France and Italy: Best 2 to 3 week itinerary for first-time visitors

Rome ColisseumThe only country that might be more magical than France for first-time visitors is Italy, and vice-versa. Even though Europe is filled with amazing tourist destinations these two countries seem to stand above the others, with France being the most visited country in the world and Italy having the most UNESCO World Heritage sites. For my own money, these two countries contain 3 of the 5 great European cities that everyone should see first.

Fortunately, these two countries also share a border so they are extremely popular to visit as a pair. They both also get so many tourists that all the major destinations are easy enough to visit without knowing the language at all, though learning at least a few words and phrases is simple and worthwhile. For these reasons, France and Italy are perhaps the most popular first trip to the European continent. Below we’ll discuss the cities you need to include and the minimum time in each, as well as some other itinerary planning tips.

Updated in 2015: This article was written in 2013 and expanded and updated in 2015.

How many cities to visit?

Paris SquareThis is perhaps the most challenging question when planning an itinerary. Newer travelers always assume that more is better and overly-seasoned travelers always preach that virtually any city anywhere deserves at least a week. As with most things, the best answer probably lies somewhere in between. If you only have two weeks per year it would take a lifetime of trips to explore even half of Europe at the slow pace, so it makes sense for newer travelers to move at a good clip.

There are many reasons why fast travel might be your best option, but only up to a point. With only a few exceptions, 3 nights per city is a good minimum even for those wishing to see as much as possible, or 2 nights in the smaller cities.

If you are going to France and Italy for sure then start with Paris and Rome as the foundation and add cities in between to the degree you’ll have time. France is a deceptively large country so travel will eat up some time unless you are flying or taking the bullet trains.

Flying in and out

Unless you are starting from elsewhere in Europe, you’ll want to carefully choose which airport to fly into. It used to be that Paris was one of the cheapest, and it’s still competitive, but it doesn’t rank high on the list of European cities that are cheapest to fly into.

Two one-way tickets is ideal

It used to be that round-trip tickets were always much cheaper than two one-way tickets, but often that is no longer true. Sometimes the one-way flights are exactly half the round-trip fare, sometimes a bit more than half, and other times they are double. It’s hard to predict so it’s worth comparing them yourself.

The first thing to try is this:

  • (your city) to Paris one-way
  • Rome to (your city) one-way

Compare that to this:

  • (your city) to Paris round-trip
  • (your city) to Rome round-trip

If the two one-way flights are within US$150 or so of either round-trip, then they are your best option. If the round-trips are much cheaper then your best option is to buy one of those as well as a one-way flight between the cities (for around US$100) for just before you fly home. It would cost more on the train and also take 14 hours, so flying that last part is the way to go unless you are planning on using the last leg of a Eurail Pass on an overnight run.

Getting around once in Europe

Gare du Nord ParisFlying around in France and Italy doesn’t make much sense. The flights on low-cost carriers can certainly be cheap, but most major cities are only 2 to 5 hours apart by train, so riding the rails is faster, more pleasant, and far more scenic.

Even on trains, you still have three main options:

  1. Buying a France-Italy regional Eurail Pass
  2. Buying individual train tickets in advance
  3. Buying individual train tickets one at a time when you get there

If you are under 26 you can qualify for the 2nd Class Eurail Pass, which will be ideal for many people. If you are over 25 you have to buy a 1st Class Eurail Pass, and those are probably only best for those with a bit more money to spend.

Best cities in France and Italy for first-time visitors

Paris (minimum 3 nights but even that is rushing it)

Paris Notre DameObviously you’ll want to visit Paris, and it makes sense to either start or end your whole journey here. If it’s your first stop you should add at least one extra day to help deal with jetlag, but you should plan on staying as long as possible because the French capital is one of the world’s great (and most beautiful) cities by any definition.

Paris can seem very expensive at first glance, especially when you see how tiny your hotel room is once you arrive. But those on tighter budgets don’t actually have to spend a fortune to enjoy it thoroughly. If you are the sort who loves all the famous museums then a Paris Pass could be a perfect option, but even if you just drift around town admiring the scenery you are guaranteed to have a good time. Better still, there is a Metro station on every other block, so you can stay in the cheaper areas far from the center and it only adds 10 minutes or so each way.

Paris to Nice by train: About 6 hours

Nice, France (minimum 2 nights)

Nice BeachNice is the largest (and cheapest) city on the Côte d’Azur (AKA French Riviera) so it’s the perfect base to explore this stunning part of the world for a few days. It can still be quite expensive during July and August, when most French are filling their own beaches, but in other months it’s not too bad.

Nice has a famous beach (made of pebbles rather than sand), but it’s also an important cultural capital with great museums and a thriving food scene. You could easily spend 2 or 3 quick days in Nice alone, but you might also consider spending a few hours in Cannes and/or Monaco, which are both only about 30 minutes away by train in either direction. The cheaper hotels in Nice are near the train station anyway, so that’s something to consider if you want to visit all 3 places in one short trip.

Nice to Milan by train: About 5 hours
Nice to Venice by train: About 7.5 hours

Milan (1 night or just skip it)

Milan SquareMilan is famous, though that alone is not enough of a reason to stop there. If you skip it you won’t be missing much, or you might stop for one night just to break up the journey a bit. On the plus side, Milan has one of Europe’s most photogenic gothic domes at its heart, and it’s the home to Da Vinci’s Last Supper (if you make reservations well in advance).

The down side, however, is that Milan is mostly a business/financial city that isn’t as charming as the rest on this list. It’s one of Europe’s fashion capitals as well, but the casual visitor wouldn’t notice. Worst of all, accommodation in Milan can be insanely expensive if there is a trade fair or event in town. If you are coming through in between fairs and events, hotels can actually be unusually cheap, so it’s worth checking rates if you are considering stopping.

Milan to Venice by train: About 2.5 hours

Venice (1 night minimum, 2 nights maximum)

Venice CanalCertainly one of the most beautiful and unusual cities on the planet, Venice is something that everyone should see, though it can be a bit tricky. The thing is, between about 10am and 5pm every day of the year, the main walkways in Venice are a slow-moving parade of more tourists than seem possible or even safe. Many of them stay in hotels nearby on the mainland, while many others just come in for the day on part of a bus tour. The point is, Venice is very frustrating during those hours, so to appreciate the city it’s important to work around them at least a bit.

The trick is to stay at least one night, if not two, on the main island itself. Perhaps surprisingly, Venice shuts down early, with most restaurants and bars closed by around 10pm. But in those evening hours as well as the morning hours on the following day, the place can feel magical and like a fairy tale destination. Venice is also quite compact so seeing the main highlights in 24 hours isn’t difficult. Depending on your budget, spend one or two nights on the main island and you’ll be quite satisfied by the time you leave. You’ll be sick of the crowds by then anyway.

Venice to Florence by train: About 2 hours

Florence (2 nights minimum, plus side trips)

Florence RiverWith fewer than 400,000 residents, Florence feels more like a small town than the others, even though it’s much larger than Venice. As the largest and most central city in Tuscany, Florence is a cultural capital filled with famous museums, cathedrals, and other sights, but it’s also the ideal jumping off point for day or overnight trips into some of the nearby hill towns.

Whether you are coming from Venice or from Rome, this is the point on your trip that you’ll be able to catch your breath a bit. It’s also the cheapest city on this list so lingering here will be more affordable in addition to relaxing. The cuisine here is, of course, world famous, and it can get even better and cheaper if you spend a day or two in one of the many scenic villages in this part of Italy.

From Florence to Rome it’s only around 90 minutes by train, so another easy and pleasant travel day.

Pisa (a few hours on a day trip at most)

PisaFieldofMiraclesIf you are spending several weeks exploring Italy then perhaps you’d want to spend a night or even two in Pisa. But for a quick trip where you are trying to include as much as possible, Pisa is best for a day trip. It’s about an hour by train or bus from Florence, so you can literally do it in half a day there and back. And being honest, the Field of Miracles (which includes the Leaning Tower) is definitely worth a look, but the rest of Pisa doesn’t really stand out.

Regardless of your starting point, you can go to the Pisa Centrale train station and walk about 25 minutes to the Leaning Tower area, or take a train to the Pisa San Rossore train station and 7 minutes to the Field of Miracles. There are also bus tours from Florence that take you all the way there, but those come with the slowness of large-group travel.

Cinque Terre (1 night, optional)

Cinque TerreIf you were to be spending all 2 or 3 weeks in Italy and saving France for another trip, then you’d want to considering spending at least a day and perhaps a night in this stunning little group of 5 towns perched on rocky cliffs overlooking the sea. They are on the west coast a bit north of Florence, so they are a bit out of the way if you are headed to Rome. Of the 5 towns, Vernazza is probably best for a short visit and it’s definitely the most scenic.

When you see a photo of these villages it’s hard not to be drawn in so if you are in that group you could add a day or two in this area either before or after Florence. Note that the scenic footpaths connecting the towns are partly closed down at times due to instability, so a quick tour by train or even by boat might be a better option.

Florence to Rome by train: About 90 minutes

Rome (minimum 3 nights)

Rome ParliamentAgain, it makes the most sense to start and end your visit in Paris and Rome, and if you are starting in Rome you should add an extra day just to get your footing. Similar to Paris, Rome is crammed with amazing sights too numerous to mention, but unlike Paris, Rome can be a frustrating place to visit. No one regrets their first visit to Rome, but many swear that it’ll also be their last. It’s the traffic and general sense of chaos (multiplied by the summer heat) that wear on visitors.

All of that said, Rome is absolutely a must-visit, although you won’t be blamed for hustling through the city quickly and efficiently so you can spend more time in the relative serenity of anywhere else. The Eternal City is also quite expensive, especially by Italian standards, which is another reason to save only a few days there rather than a full week.

Naples/Pompeii/Sorrento/Amalfi Coast (optional up to 4 nights)

The “big 3” in Italy are Rome, Florence, and Venice, and if you have time for only 3 cities those are the obvious ones to choose. But if you want to dig deeper into Italy and you have enough time, your next best choice will be to base yourself in Sorrento and use it to explore Naples, the ruins of Pompeii, the Amalfi Coast, and the island of Capri.

NaplesSquareNaples is a large and gritty city that has an unfortunate reputation for pickpockets and other street crime. In reality, any daytime visitor who uses the typical precautions will be fine. Naples is also famously the birthplace of pizza and home to one of the world’s best archaeology museums so it’s worth a day trip for sure. The great news is that Naples is very easy to visit from nearby Sorrento, which is a lovely and friendly place where most people know English.

Stay in Sorrento

SorrentoHarborTo reach Sorrento you’ll take a train to Naples and then change for a one-hour local train (known as the Circumvesuviana) to its final stop. Once you are checked into a hotel there, you can take the same train back to Naples, or an even faster boat. Halfway back on the Circumvesuviana you can jump off in front of the stunning Pompeii Ruins. Those in a hurry can spend half a day in Naples and a couple hours seeing Pompeii and be safely back in Sorrento for an unforgettable dinner.

Amalfi Coast and the Island of Capri

AmalfiPositanoNot only is Sorrento the perfect base for a visit to Naples and Pompeii, but it’s also the gateway to the Amalfi Coast and a short ferry ride from the touristy island of Capri. On a quick visit you can hop on the local bus in Sorrento that takes you through Positano and Amalfi to Salerno. You’ll see all the famous and amazing Amalfi Coast views, and you can return either by bus or boat for an ideal day out.

The other main nearby attraction is the famous tourist island of Capri, which is best known for its Blue Grotto attraction. The ferry from Sorrento only takes 20 minutes each way and leaves hourly most of the day. This is another easy and ideal day trip where you can have breakfast and dinner in Sorrento and a wonderful time in Capri in between.

Filling in the rest of your itinerary

If you have only two weeks total then the above minimums will also pretty much be your maximums, give or take a day. But if you have three weeks you will be adding days to these cities or adding new cities altogether. Honestly, if this is your first trip to these countries, you’ll really get the most bang for your buck by adding extra days in Paris or Florence or both.

Rushing around for two weeks can be exhilarating, but rushing around for three weeks can really start to get exhausting. It’s better to plan to go slower and if you are getting bored you can do a day or overnight trip to something nearby. But you won’t get bored, and if you do you are probably doing it wrong.

Cinque Terre photo by World Walk About on Flickr

122 Responses to “France and Italy: Best 2 to 3 week itinerary for first-time visitors”

Mark says:

Rather good itinerary for those that are time constrained. We recently travelled through most of the suggestions. For those planning a trip and intending to get around by train, seriously consider a rail pass. The fast trains in Italy are sensational and with a rail pass we were paying about 10 euro compulsory reservation for fares that cost up to 150 euro – big savings potentially.
Love the site keep up the good work.


    Mark, thank you for the kind words. And I agree about the benefits of a rail pass, at least for those under 26 or those who prefer to travel first class anyway. For older people who don’t mind second class, a rail pass doesn’t really save money in most cases, but it’s wonderful to have one. I didn’t realize reservations were now up to €10 in Italy, so thanks for that bit. Cheers. -Roger

Dan says:

Just curious – you list Cinque Terre between Florence and Rome, but does it make sense to do it in that order? Coming from Nice, wouldn’t you want to stop in Cinque Terre prior to Florence? Also, I assume you need to go through La Spezia via train to get to Cinque Terre?

Excuse me – rather, it seems it would make sense to visit Cinque Terre after Nice, following by Venice, followed by Florence, and then on to Rome. My previous comment was assuming exclusion of Venice. Curious to hear your thoughts.



    I believe Cinque Terre is most commonly visited as a side-trip from Florence, and yes you do have to change trains in La Spezia in that direction. But you can also go Nice to Genoa for a train change to Cinque Terre, and then carry on to Florence afterward if you are planning on skipping Venice. Honestly, all of these places are no more than 3 hours or so apart by train, so you can jumble the order and do it in the order that makes the most sense for your exact itinerary choices. -Roger

      Dan says:

      Thanks, Roger. Just curious – how would you recommend incorporating a few days in Sicily into a trip?



        I’ve not been to Sicily but I know many who have and it comes highly recommended. Most people don’t even go as far south as Naples, at least on a first trip, so I didn’t include Sicily here.

