House of Parliament, Budapest, Hungary Charles Bridge - Prague, Czech Republic

Self-Drive Budapest to Prague

Sail down the beautiful rivers
Sail down the beautiful rivers

Exeter International White Glove Self-Drive Program Includes:

  • A pre-programmed GPS system for you to use while in Europe.
  • Every day will be set up for you and you can’t get lost!
  • 24-hours local help line available to you as you travel and manned exclusively by Exeter local staff.
  • Our expert advice in finding the perfect car for your trip. Your car will be waiting for you to pick up locally and will show you exactly where to return it when you are finished.
  • The freedom to deviate and explore on your own and then jump back into your planned itinerary at any time.

The following is just a suggested daily touring schedule. You will have complete control over your daily schedule and may change your plans at any time simply by telling your guide or by deviating from your Exeter-provided GPS itinerary. Your time in Europe is yours to enjoy as you like!

For custom luxury travel, tours and self drive programs to the Central European countries of Germany, Austria, Hungary, and Czech Republic, please contact one of our travel experts.

Central Europe Downloadable PDF

White Glove Self-Drive Downloadable PDF

Download a PDF itinerary here.

Day 1
Arrival | Budapest Fisherman's Bastion - Budapest, Hungary

Arrival into Budapest. Your driver will meet you just after customs and baggage claim for your private transfer to your hotel.

Over the centuries, Budapest flourished as a crossroads where East meets West in the heart of Europe. Ancient cultures such as the Magyars, the Mongols and the Turks, have all left an indelible mark on this magical city. Buda and Pest, separated by the Danube River, are characterized by an assortment of monuments, elegant streets, wine taverns, coffee houses and Turkish baths.

The remainder of your day is at leisure to settle in. Your hotel location allows for much of the city to be explored on foot and via the small metro system.

If you’re up for a walk, take a stroll to the lovely 19th-century Chain Bridge (about 20 – 25 minutes on foot) to the Budapest Funicular (vertical rail car). This takes you up the side of Buda’s historic Royal Palace, the former Hapsburg palace during the 19-century and rebuilt in the Neo-Classical style after it was destroyed during World War II.

A stroll through the castle area, known as Varhegy, will take you to the Fisherman’s Bastion for the most impressive views over Pest, across the Danube. Here you’ll see the Matyas Church, a Neo-Gothic reconstruction dating from 1874 and in which many organ and choral concerts can be heard. The entire cobble-stoned area, lined with cafés and small shops, is perfect for spending the remaining afternoon.

Tonight, we recommend you enjoy a public cruise on the Danube to see the beautiful sites on both sides of the river lit up to perfection.

Exeter Services: Airport Transfer

Hotel: Aria Budapest

Day 2
Budapest | Budapest Royal Crown, Budapest Parliament, Hungary

Today join your guide at 10AM in the hotel lobby for a half-day overview city tour on foot and via metro. This morning you may visit the magnificent House of Parliament, which is the country’s largest building and the symbol of Budapest. Here you will have the opportunity to see the dome, which boasts an elaborate design of Neo-Gothic gilding. Inside the building, the stunning interiors combine sweeping grand staircases, original frescoes, paintings and sculptures. For most, the highlight of this visit is the viewing of the crown jewels of Hungary. One of the most notable items in the collection is the Holy Crown of Hungary, the only crown known today with the “holy” attribute and dating from the 11th century. This crown has had quite a history – seized by the U.S. Army in 1945, it was held in Fort Knox until 1978, when it was returned to Hungary.

Continue with a stroll through central Pest. Before leaving the area of the Parliament, make sure to take a look at the shoes on the Danube. This memorial was created to honor the Jews killed by the Arrow Cross during WWII.

Your guide will take you to the Budapest Market Hall. Built by Eiffel in the 19th century, the covered market boasts soaring metal columns, high walkways and beautiful produce shops. More than being a place where one can purchase some handcrafted and typical Hungarian souvenirs, it’s a market where locals go to purchase their produce and meats – a meeting place for many and a place where you can enjoy authentic local flavor.

