Amsterdam to Budapest May 2019

I know this is a little early, but this is our first river cruise and our first time to Europe.

My husband and I are 60 and live in California. We are spending 2 nights before in Amsterdam and 2 nights after in Budapest. We're very interested in suggestions of places to go and things to do. We've found a cooking class in Budapest that sounds like fun and we found passes we can purchase that will allow entrance into museums, public transport, etc. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

We're also interested to find out who else is planning on going on this cruise. We're so excited and nervous and looking forward to meeting new people.
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  • Amsterdam is a wonderful city. We were just there and here are a few suggestions. The Van Gogh Museum, the Anne Frank House, and Rembrandt's House were great to explore. The Anne Frank tickets go on sale exactly 60 days in advance and sell out quick. If Keukenhof is still open, don't miss the 7 million flowers blooming. We hired a private guide for a three hour walk of Amsterdam and it was a good orientation to the city. We also booked a dinner canal cruise which was lovely.
  • Budapest is a beautiful city for just walking around. I suggest taking a guided tour of Parliment. Definitely worth the time. Visiting The Shoes on the Danube monument was a moving experience for us and we just had to sit there in silence for quite a while and think what it must have been like for the many Jews just tossed into river by the Arrow Cross militia during WWII. By the way, taking the tram is very easy and a great way to cover a lot of ground. Make sure you get on the upper deck for the night cruise into Budapest. The sight is breathtaking.
  • edited May 2018
    I'll second Budapest- after researching captions for all the photos I took last month during the Blue Danube cruise, I came to the realization, with Tauck we just scratched the surface of this wonderful city!! Spend a few hours on Google. Tour the Parliament, visit Memento Park (Memorial Park) to see the relocated statues of Lenin, Marx, etc.; ride the funicular up and check out Castle hill, there is a lot more up there than just St. Mathias Church and Fisherman's Bastion. Take a dinner cruise on the river.
  • We did Amsterdam to Basel 2 years ago and gave ourselves 2 extra nights as well. It wasn't nearly enough so we are doing this cruise in reverse next May - maybe we'll pass one another - and adding several extra nights in Amsterdam.

    In Amsterdam, we arrived fairly early in the day thinking we'd have 2 1/2 days to tour. In reality the first day didn't accomplish a whole lot. We got into our hotel room right away (possibly because we had alerted the hotel ahead of time). Spent the afternoon tracking down an ATM, some lunch, strolling around the streets near the hotel, like the flower market. Back to the hotel for a swim in the pool and a nap (jet lag arg!). More strolling around to see the area and find a store to replace my hairbrush that I'd forgotten, then early bed time. Lesson learned, don't over estimate how much you'll accomplish the first day.

    The next day we did tour the Amsterdam History museum which was interesting. It's mostly the history of the city plus additional artwork.

    One of the sights we hope to see next year is the Zaanse Schans - traditional Dutch village. According to their website, it's a 20 minute train ride from central station for about 6 euros. We also plan to see the Van Gogh Museum but possibly on the same day the tour goes to the Rikjsmuseum since they are very close together.

    I highly recommend Rick Steves pocket guide to Amsterdam for your visit. It's a small, easy to carry guide with good recommendations on sites and self guided walking tours.

