Vienna, Budapest, Prague

Old Feb 15th, 2019, 01:20 PM
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Vienna, Budapest, Prague

Hello
I am looking at a 10-12 trip in this area. I will have a car and would probably fly in and out of either Prague or Vienna. I know there is too much to do to see a lot, but would love suggestions of itinerary and things to see for this area. Would plan to stay at an Airbnb for 3-4 nights in 2-3 places, possibly hotels. Not a huge fan of museums but love historic sites, countryside and cityscapes. Would possibly add Bratislava as well for a day trip if it makes sense.
Any help, tips and suggestions would be welcomed
I am well traveled, so comfortable getting around, so I'm willing to be adventurous.
Thanks in advance
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Old Feb 15th, 2019, 01:40 PM
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Yes Bratislava is neat for a day.

Actually if want to see all three cities then I'd take the train as cars are hassles in cities and with few days don't have time to putz thru the countryside.

I'd fly into Budapest - then Vienna and Prague

or Prague - Budapest and Vienna.

Trains would be cheaper than renting a car too as in cities public transit so good and driving so poor.

For lots of info on trains check www.trainline.eu - can book own tickets, at a discount if early enough; www.seat61.com; BETS-European Rail Experts and www.ricksteves.com. Again if just driving between those cities driving can be a drag - using motorways is boring but if not it will take much much longer.
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Old Feb 15th, 2019, 03:42 PM
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In 2015 we did a blog of a whirlwind tour of Europe. https://16countriesin30days.wordpress.com

We spent two nights in Prague, then one night in Bratislava, and 2 nights in Budapest which was enough for us, though it was our second time there. Eventually, due to some immigration crisis border closings, we made it to Vienna for a couple nights. We did a lot in that small amount of time, We would have liked one more night in Prague since that was our first time there, and I would recommend more time in Vienna. One day was plenty for Bratislava in our view. It was okay for a stop on the rail line between Prague and Budapest. We did it without a car, which usually makes sense when you are visiting European cities.
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Old Feb 15th, 2019, 04:12 PM
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I'd take the train too. Very easy (start in Prague, end in Budapest or vice versa). My first trip to the area years ago was Prague, Vienna, Budapest in nine nights. With more, you could easily add stops in Cesky Krumlov and Bratislava you want. The only reason to have a car would be if you want to putter around the small towns in between the cities. If you are just going to the cities, a car will be an unneeded hassle.
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Old Feb 15th, 2019, 04:16 PM
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Particularly with so little time, I would definitely encourage using trains rather than a car! Having a car will not enhance your experience of the cities and trying to navigate even parts of those cities (and find parking, etc.) could easily add substantially to your stress, making it harder for you to take advantage of the very limited amount of time you have to actually see anything. Your trip, your call!
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Old Feb 15th, 2019, 05:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Andrew View Post
I'd take the train too. Very easy (start in Prague, end in Budapest or vice versa). My first trip to the area years ago was Prague, Vienna, Budapest in nine nights. With more, you could easily add stops in Cesky Krumlov and Bratislava you want. The only reason to have a car would be if you want to putter around the small towns in between the cities. If you are just going to the cities, a car will be an unneeded hassle.
I agree.

In Bratislava try to go to this Observation Tower
on the bridge...……………. the views are terrific
https://www.google.ca/search?q=brati...h=523&dpr=1.25
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Old Feb 15th, 2019, 07:16 PM
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In the Czech republic, from the beginning of the album until you reach Prague might be relevant to your car travels: https://flic.kr/s/aHsjpbraCQ
Since you are driving, the northern part of Austria is worth exploring; the pictures starting with the Wachau valley and including Rappottenstein and Altenburg abbey: https://flic.kr/s/aHsjoZSqFF
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Old Feb 16th, 2019, 12:30 PM
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Check train fares at www.trainline.eu and compare against car rentals - again with such short time you have little timeto enjoy driving between cities where cars are a hassle. If you were going to rural areas car would be nice but taking freeways between a few cities is boring and the scenery not remarkable.
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Old Feb 18th, 2019, 08:39 AM
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Thanks everyone for the feedback. I understand the benefits of the train, but we really enjoy the opportunity to travel off the beaten path in a car. As many of you point out, cars are not much use in the city (and a big hassle) but we enjoy driving out into the country around the cities and seeing more rural settings. I am thinking we will probably try to stay 3-4 nights in each city. Really appreciate all the comments and advice. Any suggestions for great things to see/do around the cities which are not typically tourist destinations but worth seeing? I was definitely planning on the Wachau valley and would like any thoughts on other similar experiences. Within each city - any thoughts on must-dos? River cruises, hidden gems?? Thanks again
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Old Feb 18th, 2019, 10:34 AM
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You still are driving straight thru between big cities - cut time in cities and spend more time in rural areas or a car will be a waste. Take the Wachau Valley - best done IMO by boat where you can see both sides of the river at once - from Vienna train to Melk - boat down to Durnstein for bus-train back to Vienna. If driving you have to them get back to where you left the boat.

