Discover Prague, Vienna, and Munich with Seven Free Hotel Nights

Are you unsatisfied with your mundane existence and longing to see the wonders of Europe?

Are you nervous that spending money on travel is an irresponsible decision when there are so many other items you need to buy?

Are you convinced that you’ll never get to fully experience the world’s beauty the way you want to until you’re old and no longer have the energy or interest to do it?

WorldWanderlusting is chock full of more than 400 posts – all dedicated to helping you banish the phrase “I’d love to travel, I just can’t afford it” from your mind. We’ve discovered the world of travel hacking and it’s made our lives so infinitely much richer. We’re not keeping any secrets to ourselves and genuinely offering to be your free travel agents for almost-free travel.

In this post, we’ve put together a marvelous itinerary with flights that you can book with very few points and/or dollars, 7 free nights in hotel rooms, and a $229 9-day car rental on a circuit through Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, and even a little corner of Slovakia to see some of the best cities, towns, and sights in Europe.  Prague Loop

What this requires is a tolerance for a foriegn idea, the idea that you can use your good credit to apply for credit cards with huge travel reward bonuses, your everyday spending to meet the minimum spending requirements to receive those bonuses, and your good judgement to ensure that all your bills are paid on time and in full, so that you win the game of obtaining huge benefits without bad consequences.

You can do it.  I know you can… because I’ve been doing it for four years now and between my wife and I, we’ve applied for 38 cards and accumulated more than 2 million frequent flyer miles, taken our family to do incredible things, and together created experiences that we thought could only belong to the mega-wealthy.

Now, settle in and enjoy.

Flights

Here’s the lowdown – there’s no better frequent flyer program to fly to Europe in coach on points, than American Airlines’ AAdvantage.  Between October 15th and May 15th, you can fly from the US to Europe for 40k AA points and a pittance in fees/taxes. Because using points requires a lot of flexibility, we plan these trips as loops to provide for maximum availability.  You could fly into and/or out of any of the three major cities along the route and make it work. Here is an example of an itinerary that I found that could work for the loop I’ve designed.

prague american airlines

One way to Prague for $104 and 20k AA miles

Munich on AA

Munich to SLC for $118 and 20k AA miles

If you’re not just masquerading as a travel junkie, your mouth is watering and you’re thinking “how can I get my hands on 40k AA miles.” Well, you’ve come to the right place. Right now, this is the best and easiest way t0 get those miles: Get the Citi Platinum Select/AAdvantage World Mastercard. After meeting the minimum spending of $3000 in the first three months, you’ll get 50k AA points.  There’s no annual fee for the first year. After meeting the first spending requirement, you could also sign up your spouse and accumulate 50k more so they can come along as well.

Hotels (all free)

Paying so little for a flight to Europe is exhilarating, but what if we could add in 7 free nights, as well?  The best way to go about this is the Chase Marriott Rewards card, which, for a limited time, is offering 70k points, plus 1 more free night when you sign up for the card and meet the $2,000 minimum spending requirement with in the first 3 months. The annual fee is also waived for the first year.

Hotel reward points work like this – each hotel is categorized and requires a certain amount of points to book.  Marriott’s Category 3 hotels require 15k points/night, and lucky for us, there are an abundance of them in this part of Europe.  Also, when you book 4 nights in the same hotel, the 5th night is points-free, so we’ll spend 60k points on 5 nights in one hotel in Vienna (where we’ll base most of the day-trips),10k points on one night in Prague, and the last free night on a hotel in Munich.

That’s a total of 7 free nights in Marriott hotels in Europe – something you’d otherwise spend at least $1000 on.  Save your $1000 for touring castles and eating schnitzel.

Transportation

Munich car rentalYes, you can take a train pretty much everywhere, but I just love the feeling of freedom that comes with renting a car.  With GPS what it is today, I almost never get lost and I can detour to see whatever strikes my fancy. I never “miss” a train and have to wait at a station, and I can go and see the “off-the-beaten-path” sights. Depending on where you fly in and out of, you may find it amazingly inexpensive to rent a car. I checked Expedia, and for a round trip flight in and out of Munich, we could get ourselves a nice little fuel-efficient car for $177 for the 7 days – pretty incredible and a small price to pay for the freedom it affords.

The Vacation

I’ve done a couple of other posts exactly like this one on using Marriott points in Spain, but in this itinerary, we’re focused on this loop through Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic.

Day 1: Prague

English: Charles Bridge in Prague. Español: Pu...

Charles Bridge in Prague.(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You’ll arrive to Prague early in the morning and take advantage of the full day to get into the city and start seeing the myrad of sights. Really to do this place justice, you’d need to spring for a couple more nights, but we’ll pretend you’re as cheap as I am and you’re going to cram it all in in a day and a half. For a great overview of what to do in Prague, check out this guest post by one of our WorldWanderlusting followers, but whatever you do, don’t miss a stroll across Charles Bridge.

Overnight Prague Courtyard Marriott Category 2 (10k points)

Day 2: Prague and drive to Vienna

While you probably saw most of the great sights of Prague yesterday, you’ll have most of the day to see what you missed.  Check out the Museum of Communism or go to the top of Petrin hill, but you need to be on the road in time to get to Vienna tonight – which should take about 3-4 hours regardless of whether you go by car or train.

