The Ultimate cheap European itinerary for 2 to 4 weeks

Reichstag BerlinOne problem that nearly everyone faces when choosing European cities to visit is that the most popular ones also tend to be the most expensive. Many people start with London only to discover that it feels like they are being pick-pocketed all day because trivial-sounding expenses add up so quickly.

Paris and Rome are almost as bad when it comes to your budget, so once you've hit the highlights you might be in the mood to travel through places that are wonderful and relatively cheap at the same time.

With that in mind we've created a perfect itinerary for those who want to spend between 2 and 4 weeks in Europe on something of a modest budget. There are cheaper cities for sure, but most of the cheapest ones are quite remote and may not be as memorable as the ones we've included below. Check the European Backpacker Index to see all major cities ranked by price, and that the ones below are all in the top group.

Note: This article was written in 2012, and revised and expanded in 2016.

Best four cheap European cities to visit together

  • Berlin, Germany
  • Prague, Czech Republic
  • Budapest, Hungary
  • Krakow, Poland

Each of the cities listed above is strong enough to be the highlight of almost any trip, and fortunately they are relatively close together so they work really well as a group. On the map they sort of form a box, so skipping one is easy, and there are plenty of side stops and trips possible in between for shorter or longer stays.

A version of this itinerary can also be found on my new best Europe itineraries for first-time visitors article.

Best cheap and gorgeous small town to add to your trip

  • Český Krumlov, Czech Republic

You may not yet have heard of Český Krumlov, but either way you are in for a treat if you can add 2 or 3 nights to your trip. It's located just 3 hours south of Prague by bus or train, and it's an excellent contrast to the large cities on the list. Better still, it's incredibly cheap, and a favorite of almost all who visit.

Getting there and back

Krakow CathedralWhile none of these cities is among the cheapest in Europe to fly into, at least 3 of them have cheap enough flights that it's worth flying directly into one of them.

Of the four cities, Berlin will have the cheapest inbound flights from almost anywhere, and Krakow usually only has cheap flights from within Europe. So your best bet is to check airfares from your city to each of these four, and fly into the cheapest of them.

In many cases you can save the most money by buying a one-way ticket into one of them and a one-way ticket back out of another of them, but you have to price them out to see. Keep in mind that if you buy a round-trip ticket it means most of a day and about US$50 to $70 to get back to that first city, so an “open jaw” ticket might still be a better deal even if it's US$100 more.

Getting between the cities

There's little doubt that the most enjoyable way to get between these cities (and most European cities) is by train, but you do have two other main options to consider, namely, flights and buses.


With the exception of Berlin and Prague, which are about 5 hours apart, these cities are about 7 to 10 hours apart by train, and therefore perfect for overnight journeys. If you are the type who sleeps well enough on trains, this method is ideal because you save a night in a hotel or hostel, and you still have all day to see the sights. Taking daytime trains obviously means more scenery, but some of them are quite a bit more expensive than the night trains.


If you can get a cheap train fare at a time that works well for you then it's probably best to avoid all the hassles of flying and security and airport transportation. But if the train schedule doesn't look great, it's worth checking for low-cost flights between them. Some don't appear on the aggragator sites so it's worth checking to see all your options in one place.


Rarely discussed in most circles, many don't even know that most European cities have comfortable and cheap long-distance bus service between them. They aren't as comfortable as trains, but often they are astonishingly cheap, especially if you find a promotional price. Check the Eurolines website and if you are skilled or patient enough to navigate its quirks, you might find a great deal on a bus that takes about the same time as a train.

Berlin, Germany

2016 Backpacker Index: US$60.78/day

Berlin MitteBerlin isn't such an obvious tourist city, but it's absolutely the kind of place where either you love it, or you've never been there. Everyone can find something to enjoy about it, partly because it's especially trendy and dynamic lately as a new hub of European and world culture, picking up where London and Paris left off.

One challenge is that Berlin is a huge and spread-out city, so it's important to choose where you stay wisely. Most budget travelers will prefer the former East Berlin section around Mitte and Prenzlauer Berg, which is where most hostels are as well as the best and cheapest nightlife and shopping. Check our list of recommended cheap Berlin hotels for a place to start.

What to see and do in Berlin

Start with the Berlin Free Walking Tour on your first morning, and you'll have enough ideas for what to do for the rest of your stay from that alone. Being honest, the Reichstag (capital building) is a bit disappointing from the inside, although the city does have a handful of great museums clustered together that appeal to many.

But mainly Berlin is about exploring the weird and funky neighborhoods for food, shopping, and nightlife. Fortunately, most of it is quite cheap as well.

Prague, Czech Republic

2016 Backpacker Index: US$41.77/day

Prague Charles viewYou may not realize that most large cities in this part of Europe were practically flattened during WWII and then rebuilt just after. Fortunately, Prague is one where the historic center survived mostly intact, and it remains one of the continent's most beautiful and interesting. The downside is that the city center is almost always packed with other tourists, so you might have to work around them a bit.

Prague is also fairly compact, with most things walking distance from each other. The city is also quite cheap still, at least compared to Western Europe, although hotel prices can seem high if you want to stay in the middle. Check our list of recommended cheap Prague hotels for some really good ones only a quick and cheap tram ride away.

What to see and do in Prague

Aside from the famous clock in the town square, Prague has a few other very worthwhile checklist attractions. The Prague Castle is one of the largest and most incredible in Europe, and the Charles Bridge and its statues feels like you should have to pay to cross it.

There is plenty more to fill a few days, plus you can catch a cheap classical concert in one of the many venues offering them, or just indulge in cheap and excellent beer like everyone else.

Budapest, Hungary

2016 Backpacker Index: US$30.99/day

Budapest RiverviewThough it's in the heart of part of Europe that isn't known for being well off, Budapest is quite a grand city that makes it feel rather rich. Still, it's among the cheapest European cities, and it offers very good value. Even if the castle up on the Buda side of the river isn't a stunner, and that the parliament building on the Pest side is a copy of the one in London, this is an attractive city with a feel of its own.

Budapest is also compact enough that budget travelers can stay in the cheap hotels and hostels a bit inland on the Pest side, and still walk everywhere while sightseeing. The Free Budapest Walking Tour covers highlights on both sides, and is a great introduction.

What to see and do in Budapest

During daylight hours, Budapest has the standard selection of munuments and museums in addition to its castle complex, but separates itself from other big cities with its abundant hot springs and spas. Tourists can easily mix with locals and take a dip at a modest fee in one of the unique facilities spread around town.

At night, however, Budapest really comes into its own, with some of the most interesting nightlife in Europe. Head for what are known as “ruin pubs” on the Pest side in the old Jewish Quarter to quaff cheap drinks in converted courtyards that each has its own weird vibe.

Krakow, Poland

2016 Backpacker Index: US$24.71/day

Krakow SquareWhen you hear that Krakow is among the very cheapest cities in Europe you might not expect much. But in reality, Krakow is also one of Europe's loveliest and most pleasant cities, with quite a lot to do. At its center you'll find about 30 square blocks of a historic medieval town, surrounded by a peaceful park, and with an enormous cafe-lined town square at its heart.

For those who like hearty portions of meats and sausages, Krakow is wonderful, but there are also many Italian and other international cuisines, including many vegetarian options, so something for everyone. Hotels just on or near the central square are reasonable, but you can stay for a lot less by going a few blocks away.

What to see and do in Krakow

As in many other cities, taking the Krakow Free Walking Tour is a great way to get oriented on your first day so you'll know what you want to explore more deeply. You can also cover many of the main central sights on that tour, which leaves time for day trips and hanging out. Sad though it may be, a half-day trip to nearby Auschwitz is something you'll never forget, and there is a fun salt mine attraction not far away as well.