    PS - Watch out for bicylists. They are every where, they are fast and they hate tourists wandering in the bike lanes.
  • Free Walking Tours in Budapest has a "Communist Tour" that I really enjoyed. You don't have to sign up n advance. You meet at Vorosmarty Ter. Google them to find out the schedule. They also offered other tours that I would have taken if I had had time. (There''s no set charge, but it's customary to tip the guides...and my guide, Anna, certainly deserved a good one. She was great. I went 4 years ago, so she might not still be leading tours.) Do try to get to the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam.
  • We will also be on an Amsterdam to Budapest cruise May 5, 2019. Like you, we plan on arriving 2-3 days early. We hope to see the tulips blooming outside Amsterdam, maybe a bike tour. I'm hoping to stay a couple more days in Budapest, but I'll have to see if my other half really wants to be gone any longer. :) Looking forward to meeting others who will be traveling on that trip.
  • One other thing---when we've been in other cities and had very limited time, we found it helpful to hire a private tour guide and driver to get us around to the places we really wanted to see and understand. The guides pre purchase skip the line passes and know the times to hit the different places to avoid crowds.
  • edited May 2018
    If there is any way you can swing it, try to spend more than 2 nights in Amsterdam at the beginning because of jet lag and also there is so much to do! We were just there prior to our 5/13 southbound Rhine & Moselle cruise and made it to Keukenhof Gardens on Friday, May 11 before their final day of the season on the 13th. Although the surrounding fields were already headed, the gardens themselves were still gloriously in full bloom. You'll need most of a day for this and it's SO worth it. Ideally, the best time to see the gardens is usually the last 2 weeks of April or 1st week of May while the surrounding fields are still full of color. We went to Haarlem on Saturday (market day) to see the Corrie ten Boom house and St. Bavo's church; it's a marvelous, picturesque town with lots of families riding around on their Dutch box bikes. As mentioned above, be sure to see the Van Gogh Museum or the Rijksmuseum, whichever one is not included on your tour. We're going back to Amsterdam at the end of our cruise to see the Anne Frank House and Zaanse Schans, an authentic Dutch village. ALSO, I highly recommend this AirBnB where we stayed before the cruise; the host family is so friendly and helpful and the neighborhood very quaint. And you feel like a local: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/7458963

    And Budapest! We were there in 2016 at the beginning of our Blue Danube cruise. Don't miss "Shoes on the Danube," which Tauck doesn't cover and the big Central Market, which your tour might or might not cover. Also, go inside that amazing Parliament building.

    Katharine (also from California)
  • Kalcat, I'll be interested to read what you thought of Zaanse Schans after your visit, as well as, your cruise. ttfn
  • Our cruise from Budapest ended in Amsterdam. We were part of 6 person group who booked a car from the Intercontinental Amstel Hotel in Amsterdam to Zaanse Schans aka Zaandam. A nice ride out of the city and a wonderful visit. We spent about 3 hours wondering in the village area and then did a very nice 2 hour lunch al fresco at Restaurant De Hoop Op d'Swarte Walvis. You will enjoy.

    The Van Gogh very easily consumed 3 hours. We would suggest buying your tickets online prior to the trip. Happy we did as the ticket lines were easily 1.5 hours on the day of our visit.

    While in Budapest you will find the Dohany Street Synagogue,one of the largest in the world, is a fascinating visit. We found Budapest to be a wonderful city with exciting small restaraunts. A very nice music festival in Elizabeth Park across from our hotel, the Ritz Carlton, and lots of action in districts which were easily walkable.
  • We will also be on an Amsterdam to Budapest cruise May 5, 2019. Like you, we plan on arriving 2-3 days early. We hope to see the tulips blooming outside Amsterdam, maybe a bike tour. I'm hoping to stay a couple more days in Budapest, but I'll have to see if my other half really wants to be gone any longer. :) Looking forward to meeting others who will be traveling on that trip.

    We hope to see the tulips too. Looking forward to meeting you and others on the trip!
  • CalKat wrote:
    If there is any way you can swing it, try to spend more than 2 nights in Amsterdam at the beginning because of jet lag and also there is so much to do! We were just there prior to our 5/13 southbound Rhine & Moselle cruise and made it to Keukenhof Gardens on Friday, May 11 before their final day of the season on the 13th. Although the surrounding fields were already headed, the gardens themselves were still gloriously in full bloom. You'll need most of a day for this and it's SO worth it. Ideally, the best time to see the gardens is usually the last 2 weeks of April or 1st week of May while the surrounding fields are still full of color. We went to Haarlem on Saturday (market day) to see the Corrie ten Boom house and St. Bavo's church; it's a marvelous, picturesque town with lots of families riding around on their Dutch box bikes. As mentioned above, be sure to see the Van Gogh Museum or the Rijksmuseum, whichever one is not included on your tour. We're going back to Amsterdam at the end of our cruise to see the Anne Frank House and Zaanse Schans, an authentic Dutch village. ALSO, I highly recommend this AirBnB where we stayed before the cruise; the host family is so friendly and helpful and the neighborhood very quaint. And you feel like a local: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/7458963