        Your choices are to fly from Rome, or to take a train, which takes about 12 hours including a portion on a ferry, of course. The most common itinerary in Sicily is to take a few days driving or taking a train around the main loop on the island, rather than just staying in Palermo. I’ll definitely spend some time in Sicily on my next trip to Italy, and I’ll write more when I do, but for now this is about all I can say. -Roger

          Dan says:

          Got it – thanks. Regarding side trips to Monaco/Cannes from Nice as well as Cinque Terre from Florence, do you recommend counting these potential train rides in the Eurail pass (i.e., purchase the appropriate number of rides that would include these trips)? Or is it cheap/easy enough to get the train tickets in Nice and Florence once you’re there?



          You wouldn’t want to use a rail pass travel day on any of those. The ones from Nice should be no more than €10 each way (probably less), with trains leaving once or twice an hour. So you can just breeze into the station and buy tickets for the next departure, probably with very little wait. From Florence to Cinque Terre is maybe 2 hours, with a change on the way, but still those trains are fairly cheap. It’s only if you’d be doing a round-trip from Florence to Cinque Terre and back the same day where it might even come close to being worth a travel day. -Roger

Dan says:

Thanks, Roger. What if I intend to stay the night in Cinque Terre, and would like to head straight to Rome afterward (through La Spezia I imagine)? I assume that is doable, and would be worth a rail pass travel day, no?



    From Cinque Terra to Rome takes between 3.5 and 5 hours by train (through La Spezia) and it will cost between €40 and about €60 depending on the speed of the train. So, it’s quite easy to do, and depending on which rail pass you are considering, it’s probably worth a travel day. But unlike many journeys, this one is kind of borderline for rail pass value, so there’s no easy answer. -Roger

PJ Poursha says:

Hi Roger, I’ve read your article and have taken much of your itinerary and built it into the one that I’ve been working on for a couple of weeks now. I was hoping that you would be kind enough to take a look at it and let me know what you think / suggest. Is there any way you would allow me to send it to you privately? I dont want to overwhelm your readers with a 21 day day Itinerary to Italy/France.
my email is [email protected]

thank you ,

TJones says:

What is your thoughts on adding on a trip to Greece? Also what would you recommend as best area to stay, to travel to, how long etc. Would it be better adding it on between Paris & Rome, at the start or the end? My daughter is really interested in Paris, Venice, Rome & Athens.



    Greece is a wonderful country to visit, even if it is a bit out of the way when visiting France and Italy. It’s probably best to visit as a round-trip from Rome to Athens in the middle of your trip or at the end.

    However, Greece is a bit unusual on a European itinerary because it is popular for two very different things. Athens is obviously home to the Parthenon and several world-famous museums, and to be honest, most people hustle through an Athens visit because it’s a huge and crowded city (even before the austerity-fueled demonstrations and such). So many people fly into Athens for 2 or 3 days and then take a ferry or flight to one of the Greek islands for fun in the sun, which is the other thing Greece is popular for.

    There are dozens of islands to choose from, including a few that are only a short ferry ride away from the port just south of Athens. It’s hard to recommend one without knowing a lot more about you, but the good news is that all the famous ones are nice and most of them are quite cheap as well. -Roger

Margaret says:

Hi great suggestions! I am going to Nice for a conference and planning to spend 10 days to see a few cities. Some friends recommend Nice to Rome.

Would it be commercially viable to do 3 days in Paris after Rome?



    Yes, if you can work both Rome and Paris into that trip, I think you’d love it. Both cities are very large and I do recommend 3 nights in each one if possible. From Nice you could take a train to Rome, or take a train to Paris, but from Rome to Paris I think you are better off flying. The flight should be cheaper than the train, and obviously much faster. Buy those train tickets and flights as early as possible for the lowest fares. -Roger

Tengkulinie says:

Hi Roger,

Chance upon your website and I could like to compliment how detailed it is. Anyway, I would to ask you for suggestions. I am heading to Europe in Sept this year. London (3 nights) and after that will be heading to Paris (3 nights). I have 1 week left for Italy. Which cities would you recommend. My flight back would be from Venice. I’m not sure if from Paris I should head to Florence or Rome. Which is nearer from Paris? Should I fly by Plane or take the train?

Is there any hotels/B&B that you are able to recommend while I’m in Italy?

Thank you in advance.



    Thank you for the kind words about the website, and I’ll be happy to try to help.

    Hopefully you are planning on buying your Eurostar train ticket from London to Paris well in advance. They get more expensive as the date nears, and they are very pricey on travel day.

    As for where to go in Italy, you can’t go wrong with the Big Three (Rome, Florence, Venice). From Paris you’ll be best off flying to Rome, and the earlier you buy that ticket the cheaper it will be. Spend 3 or 4 days in Rome, and then take a train to Florence for 2 or 3 days. From Florence you’ll take another fairly short and relatively inexpensive train ride to Venice, which you can easily visit in only one day. As mentioned in the article above, Venice is spectacular, but also crowded and expensive, so one day and one night is a great visit for those on longer trips like yours.

    I do have hotels I recommend in each many cities, and all are well located and very good value. Once you have a look at these, you’ll at least have something to compare others to.

    Recommended Rome hotels
    Recommended Venice hotels

    Have a great trip, and feel free to ask other questions if you have them. -Roger

Tengkulinie says:

Thank you for your very quick response!

I had booked my train from London to Paris yesterday at a good price. 😉

Will heed your advices and check out the hotels soon.

Just a quick question, I heard Italy can get pretty dangerous at night. I’m travelling with my girl-friend, any advice or places to avoid til late night?

Thank you once again! :)



    Italy is generally a very safe country, and the chance of physical harm is almost zero. But there are pickpockets in the big cities, so you have to be careful with your possessions. The men in Italy are also known for sometimes giving unwanted attention to females, but most women agree that it’s basically harmless and nothing to worry about. That said, it might be wise to ask more of an expert on the subject. If you Google something like “woman traveling alone in Italy” you’ll find many blog posts from female writers who can better describe what it’s like and how they deal with it. I know many women who’ve traveled extensively in Italy, and none has ever mentioned that it’s a problem.

    But especially late at night, it’s still better to avoid the sketchy neighborhoods. In Rome, the area directly behind the main train station is filled with cheap hotels, and it’s probably best to avoid staying there. In Florence the area around the train station is also not the best, and that’s generally true of most big cities in Europe as well. In Venice, the whole main island is quite expensive, and very safe as well. You’ll really enjoy it, I’m sure. -Roger

Joy says:

Roger, thank you for this itinerary. It has been very helpful to me as I start planning a trip with my brothers for this summer. We will only have about 10 days so I am curious as to what we should omit if anything. It will be a first trip for the 3 of us to France & Italy. We want to see as much as we can and plan on going pretty none stop the whole time. Also, thanks to everyone for the additional comments.



    In only 10 days my first thought is that you should probably focus on Paris for 3 or 4 days and then fly to Italy for one day in Venice, 2 days in Florence, and 3 days in Rome to finish up. If you were to take the train from Paris to Nice and then take another train from Nice to Venice, it would add two big chunks of travel time that would mean less sightseeing time in the top places. And you’d be in such a hurry that the more time you spent sightseeing in or near Nice, it would mean racing everywhere else just to fit it in.

    From Paris you should be able to get a fairly cheap flight to Venice or nearby Treviso Airport. Or you could fly into Milan and take the train to Venice, or fly into Pisa and take the train to Florence. Ten days in 4 cities is already a rush, but it will be incredibly fun in that part of the world. -Roger

tasdst8 says:

Hi. Thanks for the great advise on France and Italy. But could you add Spain? I am traveling to Europe in August. Flying into Frankfurt and visiting family and friends the first half of my trip (about 14 days), where we’ll all travel to Berlin, Prague, Amsterdam and London. Then I’m solo for the next half of my trip. I’d like to visit France, Spain and Italy during that time. I have about 15 days to work with, before meeting up with my family again to get a ride back to Frankfurt to fly out. What’s your idea for the best itinerary? The must see places for me are Paris, Barcelona and Venice….otherwise I’m open. Thanks!!



    That’s a great idea and overdue, so soon I will write a similar article about Spain and Portugal itinerary suggestions. In the meantime, I think you might be attempting too much in the second half of your trip. If you are going to Italy at all, I really wouldn’t recommend less than a week there. Even 3 nights in Rome, 2 nights in Florence, and 1 night in Venice would be a whirlwind of a trip, and that’s really the minimum to make it worthwhile. If you add at least 3 nights in Paris and possibly 2 nights in Nice or elsewhere in France, you’ve used up most of those 15 days already.

    But since you asked, Spain’s 2 biggest cities are still the main highlights, and they are quite different from one another. I recommend at least 3 nights in Barcelona, and 3 nights in Madrid. Beyond those, Seville and Granada are two interesting choices in the south. I haven’t been to Valencia, but they have been building up their visitor offerings and I’ve heard good things. Should you include Spain on this trip, those would be the highlights and best choices.

    The southern coast also gets massive tourism, but most of that is from other Europeans on sunshine holidays, and they aren’t very interesting from a cultural standpoint. Hopefully this helps, and feel free to write back if you have other questions. -Roger

Devaana says:

Hi Roger,

I’m from Malaysia. It’s my first time planning a holiday trip to Europe next year (May) and your website has been an invaluable resource. 3 of us will be travelling between the age group of 27-34. I hope you can guide and suggest me in our planning for 21 days trip to Italy, France & Spain. Our base for now would be Rome(round trip)

The rough idea is:

* Rome – Florence + Pisa – Cinque Terre (Monterosso only) – Venice – Milan (Lake Como) – (Nice & Cannes / Paris) – Barcelona

Need your advice, do you think this is doable? Are there any places that you consider are not worth the visit? Maybe other places you can recommend to fill in the gaps. Regarding transportation, what would you recommend? (I know I would have to decide between trains with pass, trains point to point or airlines). I plan on travelling as cheap as possible, with hostels/apt(b&b) in mind. I hope to add one more city in Spain (if possible).

Hoping to hear from you. Thank you so much!!!!!!



    It’s always great to hear that this information is helpful to people planning trips. I am also quite a fan of Malaysia so I know how different all of this will be for you.

    I think your plan so far looks quite good and would be very doable. Most of your planned stops are great. The only one that is a bit unusual is Milan and Lake Como because Milan itself isn’t really a top tourist city for Italy (it’s more of a business/banking city), but Lake Como is lovely and many people go there as a day trip from Milan or even an overnight stay. Otherwise your plan is all highlights and no filler.

    You should have time to include Madrid after Barcelona at the end, and I’d schedule 3 nights in each one if you can. Madrid and Barcelona are both large, important, and quite different from each other. You should also be able to get a cheap flight back to Rome from Madrid to board your flight home. With the addition of Madrid, I think you’ll have a nearly perfect 3-week trip planned. I wouldn’t add anything else to it, or you’ll start to have to hurry around so much that you won’t enjoy the main places you are flying all that way to see.

    As for getting around, you’ll want to do most of it by train for sure. The trains between Italian cities are fairly inexpensive even if you buy them on travel day, so a rail pass probably wouldn’t be good value. The absolute cheapest way to do this trip would be to buy all of those train tickets online at least two months in advance. Those advanced fares can be very cheap (€19 from Rome to Florence on a high-speed train), and the prices go up as more seats are sold and the travel day approaches. Even the longer rides like Milan to Nice, Nice to Paris, Paris to Barcelona, and Barcelona to Madrid can be fairly cheap if you are able to buy them at least a month or more in advance. Here’s more information on buying advanced train tickets in Europe.

    If you REALLY wanted to just decide on your plan as each new day arises, a rail pass could save you money because those walk-up train fares can be expensive (€150 or more for longer ones). So either you sacrifice spontaneity and save money, or you pay a bit more for a Eurail Pass, which would at least be cheaper than buying as you go.

    Hopefully this helps, and feel free to follow up with more questions if you have them. -Roger

ML says:

Hi Roger, my fiancé and I intend to arrange a 20 day to Europe in January. Issue is that the weather may be wet and cold. It seems that the southern Europe (South Italy, Spain, Greece and Portugal) may make more sense. Can you suggest an itinerary for us? I am thinking of Rome – Venice – Florence – Barcelona – Madrid – Rome – Greece – Rome (quite confused thoughts). Sincerely appreciate your advise.



    I think your plan sounds pretty good, although you might get unlucky with rain even in the south. Still, I think Italy and Spain are probably your best bets in January, and they are top-notch destinations any time of the year. But I think I’d save Greece for another trip. Athens is worth 2 or 3 days, though most of the islands are pretty much shut down in winter, and it’s nicer to combine Athens with an island or two to justify going all that way.

    So I’d recommend at least 3 nights in Rome, at least 2 nights in Florence (add another night if you want to do a day-trip to Pisa, and then 1 or 2 nights in Venice. Be aware that Venice is partly flooded during parts of winter, though usually only for a few hours at a time so you can still see the sights and get around. Take trains between the cities in Italy, and then fly from Venice (or nearby Treviso) to Barcelona or Madrid. Those cities in Spain are good for at least 3 nights each, and you can go between them by high-speed train (much cheaper if you book well in advance). You could still have time to add another Spanish city or two, and Seville and Granada could be good choices. Or you could visit Lisbon, which has the best weather in Europe in winter, and perhaps Porto as well. In twenty days I think I’d visit no more than 6 or maybe 7 cities in total. Otherwise, you’ll visit a lot of places but spend nearly half your time on trains or in train stations.

    If you need to fly out of Rome then book a flight back there. There are several low-cost carriers on those routes, and the fares are cheapest the earlier you book. Let me know if you have other questions I might help with. -Roger

S.A. says:

Hi Roger,

My husband and I will be going to Europe for the first time this May. I came across your website while researching how to come up with an itinerary and it is been the most helpful resource by far!! It’s refreshing that you acknowledge that while it’s not ideal to jam pack too many destinations in one trip, that some do want to see as much as they can, because they don’t know when they can go back to Europe again (as it is in my case). I am trying to obtain that balance: go to as many destinations as possible, but spending enough time in each place. We are in our mid 30’s, so we can handle a little “craziness”. We have 21 days to travel, do you think this would be a realistic itinerary:

London – Paris – Rome – Florence – Cinque Terre – Venice – Barcelona – Madrid

If not, what would you personally take out? How many days would you recommend in each? Anything you can suggest would be so appreciated!!



    I always enjoy hearing that this information and advice is useful, and I’m also disappointed by so many other writers who chastise trip-planners for wanting to cover a lot.

    Your itinerary would make a very busy 3 weeks, but it could be done and you’d definitely enjoy it a lot. I’ll start with my recommended minimum stays in each city, and you’ll see that you are right at the edge…

    London 3, Paris 3, Rome 3, Florence 2, Cinque Terre 1, Venice 1, Barcelona 3, Madrid 3.