Next, your guide will take you to the Great Budapest Synagogue, the Jewish Museum, and the Holocaust Memorial. Since the 19th century, the Jewish community became well integrated into Hungarian society and three synagogues were built. In 1944, a ghetto was created in Pest, which was later followed by the deportation of thousands to Jews. You can walk through part of the former Jewish neighborhood to see an old synagogue on Rumbach Street.

From here, your guide will take you to the Great Synagogue, the largest of the three previously mentioned and impressive in its Byzantine and Moorish style architecture. You can visit the Jewish Museum that is part of the synagogue, and afterwards, walk over to the Holocaust Memorial. The sculpture of a weeping willow designed in memory of the 600,000 Hungarian Jews who died under the Nazis in World War II.

After you finish, you can walk back to your hotel or use the efficient metro system.

Note: Today involves a lot of walking – please wear comfortable footwear.

Exeter Services: Guide (8 Hours)

Hotel: Aria Budapest

Day 3
Budapest - Bratislava | Budapest - Bratislava Mikulov, Czech Republic

This morning after checking out of your hotel, grab a taxi to the car rental facility (in the city center) to pick up your car and begin your jaunt through the countryside.

Today you may stop in the Hungarian town of Györ and see its Baroque center and Town Hall. Györ’s Old Town is reputed to be second only to Budapest in terms of historic architecture and its narrow lanes, characteristic corner balconies, palaces, and cathedrals are not to be missed.

Not far from here is the 1000-year-old Pannonhalma Abbey. This was a hugely important ecclesiastical center in the Middle Ages and today is still a working monastery. You can only visit with a guide and tours are generally every hour, on the hour.

If you’re not too tired of driving, we recommend a stop in Sopron, which will charm you with its Baroque center and authentic small houses. Originally a Roman town called Scarbantia, it was later deserted until the 9th century when it was settled by Hungarians who rebuilt it and strengthened its defensive walls. The town was destroyed by fire in the 17th century and most of today’s Baroque buildings were erected during the following reconstruction. Sopron was bombed several times during the Second World War, but much of the medieval town was spared and its architecture nowadays includes walls and foundations from the Roman Empire as well as a wealth of Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque structures, often beautifully decorated.

Continue your way to Bratislava and spend the night at the brand new Kempinski River Park. While this hotel doesn’t have the location in the very center of town, you won’t want to drive through town anyway, with its crazy twisting and winding streets. You can stop here for the night, have an easy place to park, and enjoy a stroll along the Danube into the city center.

Driving Times (approximate)

Budapest – Györ – 1.5 hours

Györ – Pannonhalma Abbey – 30 minutes 

Pannonhalma Abbey – Sopron – 2 hours 

Sopron – Bratislava – 1.5 hours

Exeter Services: None

Hotel: Kempinski River Park

Day 4
Bratislava - Mikulov | Bratislava - Mikulov Mikulov, Czech Republic

Today your guide will meet you in your hotel for a 3-hour tour of Bratislava on foot. You may start this morning by visiting the banks of the Danube where you will see the famous Old and New Bridges as well as fragments of the old city walls. You may step briefly inside St. Martin’s Cathedral, the site of the coronation of the Austrian emperors.

You will continue past the Presidential Palace and the Squares of Peace and Freedom, until you reach the Bratislava castle, with its fantastic views over the city. Later this morning you may continue on foot through the Old Town district and the former palace of the Archbishop of Esztergom – reknowned for its beautiful tapestries.

After time for a leisurely lunch, continue your way into the Czech Republic toward Mikulov. You will be driving through southern Moravia, featuring rolling countryside and tiny vineyards.

Mikulov is a picturesque little town in the Southern Moravian region which is known for its wine. The town itself is full of charming winding streets with pretty Renaissance and Baroque houses. West of the Mikulov Castle is the Jewish Quarter, once the seat of the Moravian Chief Rabbi. The thriving community used to have a well-known yeshiva, many synagogues and a large graveyard where many of the famous rabbis are buried.

