposedly for a small fee you can get an upgraded room. I would recommend talking to the front desk about this option.
Day 3 was spent exploring Prague. The morning we had a local guide take us through a number of different sights. We walked through the Jewish Quarter, had just enough time to walk across the Charles Bridge and ended at the Astronomical Clock. After the tour is free time. Because we chose to do the Castle tour in the afternoon our free time was spent having lunch before meeting our local guide again for our afternoon tour. The tour through Prague Castle was very interesting and because we were on the tour and not just doing it ourselves we got to go into a number of the different buildings. Make sure to stop at some of the lookout points. From here you will get those amazing pictures of the red tiled roofs of the Old Town.
This was one of our more intense days of walking. The two tours back to back is a quite active day but totally worth it for all the things you get to see.
Prauge is one of the cities that I want to come back and see without having to move on and see other cities. It would be a great base for day trips and the city definitely warrants more time. This is one of the reasons I like doing these tours is to get an idea of where we would like to spend more in depth time. Two nights in Prague just wasn’t enough for me!
Cosmos Prague Vienna Budapest Tour Review: Day 4 & 5 Vienna & Budapest
The next morning was spent on the bus travelling from Prague to Vienna. There are bathroom stops but not at any towns where you get to do sightseeing. This is a great morning to catch up on sleep or some reading before we arrive in Vienna.
We arrived in Vienna around lunch. Again we had some leftovers from the breakfast buffet so we sat in the park and ate our bacon sandwiches and watch the world go by. Soon we were to get back on the bus for our city tour with our local guide. Part of the tour was on the bus around the ring road, then we parked to walk from the Museum district, through the castle and ending in the shopping streets.
I found our local guide in Vienna my least favourite of the bunch. I think because I wasn’t convinced about everything she was sharing with us and too much of the tour was spent wandering through the really touristy shopping areas.
Our hotel (Fourside Vienna City Center) was outside of the city center in a more residential area but close to the subway. There were a few restaurants but most of the businesses were closed. We had a schnitzel at a place recommended by out guide and it was great.
The hotel in Vienna was the only one that did not have a hair dryer of all the hotels on the tour. It was the most modern room however so I am surprised that they didn’t offer a hair dryer. This hotel was also the only one that we got in trouble for creating sandwiches from the breakfast buffet. We were able to smuggle them out but it was tough! Watch out for the man supervising the breakfast area!
The morning of day 5 was spent in Vienna. The optional tour was of Shonnenburg Palace or free time back in the Vienna city center. We opted out of the excursion and spent more time wandering Vienna. We really pounded the pavement and saw areas that our tour glossed over the day before. We also went into the Albertina Museum since they have an excellent Impressionism exhibit as well as a whole wing dedicated to Raphel. After the museum we thought we would tour the church but we had already missed the times so we instead wandered to Judenplatz which is a great instagrammable square. After zigzagging the city it was back to the bus for the drive to Budapest.
Cosmos Prague Vienna Budapest Tour Review: Day 6 Budapest
The hotel in Budapest (the Mercure Budapest Buda) was my least favourite room wise but my most favourite location wise. Again to get a renovated room a fee applied. We were put on a floor that had not been renovated. We were situated on the Buda side within walking distance of Buda Castle. The first night was the Hungarian night excursion which we opted out of and instead walked through the tunnel and found a restaurant overlooking the river. We both had amazing meals (I will do a post on all the food soon!) and I don’t feel like we missed out on Hungarian night at all.
Day 6 started out with a city tour with our local guide. The local guide in Budapest was my favourite. He was a young guy who really knew his stuff. He came off as knowledgeable and was sharing history not antecdotes. The tour started off with a walk to St. Matheias Church and the Fisherman’s Bastion. We had some free time to wander this area before heading back to the bus for the Pest portion of the tour.
The Pest side of Budapest has a much closer look and feel to Vienna as it was rebuilt during the Hapsburg rule of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It also is much more spread out. Heroes Square and the Thermal baths are far removed form the central part of the city. Most of the remainder of the city tour was via bus. We did stop at Heroes Square and then we ended our tour in the more touristy section of Pest. We had the remainder of the afternoon to ourselves. We stopped for a Chimney Cake before we wandered through the Pest side of the city seeing some landmarks like the Church and Opera before heading across the Chain Bridge to the Buda side. Once on the Buda side we climbed the stairs (oh so many stairs!) up to wander through Buda Castle.
We rested for a few hours at the hotel before climbing up to the Castle District again (so.many.stairs), to have dinner at Pest Buda (the goulash is a must). This was another excursion night for the River Cruise. We had seen the river at night the night before along with the Parliament buildings light up but the consensus from the group that the cruise was phenomenal.
Cosmos Prague Vienna Budapest Tour Review: Day 7 drive to Saltzburg
This is one of the longest driving days. The drive along the Danube is very picturesque. There is also a stop at the Melk Abby that has some of the most amazing views of the trip. There is enough time to stop for lunch and walk down into the town before getting back on the bus for the remainder of the drive to Saltzburg. We had lunch at the restaurant at the Abby which was good but there are also other options in the town.
We arrived in Satlzburg just before 6 pm. The hotel (Austria Trend Saltzburg West) is situated by the airport which isn’t the most fantastic location. But there are options for dinner which is really all we needed.
Cosmos Prague Vienna Budapest Tour Review: Day 8 Saltzburg to Munich
The morning was a day to explore Saltzburg. There is an optional Sound of Music Tour and if you are a fan of the movie I would say go for it otherwise you can see most of the city on your own without the optional excursion.
The highlight of Saltzburg was taking the funicular up to the fortress. It is perched upon a hill and is the biggest fully preserved castle in Central Europe. It took 600 years to complete starting in the 11 century. There is a museum that you can visit with the price of the funicular ride and you will get amazing views of Saltzburg. It was totally worth the price to visit. After the castle we walked through the city and found both of Motzart’s homes and sat for lunch in Mirabell Gardens (which admittedly we didn’t explore enough!).
By early afternoon we were on our way back to Munich to complete our tour. The final farewell dinner was at a Festhallen having a traditional German dinner with the group. The final hotel in Munich was comfortable but the bathroom was almost like having a porta-pottie in the room.
Overall this tour was fantastic. The places we visited were amazing and I really want to return to Prague, Budapest and Munich to see them in more depth. The hotels for the most part were comfortable and the city centers were accessible via public transit. Cosmos tours are meant to be more affordable so the hotels are mid range not high end. Transfers with the bus and the city tours allowed us to see the highlights of each city. The local guides gave great insight into the cities we visited and there was a good balance between organized tours and free time especially since we didn’t do all of the excursions.
Have you done a Cosmos tour before? What do you think of the Cosmos Prague Vienna Budapest Tour Review? Is this one you want to try?