    That adds up to 19 nights, and if you did it you’d be pretty worn out by the end. Also, keep in mind that for most of your journeys you’d spend about 5 hours in the middle of the day for the travel part. The Italian towns are closer together, but the rest would require a train ride or flight that will use most of the sightseeing time for that day. Also, doing it this way you’d definitely want to fly from Paris to Rome and from Venice to Barcelona in order to pull it off at all.

    If I were you I’d consider perhaps skipping the Cinque Terre on this trip, or saving Spain for a future trip altogether. If you did either of these things you’d have time for a trip that brings you to many great places without racing around. And you’d have more time for side-trips or other nearby stops. In my opinion, the Cinque Terre isn’t all that special and would be better appreciated on a future Italy trip where you are digging deeper. Those cities in Spain are both fantastic and worthwhile, so the issue is that they are quite remote from your others and it would be more efficient to substitute in some places that are easier to reach.

    For example if you saved Spain for later you could spend a couple days in Nice, France, to also visit Cannes and Monaco on short day trips. Or you could spend more time in Italy (including Cinque Terre), and perhaps add Sorrento for a few unforgettable days (day-trip to Naples, Pompeii, Amalfi Coast, Island of Capri).

    So those are some ideas, and I think any of these possibilities, including your original plan, should work well. Have a great trip, and feel free to follow up if you have further questions. -Roger

      Tashi says:

      Hi Roger , I went through your itinerary here and trust me this is one of the best I have come across. My husband and me , along with our 2 year old kid are planning to visit Italy and France from 7th March till 20th March . Hope this is a good time to visit ?

      Now this is the way we have planned :

      > We start with Paris : 3 days
      > Nice : 2 days ( with visit to Cannes and Monaco)
      > Venice : 1 day
      > Florence 2 days : visit to Pisa / i more country side
      > Rome : 3 days ,
      > then back to Paris and home .

      Now do you think Buying a euro rail pass Italy -France will be beneficial and how do we travel within each of these cities to visit attractions? . Especially Paris and Rome .

      I also read about Paris pass and Rome Pass ? are they good? worth the money ? or rail pass and individual attraction tickets make more sense ?

      Awaiting your reply .



        It will be quite chilly in March, but otherwise the weather should be pretty good and the crowds will be very low so I think this is a good time in southern Europe.

        I think your itinerary looks quite good, and very similar to what I recommend in this article. On the other hand, you seem to be allowing the minimum amount of time in each place, so you are going to feel pretty rushed during the whole trip. For a 12-day trip I think you’ll enjoy it and won’t regret being ambitious with your itinerary. However, the other option to consider would be to save Nice for another trip, and spend an extra day in Paris and another day in Florence. Nice (and Monaco and Cannes) are more geared for warm-weather visits, so they won’t seem as lively during March. On the other hand, they are totally packed in the main warm months, so your visit might even be more pleasant. Also, Monaco in particular in stunning. Even so, stay in Nice and take the 20-minute train ride to Monaco to see it.

        If you were to cut out Nice you could fly from Paris to Venice (or nearby Treviso) on a cheap airline, and you’d cut out your longer train rides (for better or worse).

        You don’t want a Eurail Pass for an itinerary like this. Those are only good value for longer trips and especially those where you aren’t sure when you want to go from one city to the next. In your case you’ll want to take the trains and buy your tickets online in advance. If you buy them about 3 months ahead of time you’ll find that they are surprisingly cheap. Here’s my article that tells you how to buy European train tickets in advance from the official sites. Most don’t go on sale until about 3 or 4 months out, by the way.

        To get around within these cities you’ll mostly want to take public transport. The Paris Metro is great, and there are stops everywhere. Nice and Venice are both pretty walkable. In Nice you probably want to stay near the train station to make those day trips easier. In Venice you’ll walk pretty much everywhere, although there is the vaporetto, which is sort of a canal bus, and also very easy to use. In Rome the subway isn’t quite as helpful as in Paris because it doesn’t cover much of the city, but it can take you to the Vatican Museum. Most of the rest of the sights are within walking distance for most people if you stay near the center. If not, there are buses.

        Here’s my review of the Paris Pass, which could be ideal for you because it’s best for people on their first visit who want to cover the main sights in two days. The Rome Pass is new and I haven’t reviewed it yet, but I will soon and I think it’ll be similar. In the other two cities the main attractions are cheaper if you just pay as you go. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Jora says:

Hi Roger,

I’ve been to Europe in 2011, I’ve been to Frankfurt, Paris, Belgium and Amsterdam. If lucky enough, I’ll be able to go back this March. As much as possible, I would want to cover the other cities as it is a rare chance to be in Europe (too expensive for a Filipino like me).

I would like to visit the following cities: other German cities like Munich or Berlin, Italy and Switzerland. I’m quite puzzled which cities to prioritize and how to cover each city.

Frankfurt should be the jump-off and end point of the travel (I’ll be attending a fair in Frankfurt). Travel dates are from 12th to 21st March (10 days only).

Can you suggest which cities should I prioritize? Would it be wise to book for a Eurail pass to cover the cities I’m interested in?

Would appreciate your kind reply! Thanks!



    Ten days is not a long time to cover 3 countries, but I can give you some ideas. First of all, Frankfurt is kind of a dud of a city for tourists, which you probably know, so the other places you go should be far more interesting.

    In Germany, Berlin is probably the most fascinating place, and it’s relatively cheap as well, but it’s quite a long way from the other places on your list. Munich is much closer, and it’s also worth at least two days if you can spare them. And on the article above you’ll see Rothenburg ob der Tauber, which can be enjoyed in one day and is a major highlight for many tourists.

    In Switzerland, there are two great options for visitors. One is Interlaken, which is a town at the base of the Alps. It’s really better to stay in one of the small villages just above Interlaken, specifically Gimmelwald or Murren. This is where you go to see the most amazing views of the Alps with plenty of great walks and things to do. The other possibility is Lucerne, which is a gorgeous town on a lake. There are many things to see and do in that area, and it’s quite beautiful, but if you want to see the Alps then Interlaken is better.

    In Italy you should consider the “Big 3” which are Venice, Florence, and Rome. You can get a great look at Venice is a stay of only one night. For Florence you’d want at least two nights, and in Rome it would be a shame to spend less than 3 nights. One great thing is that those 3 cities are about 2 hours apart by train, and the trains are cheap if you buy in advance.

    As mentioned up top, it would be tough to see ALL of those in a 10-day trip, but if you moved quickly you could see most of them. Once you do a bit more research you can decide which ones are most appealing to you.

    For transport, and especially since this is a short trip, you should go by rail and buy your tickets online at least a month or more in advance. The tickets will be quite cheap if you buy early, or somewhat expensive if you buy as you go.

Beverly Rosas says:

Dear Roger,
I really hope you could help me. My husband and I, with our 3 girls, (21,17 and 13) will be going to London on May 24, arriving at 10 pm., then heading back home from Paris, on June 12. That gives us 18 days to go around. I feel that we could add one more country, and was thinking of Scotland, since the visa to London is quite expensive, so we would like to maximize our visit to UK, and I heard Scotland is a beautiful place to visit! I am overwhelmed planning the itinerary. I would like to spend a weekend in London for their markets, before going to Paris. Is it possible upon arrival in London at 10pm, we take a train to Scotland to spend the first few days there? How many days would you suggest.. and is it best to stay in Edinburgh? In London, kids of course want to see Harry Potter aside from the usual sites. How many days do we stay in London? Then we go to Paris. We plan to do side trips if possible.. like Nice, or Lourdes? I am open to suggestions really. Or do we just spend a whole week in Paris? What kind of train tickets do I get? Is there a multiple pass for this kind of itinerary? I would appreciate your reply as soon as possible so I can look for our place to stay next.



    You’ve got quite a few questions here and I’ll try to answer as many as I can in the order they came up…

    Scotland is definitely a good choice, especially in summer, but it will remind you a lot of England so you won’t be getting too much contrast.

    I don’t believe there are overnight trains between London and Edinburgh, so you’d want to leave for Scotland in the morning.

    I’d say it would be worth at least 4 days in Scotland to make it worthwhile. Edinburgh is gorgeous and interesting so you’ll want a minimum of two nights there. And the second best place would be Inverness, which is the gateway to the Scottish Highlands. Spend at least two nights there, and think about a bus trip during the day taking you to the island of Skye and elsewhere in the Highlands. But my advice is to skip anything having to do with the Loch Ness Monster. The lake itself is a big disappointment, and the Loch Ness museum attractions are terrible.

    In London I’d plan on at least 4 nights. You won’t get bored no matter how long you stay, but London is crowded and expensive so 4 or 5 nights should be plenty. I don’t know much about the Harry Potter sights except for that train platform.

    Paris is similar to London in that it’s huge and fascinating, but after 4 nights it’s probably to go elsewhere to mix things up. Versailles is a popular day trip. For an overnight trip then Nice is great, and Lourdes would be as well. There are dozens of great possibilities so it’s tough to say one is best for you.

    You’ll want to take trains between all of these cities. From London to Paris you’ll have to take the Eurostar train. Within the UK there are many train companies but you can search and book them all in advance from any of the websites, including this one, which is my favorite. Here is an article that talks about buying European train tickets early to save money. In all cases, the earlier you buy the train tickets, the cheaper they will be. There are no good rail passes for what you have in mind, so just buy early. -Roger

Kat says:

Hi Roger,

What a blessing to chance upon this website which has very useful insights for those people traveling to Europe.

This will be my first time to travel in Schengen countries. I am from Manila, Philippines. Kindly help to suggest a good itinerary. Will be flying to from Feb23-Mar7 Manila-Paris-Manila.

I will be traveling with my husband and would like to visit Italy too via domestic flight from Paris and vise versa. Can you help us build our itinerary on which places in Italy to visit. Appreciate much if you could also provide website where can we book our airfare ticket as well as train ticket and hotel.

Thank you and looking forward for your reply. Thank you very much.



    I appreciate the nice words and I’m happy to try to answer questions that people have about planning a Europe itinerary, but I hesitate to actually start from scratch on the planning part.

    Since you have 12 or 13 days, however, you don’t have too many options to get really creative, so I will provide a basic suggestion.

    Fly into Paris and spend 4 nights there. This is plenty of time to see the main and famous sights, and also spend half a day at the Palace of Versailles.

    Then fly from Paris to Rome (which is still an international flight, by the way).

    Spend 3 or 4 nights in Rome. In 3 days you can see the main sights, and in a 4th day you could even visit Naples and/or Pompeii on a day trip. Then take a train to Florence and spend 3 nights there.

    Florence is in the heart of Tuscany and is one of Europe’s best tourist towns. In three days you even have time for a day trip to nearby Pisa to see the Tower and Cathedral. Then take a train to Venice.

    Spend 2 nights in Venice, which is plenty of time to see everything there. From Venice (or nearby Treviso) you can fly back to Paris for your flight back to Manila.

    That itinerary hits all the best highlights of France and Italy, or at least those that you can see in 13 days. It would even leave an extra day or so to go somewhere else or take more day trips. Without knowing your interests and budget, this is about all I can suggest.

    There are booking tools on this website that will give you the best airfares and prices on hotels. There are even recommended hotels for Paris and Rome if you look in the middle column of those pages, which also provide other useful information.

    For train tickets you’ll want to book in advance with the Italy rail official website. The earlier you book, the cheaper the fares will be.

    This should at least get you started with a plan of your own. Let me know if you have specific questions as you plan. -Roger

Shawn says:

Hi Roger! Great great site and very helpful information. I’m so glad I found your site before my trip to Europe. I’m planning a trip with my husband and my in-laws in mid-April to early May. (Total of 14 night and 15 days) THIS WILL BE OUR FIRST TRIP TO EUROPE! We are flying into Paris and out of Rome. Here are my initial itinerary and would love to hear your feedback on this.

1. First go to Paris – 4 nights/ 5days (my flight lands in Paris around 11 AM)
I saw your Paris pass page and modified my detailed trip according to that. I’ll leave my questions on that page. :)

2. Switzerland – 3 nights/4 days
3. Venice – 2 nights
4. Florence – 2 nights
5. Rome – 3 nights

My questions:
1. Do you think this is too much for a first timers? Is there anything that we should modify?

2. I’m planning to use my credit card there with SMART Chip embedded,(since i’m gonna use card with no foreign transaction fee) but I read somewhere that using cash (according to this person, just withdraw cash from ATM when needed) is better. Do you agree with that statement?

3. I’m not planning to rent a car at all, but do you think we should? If so, in which city?

Any suggestion is welcome as I have no idea!

Thanks in advance for your help!




    Thanks for the kind words, and I’m sorry you had to type the comment twice. This site, like millions of others, holds comments from new users in moderation until I approve them, to keep spam comments from getting published. Anyhoo…

    1. Your plan looks fantastic, and it looks exactly right for a first-time visitor who wants to see as much as possible in two weeks, without going overboard.

    2. If you have a credit card with a chip AND no foreign transaction fee, then I’d use that for pretty much everything. Generally, the farther north you go in Europe, the more ubiquitous credit card use is, and the farther south you go the more likely you’ll find places that don’t accept them. In other words, in Paris and Switzerland, pretty much every business will take credit cards, except of course for street vendors and such. Once you get to Italy you’ll be able to use credit cards at all hotels, but there will be plenty of restaurants and cafes (in Italy, cafes are called “bars”, weirdly enough) that insist on cash.

    In Switzerland they use the Franc, but in France and Italy they use the Euro, and ATMs are everywhere you’ll go, including at airports. So mostly use credit cards, but obviously you’ll want some cash for smaller purchases.

    3. No, definitely don’t rent a car. Europe purposely makes driving expensive and frustrating with high fuel prices and expensive parking. The trains between the places you’ll go are ideal, and reasonably cheap as well.

    From your other comment, yes, I think a 2-day Paris Pass is a great tool for first-time visitors who are planning on seeing the main sights in a short time. And the included bus tour and Seine River cruise are quite nice ways to get oriented on your first day in Paris.

    In Switzerland, you have two wonderful options, and you can probably hit both of them, although 3 nights is tough. One of them is Interlaken, or more specifically, the villages just above Interlaken in the Alps, called Gimmelwald and/or Murren. This area is among the most beautiful in the world for mountain views and activities. I get this question a lot so I’m soon going to write a long article that explains exactly where to go and what to do. If you check the homepage of in the coming two weeks or so, you’ll see it and it will make planning MUCH easier. The other place to go is Lucerne, which is on a gorgeous lake and has plenty of worthwhile things to see and do as well.