Driving Times (approximate)

Bratislava – Mikulov 1.5 hours

Exeter Services: Guide (3 Hours)-Bratislava

Hotel: Hotel Templ or Similar

Day 5
Slavonice, Telc & Cesky Krumlov | Slavonice, Telc & Cesky Krumlov Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic

Today depart Mikulov and drive through southern Moravia and head into Bohemia. Along the way, you might like to stop at Slavonice, just on the border with Bohemia.

Slavonice has a beautiful renaissance city center with buildings dating all the way back to the 14th century and the actual layout of the town has remained unchanged since the 13th century. Once you can park, it’s easy to explore all the highlights here on foot. Churches will be closed today for inside visits.

Continue to the town of Telč. The UNESCO-listed Telč is a picturesque little town in Moravia. After a fire that destroyed the city in 1530, the governor of Moravia brought in Italian architects and master builders to rebuild the town and its castle. The main square is surrounded by colorful arcaded houses and leads to the magnificent renaissance chateau. The chateau is open today and you can join one (or all) of three separate tours of the chateau.

Afterwards, continue to your final destination, Cesky Krumlov. Parking here is a challenge, but full instructions will be given to you before you depart. After parking, stroll into the town to your hotel. The remainder of your evening is at leisure.

Driving Times (approximate)

Mikulov – Slavonice – 2 hours

Slavonice – Telč – 30 minutes 

Telč – Český Krumlov – 2 hours

Exeter Services: None

Hotel: Hotel Ruze or similar

 

Day 6
Cesky Krumlov | Cesky Krumlov Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic

This morning you can explore Český Krumlov. The center of this South Bohemian town offers stately Gothic and Renaissance houses, a wonderful square where the life of the town thrives – narrow, winding cobbled- stoned streets, dignified monasteries and churches. The castle is closed today, but you can explore many other sites the town has to offer.

We highly recommend a visit to the unique space that is the Egon Schiele Art Center. They have a collection of works by Schiele, of course, but each year they have a special exhibition based on a changing theme.

This afternoon you might want to take an excursion to Hluboká Castle (open on Mondays). This present-day Chateau was an early Gothic castle built around 1250. In the 16th century, the Lord of Hradec, who bought the castle from King Ferdinand I, converted it into a Renaissance stately home. The castle endured many changes throughout the century, but eventually became one of the most beautiful castles in Bohemia. Today, in the former castle riding school, is a gallery that holds an impressive exhibition of Gothic paintings and statues as well as Dutch and Flemish art of the 17th and 18th centuries.

From the Hluboká Castle head back south to the charming town of České Budějovice. Stop into an historic pub for a pint of the original Budweiser beer!

Driving Times (approximate)

Český Krumlov – Hluboká 1 hour Hluboká – České Budějovice 30 minutes České Budějovice – Český Krumlov 30 minutes

This morning you can explore Český Krumlov. The center of this South Bohemian town offers stately Gothic and Renaissance houses, a wonderful square where the life of the town thrives – narrow, winding cobbled- stoned streets, dignified monasteries and churches. The castle is closed today, but you can explore many other sites the town has to offer.

We highly recommend a visit to the unique space that is the Egon Schiele Art Center. They have a collection of works by Schiele, of course, but each year they have a special exhibition based on a changing theme.

This afternoon you might want to take an excursion to Hluboká Castle (open on Mondays). This present-day Chateau was an early Gothic castle built around 1250. In the 16th century, the Lord of Hradec, who bought the castle from King Ferdinand I, converted it into a Renaissance stately home. The castle endured many changes throughout the century, but eventually became one of the most beautiful castles in Bohemia. Today, in the former castle riding school, is a gallery that holds an impressive exhibition of Gothic paintings and statues as well as Dutch and Flemish art of the 17th and 18th centuries.

From the Hluboká Castle head back south to the charming town of České Budějovice. Stop into an historic pub for a pint of the original Budweiser beer!

