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Prague to Budapest with 4 or five nights in Slovakia

I land in Prague on a Tuesday in mid April. I need to be in Budapest by late morning 12i days later. I want to spend a little time in Prague, Morovia, and upper rural Slovakia.

My tentative plan is:

Prague 3 nights (I've been there before)

Brno or other base 3-4 nights (I'll probably rent a car for day trips while there). I'm interested in little towns like Olomouc, Telc, Trebic, The Miculov Wine Trail, and Chateau's.

Slovakia 4-5 nights (rent and return car in Slovakia) I want to see villages around Cicmany and Vlkolinec, The High Tatras, Spis Castle, and perhaps Banska Stiavnica.)

After the 11th night I need to leave early for Budapest and arrive by late morning.

My question is how best to tackle the time from Morovia to Slovakia.

I could rent a car just for my time in Morovia and the rent a second car in Slovakia. But I don't have a sense of the best cities to do that from. The rental city would need to have good public transport from Brno and the return city good transportation to Budapest. Or I could go directly from Prague to Bratislava and rent a car from there to use in Moravia (based where?) and Slovakia and returning it in Bratislavia or elsewhere in Slovakia.

I'd also like suggestions for one two good base towns for Slovakia. Which may depend on car rental.

Does anyone have suggestions for the most time efficient way to tackle my Morovia and Slovakia time?

Posted by
9 posts

Jen- What an exciting trip for you in April! I can provide some suggestions for your Slovakia portion of the journey. I spent a week in the High Tatras (Vysoke Tatry) two years ago and visited all the villages you mentioned. Coming from Brno you will probably want to visit Cicmany and Vlkolinec first. I did not spend the night in either location, but continued on to the High Tatras and Stary Smokovec. I did visit a nearby village to Vlkolinec called Ruzomberok and they had several small hotels, one being the Hotel Kultura where I had a lunch.
What I did for my week was travel from Bratislava and visit Cicmany and Vlkolinec before driving to Stary Smokovec in the High Tatras, staying at the Grandhotel (https://www.tmrhotels.com/grandhotel-stary-smokovec/sk/). It was a lovely hotel and spa and the village has several restaurants and an easy walk to the hiking trails. It is centrally located and provided an easy drive to the villages and sights I wanted to visit. I enjoyed a 15 minute drive to the Strbske Pleso lake with a beautiful view of Krivan mountain.
Banska Bystrica is a beautiful town and a 90 minute drive from Stary Smokovec. Banska Bystrica has a wonderful town square with historic cathedrals, a castle, monuments, an open copper mine tourists can visit, and several authentic Slovak shops.
Spis Castle is very well preserved and beautiful. It is a 30 minute drive from Stary Smokovec. On the way to Spis, about 20 minutes from Stary Smokovec is the historic village of Kezmarok or Kesmark. The cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The town is an easy walk and the castle worth a visit if you have time.
Other suggestions from the High Tatras are Bardejov and Kosice. Bardejov is a 90 minute drive from Stary Smokovec and is a UNESCO World Heritage site/town as well. There is a nice open-air historic museum of the culture of the Slovaks. There is an historic Spa which was a favorite of Sissy, Empress of Austria. Try the oplatki sold there. Delicious.
Kosice is a 1 hour 15 minute drive from the High Tatras. It is the 2nd largest city in Slovakia but is very small and walkable. The Basilica St. Elisabeth dominates the city center, with shops and museums on both sides of the square. At the far end of the city square is a Slovak history museum which was very good from what I remember.
That is a lot to visit in 4-5 days, but it will be an exciting trip for you. If you were going in the summer months, I would suggest Slovak Paradise National Park with hiking and caves to explore.
Have fun!

Posted by
14 posts

I recently flew into Budapest, went by train up to Kosice, across Slovakia by train, then up to Poland. it was a 3 week trip through 3 different countries and a majority of time spent in cities where a car is a burden so I didn't want a rental car during all of that time. I wanted to rent the car somewhere in Kosice or Presov (north of Kosice) for roughly a day and a half, then take the train towards Žilina (in the northwestern part of Slovakia), but there were too many logistics to pick up the car (IMO) and too much cost involved for a day and a half. I also needed automatic transmission which is difficult to find. The problem is that the car rental companies are near the Kosice airport. They aren't open on weekends and my itinerary was putting me there on a Sunday. The train let me off in Kosice but then getting to the airport would entail more transportation either a taxi or a bus. Then I'd have to do this again in a day and half, doubling back to the train station to head on to Žilina. It was too many logistics. I also found out that they charge a hefty security deposit ($1000) which is charged to your credit card at pickup. You have to hope and pray nothing is wrong with the car when you return it, or they may not refund the security deposit. I was travelling alone and this was very off-putting to me. Not knowing the language, etc. I didn't feel the car rental was worth it and I proceeded to work out an itinerary that didn't rely on cars. After all, most people in European countries don't necessarily own cars, they rely on public transportation.

I stayed in Kosice 1 night (okay, not spectacular, I would skip it if I ever went again). Then went to Popard for 2 nights. I liked Poprad. From Poprad, I could easily get trains into the Tatras. I was able to go to Strbske Pleso for a pleasant few hours and walked around the lake a little, bought groceries for that evening's dinner. I stayed in Airbnbs and the one in Poprad had a huge tub, private balcony, and washer. I trained to Žilina. I didn't see any of the smaller towns in the northeastern part of Slovakia. The only other major thing I felt I missed out on was not seeing Spis castle which I couldn't fit into my itinerary. If you go in the summer you can probably get a tour there from Poprad. I was in Poprad in October and the tours were finished for the season.

Posted by
14 posts

Forgot to say I also went to Spisska Nova Ves. There are several branches of the train so you can't necessarily get to all of the touristy towns on the same line as Kosice-Poprad. I couldn't get to Levoca, for example. I had only 2 nights in Poprad and the first day was my arrival at mid-day so I couldn't do much on the first day except the afternoon in Strbske Pleso (weather was too cold up there for hiking anyway, we had some light snow). Only had 1 full day for a day trip and I chose to go to Spisska Nova Ves.

I also was checking into the shuttle bus from Bratislava to Budapest (I wanted to see Cesky Krumlov in Czech Republic after I was finished in Poland) but the shuttle bus wasn't available and there was some issue with the train that I can't remember. I ended up changing my itinerary to go north from Budapest into Slovakia, then across Slovakia and up to Poland. I skipped Czech republic altogether as it just didn't fit into my other itinerary. I flew back to Budapest from Poland and flew home from Budapest.

If you want any information from a woman who travelled solo in Eastern Europe, please feel free to email me.

Posted by
645 posts

Daisy,

Thank you.

I've been round and the Prague to Budapest part of this trip. In the end I decided to go straight to Kunta Hora on landing then train to Olomouc. From there I will rent a car and tour Morovia using Znojmo as a base. I'll return the car in Brno and spend my last three nights in Prague before taking the night train to Budapest.

I found a folk museum with similar houses and churches south of Olomouc in the Czech Republic..

Thank you so much for the info though. I think my husband and I will visit Slovakia on a later trip by renting a car in Krakow and staying in northern Slovakia.