    I’d recommend a train from Paris to Interlaken for two nights in Gimmelwald (you have to take a lift to get there, but it’s cheap and easy), then take a train to Lucerne for one night, and then onto Venice. Actually, Venice is quite compact and pretty easy to see in one day and one night, so you might even consider two nights in Lucerne and one night in Venice.

    Please let me know if you have any other questions along the way. It looks like you have a really thoughtful itinerary already, so well done. -Roger

      shawn says:

      Ah.. thank you Roger for your prompt and detailed response. (ah.. i now understand why my post disappeared.)

      I will def. take our suggestion into consideration and modify my itinerary and I can’t wait for your new post on Switzerland!

      My friend just told me that there are a lot to see in Rome so staying 3 nights seems too short. Is there a MUST see place in Rome in three days?

      I didn’t put my bus tour and the cruise on my first day because my flight gets in around 11 AM and by the time I get to my place, which is located near Montmarte, i’ll lose whole day. So thought it will be better to use it on 2nd and the 3rd day.

      Again, thank you Roger for your help! I’ll probably come here very often!




        Personally, I think 3 days and nights is the perfect amount of time for a first visit to Rome. It’s loaded with world-class attractions, but it’s also chaotic and a bit frustrating at times. The most famous attractions all live up to the hype, so as long as you hit those you’ll have a great visit. Specifically we are talking about the Colosseum, Ancient Rome, the Pantheon, the Vatican Museum (including the Sistine Chapel) and St. Peter’s Basilica, and the Trevi Fountain. Just those are about two days, so you still have a day to wander around and enjoy all the rest.

        Yes, for the Paris Pass and bus tour and cruise, I recommend starting it on your first full day rather than the day you arrive. You’ve got the right idea. -Roger

Sumit says:

Hi Roger, my wife & I are planning a 2 week vacation in Italy in May. This will be our first trip to Europe. We are planning to include either Nice & Cannes or Barcelona & Madrid in our itinerary along with Italy. We liked your itinerary and are planning to do something like ; Fly into Rome from Bangalore and fly out depending on whether we should do Spain or Nice area in France. We are interested in seeing the cities and the countryside of Italy. Please do recommend if you think we should combine 2 countries or just do 1 in our first trip. Thanks for your help & the great blog !



    I’m a bit confused by the question, but I’ll try to answer anyway. Two weeks is long enough to enjoy much of Italy and still see something else, and the Nice-Cannes-Monaco area is faster and easier to reach from Italy. My recommendation would be to save Spain for another trip because you’d really need 3 days in Madrid and 3 days in Barcelona in order to appreciate them without rushing. Adding 3 days or so in Nice would be easier and you can easily get there by train.

    By the way, I’m going to update the article above soon, but for now I’ll also recommend Sorrento as another recommended stop in Italy. It’s a wonderful town where most people speak English, and it’s perfect for day trips to Naples, Pompeii, the Amalfi Coast, and the island of Capri. So from Rome you could pop down to Sorrento for 3 days or so and you’d be able to see a lot in a short time. Have a great trip. -Roger

Steve says:

Roger, this is a great site. My wife and I are planning a 15 day trip to Italy in mid September. We fly into Milan and out of Rome. I am trying to decide if a trip to the South of France would make sense? We have never been to Italy or France so we are deciding between the South of France at the beginning of the trip or Naples at the end before Rome.

Milan – 2 nights
Venice – 2 nights
Cinque Terre – 2 nights
Florence – 2 nights
Naples – 2 nights
Rome – 4 nights

Milan – 1 night
S of France – 3 nights
Venice – 2 nights
Cinque Terre – 2 nights
Florence – 2 nights
Rome – 4 nights

Any suggestions or modifications you would recommend. We are very open to input and just starting the planning. If the S of France where do you recommend?





    Thanks. If you were to visit the south of France, the obvious choice is to base yourself in Nice, which is described a bit in the article above. For one thing, it has by far the most accommodation choices in the area, and it’s also very close to both Cannes and Monaco, both of which are worthwhile day trips (you can actually visit both in the same day).

    My main thought on this is that if you think you’ll do a proper visit to France on an upcoming trip (within the next few years), then probably save the south of France for that trip. But if you think that this will be your only visit to the area for the foreseeable future, then it’s probably worth going to Nice on this trip. Nice actually used to be part of Italy so the architecture and such will be pretty similar, but otherwise the food and culture are quite different and experiencing France should be eye-opening.

    By the way, I’m going to add this to the article above very soon (maybe by the time you read this reply), but instead of Naples you’ll probably want to stay in Sorrento, which is a bit to the south. Sorrento is about an hour south of Naples by train, and it’s a wonderful town that is safe and friendly. Naples is interesting but it’s also gritty and a bit stressful, so doing it as a day trip from Sorrento is highly recommended. Sorrento is also the gateway to the Amalfi Coast, and it’s close to Pompeii for a day trip. There’s also the island of Capri with its Blue Grotto, not to mention that Sorrento is a really lovely place where most people speak English. One problem with going to Sorrento is that you’ll want to spend 4 nights there just to see all the great things nearby, and you probably won’t have time for that.

    Also, if you do your Italy itinerary, you might want to land in Milan and then take a train straight from the airport to Venice. After that you can come back to Milan for two nights and then take the train to Cinque Terre with less backtracking. Once you’ve seen the main cathedral and the square around it, Milan is the least interesting city on your list, so you might even just do one night there or skip it. If you want to see the Last Supper you’ll have to make reservations in advance, and that can be worthwhile.

    Have a great trip and let me know if you have other questions I can help with. -Roger

Neeti says:

Hi, this article is very informative. My husband and I are planning a trip to Europe in the second half of June 2015. We are both first time visitors. We plan to fly into Amsterdam/Belgium and fly out of Italy. Here is a rough plan:

Amsterdam : Two nights

Belgium: Bruges – Two nights

Frace: Paris – four nights (Eiffel Tower, The Louvre, a day trip to Burgundy for the vineyards) and Nice – Two nights

Switzerland – Geneva – One night, Interlaken – Two nights and Lucerne – Two nights

Italy: Venice- Two nights, Florence – Two nights, Rome – Two nights

We plan to travel by train internally and will be flying out from India. We are not totally into history and art but do not mind visiting a few museums. What interests us is scenic beauty and nightlife. Please let me know if this plan sounds do-able. Thanks!



    Your plan looks really good and I only have a couple of small suggestions for you.

    For one thing, Paris and Rome are both huge compared to all of the other cities on your list, and I recommend a minimum of 3 nights in each if possible. With the other cities on your list you can cover most of the top sights on a 2-night visit, but in Paris and Rome you’d have to cut out some things and rush around in two nights. On the other hand, Venice is small enough (and quite expensive) that you can see most everything that you’d want in a visit of around 24 hours. Also, Venice is unbelievably crowded (it might remind you of cities in India) during the middle of every day with people on bus tours coming in for the day, so it’s best to focus some of your time in the morning and evening, when it’s mostly empty.

    In Switzerland I’d highly recommend 2 nights in Interlaken (actually in Gimmelwald or Murren, just above Interlaken) and 2 nights in Lucerne. Geneva has a famous name but it’s actually a dud for tourists with every little to see. If you have something specific to see or do in Geneva, then go, but if you just want to see the best of Switzerland then focus on Interlaken and Lucerne. If you want to see a city in Switzerland then Bern is probably the best choice.

    Aside from those possible changes, I think your plan looks very solid and is doable. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Ramy says:

Hi Rogers! I am currently planning my trip for June-July 2015 My boyfriend and I will be going to Italy for about 30 days (28 nights) We are in our 20s (under 26) ready to explore italy. After reading a lot of articles I am now convinced that adding Nice,Monaco,Cannes into this trip will be more than possible since we will be in Europe for 4 weeks. We will be flying in and out from Rome. We were thinking of going straight to Naples as a base to all the surroundings (Almalfi, Capri etc..) Would you really recommend staying in Sorrento instead? ( I assume you do ) WE would then go south to Sicily more specifically Trapani for another 4 nights( I dont want to skip Sicilly at all) What would be your suggestion to get there from Naples?? if thats even possible I was told it is.
After that, we would have 17 – 18 days remaining. We would definitely need to spend at leaf 3 or 4 nights in Rome but at the end of our trip since we want to already be in Rome for our flight back home. So for the days in between we would want to add Florence, Nices, Monaco, Cannes. Is it only possible to get there from Milano or Venice? What about from Rome? ( I would try to get a flight or train from Sicily to Rome and then round trip Nice Rome? Or Nice Florence? What would be the best suggestion? (ps : Originally Calabria was in our plan but i figured out it would be better to chose between Nice and Calabria, what do you think?

Also, for trains, im a bit confused wether its better to buy tickets one or two months before or to buy them as we go day by day (Ive been told its better to buy them on the spot since they’re not more or less expensive)

Additional information is welcome
Thank you it is really appreciated and By the way your website is amazing!



    Thank you for the kind words. I’ll try to answer your questions in the order they come up.

    Yes, I’d definitely recommend Sorrento as a base to explore everywhere from Naples to the Amalfi Coast. Naples is fascinating, of course, but it’s also somewhat dysfunctional and not terribly pleasant. For example, there are almost no green areas or open areas in the city center, so it really feels like a concrete jungle. And it’s considered to be generally safe for tourists, especially during the day, but EVERYONE warns you to watch out for pickpockets and that sort of thing. When I was there for a day recently I kept one hand on my iPhone and another on my small camera the whole time, which gets a bit exhausting. Tourists really stand out as tourists there. Sorrento, on the other hand, is small, tourist friendly, totally safe, and actually closer to Pompeii, Amalfi, and Capri. You would be fine staying a night or two in Naples while you were exploring Naples, but once you are done with that, I’d go to Sorrento.

    From the Naples area to Sicily most people take the train. The trains in southern Italy run quite slow and it takes some time to load the carriages onto the ferry for that portion, but at least they are fairly cheap. It will take most of a day to get down there though, so factor that in. The cities from Naples to the north are all connected by short high-speed train rides.

    I’ve yet to make it to Calabria or Sicily myself so I can’t really judge, but I can say that Nice is really wonderful for visitors.

    To visit Monaco and Cannes, you’ll definitely want to stay in Nice. Monaco and Cannes are each only about 20 minutes away by train (in opposite directions) so if you stay near the Nice train station, you can easily visit all of these places in the same day. You can take trains to Nice from Milan or Genoa, and trains in Italy tend to be cheaper than flights, although it’s worth checking both. From wherever you are in Italy, you can take a train to Nice, though you will probably have to switch in Milan.

    The long-distance and high-speed trains in Italy are all cheaper the earlier you buy, and they can be really cheap compared to anywhere else in Europe, like €19 from Florence to Rome compared to €49 if you buy on travel day. However, the local trains, such as the ones that stop in the Cinque Terre cities, have fixed (and cheap) prices. In other words, buy your long train tickets as far in advance as possible, but don’t buy the short rides into the suburbs until you get there.

    Hopefully that helps, and feel free to follow up if you have other questions I might answer. -Roger

MJ says:

I am so impressed with the wealth of information on this page. My husband and I are traveling to Europe for the first time this October. We have 13 days to site see (with an additional 2 days) of travel time and being around and 30 and active we can travel at a fairly fast pace. Originally, we planned to spend all our time in Italy, a lifelong dream of mine. But, my husband and I compromised and realizing we may never make it back to Europe we are trying to figure out if we can squeeze Paris and Versailles into the mix. Can you give me your opinion on our itinerary?
Leave the U.S. Saturday.
Days 1-3: arrive in Naples on Sunday around noon (day 1), transfer to sorento. Stay 3 nights to allow for day trips along Amalfi coast, Pompeii, and Capri.
Wednesday/day 4- Friday day 6: transfer via train to Rome. Spend 3 nights. Should we have stayed an extra night in Sorrento to allow for jet lag recovery?
Saturday/day 7-Monday day 9: We are choosing to skip Florence and going straight to Venice for 2 nights (I missed an opportunity to study abroad here while in college so I want to give Venice a little extra time).
Either Monday night or Tuesday we fly to Paris for the remainder of our trip. We plan to do a day trip to Versailles.
We fly back to the U.S. on Saturday.
What do you think of this itinerary for our first trip to Europe? I hope I’m allocating enough time to the various cities. We are ok with missing Florence to allow extra time in Venice and Paris. Your expertise and insight is very appreciated!



    That’s very nice of you to say and I’ll be happy to try to help you plan.

    Your itinerary looks excellent and very well thought out. As for possible jet lag, it’s a personal thing. I’ve done dozens of flights from the US to Europe, and even though I can barely sleep on a plane, I’m always so excited when I touch down that I find it pretty easy to push through most of that first day. When I wake up on my first real morning there, I tend to be nearly adjusted already. I struggle much more with jet lag after returning home, although not everyone does. I think if you are willing to push yourself a bit and avoid sleeping more than 30 minutes once you check into your hotel, you’ll probably be fine and still able to do a bit of sightseeing on the day you land.

    It sounds like you’ve researched Florence quite a bit before deciding to skip it, and I think your decision makes sense. The “big 3” of Italy are Rome, Venice, and Florence, but Florence is definitely the least dramatic of those three, and Paris is spectacular so I think it’s a good trade. Three nights in Paris is good, but four nights is better, especially if you are doing the Versailles side trip in there.

    Honestly, there is nothing about your plan that I would change, and I am sure you’ll have an excellent time. Bon voyage, and feel free to ask more questions if you have them. -Roger

Julia says:

Timely post as, despite having visited almost all of the places mentioned, we will have in-laws coming to stay with us this year who have never been to Europe before. I’m glad to see Amalfi and Sorrento on your “to do” list, as these are two regions I’ve yet to explore and am beginning to tire of the overly-crowded Big Three.

jocelyn says:

Hoping you can help me. We are planning on spending 3 weeks travelling in Mid May. The places we would like to cover are – Tuscany, Switzerland, Germany and Paris. Can you suggest on how many days we should stay at each place and any suggested names of towns to stay at.We will have to start our trip from Rome and catch a train to florence and would then like to continue on to tuscany and then from there we are open to suggestions to cover the other places I have mentioned.Thanks



    Landing in Rome with 3 weeks to spend, you obviously have many choices. Here’s my article about where to go in Germany in 1 to 3 weeks, which should help. Here’s one way to do it that would be enjoyable and efficient:

    Rome for 3 or 4 nights then take a train to Florence.

