Everything you need to know about taking a road trip through Germany, Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Austria in the winter time.
In November 2016 we took a road trip around Germany and Eastern Europe for 15 days.
Below is our full itinerary, how to pack your car, where to stay, how easy it is to park your car, what to pack and all about tolls and vignettes and currency…
Day 1 Flight from Southampton to Munich
Journey time 30 mins from airport to hotel
Nights stayed 1
Parking Free parking at hotel. Feldkirken S-bhan station just 4 minute with free parking, €2 each way into city
Top sights Marienplatz, Old Rat Haus, Neus Rathaus, Frauenkirke, various Brauhaus
Day 2 +3 Munich to Nurnberg and to Prague
Journey time Munich to Nuremberg 187km, 2 hours . Nuremberg to Prague 300km 3 hours
Accommodation AirBnB studio apartment £54 pn, would highly recommend. 20 minutes on tram to centre
Nights stayed 2
Parking Free on street parking
Top Sights Nuremberg - Christmas market, Church, Castle, where Hitler held Propaganda rallies. Prague-
Charles Bridge, Prague castle (Pražsky hrad), Astronomical clock, Church of Our lady before Tyn, Wenceslas Square, The old town (Staré Mesto). Eat Goulash and Trdelník- chimney cake.
Day 4 + 5 + 6 Prague to Dresden then Berlin
Journey time Prague to Dresden 150km, 1 hour 50. Dresden to Berlin - 194km 2hr 10
Accommodation AirBnB £56pn. Located a train ride away from Alexanderplatz €7 day ticket on train
Nights Stayed 3
Parking On street. Be aware if entering the main city centre you need a parking permit
Top Sights Dresden- Frauenkirke, Dresden cathedral. Berlin - Bundestag, The Memorial To The Murdered Jews Of Europe. Topography of Terror, Brandenburg Gate. Checkpoint Charlie. Berliner Dom, Alexanderplatz. Berlin wall.
Day 7 + 8 Berlin to Krakow
Journey time 600km 6 hours to Krakow. Krakow to Auschwitz 70km, 1 hour 10
AccommodationAirBnB Stunning large modern apartment, a nice stroll or tram ride to main town, highly recommend. £45pn
Nights stayed 2
Parking secure underground parking included
Top Sights Auschwitz, Shindlers factory, Jewish ghetto. Main square- Rynek Główny
Day 9 + 10 + 11 Krakow to Hungary via Slovakia
Journey time Krakow to Budapest 395 km, 6 hours
Accommodation Spacious quirky building, highly recommend. AirBnB £28pn
Nights stayed 3
Parking free weekend on street parking, week days secure car park €7pd
Top Sights Slovakia- countryside, look out for castles. Budapest - Christmas markets, city sightseeing bus €22 for 48hrs inc. Danube river cruise. Parliament, Buda Castle, Chain Bridge, Heroes Square,Gellért Hill, Fishermans Bastion. Have a drink or food in New York café.
Day 12 Hungary to Vienna to Salzburg
Journey time Budapest to Vienna 243km, 2 and half hours. Vienna to Salzburg 296km, 2 and half hours
Accommodation expedia apartment, would recommend somewhere else
Nights stayed 1
Parking free on site
Top Sights Vienna- Opera house, St Stephans Dom, Christmas markets, Schoenbrunn Schloss. Salzburg -
Mozart house, Christmas market, Sound Of Music tour. Hangar 7- filled with Red Bull memorabilia.
Day 13 + 14 + 15 Salzburg to Lake Konigssee + Munich + Neuschwanstein
Journey time Salzburg to Lake Konigssee 25km, 35 minutes. Salzburg to Munich 145km, 1 hour 40. Munich to Neuschwanstein 120km, 2 hours
Accommodation Ibis Feldkirken (same as before)
Nights stayed 2
Top Sights Lake Konigsee, Berchtagden, Spot Hitler's Eagles Nest (open in summer months only), lake cruise. Munich as before. Neuschwanstein Castle, amazing.
TOP PLACES TO VISIT
TOLLS & VIGNETTES
What is a vignette I hear you ask...
In certain European countries there is no toll roads but instead you will need to purchase an electronic paper tag that sticks to your windscreen. These can be bought at service stations, some post offices and at buildings located at borders. With the Hungarian Vignette you can also buy in advance at ematrica.nemzetiutdij.hu or virpay.hu
For more information on each country check out http://www.tolls.eu
The signs are available in three different lengths of validity, 10 days, 1 month, and year. The prices below are for 10 days. Also the prices change by vehicle size. All below are for vehicles under 3.5 tonnes.
