Travling early December, we want to spend two days in countryside between Prague and Berlin and would like info on train vs. car rental...difficulties, costs, opportunities. Thanks.
No need to Google. You can ask here on TravelBlog.
I would take whichever option has the special offers of the moment.
Car rental is quite expensive. You could try being a paying passanger with somebody who is driving to Prague. www.mitfahrzentrale.de
finds paying passangers for people wanting to make car journeys. The prices are good and I am sure they can drop you someplace in the countryside rather than taking you all the way to Prague.
You could search Deutsche Bahn
for special offer train ticket. You can go on the night train from a destination in Germany to a city in Europe for as little as 39 Euros on the night train. But you have to buy in advance and get lucky to go for this price so start searching now. You could hop out of the train at one of the small towns the train stops at before Prague if you are not interested in spending time in Prague.
Check out Condor and German wings websites for special offer flights to Prague. Then you could take a short train ride out to the countryside from Prague. Maybe even the last subway stop out of the city will be countryside enough for you? Maybe somebody here who is more familiar with Prague can give details about this. Also, maybe there are people who can suggest more airlines that offer good prices.
You could also try bus companies like the following who offer good prices to get you to Prague. Maybe they will even let you out before you get to Prague. www.berlinlinienbus.de
It is particularly good if you are travelling with kids because they travel for free. Maybe somebody else here can suggest some more bus companies.
If you plan to travel also in Czech Republic I do not recommend you to use train - it is ussually slower and more expensive than bus and less comfortable. For travelling from Prague use www.studentagency.cz (you do not have to be a student) - they have yellow modern busses and you can buy here also cheap air tickets...
For Berlin to Prague it's difficult by plane. If you purchase a ticket 2 months or more in advance you can get a ticket for around 100 , but closer to travel time it's more likely to be 200-250.
The train is by far the best option. Travel time is about 4 hours and it costs about 60 one way if you buy at the last minute and maybe as little as 25 if you purchase in advance. If you want to break up the trip, Dresden is 2hours along the way and it's worth a 1-2 day stop.
For a more picturesque city, and really a good example of a central European city in East Germany, I prefer Leipzig. It's 75min from Berlin on the fast train, and to go to Prague from Leipzig is another 3 hours I think.
The German trains are very fast, with the exception of the superfast French TGV, they are the fastest in Europe. Czech trains are painfully slow it is true. But Czech Republic is small, so even if you're going from one end to the other it is not much more than 4 hours.
To buy train tickets:
raileurope.com is the most expensive. It will cost you at least 30% extra
is the German rail website. You can buy tickets for many different locations as long as the destination or origin point is in Germany, then print the ticket on your computer
is the czech railways website. You can buy tickets that originate in Czech Republic only. Buying them from Czech Republic is about 25% cheaper than buying them from Germany (bahn.de)