Eastern Europe is fast gaining popularity as an alternative route for exploring Europe, thanks to its budget-friendliness and easy connectivity.
Comprising of 10 different countries (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovakia as well as the republics of Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine; as defined by the United Nations Statistics Division), travelling to Eastern Europe provides a diverse range of sights, histories and cultural experiences guaranteed to delight you 🤗
Prague Castle district, Prague Credit: Hazwany Razali
Tempted to explore Eastern Europe but don’t know where to start? Let our 10D9N Muslim-friendly itinerary through three Eastern European cities – Prague (Czech Republic), Krakow (Poland) and Budapest (Hungary) - be your guide!
#HHWT Tip: Much like flight tickets, inter-country train tickets across Europe tend to be more expensive the closer you get to your travel date. Pre-purchase your train tickets early to avoid last-minute price surges. Check out The Man in Seat 61 for detailed guides on train travel in Europe (including information about the trains and train stations)!
Part I: Prague, Czech Republic
Getting To Prague
- Unfortunately, there are no direct flights from Singapore or Kuala Lumpur to Prague. You can, however, purchase connecting flights from several airlines such as KLM , Swissair, Emirates, China Eastern, British Airways, Turkish Airlines, Lufthansa, Air France and Finnair.
- The average flight duration to Prague is about 15 hours (including transits). There is only one airport in Prague, the Vaclav Havel Airport Prague.
- From the airport, make your way to Prague's city centre via public bus (bus line 100, 119 and 191; 32 CZK for a 90min ticket); Airport Express bus (direct to Prague's Main Railway Station; 60 CZK); private pick-up (€27); airport shuttle transfer (from €5.60/pax); or Uber (~400 CZK).
- #HHWT Tip: Avoid flagging a taxi outside the airport as they are known for overcharging unsuspecting tourists.
Getting Around Prague
- The best way to get around Prague is by foot or public transport. Prague's main city centre is quite small, and many of the attractions are within short walking distance of each other.
- #HHWT Tip: There's always lots of walking involved when you're in Europe, so do pack comfy walking shoes in your luggage!
- If walking is not for you, Prague has a network of buses, trams and metros that will easily get you from one attraction to another. There are timed tickets (valid for 30min or 90 min) and day passes available, with prices ranging from 24 CZK for a 30min ticket to 310 CZK for a 72-hour pass. The Prague Integrated Transport's homepage provides tourists with comprehensive information (in English) on Prague's public transport.
- #HHWT Tip: Take Tram 22 for a scenic ride past many of Prague's main attraction including the National Theatre, Belvedere and Prague Castle! Do beware of pickpockets onboard.
Staying in Prague
Stay in or near the Old Town Square for easy access to Prague's main attractions. Some recommendations are:1. Charles Bridge Palace
Just a two-minute walk from the Charles Bridge, this unique hotel has 77 rooms featuring antique furniture and elegant decor matching its historical vibe. The Riverside Double Room provides stunning views of the Vltava River while the Duplex Suite for Four is perfect for big groups or families with children. Room rates include free buffet breakfast in the hotel's restaurant.
2. Grand Hotel Bohemia Prague
Highly recommended in many guide books and travel websites, this five-star hotel has a rich history dating back to the 1920s. Dressed with an opulent facade and neo-Baroque interior, the hotel has 79 charming rooms overlooking Prague's Old Town. Celebrating a special occasion? Stay in their Suite room with a terrace and reserve a private dinner for two on your terrace. With breathtaking views overlooking the Old Town and Prague Castle, it definitely will be a night to be remembered.
Muslim-friendly eateries in Prague
As in other parts of Europe, there are halal kebab stands and Middle-Eastern or Indian restaurants in Prague. Options include:1. Caspian by Mangal
2.5 Days in Prague
Day 1: Arrive in Prague
Old Town Square (2-3h)
Marvel at the diverse architectural styles in the Old Town Square. Relatively untouched since the 10th Century, the Old Town Square was Prague’s main marketplace and plays host to many of the city’s famous attractions such as the Astronomical Clock and the gothic Church of Our Lady before Tyn. There’s also plenty of alfresco dining options for some coffee and people-watching.
Hang around for the Astronomical Clock’s show played at every hour. Built in the 1400s, the clock is the oldest medieval astronomical clock still in operation. Climb up to the clock tower for panoramic views of the Old Town!
