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Car Rental for Eastern Europe

We are planning a trip to Eastern Europe in October. We would like to rent a car in Budapest to make a circle drive through Vienna, perhaps Prague, Krakow, Lviv (Ukraine), and back to Budapest. Are there any restrictions on where you can take a rental car?

I know you can't bring one into Russia. Am wondering if Ukraine has any restrictions.

Posted by
12819 posts

Wish I could get 3 weeks or more off to make such a trip.

Its not Ukraine that would have the restrictions its the car rental company. I suspect you might have to do some looking around to find one that would be happy with their car going into Ukraine. But its not something I have checked on. As for Budapest, Vienna, Prague and Krakow; they are more commonly referred to these days as being in Central Europe. In Budapest and Prague and Vienna figure the cost of the car each day its parked plus maybe another $25 to park it. Remember gas costs nearly twice what it does here and a great many of the road are toll roads of which you will miss knowing on one or two and end up paying a fine.

Prague - Cesky Krumlov - Vienna - Gyor - Budapest are easy and cheap train/shuttle trips. Krakow and Lviv are the outliers and more difficult to reach. The transportation costs will be less than the car. But I understand the feeling of freedom with a car, even if it does cost a bit more than the train. Its fantastic.

Lviv is accessible by air from Kiev and Warsaw (less than $150)
Krakow is accessible by air from Warsaw dirt cheap (less than $100)
Both Kiev and Warsaw are accessible by air from Budapest (less than $100).

There is a plan hidden in there somewhere; and any plan that includes Kiev is excellent.

Posted by
6570 posts

Call AutoEurope on the phone and see what they say. Someone the other day said Sixt allowed their cars in the Czech Republic.
I would think any car rental picked up in Budapest would be able to go to some of those countries. I don't know about the Ukraine since there are some military problems going on there, however.
When we were in Russia last year, we were expecting to find a bunch of Trabants and old Russian built cars. The place was full of Mercedes, Volvo's and BMW's.

Posted by
22 posts

We usually rent from Hertz when we are out of the USA/Canada even though they usually charge a little more than some others. We've had very good luck with them and often received a better car than what we contracted for. I need to call them and ask about policy. I've heard too many horror stories with Sixt to even consider them.

We do enjoy the freedom of a car--being able to stop when you see something interesting. The rental cost is often comparable to two train tickets. Parking is expensive, but gas is not that bad because the cars are fuel efficient and it isn't as far from one place to another as it is here in the States. Road and bridge tolls can be quite high. We often leave the car at the hotel and take public transportation in city centers.

We have friends in Lviv, Ukraine. I'm not sure I want to venture much farther in with the military threat there.

Thanks for your input.

Posted by
22 posts

I had to call Hertz in Budapest, but I have an answer for anyone interested. If you rent a car in Budapest, you may drive it to any European country EXCEPT Ukraine. It is "forbidden" to take the car to the Ukraine. I specifically asked about Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Poland. Those were all ok.

Posted by
12819 posts

Gloria, we were in Kyiv in August. You have to remember this is a huge country and the war is a long way off from Kyiv. If you get to lviv and have the time, I understanding that heading through the Carpathians to Chernivtsi and Kam'yanets'-Podil's'kyi is worth the effort (our next trip). And while you can get to Lviv from Warsaw, its a lot cheaper from Kyiv (under $75 each way) and it gives you an opportunity to see a magnificent city. While you are in Ukraine, spend as much money as you can. The economy needs to offset the war effort. As for the car in Ukraine, Lviv might cost a bit more, but in most of Ukraine you can rent a car with a driver for about what you will spend for the car alone in Western Europe.

Posted by
4 posts

the hertz next to the budapest marriott let us rent a car and drive through croatia, bosnia and serbia without any additional fees. they did require a $1000 credit card hold, but said that this was routine. everything went just fine.

Posted by
1 posts

I just rented a car from Sixt in Budapest and drove to Slovakia, Czech republic, Germany and Austria. I confirmed that all those countries were allowed by calling the local Hungarian Sixt's number from the US. The printed rental agreement had some language​ not allowing to take the car into Romania, Ukraine and three more countries that I do not recall now (prob Serbia). I declined the comprehensive insurance and used my AmEx instead. Sixt needed to hold a €3,000 authorization, that they promptly released when i returned the car. Overall, Sixt was great: I wanted to extend the rental over the phone and add a driver, all of which was cheap, simple and polite. Driving in all those countries was trivial (just make sure you buy a highway vignette in each country - it's their toll system). I bought a Slovak e-vignette on my phone via a mobile site, and the Austrian and Czech ones at the border gas stations. German autobahns don't have tolls (they have speed limits and speed cameras in the construction zones, be careful) . It's a pity that I could not take the car East into Ukraine and Romania because I found this much more interesting and convenient than taking trains.

I saw that Sixt operated in major towns in Ukraine: perhaps those rentals can be taken to EU, so consider flying into Ukraine instead, and driving to Hungary from there.

Posted by
12819 posts

That's good help on car rentals. Thank you.

The train to Lviv out of Budapest i understand is an adventure. Another option for Western Ukraine is Ryan Air who in the fall will have direct flights to Lviv for under $100 out of Budapest. My experience in Ukraine is limited to Kyiv and Odessa but i understand the train service within the Ukraine is a bit slow and the roads a bit challenging at times. There are also discount flights to Bucharest out of Budapest. We did drive from Bucharest to Budapest some years ago and, while long and anything but direct it was a great experience.