Please sign in to post.

Need Help with Budapest/Vienna Itinerary :)

Hello,
My husband and I are in our 40's and have taken driving tours all over Europe. I know public transportation would be easy, but we like the flexibility of driving ourselves. We realize this itinerary doesn't do the larger cities justice, and it's a very tight schedule, but we don't mind "speed visiting" places. We find that the scenic driving from one destination to the next is half the fun! Stopping for lunch in little towns along the way, etc...

So we already purchased round trip flights to Budapest for the first week in September. This is our very tentative itinerary and questions. Thank you in advance for your input!!

Day 1: Arrive Budapest 12:30pm. Rent a car and go directly to Vienna and check into hotel. We will be there 2 nights. Any hotel suggestions?
Day 2: We are not very into museums or opera, so for our full day in Vienna, we would like to take a Wachau Valley river cruise. Is there one right out of Vienna to Melk and back where we can stop off in the towns along the way? Any suggestions?
Day 3: Leave Vienna and head to Cesky Krumlov. Stay one night. Is this worth a visit, or should we spend the day elsewhere? We want to see some scenic towns, and although CK looks gorgeous, maybe it's a little out of the way? Any suggestions?
Day 4: Leave CK on the way to Hallstatt for an overnight. Stop in Salzburg for lunch. Or, should we stay in Salzburg and just visit Hallstatt on the way to Bratislava the next day?

Day 5: Head to Bratislava for an overnight.
Day 6: Head back to Budapest. Stay 2 nights and fly out.

I purposely left 1 day unaccounted for to add onto an existing stop. Where should we spend it?

Thanks for your help!

Posted by
15053 posts

Driving jetlagged and sleep-deprived is equivalent to DUI. You're planning a 3-plus hour drive at high speed. Just sayin' . . .

Posted by
451 posts

Not knowing your budget, I can recommend the Hollmann Beletage in Vienna. Recently had a great stay there. http://www.hollmann-beletage.at/en/ If you do visit Cesky Krumlov, I would suggest arriving mid afternoon, spending a night and then leaving early afternoon the next day. We weren't huge fans of CK. Although it is beautiful, we found it too full of souvenir shops and sub par restaurants. We spent the night in Hallstatt and visited Dachstein Salzkammergut and the Dachstein Caves. Gorgeous views! Had a very pleasant stay at a small B&B that was reasonably priced, immaculately clean, had its own parking and was a short walk into the village of Hallstatt. http://anger.hallstatt.net/?lang=en Salzburg is worthy of consideration. Beautiful city that is very walkable. Really enjoyed our time there.

Posted by
2 posts

No worries about jet lag. It's essentially an overnight flight for us and neither one of us have trouble sleeping on the plane. Of course if there is a problem, we have a plan B, which is to take the train and rent a car in/out of Vienna on the third day instead.

Posted by
508 posts

"...we would like to take a Wachau Valley river cruise":

We are currently in early planning stages of a trip to include Vienna later this year. And are also interested in the Wachau Valley. See the RS book on Vienna, etc., in which he discusses various options. We plan to further research the 1-way cruise up to Melk and returning by rental bike. It's downhill, on dedicated bike paths, and -- I believe -- was described as an easy 4 hour ride. You can choose between the northern or southern side, and also switch back/forth using cross-river ferries.

Posted by
13000 posts

@ jwright....There are those who don't have jet lag upon landing and who can count on sleeping on the flight going over.

Posted by
15053 posts

Jetlag and lack of sleep are not exactly the same thing. Jetlag can slow down reflexes and decision-making that are necessary to drive. Because you don't feel it doesn't mean it isn't there.

Posted by
2487 posts

Why not explore the region between Vienna and Budapest? You'll pass Györ, which is a nice small city, and some of the Esterhazy palaces, one on the Hungarian side of the border (Fertöd, near Sopron) and another on the Austrian side (Eisenstadt).
And Vienna is really a nice city, even if one isn't interested in museums. It would be a pity only to use it for sleeping.

Posted by
2 posts

We have traveled independently in Europe, mostly via rental car, for many years. I agree that having a rental car adds to the travel experience and really gives you a sense of freedom. I have learned the hard way to avoid long drives after the overnight flight. On one trip we flew into London and then proceeded to drive four hours to York for our first night. Big mistake. I fought sleep the entire way and in hindsight probably was a dangerous driver. Take it easy on your first day. Your flight may be delayed or some other unforeseen event may happen to delay your schedule. I recommend you use the first day to visit Budapest. Sleep well that first night and be ready to go the next morning. Have a great trip!

