Spring break is supposed to be a week filled with fun and sun, good friends, and new places. But, how do you plan an amazing spring break when you’re studying abroad and already living a dream?
I spent my spring break while abroad exploring central Europe. I started in Prague, then went to Vienna, took a day trip to Bratislava, and finished up in Budapest. It was a whirlwind 10 days, but I saw the most magical places and truly fell in love with new cities.
Where I stayed: The Roadhouse Hostel -- I honestly cannot recommend this place enough!! It was absolutely amazing. It was so clean, the staff were super friendly and helpful, and they have hammocks! Also, super cheap and well located.
Must see: Astronomical clock in the Old Town Square: The Old Town Square is a historic square in the old town of Prague. The Astronomical clock is a medieval clock located in Old Town Square, installed in 1410. It is the oldest functioning clock in the world. Prague Castle: It is located up on the hill overlooking Old Town Prague. It is the largest castle complex in the world, and on the complex is also St. Vitus Cathedral. The complex, and view from the complex, are breathtaking. Charles Bridge: This bridge crosses the Vltava River. It features stunning architecture and is magical. On this bridge are tons of street performers and vendors, so it’s a great place to wander through. Lennon Wall: A wall covered in graffiti dedicated to John Lennon, and the Beatles. Petrin Tower: A replica of the Eiffel Tower, but as a 1:17 scale. It was built for the World’s Jubilee Exhibition in 1899 and is now a major tourist attraction.
Must taste: Chimney cakes. They are EVERYWHERE, and absolutely delicious! You can get them stuffed with anything from whipped cream to Nutella, ice cream or fruit!
Good to know: Be wary of pickpockets on the Charles Bridge!
|St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague Castle Compound|
Where I stayed: Wombats Vienna Hostel: Being a chain, this hostel lacked a community feel and felt more like a hotel. But there was a bar in the lobby which was a great place to meet people!
Must see: Hofburg Palace: This was the palace and residence of the Habsburg dynasty. It’s a beautiful building and is now the home of the President of Austria. Vienna State Opera: The opera house in Vienna is absolutely stunning. On the day of, you can get standing tickets for as low as $10. Mozart was really influential in Austria, and so it felt only right to go to the opera. Walking tour: I felt the most magical thing I experienced during my time in Vienna was actually the history I heard on my walking tour. I just chose a free walking tour and I learned SO much. It was a really cool view of the city, and it made me feel more educated about European history. Coffee house: They are everywhere! Coffee is an important part of Viennese culture, and I’d recommend spending an afternoon relaxing in a traditional coffeehouse.
Must taste: Schnitzel: The most famous restaurant is Figlmüller Bäckerstraße. I went there and it’s not just amazing food, but a cool ambiance and experience as well. Sachertorte: This is a famous chocolate cake with an extensive history. It’s best at Sacher Wien Hotel, but be prepared to wait a while for a seat! It’s worth the wait -- I promise!
Good to know: Vienna is a bit more expensive than other cities I spent time in. Make sure to budget for this and enjoy the free art and beauty the city has to offer!
|Sachertorte in Vienna|
Must see: Bratislava Castle -- It's beautiful! Also, rubberneck -- he's a small metal man coming out of a manhole on the ground. It’s a cool photo opp, and a fun thing to see! I would recommend a free walking tour to get a good feel for the city and learn about the history, especially if you’re only there for a day trip.
Good to know: I felt like a couple hours was plenty to get a good feel of the town! This was the one place I didn’t like being alone in, as some people came up and were trying to talk to me in the streets and asking me very personal questions. But it has a ton of cool history and it really is beautiful!
Where I stayed: Hostel One - Budapest. This is another chain hostel, but this chain features a much smaller scale hostel so there was a better community feel. They offer a complimentary, family-style dinner each night which is a great plus! They do a pub crawl each night, and before that they have a happy hour for people staying there in their bar. This was a great place to meet people to go out with (I was traveling alone) but also a fun place to have a low-key evening.
Must see: Fisherman’s Bastion: It’s one of the most popular tourist attractions in Budapest. It is located by the Buda Castle, which I also recommend seeing, and provides incredible views of the Danube river and Pest side of the city. Hungarian Parliament Building: A beautiful and exquisite building that is the seat of the National Assembly. It is the largest building in Hungary. Mattias Church: This church is absolutely stunning and located at the top of the Fisherman’s Bastion. Thermal baths: There are several different baths to choose from. I recommend looking into each one and deciding which one you would want to go to! No matter which you choose, they are a great and relaxing experience. Ruin pubs: These are bars built in the Old Jewish Quarter, in abandoned houses, factories and buildings. There are tons to choose from, and there’s companies that offer bar crawls through several of them. The first and most well-known is Szimpla Kert, and I had tons of fun there!
Must taste: Chicken paprika: I am in love with this. I was there during Easter and the markets had it everywhere. It’s a very cozy dish, creamy and spice, served in a bread bowl. I ate it for dinner every night. If you like hummus, there is a chain restaurant called the Hummus Bar and is absolutely delicious! I still have dreams about it!
Good to know: Reserve your time at the baths ahead of time! You can save some money this way, and ensure you get to go. There are tons of baths to go to, so do some research and pick the best one for you. The most popular is Szechenyi, but it can be crowded. I also took a free walking tour with Sandemann’s and it was incredibly insightful! I learned a ton of history and felt more connected and comfortable with the city during my time there.
|Hungarian Parliament Building|
Miranda Haasl is a CEA Alumni Ambassador who studied abroad in Granada, Spain, during the Spring 2018 semester. She is currently a student at Washington State University.
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