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Travelling to the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, and Poland

Any advice for a trip to the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, and Poland?

Where do you suggest flying in to, and maybe a different place to fly out of? We will be driving. We are open to having a car in one place and needing to return it and renting another car in another country, unless we can loop around and return it in the same place. What order would you see Prague, Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic, then Bratislava in Slovakia, Budapest and Eger in Hungary, then Krakow, Auschwitz, Warsaw, Torun, and Gdansk in Poland? How many days in each place would you suggest? Are there other places we shouldn't miss? Is there a place in this trip that would be better to take a train?

Thank you so much in advance for any advice you can give me. I just can't figure out where to start and which order to see these places. We would be going in May.

Posted by
6052 posts

It's impossible to answer where to fly into/out of without knowing your home airport. Presumably, you want to pick a place that minimizes flight costs. These flight costs will fluctuate constantly, so you have to first get a rough grasp which city is likely going to be the preferred option based on cost and itinerary, including number of connections. I'm guessing it's either Budapest or Warsaw (likely the former) because these are the largest cities.

As for the order of travel, plot these all on a map and calculate shortest distances between each to derive a logical path. They can all be done by train and/or bus. It's really hard to commit to driving for only a small portion of your trip because the drop-off fees may make it cost prohibitive. Check whether the rental car company will allow you to cross borders into every country on your list. I don't think driving in any of these places would be difficult but it will cost more and take more time (then the car will sit parked when you're in the cities). I would prioritize driving to places that are not as easy to get to by public transport such as more rural towns (not the cities you mentioned, but places "in between").

How much total time do you have for this trip? is it open ended? The largest places with most attractions to see should get more days than smaller places.

Posted by
55 posts

Agnes, we'll be flying out of Dallas. I haven't checked on flights yet, but as you said, probably Warsaw or Budapest might be the best bets. We will also check with the rental car agencies about driving in more than one country. We don't mind trains, but we love the ability to be on our own and on our own time schedule. We do try to have cars only outside of big cities...we love the small towns and countryside more than big cities, but of course we like to see what's most interesting in the cities, too. We usually plan a trip of two to three weeks.

Posted by
5522 posts

From days needed at a minimum, it will be a three week trip. You can always drop rental cars off near a border and cross border via taxi, train, bus and pick up another car in the next country. We have done this very easily.
Look at AutoEurope to find locations of car rental agencies.

Posted by
16545 posts

By the time you add travel time, I think you'll find you have something more than a 3-week trip there.

Posted by
655 posts

Most of the destinations that you have listed are cities, not small towns. If you want to visit all of these cities on one 3-week trip you won’t have much time for small towns.

I think you could have a very nice trip visiting the cities you mention in Poland plus small towns, in 3 weeks. If you start in Warsaw, you could take the train to Gdańsk. After Gdańsk, rent a car and visit smaller towns, working your way south. Return car in Krakow. Or keep car and continue across southern Poland, visit towns on eastern side and end back in Warsaw.

Look through the posts here and you will get an idea of how many nights to spend in Warsaw, Gdańsk, Kraków and maybe Wrocław.

I have not been to the Czech Republic or Slovakia and it’s been many years since I’ve been to Hungary, so I can’t advise you on that. It seems like you have two trip’s worth of destinations if you want to work in smaller towns and countryside.

Posted by
55 posts

Thanks to everyone for your replies. They are very helpful.

If we decide to drive everywhere, are the roads good in these countries? Are there any places you think it wouldn’t be a good idea to drive? We know drop off costs are high, but we prefer to drive and be on our own schedule. I think we are planning to fly into Prague and out of Warsaw. (From Dallas).

Posted by
1363 posts

You have a very nice loop of cities in the order that you list them. I added Wroclaw to make it a full circle. But it's a huge circle of 1571 miles. At a minimum I would want:

3N Prague
1N Cesky Krumlov
1N Bratislava
5N Budapest
1N Eger (or could just be a daytime stop)
4N Krakow (includes 1 day to visit Auschwitz)
4N Warsaw
3N Gdansk (again, I haven't been there but this would seem to be a minimum, and you could undoubtedly spend many more)
1N Torun (maybe 2? I haven't been there)

Edited to add:
3N Wroclaw

That's a fast paced itinerary, with 23 nights (Edit: 26 with Wroclaw) and a lot of driving in between. Are you thinking of that long of a trip or somethings shorter? (Edited: ah, I see your 2nd post there with 2-3 weeks. You'll need either more time or fewer cities!)

