20 days in Hungary and Austria - suggestions please

Hello I am the family holiday organizer. This summer the plan is to take 3 weeks and show our 2 teens the "family roots" in Hungary. Since various guidebooks suggest a few days in Budapest and a few day trips or overnight trips, I am having a challenge planning this trip. So far, I have flights in and out of Budapest and a rental car for 2 weeks. Also have determined to add another country and have tentatively planned for Austria. We enjoy history, walking and bike tours, casual dining, and generally just looking around. I'd appreciate any input on the following itinerary: Budapest 5 nights - bike tour, communist walk tour, Hammer and Sickle tour, Hero Sq and Sz. bath, Central mkt,Castle district Pick up car Eger 2 nights - walking around the town, wine valley Pecs - 2 nights - old town and maybe a drive to Villany Lk Balaton/Tihany 2 nights - beach/pool time - not sure why its not in RS book ? Hallstatt - 2 nights - hiking Salzburg - 3 nights - Eagle nest and old town- Mauthausen and Melk Abbey enroute to Vienna Vienna - 3 nights - Wachau bike tour, walking around inner stade, eating pastries
Budapest - 1 night - drop car - and head for home Thanks for your help

Posted by Diana
West Sacramento, CA
55 posts

While you are in the town of Hallstatt Hike up to the Salt Mines but be sure to have something warm to wear because it's really cold in there. While in Salzburg book the Sound of Music tour. I have never been to Hungary. Sounds like alot of fun.

Posted by Terry kathryn
Ann Arbor, Mi
3254 posts

It looks like a fabulous trip... while I was in Budapest I took a river boat cruise to the Danube Bend, and it was great. Stopped for a castle tour, lunch and a little shopping in a cute small town along the way. Check out what they have available.

Posted by Jerry
Orange, CA, US
51 posts

Great trip!! We are seeing Budapest/Eger this year. Last year we did Germany/Austria. Did what you are going to do, Hallstatt, Salzburg, Mauthausen, and Melk Abbey on the way to Vienna. In Hallstatt it rained on us, in July. Ponchos or some sort of rain gear may be needed. It is nice you are staying overnight as it makes for a long day trip from Salzburg. In Salzburg we stayed at Haus Reichl. We loved it. It is just outside of Salzburg with a regular bus taking us into town. Parking in town is difficult. We parked for free at the church right by the bus depot. Franziska is so charming and warm. Look at the testimonials on tripadvisor.com. Make sure you go to the top and see Salzburg at night. Agree with Diane, take Bob's Sound of Music tour. It is like a city tour that also visits the beautiful lake district. Plus for fun there is a safe luge ride. Eagles Nest was spectacular. Get an early start and make sure you allow enough time to visit Mauthausen and Melk Abbey. With driving times it is a long trip, but well worth seeing. If you are driving at a leisurely pace, stay to the right. We got the AAA international driving permit. For a change, you might want to try the Vienna Segway city tour. First time we tried Segway. It was easy and fun.

Posted by Jan
Poulsbo, WA, USA
1 posts

When I was in Budapest in 2006 I popped into one of the dance clubs after getting the idea from a guide book (forget which one). My friend and I were welcomed and invited to participate in learning traditional dance. We were too shy but stayed and watched which seemed OK too. The name of the dance club we visited was Arany Janos and it was a super local experience! We were the only tourists.

Posted by VS
Palo Alto, CA, United States
687 posts

We are currently planning a trip to Hungary and Czech Republic, so I have been researching some of these same places (and have previously been to Austria, in 2006). I somewhat question whether you need or want a car for this itinerary, I would do it on the train. Although it's true that there is somewhat of an issue with having to pass back through Budapest for train connections. I would suggest looking into Sopron, we are looking for a way to include it in our itinerary too. I like to look at online photos for places that we may visit (Flickr), and the pictures plus Rick's description have me interested in Sopron. You will not regret two nights in Hallstatt. Wonderful stop, look at the webcam at www.hallstatt.net. I still go back there five years later. To the web site, I mean. Regret that we stayed there only one night. In one of his podcasts, RS suggests that Lake B only became a destination because before the wall fell you could not go anywhere else with a large body of water if you were from Hungary. (Local guy seemed to acknowledge this but maybe was being polite).

Posted by Brad
Greeley, CO, USA
314 posts

Hi lynee and VS. just did the austria, hungary and CZ last may. i have links if you want them to various places in both countries to stay. have done austria twice. sopron was communist gray. i would not go back but i have a link to a great hotel there our kids are 9 and 13 and been to europe three times already so we are kid friendly. your kids will love the spas. the road in hungary are better than america. been to hallstatt twice and salzburg. do not miss the mine.

Posted by Larry
Colorado Springs, CO, USA
26 posts

Depending upon which route you're using, I would recommend Slovenia. My wife and I did a similar route this summer spending 2 days/nights in Ljubljana, Slovenia and loved it. Not too big or crowded but a beautiful city. From there you could also drive an hour or so to Piran. We didn't get to do it (this time) but heard lots of great things about it as well.