Royal Walk Tour (2.5h)
Join a walking tour and learn about the history of the capital of Bohemia. Discover Prague’s unique tradition of defenestration (throwing people out of windows) and how it contributed to the Hussite War and Europe’s Thirty Years’ War (which greatly altered the power balance in Europe in the 17 th Century).
Then follow the tour to the Jewish Quarter and hear the plights of Prague’s Jewish community during and post-WWII, before ending the tour at the Charles Bridge.
Day 2: Explore Prague’s Castle District
Charles Bridge and the Prague Castle Complex (3h)
Cross the iconic Charles Bridge, a historic bridge over the Vltava river and constructed in 1357 - 15th Century under the auspices of the Holy Roman Emperor King Charles VI.
Take photos with the various statues lining the bridge and peek at the souvenir stands selling handmade jewellery and hand-drawn paintings.
Make your way to the Prague Castle complex, the largest ancient castle in the world. The official office of the President of the Czech Republic, the castle was also home to the kings of Bohemia, Holy Roman emperors and presidents of Czechoslovakia.
Explore the St. Vitus Cathedral, the Basilica of St. George and the Golden Lane all situated within the castle complex itself. While there are no entrance fees to the castle complex itself, some of the buildings can only be entered with a valid entry ticket (combined entry tickets are also available).
Vltava River (2h)
Cruise down the Vltava River for a view of Prague’s historical monuments on both sides of the riverbank.
There are several companies offering 1-hour and 2-hour cruises at the Czech Bridge Dock at various timings and similar prices, so you can easily choose one that fits your schedule. Check out Prague Boats' Grand Cruise for 2 hours viewing pleasure of Prague's monuments from the river.
Puppet Show or Black Light Theatre (2h)
End your day by watching one of Prague’s traditional puppet shows or black light theatre.
- The National Marionette Theatre is the most famous puppet theatre company in Prague and has staged more than 20 premieres of traditional puppet shows since 1991. Catch their marionette version of Don Giovanni in their historically protected theatre space!
Black light theatre is a theatrical performance style characterised by the use of black box theatre augmented by black light illusion (taken from Wikipedia). The creator of modern black light theatre Jiri Srnec originated from Prague, and he is still creating new shows with his company the Black Light Theatre Srnec to this day. Check out their website for show schedules and ticketing details.
Day 3: Day trip to Kutna Hora
Ride a train through the Bohemian countryside to Kutna Hora, an ancient silver mining town about an hour's train ride away from Prague.
There are daily trains to Kutna Hora from Prague's main train station Praha Hlavni Nadrazi (and vice versa) every two hours, and tickets for a return trip would cost around 215 CZK. You can either purchase tickets at the train station or online through their website.
Sedlec Ossuary (1h)
Visit the “Bone Chapel” or Sedlec Ossuary, one of the most visited attractions in Czech Republic. As guessed by its name, the small chapel contains the bones of 40,000-70,000 people artistically arranged to form decorations and furnishings in the chapel.
Note of advice: Take as many pictures as you want of the decorations, but do be respectful and mindful of the place and the dead resting there while doing so.
St. Barbara's Cathedral (1h)
Make your way to the town’s historic town centre and the St. Barbara’s Cathedral. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the gothic church took more than 500 years to build and has a unique three-tent roof and very high ceilings.
Climb up to the second floor of the church for a closer look at the intricate murals decorating the ceiling.
Czech Museum of Silver (2.5h)
Take a guided tour of the Czech Museum of Silver and medieval silver mine. Learn about the history of Kutna Hora and its role in the Czech state, before entering a replica of a medieval mine and discovering the medieval process of turning a silver ore into a silver coin.
Prices for the combined guided tour starts from 170 CZK for adults and 120 CZK for children and students.
- #HHWT Tip: Reservations are highly recommended for the guided tour into the mines, and can be made online before your trip.
Part II: Krakow, Poland
Day 4: Train from Prague to Krakow (7h)
- Have an early breakfast before catching your train to Krakow, Poland. There is only one direct train from Prague to Krakow daily, departing Prague's Hlavní Nádraží Station at 10.30am and reaching Kraków Główny train station at 5.30pm (~7 hours). Make sure to pack some snacks and entertainment for the long trip!
- #HHWT Tip: Pre-purchase your ticket to Krakow early to avoid last-minute price surges. Train schedules and tickets can be purchased online here.
