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Road trip, car or train?

Scottsdale, Arizona
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Road trip, car or train?

Thinking of about a 3 week trip starting in Krakow, then driving to Ostrava & Olomouc Czech, then driving to Vienna Austria (including a Roger Waters concert), then driving to Bratislava, Slovakia and a final sleeping destination of Nemesnep, Hungary because we have a timeshare there.

From Nemesnep I figure we can do few day tours there of the lake nearby, and Ljubljana, Slovenia and Zagreb, Croatia. We would spend a few days in Budapest too at the end and fly home from there.

I considered taking the train, but it seems like it would actually add more time and that it seems easier to drive the short distances. Am I missing something about the trains, or do you agree it's easier to drive? We've driven in Europe before, even accidentally in the zones your not supposed to and did just fine.

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Portland, OR
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1. Re: Road trip, car or train?

If you really want to see all of those places, renting a car and driving seems the most practical way to do it. Just be prepared for a steep one-way rental car drop charge in Hungary.

Brno, Czech Republic
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2. Re: Road trip, car or train?

A car is totally impractical in all the cities you mention - you are better off doing the journeys by train, and it would be a lot cheaper and more relaxing, too. Why Bratislava?

Scottsdale, Arizona
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3. Re: Road trip, car or train?

Yes, we have paid the one way surcharge before....I just thought it would be much easier via car. I saw one post where it took all day to get from Krakow to Olomouc so I figured driving might save a lot of time. CCEK, you think the trains are better? I'd love to hear more of your thoughts. My brother has been to Bratislava, and thought it was a cool town. Since its so close to Vienna I figured we could do a day trip. There are going to be 4 of us traveling, if that makes a difference.

Brno, Czech Republic
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4. Re: Road trip, car or train?

Krakow down to Vienna would definitely be easier by train/bus

Krakow - Olomouc is about 4.5 hours via Katowice - about €25

Many people in this part of the world are bemused that anyone would go to Bratislava by choice, but each to their own :)

Between Olomouc and Vienna is Brno guardian.co.uk/travel/…

www.youtube.com/watch…

for which you need about 5 days, then bus/train to Vienna is about €9

Vienna to Brno costs from €19 www.oebb.at - a car in Vienna is NOT advisable, as there is no on-street parking, even in the suburbs. Secure parking in the centre costs upwards of €30/day, and if you have a car with Polish number plates it means you are very far down the food chain and you are therefore fair game for the local drivers and also the police (same is true to a certain extent in the Czech Republic). By all means visit Bratislava for a day - the train costs €14 return. Parking is not great there either, and same applies re. police.

Don't forget the Czech, Austrian and Hungarian compulsory highway tax stickers, and in Austria you must have an IDP by law. Alcohol limit is strictly zero, so the driver would have to be teetotal (as it can still register the next day)

But it may be a non-starter as I don't know whether it is possible to hire a car in Poland and drop it in Hungary.

If you want to hire a car then I would get one locally in Croatia.

Portland, OR
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5. Re: Road trip, car or train?

The fastest Krakow-Olomouc train I could find on the schedule is 5:48 with two changes; the train I took with one change in Katowice in September took about 6 hours. It appears you can drive the same route in about 3 hours, maybe more if the border crossing takes time.

The train worked well for me because I was alone, and I rented a car in Brno and returned it in Prague. No drop charge. But with four people, driving makes much more economic sense, even with the extra expense of highway stickers, given how much more flexible it is and how much time you save. And it sounds like the OP is aware of the drop charge and willing to pay it.

Portland, OR
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6. Re: Road trip, car or train?

You know, if you are willing to drive about six hours back to Krakow from Budapest (or fly into Budapest in the first place and start by driving to Krakow), you would save potentially a lot of money and not have to pay a drop charge...

Scottsdale, Arizona
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7. Re: Road trip, car or train?

Thanks! You both have given me something to think about. Maybe taking a train in the beginning and then getting a car later. It looks like Brno is a great town to stop in! The one problem is our timeshare is in a smaller town, Nemesnep, do you think it would be ok to just pick up the car in Vienna on our way out to Bratislava and Nemesnep? I know that town is too far away from anything to not have a car.

I've paid the highway stickers before in Switzerland, and we've been told before that while an IDP is recommended, you really didn't have to have one. If we were just picking the car up in Vienna and leave, would we really need one? In all the times we've driven through Europe we've never brought one.

Portland, OR
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8. Re: Road trip, car or train?

I would definitely get an IDP for Czech Republic if you wind up driving there. First of all, I believe you are required to have one. I was stopped randomly last year while driving in Czech Republic (I was approaching two stopped cops by the side of the road who held up a "stop" sign; just a random check I think). I showed them my IDP and my passport. 30 seconds and I was on my way. Would a US driver's license really have been enough? I have heard stories where it wasn't.

Perhaps Austria licensing requirements are different? Still, it's only about $20 USD to get an IDP at AAA (including a passport picture) - why not just get one unless you're sure you don't need one?

Brno, Czech Republic
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9. Re: Road trip, car or train?

It is definitely required in Austria as well as other countries. Whilst the chances of having to show it are normally small, it is worth the small outlay to avoid any inconvenience in case you do need it - the same with travel insurance (also compulsory for the Czech Republic, but you should have that as a matter of course).

If you hire a car in Vienna make sure you are allowed to take it to the other countries on your list, and get rid of it before you spend time in Budapest - if anything, it is worse there than in Vienna with a car!

NB the highway 'sticker' for Hungary is in the form of a sort of electronic registration plate 'tag' called a Matrica which you buy at the border. Your car is then radar controlled along the route. A sticker is also required for Slovenia and tolls are payable on some roads in Croatia.

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