Being in the centre of Europe, Prague is a very good (and cheap!) ‘base camp’ to do short weekend trips or even day trips from.
Flixbus and Airbnb became very frequently opened apps in our lives. In order to plan a trip, we just needed a 3 ‘W’s to be confirmed: Who, Where and When. Some of our trips were quite spontaneous. We could be having lunch and the suggestion of a trip to some place comes up. By the end of lunch, we could have our bus tickets searched and settled.
Short day trips to nearby places within the Czech Republic are also nice. There are a lot of small towns to explore and walk around. For most of the places, one day is more than enough to cover the entire area. For example, Cesky Raj, Cesky Krumlov, Pilzen, Karlstejn, Lipno. In the winter, there are also many of these small towns where you can easily go for a few days to ski/snowboard as well.
Nearby places you could take a bus/train to are:
- Germany (Dresden, Berlin, Leipzig, Munich, Frankfurt)
- Poland (Krakow, Katowice, Wroclaw)
- Hungary (Budapest)
- Austria (Vienna, Hallstatt, Innsbruck)
- Slovakia (Bratislava)
- Italy (Bolzano, Milan)
If you want to maximise your trips/days, you could take overnight buses (but at the slight expense of your health). Unless you can sleep or rest well in any condition, this might not be the best option for you, especially in the long run and if you frequently take it. This is only effective if you have the energy afterwards to explore the whole day after reaching at 6am (especially if you are doing a day trip – taking the overnight bus back that same night). Otherwise, it might be more worth sleeping before taking a bus or taking a plane instead. But it is a good option to save a night’s worth of accommodation if there are plans to go to another location nearby (i.e. 5-8 hour bus ride away).
Flights can also be a cheap and fast option to travel to slightly further places in Europe, depending on the day you fly and how far in advance you buy the tickets. It could be worth it if you don’t want to sacrifice your sleep by taking overnight buses and you book your flights early.
if you are flexible/spontaneous, one way you could choose where to visit is to go to skyscanner and look for the cheapest flight destinations and dates. For flights, booking a few months in advance would usually be cheaper. (Hack: flights are cheaper if you book on Tuesdays).
Would also highly recommend signing up for the ESN card at a small fee, which gives you discounted flight tickets on RyanAir with some carry-on luggage included. Do make use of your ISIC card wherever you can to get student discounts too!
However, RyanAir only provides flights from specific airports to the more popular cities. For example, the only airport that hosts flights from central Europe to Istanbul, Turkey is at the airport in Bratislava. However, it is pretty easy and convenient to get from one city to another with trains and buses.
There are a few transport options: train (normal/sleeper), bus, plane, car. Depending on where you travel to, some places you can get around by just walking or taking their public transport, while other places it is easier to drive around. But of course, explore Prague too, it is a beautiful city!