Driving is great IMO too and go for it but again in those cities cars are useless for sightseeing.
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Old Feb 18th, 2019, 10:50 AM
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Originally Posted by phmemphis View Post
Thanks everyone for the feedback. I understand the benefits of the train, but we really enjoy the opportunity to travel off the beaten path in a car. As many of you point out, cars are not much use in the city (and a big hassle) but we enjoy driving out into the country around the cities and seeing more rural settings. I am thinking we will probably try to stay 3-4 nights in each city. Really appreciate all the comments and advice. Any suggestions for great things to see/do around the cities which are not typically tourist destinations but worth seeing? I was definitely planning on the Wachau valley and would like any thoughts on other similar experiences. Within each city - any thoughts on must-dos? River cruises, hidden gems?? Thanks again
Avoid the super highways and plot an itinerary taking secondary roads and you will be off the beaten path.
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Old Feb 18th, 2019, 10:58 AM
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<<I understand the benefits of the train, but we really enjoy the opportunity to travel off the beaten path in a car. >>

Then you need to reorganize your trip so that you don't have a car in cities but do have one for touring the countryside. The way you've got it set up now is going to be aggravating and slow you down and cost you more.

If you haven't visited these areas before, looking for "off-the-beaten-path" venues and "hidden gems" seems a bit silly. There's more than enough on the beaten paths to capture your interest. Almost any good guidebook will inform you about river cruises, local walking tours, etc. A good place to start is always with the official city website, which will give you reams of information about where to go, what to see, what's special, festivals, concerts, etc. These sights have a wealth of information, usually way more up to date than guidebooks.
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Old Feb 18th, 2019, 11:26 AM
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>>I am looking at a 10-12 trip<<

I assume you mean 10 to 12 days - right?

If so, take trains between the cities and decide which ONE of the countries you want to explore some of the rural bits and rent a car there, and there only. A car will be totally useless in and between those cities.

. . . That isn't much time for all that BTW and definitely not enough time if you are driving it all. Just the highway drive Prague > Vienna > Budapest > Prague would eat up two+ full days without any stops/meandering/rural sites/exploring. So right there is more time than you are allocating to any one city.

Take trains -- and maybe rent a car for 2 or 3 days.
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Old Feb 18th, 2019, 11:46 AM
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Vienna parking.

The tram line going north to Heiligenstadt has free parking along its route after the Wien Spittelau Bahnhof. That's how I handled parking in Vienna when I stayed within a block of the Ringstraße. I emptied the car, drove along the line until I found unrestricted parking and left the car there until the day I left Vienna. It is, of course, possible that parking regulations changed.

They are serious about illegal parking:
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Old Feb 18th, 2019, 10:13 PM
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I understand your enthusiasm; but to be honest, a return to the drawing board may be necessary. Ten to twelve days to divide between three culturally and historically dense cities (plus logistics time) is one matter; you could assemble entirely lovely itineraries for each of the three countries alone. To add the countryside and day trips is however another matter.

But for now, some thoughts. What time of year are you traveling? The vineyards around Vienna are brown and barren right now, but will be lush and green by late April/early May. A car is not needed to explore this "countryside;" however, the Wachau Valley we find to most enjoyable to tour by our personal auto (in the green season), as we can stop at will for photos or at roadside seasonal markets.

Historic sites. What does that mean? Castles? Palaces? Battlefields? Monuments? There are historic buildings aplenty in Vienna, for example, so no need for a car; if old bunkers and the site where the Iron Curtain first fell appeal to you, then you'll need a car.

As others have written, driving (and parking at least in Vienna) is not for the faint of heart. Each district has its own restrictions, and parking in the Inner Stadt is expensive. Our district has a non-resident 3 hour parking limit (to prevent travelers on holiday from taking advantage of the "free" parking); and at least once a week I will spot a non-Viennese tagged car with a parking ticket. When we visit Prague by car, the first thing we do is either hand the keys to the valet or drop the car in the shopping mall garage for the duration of our stay. Ditto for Budapest.

I hope this is helpful.
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