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So we're landing in Europe in September and planning to stay for about 5-6 weeks.

We plan to land in Paris as it seems to have the cheapest flights from Australia but also we have to go to France cause we have family in Lyon.

However, doing the family stuff, we're thinking of checking out Eastern europe. Places like Croatia, Slovenia, Austria and Czech Repulic.

I was thinking though, landing in Paris, we're pretty far from any of those countries. So is it worth it in the time we have to go all the way there and back? How long would it take to take a train from say Lyon to Vienna?

The other thing I was thinking was to maybe land in Paris and do the family visiting thing, then head east and then take off from one of those countries?

Is there like a major airport hub in Eastern Europe that would have cheap fares.

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No it's not too far! (-: –  hippietrail May 12 '12 at 17:00
    
Vienna to Prague by bus is about 5 hours. Bratislava to Vienna is a couple of hours. –  user2757 Jul 7 '12 at 23:01
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btw. none of these countries are Eastern Europe. See: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Eastern-Europe-map2.svg –  vartec Jul 9 '12 at 14:43
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3 Answers 3

First of all I think 5-6 weeks is a lot of time to see part of Eastern Europe. From Lyon you can reach a lot of places in Europe in one day. So if you have 5 weeks to travel you can easily see a lot of Eastern Europe if you're willing to spend some days traveling from one destination to another.

The fastest connection between Lyon and Vienna by train takes a little bit more than 12 hours. Basically, you take a TGV from Lyon to Zurich, there you change the train and then take a Railjet directly to Vienna. So it is not really far away and you can easily travel from Lyon to Vienna in one day.

But there are also other options: For a little bit more than 100 Euro, you could also fly from Lyon to Vienna. It depends a little bit where in Eastern Europe you want to go, but typically cheap hubs for Eastern Europe are Vienna, Warsaw and if you're more into the Baltics, then also Riga.

Trains from Lyon to Zagreb (Croatia) take a little bit longer (around 19 hours), but basically you can take a TGV to Zurich and then a Euronight directly to Zagreb. Going to Ljubliana (Slovenia) is a little bit more complicated and will take around 15 hours by train. You should have a look for a train via Milan. Trains to Prague take around 15 hours and you should look for trains via Munich.

Basically I would check out the Swiss Railway Website, because the can give you train schedules for almost the whole of Europe. Additionally, I would also check a matrix flight search engine to see if it isn't cheaper to fly instead of taking the train. Probably, you could also think about renting a car and drive by yourself. But be aware, some companies bill you a lot of money if you want to take a rental car out of the destination country.

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I was just copyediting your fine answer and ended up questioning my own knowledge of English grammar. So I put the resulting question on our sister site, English Language & Usage. (-: –  hippietrail May 12 '12 at 17:12
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Good grief no, it's not far at all. London to Istanbul (Turkey) takes 4 hours - if you've come from Australia, it'll feel like nothing ;)

Check on kayak for lots of cheap EU flights. And also RyanAir and EasyJet for low cost flights - although always check what airport they use, as they quite often use unusual or out of town airports - their flight to Vienna lands in Bratislava, Slovakia - in a different country! (Although it's an easy bus ride to Vienna).

Speaking of Bratislava, it's a cheap hub which quite a few low cost carriers fly to. You're in Paris - I have personally flown from Orly Airport (south Paris) to Bratislava. It's an easy flight, great view over the alps depending on route, and it's convenient for Eastern Europe. It's 1 hour to Vienna by bus or 2 by boat. By train you can get to Budapest, Hungary in a couple of hours, and there are trains from there down to Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey - the route we took.

In Vienna I met people who had come from the Czech Republic by train as well, and we also met another friend who had trained in from Germany in a matter of hours.

In general the European trains are very good, reliable and extensive - you can certainly look at trains from Vienna south towards Slovenia and Croatia too, and I know from experience that the buses in Croatia were very comfortable and relatively inexpensive, and on-time.

So long answer short, it's certainly not too far, but I'd pick a few places that really appeal and spend time in them, rather than rushing around too much.

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Bah Bratislava is closer to Vienna than certain airports in Australia that claim to be in Melbourne or Noosa! d-: In fact they are the closest pair of national capitals in the world. –  hippietrail May 12 '12 at 18:09
    
@hippietrail I doubt that, what about Vatican City and Rome? –  RoflcoptrException May 12 '12 at 20:25
    
Bah don't buy into those popish fantasies d-: –  hippietrail May 12 '12 at 20:38
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@hippietrail - sure, but there's just something crazy about not just landing in the wrong city, but a different country altogether :) And I remember using their Stockholm airport - it's half way to Norway! –  Mark Mayo May 13 '12 at 1:16
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Well thanks to me parroting this not entirely true factoid here, we now have a new factoid question specifically treating this minor, debatable, pedantic, and interesting question (-: What are the two closest capital cities in the world? –  hippietrail May 13 '12 at 6:44
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Europe has a very dense railway system. You can reach almost any destination in less than 24h.

For getting info on train connections, check any railway site using HAFAS database, such as:

I found connections from Lyon to Vienna in about 14h and Paris to Vienna in about 12h. Vienna-Prague takes only half a day.

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