We are planning to go on a holiday to Austria, Vienna and Budapest in...

We are planning to go on a holiday to Austria, Vienna and Budapest in September. We love adventure, history and exploring places. Could you please suggest an itinerary that will involve a bit of everything? We were also considering hiring a self-drive car
The old town in Krems an der Donau, Austria,

We are planning to go on a holiday to Austria, Vienna and Budapest in September. We love adventure, history and exploring places. Could you please suggest an itinerary that will involve a bit of everything? We were also considering hiring a self-drive car in Vienna or Austria. How feasible is this option? Feel free to suggest lesser known places.

By: Nischitha
July 28 , 2015
02 Min Read

A self-driving holiday in Austria and Hungary is not only a feasible option, but also quite a lovely one, especially when your budget is fairly flexible. (The drive from Vienna to Budapest offers many possibilities too, but more on this later.) You will find tons of useful tips on driving in Europe on the well-regarded Moto Europa website (www.ideamerge.com/motoeuropa/why_drive_europe).

I am assuming you wish to see places in Austria other than its capital, Vienna, the best place to begin anyway, since you are likely to land here and there’s much to see. Give at least three days to Vienna’s many wonders (I hope you caught its coverage in the May 2015 Europe issue of OT), then follow the Danube down to gorgeous Lower Austria (Wachau, Krems an der Donau and medieval Schloss Dürnstein). The next day, visit the Catholic-Germanic Stift Melk monastery and the former concentration camp at Mauthausen (skip this if you have young kids in your group), followed by the Unesco site of Hallstatt (the ice caves of Dachstein are near here) in what’s arguably Austria’s most scenic region, the Salzkammergut. Each of these segments deserve a day or two (add on some fantastic Alpine hiking, if you have the time), same as Sound of Music Salzburg (stop at the town of Mondsee on the way here), and there’s Innsbruck at the end of your itinerary. If you can add a few days, the Nationalpark Hohe Tauern, Lake Bodensee (the biggest in Europe), Graz and the Carinthian lakes, and Burgenland, all in drivable proximity, are well worth your time. That would be the classic Austria itinerary, but don’t zero in on it till you have considered the tempting range of routes on www.austria.info/uk/tags/austria-by-road, which include the Grossglockner High Alpine Road (www.grossglockner.at/en), open from early May to end October, a ‘hidden treasures’ round trip, and splendid excursions along the way. Either at the start or the end of your trip, turn south and take Route 15 to drive from Vienna to Budapest in less than 250km. Along the way lie the Neusiedlersee National Park and Lake Neusiedl, one of Eurasia’s pristine saline lakes (terrific for water sports, with lessons and equipment onsite, plus over 500km of cycling paths, one of which rings the lake, and there’s great birding to be had in the Seewinkle wetland here). Onward, you go on Route 50 and 16, cross the border into Hungary, driving bang into the historic town of Sopron, which was more than a pit-stop on the ancient Amber trade route dating back to the Roman Empire. Cut across the Little Hungarian Plain on the Route 85 to Gyor, a pretty settlement at the confluence of the Danube, Raba and Rabca rivers, with a historic centre and a violent past, remnants of which are seen in its architecture, museums and basilica. Finally, an hour short of Budapest, which deserves 2-3 days by itself, is Esztergom, home to Hungary’s largest and most impressive church (catch the views from the dome’s cupola). I expect your ticketing will be back via Vienna, so split these sights over evenly-paced onward and return journeys.


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