Regardless, you could pick almost any of the larger cities to fly round trip, which then allows the simplicity of a single car with no drop-off fees. Or you could do a multi-city flight into various city combinations: Prague-Budapest; Budapest-Krakow; Krakow-Warsaw.

There are almost endless combinations. Flight prices and convenience can help you decide and then let that drive your itinerary, along with the length of time you want to spend.

As mentioned above, just the northern cluster of cities could make a full 3 week trip, as could a southern cluster.

https://www.google.com/maps/dir/Prague,+Czechia/Bratislava,+Slovakia/Budapest,+Hungary/Eger,+Hungary/Krakow,+Poland/Warsaw,+Poland/Gdansk,+Poland/Torun,+Poland/Wroclaw,+Poland/Prague,+Czechia/@50.8228565,13.2702021,6z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m63!4m62!1m5!1m1!1s0x470b939c0970798b:0x400af0f66164090!2m2!1d14.4378005!2d50.0755381!1m5!1m1!1s0x476c89360aca6197:0x631f9b82fd884368!2m2!1d17.1077478!2d48.1485965!1m5!1m1!1s0x4741c334d1d4cfc9:0x400c4290c1e1160!2m2!1d19.040235!2d47.497912!1m5!1m1!1s0x47408d7894b04023:0x63adb259948d1c24!2m2!1d20.3772284!2d47.9025348!1m5!1m1!1s0x471644c0354e18d1:0xb46bb6b576478abf!2m2!1d19.9449799!2d50.0646501!1m5!1m1!1s0x471ecc669a869f01:0x72f0be2a88ead3fc!2m2!1d21.0122287!2d52.2296756!1m5!1m1!1s0x46fd731c14d4fa6f:0x9bb9fbf163b7be8d!2m2!1d18.6466384!2d54.3520252!1m5!1m1!1s0x470334e1d994ec19:0x744a729a586a89c4!2m2!1d18.5984437!2d53.0137902!1m5!1m1!1s0x470fe9c2d4b58abf:0xb70956aec205e0f5!2m2!1d17.0385376!2d51.1078852!1m5!1m1!1s0x470b939c0970798b:0x400af0f66164090!2m2!1d14.4378005!2d50.0755381!3e0!4e1

Posted by
1363 posts

Something else that occurs to me to mention is that the beauty of a car is the ability to meander from town to town with flexibility. That takes time. Unless I've missed it, I don't see how long you're thinking of spending on this journey, but if you want time for stopoffs in small towns and the countryside, you'll either need to add more nights to some of the cities to take local jaunts, or you'll want to allow a lot of time to get from one destination to the next.

Otherwise, if you're not planning that kind of "driving around" then most of these places are well connected by trains and there would be no value-add by having the car!

Posted by
22 posts

We are taking almost this exact trip. Leaving this Sept. We fly in to Gdansk from Portland Oregon. Renting a car and driving to Warsaw, Krakow, Zakopane. Dropping car off in Krakow. Trains and buses from there. After Zakopane we're off to Poprad Slovakia for a visit of Spis Castle. Then to Banska Stivmica. From there Budapest - back to Bratslavia then to Cesky Krumlov and Prague. We fly home from Prague.

We may still cut out a place or two because of time but we know we are flying in to Gdansk and out of Prague. Making a loop.

Enjoy your trip!

Posted by
12084 posts

If you want to fly into Budapest, you have to connect in Frankfurt as one option unless you decide to fly to London Heathrow instead. Flying from SFO, if I wanted to arrive in Budapest, I would land in Frankfurt, then connect to Budapest.

Posted by
10648 posts

So, figure 3 weeks of sightseeing and one week of driving. Don't forget to budget about $600 for the drop fee and about $750 for parking. I'm guessing $4000 total for all the costs for the car, give or take maybe $300.

Sounds like a great trip. I'm jealous, on my budget and with my time constraints I have to do tighter circles and/or take trains and planes.

Posted by
55 posts

Thank you everyone for your suggestions and comments. I took a break from planning because of the holidays, but now I'm back at it trying to get finished up. James E. - we changed our itinerary. We are going to eliminate Gdansk and Warsaw this trip, and pick up and return the car in Prague. We will still go to Krakow & Aushwitz at the end of our trip, but then back to Prague from there. I wanted to make sure and have time for northern Slovakia. The more I read about that area, the more I want time there to see it. We don't have exact plans for that area yet, but hope to find a central location to work from and spend a few days driving around. Thanks again for all suggestions!