    And Budapest! We were there in 2016 at the beginning of our Blue Danube cruise. Don't miss "Shoes on the Danube," which Tauck doesn't cover and the big Central Market, which your tour might or might not cover. Also, go inside that amazing Parliament building.

    Katharine (also from California)

    I wish we could, but this trip is already costing us more than we've ever spent and the longest we've ever been on a trip. However, I doubt it will be our last trip to Europe.
  • Elizabeth, I can relate to your sticker shock feeling. Our first cruise - 8 day Paris/Rhone cruise - was the first we'd ever done anything like that or spent that much. Then we paid the airfare (the same whether 1 week or a month) and went through the jet lag and realized that it was better to spend as long a time as possible. But everyone's finances are in different places so no one can judge - just advise. Hope you have a great cruise.
  • Elizabeth, I can relate to your sticker shock feeling. Our first cruise - 8 day Paris/Rhone cruise - was the first we'd ever done anything like that or spent that much. Then we paid the airfare (the same whether 1 week or a month) and went through the jet lag and realized that it was better to spend as long a time as possible. But everyone's finances are in different places so no one can judge - just advise. Hope you have a great cruise.

    This is our first river cruise AND our first trip to Europe. I'm retired, but my husband still works and we still have a mortgage. An inheritance is paying for this trip. Once we sell the house and my husband retires I know we'll travel more and, if we enjoy this cruise, will do others.
  • Anyone know what the typical weather is like there in May? Trying to figure out what kinds of clothes to bring.
  • Under the Before You Go, Preparing to Go tab there is a section on weather which gives avg temps and rain for Budapest, Bamberg, Vienna and Amsterdam. Lately - because the weather has frequently been different than the averages - I've also been checking what happened the same time this year. I'll google "May weather in Budapest 2018" and it will give me a full months worth. Tauck shows the highs in Budapest as 70 in June - but a look at last may shows they had several days in the 80s.

    Makes it hard to plan. If you plan on all 80's for sure you'll get some low 70s and 60s. We leave 2 weeks later than you and I plan a mix of capris/tops and but also some items that can be layered up for cooler/wetter temps. For sure an evening wrap or sweater for up on the sun deck as it's always cooler there.

    Just booked our airfare this morning. For a change the Tauck price was significantly lower than what Delta was showing on their website. Nice to book my comfort plus seats but still not have to pay til next Mar.
  • One other thing---when we've been in other cities and had very limited time, we found it helpful to hire a private tour guide and driver to get us around to the places we really wanted to see and understand. The guides pre purchase skip the line passes and know the times to hit the different places to avoid crowds.

    What's the best way to find a private tour guide? Maybe we can get together for dinner before the cruise?
  • Under the Before You Go, Preparing to Go tab there is a section on weather which gives avg temps and rain for Budapest, Bamberg, Vienna and Amsterdam. Lately - because the weather has frequently been different than the averages - I've also been checking what happened the same time this year. I'll google "May weather in Budapest 2018" and it will give me a full months worth. Tauck shows the highs in Budapest as 70 in June - but a look at last may shows they had several days in the 80s.

    Makes it hard to plan. If you plan on all 80's for sure you'll get some low 70s and 60s. We leave 2 weeks later than you and I plan a mix of capris/tops and but also some items that can be layered up for cooler/wetter temps. For sure an evening wrap or sweater for up on the sun deck as it's always cooler there.

