We will be in Budapest for 6 nights (17th-22nd) in April. With only 5 days which of these towns would be the best for a long day trip? Bus or train better? You read good things about both. We will also plan to go to Szentendre. Also, is it worth spending a few hours in Bratislava on our way to Vienna by train? I'd appreciate any advise on this. Thank you
If you have a similarly long stay in Vienna, then I think you need not hurry to get there and do have time for a stop in Bratislava. From Budapest to Eger, either direct trains or buses take 2 hours each way, versus 3 hours each way for trains to Pecs. Both towns are great destinations.
Five days I assume mean five full days? That is, where you go to wake up and go to bed in the same town that day? Eger is a little closer and enjoyable, especially if you are into wine and outside cafes. Tour the cellars, and sample the wares. Pecs is a cultural treasure; but is a little further away and is somewhat a larger canvas to cover. Best kept for an overnight trip.
However (there is always a however, isn't there); I'm not sure I would suggest with five days you do either; especially if you are planning to go to Szentendre. Instead I would suggest that you leave Budapest a day early (or arrive in Vienna a day later) and stop in Gyor for the night http://www.funzine.hu/2008-04-gyor-a-city-of-history-and-beauty/ Gyor has an excellent baroque center and its the stopping point to go and see the Archabbey and Winery at Pannonhalma. http://bences.hu/ The hotel you would want for the night is the Hotel Klastrom a converted 300-year-old Carmelite convent http://klastrom.hu/uploads/images/legifoto.jpg
The advantage of Gyor and the Archabbey is that they are on the tracks almost halfway between Budapest and Vienna. No return trips, no back tracking, no lost time; and very much worth the experience.
For Szentendre, you know to take the train up and the boat back? Correct? Great experience.
Personally, I much preferred my overnight in Pecs. Part of that was due to it being rainy when I went to Eger and sunny when I went to Pecs, but I don't think that's the only reason.
I took the train both ways to Pecs. I took the train to Eger, and the bus back (bus leaves more often, but often goes to an outlying bus station in Budapest, requiring a metro connection to get back to the center). All worked fine.
Worldinbetween, the Austrians do a lot of shopping in Sopron to take advantage a the better prices so there must be a good public transport connection.
I wasn't very clear in my previous post; I agree with you, i wouldn't do Pecs or Eger as a day trip either.
Trains from Budapest to Vienna don't go via Bratislava. But you can buy ticket to Bratislava and then from there to Vienna. Boats from Budapest to Vienna go via Bratislava. Bratislava is significantly smaller than Budapest or Vienna, it has a cute little downtown and yes, I think it's worth seeing. Eger and especially Pecs are farther away from Budapest than is convenient for a day trip.
Oops, I missed the "long day trip" part of your post. I saw both Pecs and Eger as overnights from Budapest, and highly recommend this. While they can be seen as daytrips, it's 2.5-3 hours each way from Budapest, and that doesn't leave you a lot of time for sightseeing.
My favorite daytrip from Budapest wasn't Szentendre, but Vac. That town wasn't in Rick's book; I found it in Frommer's Budapest. It's on the Danube, on the other side of the river from Szentendre. It's actually faster to get there from Budapest than Szentendre is, and the lovely town square, synagogue, mummies under the square (yes you read that right) and goat cheese pizza all made for a very memorable day. In addition, there are almost no tourists (a real contrast to Szentendre, which was nice but quite crowded).
Thank you, thank you all. What wonderful replies! Vac sounds interesting and would be easy (if we get off at the right station!!!) so we'll do that. We only have 3 days in Vienna so we don't want to stop somewhere on the way. May still do Eger and leave early so we have a good part of the day. Staying in Eger would be better, but have booked at the K&K in Budapest and don't want to complicate that. We'll just have to try and get back to the area so we can see more of Hungry. Our daughter will be with us, and has a limited time off, and we also plan on Salzburg and Munich for this trip. So anxious to see Budapest;-) Judy
The advice about taking the correct train between Budapest and Vac is spot on. There are three: one goes along the river and makes limited stops and takes 25 minutes; one goes along the river and makes more stops and takes 45 minutes; and one goes inland on a completely different set of tracks and takes 90 minutes. I thought I was taking the 25 minute one there, and ended up on the 90 minute one. At least I got the right one going back.
And that's good tip about the transit pass; I used it for Szentendre to get a reduction, but didn't know I could have for Vac as well.