Posted by
4 posts

We travel to Europe at least twice a year. Recently we traveled to NZ and found this product - it really seemed to work and it's "homeopathic" so no "drug addled" head. ; ) https://www.nojetlag.com you can purchase on Amazon or at a lot of local pharmacies.

re: Chesky Krumlov.... cute little town overrun by tourists from around 9 a.m. - 4pm - after that, you have it almost to yourself. 24 hours is enough time

re: Budpest - it is one of our most favorite of European cities! Gorgeous (especially at night), totally walkable, lots of history - ancient and more recent (WWII). I would say plan 3 days there - also take a night time river cruise - the Parliament lit up at night is breathtaking.

Posted by
13730 posts

Just some quick notes:

The pace of your trip is such that I don't think the car is going to give you much additional freedom and its going to be expensive.

Other than that, spending a total of two nights in Budapest especially after a long drive is sort of not giving the town much justice.

I might be interested in seeing Bratislava as a stop on the way to Budapest or a stop on the way to Vienna. But not really worth a night.

Cesky Krumlov is worth a night but you don't need a car to get there from Vienna. Bean or CK Shuttle are cheap and efficient.

I might support a rental car in Vienna so you can see Melk and the Wachau Valley on your own with out joining a tour.

I like the idea of stopping in Gyor and the Archabbey at Pannonhalma and I like the idea of spending more time visiting Hungary, in which case a car can be useful. Here a car might be marginally more efficient.

Posted by
4 posts

P.S.

Vienna is lovely - highly recommend a visit to Belvedere Palace - an overlooked art museum. Several Klimt's there, plus much, much more.

Also, in Vienna we found many locals smoke - we always walk everywhere in European cities. The downside: as you walk behind the many smokers it comes right into your face! Most restaurants in Vienna are NOT non smoking. The have "smoking" areas which tend to bleed into the non smoking areas. The only place completely non smoking was Starbucks! This could be a non issue for you, but we found it annoying and unhealthy. ; )

Posted by
13000 posts

I would not advise driving a rental car upon arrival for various reasons. I have driven after a long flight 11 hrs returning from Europe to SFO, not every time but occasionally, ...no jet lag, no problem. From SFO to back the city, having slept on the flight, I have the advantages, unlike in Europe. Most importantly, I'm driving my own car, it's my turf, no need to be so attentive to signs, ie, I can take the Interstate, going at 60 to 70 mph, or take the slower route with stop and go traffic, going at 35 to 45 mph.

Posted by
1 posts

If you are coming from the East Coast, I would not driving the first day. If you do get tired you can always stop.

Posted by
1523 posts

Most restaurants in Vienna are NOT non smoking. The have "smoking" areas which tend to bleed into the non smoking areas.

I disagree. The majority of restaurants and coffeeshops, not the vast majority though, do not permit smoking anymore.

The total smoking ban in public places in Austria will be effective May 2018.

Posted by
183 posts

Suggest you find a way not to backtrack on Days 2 to 3 and cut down on the driving. The Wachau and Krumlov are the same direction and you can get a rental car in Krems. I'd also suggest you take the train one way and the boat the other to go to the Wachau since your time is so compressed.

As an aside, the intinerary you posted has no time in Vienna (maybe dinner your first night). Just using it as a base for a trip to the Wachau (which is fine, if that's what you want), but seems like not a very efficient choice. If you just need a place to sleep on a driving tour, pick somewhere smaller and en route to what you want to see and make the driving simpler. You don't want to drive into Vienna.

Posted by
63 posts

If it were me, I would not rent the car until you get to Austria, if at all. The car will be a hindrance in both Budapest and Wien. Take the train from Budapest to Wien for sure and maybe rent the car once there if you must. It will be easier and you will most likely save money. You would only need the car for side trips, say to the Alps, Melk, etc.

For a hotel in Wien, we stayed at K&T Boardinghouse and were pleased. Book direct from them and you will save money.

We spent an afternoon in Bratislava. It was nice but I doubt we would return now that we've seen it. I would spend more time in Salzburg or Vienna when we go back.

Your itinerary looks rather ambitious. We recently spent 10 days in Wien and Budapest (5 days each) and it feels like we barely scratched the surface of both cities. I've driven all over Europe myself and I prefer the train as I like to drink beer. ;-)