An Awesome Eastern Europe Itinerary: 10-day Road Trip
If you’re itching to see a lot of great places like Prague and Budapest (among others), then this Eastern Europe itinerary, a 10-day road trip, is the perfect way to explore several countries in one trip.
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This guide goes to not one, not two, but SIX countries (Germany, Austria, Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic, and Poland), and can easily be expanded to a two-week itinerary by adding a few days in places where you’d like to see a little more.
Eastern Europe’s culture is as colorful as its buildings’ facades, and every place we visited is so rich in history that it left us in awe. If you’ve been waffling about doing an Eastern Europe itinerary like this, let this be your motivation to DO IT!
When we Went on this Eastern European Road Trip
(Pictures from a little road somewhere in Eastern Germany; Budapest)
We took this Eastern European road trip in October 2022 during our kids’ fall break in the Netherlands.
We left by car from northwestern Germany on a Thursday around noon and returned on a Sunday afternoon. Our kids had Friday off of school, then a week off for fall break; we used every free minute we had.
Typically I like to plan our trips with some downtime and extra time to relax in a city, but this wasn’t the trip for that.
If you’re looking for a little less hustle, I recommend extending your trip by a few days and/or taking a city out of the equation. This was possibly our only chance to go to these places, so I wanted to squeeze them in…and we did!
Quick Tips for Visiting Eastern Europe
(Pictures from: Budapest and Prague)
If you’re driving a vehicle through you’re going to need a vignette for each country you visit during this Eastern European road trip.
A vignette is basically Europe’s version of a toll road. Back in the day (and still today) you’d stop just after crossing the border and get a sticker to go on your windshield, indicating you paid your fees. Today you can also buy them online ahead of time, which is super convenient if you don’t want to stop every time you cross a border. Although: going into a new country’s gas station (where they sell them) is always super fun.
While you can get a vignette as you cross each border (at gas stations), there was one exit we would have missed because of traffic, so I was glad I bought them ahead of time.
I’d add this task to your to-do list for the week or the week before you travel just to make sure you have your dates correct.
Here are some websites where you can get your vignettes for different countries:
What you’ll need before you buy your vignettes:
- The license plate number of the vehicle you’ll be in, so make sure you have that handy.
- The dates you’ll be in that country. Most had options for at least a 10-day vignette, so you might be okay if your dates are a little vague. But, just make sure you will be there when you say you will.
- A credit card
TIP: We live in a digital age, but print these out before you travel and bring them with you. Will you need to show them? Probably not. But we did go through a border check one time and we had ours handy just in case.
One more tip if you’re going on an Eastern Europe road trip adventure: several of these countries have different currencies.
Czech Republic: Koruna
Rest assured though; most places will still take Euro, but they will give you change back in their own currency.
We had no problem using our credit card everywhere we went, but a few times we did need cash/coins; specifically to pay for parking a couple of times. So if you see an ATM, get a small amount of local cash out if you’ll be in a country for a few days.
Where this Eastern Europe Itinerary Starts and Ends
(Pictures from: Rothenburg ob der Tauber and The Devil’s Bridge; Germany)
This trip was a giant circular road trip, and we loved it. Yes, it was a lot of time in the car, but that’s nothing new for us.
Since we live near the border of Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands, that’s where we started. But you can begin this journey from anywhere within Germany.
Our first two days of our Eastern Europe road trip were really just us driving and getting into the heart of the area.
Then, we ended our Eastern European tour at an iconic, beautiful spot in Germany just west of Poland before spending an extra day driving back home.
In a Glance: 10-day Eastern Europe Itinerary
(Pictures from: Prague and Budapest)
Here’s a quick look at the route we took for our Eastern Europe 10-day road trip. I’ll dig into the details for each place below.
- Day 1: Drove to Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany
- Day 2: Drove to Burgenland, Austria
- Day 3: Drove to Budapest, Hungary
- Day 4: Explored Budapest
- Day 5: Explored Budapest
- Day 6: Explored Bratislava, Slovakia; drove to Prague, Czech Republic
- Day 7: Explored Prague
- Day 8: Explored Prague
- Day 9: Drove to Bolesławiec, Poland
- Day 10: Drove to The Devil’s Bridge in Gablenz, Germany
Whew! Is this a lot in just 10 days? Yes. Did it ever feel too overwhelming? No.
