Any must see/tips on trip to Budapest via South Germany/Austria

Discussion in 'Continental Touring' started by activecampers, Oct 29, 2009.

  1. activecampers

    activecampers Read Only Funster

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    OK

    Having looked at the options and listened to advice, we reckon on a months trip via South Germany and Austria to Budapest (and back). Leaving mid/late November returning mid/late December. Maybe hitting Luxemburg if we have time too.

    We've never really touched or investigated Austria or Hungary:Eeek:

    (Bordering countries will wait till another trip)

    We have some places we want to see in South Germany, but are seeking real-life suggestions for S Germany/Austria and Hungary... Also some useful tips please!

    Guess most campsites will be closed, but will aim for Aires etc along the way. We have Bordatlas 2009 and a load of POIs so guess thats the best there is?

    I understand I now need an emissions sticker for Germany?
    I also would need to pay for motorways in Hungary as soon as I enter?
    And I need a vignette for Austria

    (Thx to Patr who confirmed S Germany on other thread!)

    So suggestions on must-sees & tips most welcome!
     
  2. Bulletguy

    Bulletguy Read Only Funster

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    If you are heading to Budapest then a trip to view Lake Balaton is worthwhile, 90 miles S/W of Budapest and the largest lake in central europe. The whole area surrounding the lake has plenty of campsites but as would be expected, they are not cheap! However I had one of my cheapest meals ever alongside Lake Balaton. Large beer, huge cheeseburger with chips and side salad, plus a coffee for just £1.30! I'm still convinced I was undercharged!

    I drove right through the centre of Budapest....not recommended for solo travellers (as I am) or the faint hearted. I'm sure the city itself is wonderful to walk around, but it's not much fun to drive in and unfortunately I did not have enough time to stop there.

    Toll fees are paid at any motorway service area. There is no 'vignette' sticker, you just get a receipt with your vehicle registration which you must keep during the time you are there.
     
  3. activecampers

    activecampers Read Only Funster

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    Cheers
    Most campsites around the lake are closed in November (according to ACSI DVD) - so should be some nice wild camping opportunities! Though hope the burger bar is open!:thumb:
    Bordatlas list an Aire in the centre of Budapast "Malev Sportanlage". That'll be the target.
     
  4. andycotterell

    andycotterell Read Only Funster

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    I've spent a fair bit of time in Budapest, including a few Christmases, so here's my modest contribution.
    1. Beware of the weather and road conditions.
    The snow can be severe - it's not unusual for it to fall waist-deep and then stay for a week or two. Even if it doesn't snow, it rains a lot in mid-winter and then freezes over quickly (night-time temperatures are routinely minus ten to minus twenty) and it can stay frozen throughout the day. I tried driving on UK "all season" tyres in Hungary in December once and it felt dangerous most of the time.
    2. Budapest traffic.
    It's a nightmare. Endless jams, narrow lanes, difficult to navigate, difficult to park.
    Public transport is very good so you'd be better off leaving the motorhome outside of the city.
    3. Vignettes.
    They were always mandatory when I was there, both on UK and HU plates, but it may have changed. You're expected to stop and pay at the first motorway services you come to, which may be some distance. To be safe, you can pay at or just before the border, since a run in with the Rendorszeg (Hungarian police) is not something you'll enjoy at all.

    On the plus side; most things are still very cheap in Hungary, including eating and drinking. There are excellent pubs in Budapest and they all serve very good food. "Port Side" is my favourite, followed by "Alcatraz" (they have cells complete with bars instead of booths) and "Old Man's".
    Apart from the castle (the view of which, from the Elizabeth Bridge at night, has been described as the best view in Europe), most of the sighseeing is on the Pest side (it used to be two cities; Pest had all the industry and workers while the rich lived in the hills of Buda above the smog) and you can easily get around the best bits with a combination of walking and trams. I would recommend having coffee and cakes at Gerbeaux (I forget the address, but it's close to the British Embassy) which is one of the oldest, best and most famous cake-makers in Hungary. It's also worth a trip to Statue Park (on the outskirts of the city), in which a number of the city's soviet era statues are preserved.

