Little did I know about the ease of accessibility and the close proximity of some places in Europe before I went on a 2 month road trip.
Bratislava and Vienna are the closest 2 capital cities in Europe, if you do not take into consideration the Vatican City and Rome of course. Being only 77km apart makes them only 1 hour away by car. This makes it easy to explore Bratislava and Vienna in 2 days. Not that they don’t deserve more than a quick day trip, but if time is limited you can check 2 cities off your bucket list in a short period of time.
But how is it possible to visit 2 expensive cities in just 2 days and on a budget? It is quite simple really, all it takes is a bus or train ticket to commute between countries plus go a free walking tour in each city.
We chose to base ourselves in Bratislava, and booked accommodation for 2 nights through Airbnb, as that was the cheapest option of the standard that we like. Then you can catch a bus to the city centre for just €0.45 per person, each way. To head to Vienna, you can opt to go by train for €14 return ticket which takes just an hour. In our case, we chose to hitch a ride on the super comfortable bus with Wi-Fi connectivity and free movies that takes a little more 1 hour 30 minutes from the main bus station of Bratislava. There are many bus companies like Slovak Lines and RegioJet which cost around €8 both ways.
For a more scenic and adventurous ride you can opt to take the 1 hour 15 minute boat journey through the Danube River, which operate from April to October. However, this option is not your budget option as it can cost from €40 to €70 for a return ticket.
One of the most amazing things is the accessibility of travelling between the two countries. There is no boarder control, no need for passports. The freedom of movement is so surreal that it doesn’t feel like you have entered another country. We only knew that we changed countries because our phone operator (Vodafone) sent a text message welcoming us to Austria.
Once you get to the city your best, cheapest option would be to go on a free walking tour. These tours are operated by local guides and are found in the majority of major cities. They are not literally free, as they work on a donation basis, so you can donate whatever you feel fit for the service that you were given. Doing this tour helps you not only to get acquainted with the top places of interest in that city but you also get a brief history of the city as well as the cultural feel about that country. It’s a pretty good deal for what you get in a 2.5 hours tour.
This gives you ample free time to roam around the city to wander at the marvellous architecture that both 2 cities have. In Bratislava, it would be ideal if you could walk up to the Bratislava Castle, which is not part of free walking tours. This Castle stands tall on the rocky hill of the Little Carpathians and from here you can not only get the best views over the city and the Danube River, but you can also see Vienna on the horizon. This shows even further the vicinity of these two cities.
After the free city tour in Vienna, enjoy a lovely stroll around the city towards the Vienna Naschmarkt. Here you can enjoy the colourful 120 stands selling from souvenirs to Austrian food. This is an ideal place to relax and have a taste of Austrian’s cuisine.
So if you have a limited time and want to visit more than one country, Bratislava and Vienna are the answer to your wish.