Posted by Paul
Sioux Falls, SD, USA
217 posts

We just did this, but also added Croatia and Slovenia. 5 nights was too much in Budapest. I think 4 nights is good. Make sure to go to the Memorial Park. The opera is really cheap - 5 people for 80 USD. Of course subtitles are in Hungarian so you won't understand what's going on - see a familiar opera. Go to Marxim - the commie pizza place at the N end of Castle Hill. We did not go to the Roman ruins in Budapest - I have NO idea how we missed that. We did the baths, but I think that it is a somewhat overly hyped thing. Eger - 2 nights is a long time. 1 night is enough. It's a small town. We did not do the wine caves. That would be a great addition. My brother went to Pecs - says it is not all that great. Vienna - 3 or 4 nights. MAKE SURE TO VISIT THE HEURIGERN (wine gardens). We were going to go to Salzburg but stayed in the country at a ski lodge in June, and it was simply great. Nice area (Altenmarkt south of Salzburg). Lake Balaton is not in the book because it is just a big lake. If you like lakes, OK, good. We stopped for breakfast, and that seemed enough. Maybe we could have rented a boat? In Croatia, the wonder of wonders is Plitvice lakes. It is one of the single most beautiful places I have ever been. If you go to Balaton, you are 2 hours from Plitvice Lakes. You could go Balaton to Plitvice lakes to Ljubljana to Salzburg. We also had family roots in Budapest. I found my grandma's church, which was pretty cool.

Posted by Helene
Brentwood, ca, USA
115 posts

I have to agree with Paul and Larry. Go to Solvenia and Croatia and Plevice, these are amazing countries, too much time in Budapest and Austria. Do your research, I have traveld alot and these 2 countries are amoung my favorite beside Turkey. Gorgeous, caves, Lakes, the Adriannic sea, no comparisson.

Posted by Denise
Lake Forest, CA, USA
1489 posts

Seems that after 3 months, this thread has re-surfaced. Your original plans were to take this trip this summer, in other words, now. Have you already taken your trip? If so, how did it go?

Posted by Lynne
7 posts

We are leaving next week - Hungary and Austria is still the plan. Last call for your suggestions and tips! We will save Slo/Cro for next time. Thanks.

Posted by Lynne
7 posts

Well, I thought I should finish this posting with a trip report Budapest - we loved loved loved this city. Favorites were the bike tour ( Buda breeze), bridges, and the Castle district. Great food at Cafe Kor and Menza. Tons to see and do
Eger - a very quaint town with wonderful outdoor baths, and amazing retes (strudel) and palascinta restaurants near the castle, and Egri Bikaver wine... Pecs - the main square with the mosque was the highlight. 1 day would have been enough Lk Balaton/Tihany - Beaches are not sand and are fenced off for paying customers. Need to pay to step into the abbey - felt nickeled and dimed - would skip it Hallstatt - Dachstein Mtn ice caves and 5 fingers were amazing. Super cute town. Wished we had an extra day or 2 Salzburg - Eagle nest tour at Berchesgaden was amazing. We found Salzburg to be waaaaaay too touristy and noisy. Wonderful views from the castle. Fantastic beer gardens Mauthausen Concentration Camp- very worthwhile stop, educational, a private guided 2 hour tour was 2 euro - a must Melk Abbey - the gold in the church took our breath away Vienna - Wachau bike tour, Hapsburg Treasury and Sisi museum were highlights, Figlmuller cutlet was huge and tasty, Demel pastries way overrated All in all we had a great trip. Thanks again to everyone who provided advice. I hope this feedback is helpful to anyone dreaming of a trip to Austria and Hungary

Posted by VS
Palo Alto, CA, United States
687 posts

Thanks for the trip report. Sounds like you had a great time. Have to agree with you on Budapest, loved, loved that town too. We had five nights and four full days. The funny thing is the tourist attractions are not as great as other European cities, but it's just a fun place to soak in the ambiance -- to just be there vs. checking things off of your list. That can be very liberating. Our experience with Salzburg was much better that yours, and we will return. The tourist attractions are not that great, we just thought the town was attractive. Hallstatt, we had only one night and like you, wished we had had more!

Posted by Amy
Clarksville, TN, USA
865 posts

Lynne, I think you may want to add the "House of Terror Museum" to your Budapest itinerary. You'll have plenty of time if you're there for five nights. I think Rick has it as a must-see in his book as well. It was a very well done museum. I learned a lot about what the Hungarians had to put up with when the Russians were in charge. I was a little embarassed at how little I knew about that part of WWII history... We LOVED the Schezenyi (I totally made that spelling up) bath. You have to go to the coolest outdoor pool and go in the middle for the whirlpool that kicks on every 10 or 20 minutes. It's lots of fun. And just as fun is watching everybody's faces that have never seen it before as they realize with delight that you can just float and you'll be pulled along with the current.

Posted by Amy
Clarksville, TN, USA
865 posts

Whoops, sorry Lynne, I just saw that this was an old post! I will now read your "return report". I left my post up for anyone who searches for info on Budapest in the future!