The places where we spent the most time were Budapest and Prague, and we were in each place for three nights, which was the equivalent of being there over a weekend.
So essentially, this Eastern Europe itinerary was like having two weekends smushed together with some extra fun side trips in between.
It’s a decent amount of driving, but thankfully our kids are used to a good ol’ fashion road trip.
How to Turn This Into a 14-day Eastern Europe Itinerary
(Pictures from a little fruit stand in Hungary; market in Prague)
If I wanted to spread the trip out a little bit and turn it into a 14-day Eastern Europe Itinerary I would add two extra days in two days.
I’d add two days in Austria (staying at the same place mentioned below) to explore, Vienna, and an extra two days in Prague. Poland was fantastic, but I would make that a separate, longer trip altogether.
Day 1: Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany
(Pictures from Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany)
This has been on my list of places to see in Germany forever. Honestly, we were barely here for less than a day since it was basically just a stopping point for us, but I would absolutely return and spend a weekend here.
What to do with Only a Few Hours in Rothenburg ob der Tauber
We arrived around 5 pm and hit the ground running by finding a place to eat.
Note to your future self: make a reservation for dinner ahead of time. Rothenburg is a small place, so if you’re there—especially on a weekend—you may have a hard time finding a restaurant with availabliity for dinner.
After we ate (see below!) we went on a highly recommended Night Watchman Tour. It was fantastic, and now I highly recommend it, too.
It’s an English tour that meets every night in the Markt at 8 pm. You pay at the end (9 euros per adult), and you’ll learn a great deal about the city.
I’d also recommend something like this fun scavenger hunt in the morning if you have time so you can see the adorable town by day, too.
Besides window shopping, we didn’t have much time for anything else since we had to get on the road. We did, however, have time to stop and take some pictures at the iconic picturesque spot at Plönlein (see the exact spot here).
PRO TIP: This is a very busy section of Rothenburg. If you don’t want people or cars in your photos, get there early. We got there just before the sun came up, and it was almost not early enough.
Where we Ate in Rothenburg ob der Tauber
We wanted to eat dinner at Vito Restaurant Cafe (see on map here) because it was highly rated and the kids were jonesing for some pizza. Unfortunately, they were fully booked.
Thankfully, this place in the Marktplatz was open and extremely accommodating. The service seemed to be extremely slow after we ordered, but the food was delicious.
If we had More Time in Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Since we arrived in the evening and left just after the sun came up, we didn’t actually get to go into any stores. There were so many Christmas stores and other cute shops that I would’ve liked to go into.
I’ve heard the Rothenburg ob der Tauber Christmas market is fantastic, and I also would have liked to explore the town, like with this fun adventure, during the day to get a better feel for it.
Where we Stayed in Rothenburg ob der Tauber
Since we were short on time, we splurged a little bit and stayed in the city at Kreuzerhof Hotel Garni. Prices for rooms are considerably cheaper outside of town, so keep that in mind if you don’t mind driving into town.
The benefit of where we stayed is that it was within walking distance of everything, and it included breakfast, too.
Day 2: Burgenland, Austria
(Pictures from Frauenkirchen and St. Martin’s Thermal; Austria)
Ahhh Burgenland. I wish we had more time here because this seems like an incredible area and a great place to base yourself for several days or even a week.
We stayed in the town of Frauenkirchen and loved it even though it was yet another quick stop before continuing our journey.
Here’s the best part about Frauenkirchen: the location. It’s located on the border of Austria and Hungary (10-20 minutes depending on which way you go), but it’s also less than an hour away from Vienna—reachable via a direct train out of Frauenkirchen, and only 40 minutes from Bratislava, Slovakia. It’s also great for a trip to/from Prague or Budapest, too.
What to do with One Day in Frauenkirchen
No matter what time of year you visit, there will be something to do in Burgenland.
With only one evening to spare, we kicked off our shoes (and clothes), donned our swimsuits, and went to St. Martin’s Thermal Bath less than 10 minutes away.
St. Martin’s has a kid’s water area that my kids loved and a nature club within it (needs a reservation), plus four indoor pools and seven outdoor pools including a “summer island” from May to September.
You can easily spend all day here; we were there for about three hours and had dinner here as well.
If we had More Time in Frauenkirchen
There are wineries (check out the world-renowned Umathum winery about a mile away), bike trails, Austria’s largest lake where you can kite surf, sail, and SUP, and there are lavender fields surrounding Frauenkirchen, too.
