I am planning a 15 day trip in August from Budapest to Prague. At this point, I am thinking four days each in Budapest and Prague, and then renting a car and take seven days to drive between the two with plenty of time so see things. Or, would it be better to use train travel? I have been to Vienna, and Cesky Krumlov. The bend of the Danube and Bratislava sound nice. I am looking for interesting places in Slovakia and then driving west toward Prague. Any suggestions on a route and or things or places to see would be greatly appreciated. At this point, my itinerary in completely adjutable. Thanks in advance for any helpful information. Bob
Every couple of years we drive from Budapest up into Slovakia. Lovely country with good people. Research banska bystrica and
banska stiavnica and castles; oreva, spis and bojnice for a start. Also look at the Kempinski High Tara hotel and the region around it. I could easily spend a week in Slovakia.
Of course you could sound a wee touring Hungary too.
There is the issue of the high fees for returning your rental in a different country.
Larry, that's a good point. The stops I suggested in Slovakia would be easiest with a car but you could take the train to Kosice, rent a car, do the tour ending in Bratislava where you could take the train to Prague.
Hey, James, thanks for filing in my answer! I knew I made that too short. I should have had at least something to that effect to make it clearer.
Hi from Wisconsin,
Dead heading a car is expensive. I would take trains and or busses. Budapest and headed toward Prague is Eger. This deserves at least one night. If you want to relish and savor a place, I would do two nights. The Hotel Senator is right on the city square, Had the best staff I have ever encountered. A bit more expensive than other places, but it was worth every forint. And they a have a lock-up place for your car. Or if you are taking a bus or train, the bus station stop for Eger is a reasonable walk to the hotel. The train station is walkable also. A bit further. but my wife and I did it in the dark in March and had no ill affects.
The fewer miles you drive, the better your memories. Ask yourself, is driving a car and being in traffic your favorite thing to do?
Brataslava has had its heart cut out years ago by the "new" bridge that gutted much of the old town. Better to go look at Brno, the second city of the Czech Republic. From Brno to Prague there is excellent train service. There is also an excellent, altho aging, four lane highway connecting the two.
Dbahn is a good source for train routes and times, not prices. But if you are on a non-high speed train in second class...well the tickets almost seem free for an American.
Keep in mind that if you train out of Budapest, to get to the correct train station to depart. As with most large european cities, there a several train stations.
And if you would like a map I built of Budapest send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Larry, no problem. You hit it right on the head.
Wayner, your map is a great tool, very well done. Edger on the other hand is the opposite direction from Prague if you are leaving from Budapest. BUT, it is a great visit and the Senator Haz is the ideal hotel in town (even if Mr. Grumpy is still there) and Eger is very near to Miskolc from which you can get to Kosice in Slovakia by train in under 2 hours. Miskolc is also near Lillafured which is beautiful too. It’s a pretty region of Hungary. See if the forest narrow gauge train is still running from Miskolc to Lillafured and stay at the Hotel Palota. I don’t imagine picking up a rental in Kosice and dropping it in Bratislava would incur the sort of charges as dropping it in another country. You could also hire a guide and a car for about $400 a day last time I checked. When I go into Slovakia I generally hire a driver in Budapest because we do a round trip.
I told you about Slovakia because you asked but if you haven’t seen Hungary I would spend the time there. Get good inexpensive accommodations in Budapest and use it as a base to visit the country with day trip and overnight trips. There are a lot of options. Hostels are cheap and you can check in and check out. An apartment usually has a two or three night minimum but would provide you an opportunity to live in the economy and in the neighborhood and be a Hungarian for a week or so. Even decent 4 star hotels I Budapest, in convenient areas, go for as little as 120 euro a night. For places to visit look at Eger, Lillafured, Tihany, Pecs, Gyor, Pannonhalma Archabbey, Komarom Fortress, Tata, Szentendre, Visegrad, Ezstergom for starters. You can do all of these with public transport, trains, etc. Then when the time comes head for Keleti Station in Budapest and get on a train to Prague.
Car or train? Car would be quite more expensive with fewer than 3 people traveling. Rental, insurance, freeway sticker, gas, drop of charge. It would be also more hassle in big cities on your way. But it would give you more option to see countryside. One of my suggestions: take a hydrofoil on Danube River from Budapest to Bratislava. Stay there one day. See Old Town and the Castle. Go for folk music to wine bar U Frantiskanu (or elsewhere- plenty to choose from). Then train toward Prague, get off in Breclav change trains and go about 10 minutes to Valtice. You can stay in hotel Hubertus which is in one wing of Valtice chateau. In the other wing there is a medieval wine cellar where you can taste one hundred samples of the best wine of the Czech Republic. http://www.salonvin.cz . When you sober up next day you can rent a bicycle and pedal five miles (and back another five miles) through the UNESCO park to chateau Lednice. You can read more about this area in Rick Steves book: Prague and the Czech Republic. Then back to Breclav and forty minutes (about) by express train to Brno (second largest city in C.R.). You can see the Downtown, cathedral Petrov, castle Spilberk, villa Tugendhat (UNESCO Heritage), founder of genetics Mendel museum, Veveri castle (get by tram to Brno Lake then by boat to the castle). Near Brno there is a famous Austerlitz battlefield where you can also visit the museum. You can get there by public transport. Also nearby there are famous Punkva caves with underground river and lake. If you still have time left you can stop in Kutna Hora (see R.S. book) on the way to Prague. Or another suggestion: if you go to Eger, you can take train from there to Kosice (about two and half hours), stay one day there and take train toward Prague or Bratislava, get off in Poprad and go to Strbske Pleso by a little electrical train. Strbske Pleso is IMHO the most beautiful resort in High Tatras (beautiful rugged mountain peaks with a lot of mountain lakes). If you want to pamper yourself and money is no object you can stay in Kempinski Hotel (as James often recommends) but of course there is plenty of cheaper accommodation, too. If you are a hiker you will feel like in Paradise and you would not want to leave. If you want to know about hiking there, feel free to ask. I lived there for one year and hiked it all. In the case that you are not much into hiking you will probably leave after two days and on the way to Prague you stop in Olomouc (for more see R.S. book) and then on the way to Prague you can also visit Kutna Hora (with train change in Kolin). Nevertheless, if you decide to rent a car I can suggest more destinations in Slovakia and C.R.
If I can recommended you some beuatiful and cheap hotel, near the Main Railway station it is gonna be Hotel Galeria Bratislava: www.hotelgallery.eu