In the evening you'll probably find out why Krakow is very popular with the weekend party and stag-do crowds. You can sip affordable wine at one of the cafes on the square, but it might be more fun to do a pub crawl through the varied drinking establishments in the nearby Jewish Quarter. It's easy to find a .5L beer for around US$1.50, so getting carried away is common.

Český Krumlov, Czech Republic

2016 Backpacker Index: US$31.77/day

CeskyKrumlov395With a population of only about 13,000 people, Český Krumlov will be an extremely welcome stop in between Prague and Budapest, or Prague and Vienna or Salzburg. This well preserved town was forgotten and almost abandoned in the later years of Communism, and it wasn't rediscovered and renovated until well into the 1990s. Since it's still a relative newcomer to the tourist scene, it isn't yet “touristy” even though it's very tourist friendly.

There are almost no chain hotels or restaurants of any kind, so staying here will be a very local experience. Better still, hotels and food here are much cheaper than even in Prague, so the value is outstanding. The historic town center is small enough to walk through in less than 10 minutes, yet you can still get nice hotels in its heart starting at around US$50 per night. If you are willing to stay a few blocks away from the center, it's even cheaper.

What to see and do in Český Krumlov

Český Krumlov does have an impressive castle perched above the compact town center, and you'll definitely want to tour at least part of it. But really the main reason to visit the town is to slow down and appreciate being outside of Europe's large cities for 2 or 3 days. Those other four cities are always busy and crowded, while this one is gentle and lovely, although you will be surrounded by quite a few other tourists.

As with the other cities on the list, there is a highly recommended free walking tour in Český Krumlov, which is a great place to start. That tour will also show you and explain all of the other worthwhile nearby sights, but I won't blame you if you just prefer to grab a seat at one of the cheap restaurants with outdoor seating on the main square, and relax over a few delicious and inexpensive beers for a while.

Additional photo credits: Berlin by Philippe AMIOT on Flickr, Prague by POldi♬24 on Flickr

169 Responses to “The Ultimate cheap European itinerary for 2 to 4 weeks”

Maulik Shah says:


I am from India
Reading this post, am inspired to take this up. This will be my first trip outisde of the Indian subcontinent. Am planning this trip for a 12-14 day itinerary around end March. Apart from these 4, would you recommend any others – Can you suggest the itinerary?

What would the weather be like? Also it’s my first Europe trip and would ideally like to include a small town or village to also get a feel of the countryside…what would be the best option here?

    Roger Wade says:


    In late March it will still be cold in most of Europe, but it will be warming up and it’s extremely unlikely that you’d be in a snow storm or freezing weather. Of course, the south will be warmer than the north.

    To add a small (and beautiful and cheap) town to this trip, I highly recommend Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic. It’s about 3 hours from Prague by express bus, and that will give you a nice look at the countryside as well. In fact, you’ll be able to enjoy the views in the countryside between all of these cities because in Europe the towns tend to be in clusters and once you get outside it’s farms and forest and meadows and all that.

    Have a great trip, and let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Maulik Shah says:

Hi Roger,

Thanks for the heads up. My final itinerary is as under
Berlin – 3 nights
Prague -3 days 2 nights (taking overnight train from prague to budapest)
Budapest – 2 nights
Salsburg/Salzkammergut – 3 nights
Vienna – 2 nights – flying out of Vienna

Need your help on the following points
1. Itinerary for 3 nights in Salskammergut – where to stay and towns to visit ?
2. Best way to get from Budapest to Salskammergut – couldnt find any overnight trains
3. Should i take a journey break at Salzburg for 1 night & do 2 nights salskammergut ? Or devote 3 nights entirely to salskammergut ?

    Roger Wade says:


    That looks like a very nice itinerary. With your questions I assume you are referring to Salzkammergut (with a z), and to be honest, I don’t know much about it other than Salzburg itself, which is wonderful. And since you know more about Salzkammergut than I do, I can’t really give you much advice. What I can say is that Salzburg itself is worth at least two days, and it will be one of the highlights of your trip. I was just there again about two months ago, and this time I actually did one of the Sound of Music bus tours, which was excellent because it takes you out to several of the most scenic areas near Salzburg.

    From Budapest to Salzburg it takes about 6 hours during the day, or 7.5 overnight. There is also one that leaves at 23:28 and arrives at 09:52, and that could work if you are content to go to Salzburg. I’m not sure where else you’d go to visit Salzkammergut. The daytime trip could be nice because the scenery is quite good.

    Sorry I can’t be of more help on Salzkammergut itself. I’ll have to research more about it. -Roger

Maulik shah says:

Thanks a ton roger…
Budapest to Salzburg I would prefer an overnight journey….however the trains I found all had changes required in the middle of the night? Any better options?
Also have booked the plus Berlin hostel based on recommendations on this site, however need some ideas for a great hostel in Prague and Budapest, location and availability of vegetarian food options being the key

    Roger Wade says:


    Yes, I’m not surprised those trains require a change in the middle of the night. In most cases they just change carriages and the travelers stay put, but for less popular journeys it can be more complicated.

    I’ll answer your Prague question under the other comment. For Budapest, you’ll want to look for a hostel as close to the river as you can afford. On the west band (Buda) it’s smaller and more touristy, so you’ll have more options on the east (Pest) side. Basically, the closer to the river, the better the location, although restaurants closer to the river are also more touristy and more expensive. The public transport system is good so you can stay nearly anywhere. This one has a good location and good reviews . -Roger

Maulik Shah says:


Loved the post about Prague. Would be in Prague on 29th March for 2 nights & plan to take the overnight train to Budapest on the 3rd night.

– How would the weather be around that time |?
– Was confused as to which area to select a hostel/hotel in ? with respect to ease of commuting/walking to major attractions.
– Between Old Town Square – Astronomical Clock Area Casino Hotel (on priceline) & New Town square Charles Square Area Casino Hotel – which would be a better place to stay ?

    Roger Wade says:


    You can get an idea about what the Prague weather will be like on the main Prague prices page. Basically, it will be cold but it shouldn’t be freezing and probably not raining either.

    Generally, hotels in the Old Town of Prague will be more expensive for what you get than in the New Town area. You can walk from the Astrological Clock to the bottom of Wenceslas Square (New Town) in less than 10 minutes, so both of those are quite central. The thing you want to avoid is staying on the outer edges of town, like behind the train station or across the river and far from the castle. That time of year you should be seeing pretty good room rates, so I think paying a bit more for a central location will pay off, especially if it’s cold and you don’t want to walk long distances. -Roger

      Maulik says:

      Thanks a ton roger….it was this article which inspired me to take this trip up…after believing all my life that Europe was always out of budget. Your comments have been most helpful.

      Have got some amazing deals at hotel trevi in the new town area Prague and Novotel Budapest on the riverfront ..both rooms at around 55-60 usd for a double room.. Intend to go ahead with that as prices of private rooms in hostels r coming to be more expensive than these

Rachel says:

Hi! I enjoyed this article! Very helpful. However, what does the price listed for every city include? When I was adding up travel expenses, hostels, and food, I was getting much more than listed. Maybe I’m looking in the wrong places? How did y’all get the listed amounts?

    Roger Wade says:


    I’m glad you found the article helpful, and you’ve reminded me that it’s very much in need of updating so I’m going to do that in the coming weeks. The numbers mentioned in the article are from our Europe Backpacker Index, which is meant to help backpackers figure out budgets. However, those numbers are based on sleeping in hostel beds and eating only in inexpensive restaurants.