Driving Times (approximate)

Český Krumlov – Hluboká – 1 hour

Hluboká – České Budějovice – 30 minutes

České Budějovice – Český Krumlov – 30 minutes

Exeter Services: None

Hotel: Hotel Ruze or similar

Day 7
Tabor, Konopiste & Prague | Tabor, Konopiste & Prague Tabor, Czech Republic

This morning, before departing Český Krumlov, make time for a visit to the 13th century Rožmberk Castle – rich in history as well as arts and crafts that have been preserved throughout the centuries. Don’t miss the splendid view in the castle garden of a large Baroque theater with period furnishings.

You might want to deviate a bit to Tábor, established in the 13th century as a military camp for Hussite refugees from Prague. Today this lively Old Town is a nice stop of maze-like streets enroute to Prague. Once you find a place to park, explore the town center on foot. You might want to stop into the Town Hall, which features a small Hussite Museum and great architecture.

Continue on your way to Konopiště for a visit to the castle. Originally a Gothic Castle later refashioned in Renaissance style, this manor was home to the unfortunate archduke Franz Ferdinand d’Este whose assassination in 1914 in Sarajevo brought about the beginning of the World War I. The manor keeps an extraordinary collection of art and one of the richest and most interesting armories in Europe. After exploring the castle’s interior, you may enjoy the beautifully manicured gardens where quails, pheasants, and peacocks roam freely.

You can spend the rest of your evening at your leisure to explore Prague.

Driving Times (approximate)

Český Krumlov – Tábor – 1.5 hours

Tábor – Konopiště – 1 hour

Konopiště – Prague – 1 hour

Exeter Services: None

Hotel: Aria Prague

Day 8
Prague | Prague Prague, Czech Republic

Today use your car for a half-day trip outside of Prague to the town of Kutná Hora. Here you will find one of Europe’s most beautiful Gothic churches, the Cathedral of St. Barbara. It was designed by Peter Parler, the court architect and sculptor of Charles IV. You will also want to visit the Sedlec Ossuary – a chapel decorated entirely in human bones located in Kutná Hora’s suburb of Sedlec.

Return to Prague by 4:30PM so you can return your car and taxi (payable locally) back to your hotel. The remainder of your day is at leisure.

If you return to Prague in time, spend some time on your own exploring Prague’s Old Town. The historic synagogues are worth a visit. These include the stunning Spanish Synagogue and the ancient Old-New Synagogue, which was built in the late 13th Century, making it the oldest synagogue still in use in Europe. While in the Jewish Quarter, you may decide to visit the Old Jewish Cemetery, founded in the late 15th Century and still corresponding to its original medieval size. Over the centuries, more than 100,000 people are believed to have been buried here, the oldest tomb known being of the writer Rabbi Kara.

Spend some time in the famous Old Town Square, where you can see the Astrological Clock that has become the symbol of Prague. Be sure not to miss the fairytale-like Old Town Hall Tower (1364) that stands above Old Town Square- you can even go to the top of the tower for a splendid view over the district.

Driving Times (approximate)

Prague – Kutná Hora 1.5 hours each way

Exeter Services: None

Hotel: Aria Prague

Day 9
Prague | Prague Prague, Czech Republic

This morning your guide and driver will meet you at 10AM for an overview drive of some of Prague’s top sites. Drive by the famous Dancing House and through the historical area of Vysehrad, with its 10th century fort. You will also observe modern local Czech life with a drive through the bustling residential area of Vinohrady, once covered by vineyards. You will then head towards the Castle District and Hradčany.

Exeter International Extraordinary Experience

Today you have a VIP visit to the Strahov Monastery. Here, you will be invited into the two main halls of the library (the Philosophical Hall and the Theological Hall). These two halls are always viewed by the public through the narrow doorways at the end of each room, but you will be allowed to enter the rooms to walk alone among the ancient books and artifacts.

Included today will also be a visit to the Prague Castle complex. Here Maria Theresa commissioned the famous architect of the Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna, Nicholas Pacassi, to design the interior of the complex. This castle, designed with courtyards inside of courtyards, is a fascinating view into the lives of the Czech monarchy. You might want to step into the towering and wonderfully Neo-Gothic St. Vitus Cathedral inside the complex.