There’s also Podo Beach with a multi-million Euro playground with some of the coolest play equipment like a climbing area, sand pit, water playground, and more.
Where we stayed in Burgenland
(Pictures from our AirBnB in Austria)
We stayed at a fantastic AirBnB that was perfect for a family and for an extended stay. I shared all about it in this blog post, so check it out if you’re going to be in the area.
Day 3, 4, & 5: Budapest, Hungary
(Pictures from Budapest, Hungary)
Budapest was such a fun stop on our Eastern Europe road trip; it’s a busy city with plenty to do, but also felt “doable” in a shorter amount of time.
We essentially visited over a weekend (three nights and two full days), and I feel happy with all we did and saw.
On our drive to Budapest we stopped in two places: Szigliget and Tihany.
(Pictures from: tacos at the base of Szigliget; view from the top, and from around Tihany, Hungary)
In Szigliget, we had delicious tacos at the foot of the castle (on the road; you’ll see a food truck set up as you drive in). We climbed the ruins of Szigliget castle, and I have to say that I was a little underwhelmed. However, we’ve seen lots of ruins in our travels. I think if we were there over the spring or summer the views from the top would’ve been more beautiful.
Our second stop was Tihany, a tiny town famous for lavender. We loved walking all around town; it was a favorite for us.
What to do in Budapest
Here are some of the highlights of our stay in Budapest:
Day 1 (this was primarily spent on the Pest side):
- Went on a great walking tour that took us all over the Pest side; highly recommend it.
- Had lunch near the Parliament (see below)
- Saw the Shoes on the Danube
- Visited and climbed Saint Stephen’s Basilica
- Took a siesta
- Had dinner at the Unicorn Bistro (see below)
- Chimney cake for dessert!
Day 2 (we spent the morning on the Buda side)
- Took the underground train to the Buda side.
- Got on the Hop on/Hop off minibus to take us up the hill. Can also take the funicular.
- Wanted to see the Buda Castle, but it was closed; walked around instead.
- Visited Matthias Church and Fisherman’s Bastion
- Had lunch at Jamie Oliver’s restaurant (see below)
- Went underground and got lost in the Labyrinth
- Walked across the Liberty Bridge (the iconic Chain Bridge was closed for construction)
- Spent some time in the Central Market Hall
- Siesta time!
- Ate the best Langos for dinner
Where we Ate in Budapest
(pictures from: Cave Vian; the Unicorn Bistro; Jamie Oliver’s Italian Restaurant; and Retró Lángos)
We had some pretty great food in Budapest, and honestly, we could’ve done better with one of our choices…but sometimes we just want our kids to eat and not complain.
Breakfast every morning was included in our stay (see below).
On the Buda side:
Jamie Oliver’s Italian Restaurant.
Honestly, this wasn’t our first choice for places to eat, but we were hungry (in Hungary—ha!), and the other more “local” places didn’t open until later. Plus, we knew our kids would eat and not complain about Italian food. It is expensive (you’re paying for the name, of course), but tasty, and fresh, and we all left clean plates.
On the Pest side:
Cave Vian in Gozsdu Udvar.
This place was Hungarian food with French influence. They seated us right away without a reservation (impressive), but then it took quite a while for our food. Multiple tables around us were served before we were. The food, when it eventually arrived, was very good…or we were just super hungry by that point.
Budapest Bistro (near Parliament)
We were super hungry and near the Parliament when we found this place. It was delicious and I’d eat there again in a heartbeat. We were there for lunch and did not need a reservation.
Unicorn Bistro (Egyszarvú)
Someone told me about this place and it was perfect for our kids’ ages (9, 7, and 5 years old; and the middle one is unicorn obsessed). A few things to note: this place is tiny, so make a reservation. The food was surprisingly really good—not Hungarian at all, but it tasted much better than any of us expected. Prepare to see an overwhelming amount of pink, flowers, and of course, rainbows and unicorns.
Probably one of my favorite places that we ate during this 10-day Eastern Europe road trip. I love lángos, and these didn’t disappoint. They don’t take reservations, and there are plenty of seats outside, and some tables inside. It’s counter service, so pick a table and figure out what you want to order (tons of options, and you can substitute/build your own) then go inside to the counter to order. Nice, casual, and delicious.