    You will get more realistic daily budget numbers on our Europe 3-star Traveler Index, which has also just been updated for 2015. Thanks again for reminding me to update this article. -Roger

Ana R says:

I need help with my 3 week itinerary. My friend and I will be traveling in Europe for the very first time. We bought the Eurail
Global pass.Despite reading a lot, I am still confused about how the trains operate. My itinerary is as follow:
London-Paris:5 nights combined
Paris-Bruges:early morning or overnight train?
Bruges-Amsterdam-1n in Amsterdam?
Amsterdam-Berlin:overnight train
Berlin-Prague:day train
Prague-Pisa 1 night Praga? Overnight train to pisa.
Pisa-Rome: explore Pisa for half a day
Rome-Barcelona: spend 3-4 daysin Rome
Barcelona-Zaragoza 1 night in each Spanish city?
Zaragoza-Madrid-returning to the U.S. From Madrid
Please help me. Thank you.

    Roger Wade says:

    Ana R,

    I think your itinerary looks quite good for the most part, and I think the Global Eurail Pass will come in handy. I’m not sure what specific questions you have in mind, so I’ll just make a few comments and you can ask more questions if you still have them.

    London to Paris will be on the Eurostar train, which is a separate company and not part of Eurail. Make your reservation as early as possible for the best price. If you book through the same company where you bought the Eurail Pass, you should get about a 25% discount.

    Paris to Bruges will be a 2-hour highspeed train from Paris to Brussels and then a change of trains to a one-hour ride to Bruges. The first part will require a seat reservation, which might cost around €20 because it’s a fancy and fast train. Get that reservation as early as possible because there is a limited number of seats for Eurail pass holders. For the train to Bruges you should just be able to hop aboard with no reservation.

    For Bruges to Amsterdam you’ll take the train back to Brussels (no reservation) and then a high-speed train from there to Amsterdam in a bit over an hour.

    Amsterdam to Berlin only takes about 5.5 hours if you do it during the day, but doing it at night isn’t a bad idea because the scenery is very plain. Even with a Eurail Pass, you have to reserve a seat, couchette (small bunk), or bed in the sleeper car, and there will be a small fee. If you go during the day you can just climb aboard and find a seat for free.

    Berlin to Prague takes about 5 hours.

    Prague to Pisa is very complicated and would take 16 hours during the day and even longer at night. The trains in the Czech Republic are quite slow so you can’t get very far in a day. I’ll highly recommend breaking that trip up into two parts. First go from Prague to Salzburg, which will take a bit over 6 hours. Salzburg is a wonderful town that you’ll love. Then from Salzburg to Pisa it will take about 10 hours during the day, or a bit longer at night, so it’s a good journey length.

    From Pisa to Rome only takes a couple hours.

    Rome to Barcelona is also a long and complicated journey and it would take about 24 hours if you did it in one go. The problem is that the trains that run along the southern coast of France aren’t fast and the changes are complicated. If you can fly, it would obviously be very fast and also cheap. But if you wanted to do it by train you’d be better off stopping in Nice for the night and going to Barcelona the following day.

    Barcelona and Madrid are both huge and wonderful cities, and I recommend 3 nights in each. Zaragoza is a large city but not really known for tourist destinations, so I’d skip it and just take the 3-hour high-speed train from Barcelona to Madrid. You’ll need a reservation for that one as well.

    Hopefully this helps. Let me know if you have other questions. -Roger

Ana R says:

Hi again,
thanks so much for replying. It helps a lot to get some advice. Planning this trip has been more stressful than I thought LOL.We have the Eurail Global Pass (10 days flexi) I guess my trouble is putting things together as it takes lots of research IMO. if you have never done it before. And also because my friend is interested in seeing her dreamed places as well.
So, we have decided to taken Bruges off the list and this is what we have so far.Trip is from Sept.29-Oct.21
London-2 nights-Already got the Eurostar tickets to Paris.
Paris-3 nights. Accommodations booked and confirmed.Centrally located.
Paris-Amsterdam Planning to pay for the reservation fee and start our journey early.We will be spending 1 night in Amsterdam.
Amsterdam-Berlin:Oct.5 Planning to do the day trip.Arriving to Berlin around 7p.m.Will be spending 1 night in Berlin.already booked a placed to stay close to station and touristic attractions.
Berlin-Prague: Leaving around 4ish from Berlin and getting to Prague around 9 or so. Spending 1 night in Prague. Room already booked. Centrally located as well.
I initially had Salzburg on the list because I was doubtful. So I have decided to add it to our list.
Prague-Salzburgh. 1 night?
Now, the challenge is that my friend wants to stop for a few hours in Venice and Florence before heading to Pisa. I do not know what to do. Do you think is doable. She only has a couple of places in mind she wants to see in each city and that is it.
Pisa: I really like to see the leaning tower. just a quick stop. I do not need to climb it.
Rome: MY friend would like to spend at least 2-3 days because she would like to attend the papal mass on Sunday October 11th.
After Rome I initially had Monaco and then I was planning to do an overnight trip from Monaco to Barcelona but an Eurail representative told me there is no overnight train from Monaco to Barcelona.
I would not mind spending the night in Nice before heading to Barcelona. As it was on my original list as well.
Barcelona-Zaragoza: The reason we have Zaragoza is because my friend has a niece in Zaragoza whom she wants to visit but I am trying to convince her to convince her niece to come either to Madrid or Barcelona?
And finally we have Madrid on the list because that is where we are flying back to the U.S. mid-morning flight.
I know this is a lot. I have spent hours and hours reading and I am still not that clear. So, I need more guidance. THanks so much for your help. Do you think this is doable? SHall we take Zaragoza off the list? My friend really wants to see her niece. But we will have to make decisions to make this work.

    Roger Wade says:

    Ana R,

    I agree that planning complicated trips like this is stressful, but so far you’ve done an excellent job and I’m sure it’s going to work out great. Many other people just wing it, and they are usually the ones who end up being stressed once the trip begins, while the planners can usually relax at that point. I’ll make comments in order on your new plans…

    I think saving Bruges for another trip is a good choice. Honestly, it looks a lot like Amsterdam, though it’s smaller and more relaxed. It’ll be good for a future trip.

    One night in Amsterdam is a very short stay. In fact, before I comment further, I generally recommend staying 3 nights in most European cities and 2 nights in the smaller ones. You only get a bit of sightseeing time on the arrival day, so a one-night stay means seeing very little.

    Berlin is a huge and fascinating city and one night there is too little to see more than one or two fast things. Honestly, if I were you I’d cut out some cities and stay longer in others. Traveling between cities every day is a bit exhausting and you’ll be in such a rush to even see one thing that it’s barely worth it.

    Prague is quite a large city, but at least most of the attractions are close to each other. If you go to Salzburg during the day from Prague you’ll arrive just as many things are closing.

    From Salzburg it would take you 7.5 hours to reach Venice. It’s an unbelievably scenic trip so do it during the day for sure. Once you arrive in Venice you could take a vaporetto to St. Marks Square and look around for an hour or two and that would be a fun visit, but at that point you’ll be exhausted again and getting into a hotel room will be your top priority.

    You can see the center of Florence in a few hours as well, but unlike Venice, I’m not sure such a short visit is worth it. This strategy is like walking two hours to reach a famous restaurant and then having one bite of a dish, then walking two more hours to another famous restaurant and having one bite of another famous dish, and so on. On one hand, you get to see the inside of a bunch of famous restaurants and also have a tiny taste of the food there, but it’s a LOT of work and you never get even one full meal that way.

    Pisa is kind of a dud of a city, except for the Field of Miracles (where the Leaning Tower is). It’s only about an hour by train from Florence so it’s a popular day trip from there. If you take a train to the small, closer train station to the Field of Miracles, you can walk to the Leaning Tower in about 8 minutes and it’s free to see from the outside.

    Rome is huge and amazing, and I recommend at least 3 nights there. Two nights is a rush and even then there will be many famous things that you just can’t fit into your short time there.

    Monaco is a gorgeous and tiny city that is 20 minutes by train from Nice. So even if you want to visit Monaco, it’s best to stay in Nice unless you want to pay US$400 for small hotel room in Monaco.