Germany - has no toll roads and no vignette.
Czech Republic - 310 Kč (€12.20)
Poland - 20 zloty (€4.79) Check website to make sure your route requires vignette. Heading to Krakow it is only on the A4 Katowice - Kraków. Zloty, and euro are accepted.
Slovakia - Even although we were only driving through you still require a vignette at €10
Hungary- 2 975 Ft Hungarian Forint (€9.51)
For 15 days we took €700, One hundred sterling worth of Czech Koruna as that is preferred although euros should be accepted most places. One hundred sterling worth of Polish zloty, they will accept euros. And One hundred sterling worth of Hungarian Forint, although Euro is wildly accepted.
ORGANISING IN ADVANCE
Accommodation +3 weeks. We used Expedia and AirBnB.
Tours Book online for Auschwitz 1 week before, Budapest sightseeing bus 24 hour before.
Transport If hiring car look around +8 weeks before
Travel Insurance-Start insurance policy when you start booking as the insurance will cover you from then on.
HIRE CAR v OWN CAR
We have travelled around Europe a few times before and this time after weighing up the liability costs of hiring a car against our own we decided to hire a car. It was easier as it would come with insurance and all the EU driving kit (breathalyzer/ hi viz etc). Our car hire for 2 drivers and insurance for 15 days was £410 added driver, insurance 15 days
If using own car you need to kit it out and get insurance for being abroad.
Either way if you are from UK or another right-hand drive country, you will be driving on the wrong side of the road, what is easier, being in a right hand car on right side of road or being in left hand drive in right hand side? - Really once you get in the driving seat it all becomes rather natural.
PACKING YOUR CAR
Fill the car with essentials including- In most EU countries they now require you to have an "EU driving kit" which includes alcohol breathalyzer, stickers to change headlights, hazard triangle and hi viz jacket. (If stopped by the police and are required to take a breathalyzer test you will use your own kit). Car parts- check spare tyre. A head-torch is always handy too.
Basic but essential items include- tissues, wet wipes, sanitiser, SatNav, a usb charger which plugs into cigarette lighter. And although sounds odd, a bath towel or two, these can be used for the intended purpose but also acts like a cover to hide all your bags and items underneath when leaving the car unattended, can also be used as a blanket on those cool early morning starts.
A good book or two a hot playlist or stack of CD's if you're like us, and sunglasses, even it the winter. Oh and food, snacks such as biscuits or jelly sweets and a few bottles of water.
We like to keep everything in its right place, so we end up with several zip bags (like toiletry bags) containing everything.
A small First Aid kit- containing plasters, Rennies, paracetamol, Savalon, Immodium, deep heat.
A bag for phone chargers, laptop charger, camera chargers. EU plug adapter (found easily on Amazon).
A bag for toiletries- if staying in hotels you should get some kind of shower gel/ shampoo, but razor, toothpaste, deodorant, perfume/aftershave. Go to a local supermarket at first destination to buy shower gel and shampoo, rather than paying extra for travel sized bottles.
A bag for make-up - minimal make up for me on trips as it is less time consuming.
A folder for important documents that you can keep handy including International driving license, passport, euros.
Taking a car means you have more room to store your belongings. We would only take one of the two bags out of the car at each destination, so fill both bags with a mix of clothes/ underwear. This makes it easier to carry. Half way through, have all clean clothes in one bag and other bag can now be for dirty laundry. Pack a separate bag containing shoes, this will be easy to grab what you need at each destination.
We had one rucksack which was filled with cameras, MacBook, chargers and important documents.
WHAT CLOTHES TO WEAR ON A WINTER EUROPEAN CITY TRIP
Pack versatile clothes that you can wear more than once and layer up, like jumpers, warm trousers, bags, shoes/boots, make sure you have warm scarves and gloves and wooly hats!
Shoes 1x comfy boots, 1x trainers
OUR STATISTICS FOR 15 DAYS
Drive total- average 2,725 km
Total cost accommodation- £621 (€706)
Average food/drink €40 x 15 nights
Flights £180 pp return
Travel insurance £40
plus fuel depends on speed and distance
We had 15 full days and would recommend this amount of time if doing it at a similar pace, we drove many hours a day. Either don't visit as many places or we would recommend 16-21 days. This guide would also work for Springtime / Summertime, the prices of accommodation may be more expensive though.
Have you road tripped around Germany, Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and/ or Austria? If so, how long did you take?