If we had More Time in Budapest
Obviously, with a city like Budapest, you could spend weeks, months, and even years here and still not see/do everything. I feel pretty content with what we did, but if we had even more time, here are a few other things I would’ve liked to do:
Where we stayed in Budapest
We stayed at the 7Seasons Apartments on the Pest side, and we loved the location. It was super easy to navigate to and from our apartment every day. I’d highly recommend it to any family traveling to Budapest.
Day 6: Bratislava, Slovakia -> drive to Prague
(pictures from Bratislava, Slovakia)
When you’re thisclose to another country (Slovakia in this case), you make a day trip happen so you can say you’ve been there. So that’s just what we did in this part of our Eastern Europe itinerary. We left Budapest super early to make it in time for a walking tour of Bratislava, Slovakia.
Do I wish we had more time there? Possibly. But this was exactly what we wanted/needed within our timeframe. I would actually love to go back and see Bratislava during their Christmas Market season; I think it would be beautiful then.
What to do with one day in Bratislava
Since we had limited time, we only had a few hours to spare—until after lunch, really. So we did like we usually do and took a walking tour.
I enjoyed the tour we went on (Hidden Gems of Bratislava), but my husband thinks he would’ve preferred the castle walking tour. I wanted to see the Blue Church, and the one we went on stopped by there. However, the rest of the stops on our guided walk weren’t anything to write home about.
If you get a chance, try out the other tour and let us know how it is.
Where we Ate in Bratislava
We had lunch at a fantastic little hole-in-the-wall, Cafe Verne. It was located next to a bigger restaurant where we ended up seeing an entire tour group go in, so I know we made the right choice with our place.
The menu was extensive and it was full of locals sitting outside, but the real treat was getting the special of the day. It was like a potato casserole with egg, and 9 out of the 10 other parties eating while we were there ordered it, too.
If we had more time in Bratislava
Bratislava seemed like a charming place with plenty to do. Here’s a little more about activities in Bratislava:
Day 7 & 8: Prague, Czech Republic
(pictures from Prague, Czech Republic)
I know it’s not kind to pick favorites, but if I had to pick a favorite place from this 10-day Eastern Europe road trip it’d have to be Prague.
It charmed the pants off us; I loved the small-town feel it had and the architecture blew me away. There are soooooo many cool things to do here, and we also went on a fantastic tour that left me feeling like I really knew the city more.
Take me back to Prague any day!
What to do in Prague
As I mentioned above, there’s a lot to do, and planning it all was both fun and a little stressful. So here’s a quick look at what our two days in Prague looked like:
- Walking tour all morning with Polished Prague Tours. It was long, but we went all over the place, including into synagogues* in the Jewish Quarter, and saw the famous astronomical clock. Our guide, Lindsay, was excellent with the kids. *This walking tour is also extremely highly rated.
- Lunch was a quick hot dog on our way to…
- Pragle Glass Experience where we blew our own glass creations. It was so much fun, and I’ll have a bigger post about our experience here coming soon. I highly recommend you do this on your first day in Prague so you can pick up your masterpiece before you leave. For a point of reference, we did their “Hot Shop” glass-blowing experience.
- Back to AirBnB to relax
- Dinner/wandered around the streets
- Went into the Klementinum to see the gorgeous library and climb the tower. You have a wonderful 360º view of the city from the top.
- Walked around the city center a little more.
- Visited Hamly’s, a two-story toy store complete with a slide. The kids loved it and we managed to walk out without buying anything!
- Lunch at Výtopna Railway Restaurant. Make a reservation; I’ve heard it can fill up quickly, although it was quite empty while we were there.
- Family Beer Spa/Bath/Massage at Beer Spa Bernard with unlimited (delicious) beer. Another highlight of our time in Prague was this experience. We actually took a bath (clothes are optional; we had swimsuits on) in beer hops. The kids opted out of the hops but opted in for the massage. The bath was incredibly relaxing and the hops are supposed to do wonders for your skin. Highly recommend it if you have time in Prague. Blog post with more info coming soon!
- Went back to our AirBnB to shower!
- Walked along the Charles Bridge
- ate dinner
Pro tip: Don’t miss the synagogues/museums in the Jewish Quarter, especially the Spanish Synagogue, the Pinkas Synagogue, and the Old Jewish Cemetary. When you get a Jewish Museum ticket keep in mind that the tickets are valid for one week, but you can only go into each synagogue once. Seeing it all was truly a highlight of our time in Prague and helped me understand the history so much more clearly.