    Definitely get the niece to come to Barcelona or Madrid. She’ll probably be thrilled to visit either of those cities, and you’ll be far better off.

    I doubt this is what you wanted to hear, but hopefully you can cancel one or two of those hotel reservations and drop a couple cities from your trip. Your itinerary right now looks like you are running a courier service going through Europe as quickly as possible, rather than taking a holiday. I’m happy to help you sort more of this out, so don’t despair. -Roger

      Ana R says:

      Thank you so much for your help. I truly appreciate your help. It definitely helps. I will have to restudy the list….sigh.

Dhwani says:

i need your help in planning my 10 day itinerary to a few destinations in europe. my husband will be joining from poland and i will be travelling from INDIA. destinations in my mind are TURKEY, AUSTRIA, GREECE, SWITZERLAND, ITALY. PLEASE HELP ME CHOOSE THE BEST 3 OF THIS AND which are interconnected by road/train/bus. i will be travelling in the month of march end april 2016.


    Roger Wade says:


    If you have 10 days and want to visit 3 of these countries, it’s a pretty each choice. Turkey is huge and Greece is complicated by the fact that many of the best sights are on its islands, not to mention the fact that neither of those border the others. So you’ll want to visit Italy, Austria, and Switzerland for sure. However, Switzerland is quite expensive so it’s not ideal for every visitor, especially considering this discussion is beneath an article about “cheap European itineraries.”

    For sure you’ll want to visit Italy, and you really need at least 6 days to do it in a way that isn’t overly rushed.

    Rome: 3 nights, Florence: 2 nights, Venice: 1 night

    You can go in that order or the reverse order, and flights into Rome can be cheap from within Europe. You’ll want to take the train between them, and those train tickets will be quite cheap if you buy them at least 2 months or so in advance, and still pretty reasonable if you buy them shortly before you go.

    After Venice you’ll only have 4 days left, which isn’t really enough time to properly see both of the other countries. So what I’d recommend is to choose either Switzerland OR Austria, keeping in mind that Switzerland will probably be about 40% more expensive than Austria, and perhaps a bit more memorable as well. If you want to go to Switzerland then I highly recommend spending 2 nights in the Interlaken area and 2 nights in Lucerne. Both of those are explained in detail on my article about where to go in Switzerland.

    Your other choice is to visit Vienna for 2 nights and Salzburg for 2 nights. Vienna is a classic and grand European capital, while Salzburg is a gorgeous and historic town at the base of the Alps, so they are very different from one another.

    Whichever you decide, you can take a train from Venice to any of those four cities and then another train to the last one. The train from Venice to any of those places will cost more than your other train rides, so buying early is really helpful for the best price. But it will also be a gorgeous and scenic trip through the Alps, which will be a highlight unto itself. It’s probably best to end in Vienna for a flight home for Austria. If you choose Switzerland you can get from either of those towns to the Zurich Airport in about two hours, and there are surprisingly cheap flights from that airport in spite of high prices for everything else.

    I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions and I’ll be happy to try to help further. -Roger

Juan P says:

My wife and I want to go for our anniversary at the end of next December to Europe for 2 weeks. Paris is the only must. We are thinking either head over to Amsterdam for a couple of days and then the Alps, either French or Swiss. OR head south from Paris and hit somewhere in the Alps for 1 or 2 days, then Italy, finishing in Rome. We want to keep it affordable but we are in our late 30s and want it to be romantic and memorable.

    Roger Wade says:


    If you want one or two memorable days in the Alps starting from Paris, I’ll once again recommend the area above Interlaken in Switzerland. It is absolutely stunning and has views you’ll never forget. I’d recommend staying in Gimmelwald and visiting the Schilthorn observation area. It’s not cheap, but it’s the best and easiest place to get those incredible views in a short time. The French Alps are mostly ski resorts with fewer famous view points.

    You can take a train from Paris to Interlaken and then two days later take another train to Milan and then to Rome. Or you could head to Amsterdam. The views from the train to Italy will also be excellent, while it’s pretty much flat going to Amsterdam. And the weather will be better down south in March as well. This article about where to go in Switzerland will explain where to go and what to do.

    By the way, the Shilthorn cable car is expensive, but as long as the weather on top is clear it’s well worth it. It’ll be a very romantic splurge. Have a great trip. -Roger

Indu says:

We are planning a 4 week trip to Europe and would like to go to Paris, Italy (Rome, Milan, Venice, Florence, Naples/Pompeii) and then to Germany. We want to fly in from the US to one point and then fly back from Stuttgart back to US. Can you suggest a good route for us to be able to see everything. One week we would ideally like to spend in Germany.
thank you

    Roger Wade says:


    For the cities you have in mind you’ll be best off flying into Rome because it tends to have pretty good airfares. After a few days in Rome take a train down to Sorrento to spend a couple days in Naples and Pompeii. By the way, Sorrento is much nicer and easier as a base in this area compared to Naples.

    After Sorrento take a train back through Rome and to Florence and then Venice. After Venice you will go to Milan, which is a major transport hub, and then a flight or train to Paris. After Paris you head to Germany. I’d recommend Munich and Berlin on your way back to Stuttgart, but there are many other great choices in Germany. Have a great trip and let me know if you have other questions. -Roger

Shalini says:

Hi Roger. Nice to see you helping the fellow travelers out there. Even I have few questions to you.
So, I am planning a 24 days backpacking trip to Europe along with my male cousin. We would be travelling outside India for the first time.
Our Budget: ~1000 Euros per person
Time frame: 24 days
Countries: Netherlands, France, Belgium and Italy, if possible.
We don’t want to rush from place A to B. Rather we would love to feel the city/country, understand the culture and just soak in.
Please suggest an itinerary and/or any tips that you may have. Thanks a lot for reading through and helping others and me. Best Regards.

    Roger Wade says:


    Assuming that you aren’t including your inbound and outbound flights in the US$1,000 per person, that’s still only about US$40 per day, which isn’t much in those areas. For example, in Amsterdam, Paris, or Rome, a bunk in a hostel in a decent location will cost around US$30/night, or maybe a bit less. If you also have to pay for your transportation during the 24 days, that makes it even tougher.

    In cities like Prague, Budapest, and Krakow you can have a decent time on US$40/day per person. So I’ll be happy to help with specifics, but I think first you’ll need to figure out if you want to shorten your stay a bit, or raise your budget a bit, or focus more on budget-friendly destinations in Europe. Let me know which of those you can do and I’ll be happy to help with it. Sorry for the disappointing news but the only way to see those places for 24 days would be to get involved in the couchsurfing community and I don’t know too much about that these days. -Roger

Mithilesh says:

Hi Roger,

Me and 2 of my other friends are planning a backpacking tour across countries in Europe. It is going to be a 12 day trip starting June. The budget is about 900$ per head exclusive of the air tickets to and fro from India. Can you please let me know the best corridor to cover? we are essentially looking at good nightlife, a bit of heritage, country side and a few big cities. If you can give me an outline for the 12 day trip as to places i can cover, itl be of great help!

Thanks in advance 🙂

    Roger Wade says:


    For a 12-day trip I’d recommend 4 or maybe 5 total cities. Since it looks like you want to do good nightlife cities that are on the affordable side, I’ll highly recommend starting in Berlin for at least 3 days. Then take a train to Prague for 3 days. After Prague you might consider taking a 3-hour bus ride down to the wonderful town of Cesky Krumlov for 2 days or so. You could instead go to Vienna, but it’s a bit expensive and stuffy (not much of a party town). Lastly I’d go to Budapest for 3 days or so. That route, which includes a bit of countryside around Cesky Krumlov, should be perfect for what you have in mind. Take a train from Berlin to Prague and then buses the rest of the way for the best price and easiest service.

