Visiting Vienna and Budapest
To clarify, I will be visiting both Vienna and Budapest in November, hoping to catch Christmas markets at the tail end of November. Are there any additional cities you would recommend within close proximity to either city to visit? We were thinking of Krakow, but that seems a bit out of the way?
I would go out of my way to see Krakow if you haven't been there before. It was one of my favorite stops on the Eastern Europe tour last year.
Bratislava, Slovakia is a very popular stop outside Vienna. It's just 39 miles downriver from Vienna, and it can be reached by bus, train or hydrofoil (after April).
You can fully check it out on Wikipedia.
Lots of great places to see. Some ideas. Let me know if I can help.
Krakow is essentially an overnight train or flight from Vienna; hardly in the neighborhood of Vienna and Budapest.
Bratislava - eh, not really so great, in my opinion.
As Vienna and Budapest are only 2.5 hours apart by train, it makes more sense to me to make day trips from either city rather than uproot yourself to another location for a night.
On the train track almost exactly halfway between Vienna and Budapest is the town of Gyor. It has a nice Baroque center with some medieval and Jewish remnants as well; and it is at the confluence of two rivers with bridge and parks. In the center of the town is a 18th century monastery that has been converted into a pretty decent hotel (Klastrom). About 20 minutes outside of the town is the Archabbey of Pannonhalma and the accompanying winery. The Archabbey if very nice and worth the time. http://bences.hu/lang/en/en You can take the morning train from Vienna see the town and the Archabbey and then continue on with a tran later in the day; or better, spend the night in the Klastrom Hotel and really enjoy the stay
Or for a few bucks more call a guide like Andrew Illes and he will pick you up in either Vienna or Gyor and show you some of the other sights (see my links in the post above) on the way into Budapest.
On visiting someplace in between I would choose two places if you want to stay in Austria, the nearest place: Eisenstadt in Burgenland, or Graz, but only as day trips r/t as suggested above. If you want to drop off somewhere to a spend a night or few hours before proceeding, then I suggest Györ, a small historical place, passed through it en route to Budapest as day trip.
http://bences.hu/en f or the Archabbey at Pannonhalma and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pannonhalma_Archabbey
http://www.pannonhalmibor.com/ Pannonhalma Winery
http://klastrom.hu/index.php?slang=en&page=home for the hotel Klastrom
http://wikitravel.org/en/Gy%C5%91r Gyor in general
Very cute college town right on the Danube.
Lots of see, food good, people very nice.
Spent one week there (june 2012) and wasn't bored.