As a side note, the castle complex and the cathedral are often very crowded with lines because of the security measures in place. Once in the castle territory, if the line is daunting, skip the cathedral. You can then visit Lobkowicz Palace, also on the castle territory.

We love a visit to the Lobkowicz Palace to view the interesting exhibition The Princely Collection. This is a special treat, as the audio guide that you will use is recorded by Mr. William Lobkowicz himself. After the confiscation by the Nazis and later, the Communists, the palace has been returned to the Lobkowicz family, one of the most powerful Czech aristocratic families whose history goes all the way back to the 14th century. The Lobkowicz restored the palace into a wonderful private museum. The tour will give you an insight into their life and their collection of paintings, decorative art, porcelain sets, music scores (one with Mozart’s own handwritten notes), arms and armors. Don’t miss the original score of Beethoven’s Eroica!

Your day will end in the Malá Strana or Little Quarter, which is best known for the Wallenstein Palace and Church of St. Nicholas. Also, it is here in the Malá Strana that you will find many charming restaurants and unique shops full of Bohemian glass and the marionettes that are so famous in Prague.

Note: All touring today is on foot in largely pedestrian only areas.

This morning your guide and driver will meet you at 10AM for an overview drive of some of Prague’s top sites. Drive by the famous Dancing House and through the historical area of Vysehrad, with its 10th century fort. You will also observe modern local Czech life with a drive through the bustling residential area of Vinohrady, once covered by vineyards. You will then head towards the Castle District and Hradčany.

Exeter International Extraordinary Experience

Today you have a VIP visit to the Strahov Monastery. Here, you will be invited into the two main halls of the library (the Philosophical Hall and the Theological Hall). These two halls are always viewed by the public through the narrow doorways at the end of each room, but you will be allowed to enter the rooms to walk alone among the ancient books and artifacts.

Included today will also be a visit to the Prague Castle complex. Here Maria Theresa commissioned the famous architect of the Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna, Nicholas Pacassi, to design the interior of the complex. This castle, designed with courtyards inside of courtyards, is a fascinating view into the lives of the Czech monarchy. You might want to step into the towering and wonderfully Neo-Gothic St. Vitus Cathedral inside the complex.

As a side note, the castle complex and the cathedral are often very crowded with lines because of the security measures in place. Once in the castle territory, if the line is daunting, skip the cathedral. You can then visit Lobkowicz Palace, also on the castle territory.

We love a visit to the Lobkowicz Palace to view the interesting exhibition The Princely Collection. This is a special treat, as the audio guide that you will use is recorded by Mr. William Lobkowicz himself. After the confiscation by the Nazis and later, the Communists, the palace has been returned to the Lobkowicz family, one of the most powerful Czech aristocratic families whose history goes all the way back to the 14th century. The Lobkowicz restored the palace into a wonderful private museum. The tour will give you an insight into their life and their collection of paintings, decorative art, porcelain sets, music scores (one with Mozart’s own handwritten notes), arms and armors. Don’t miss the original score of Beethoven’s Eroica!

Your day will end in the Malá Strana or Little Quarter, which is best known for the Wallenstein Palace and Church of St. Nicholas. Also, it is here in the Malá Strana that you will find many charming restaurants and unique shops full of Bohemian glass and the marionettes that are so famous in Prague.

Note: All touring today is on foot in largely pedestrian only areas.

Exeter Services: Vehicle & Driver (3 Hours); Guide (6 Hours)

Hotel: Aria Prague

Vehicle & Driver (3 Hours); Guide (6 Hours) Aria Prague

Day 10
Departure | Departure Four Seasons Prague

Today you will be transferred to the airport for your flight onwards.

Exeter Services: Transfer

On to Vienna!? You shouldn’t come home without seeing Vienna’s amazing museums, superb shopping and fabulous food. Vienna is an easy and convenient addition to this itinerary. Ask how you can incorporate Vienna into your self-drive program.

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