    Hopefully this helps. Let me know if you have other questions. -Roger

deepa says:

I am planning a trip starting from Prague – Vienna – Bratislava – Budapest – Venice for 16 days from 13th May. Can you please suggest travel iteniary and will we need a tour operator or is it easy to travel through all these cities on our own. Will a budget of 2200 euros be enough for per person? we will be 2 adults plus 1 child travelling with us? Also can i pre-book euro-rail pass online? Will train or flights be cheaper to take? Or a drive between these cities?

    Roger Wade says:


    This looks like a really good trip, although I honestly think you’ll have time to add another city or two. Venice is quite compact so you can see the main sights in a day or two, and it’s so crowded that you won’t want to stay any longer. Honestly, I would plan no more than two nights there.

    Bratislava is nice enough, but it wouldn’t make a list of the 50 most interesting cities in Europe. It’s close enough to Vienna to get there by taxi, but unless you have something specific you want to see there I’d recommend choosing another destination instead such as Salzburg.

    You’ll definitely want to get around by train, and a rail pass wouldn’t be good value on an itinerary like this. Some of these journeys will be fairly cheap if you buy them online in advance (from the official rail websites for each country) so you’ll save money that way. Driving would mean tolls and endless parking hassles, so I wouldn’t recommend it at all.

    My recommendation is to spend 3 nights in each city, except for very large ones like Paris or London (4 nights) or small ones like Venice (1 or 2 nights). So you really could add some cities and still be able to enjoy a leisurely pace. Part of it is that you can see all of the main sights in most cities in 2 or 3 days, so Day 4 is spent going to second-tier sights or just walking around because you’ve seen the top places.

    I’ll be happy to help you figure this out more, and I think your budget will be enough. If you are sure that these 4 cities are the only ones you want to see then I’ll help with an itinerary, but honestly I’d recommend adding Salzburg and maybe Berlin or Krakow or even a visit to Split, Croatia. Keep in touch and I’ll help more if you like. -Roger

Clare says:

Hi, Your tips are very helpful! I’m Looking at planning a 3 week trip with my partner starting mid September, using your itinerary as a guide do you know roughly how much we should budget for the trip?

    Roger Wade says:


    Most of this site is actually dedicated to answering that question. It obviously depends on where you’ll be going and how much traveling you’ll be doing along the way. If you are a backpacker or low-budget traveler then consult our Europe Backpacker Index, which shows a daily budget that should be easy to keep with.

    If you are more of a 3-star traveler then you’ll get a better idea by looking at our Europe 3-star Traveler Index.

    If you are concentrating on the cheaper cities then you’ll be taking cheap trains and buses between them, so it doesn’t add up to much. But if you are traveling through France, Germany, or Spain, the transportation can add up. Let me know if you have other questions. -Roger

      Clare says:

      Thanks for the links Rodger,
      At the moment looking at air bnb, havnt had much experience with hostels but are open to anything that will be cost effective. Would a eurail pass be cost effective if only travelling for 3 weeks? We are looking at starting in Berlin, krakow, budapest and then to Barcelona. Also considering Bruges. We will be flying in and out of london. Not sure if we are best to use trains, buses or by air or a mixture? Any advice appreciated. Will be our first time travelling in this part of the world

        Roger Wade says:


        For the itinerary you have in mind, a Eurail Pass probably wouldn’t be good value, although it could be close. The main appeal of a Eurail Pass is that it allows you to make your plans as you go and not worry about very high last-minute train fares. In other words, if you can decide on your itinerary in advance and buy those train (and bus) tickets at least a month out, it should be cheaper than a rail pass.

        I’m not sure what you mean when you say that you are looking at starting in Berlin, and flying in and out of London. Does this mean you are starting in London and want to fly to Berlin to begin the trip? Or will you be flying into London and THEN want to head out for the rest of the trip? I’ll be happy to help you put a great route together once I’m sure where you want to go.

        But to begin, from Berlin to Krakow to Budapest would be best by train or even bus, and those should be fairly cheap even if you buy at the last minute. Barcelona is a LONG way from all of those, so a flight will be much cheaper and obviously faster. Bruges can be reached by train from London on the Eurostar and changing trains in Brussels.

        If you’ve never been to any of those places then I’d highly recommend going to Amsterdam instead of Bruges. Amsterdam and Bruges have similar gorgeous architecture, but Amsterdam has many world-class sights like the Van Gogh Museum and Anne Frank House, while Bruges is mostly just a pleasant town with few checklist attractions.

        And again, I’m happy to help more with this once we clarify a few things. -Roger

samidha says:

Hi Roger,
I am planning a two week trip with my husband. We plan to cover Berlin, Prague, Budapest and Vienna. What smaller towns would you recommend along with these? We are flying in and out of Vienna, so what would be best itinerary to follow? We are a young couple and would want the trip to be a mix of sight seeing, nightlife and we love walking around the cities (we fell in love with Amsterdam and Florence last year.)

    Roger Wade says:


    If you have 14 nights to spend in Europe, I’d recommend no more than 5 total cities, partly because each transit day is not really a sightseeing day. In other words, when going from, say, Berlin to Prague, the train trip is 4.5 hours, but if you count from the time you check out of one hotel until you get to your hotel in the next city, it’s more like 7 hours. And those 7 hours will be in the middle of the day, so if you check out at 9am then you’ll check into your next room at 4pm. After that, you’ll be a bit tired and maybe you’ll have enough time and energy to see one sight before dinner.

    So my general recommendation is to spend 3 nights in most cities, and 4 nights in the largest ones, or maybe 2 nights in smaller cities. None of the cities on your list are especially close together, so they will all take most of a day to get between them. To answer your first question, the best smaller town to visit that is along your route is Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic. It’s gorgeous, quite inexpensive, and compact enough that you can see it in two nights.

    If you don’t really want to do Cesky Krumlov, or you really want to move quickly and add another city, the I’ll recommend Salzburg, Austria. Actually, depending on how locked into visiting Budapest you are, you might replace it with Salzburg, which would make your route more efficient.

    Flying in and out of Vienna makes this tricky because it’s one of the middle cities on your list, at least as long as you also want to visit Budapest. Either way, I think your best bet will be to land in Vienna and immediately fly to Berlin to spend 3 nights. Then take a train to Prague for 3 nights. Those two are your best nightlife cities, by the way.

    After Prague you can take a bus to Cesky Krumlov (or a train, but the bus is actually a bit faster) for two nights. Then you could take a bus or train to Salzburg or Budapest or Vienna, depending on how you want to do it. From Cesky Krumlov to Budapest would be a long trip, but at least it would make the final leg from Budapest to Vienna faster and easier. I’d recommend 3 nights in Budapest and/or 2 or 3 nights in Vienna or 2 nights in Salzburg. Again, it all depends on what you prefer from the suggestions above.

    All of the above might seem confusing. If you write back below with your preferences among what I’ve discussed, I’ll be happy to try to map it out even more precisely. I’m sure it’ll be an excellent trip, as all of the cities on your list (and the extra ones I’ve mentioned) are top tier destinations. -Roger

      samidha says:

      Thanks for the quick response. Out of Cesky Krumlov, Salzburg and Krakow if I have two choose two cities which ones would you recommend. I understand doing Cesky Krumlov & Salzburg would be convenient, but i want to choose cities which are not similar in terms of their feel and life. You said I can miss Budapest.. is it not a good city compared to Cesky Krumlov, Salzburg.

        Roger Wade says:


        Budapest is definitely one of Europe’s great cities and I recommend going there in general. In your case, Budapest is somewhat out of the way, so it might require a 7-hour train trip rather than a 3-hour trip to reach Cesky Krumlov or Salzburg. Also, Budapest actually has a lot in common with Prague in its size and even quite a bit of its architecture. The layout of the cities are also similar, to the point that there are stories of people using a basic tourist map of one while in the other, and not realizing it for some time. So it’s worthwhile, and the main issue is whether it’s worth it to go out of your way on this trip to see it.