    Florence for 3 or 4 nights. Florence is in the heart of Tuscany and you can do day trips to visit some nearby hill towns for a classic Tuscany experience. Pisa and Siena are each about an hour away by train, so if you base yourself in Florence you’ll have many choices for day trips.

    Take a train to Venice and stay 1 or 2 nights. Venice will be crowded but it’s an unforgettable place that will be a highlight of your trip.

    Take a train from Venice to Munich, or you could take a train from Venice to Salzburg and stop there for 2 days on your way to Munich.

    See the article mentioned above to choose a few stops in Germany, with Munich being your launching point. You can easily spend a day in Rothenburg ob der Tauber and also Neuschwanstein Castle. After about 4 or 5 days in Germany, take a train to Lucerne, Switzerland.

    Spend 2 days in Lucerne and then take a short train ride to Interlaken and then another short train and then a cable car up to either the village of Gimmelwald or Murren and spend 2 days there. Interlaken is the place to get the most amazing mountain views in all of Europe.

    After Interlaken, take a train to Paris and stay there at least 3 nights. If you do an itinerary that is something along these lines, you’ll be hitting nearly all the highlights of these areas. Let me know if you have other questions. -Roger

      jocelyn says:

      Thank you so much for your help. Is it worthwhile catching the Bernina Express Train from Milan to Zurich as I have heard the scenery is fantastic? Also what if we want to include London at the end of the trip. We have travelled overseas before and have seen a lot of Rome and Florence, Pisa and Venice but as we are meeting up with our daughter who is in florence at the moment we were then hoping to visit Tuscany as on our last trip we didnt get to see a lot due to time limits so would love to see other popular signts in that area, then go from there to visit Switzerland, Germany and Paris as we have never been there before however now my husband has suggested to end in London and then travel home to Australia. What are your thoughts and any suggestions as per the Bernina Express train idea?

Susan says:

Hi Roger

Chanced upon your website and the information has been so informative and helpful. Thank you. I have never done this before so I hope I am responding in the right format/way.

My daughter is travelling to Europe for 3 months and we are going to travel Italy together for 20 days, Aug 21 to 10 Sept. Im so excited as a visit to Italy has been on my dream list for a long time and the pleasure of experiencing it with my daughter is priceless.

After reading all the comments/feedback I am beginning to feel overwhelmed as to where to go and not go. This is my plan at this stage.

Flying into and out of Milan (flights are booked) as it works in with my daughter’s plans.

lake como, Turin, Genoa, cinque Terre, Pisa, Florence, Siena, Perugia Rome, Sorrento …….Venice Milan.

I night Venice but not sure where to put that in. We could go from Sorrento across to the east coast and up to Venice and back into Milan.

I read that Milan is worth missing so might head straight to Lake Como on arrival and spend last night in Milan before flying out next day to Melbourne.

Days in each place are not sent in stone as we don’t want to feel pressured to be a certain place on a certain day. Thinking Florence will be 3/4 night and Rome 3 night and Sorrento 3 nights. At that time of year should we be trying to book accomm in advance.

From Sorrento we are not sure where to go and are we trying to do/see too much in 20 days.

If you had 20 days in Italy as a first timer and was not set on seeing every tourist attraction what would your itinerary look like ?

We will be travelling by train/bus (booked in advance as far as is possible when you want a little flexability)

Thank you for your advice and help.



    Yes, the format of your question is perfect. I’ll answer the questions in the order they appear…

    Milan is okay to skip on a shorter trip, but I think it’s worth at least one night on yours. But you can probably skip Turin and Genoa and spend a bit more time everywhere else. Those two towns might be the 8th and 9th most interesting in Italy, so they are probably better for a future trip.

    Land in Milan and hop on the train to Lake Como. Stay in Varenna or Bellagio for two or three nights. They are both very small and you can see the interesting parts of the mid-lake area in one day by taking the ferries. Then take the train back to Milan and hop on a train from there to Cinque Terre. Vernazza is the classic town in Cinque Terre, but if you want to spend time on the beach then you could base yourself in one of the others. Stay 2 or 3 nights.

    Take the train from Cinque Terre to Florence. If you pack light you can hop off the train for a couple hours in Pisa on your way to Florence. Otherwise, just base yourself in Florence for 4 or 5 days and see Pisa and Siena as day trips (they are only about an hour away by train). You can also visit one or more of the famous Tuscan hill towns from Florence in part of a day.

    From Florence take the train to Rome and spend 3 nights there. Rome is huge and packed with important sights, but it’s also expensive and kind of frustrating (crossing streets takes daring and concentration, for example). So you can appreciate the main sights in 3 nights or maybe 4, but I wouldn’t stay longer.

    From Rome you will take the train down to Naples and then change to the Circumvesuviana train to Sorrento. As mentioned in the article above, you can spend up to 4 wonderful days in Sorrento and do something very different every day. You’ll want to spend part of a day in Naples, part of a day seeing the Pompeii ruins, at least part of a day doing the bus and/or ferry along the Amalfi Coast, and possibly part of a day on the Isle of Capri just a short ferry ride away. You can spend your evenings in charming Sorrento.

    After 3 to 5 nights, take an early train back to Naples and then the high-speed train to Venice for 1 or maybe 2 nights. Venice is amazing but it’s also small and very crowded so staying about 24 hours is enough.

    From Venice you’ll take the train back to Milan, and stay your last night there. The Milan cathedral and the area around it are really worth at least half a day, but the rest of Milan will feel a bit generic compared to the other places you’ve been. This itinerary gives you some flexibility and plenty of contrasts. In 20 days I think you’ll have enough time to take it slowly so you don’t feel like you are racing around.

    Have a great trip and feel free to follow up if you have other questions I might help with. -Roger

      Susan says:

      Thanks so much Roger for the prompt and detailed response.

      We are looking at staying with air bnb in Trastevere Rome. It looks really interesting.What are your thoughts and is it a good base camp location,I think it will only take about 10 mins of walking to get into the Center of town.

      Do you have suggestions of areas in Florence to base ourselves.





        I don’t believe that I’ve spent any time in the Trastevere neighborhood of Rome. On the map it looks a bit remote, and perhaps more than 10 minutes away from the tourist centers on the other side of the river. On the other hand, a hotel within walking distance of Ancient Rome and that area would be small and very expensive. You usually get what you pay for, and in your case you’d probably be getting a nice apartment that isn’t close to any main attractions, at a good price. If you prefer an apartment to a hotel, then it’s probably a good deal.

        As for Florence, all of the main sights are within a fairly short walk of the main cathedral, which is basically the center of the city. As long as you are a decent walking distance from the cathedral, you’ll be in a convenient area. I don’t think I’d want to stay out in a residential suburb that I had to take a bus to get into town. Have a great trip. -Roger

Ash says:

Hi Roger,

My husband and I are looking for a cheap and cheerful trip to Italy over easter – we have 10-12 nights to spare, flying from London. Current thought is Rome, 4 nights ; Florence – 2 nights including pisa and then to sicily.. any other places / things to see you would put on the must do list? want to end it in a relaxed beach ideally. Also best modes of transport and starting points?



    I’ve yet to visit Sicily and it gets mixed reviews. I think if you’ve visited the other main destinations in Italy then exploring Sicily would probably be fulfilling, but I don’t think I’d recommend it for someone who is fairly new to Italy. Also, in early April it really won’t be sunbathing weather anywhere in Italy, although you’ll obviously have your best chance at that way down south. If being as warm as possible is important, then Sicily is probably wise, or considering somewhere else like the Canaries.

    Assuming you have locked in on Italy, then the two main “beach” options that are fairly easy for non-Italian speakers are the Cinque Terre and the Sorrento/Amalfi Coast area. My understanding is that there are other beach areas where it’s almost all Italian people, although again, no sunbathing weather in early April.

    The Cinque Terre and Sorrento/Amalfi area are both lovely and relaxed, especially outside of the sunbathing season. There’s WAY more to do in Sorrento, with Naples, Pompeii, Capri, and the Amalfi Coast itself all short day trips away. The Cinque Terre feels more like a time capsule of how Italy was 50 years ago, but there isn’t much to do there aside from hiking town to town. All of this is covered in a bit more depth in the article above.

    You’ll definitely want to get around by train. Italy heavily subsidizes train fares, so they are quite cheap, even as travel day approaches. They are very cheap if you book more than a month in advance, but if you want some flexibility that savings might not be worth it.

    By the way, one of the challenges with Sicily is that the trains south of Naples are very slow, so it takes most of a day to get down to Sicily, including the train carriages going onto the ferry. Flying is obviously faster, but more expensive, and its own kind of hassle.

    Hopefully this helps at least a bit. Have a great trip. -Roger

Erica says:

Hi Roger ,

My husband and i are going for our honeymoon this coming june , thanks you for your itinerary , it really helps me a lot on my planning… just wonder does it smooth enough ? We have total of 18 nights… we will reach the rome airport then transfer to the santorini and when we back we starts from the rome.

Santorini – 4nights
Rome -3nights
Pisa & Florence – 2nights
Venice – 1night
Milan – 1night
Switzerland – 4nights
France – 3 nights

if i would like to take away milan from my list which city are recommended?




    I think your plan looks pretty much perfect. The only tricky part, as you mentioned, would be doing back-to-back 1-night visits to Venice and Milan. Changing hotels and cities every day can start to make it feel like a job, so I think I would recommend saving Milan for a future trip.

    The two best places to add in that extra day would be in Florence or Paris. When visiting Tuscany you’ll want to stay in Florence and you can visit the Leaning Tower in Pisa on a day trip in only a few hours. If you stay fairly close to the train station in Florence, it will be easier, and you can take a train directly to the stop closer to the Field of Miracles (where the tower and cathedral are located), which will also save you time. Having 3 nights in Florence will mean that you’ll have enough time to see the major sights there AND half a day for Pisa.

    As mentioned, the other good option would be to add another day in Paris. It’s an amazing city with endless things to see and do, and unlike Rome, it’s actually pleasant for a longer stay. In Rome, by the way, 3 nights is perfect because it’s a pretty intense place and it can wear on visitors after a day or two. Have a great trip. -Roger

      Erica says:

      Thank you so much for the detailed response… If i would like to add one more day on paris which part of paris is a must in my list ? Or is it possible to add on germany to my trip ? as i discover there’s train from geramny to switzerland and i cant find any from milan to switzerland…

      For ur suggestion is it the best to get a eurail pass or buy the train pass individually ? Which train is more recommended ?

      Thank you for your help Roger.

Moh says:

Hi Roger
My wife and I want to visit France, Italy and Switzerland over about 12 days in late September. This will be our first such trip. Would you advise us to take an organized trip with a travel company (which I am guessing would involve lot of bus travel) or would it be better to organise our own itenary which could include a mixture of train, bus and air travel. The main places we like to visit are Paris, Rome, Florence, Venice. Nice and Lucerne are optional.
Thank you



    I will highly recommend doing this trip independently rather than with a tour. Not only is it generally cheaper to plan it and do it yourself, but you’ll also obviously be able to do everything on your own schedule. Those bus trips are good for some people, but they also mean spending the entire trip with 45 other people and always moving as slowly as the slowest person who is always late getting back to the bus.

    In 12 days I’d recommend visiting 4 or 5 cities at the most, and taking trains between them all. If you can fly into one city (like Paris) and back out of another city (like Rome), it would be best. But it might be cheaper to fly in and out of the same city and then book a cheap flight from your last stop back to the departure airport.

    Not only are all of the cities on your list very tourist friendly, they are also filled with tourism employees who speak fine English. It never hurts to learn how to say hello and thank you in the language of the country you are visiting, but really it’s easy to do it only speaking English the whole time, even in Paris. All of the transportation signs and most menus that you encounter will also have English translations included, so it should all be quite easy.

    One way to do it would be to fly into Paris and spend 3 or 4 nights, then take the train to Nice for 2 nights. Then take a train to Venice for 1 night (you’d want to leave early and get to Venice as early as possible). Then to Florence for 2 nights and finally Rome for 3 nights. That would be a fast trip, which might be too fast for some people. If you want to slow down a bit you could spend 4 nights in Paris and then fly to Venice (or nearby Treviso), and then to Florence and Rome.

    Let me know if you have more questions and I’ll be happy to try to help. -Roger

      Moh says:

      Dear Roger

      Thank you very much for your reply. As you have suggested we will do this trip independently. Based on your comments am thinking of the following:

      Eurostar or fly to Paris from London
      3 nights in Paris,
      Fly to Venice, 2 nights
      Train to Florence, 2 nights
      Train to Rome , 3 nights
      Fly back to Paris or London.

      Since I have a couple of more spare days where should I spend that time? Sorrento?

      I am guessing that with this schedule I wouldn’t get to see much of the country side.

      Your suggestions are very much appreciated.

      Thank you




        You’ll be seeing quite a bit of the Italian countryside on the trains from Venice to Florence and to Rome. But if you spent 2 or 3 days in Sorrento you’d also be able to see a bit of the Amalfi Coast as well as Pompeii and Naples. Another option between Florence and Rome would be to go to Cinque Terre for a couple days. Those 5 towns are all small and very scenic, so it would show you a different side of Italy. Either one of those would be great choices, and I can help you sort out the details when you’ve made a decision. -Roger

Amardeep says:

As all the other comments have indicated-thank you! The information provided above has been helpful in planning my upcoming trip.

Would love to get your feedback on the below please:

– 25-28 June (4 days) in Rome
– 29-1 July (3 days) Amalfi Coast
– 2-4 July (3 days) Florence including day trip to Sienna)
– 5-6 July (2 days) Cinue Terra
– 7 July head to Venice
– 8-9 July (2 days) Venice
– 10-14 (5 days) Paris

This is my first trip to Europe and the above also includes travel time in the allocated days in each city. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated :)



    It’s always nice to hear that this advice is helpful, so thanks for taking the time to mention it.

    Your itinerary looks fantastic and I don’t think I’d change anything. I do have a few comments though.

    To visit the Amalfi Coast you could go directly to Positano or Amalfi, but I highly recommend staying in nearby Sorrento instead. From there you can jump on the public bus, which plies that scenic route every hour or less, and hop off in each of those towns as you go. Sorrento is also a bit more affordable and there are far more things to see and do there, including visiting nearby Pompeii or Naples or Capri.