    Just booked our airfare this morning. For a change the Tauck price was significantly lower than what Delta was showing on their website. Nice to book my comfort plus seats but still not have to pay til next Mar.

    Thank you, I did find that link, but will definitely Google temps for May and see what they look like.

    Tauck is also booking our flight, but we haven't gotten any information yet. Do I have to make the final payment first?


  • You should have your flight details already if your reservations have been made. No payment needed until the tour payment due date.

    The only time I've had to pay up front was before Tauck could book Delta Economy Comfort directly. Then I had to pay the economy seat price, get a confirmation # then call Delta myself to upgrade. No longer necessary.

    I called and spoke directly to the air department. We talked thru the options and we decided on flights and seats. Within minutes of my call they emailed me an update to my reservation summary - a PDF file which shows the addition of the airfare and tax with a revised final figure for the tour. After the first 4 pages of info (which you've probably already seen in your original tour reservation) there was be several more pages with flight details - dates, airlines, #, seat assignments, etc.

    If you haven't already been emailed or snail mailed that updated reservation summary, call Tauck.

    On weather - the night before the trip I also do a 10 day weather forecast to get a better idea what it looks like.

    On tour guides, you can trip Viator and see what tours they have. They are a tour aggregator (work with multiple tour operators) and can have a wide variety from small group bus trips to private tours. Just double check the refund policy for the one you're interested in as they vary widely. Hotel concierges are also good sources to arrange tours.
  • Elizabeth, did you book directly with Tauck or with a travel agent? If Tauck, then call them, you should definitely have been sent details as Claudia describes.
  • British wrote:
    Elizabeth, did you book directly with Tauck or with a travel agent? If Tauck, then call them, you should definitely have been sent details as Claudia describes.

    I realized that our paperwork said Airfare by request so I called and we now have our plane booked. Thank you!!
  • Good to hear. That definitely didn't sound right that you didn't know your flight details.
  • edited August 2018
    I'm almost surprised Tauck was able to provide flight info this early. I don't know if the airlines accept early bookings from tour companies like Tauck, but most US airlines like Delta don't typically release flights and accept bookings until approximately 330 days before departure (of the return flight on a round trip itinerary.) If you are on the 19 May 2019 A-D departure and flying home on 4 June (end date + 2 days), the booking window didn't open for your flights until around 9 July (4 June - 330 days). Rest assured that if Tauck says they will book your flights, they will.

    Claudia- be careful with Delta. I mentioned this in another post, but it looks like Delta may be taking the Amazon ever-changing-price model to a new level. Using constructive dates, I track prices for a few months before the 330 day window opens then buy our tickets at the first opportunity. Delta ticket prices, for the exact same flight itinerary on the same day of the week (different dates as the 330 window moves) often vary widely, more than could be explained away by using different dates. In the month since the booking window opened and we purchased our tickets, the price for tickets on the exact same dates now and same itinerary has continued to fluctuate like it did before- from the low we paid it has gone up by as much as $2000 to $3000 per person for business Class, before going back down for a few days!!! (and then back up)!! I booked on 10 July, and when I checked just now, the exact same flights are going for $1886 more per person and only 3 - 4 (approx) out of 36 Business Class seats have been booked! This pricing game may have been going on for awhile, but I never noticed it before.
  • Ah, of course Alan, you are good to have picked that up, Elizabeth, thank goodness you mentioned something though. We often book a trip maybe 18 months out with Tauck and have to call back at the 330 day mark if we are going to book the flight through them. Once we left it a couple of months into the 330 days, we had been busy with a family bereavement and were going to book business class. When we called there were no business seats left. And yes the term on request is what it says on your booking info until the flights open to book.
    Elizabeth, have you also taken out the Tauck insurance? I recommend it but it has to be taken out at time of booking so I hope they mentioned the option to you. It is good and better than other tour companies offer. We have never had to claim on it but I know Alan S has.
    If you are unsure of anything, do not hesitate to call Tauck for clarification.
  • Alan, I hear you and have heard the same from a friend who tracks airfare trends. We are at 291 days from our trip.

