Advice on travelling from Hungary to Italy

MY 21-YEAR-OLD SON AND A FRIEND ARE VISITING EUROPE IN DECEMBER/JANUARY, FLYING INTO LONDON AND TRAVELLING THROUGH EASTERN EUROPE AND FINISHING IN BUDAPEST. HE IS KEEN TO SEE VENICE AND FLORENCE BUT THE PROBLEM IS FINDING A TIMELY, CHEAP WAY OF GETTING THERE FROM BUDAPEST. HE HAS ONLY FIVE DAYS BETWEEN THE END OF THE TOUR AND HIS FLIGHT BACK TO SYDNEY. ANY SUGGESTIONS?

ALSO, WHERE THEY MIGHT SPEND NEW YEAR'S EVE? THEY ARE THINKING AMSTERDAM.

L. FREELAND, NORTHWOOD

Flights between Budapest and Venice or Florence are either long or fantastically expensive. I'm getting a price of more than $700 for a one-way ticket to either city in mid-January for a reasonably direct flight, or as little as $149 to Venice but that's for a flight time of 22 hours.

However using Momondo (momondo.com.au), I'm looking at a direct, non-stop 90-minute flight from Budapest to Milan for the same date for just $29 aboard Ryanair, or $33 aboard Wizz Air. From Milan he could catch a train to either Florence or Venice. According to the Trenitalia website (trenitalia.com) a train from Milan's Centrale Station to Santa Lucia right on the Grand Canal in Venice costs as little as €18.80. He could also take a train all the way from Budapest's Keleti Station to Santa Lucia, which takes about 13 hours, and there's an overnight train, arriving at 5.20 am. This saves a night's accommodation costs, however train is a more expensive option. From Rail Europe (raileurope.com.au), I get a price of $215 for the cheapest ticket.

If he has to choose between the two cities, and time is tight, my vote would be Venice rather than Florence. If your son is returning home from London there are plenty of cheap flights between Venice and London. Just make sure the flight goes to Heathrow, not Luton or Stansted.

Amsterdam would be a good choice for New Year's Eve, but two young men on the road in Europe, wherever they spend it, will  have a cracker of a night.

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