- Arrive at the Hlavní Nádraží Station early and have your breakfast at Cafe Coffee Day located in the old station building (accessible via escalators from the upper floor of the modern concourse). Admire the elegant art nouveau style while sipping your morning coffee!
Krakow Glowny Train Station, Krakow
- Upon arriving in Krakow, get some rest at your hotel before heading out for dinner at the Old Town (refer to halal options below).
Getting Around Krakow
- While there are public trams all around Krakow, the best way to explore Krakow hands-down is by foot. Krakow's Old Town is compact, and you can also easily walk to the former Jewish ghetto within 15 minutes.
Staying in Krakow
Stay in the Old Town to get the best of your Krakow experience!
1. Venetian House Aparthotel
The Venetian House Aparthotel is a boutique apartment hotel located right in the main Market Square, making it an excellent base for exploring Krakow's culture and attractions. Despite being situated in a 16th Century townhouse, the hotel boasts modern interiors that complement its historic architecture. Each apartment also comes with a fully-equipped kitchen, making it convenient to prepare meals if necessary.
Muslim-friendly Eateries in Krakow
There are halal kebab stands along the streets leading to the Main Market Square, and some Indian or Middle-Eastern restaurants in the surrounding streets. Some eateries include:1. Zayka
2 Days in Krakow
Day 5: Walking Tour!
"Old Town of Krakow" Walking Tour (2h)
- Join one of the morning walking tours exploring the Old Town of Krakow. Unlike many other European cities, Krakow’s Old Town survived the Second World War making your visit there literally a trip back to the Middle Ages.
Get to know the buildings in the Main Market Square (the largest market square in Europe), visit the oldest university in Poland, hear about the Wawel Dragon (the most famous Polish legend) and learn about Krakow’s role in WWII.
"Holocaust traces in Krakow" Walking Tour (2h)
If you learnt about WWII history in school, then you cannot miss a visit to the former Jewish ghetto on the other side of the Vistula River (even if you didn’t I would still recommend making a trip here).
I highly recommend joining a guided tour such as Walkative’s “Holocaust traces in Krakow” walking tour for a deeper understanding of the macabre events that happened there during the Holocaust. Hear stories of real-life people and events, their struggles to survive and the destruction of the Jewish community in WWII Krakow.
Schindler's Factory (2h)
Schindler's Factory, Krakow
End your day with a visit to Oskar Schindler’s Enamel Factory, the very factory featured in the film Schindler’s List about the German businessman Oskar Schindler who single-handedly saved more than a thousand Jewish refugees from the Holocaust by employing them in his factory during WWII.
If you’ve watched this film, you would also recognise other stories and landmarks shared during the Krakow Jewish Ghetto walking tour. The factory now houses a permanent exhibition narrating the history of Krakow during the World War.
#HHWT Tip: Admission tickets for Schindler’s Factory sell are highly popular, hence book your tickets online in advance to avoid missing out on the experience. You can also purchase combined tickets for Schindler’s Factory, Eagle’s Pharmacy and Pomorska Street for a discounted price.
Day 6: Auschwitz - Birkenau Concentration Camp
Auschwitz - Birkenau Concentration Camp (7.5h)
You cannot leave Krakow without going to the Auschwitz – Birkenau Concentration Camps, a complex of over 40 concentration and extermination camps built and operated by Nazi Germany during WWII.
Located in the neighbouring town of Osweicim about an hour’s drive away from Krakow, a visit to these grounds feels emotionally complex and highly personal. Reflect on the past and let your experience there serve as a reminder never to let such atrocities happen again.
- #HHWT Tip: Book your tours or entrance tickets in advance to avoid any disappointment. Visit Discover Cracow for tour options.
Part III: Budapest, Hungary
Day 7: Bid farewell to Krakow and say hello to Budapest! (9.5 h)
Enjoy a direct train ride to Budapest departing Krakow Glowny train station once daily at 9.55am and reaching Budapest-Nyugati station at 7.20pm (~9.5 hours). Enjoy the passing countryside, eat your packed meals, read a book or watch some movies to while away your time!
- #HHWT Tip: Pre-purchase your tickets online through Deutsche Bahn's website. Although Deutsche Bahn (DB) is Germany's national train carrier, they also provide ticket purchase services for many other intercity and inter-rail trains and have counters at almost every main train station across Europe. Use their site to plan your journeys and check train schedules and prices prior to your trip.
