Possible fly/drive - Eastern Europe

gaz_l

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Greetings, Citizens.

We've got some holiday coming up in the autumn and Eastern Europe isn't a place we've visited much. We're thinking about 8-10 days away and therefore don't really want to drive there and back as it's a couple of days off the holiday each way.

Looking at a possible itinerary, Vienna seems a good start/finish point as it's a city we know well and are always happy to go back to. To fling some destinations in the air, Brno/Bratislava/Krakow and Budapest all seem within striking distance, possibly even Prague which is a place we'd both like to visit.

However, given that Austria isn't the cheapest place in the world, I'm thinking that it might be cheaper to fly to Poland (for example), rent a car and do the route from there.

As we are a well travelled lot on here, any thoughts as to how to go about it? Just pie in the sky at the moment, nothing is set in stone..

Cheers,

Gaz
 

Pontoneer

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If you just want to visit three or four destinations with a night or two in each , and don't particularly want to drive hundreds of miles in rental cars ; flying to your start point , then using the train to get from one city to the next might be a good option .

Trains on the continent tend to be much less expensive than they are here and tend to be both punctual and pleasant to travel on . Many have nice restaurant cars where you can enjoy a meal as you watch the scenery go by .

If you want to disappear into the countryside on the odd day , you can still hire a car locally for that .

Since you're talking about going later in the year , you can often get away without booking in advance - we've gone to places and just found hotels on arrival , it has always worked out .
 

tonyspicer

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Stay next door in Bratislava, much cheaper and a 45 minute train or coach journey from Vienna. As Pontoneer says trains are cheap in Central Europe and Brat is connected on the mainline to Hungary & Czech Republic. Prague is 4 hours, Brno on the way. I used to travel to Prague each week by train from Bratislava, easy journey, international trains every three hours.
 

zipdip

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Well Krakow is a great place to start ,Easyjet and Ryanair go there plus BA,there is only one airport and the easiest way to get to the heart of Krakow is to come out of the airport and you will see a bendy bus if it is not there wait there is no charge and it takes you to the train station it arrives just as the train arrives ,you can buy tickets on the train for Krakow central station,pick a hotel near the station the bus station is next to the train station and the old city is amazing and of course you could use a train to explore other cities as well,food and drink are cheap.
 
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gaz_l

gaz_l

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Hmm, trains. Aren't they public transport? I have an aversion to that, in the UK at least.

Thanks for the suggestion though, I'll have a look into it.

Cheers,

Gaz
 
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gaz_l

gaz_l

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One good thing - with the train there's no requirement to get the rental car back to its point of origin or get stung for one way hire charges. Food for thought.

Cheers,

Gaz
 

Druk

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We went Krakow - Budapest on the sleeper train.

Krakow...lovely.

Budapest...lovely.

Sleeper train. NOT lovely.
 

zipdip

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Well I suppose it depends if it is the experience of driving a hire car with the steering wheel on the wrong side around roads you do not know is the holiday you want,the places you said you might visit are made for using public transport they all have cheap buses and trains,for me you could spend half your holiday in Krakow and the rest somewhere else,one excursion I would take from Krakow is getting a bus from the central bus station to Auschwitz,they only sell one way tickets using the bus a little bit of Polish black humour,after you have been there walk past the bus along the road and you come to a train station,get a ticket back to Krakow central,this is the same line that was used to transport all those people,and well you we see where the line joins from the concentration camps and believe me on that train you will feel very strange,the movement of the carriage and the very slow speed until it meets the main line.
 

zipdip

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If you decide to go to Budapest,again all the budget airlines run to there,I would suggest you buy a 7 day transport ticket they are cheap and you can use them on the buses and the three underground lines, you can get a bus from the airport to the start of the Blue line underground,there are many hotels in Budapest,it all depends on people do they want to spend mega bucks or enjoy interesting things to do for not a lot of money,for instance if you travel on the red underground line go to Deli Palyaudvar whats there nothing much,but this is one of the deepest underground stations and just watch and ride the escalators people look like they are taking off from a skyjump ramp they all lean forward it is crazy ok want to spend some money and do something you have never done before,well a old friend started this about 20 years ago it has come a long way from then when the safety aspect was totally over looked,cost today about £120 for a couple of hours,ever wanted to shoot a Heckler or Magnum,then look at Celeritas suggest you take a taxi from your hotel you can get near it on a bus but it is a walk,you will need to go back after to the hotel to shower as you will stink of cordite,also do not do this at the end of your holiday you will never get through the scanner at the airport,a new thing they do now is you buy a tea shirt there and then all the rounds you fire hit the shirt and you can wear it with bullet holes,not my scene but hey he who dares.
 

bluestreak

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My in laws live in Slovakia, so we travel there regularly. Slovakia is awesome, especially north east, near Bratislava is a bit flat and boring. North east would connect you nicely with Poland and Czech. Austrian and Slovakian roads as awesome, miles better than the uk, hardly any traffic and stunning scenery.