        As for the other two, Cesky Krumlov is tiny, gorgeous, and its tourist scene is only about 10 years old so it still feels a bit “undiscovered.” Salzburg has a beautiful location at the foot of the Alps, with a very nice Old Town center. The two main draws in Salzburg are that it’s Mozart’s birthplace (several attractions dedicated to that) and that it’s the location for the movie The Sound of Music. There are bus tours that visit many of the key filming locations, and even if you’ve never seen the movie, the bus tour is really fun and offers excellent scenery.

        Also, for what it’s worth, Cesky Krumlov is the cheapest of the three cities, and amazing value. Budapest is a bit more expensive, and Salzburg is the priciest of the three. As always, let me know if you have other questions. -Roger

samidha says:

Hi, we would be there for 16 nights.. Out of these which is a better itinerary –

1. Vienna to Budapest to Berlin to Prague to Cesky Krumlov to Salzburg to Vienna
2. Vienna to Budapest to Berlin to Prague to Cesky Krumlov to Wachau Valley to Vienna
3. Vienna to Krakow to Budapest to Berlin to Prague to Cesky Krumlov to Vienna

    Roger Wade says:


    I just answered this question for someone named Robin in the other thread on Europe Itinerary questions, so please have a look there and let me know if you have more questions. -Roger

Ismail says:

infinite thanks, your posts have helped me a lot.
However, any extra suggestion into planning our itinerary as well as transportation and accommodation options is highly appreciated.
A friend and I are planning to visit Europe in the summer for 3-4 weeks, we will kick off on July 15th,
I’ll start off with countries that we have interest in.
we intend to start off with Spain because it’s very close to Morocco (our departure point) and also because we plan to spend a few days with a relative of mine who lives near Alicante, a coastal city in east/south Spain, France makes second on our list of interest and then come other countries. we are open to any input and also consider our budget would be something around $2000-$2500 each including air fares.

Thank you again

    Roger Wade says:


    I’ll be happy to try to help, though I’m a bit unsure of what you are asking. Interestingly, I’m in Spain myself at the moment, in the Malaga area. The high speed trains here in Spain are quite expensive unless you buy way in advance, but they have a good bus network here that is still pretty cheap. In other words, check train fares but plan on probably doing buses until you get to France.

    Southern France in late July or early August will be incredibly crowded and expensive. If you budget is limited, I’d probably skip it on this trip because it would also cost a lot to take trains into Italy or Switzerland. Your best budget bet would be to fly from Barcelona to Budapest or Prague, and then carry on in that area. Your budget will go twice or three times as far in Hungary, Czechia, and Poland, as it would in Italy, Germany, or Austria. Berlin can be a decent bargain and it’s interesting.

    I hope this helps and I’m happy to be more specific if you have specific questions. -Roger

      Ismail says:

      Thanks again Roger for your valuable tips.
      Regarding France, what we have interest in is the north part of France actually, we have a network of friends who live there and we plan to pay most of them a visit and hang out. with that being said, do you think northern France would cost much as well ?
      As of transportation, from what you said, I understand that to travel within Spain, buses are my best choice. do you have any names in mind? Do I need to book tickets now?
      What is my best transportation option(s) when Traveling inter-countries. ?

        Roger Wade says:


        In the peak of summer, northern France won’t be too crowded and in fact it will be partly empty because so many have gone south. And if you have places to stay for free, it will be very reasonable. The main thing to avoid is staying in the beach resorts in summer, where you have to compete with millions of Europeans who are there for a whole month.

        There are many different bus companies in Spain, and they all offer similar service from what I’ve seen and read. I don’t believe there are many competing companies on specific routes, so if you want to go from, say, Seville to Madrid, you’ll probably have one company doing it. Buses tend to have the same prices no matter when you buy, but some of these companies have started with “dynamic pricing” where prices go up as more seats are sold. You should just google a route that you might do, like “Seville to Madrid bus” and you’ll see results from a few new bus fare aggregator sites. Once you find one of those sites, is one of them, you’ll be able to check fares on all routes and see if they are cheaper if you buy longer in advance.

        For bus travel between countries there is a company and website called They run a network of buses that go between all major cities in Europe, and fares on those do tend to be cheaper if you buy them in advance. I’m sure it’ll all make sense when you start researching the specific legs you are planning. Best of luck. -Roger

Karthik says:

Hey Roger,

Many thanks for helping fellow travelers with their backpacking schedules.. Me and a couple of friends are planning a 20-day backpacking trip to Europe. We are budget travelers and will be looking at bunking in hostels. Some places we would like to cover – London, Amsterdam, Prague, Paris, Italy – Rome, Venice, Switzerland, etc. We would want to spend considerable time in each of these places depending on the area that needs to be covered and to blend in and experience the culture of each of these. It would also help if you could suggest country sides that we can visit as we go along. Also, how expensive or viable is it to hire a car to drive through some of these places as we are 4 of us traveling and the costs may be divided .. compared to train journeys. If you could help us with routing to the mentioned cities and what mode of transport to take.. it would help a great deal for us. Thanks again for all the help you have and you will be doing to all travelers. Cheers!

    Roger Wade says:


    I’ll be happy to try to help, but I think this is going to be at least a 2-step process. I’ll give you some things to think about, and you’ll have to sort out your preferences before I can really make concrete suggestions.

    First off, my general recommendation is to plan on 3 nights in almost any city you visit, or even 4 nights in large and top-tier cities like London and Paris. Smaller cities like Venice can be done in one or two nights, but most cities you want to spend 3 nights in because if you go faster than that you’ll end up spending too much of your trip on trains and in train stations.

    As for renting a car and driving, I normally don’t recommend it for visiting cities in Europe. It can be the best way to tour wine regions and small towns and even some coastal areas, but for going from one city to another, a car is an expensive burden because parking is very costly and hard to find unless you stay on the edge of town. So I highly recommend taking trains, or perhaps a few buses.

    If you only have 20 days I’d shoot for 6 or 7 total cities. You can’t do better than London (3 or 4 days), Paris (3 or 4 days), and Amsterdam (3 days). If you did them in that order then you next best stop is to Berlin (3 days) and then to Prague (3 days). If you did that, you’d only have about 5 days left, which isn’t really enough time to do Italy.

    Also, you’d want to take a minimum of 3 or 4 days in Switzerland (Interlaken and Lucerne), and as gorgeous as it is, it’s extremely expensive so it may be better for a future trip.

    From London to Paris you’ll want to take the Eurostar train, and then normal trains until Prague. From there you might take buses, depending on where you want to go next.

    If you want to include Italy, which of course is one of Europe’s highlights, the fastest trip that I could recommend is 1 night in Venice, 2 nights in Florence, and 3 nights in Rome. Even that is too fast for many people. It might be better to save Italy for a future trip, or you’d want to cut out some of the other possible stops.

    So consider what I’ve written and let me know which cities you really want to include on this trip for sure. After that I’ll be happy to provide more details and suggestions. -Roger

Ash says:

Hi, I am a single mother and I want to travel with 2 kids 5 and 9. Not sure but I don’t want to wait and I can’t go solo. Should I be looking at a different itinerary or take a chance with yours?
Awesome work and thanks to people like you who keep inspiring people like us! Thanks

    Roger Wade says:


    The four cities listed are all interesting and tourist-friendly cities, and they are all quite affordable compared to, say, London, Paris, or Rome. So if you visited these four cities I’m sure you and the kids would enjoy them. But I hope you really consider each of them and then go only to the places that really interest you. This itinerary is just a suggestion for great cities that are fairly cheap and fairly close together, but there are many other options.