    Florence has plenty to see itself, and Pisa is another worthwhile short day trip in addition to Siena. The only blockbuster sight in Siena is the dramatic town square, and the Leaning Tower might actually be more memorable. Otherwise, Siena is nicer than Pisa, so either one will be good.

    Venice to Paris is about 11 hours by train, and even though it’s quite scenic, that is a LONG time to spend on trains. You might find that flying from Venice (or nearby Treviso) to Paris is a good option since it might even be cheaper and it’ll obviously be much faster.

    Aside from those little points, I think this trip will work wonderfully just as you’ve planned it. Bon voyage and feel free to follow up if you have other questions. -Roger

      Amardeep says:

      Thanks Roger

      Not yet decided whether Amalfi Coast will be visited via hire car or public transport. I definitely want to visit Pompeii so will keep in mind your Sorrento tip.(plan to get the train from Naples to Florence)

      Yes, plan to fly to Paris from Venice. May spend the first night in the region in Verona so I can watch an opera at the amphitheatre there (not too interested in spending more than an evening in Verona) and then head to Venice first thing the next morning to spend 2 whole days and 2 nights there.

      Just two other quick questions please- wondering if I am rushing Florence and Amalfi Coast and whether I would be better off cutting a day in Paris and adding it to either of those cities instead? I am sure this will definitely not be my only trip to France!

      Also, what route would you recommend traveling from cinque Terra to Venice/Verona? I understand it will be a 6-7 hr journey and the optios are to go via Milan or Bologna. I am leaning towards Bologna so I can stop and wander around for an hour or so on the way and maybe have lunch there.

      Many, many thanks! Appreciate your time and effort greatly :)

Anne says:

My husband and I are planning a trip to Italy and France for our 50th anniversary in 2016 probably May. We plan to spend a month, use trains between larger cities and car to drive locally. We’ve been to Tuscany and Rome but want to go to Venice Florence again and then down to Amalfi coast. In france (which I’ve never been to) we want to see Paris and area and then spend at least a week in Provence. Will renting a home or apartment for a week and then traveling around be feasible. Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated.



    If the question is, is renting a home or apartment in Provence for a week or so, and driving a rented car around to see the sights a good idea, I think it definitely is. I don’t personally have experience with this sort of visit, but most travel pros seem to think this is the ideal way to see more rural parts of France as well as Italy.

    Generally speaking, I don’t recommend renting cars to go between European cities because parking is almost always a big issue. But for basing yourself in a spread-out area like Provence, I think it’s ideal. And there are loads of international websites that offer these sorts of rentals, including and, but some say that you can often get a better deal in person just by going there and asking around once you arrive. Have a great trip. -Roger

      Anne says:

      Thanks Roger for your help. We’ve driven ourselves in other countries but have never rented a home there before. In Italy we’ve stayed in agritourismos and we may do that in Italy again. I’m finding your site really good. It offers a lot of good information.

Jawad Khalil says:

Hi Roger

Need a bit of advice, me and missus are flying into paris and out of Malaga for our 13 day trip. Our initial plan is to spend 2 days in paris, fly out to Rome and stay there for 2 days, 1 day in Venice, 3 days in Sorento and the amalfi, we will then be flying out to Barcelona and will spend 2 days there, at then we will spend 2 days in seville and on the final day fly out from Malaga.

Big question! Do you think we are cramming too much in our trip and will end up with just a blur of a holiday or you reckon we can work it out by tweaking our existing itnerary?

Will really appreciate your advice.




    Yes, I do think you are trying to cram too much into 13 days, but I don’t think it’s impossible to do. The main issue here is, and sorry if you’ve read this before because I type it often into these comments, that a “transit day” only counts as maybe 25% of a sightseeing day. In other words, on every day that you are going from one city to another, you’ll be lucky to spend even a few hours and see one good sight on that day. Even if a train ride is only 2 or 3 hours (as is the case between the major Italian cities), you’ll still be spending another couple hours packing up and checking out of one hotel and then finding and checking into the hotel in your next city.

    It looks like you have about 6 transit days in your 13 total days, so that means you’d be spending almost half your holiday going between places, and the other half actually enjoying the places you are visiting. On a 13-day trip, I’d recommend no more than 5 total cities, or maybe 6 including a small city like Venice that is close to other cities.

    Also, I am often asked about “minimum number of nights” in each city to at least see the main highlights, and a few of your stops fall short of my minimum recommendations. For example, Paris, Rome, and Barcelona are all very large cities that are absolutely packed with famous highlights. I recommend a minimum number of 3 nights in each of those, partly because that really only translates into two full sightseeing days. If you cut it down to 2 nights, and one full sightseeing day, you’ll need to skip things like the Louvre, Vatican Museum, and the Picasso Museum because you’ll be leaving after only seeing a few things.

    So I’ll recommend 3 nights in Paris and then 3 nights in Rome. If you are going to Sorrento/Naples/Amalfi you’d want to do it after Rome because Venice is in the opposite direction. I’d actually recommend saving Sorrento for another visit, and going straight to Venice for 1 night. Then you can fly to Barcelona from Venice (or nearby Treviso Airport) for 2 or 3 nights. You might still have time for a day or two in Seville, and it’s small enough that one full day could be worthwhile.

    Hopefully this is the sort of advice you were looking for. You could change things around in other ways, but I think this is most efficient. Feel free to follow up with other questions if you have them. -Roger

      Jawad Khalil says:

      Hi Roger
      Thank you very much for your advice, we sat down last night and decided that we will do 2 full days in paris, 3 in Rome, 2 in Barcelona and the rest in Andalucia. So we have decided to leave the amalfi coast for another trip, our next holiday, we will dedicate 1 week between rome, Venice and pisa, an a week for the amalfi coast.
      Once again thanks a lot for your advice, it’s really helped us a lot, will update you on how it went on our return

      (I’m happy to help, and please do let me know how it went when you get back. -Roger)

Jawad Khalil says:

mistakenly hit the the submit button there, anyway, so we have decided to leave the amalfi coast for another trip, our next holiday, we will dedicate 1 week between rome, Venice and pisa, an a week for the amalfi coast.
Once again thanks a lot for your advice, it’s really helped us a lot, will update you on how it went on our return

charly mi says:

hallo Roger,
i very happy to find your article. i am planing to have a tour in Europe in October for 18 days, with my family and relatives. we are all 8 adults, all visit Europe for the first time.
we are planing to visit this places: Rome, Assisi, Florence, Venice,Milan, Lourdes, Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam.
do you any suggestion how to arrange the trip..??
then, i have read from your recommendation above, that renting car is a bit expensive than trains. but considering our number, 8-10 persons, do you recommend to take car, at least from city to cities in Italy? and in Paris alone?
thank you very much for your kind assistance.


    charly mi,

    For that list of cities I think you’d be best off starting in the north and going south, which will also help with the weather since it will get nicer as you go south rather than getting worse as you go north. The most logical route is Amsterdam, Berlin, Paris, Lourdes, Milan, Venice, Florence, Assisi, and Rome. Or you could fly into Berlin and then go to Amsterdam next, and on the same route.

    Berlin and Lourdes are both quite out of the way, and if you removed one or both of them your total distance traveled would be quite a bit less, but both have a lot to offer so you might just keep them both in.

    I normally recommend against renting cars in Europe to go between the big cities, but in your case it might actually be your best bet. My guess is that two small cars that hold 4 or 5 people each would be cheaper than one large van that held all 10 people, but it’s worth checking both. The fuel you’d need to buy would be about the same either way, since their small cars tend to be very efficient while the vans really aren’t.

    You wouldn’t want to use a car to drive around and see the sights in most of the cities in your list because parking is very expensive and hard to find. But for your drives to/from Berlin and Lourdes and even Assisi, having your own vehicles could be very efficient. You’ll just have to check rental rates and factor in that fuel will cost about €2 per liter, and see how the numbers add up. There will also be toll roads in France and Italy, but the tolls aren’t too high.

    The other major factor to consider is overnight parking within cities. If you want to stay at hotels in the city centers, which is highly recommended in most cases, you might pay about €30 per night for parking. But if you are okay staying a bit outside the city center, you can probably find good hotels with free parking. The challenge then is that it might be a 30-minute tram ride into the city center for your sightseeing, so you’ll probably only want to do that once per day, which can take some of the fun out of visiting an amazing city like the ones on your list. In other words, if you are staying in the tourist center you can do a walking tour right after breakfast and then rest in your room for a bit, and then go to a nearby museum or other sight after a memorable lunch, and then relax a bit more in your hotel before going out for dinner and another walk around town. But if you stay on the edge of town, you’ll have breakfast and then go into town for sightseeing. You’ll see several things and start getting a bit tired so you head back to your hotel. At that point it probably feels like too much trouble to go all the way back into town for dinner, so you have food at or near your hotel and then stay in for the night. For these reasons, people who stay in the city center usually end up seeing and doing much more than someone staying on the edge of town in the same number of days.

    So driving from one city to the next might be cheaper than taking the train for 4 or 5 people, but once you get there you’ll either have to pay a lot for parking or really push yourself to maximize sightseeing, or save money by staying on the edge of town and see fewer things.

    Also, driving in the middle of the cities on your list would be stressful, so you’d really want to do as little of that as possible. Driving in and out might be okay, but driving from your hotel to a central museum or cathedral would be traumatic. I hope this helps, and let me know if you have other questions. -Roger

Tifny says:


We are planning a two week backpackers trip. How much pocket money do you think is enough?

Please help



    I’ll be happy to try to help, but I’m not sure what you mean by “pocket money.” If you mean how much do you need each day after you’ve paid for accommodation, food, and transportation, then it tends to be a personal thing. But if you are wondering how much you’ll need each day for accommodation and food and everything else, then in France and Italy you’ll need about €60 per person per day if you want to enjoy yourself, or less if you are willing to eat street food and pizza for most meals.

    If you have a more specific question, let me know and I’ll take a shot at it. -Roger

Sheree says:

Hi Roger
I have enjoyed reading all the information on the above messages and found it very helpful. I’m going to Europe with a friend (2 ladies) for a dream we have had to go to Tuscany. Our itinerary is as follows:
5 nights in Majorca for a wedding
3 nights in Barcelona
3 nights in Rome
8 nights in Florence
1 night in Venice
We plan on basing ourselves in Florence to do a few day trips to Sienna and other hillside towns. I’m very keen on arranging a minivan guided tour to Cinque Terre. Do you think it is ok to do a day trip there and go back to Florence or perhaps stay our last night there and take the train to Venice for our night there. I’m trying to work out how best to fit the Cinque Terre in. Also, do you have any view on accommodation? We are looking at renting an apartment through Air BNB. I was wondering if this is safe or is it best to stay in hotels. We thought an apartment would be a better experience for us to do our own thing. Thanks



    Florence is a fairly compact city so I think 8 days is quite a long time there, even if you are going to spend several days doing side trips. You can see the main sights in Florence in 3 days or so, and then a day trip to Siena and one or two hill towns would work well. You might also work Pisa into the trip, which can be seen in only a few hours.

    As for the Cinque Terre, I think since you have enough time I’d spend 1 or 2 nights there, probably in the most scenic town, which is Vernazza. The main things to do there are to hike between the towns (although the path is not always easily passable, and it is steep in places), or to sit on a beach in a couple of the towns (even though the beaches aren’t really great by international standards). Aside from those things, the main draw is that towns like Vernazza are like going back in time to a simple and authentic era. For that, I think you really need to stay overnight to appreciate it. On a van trip in one day you’d be rushing around and you’d mostly be seeing other tourists all day, while in the morning and evenings, things are quiet and serene.

    Airbnb should be a good option in the cities you are visiting, especially for a longer stay in Florence. For a 1 or 2-night stay a hotel might be better because they tend to be more central and you can come and go as you please, while in an airbnb you have to arrange a time to arrive and get the keys from the owner and all of that.

    You’ll probably want to fly from Barcelona to Rome and then take trains within Italy. If you do fly, buy your ticket as far in advance as possible for the best fares. The train rides within Italy will all be fairly short and inexpensive, so buying them once you are there might be best. Those cities are all so close that they are no more than 2 hours or so apart. I’m not sure I answered all of your questions, so please feel free to follow up and I’ll be happy to try again. -Roger

Vini Batheja says:

Excellent itinerary suggestions ! Thanks for posting !

Olivia says:

Hi Roger,

I will be traveling to France and Italy for the first time in the summer and will be staying for a total of 17 days. I plan to visit Paris, Nice, Rome, Florence and Venice. The thing is, I will be flying in and out of Paris.

I have made a rough itinerary but would like some feedback:

3 nights Paris
Fly to Rome
4 nights Rome
3 nights Florence
1 night Venice
3 nights Nice
3 nights Paris

Do you think it is too crammed? I understand the train rides between Venice and Nice and Nice and Paris will be quite time consuming.

Alternatively, I was thinking of changing the order of the cities. I am also considering flying from Paris to Venice, train to Florence, train to Rome, fly from Rome to Nice and then train from Nice back to Paris. What do you think?




    I think your original plan looks excellent, and I don’t think it’s at all too crammed. It looks like you’ve allowed enough time for sightseeing AND the longer train rides, which are also pretty entertaining in that part of Europe.

    Your alternate plan could also work pretty well, but I think you’ll enjoy the longer train rides much more than you’d enjoy the extra flight. If you were only allowing 2 days in some cities then the flight might be a good way of speeding the travel part up. But since you have 3 or 4 nights (except for Venice) and 6 nights in Paris, I think doing most of it on the ground will be the best strategy.

    To be honest, six days in Paris is longer than most first-time visitors spend, so you could add an extra day or two somewhere else on the route, and still see everything in Paris in 4 or 5 nights. You are going to have a fantastic time, and it looks like you’ve planned really well so far. Feel free to follow up if you have more questions. -Roger

Edna says:

Hi Roger,
You have done wonderfully well in all your analysis; very informative as well. My husband, daughter and I are planning to travel to Europe for the first and which to travel to Spain (7 night) France (7 night) and Italy (12 night). We leave from Nigeria to Spain and return home through Italy – Venice or Florence. Our base will be Barcelona in Spain, Paris & Nice in France and Florence in Italy. We love shopping a lot especially for clothes and shoes. I want to know the best places to get them for reasonable prices. I also want to add places where we can do day trips and return to base.



    I’m not really a shopping expert so I won’t be of much help with that. I do know that all of those cities have the big chain stores (H & M, Zara, etc), and prices should be similar from city to city.

