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Driving from Krakow to Budapest

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We are planning on renting a car in Prague - then travelling to Krakow, Budapest ,Vienna and back to Prague. I've read about this on this site before but the posts are all very old. I am wondering if anyone has done it recently or any leg of the trip? I am wondering if someone could estimate how much extra we will be paying for tolls, vignettes etc...I am most concerned about the leg from Krakow to Budapest. I understand there are mountain roads etc and the 5 hr 45 min time estimate given by maps may be much longer.
We have travelled by car in Europe many times before but never more than 3 hours or so.
I've looked into the night train option but it is pricey for our family of 4 and I'm not sure I could sleep on the cot - I am concerned my whole next day will be ruined due to being tired! Also - is there a better time to leave Krakow for Budapest? Early morning? Or later afternoon and travel through to the evening? I don't know if there is a "rush hour" there.
We plan to overnight in Eger on the way from Krakow to Budapest and also experience the salt baths there and a good massage! Any input on this?
Thank you so much!

  • Report Abuse

    Viamichelin shows 6.5 hours and I always add 25% to internet driving times. This is highway driving. It's longer if you avoid highways. You need time to stop for fuel and rest breaks for yourselves.

    What's the difference if you take the night train and are tired the next day or if you spend that day driving. Either way it's a lost day.

    If you took the night train what would you do with car? Go back to Krakow and pick it up and then continue to Vienna? Leave it in Krakow and pay drop off charges?

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    Over the last six months we have driven most of those routes and I can share my experiences.

    Prague to Krakow is okay. There are small stretches of construction but nothing to drive you batty. Timing is everything; weekday driving is better. You will need a Czech vignette; this one is not available online. No vignette is needed for Poland. The 10-day CZ vignette is Kc310, or about €11.

    I don't know about Krakow to Budapest via Slovakia, except to say the stretches of autobahn in Slovakia going out from Bratislava are all very nice. However, the stretch from Eger to Budapest is lovely. No construction, no traffic on a weekday. You will need to stop at the border to purchase a Slovakian vignette. (€10 for 10 days). You'll also need a Hungarian vignette( €11 for 10 days), but that can be purchased online in advance rather than wasting time at the border.

    Budapest to Vienna is fine. There is an 8 or 10km stretch of construction near the Vienna airport, but traffic flows smoothly through the zone. You'll need an Austrian vignette; this one, as well, can be ordered online. (€9 for 10 days, and it must be adhered to your windscreen or you run the risk of a ticket.)

    There are several 10km stretches of construction between Brno and Prague (which you will have to slog through) to from Vienna unless you take the lesser roads, which I don't recommend doing because they are mostly BORING. What once was a 3 hour and change drive from Vienna to Prague for us now takes almost 5 hours.

    You would also do well to have a picnic packed for each leg of your travels. There are a couple of Autogrills in Hungary and Austria. McDonalds and KFC, if you need to go that route are far and few between. Many petrol stations will offer sandwiches (most are "meh" and costly for what they are), and there are a few scattered local highway side places offering regional food, but we've yet to find one worth writing home about. Also, choose your rest stops wisely; as in, ones connected to a major petrol station. Some of the other facilities are more antiquated than others (e.g. squatter toilets for the ladies). Pack hand sanitizer.

    Finally, keep in mind that you will need several currencies. The Czech Republic uses the Koruna; Poland, the Zloty; Slovakia and Austria, the Euro; and Hungary, the Forint. Your bank card should work at petrol stations, but you'll need pocket cash while on the road.

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    Apologies for adding another post. Adrienne is correct in that the travel times all take longer than GoogleMaps or ViaMichelin indicate. A case in point was our drive from Budapest to Sapanta, Romania last spring. ViaMichelin spotted the drive at 5+ hours; 8 hours later we reached our destination. Weather was not a factor, but winding roads and being "stuck" behind slower moving tour buses that are too cheap to pay for vignettes and use the secondary roads cost us quite a bit of time.

    If you can break up the drive between Krakow and Eger, say, with an overnight in Kosice, that would be a good option.

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