    The day I called Tauck I wasn't 100% ready to book but they quoted me $1,700 each for Economy Comfort flights to Budapest and back from Amsterdam. Same moment on Delta's website it was $2000. They were also some of the best timing we've ever achieved - not leaving too early this end, enough layover time but not too much and not arriving home late at night.

    Could I have done better to wait? Possibly but that seemed fairly reasonable for a May/Jun trip and the ability to pick the seats we wanted now. I suspect Business Class is where I might have seen a bigger payoff to wait. I kept hoping they'd add the new Premium Select to flights to either Amsterdam or Paris but that doesn't seem to have happened.

    My only real worry now is that the flights don't change in any significant way timing wise and Danube water levels. Neither of which I have any control over.
  • British - yes we did take out the insurance cause it was so far in advance and we really don't know how the next several months will go.
  • edited August 2018
    Alan, I hear you and have heard the same from a friend who tracks airfare trends. We are at 291 days from our trip.
    . . .

    My only real worry now is that the flights don't change in any significant way timing wise and Danube water levels. Neither of which I have any control over.

    A flight change is always a danger. Most of the changes we have had so far have had no effect- a few minutes early or late here or there. Only once did we encounter a situation where a change made it impossible to make a connection. Before calling Delta I scoped out options so I could offer an alternative itinerary and save time on the phone. As it turned out the option I selected (two totally new outbound legs) was better (timing and aircraft) than my original itinerary. Since the change was caused by their schedule modification, we didn't have to pay a change fee nor were we required to pay the difference for the more expensive flights- it was a real win-win.

    One potential gotcha is that Delta does not send email alerts about changes until a few weeks before departure, so, if I didn't regularly check our reservations, things could have turned out differently. Also, if they make a plane change, you might need to re-select seats. I check our reservations every week or so and more often the closer we get to departure.

    I'm actually hoping for a change to our outbound flight next year from Atlanta to Jo'burg- I want them to replace the scheduled Boeing 777-200LR with older business seats arranged in a herringbone (feet to the aisle) for one of the newly refurbished 777-200LR's with the new Delta One Suites! : ) They just finished refurbishing the first of 18 777-200LR/ER's last month and while all are supposed to be converted by the end of 2019, we fly in May 2019, so there is only a slight chance we will luck out. You would think Delta would schedule refurb planes on their longest flights first, but, so far the ATL to JNB route (their longest, almost 1000 mi. longer than 2nd place!!!) is not listed on any upgrade schedule published so far. The new Delta One Suites are also starting to show up on reconfigured and new delivery A350's. FYI, Comfort+ goes away and will be replaced by "Premium" seats on these planes.
  • I was so hoping the new Premium seats would be available for our flights next year but apparently not. sigh

    Delta is weird about updates. Last year they sent me several email alerts of minor sked changes that had zero impact on our trip, then 2 weeks before departure didn't inform us that the flight home from SLC was canceled (and it was the last flight of the day). Thankfully, Tauck air dept did call us. By that point our choice was a reroute via Atlanta and take lousy seat assignments in economy or keep our Comfort seats to SLC and stay over night. We went with the later. The only saving grace was Delta didn't charge us a fee to make the flight change.

    The only reason I can see that they didn't alert us is the flight that was canceled was a regional carrier vs an actual Delta flight.
  • What's the best way to find a private tour guide? Maybe we can get together for dinner before the cruise?

    Look at Trip Advisor. We've found some good tour guides with good recommendations.

    Have you booked a hotel yet for your nights before the cruise? We are just now starting to make those types of plans.

  • We did through Tauck so we're at the Inter Continental before and after. Where have you decided to stay?
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