    The best cities for day trips in Italy (since you’ll be pretty busy just seeing the cities in Spain and France with only one week in each) are Florence to visit Pisa, Siena, and the Cinque Terre, not to mention the Tuscan hill towns nearby. The other place to base yourself is Sorrento, which is just south of Naples, and MUCH more pleasant. It’s ideal for day trips to Naples itself, the Pompeii ruins, the Amalfi Coast, and the island of Capri.

    By the way, if you are flying in or out of Venice you should also check fares into nearby Treviso Airport, which is usually cheaper. And the closest cheap airport to fly into near Florence is the Pisa Airport. Have a great trip. -Roger

Darren says:

Hi Roger, great site here mate. Love all the feedback. I am looking at a 3-4 week trip starting in mid July. First time to mainland Europe. Looking to fly into Paris or Rome and out again from one of these two cities.
I noticed you mentioned that about 60 euros a day is about right for France when it comes to accommodation and food, what would you suggest it would be for Spain and Italy? Looking at cheap-mid range hostels and the occasional evening out, not dirt cheap but certainly still on a budget? Is 60 euros per day manageable for France, Spain & Italy?

I was also wondering is it safe to wait until arriving in Paris, stay a few days and then figure out train passes over there to move across the region or is it best to pre-purchase?

Thanks for your help.



    Thanks. This site is actually based on the budget information for each of these cities and countries, so I invite you to have a closer look at any of the City pages like this one for Barcelona or this one for Rome. I’m not sure which €60/day reference for France you are referring to, but that would definitely be for a hostel bunk and “budget” meal choices for the most part. More specific information can be found on the Europe Backpacker Index, which tallies up the typical costs for backpacker visits to 56 different European cities. That total also includes transportation, attractions, and some entertainment into a daily budget, and it’s all broken down by city.

    You’ll notice that the typical costs for Paris are quite high, yet the rest of France is a bit cheaper. The same is true in Rome, with the rest of Italy (except Venice) being more affordable. Barcelona and Madrid are pretty similar. I think those other pages will answer all of your questions, but feel free to follow up if you have more.

    The train tickets issue is another large and complicated one. I have long articles about whether a Eurail Pass makes sense for you, and how and when to buy train tickets online in advance. Long story short, you can’t buy a rail pass once you arrive in Europe, and buying individual tickets bought on travel day are usually very expensive. You might want to buy a Eurail Pass, or at least buy a few train tickets online in advance. I’m happy to help you sort that out if you still have questions. Best of luck. -Roger

Timmy says:

We are planning a trip to southern France and northern Italy this upcoming October and would like your advice. We are planning a 14 day trip, and will probably fly into Nice/Marseille and fly out from Milan or Rome. How many cities can we visit ( we really do like to explore and enjoy the cities rather than just ‘visit’ them). We were thinking of basing ourselves in Cannes and then maybe Genoa and Florence. We would really love to see Provence, Nice, Monaco, Cinque Terre, Florence, etc… Also, what do you suggest is best/most practical means to travel between these cities (train vs. car rental).
Any help would be much appreciated. Love you articles.



    In my opinion, you can experience the main highlights of most cities in 3 nights, or perhaps 4 nights for large cities like Paris or London, or Rome even. So if I were you I’d shoot for 4 or 5 cities if you have 14 days to work with. For smaller cities like Venice or even Florence, you can really get a feel for the main highlights in 1 or 2 nights, as long as you have most of the day for sightseeing.

    So first off, I’d recommend basing yourself in Nice, probably at one of the hotels near the train station. Nice is a large beach town with great museums and an abundance of hotels, while Cannes is much smaller and hotels tend to be far more expensive. Also, Cannes has a nice shopping district and a sandy beach (unlike the pebble beach in Nice), but otherwise there isn’t much to see or do there. From Nice you can also visit Monaco in only about 20 minutes, and it actually has far more to see and do compared to Cannes (although hotels are even more expensive). You can have a good visit to all 3 cities in only 3 nights because Cannes and Monaco are only about 20 minutes from Nice by train and each is small enough to appreciate in half a day.

    If you want to spend time exploring Provence then it would mean extra days, and unfortunately I have little experience there myself so you’ll be best off getting advice on that elsewhere.

    Once in Italy, you might want to stay for a day or two in Genoa, although it’s not really known as a top tourist town. From there you could head into the Cinque Terre for maybe two nights or just visit by train during the day. The Cinque Terre towns are scenic and a pleasant look into simple Italian village life, but the main things to do there are hike between the towns on a hillside trail, or sit on the beach, and in October I don’t think it’ll be beach weather there. The town of Vernazza is the most photogenic and you can do a nice visit in only a day or two.

    After that I think you’d be best of basing yourself in Florence. Not only is Florence a major tourist city on its own, but it’s close enough to Pisa and Siena for efficient day trips, not to mention the various Tuscan hill towns nearby.

    For this type if trip you’ll definitely want to focus on trains, and the individual tickets within Italy are reasonably priced (and even cheaper if you buy online in advance). However, if you want to explore Provence or other more rural regions in the area you might want to rent a car for that part at least. Generally speaking, if you are going city to city then trains are the best choice because parking is difficult and expensive anywhere near the cities. But if you want to visit wineries or small towns and this sort of thing, a car can be great because parking is almost never an issue and you can go a lot of places that the trains don’t go.

    Let me know if this helps and I’ll be happy to try to offer more specific advice as your planning is coming together. -Roger

hsharma2015 says:

Hi Roger,
What a great site here. Loved the way you have penned down everything. I would really appreciate if you could help me with my itinerary. In total we have 12 days. We are planning to go to Paris-Nice-Pisa-Florence. Now can you suggest on the following:
1. how many nights should we spend at each place?
2. What day trips to nearby places we can make?
3. Do you suggest adding some more places like venice/marseille etc etc.
4. How best we can make it most economical(any tips)?

Waiting for your response.




    Thank you for the kind words. I’ll be happy to try to help.

    1. In 12 days I’d spend 4 nights in Paris, 3 nights in Nice, 1 night in Venice, and the remaining 4 nights in Florence. Pisa is actually an easy day-trip from Florence and it takes about an hour each way. You can take a bus tour that takes you directly to the Field of Miracles (where the Leaning Tower is located), or you can take a train to the main Pisa train station or even the Pisa S. Rossore train station which is much closer to the Tower. It will be easy to choose and book that once you are in Florence. The rest of Pisa isn’t too interesting or tourist-friendly, so it’s better as a day trip.

    2. In Paris there are obviously many good day trips, but the most popular one is to the Versailles Palace, which is about 45 minutes outside of town, and easy to reach by RER commuter train.

    The best thing about Nice is that, in addition to being an interesting destination on its own, it’s only about 20 minutes by train from Cannes (to the west) and Monaco (to the east). If you stay near the train station (which is where many budget hotels are located) it will be easy to do both trips, even on the same day if you like. Of the two, Monaco is far more dramatic and interesting, and you can see most of it in only a few hours. Cannes is also nice and quite posh, but there aren’t any checklist sights there so it’s mostly about strolling through an upscale and traditional French beach-resort town.

    3. Marseille is a big city without many notable attractions so most visitors skip it. Venice is amazing and absolutely worth a short stay, although it’s a bit out of the way. The train from Nice to Venice takes a bit over 7 hours (including a change of trains in Milan), so you’ll want to get an early start. Venice is also insanely crowded during the middle of the day so the trick is to do most of your sightseeing after about 5pm when the day-trippers get back on their tour buses, and the following morning before the new ones have arrived again. Venice is very quiet at night and in the morning, and it can feel magical. During the day it’s frustrating, so a one-night stop works well as long as you get there by 5pm or so. It’s also small enough that you can see most of it in only a few hours as well.

    Other popular day trips from Florence are to Siena, which is about an hour away by train, or to various Tuscan hill towns in the greater Florence area.

    By the way, the “Big 3” in Italy are Rome, Venice, and Florence, and Rome is definitely one of the world’s top cities for sightseeing and culture. If you were to add another stop I’d suggest 2 nights in Rome, unless you’ve been there already or plan on seeing it another time.

    4. How to travel in Europe on a budget is a huge subject and I’d be happy to help you with any specific parts of it. But my first tip for you is to travel between cities by train, and buy all of your long-distance tickets online as early as possible (3 months if you can) for the lowest fares. That article explains how to do it with links to the official rail websites of each country.

    If you have any other questions about any of this, feel free to follow up below. The other big spending categories are obviously hotels, food, and attractions, and advice on those things tends to be personal because we all have different budgets and preferences. Bon voyage. -Roger

      Hs says:

      Hey Roger,
      Thankyou so much for your quick response.
      I really liked your suggestions.
      Could you please tell me how should we travel from nice to italy. I mean from nice do we first go to florence or venice. We are arriving to and departing from Paris. So it should be Paris-Nice-Venice-Florence-Paris or Paris-Nice-Florence-venice-Paris. Also what is the best and most economical way to travel between Nice and Venice/Florence.




        You’ll want to do almost all of your travel by train, except the last bit of getting back to Paris. So take a train from Paris to Nice to Venice to Florence and then fly back from Florence (or nearby Pisa, which usually has lower fares) to Paris. It would take about 10 or 11 hours by train from Florence or Venice to Paris and it would all be backtracking. The train would also almost certainly be more expensive than flying. You could actually go from Nice to Florence and then to Venice before flying back to Paris either from the Venice Airport or nearby Treviso, which usually has lower fares. In either case you’d go from Nice to Milan and then change trains to Florence or Venice, and that whole trip will take a bit over 7 hours whichever way you go. Most of that train ride is pretty scenic as well.

        The trains between Venice and Florence take only about 2 hours and are fairly cheap. Again, the sooner you buy the train rides and the flight, the cheaper they will be. Check the info and links in the article I linked to before for details. Let me know if you have more questions and have a great trip. -Roger

Ron Mark says:

Hay Roger,

I’m planning two week in Italy and the information you have shared has really helped and set me on the right corse. My question is will visiting Italy the first two weeks of November be a not so good experience? I have read mixed reviews about the cold weather and the rain. What’s your suggestions? Thanks



    Always happy to hear that this information is helpful. As for November in Italy, I actually spent most of last November touring around the country and the weather was very pleasant. Actually, I spent two days in Lake Como and it rained for about one and a half of those days, but I think I only had one or two rainy days in the following 3 weeks. So even though November is one of the rainier months in Italy, it’s still fairly dry by most standards.

    One reason I went last November was that the temperatures are still reasonably warm and there are very few other tourists. So as long as I was willing to buy a cheap umbrella and/or keep an eye on the weather forecast, it was close to perfect. January and February do get quite chilly in Italy so I prefer not to visit places like that in “deep winter.” I hope this helps and have a great trip. -Roger

Sarah says:

Hi Roger,

Thanks so much for all the information posted on you website!

I’m hoping you can help me plan a very last minute trip to France and Italy. We’ll be arriving and departing from Paris. Total trip length is 14 nights and we’ll be travelling in August. It’s our first time in France but we’ve previously travelled to Italy, seeing Rome and Florence. We’d like to explore Paris for at least a few nights but would also like to
travel south to Nice and explore nearby St. Tropez, Cannes, Antibes and Monaco. We’d
like to somehow incorporate some parts in Italy, but would like to minimize the travel time and make it worthwhile and not too expensive given we only have a couple of weeks. Can we include Venice into the itinerary without having to spend too much time on the train? We’ve considered Milan but as you’ve said on your website, it’s not much of a tourist spot. We’ve also considered Genoa but I doubt we’ll find somewhere nice to stay at this time of year. Should we limit to France and make it a sightseeing vacation but also somewhat relaxing? Or should we somehow incorporate Venice, and would it be worth it? Any suggestions?




    I’m sure your trip will be great, but some of is going to be challenging during the month of August. The thing is, half the people in France have all of August off work, and huge numbers of them try to spend most of the month on a beach. It’s like going to Hawaii or the Caribbean over Christmas week. Every hotel will be full and room rates are close to double what they are in May or September.

    So if I were you I’d check hotel prices and availability in the places you might be going to. It might be just fine and obviously it’s the best weather of the year in that area, but you might also discover that mediocre hotels are charging more than you think is worth it, so perhaps there are other places to consider.

    Again, it’s mostly the beach towns that attract the local holiday crowd, so most of your non-beach sightseeing should be just fine. And both France and Italy are packed with non-beach destinations that are excellent, so you might want to mix more of those in.

    For the French Riviera you’ll almost certainly want to just base yourself in Nice, which has by far the best tourist infrastructure in that area. It has hundreds of hotels in all price levels, including some good value places near the train station. From the Nice station it’s about 22 minutes to Cannes, 12 minutes to Antibes, and 20 minutes the other direction to Monaco. St. Tropez is maybe an hour away, and aside from the famous name I don’t know if it’s worth a visit. You’ll get an excellent look at the posh French resort life in those other closer towns.

    Everyone loves Venice and you will too when you make it there. From Nice it takes about 7.5 hours to Venice by train, the first 5 hours of that is getting to Milan for a train change. Needless to say, it’s up to you whether that much time on the train is worth it. Venice is always crowded and in August it can be ridiculous. I don’t think Genoa would be a great choice that time of year. I’ve only passed through it and parts of it are a bit rough. I’ve heard that it can be interesting, although I’d say there are probably 10 to 15 places in Italy that are higher on that list.

    So you’ll obviously want to spend time in Paris, I’d recommend 4 nights if you can spare them. And a few days in Nice will also be wonderful, even if it’s more crowded and expensive than other times of the year. Aside from those you might concentrate more on non-beach France. I haven’t explored enough of it since a childhood visit to confidently give advice, but I do know that France is packed with excellent vacation options including wine country to historic towns like Avignon to Mont Saint-Michel and much more. If you visited some of the wine regions and smaller towns you might be better off renting a car for that part of your trip (although not for Paris or Nice).