Have an early night after checking in to your hotel or take a stroll along the Danube river for a view of Budapest’s night lights.
Getting Around Budapest
- Like Prague and Krakow, Budapest's main city centre is small enough to explore on foot.
- However, there are also public buses, trams and metros that you can take to travel between Buda and Pest or to some of the further attractions (such as the baths and caves).
- The line 2 tram along the bank of the Danube River is one of the world's most beautiful tram routes, and passes by many historic buildings such as the Parliament, the Budapest bridges, the Buda Castle district and Gellért hill.
- Consider purchasing the Budapest Card to enjoy unlimited travel on the public transport networks and free entrances to 19 museums and attractions.
Staying in Budapest
While there are charming accommodations in both Buda and Pest, both cities offer different atmospheres for your stay. Stay in Buda for some quiet and peace or Pest to immerse yourself in Prague's nightlife.1. art'otel budapest
Muslim-friendly Eateries in Budapest
There are numerous Turkish kebab restaurants around Budapest and some Pakistani, Persian and Middle-Eastern restaurants serving halal cuisines. Some places include:1. Titiz Restaurant
2.5 Days in Budapest
Day 8: Explore Buda and Pest
- Did you know that Budapest originally consisted of two cities, Buda and Pest?
- The two cities lying on opposite sides of the Danube River were united (together with another city Obuda) in 1873 to become one city.
- The two cities offer pretty different atmospheres; Buda is known to be calmer whereas Pest is more well-known for its nightlife.
Walking Tour (2h)
Want to find out more? Start your day with a walking tour through Budapest to get your quick introduction to the city.
There are several themed tours available provided by various walking tour providers. Free Walking Tours Budapest for instance has seven different kinds of tours provided throughout the day.
Join their Original Tour to visit Budapest’s highlights, their Communism tour for a walk through Budapest’s communist history or their Street and Urban Art tour to discover the Jewish Quarters through their street art (only available in the afternoon).
Buda Castle District (4h)
Spend half a day (or more) exploring Buda Castle and the Buda Castle District. The Buda Castle was the historical palace complex for Hungarian kings in Budapest, and now houses the National Gallery and the Budapest History Museum.
Take a stroll through the quaint streets, or spend some time admiring the eagle’s-eye view of Pest from the top of the hill. The view is guaranteed to blow your stresses away.
Danube River Cruise (2h)
The sights of Budapest are prettiest at night, and there’s no better way to view them than through an evening cruise down the Danube River. There are various companies offering the cruises throughout the day, typically for 1 to 2 hours.
It’s also the perfect way to wind down your day after a full day of explorations.
Day 9: Budapest Card Museums and Attractions
Budapest Card Museums and Attractions (whole day)
Spend your day exploring Budapest’s many other museums and attractions.
Consider purchasing the Budapest Card for free entrances to 19 museums and discounts to 30+ top attractions, free public transport and many other services to maximise your visit.
The 24-hour Budapest Card starts from €21.99. I recommend entering the House of Terror Museum which commemorates the Hungarians who were imprisoned, killed or tortured in that building during Hungary's two terror regimes, joining a tour to the Palvolgyi caves (a 31km long cave system) or visiting the Palace of Wonders (also known as Centre of Scientific Wonders, a scientific theme park with 250 games, 4 escape rooms, a 9D cinema and plenty other fun activities).
Last Day: Last-Minute Shopping
Fashion Street (2h)
Leave your luggage at the hotel after checking out and head to Fashion Street - Budapest’s main shopping street - for some last-minute shopping before your afternoon flight back.
You can also consider walking through the downtown area for specialty stores selling antiques, books (with English titles), skincare and perfumes, vintage clothing and local designer products.
Don’t forget to factor in some time to re-pack your bags (if necessary) before catching your taxi or shuttle bus (Bus 100E from the city centre) to the airport!
- The Ferenc Liszt International Airport is located about 16km southeast of Budapest's city centre. Bus 100E from the Deak Ferenc Square goes directly to the airport every 30min from 4am to 11.30pm. Tickets cost 900 HUF and the journey lasts about 45min.
- There are no direct flights between Budapest and Singapore or Malaysia, but many carriers such as Emirates, Etihad Airways, Air France and Finnair offer connecting flights transiting at their respective home countries. The journey takes about 15 hours including transits.
So what are you waiting for? Book that ticket and start your journey to Eastern Europe! Happy planning🤗