If you haven’t read any of the prior expense reports from our trip, check them out below:
- Madrid, Spain
- Portugal (Porto, Caldas da Rainha, Lisbon, Lagos)
- Spain (Seville, Granada, Valencia, Barcelona)
- France and Luxembourg (Paris, Reims, and Luxembourg City)
- Belgium (Brussels, Bruges, and Antwerp)
- Netherlands and Germany (The Hague, Amsterdam, and Hamburg)
- Poland and the Czech Republic (Krakow and Prague)
Originally, we planned to spend about 4-5 days in each of these cities including Vienna, Bratislava, and Budapest. We were also planning on going to Slovenia while in this area. However, in our planning, we didn’t realize that we were coming up on our limit of how long we could stay in the Schengen region of Europe (90 days in 6 months). We realized this once we had already booked Vienna and Bratislava, but hadn’t booked Budapest or Slovenia yet.
We then thought about cutting down the time in a couple of the cities to make it work and stay under 90 days. However, we were using hotel points for our stays in Vienna and Bratislava, with the 5th night free perk from Whitney’s Hilton Honors status. So it would actually make our stays more expensive if we went back and changed our reservations to shorter stays. So in the end, we decided to cut out Slovenia completely for this trip, and we had to cut Budapest down to just one day. We thought about leaving Budapest out completely as well for a later trip, but we figured we might enjoy at least a quick stop over there before heading out of the Schengen area to Croatia. You can read more about this whole planning process in this article about our final itinerary.
Budapest ended up being an amazing city for the one day we got to spend there, and we will definitely be back in the future. We didn’t know much about Vienna or Budapest before going there, but we found the architecture amazing in both cities. We felt they were like smaller and less expensive versions of the big cities in Western Europe, and to us they are definitely under-rated! Bratislava was a smaller city and not as glamorous as the other two, but we gladly welcomed the slower paced atmosphere for a few days and even got out in nature and worked out some while we were there!
We spent a total of 12 days/11 nights between Austria, Slovakia, and Hungary, broken down as follows:
- 5 nights in Vienna
- 5 nights in Bratislava
- 1 night in Budapest
Stay tuned for Whitney’s next post about all of our adventures on this part of the trip, but for now I’ll focus on the expenses incurred while traveling through Austria, Slovakia, and Hungary. Keep in mind that all of the expenses that I’ll talk about below are my expenses only, since Whitney and I have quite different spending habits. We split all shared expenses evenly, so I calculate the numbers below with my half of the shared expenses and then my individual expenses.
Accommodations: We used hotel points for all three cities during this portion of the trip. Using points from Whitney’s recent Hilton Aspire signup bonus, we were able to get a really good value for the points in Eastern Europe. We only used 40,000 points for 5 nights in Vienna and 40,000 for 5 nights in Bratislava. The one night in Budapest was booked using left over points from an IHG sign up bonus last year. Using these points ended up being a better value than the Airbnb’s in Budapest which we thought were a little expensive for Eastern Europe.
My total expenses for accommodations for these three cities ended up only being half of the local taxes from one of the hotels. 😀
- Total for my expenses: $2
Food and drink: Ten out of eleven of these days we had wonderful free breakfasts from the Hilton hotels in Vienna and Bratislava, including made to order omelettes and a selection of other delicious foods and drinks. We always take full advantage of these big breakfast spreads to fill us up for half the day. We would usually just have a snack mid-day, then either go out for dinner or get something from a local grocery store for dinner. We didn’t eat out very much in Vienna because there was a grocery store right next to our hotel that was very convenient, and we needed a little break from the heavy meat & potatoes Eastern European diet, so we opted for some salads instead. We did eat out more in Bratislava, including a local place called the “Slovak Pub” which had awesome Slovakian food. In Budapest, we tried to local street food called “Langos” which is a deep-fried pizza/sandwich type thing (which included one million calories and was delicious)! And of course we tried lots of local Austrian wine, and the beer in Bratislava and Budapest.
Total for my expenses: $128
Transportation: We took buses between all of the cities on this portion of the trip. This helped keep my transportation costs pretty low. We used almost exclusively public transportation and walking to get around each of these cities. The public transportation system was fairly easy and inexpensive in each city, except in Budapest because we were staying outside of the city center. We didn’t realize that where we were staying was outside the main public transport zones, so we initially bought a 24 hour public transportation pass that was basically useless to us. We had a lot of trouble figuring out the “regional” transport system which caused us a lot of frustration. But once we figured it out, it was still very cheap and fast even on the regional trains. Aside from the public transport, we did have to take one Uber in Bratislava, because there was a wreck blocking the road where the local bus route went, and we needed to get to the international bus station quickly. We try not to take taxis, but this was an occasion when we didn’t have a choice.
- Total for my expenses: $64
Activities: We found lots of free and cheap activities throughout these cities. We mostly did sight-seeing and walking around the cities on our own which is always free. We also did free (tips based) walking tours in each city, which is always a great way to learn about the city. In Bratislava, we took advantage of the nice pool, gym and sauna at our hotel. We also went on a hike in a nearby town outside of Bratislava to an old medieval castle. In Vienna, we visited a couple local markets in town, and we saw the former summer palace of the Habsburg family including walking around the grounds and beautiful gardens for free. So my only activity expenses for this part of the trip were tips for the walking tours.
- Total for my expenses: $18
My total expenses for 12 days and 11 nights in Austria, Slovakia, and Hungary, including accommodations, transportation, activities, and food, were approximately $218!
Running total for entire trip to this point (my expenses only): $3,240 ($41/day average)!
Stay tuned for our next posts about Croatia! Keep an eye on the Facebook page where we are posting much more frequently about the trip including our favorite pictures!