    Especially when traveling with young ones, I highly recommend at least 3 nights in each city you visit. Going between cities takes some effort and will likely be a bit of a hassle with kids in tow, so I recommend trying not to move too quickly. If you have any other questions on this I’ll be happy to answer them. -Roger

Rebecca says:

Hi Roger,

Your replies to others are so helpful! I’m hoping you have some advice for me. My boyfriend and I are looking to do a trip to Europe in January 2017. We’re from New Zealand, and were planning to fly into London to visit family – but to spend 2-3 weeks in Europe too before either venturing to Spain or returning to the UK before departing back to NZ. We know it’s the coldest time of the year but thought we might do some skiing. Our budget is about 3000 Euro each for the entire trip (including London expenses but not flights from NZ to UK). While in London we can probably stay with family so accommodation costs are reduced. Can you suggest a possible itinerary for the trip? I’ve previously been to Paris, Nimes, Nice, Cinque Terre, Pisa, Florence and Rome on a very whirlwind trip. I don’t mind returning to any of these places although I am interested to see other parts of Europe. Any thoughts would be much appreciated!

    Roger Wade says:


    As long as you focus more on cities and mountain resorts as opposed to beaches (obviously) and other outdoor-oriented places, then Europe in the winter is very nice. The tourist crowds are gone, hotels are at their lowest rates of the year, and the cities are still bustling with life because all of the residents are still there.

    If you want to do some skiing you might have a look at this article I put together a few years ago about Europe’s cheapest ski areas.

    It’s hard to confidently suggest anything without knowing more about where you might want to go. Your budget seems like it should be fine for almost any area in Europe that time of year, although in some places you might have to cut more corners than in others. It looks like you’ve hit the main highlights in Italy and France, and later you might head to Spain, so that already takes care of most of southern Europe. Obviously there are many other places you could stop in Italy or France, but aside from Venice, most of those tend to be a bit deserted that time of year, unlike the larger cities.

    If you don’t mind packing winter clothes, then you should seriously consider the cities on the article above, namely Berlin, Krakow, Prague, and Budapest. They are all large cities with good public transport, and they will be full of (indoor) life in January.

    If you’d prefer places that are at least a bit warmer then you might tour Portugal before Spain, particularly in Lisbon and Porto. Or you could go to Croatia with some time in Split and Dubrovnik. Those are more warm-weather places, though Split is a proper city so everything will be open there.

    Let me know what you think about any of these suggestions, and I’ll be happy to add more details if you like. -Roger

Ranganath Nehere says:

Hi Roger!

Great help indeed.
can you please tell me which simcard is cheaper to use in these four cities. data as well as calling.

    Roger Wade says:


    At this point you still have to get a new SIM card for each country you enter, as charges for data, texts, and calls are much higher when you use a SIM from one country while in another. Actually, a new law has reduced those “roaming” rates between countries as of last month, so if you aren’t going to need much data then you could buy a one-month card in the first country and use it in the others. That would work for emails and maps and texts, but if you want to do anything more you’ll be better off getting a new SIM in each country. For what it’s worth, as of April, 2017, those roaming rates will go away, so you will be able to use any SIM anywhere in Europe.

    Fortunately, getting a SIM here in Europe is usually pretty quick and inexpensive, especially in these cheaper countries. You can just walk into any of the dozens of mobile phone shops you’ll see on the shopping streets, and buy a card with data loaded into the account for anywhere from €5 to €15. You’ll often need to show your passport, but usually you can be out the door in maybe 10 or 15 minutes. So if you want to use quite a bit of data then it’s worth the trouble, but if you only need email and maps, you can buy one in your first country and add extra credit, and you should be okay for the whole trip. -Roger

      Ranganath Nehere says:

      Thanks Roger!
      I am already in Warsaw, Poland for business tour. my wife will join me end of month & we will continue our vacation. Krakow-Budapest- Prague-Berlin would be best route I hope. Please suggest. what should be cheaper mode of transport? train or bus? if Train/bus which website should be used for booking? or booking at local train station is the best option?

      what about local travel within these cities? is it cheaper otherwise we will have to choose the stay near to attraction. we are just travelling to get experience of European cities so may be sightseeing is important. we are vegetarian so will not try much of restaurants.

      Please suggest accordingly.

      I will spend
      1)2 days(1 night) in Krakow – Bus travel in the night to Budapest
      2)2 days (1 night) in Budapest – Bus Travel in the night to Prague
      3)3 days (2 nights) in Prague – Bus travel in the afternoon to berlin
      4)2 days(2 nights) in berlin – fly during to Paris
      5)3 days (3 nights) in Paris fly back home

      please suggest.

        Roger Wade says:


        I think your plan looks pretty good, at least if your goal is to spend as little as possible. The buses in Poland, Czech Republic, and Hungary are cheaper and usually just as fast as the trains, and they usually have more departures as well. So I highly recommend buses in that area, and you can just Google the names of the cities to find the best providers. In the Czech Republic you probably want to take a company called Student Agency (open to anyone), but I suspect that their competitors are good as well.

        However, I’ve never taken a night bus in Europe and I’d highly suggest you do research on those. I’ve taken overnight buses in other parts of the world, and the buses can be wildly different. They can range from reclining first-class seats that almost anyone can sleep in, to normal crowded bus seats that almost no one can sleep in. I struggle to sleep in those conditions so I won’t take them unless it’s a proper sleeper seat. If you are not an easy sleeper, then you might arrive in your next city having gotten almost no sleep, still 6 hours before check-in time at your next hotel. That can be brutal. The night trains are much better because you can reserve a bunk (couchette) for about €20 more than a regular seat.

        As for local travel, Krakow is compact enough that you will probably walk to everything that you want to see and do, although there are buses and a tram system. Budapest has an underground system that is very cheap and pretty easy to use, but if you are staying near the river you might not even need it.

        Prague is similar to Budapest, with very cheap trams as well. You probably wouldn’t want a day pass because you won’t use it much as long as you stay in a reasonably central area. Berlin is huge, and a day pass for the underground is probably worthwhile, which will cost €6.90 for one day, so pretty cheap.

        Paris is also very large, and the hotels in the center are quite expensive, so you’ll want to get around mostly on the Metro. A day pass will cost about the same as in Berlin, so it’s a good bargain. You can get a 3-day pass before your first ride, and then just use them as you please.

        You should have little problem finding vegetarian restaurants in all of those cities, although it might take a bit of looking in the first few. There are Indian restaurants in all of these cities, and many visitors from India, so this is not an unusual situation in any of these places. Have a great trip. -Roger

Ranganath Nehere says:

Thanks Roger

Vanessa Mattu says:

Dear Roger,
have been seeing all your posts . i wanted to know a few things.
me and my husband fly to amsterdam in late september . then to meet a friend in copenhagen and back. from amsterdam we are planning to hire a car and drive through the countrysides in netherland , germany , austria,chez republic , poland , hungary, croatia , slovakia and back to amsterdam.
do u think it is doable in car if e don’t go to main cities. and stay on the outskirts. we r planning to do absolutely non touristy spots.
our trip is for about 3 weeks.
how will the weather be during that time.

    Roger Wade says:


    The weather in northern and central Europe should be wonderful in late September. It’ll still be warm, and there are no areas in Europe where rainfall is problematic, especially that time of year.

    You can definitely do this trip by hired car, although it seems like you’d be spending most days on the road in order to hit all of those spots in 3 weeks. And as you mentioned, hired cars and city centers are a bad combination in Europe because driving is confusing and parking is usually very expensive and sometimes hard to find. So as long as you plan on staying more on the edge of cities, or in smaller towns, you should be fine.

    Hopefully you are aware of the relatively high fuel costs in Europe. They aren’t a big factor for most people because distances tend to be short, and the hired cars tend to be small and fuel efficient. But you’ll be covering a lot of ground, so it will add up.