    If you have the time, I would thoroughly recommend continuing eastwards into Transylvania; it remains the hidden, unspoilt secret of Europe.
     
  5. activecampers

    activecampers Read Only Funster

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    Thanks for that.
    Not sure we'll have much additional time to go further East, but fear not we'll be going back on longer trips (when its warmer!)
    Our van is small (4.8m panel van) so not too worried of tight roads - the aire we know of is c. 4m from the river on Pest side so should avoid the worst.
    Its insulated, but -20 sounds extreme!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Not sure we'd cope well in waist-deep snow either. We carry snow-chains but are on normal road tyres.
    On current timescales may be in Budapest beginning of December - hopefully miss the weather you describe.

    Your points for the city noted - thank you for making the time to share!:thumb:
     
  6. activecampers

    activecampers Read Only Funster

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    Ok - this trip is GO GO GO!!

    Leaving next week and back just before Christmas where Santa (read: council planning department) will hopefully be generous.

    So any last tips for this trip most welcome!

    As usual it'll be blogged and detailed on our site if anyone is interested.

    That reminds me - must renew annual travel insurance....:Doh:
     
  7. andycotterell

    andycotterell Read Only Funster

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    I spent last week in Vienna and had a harsh reminder of how hostile the weather can be around there. There was one day (last Tuesday) of constant snow and the rest of the time was very cold and wet. The forecast looks good at the moment though so you might catch a temperate window.

    On the motorway between Ljubljana and Vienna the Austrian police diverted all traffic off of the motorway through a disused service area to check vignettes, Go Boxes, loads, papers etc. so worth keeping your documents handy and making sure you're not overweight (or the van :) ).

    If you're thinking of staying at Vienna Camping West (since most of the others are closed for winter), be warned that they have the smelliest toilet and shower block I've ever seen. By way of compensation, they also have very good, free wi-fi and an excellent campsite cat. Reception is open quite short hours but they're happy for you to park up and plug in as long as you register next morning (which is also your chance to see the cat - she like the warmth of the office).
     
  8. activecampers

    activecampers Read Only Funster

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    Cheers.
    I've weighed the van fully laiden and its okay (both total and axles). And i was going to buy vignette....
    Weather doesn't sound great -but it is expected I guess.....
    Got my snowchains ready!
     
  9. FisherFun

    FisherFun Read Only Funster

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    Hi,
    I lived in Budapest for a year. PM me and let me know what you are in to and I will try to help.
    The Rough Guide book is actually really good to the area - that and Lonely Planet.
    Balaton - yes! Spa waters at south end of Balaton - yes! Spa waters in the main park in Balaton in December - fab!
    Ballets, opera's etc - no!

    Sacha
     
  10. FisherFun

    FisherFun Read Only Funster

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    1, Roads in Budapest are terrible - potholes etc and ruts where the tarmac has melted and then the buses have driven down them.

    2, Public transport system is quite good. But do get tickets (metro stations are the best place to get them) and ASK how to use the tickets.

    3, A walk through Margaret Sziget (Island) is lovely (not sure if there will be much happening in December though).

    4, Also, walk up Gellert Hill for the views over Budapest / the Danube. Then Spa or coffee and cake (or both) at the Gelert Hotel - lots of Atmosphere.

    5, Concerts at the Papp Laszlo stadium are interesting - we paid £30 to see GreenDay and you could get tickets on the night! We ended up in the 4th row without to much effort (no queueing)

    6, Check out the Budapest Sun The Budapest Sun Online - Daily News and Views from Hungary for details of local happenings (eg bridge festivals, festivals in City Park).

    7, Drive to the viewpoint at the top of the Pilis range of mountains (north of Buda) to view the Danube bend from on high.