    Hopefully this is helpful. I’ve been all over Europe yet my experience within France has been a bit limited so it’s on my list for next year. Until then, you’ll be able to find better information at Rick Steves site or wikitravel or elsewhere. Best of luck and bon voyage. -Roger

Barbara says:

Thank you for the very informational article. My husband and I are going to travel around France and Italy. We are deciding between the spring and fall. We don’t want it to be too cold or rainy but also not too hot. I would like to be able to avoid the crowded months as much as possible too. What would you suggestion be for the best month to visit?
Thank you



    For the France and Italy part of Europe, my favorite months to visit are May, June, September, and October. Before May it can be chilly, although mid April is usually okay. July and August are the hottest months and the most crowded by far in the beach areas, not to mention the most expensive months to visit. But starting again in September it cools off and the crowds thin out quickly. I even spent much of last November in Italy and it was still warm enough with only a few days of rain. Have a great trip. -Roger

GIna G says:

Hi Roger,

Glad that my husband found this site of yours which is very helpful for us first timers to travel in Europe.
My husband and I will be travelling to Paris on the 14th Sept from Doha. Will arrive in Paris on the 15th. Return flight on the 24th. 9 days to be exact. We wanted to stay in Paris for 4 days then to Interlaken, Venice and Rome. Could you please give us a good itinerary for our trip. Your uggestions is pretty needed for this trip. Many Thanks in advance for your help.


    Gina G,

    Nine days is pretty tight for what you have in mind, especially if you are only allowing 5 days for Interlaken, Venice, and Rome. I generally recommend a minimum stay of 3 nights in Rome because it’s a huge city that is packed with worthwhile sights (much like Paris). That said, you could pull it off if you don’t mind moving quickly for most of your trip. Here’s how you’d do it:

    Arrive in Paris on 14 September for 4 nights

    Depart Paris in the morning of 18 September for the 5-hour train ride to Interlaken.

    Spend 2 nights in Interlaken. I highly recommend staying in Gimmelwald, which is explained with your other choices in this article about where to go in Switzerland.

    Depart Interlaken early in the morning of 20 September for the 6.5-hour train ride to Venice. This is one of the most beautiful train rides in Europe, by the way.

    Spend about 22 hours in Venice, departing midday on 21 September. Venice is compact enough that you can see most of it in one day, and as I explain in the article above, the best times to explore are the evenings and early mornings before it gets really crowded again.

    Take a train on 21 September from Venice to Rome (3 hours 23 minutes) and stay there until 24 September. That will be long enough for you to see the main sights, but you’ll have to fly back to Paris for your flight back to Doha, unless you can book a flight from Rome directly to Doha instead.

    Buy all of your train tickets as soon as possible for the best fares. For Interlaken you’ll want to go into the Interlaken Ost train station, unless you are content to just stay in Interlaken itself.

    This should help you get things figured out. Let me know if you have any questions. -Roger

GIna G says:

Hi Roger,

Thanks for all your suggestions. We cannot adjust our holiday leave that’s why we are on a tight schedule. Just wondering, if you are on a 9 days holiday, starting point in Paris – what would be the other placed that you will visit on a tight budget.
Many Thanks.


Katherine says:

Hi Roger,

I love your article! I am planning my honeymoon with my fiancé and we based our itinerary on your suggestions. I love Paris, so I booked a couple of extra days there. My fiancé has never been there and I want to show him all of my favourite places.

I think I am getting to the end of ironing out the schedule so that we can start booking some hotels, but I am stuck with one little quandary. Let me start by laying out what I’ve got:

Paris (5 nights) – must get in all the sights and spend one full day at Versailles. The first day will be a half day only due to travel.
Venice (2 nights) – going to take a plane in from Paris to save some time, as you mentioned, you can see everything in 24 hours.
Florence (4 nights) – train from Venice. I heard we’ll want to do a couple day trips to some hill towns? Any suggestions here? How should we fill our days?
Sorrento (3 nights) – We want to go to Pompeii, spend a little time in Naples, head to the Amalfi coast. But we know we could also trek to Mount Vesuvius and go to Capri if we have more time. Where should we prioritize?
Rome (4 nights, and one morning before leaving) – I know this city will keep us busy.

So my question is about Florence, Sorrento and Rome. I think Rome deserves 4 days, the first will be taken up by travelling in from Sorrento, and the last (5th) day will be taken in part with leaving for back home.
Between Florence and Sorrento, we are splitting 7 days. Which deserves a bit more time? It seems that Sorrento has more to offer in its immediate surrounding, but I may be ignorant as to what Florence has to offer. Which should get 4 days versus 3? Florence, or Sorrento? Do you have some suggestions for activities in Florence and surrounding area?

I am excited to hear your advice!





    Thank you. I’ll try to answer your questions in the order they came up.

    Florence itself is loaded with interesting sights and museums, so 3 days there will be easy to fill with just the stuff you want to see. Beyond that you can take half a day for a trip to Pisa and back. It’s about an hour away by bus or train, and really only the Field of Miracles (where the Leaning Tower is) is worth focusing on. You could go see it yourself or book a bus tour from Florence. And you could even spend a day going to the Cinque Terre if you liked, and still easily be back in Florence for dinner. The city of Siena is also only about an hour away. It’s a really interesting place, but it’s a long walk from the train station to the center of town, so it’s hard to see in a hurry.

    I’ve not visited any of those Tuscan hill towns myself, but I’ve seen them on travel shows and read about many of them. For something like this I really trust Rick Steves’ advice. Google his name and ‘Tuscany hill towns’ and you’ll find a really good article telling you about the best options.

    It’s tough to prioritize in Sorrento because there are 4 solid days worth of nearby day trips (including the ones you mentioned) and the town of Sorrento itself is really pleasant, not to mention very visitor friendly. For sure see Pompeii and spend half a day in Naples. You can take the public bus (leaves in front of the train station) to Positano in a bit over an hour, and walking around there for a couple hours will give you a good look at the Amalfi Coast, so that can also be half a day. You’ll just have to choose the things that sound most interesting to you.

    I think if you did 3 nights in Florence you’d be able to see the main sights and also do a quick trip to Pisa if you wanted. And if that would give you 4 nights in Sorrento, you’d still have to rush around a bit to see the things on your list in that area. So I vote for the extra day in Sorrento, especially if you want to do Vesuvius.

    It looks like you’ve done a lot of research and I think your itinerary looks well balanced and not rushed. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

      Katherine says:

      Thanks so much Roger! I found an awesome place in Sorrento on airbnb that is right by the water, only a couple steps from the ferry. I am definitely going to follow your advice and do the fourth day in Sorrento. It sounds like it might be a bit like a relaxing tropical vacation in the middle of an otherwise “city-centric” holiday.

      I read from one vacationer review that she got off the train in Naples form her previous destination, and instead of taking the train to Sorrento, she took a quick cab to the ferry in Naples to Sorrento. Apparently it was more relaxing than the train ride. Which method would you suggest a first time visitor to do? I heard the train wasn’t the safest, considering pickpockets.

      I definitely have been researching a lot, and we’re only a couple weeks into the planning. It’s a blast! I really appreciate your input and advise.

      Thank you again!





        Yes, you’ll find Sorrento to be wonderfully low key compared to all of your other stops, and it’s also a bit easier because most people you’ll meet speak some English.

        When I was in Sorrento I took the Circumvesuvia train back and forth over and over and it looked generally safe to me, but I had also heard about possible pickpockets so I was always on guard, which can be a bit exhausting. And when I was there the ferries were on the off-season schedule so the train was much faster for me. Also, the ferry port in Naples isn’t all that close to the train station, so it isn’t a super cheap taxi ride. All of that said, at least the first time you get there with all of your luggage and such, I think the ferry is a wise idea and it should be very scenic.

        When you go to Pompeii and Vesuvius you’ll be taking that Circumvesuvia train, and you’ll obviously leave most of your stuff in your room so it will be easier to keep safe. In general I think the warnings about Naples are a bit overstated and you really won’t feel unsafe while you are there. Still, I only spent time in Naples during the day, so maybe it’s a bit more frightening at night. Have a great trip and let me know if you have other questions. -Roger

Miri says:

Hi Roger,

All the information on this site is amazing, thank you!!! My husband and I are planning our first trip to Europe in May/June 16.
We are planning on visiting Germany, Italy and France.
We are trying to plan a trip that is not too rushed and we would like to try and limit the travelling time between each city (if that makes sense).
We have 3 to 4 weeks to play with so we are thinking:

Berlin 3 nights
Munich 4 nights (inc Rothenburg ob der Tauber/Roma tic Rd & visiting Neuschwanstein in Fussen)
Paris 4 nights
Nice 3 nights (inc 1 day to Monaco & Cannes)
Milan 1 night
Verona 1 night
Venice 3 nights (inc 1 day to visit Murano-Burano)
Florence 4 nights (inc 1 day trip to Pisa & Tuscany Countryside/Chanti)
Rome 4 nights

Do you think the amount of evenings in each city is enough?

Also we are not sure where we should go first and what would be the best way to travel between these cities?

Should we change anything?

We we also thinking of stopping off in Prague and Innsbruck to begin with but we are not sure if this would work?

Would love to hear your thoughts!!

Thanking you in advance! :)

Kind Regards,



    I’m always glad to hear that this stuff helps. I think your itinerary looks nearly perfect. Three nights in Venice is a pretty long stay for such a small and crowded place, but it’s a magical city, especially in the early mornings and evenings, so you won’t get bored.

    I think the number of nights you have allocated is ideal all the way through. You could enjoy Florence and/or Rome in 3 nights, so giving them each 4 nights will allow you to do side trips and go at a leisurely pace. Consider a side trip from Rome to Naples and Pompeii if those interest you.

    You are definitely want to do all of these journeys by train. There are no Eurail Passes that would be good value for you on this trip, so you are going to want to buy the tickets online as far in advance (up to 3 months) as you can for the best fares. If you book that early you’ll be surprised at how cheap those tickets will be, but if you were to buy the tickets as you went you’d be shocked at how expensive they are. Once you get to Italy the fares are cheaper and buying way in advance isn’t as critical. Tickets for day trips to Pisa and such will also be cheap, even if you buy them on travel day.

    If you have time to wedge Prague in between Berlin and Munich, I’d do it. Prague is a gorgeous and interesting city that is very different from all the others on your list.

    Innsbruck is mainly a skiing and snowboarding town and there isn’t much to see for a summer tourist. However, Salzburg is wonderful and highly recommended if you can squeeze two nights in there.

    I’m sure this is going to be a great trip and I can see that you’ve planned well. Let me know if you have any other questions as your trip approaches. -Roger

      Miri says:

      Hi Roger,

      Thank you so much for taking the time to reply to my queries and for your suggestions, really appreciate it! :)

      Thanks again!!

      Kind Regards,
      Miri :)

Jennifer says:

Hi Roger, what a wealth of information you are! Planning a trip from Barcelona to french riviera (Nice etc) along to Genoa and down to Amalfi Coast (Sorrento as you recommend as our base). We would like to do this trip in around 2 to 3 weeks but not sure the best way to do it. Would a cruise be any good along here? Or do you think eurorail or hiring a car. Want to stop at Nice, Monte Carlo, Genoa, La Spezia and down to Amalfi Coast. We are hoping do go around June/July 2016. Regards, Jennifer



    I’m always happy to hear that this information helps. A cruise through this area would certainly be nice, but if the region really interests you then I’d do it by land for sure. As you probably know, a cruise only allows you about 8 to 10 hours in each stop, which is about enough time for a quick tour and lunch at a restaurant large enough to handle groups. In other words, it’s far better than NOT visiting, but not a good substitute for a land visit.

    As for trains versus a rental car, the trains will provide a much better experience and will probably be cheaper unless you are going with 4 or 5 people. Even then, driving from city to city in Europe is stressful and challenging. Parking is expensive and difficult, so most drivers end up staying in hotels with parking lots at the edges of cities.

    If you take trains you go from city center to city center and there is virtually no stress. The train stations are mostly near the main city squares, so you’ll have a great choice of hotels within a reasonable walk of all the train stations. It’s really a wonderful feeling to walk off a train and then 10 minutes later be checked into a room at a nice hotel in the center of town, ready for sightseeing.

    Fortunately, the train fares in Italy are quite cheap, and even cheaper if you buy online in advance from the official site. The fares in Spain and France are a bit more expensive, although still pretty cheap if you buy at least a couple weeks in advance. I hope this helps, and feel free to ask more questions if you have them. -Roger

Janet says:

Hi Roger!

Thank you so much for your detailed guide, this is by far the most helpful site we’ve come across as we plan our elopement and honeymoon in Europe this spring (Apr 23 – May 10). We will be traveling from the US to Italy for 12 nights – getting married in Ravello – and then ending our trip in Paris for 4 nights. We are thinking about bringing our dog with us as we very much want him to be a part of our wedding. He is a well-trained 2 y/o 18lb, westie.

This is our preliminary itinerary:
Fly into Naples…
Sorrento – 1 night
Ravello/day trips to Positano, Amalfi Coast – 5 nights
Rome – 3 nights
Florence/day trip to Siena – 3 nights
Paris – 4 nights

What do you think of this itinerary for our first trip to Europe? What are your thoughts on traveling with our dog? Is it quite easy to travel with a dog via train/plane in Europe? He travels with us from NY to LA domestically all the time. Are restaurants and public tourist spots pet-friendly?

Any advice or feedback would be greatly appreciated! We look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Thanks very much!


    Janet & Gary,

    I’m very happy to hear that this information has been useful. I think your itinerary looks very good, and starting in Sorrento will make your first day somewhat stress-free because so many people speak English there. I wouldn’t recommend spending so much time on the Amalfi Coast to a normal visitor, but if that’s where the wedding house and main group will be then I’m sure it will be a wonderful 5 days.

    Three nights in Rome is ideal because it’s long enough to see the main things and short enough that you won’t get too frustrated by then. Three nights in Florence is also ideal, especially with a day trip. The city of Siena is much nicer and more interesting than Pisa (the other easy day trip from Florence), but the Leaning Tower is still the more spectacular sight. Speaking of Pisa, you may want to fly from Florence to Paris because the train trip is quite long and fairly expensive. The airport in Pisa has the lowest fares in that area. And of course 4 nights in Paris is perfect for a first visit, and amazing for a honeymoon couple.

    It’s hard for me to comment on the dog situation because I’ve never traveled with one myself. If I were you I’d google things like ‘traveling with dogs in Europe’ or Italy, and see what people are saying. My guess is that you should be fine, although you might have to choose hotels and some restaurants carefully because I don’t think they all allow them. In general I’ve noticed that Europe is quite pet friendly, but you don’t see too many dogs on the streets of the larger cities. For example, when I visit small towns I sometimes see that half of the people in the pub have their dog at their feet, but I don’t see many dogs in bars or restaurants in big cities. I’m sure there are pet owning travelers who have written extensively about this. Best of luck with all of it, and congrats in advance. -Roger


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