Where we Ate in Prague
Prague Beer Museum
Get a beer flight! The sausage and pork knuckle were delicious, too. They have chicken tenders for kids.
Výtopna Railway Restaurant
SUPER fun spot for kids; the food and drinks come out on trains. Food is fine; the main attraction is the trains.
This place was soooooo good and we happened upon it because we didn’t make reservations anywhere else. Delicious schnitzel (for kids, possibly), and the knuckle was excellent. GREAT service, too.
If we had More Time in Prague
If we had more time in Prague we would have explored the other side of the bridge in Malá Strana, aka “Lesser Town.” We just didn’t have time to go there, so I’d make that my main focus on another trip.
Here are a few other things I’d like to do next time that maybe you’ll have time for during your Eastern European road trip:
Where we Stayed in Prague
Honestly, I waffled pretty hard on where to stay in Prague. As a family of five, it’s hard to find places sometimes, and I heard fantastic things about a place in Malá Strana…but it was further than all of our activities.
We ended up staying here, at Old Prague House, and the location was exactly what we needed, plus the space was large and accommodating for all of us. The only thing I didn’t like is that there was only someone on staff until 7 pm. We encountered an elderly traveler who arrived later than that and literally had no way to get in.
If/when we go back to Prague to explore Malá Strana, we’ll stay at The House at the Big Boot (Dům u velké boty). I’ve heard rave reviews about it from larger families and it sounds like an excellent pick.
Day 9: Bolesławiec, Poland
(Pictures from Bolesławiec, Poland)
If you’ve ever heard of Polish pottery before, then this is the holy grail where you can find it. Bolesławiec is a town with pottery shops scattered all around, and we had to check it out.
We actually met up with some friends for this leg of our Eastern European road trip, which was super fun for everyone.
What to do with one day in Bolesławiec
Go shopping! Seriously, just start driving around town and you’ll see signs for different pottery shops and factories. Google can also be your friend for the journey because you’ll want to keep an eye on opening/closing times.
I bet you’d like to see some pictures of the Polish Pottery we bought, right? Yeah, me too. We went to so many stores…and I didn’t take a single picture!
Pro tip: if you have extra time in Bolesławiec, consider doing a pottery painting workshop! You need to reserve it ahead of time, and I highly recommend doing it at the beginning of your stay since it’ll need time to bake and cool before taking it home.
Where we Stayed Near Bolesławiec
We wanted to stay at the ever-so-popular Blue Beetroot, but they were completely full. Our party of nine ended up renting an AirBnB about 30 minutes away.
Nibylandia Motylkowa was great and did all we needed it to do, and would have been even better if the weather was slightly nicer (it was cold and rainy).
The owner was extremely helpful and even helped us order dinner that night — we had pizza delivered.
Day 10: The Devil’s Bridge in Gablenz, Germany
The Devil’s Bridge was one of those spots you see on Pinterest or Instagram and I always thought it’d be cool to see, but didn’t think we’d ever be close enough. It turns out that it’s only about 1.5 hours from where we were in Bolesławiec.
Rakotzbrücke, aka “The Devil’s Bridge” is located in Gablenz, Germany, within the Saxony region and practically hugging the border of Poland—two hours south of Berlin.
Definitely try to fit this into your Eastern Europe itinerary if possible. The area is stunning and the actual bridge was really cool to see in real life.
It’s called “The Devil’s Bridge,” because back in the day people thought that the perfectly circular bridge (when seen with the reflection in the lake) had to be made with the hands of the devil. The man-made bridge is built over a lake in Kromalu Park.
We hit it at the perfect time with the fall leaves peaking in color.
There is a (paid) parkplatz here, and there are also toilets in the same area. It’s just a short walk across the road to find the bridge. Keep an eye on the signs for directions.
Tell me About your Eastern European Road Trip
Whew! That’s it! I tried to include as much info as I could while also keeping things brief, and I hope you’ll find it helpful.
I’d love to hear about your trip; please let me know when you’re going or planning on going.
I truly hope this 10-day Eastern Europe road trip itinerary helps you plan your trip. Longer trips can often be difficult to put together, which is why I wanted to share as much as possible in this post.
If this helps you in any way, I’d love to know; please let me know how it went!