    8, Hosok tere (Heroes square) is quite full of tourists but combine it with a trip to City Park (Varosliget?) and the spa bath at Varosliget. Go to the booth in the park to drink the water (it's horrible but do it!). Also from there you can walk down Andrassy street (Museum of torture and nice coffee at Liszt Ferenc ter - not both together though!)

    9, Christmas market at Vorosmarty ter Budapest Christmas Fair. Usually some form of entertainment and the oldest established coffee house is there too.

    10, The spa at the southern end of Lake Balaton is Heviz. That is the one that is often featured when people talk about Hungary. I'm not sure if anything else will be 'open' at Lake Balaton but the area is quite lovely anyway - lots of vine growing on both sides of the lake. If you can organise a tasting and cellar viewing followed by a boozy lunch then it's worth the effort.

    HTH and enjoy! Many good memories of the place, just worked too long hours when I was there! (but that is why they send you overseas!)
     
  11. FisherFun

    FisherFun Read Only Funster

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    Me again.

    Austria - personally I'd want to head to the Austrian Lakes. Don't think the ski-lifts will be open but there are some wonderful mountain areas within 6hrs of Budapest. We went to the Dachstein region (1 week - January) and Obertauen (4 days - and I would suggest there is only 4 days of skiing there, 2 days for advanced maybe,) but anywhere near those areas is beautiful - just the drive from Dachstein back to Budapest made me fall in love with the geography there - soooo want to go back in the summer sometime with Mountain Bikes (kids means we can't for a while). We didn't risk taking our van there but hired a car with snowchains instead (your van is much better!).

    I do hope you are planning a later trip to Poland/Slovakia? The Tatra Mountains are fab (although we went September - sunny and October - snowy so wouldn't recommend it this time of the year as the Alps are nearer). I can send you maps/books for planning a later trip. They are also only a 6 hr drive from Budapest (in a clapped out LDV, friends did it in 4 in a hire car).

    How's your German? In Budapest a lot of people speak English but outside Budapest and the older generation speak German. The Hungarians speak very literally ie 'Do you know what the time is?' 'Yes'. They don't offer information, you have to ask for every bit of information you want, but of course sometimes if you don't know the information you don't know to ask for it! The tourist office near the Metro station 'Deak Ferenc ter' is quite good - well the leaflets were, not necessarily the people!

    I could also give you Cartographia maps of several Hungarian locations and a couple of guide books (incl walking in Hungary) but I guess there's not time (Bedford based, nr Milton Keynes). The walking is ok, but it gives you a taste of a different country which I always find interesting (getting away from the more touristic stuff) but I also guess you won't have much time to spend there so won't want to be spending a day or half a day walking, although if it's open you could take 'the Children's railway' (http://www.gyermekvasut.hu/english/page.php?9) through the Buda hills.

    Sacha
     
  12. activecampers

    activecampers Read Only Funster

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    Thanks Sacha for the multiple posts. We will be printing them off and taking them with us.
    We will be learning basic German as most of the trip will be in Germany/Austria - this is our first brief taste of eastern Europe.

    Slovinia and Poland are on our list, as is Czech etc - but not till the summer.

    We may only have 3-4 days in Hungrary - depends how we get on in Germany. If we spend too much time in Germnay we may not make Budapest....

    Really appreciete your time!
     
  13. Nojazz

    Nojazz Read Only Funster

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    Innsbruck in Austria is worth a visit, pretty old town with a modern shopping centre .
    We stayed at Natterssee Camping (some pics in the album) open all year with fantastic facilities . Not cheap but the views were worth it.

    Nojazz
     
  14. activecampers

    activecampers Read Only Funster

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    Innsbruck is on our list already :) We're probably going to try and wild camp/aire most of the trip though have our ACSI card just in case.

    The plots we have seems to give a fairly obvious rough route. Probably going to go out via the South before the snow sets in, and back via the northern side.

    (the yellow is a very rough join-the-dots)
     

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