Overnight Courtyard Marriott Vienna Messe Category 3 (15k points )

Day 3: Vienna

Your hotel is right near the subway stop, so exploring Vienna should be easy. While many cities jockey for the title of “The City of Music,” Vienna may be best positioned to claim that title.  You’ll want to make time to visit the Stadtpark where there will likely be a concert, and even if there’s not, you can listen to the classics on your iPod while viewing the busts of great composers like Strauss. Also, don’t miss the Naschmarkt where you can sample local foods, buy trinkets and even antiques, and enjoy the Austrian culture. You may also want to enjoy a street vendor sausage from a Wurstelstand.

Overnight Courtyard Marriott Vienna Messe Category 3 (15k points)

Day 4: Day trip to Bratislava

Slovak National Theatre (old building)

Slovak National Theatre (old building) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Just one hour by car or train from Vienna, you can find yourself in the capital of neighboring Slovakia – Bratislava. The Primatial Palace is an incredibly beautiful building – still serving as the city government building.  In fact, the city council meetings are held in the Hall of Mirrors – a spectacular site with a history to match it.

If you’re looking for an amazing cultural experience at a fraction of the price (who am I kidding – of course you are, that’s why you’re on our blog), make arrangements to see a performance at the Slovak National Theatre).

Overnight Courtyard Marriott Vienna Messe Category 3 (15k points )

Day 5: Day trip to Melk

Your main purpose in visiting Melk is to see the Melk Abbey.  The abbey was built in 1732 and lacks nothing in the way of lavishness – gold, marble, and ornate carvings are in abundance.

Also, the quaint little town of Melk is more than welcoming with small restaurants and a much more countryside feel than the larger cities you’ve been visiting.  Soak it up and enjoy the change of scenery.

Overnight Courtyard Marriott Vienna Messe Category 3 (15k points )

Day 6: Day Trip to Kreuzenstein Castle

Kreuzenstein-Castle-Amazing-572x322If you happen to be visiting between November and March, unfortunately this one won’t be an option for you, but I’m hoping you took my advice and you’re there in the shoulder season. This castle is perched high on a hilltop and has all the features that make a castle a castle – a draw bridge, a moat, and secret tunnels. Touring this castle will be like being transported back to medieval times.

Only an hour from Vienna, you could easily make this visit and still be back for a final evening meal in the city before departing the next day.

Overnight Courtyard Marriott Vienna Messe Category 3 (5th night free)

Day 7: Salzburg/Halstatt on the way to Munich

Get an early start on your drive or train journey today because you’ll be spending most of your time closer to Munich.

As the setting for the Sound of Music, Salzburg is what most people conjure when they think of Austria. Enjoy the Mirabell gardens and whatever else you’d like, but save time for a visit to another neighboring village – Halstatt.

Hallstatt_300Halstatt an old salt-mining village right alongside a gorgeous lake and surrounded by mountains.  When you read this excellent overview of a walking tour of the city by bigboytravel.com, you’ll find a way to stay the night here and give the town its due.

Overnight Courtyard Marriott Munich East Category 3 (Use free night).

Day 8: Munich and Depart

Again, you really shouldn’t do this to yourself.  There is far too much to see in Munich for you to spend but one single night here. But for the sake of planning an almost completely free vacation, we’ll say that you have just one day to see as much as possible.

Luckily, this is another town we’ve already explored in greater depth in another post – Things to do in Munch. Here’s a quick summary:

  • Marienplatz, the main public square of the city, is a great place to start along with the nearby market.  The clock or glockenspiel on the town hall has moving figurines which reenact Bavarian history. Appropriately enough, the name for “Town Hall” in German is “Rathaus.”
  • I’m a sucker for science museums and from the moment you first set foot in Germany, you know that these guys clearly understand it as well as anyone.  Visit the Deutsches Museum and you’ll get the idea.
  • The English Garden puts Central Park to shame, full of wooded paths and a moving waterway, and even a nudist area.

If you liked this post, read this one about our 13-day itinerary from Venice to Rome, or this one about nine free nights in Spain.

If you loved this post, read this one about WorldWanderlusters who booked an $85 trip to Ireland, and like us on Facebook.

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If you’re entertained by the idea, but nervous about what applying for travel reward credit cards will do to your credit, read Doesn’t it Hurt my Credit?

 

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4 Responses to Discover Prague, Vienna, and Munich with Seven Free Hotel Nights

  1. Shanley says:

    Dang, the Marriott website is showing 50K reward points right now. I must have just missed this! Do you know how frequently they fluctuate? I’m debating getting the card now with the 50K points or holding off in hopes of the 70K points comes back…

  2. Yeah, unfortunately the 70k deal is now off the table… another reminder that these things come and go and you never know when they may disappear.

    Chase will only allow you to get the bonus on their cards once, so you’ll have to look at it and decide if you’ll need the points in the near future.

    50k +1 night is still a great reward.

    Brad

  3. TD says:

    Brad, would you recommend Shanley getting the 140k Ritz Carlton with a $395 Annual Fee. Both my wife and I each got the 140k. Enjoy really nice stays at Ritz or stretch it out with Marriott.

    If so, please direct him on it please. I tumble across your blog from another blog.
    But I’m a local Utahn too! Definitely following your blog.

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