The countries contained in Central Europe are very different from each other. While in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, for example, similar conditions prevail, one can feel in the interior of Slovakia a decline of a century. But in an adventure like this, a backpacker is always like a fish in the water.
This is the second part (Part 1) of three articles that are intended to give you a very digested but updated picture of some of the things to consider prior and during your trip to the old continent, we have divided it into three zones hoping to offer you a clear idea that you can always have at hand.
In most of the countries of Central Europe, traveling is not complicated. Germany, Austria and Switzerland are known for their exemplary train service. But also are the regional bus networks in Austria and Switzerland. In Slovenia, the bus is preferable to the train, which often transits the country very slowly. In Slovakia, the largest cities are connected by bus. The Czech Republic, on the other hand, has along with Switzerland one of the slowest and densest railway network in the world.
2. Accommodation in Central Europe.
In Germany, Austria and Switzerland you will find mountain huts pensions to luxury hotels. There are also hostels. The situation is similar in Slovenia, but accommodation is usually a bit cheaper in this part of Central Europe. In the Czech Republic you can still find many private rooms that are very cheap. In Poland, campers find a vast network of places. Hostels are usually limited to the largest cities. Pensions dominate in Slovakia.
The highest prices will be found in Switzerland and Liechtenstein. On average, the cost of food is 20 to 30 percent higher than in Germany.
Austria and Germany are relatively similar in terms of food, accommodation and travel expenses. In Slovenia, Slovakia, Poland and the Czech Republic are much cheaper. Only in the EU countries Germany, Austria, Slovenia and Slovakia can you pay with the Euro. For Switzerland, the money must be exchanged in Franks, for the Czech Republic in Czech Crowns and for Poland in Zloty.
German is spoken in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Liechtenstein, plus you will find people who understand English almost everywhere. For the Italian or French part of Switzerland, English can be used as a bridge, if the predominant language is not known. In Slovenia, it is similar to Poland, as the middle and younger generations speak mainly English as a foreign language, while older people sometimes speak German. This is especially noticeable on the Baltic Sea coast. In the Czech Republic, in addition to English, Russian is also widely used.
Against all expectations, free Wi-Fi is easier to get in the east than in the west. Free Internet access is common practice almost everywhere in Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia. It is also widespread in the Czech Republic, although it is not always free. In Germany, the service is not so affordable, and one must pay in Austria often for the service where it is available. This also happens in Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
6. Climate and better travel season.
For Central Europe, the months of May to September are considered the best season to travel. Although you can always visit during winter seasons in the Alpine countries. The snowy landscape and the Christmas markets have their charm. Depending on the location, towards the coast or the mountains, the winters can be very snowy.
7. Relevant links.