Central Europe ranks high on the bucket lists of most travelers. This region offers multiple capital cities to explore, quaint villages, century-old architecture in a variety of historical styles, castles, beautiful scenery, and tons of delicious food.

With so many places to see and do in Central Europe, it can be hard to know how to start planning your trip. If you’ve traveled before, you know you should book your plane ticket and hotels several months in advance of your business.

But what else should you do? Well, here are five tips you’ll want to keep in mind when planning your trip.

Stay in large and small cities

Many tourists fall into a trap where they visit only the capital cities in Central Europe and overlook the smaller villages and towns. However, to get the full experience of everything Central Europe has to offer, you’ll want to stop at some smaller towns as well.

The larger cities of Central Europe have their charm and offer plenty of culture, but they’re also very busy. Smaller towns and villages tend to be more laid back, though still have plenty of charm and culture.

Going off the beaten path allows you to explore the scenery and landmarks that you can’t experience in a large city. For example, in the town of Karlovy Vary, you can have the unique experience of visiting a multitude of natural springs.

Plan routes in advance

Once you have your must-visit locations picked out, begin to plan out your routes. Ideally, you want to choose a route that allows you to visit all the towns and cities you want to visit without having to backtrack.

To start, pick out the capital cities that you want to visit. From there, see if there are any smaller towns on the way between the large cities. You can plan sightseeing stops along the route.

For example, say you were traveling from Prague to Berlin. You might decide you want to go from Prague to Karlovy Vary to Berlin instead, since a stop at Karlovy Vary wouldn’t be that far out of the way.

Think ahead with transportation

Have a plan in place for transportation before you arrive in Central Europe. Central Europe has a good public transportation system that runs through the major cities. While this option is affordable, you have to be mindful of the timetables.

If you want to explore without worrying about timetables, another option is renting a car. Renting a car gives you the freedom to come and go as you please, but there is the possibility of getting lost.

If you don’t feel comfortable driving in a foreign country but don’t want to deal with public transport, the third option is to rent a private driver. They’ll know their way around, though drivers can be expensive.

Protect your valuables

Tourists make easy targets. While Central Europe is overall very safe, some tourists do find themselves the victim of pickpocketing because they tend to leave their wallets and passports in their back pockets.

You should always leave your passport and extra cash locked up in a secure location, such as in your hotel room or the glove box of your car.

As for your wallet, get in the habit of keeping it in a safe place where it cannot be easily stolen. You should also only keep as much cash on you as you need for an excursion. Following this simple advice can prevent you from having your money or identity stolen.

Visit the doctor before going

Anytime you travel to a new country, you should check with your doctor to make sure that you’re up-to-date with your vaccinations. Getting sick in a foreign country is extremely unpleasant and it can be hard to find a doctor to treat you.

While Central Europe is a developed region, you’ll still want to make sure you receive the appropriate travel vaccinations. For example, measle outbreaks are still common in certain countries.

The best way to go about getting vaccinated is to contact your doctor at least six weeks before traveling. Let them know where you’re planning on traveling. They’ll look at your records to make sure you have the appropriate vaccinations.

In summary

A trip to Central Europe is an amazing opportunity. To make the most of your trip, plan your routes, think about how you’re going to get around, and make sure you visit your doctor in advance. And, when planning what cities to visit, don’t overlook the smaller villages – they offer as many cultural experiences as the capital cities do.