After the highly successful Spain Road Trip, we were longing to embark upon our next adventure at the stroke of the very first opportunity that came our way. And this time, our next road trip destination had to be somewhat east-bound.
Planning a road-trip is all about taking care of those minute details like destinations, must-see attractions, stop-overs, night-stays and not to forget, the stress-factor of the driver. It is always a trade-off between the time you would like to spend driving through the beautiful roadways versus what you would like to spend visiting a city and its attractions. And, after a lot of deliberations we decided on the following road-trip itinerary:
Start from Munich in the evening. Arrive in Vienna and check in to the overnight accommodation. As always, we hired our car from Sixt.
Our choice of accommodation proved out to be awesome, as we had an amazing experience staying at a glass-house direct within the main areas of the city. Read my blog about the best Vienna apartment we have been to.
Be careful to buy the highway toll tickets, called as Vignette, before entering the Austrian Highways. If you forget and are tracked, be ready to pay a hefty sum as fine. You can buy them from the highway-side resting places or Rasthoffs. There are clear signs on the highway indicating their availability.
Of course, if you are in Vienna, you can just not ignore the beauty of the magical city. Hence, we enjoyed the day walking across the city, visiting places like the magical Opera, the Austrian National Library and having lunch at the renowned Café Sacher
Due to the fact that parking in Vienna is very hard to find, like in most of the big European cities, we decided to leave our car at one of the private parking places, and enjoy the city by foot. The location of our accommodation, provided by HB&H Immobilien, was so awesome that we had the advantage of having private parking places a few hundred meters away, and most of the attractions at a walking distance.
In the evening, we were back again in our car, and now headed towards Budapest, but not before visiting the magical Schönbrunn Palace and taking a few pictures.
The drive from Vienna to Budapest is smooth and easy-going and within not more than 2.5 hours, we were in another beautiful country- Hungary. We had our accommodation right at the city center, and hence finding paid parking places was not a big problem for us.
- Vienna is a big and beautiful city to be covered in a day (or even two). Hence, do not try to rush and cover everything at once. Instead, enjoy the magnificence of the city, soak in the city vibes, walk through its nooks and corners, and, of course, enjoy the Sacher Torte. I would be listing out the must-see attractions in Vienna in a separate blog soon, and will update the link here too.
- Again make sure that you buy the e-Vignette at least on the same day that you enter the Hungarian highways. The signs for Vignette to be bought by the highway-side are not that prominent here, unlike while entering Austria. For buying, you can refer to Tolltickets
The grandeur of Budapest was right there for us to behold, and we grasped every bit of it. Starting from the Budapest city walk in the morning to a romantic walk along the banks of Danube in the evening, to munching on those never-ending delicacies of Budapest, it was an experience of a lifetime and something that will remain etched in our memories for times to come. A visit to one of the Ruin Pubs at the end of a satisfying day proved to be the perfect icing on the cake. This is something that one should definitely not miss while in Budapest. We went to a very different but a nice one named For Sale Pub. Read my blog post on the Ruin Pubs in Budapest: ‘For Sale’ to know about our experiences.
It was our day of relaxing at the unique hot thermal baths, for which Budapest is so renowned for. During the first half of the day, we paid a visit to the hilly Buda Castle region on the other side of the Danube, experiencing the beauty of the Matthias Church, taking some pictures from the Fishermen’s Bastion and paying a visit to the 200 year old Café Ruszwurm. After satisfying our taste buds with the local delicacies, we descended the hilly slopes and took the oldest metro line in the mainland Europe to reach the famous Széchenyi Thermal Bath, the largest medicinal bath in Europe. We ended the day satisfying our taste buds with a wholesome ‘flat-rate’ dinner at the Lángos Papa, a highly-recommended restaurant located at the famous Andrássy Avenue. I am soon planning to write a separate blog on our experience and how we were spoiled by the choice of food here.
- When in Budapest, enjoy the street food there. Do not hesitate to try new things. Do not hesitate to talk to locals, as they are cool and very friendly.
- In order to save some money at the Thermal Bath, carry your swimsuits with you. Also, have enough time in your hand, since this is a place which you would not want to leave easily.
- Convert your currency only from the big currency exchange centers and not trust people just anywhere. Most of the places accept Euros, but the exchange rate would mean that you would end up paying more. Also, if you have a credit card, it makes sense to use it (carefully) to pay your bills at the restaurant and big shops. In need of cash, you could save some money if you withdraw cash from ATM’S with your credit card than using your bank cards or converting Euros to HUF. Check if the withdrawing bank has any charges, and how much (usually written on the ATM’s).
After a heavy round of breakfast at the road-side eateries, and a visit to the Hungarian Parliament, we started for our next destination- Bratislava. We were excited about the thought of being in another country within the next few hours. This time it was Slovakia. As it was the case for most of our trip, the ride was pretty smooth and without any troubles. In the course of travel, we did not even once encounter any stop-over at the country borders, which, to us, were something quite extra-ordinary. We did not plan to stay here, rather park our car and walk around, visit the Bratislava Castle and soak in the city’s vibes.
A highlight of our trip was a visit to the Sky Bar, with its lucrative roof-top seating arrangements, where you can have that afternoon coffee along with one of their delicious cakes, whilst watching the sun set behind the Bratislava Castle. It was an enchanting experience to say the least, and a visit to this awesome place is highly recommended.
After having enough of the city’s view atop the Sky Bar, and with the onset of the evening, we steadily started our journey back towards Munich. This was going to be a drive of approximately 6 hours, but we had enough gains from the trip to withstand this drive, whilst still soaking on the whirlwind experience we had during the last 4 days.
Parking in the Bratislava City Center can be a hard task. Look for the private parking lots. They can be expensive, but much more safer and you are almost sure to get a free space.
A road trip is all about enjoying the beauty of the unexpected. Hence, do not bother about reaching somewhere exactly on time. Instead, explore new places which falls on your way.
You only live once, so, enjoy every bit till it lasts!