We used to fly to Bratislava, but I would recommend Vienna start and finish, awesome city, great culture, museums, opera, food. You can rent German car and hire rates are generally better in Vienna compare to smaller places. In Slovakia you can't rent anything other than Skoda and sometimes they deman crazy deposit (£4K for £15k Skoda). You can fly to Vienna with BA, it could work out cheaper than Ryanair and make sure you book car together with flights, works out much cheaper and sometime virtually free.
 
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gaz_l

gaz_l

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If you just want to visit three or four destinations with a night or two in each, and don't particularly want to drive hundreds of miles in rental cars; flying to your start point , then using the train to get from one city to the next might be a good option.

Trains on the continent tend to be much less expensive than they are here and tend to be both punctual and pleasant to travel on.
I've been trying to put some flesh on the bones of the idea today, and it turns out that trains do indeed seem to be good value. Have played around with the itinerary a bit, and been costing up flights/hotels.

Looking at the moment at flying London/Prague, then getting the train to Bratislava. Then train again to Budapest and fly back from there.

Flights are cheap enough using economy carriers, ~ £150 for the round trip. Hotels in Prague seem a little pricey, Bratislava and Budapest not so much so.

The real eye-opener has been the train prices, first of all I went through some generic booking site and from Prague to Bratisalava (400km/250 miles) came out at £50 for normal or £80 for first class. Well sod it, first it is then. For a 4 hour journey it's a no-brainer.

However, I came across a website that promised to find cheap train tickets, google "seat61" if you feel the urge. No affiliation or recommendation here, just a mention. Having read the bumpf, it's apparently cheaper to book on the Czech railways website than go through a booking agency.

Now Czech doesn't appear to be the easiest language to come to terms with. I can manage German, French, Spanish and Italian to varying extents, but Czech has far too many consonants and diacritics for my liking. However, I'm nothing if not stubborn and with the aid of Chrome and Google Translate I managed to get to the point where I could make a booking. An advance booking, admittedly, which is always cheaper, but for a reserved - first class - seat it was just under 800 CZK, call it £30 in real money.

Needless to say, this makes the idea of a 4 hour journey considerably more appealing. I haven't managed to price the journey from Bratislava to Budapest as Slovakian railways won't let you do it on-line (despite the fact that it's actually the same train, run by Czech railways that shuttles from Prague to Budapest and back), but given that it's roughly 2/3rds the distance I'd guess that to be reflected in the price. If all else fails, I could book a ticket from Prague to Budapest for the second leg of the journey and get on at Bratislava. That's £42, since you ask.

Still not sure if this is going to happen but it does make a mockery of UK train prices. It costs me £39 to get to London - ~ 70 miles - off peak, in cattle class. Did someone say rip-off Britain?

Cheers,

Gaz
 

tonyspicer

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I used to travel most weeks for a couple of years Bratislava to Prague & back. As you say really cheap fare for a four hour journey. There is a special arrangement between Czech & Slovak Republics on the fares. Prague to Vienna, same distance & time, twice the price.

The route is operated by German, Czech & Hungarian trains, the German ones are the most efficient and comfortable.

I used to use the Deutsche Bahn website for tickets & timetables. Covers most of Central & Eastern Europe. https://www.bahn.com/en/view/index.shtml
 

SW18

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However, I came across a website that promised to find cheap train tickets, google "seat61" if you feel the urge. No affiliation or recommendation here, just a mention.
I can second this - seat61 is an awesome website! Even if you don't use it to find and book fares, it has a phenomenal amount of information on just about any rail journey imaginable. The guy is a fanatic and has been everywhere by train and reported back - the site is his 'hobby' but must be almost full-time, givven the level of detail. E.g. You fancy going from Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur by train: no problem! All the details are there: the best routes, times, photos of the trains, details of the stations, how to book, etc.
 

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