    Also, I feel compelled to mention that most of the countries on your list aren’t really very scenic by car, at least while you are driving. The Netherlands is the worst because it is flat as a pancake, but most of central Germany is the same, and most of Poland as well. In those cases you’d be driving on busy highways at 100 to 120 KPH, and the scenery will be endless lines of identical trees on both sides, or sometimes grass fields. Anywhere near the Alps or other mountain ranges is gorgeous from a car, or along bodies of water. But most of your drive will be very plain, just so you know.

    Austria and Bavaria (Germany) are very scenic, as much of Croatia. You should definitely plan on visiting Plitvice Falls National Park in Croatia, which is best visited by car anyway.

    So again, if you want to visit quirky roadside attractions and historic small towns and such, a car trip could be great. But much of the driving won’t be all that scenic, and you are planning quite a long trip. Let me know if you have any other questions, and best of luck with this. -Roger

Joha says:

Hi Roger,
I would appreciate some help with our itinerary. My husband is working in Bucharest (we are originally from USA) and we are thinking on making a trip by train leaving from Bucharest visiting Budapest and Prague. Can you help us with a suitable itinerary? He has two weeks vacations and we have thought about spending one week on this trip and the other week in Greece. Any suggestions for Greece as well? Also I f you have any suggestions on what to visit, see while in Bucharest, I mean during the weekends…thanks in advanced

    Roger Wade says:


    My own first visit to Romania will be in a few months, so I won’t be of much help for Bucharest. My own plans are to explore Bucharest for 2 days and then take a train to Braşov for maybe 3 days, as it’s usually sited as the most interesting place for foreign visitors.

    The main reason that Romania is literally one of the last few corners of Europe that I’ve yet to explore is something you’ll soon find out, that it’s remote and travel is slow. Budapest is indeed the closest tourist city anywhere in that direction, and yet it takes a bit over 14 hours to reach on the fastest train. They are still mostly Soviet-era trains on older tracks, so they are just slow. The good news is that Budapest-based Wizzair is quite cheap, and also uses Bucharest as one of its bases. So you should be able to get cheap flights from Bucharest to Budapest, as well as many other worthwhile places.

    The trains from Budapest to Prague are also fairly slow, but that’s only 6 hours and 42 minutes, so it’s probably better than flying because it’s zero stress, far more comfortable, and the views are pretty nice. I’d suggest three nights in each of those cities, or even 4 nights in Prague. They have many similarities actually, and you can practically use a map of one to get around the other.

    Greece is a fine option, and again you’ll probably want to fly from Bucharest to Athens and spend 2 or 3 nights there. From Athens you can take a ferry to one of the closer islands for the remainder of the week, or get a cheap flight to one of the more remote islands. Santorini, Mykonos, Crete, and Rhodes are the most popular Greek islands, and most people fly into those because none is very close to Athens, and they all have plenty of cheap incoming flights in season.

    It’s worth noting, however, that most people who go to Greek islands simply do so to relax during the day, and maybe have a few drinks over dinner at night. There are ruins and a few cultural attractions on some of the islands, but most people just go to relax. So if you are part of that crowd, you might be better off choosing one of the islands closer to Athens. I spent more than a week on the closest island, which is called Ageana, and it was lovely. The ferry takes about an hour from the Athens port of Piraeus, so it’s very convenient. There are some others that are only a bit farther as well.

    Especially since you’ll probably be flying, you should consider Turkey as well. Istanbul is a pretty amazing city, and Turkey has more than its share of interesting sights. You could spend 3 days in Istanbul and then two days in Cappadocia, and two days in Antalya before a flight back home. You can get between them on affordable and comfortable buses, although they also all have airports.

    Let me know if you have any questions about any of this. -Roger

      Joha says:

      Thanks so much for all your insight.. I didn’t realize the trip to Budapest by train was so long….we might follow your suggestions and fly there instead. We did Istanbul two years ago and it was great place indeed….even thought we were ripped off at a restaurant by the coast….but that’s another story to be told….LOL….one last thing…we will have a 12 hours overlay in Berlin…any suggestions on what to do in one day in Berlin? Thanks and blessings

        Roger Wade says:


        Berlin is one of my favorite cities in Europe, although it actually lacks any real must-see “checklist attractions.” As a result, it’s hard to pick just a couple things to recommend without knowing your tastes. You definitely want to take the metro to the Brandenburg Gate area, which is the most famous landmark. If you are in town at the right time I can also recommend the free walking tours (tips are encouraged) leaving from by the Brandenburg Gate, which take you to all the most interesting things in that area in a couple hours.

        In my opinion, the former East is more interesting than the former West Berlin, as West Berlin is still mainly high-end shopping streets. Just have a look at the Berlin page on, or on, and you’ll see several good things to choose from. -Roger

rodel says:

Hi Roger,
I’m planning on a month long trip to Eastern Europe around mid August to mid Sept, hoping to do some sight seeing, hiking and other outdoor activities. These are the countries I would hope to explore but you are more than welcome to suggest what’s best for my trip: (I’m flying in to Prague and will be on trains and buses to get around): Czech – Austria – Slovakia – Hungary – Slovenia – Croatia – Bosnia – Montenegro – Albania… then fly out either from Athens (depending on how safe to travel to Greece) or Rome (ferry from Albania or Montenegro if there is any)
Not sure if I could do this itinerary in a month and how easy it is but any recommendations or suggestions is greatly appreciated.
Hope to hear from you soon. Cheers! – Rodel

    Roger Wade says:


    This is surely going to be a great trip. Rather than thinking in terms of countries, I find it much easier to think in terms of cities. In most cases you are going to want to spend about 3 days in the capital or largest city in each country, although there are a few exceptions.

    In Czech Republic you obviously want to visit Prague and I highly recommend 2 days in Cesky Krumlov as well.

    In Austria you’ll want to spend 3 days in Vienna, and also probably 2 or 3 days in Salzburg. Bratislava is the first place to go in Slovakia, and it’s less than an hour away from Vienna, but honestly I would skip it on this trip. It’s nice enough. It’s just not that interesting compared to the others on your list.

    And of course you want to spend at least 3 nights in Budapest. Ljubljana is an interesting and pleasant town, but Slovenia is actually more known for its nature destinations, so it’s a tough choice. I’d skip Zagreb and focus your Croatia time on Split and the islands just off of it. And from there you can go to Sarajevo (lovely) and then Dubrovnik on your way into Montenegro and Albania.

    My standard recommendation for trips like these is to plan on 3 nights in pretty much every place you go. In this part of Europe, the travel times between them are pretty long (5 to 7 hours in many cases), so that travel day every third day will allow for no real sightseeing. In other words, if you wanted to spend only 2 nights in each place, you’d literally spend every other day on trains or buses, and only be seeing the real sights every other day as well.

    So think in terms of 9 to 11 cities in 30 days, and then string together the best ones on your list. I’m not sure you’ll have enough time to really see the cool things in all of the first 5 or 6 countries on your list, and then still have a week or more for Montenegro and Albania. That’s partly why I’ve yet to make it to those two countries myself. People say they are nice, and cheap, but no one raves about them compared to places like Split or Budapest or Prague. I’ll be happy to help you sort out your list.

    In this part of Europe you’ll end up taking buses in almost all cases. Weirdly enough, the bus networks are much bigger and there are far more departures each day. And the buses take about the same amount of time as the trains, because the trains in this area are old and slow, and the buses are usually cheaper than trains as well. In other words, I’d start my planning by looking up the bus connections and fares, and in the areas where there are also trains (Czech Republic, Hungary, Austria), you can look those up too. In Austria the trains are better, but in the other places you’ll probably end up on buses, and be happier as well.

    I’m not sure if there is a ferry from Albania or Montenegro to Italy. I’ve done a ferry from Italy to Split, and I don’t know if I’d do it again. The ferries go overnight, so you have to buy a bunk, and they are as expensive as flights. And they take a whole day because you have to get to the ferry ports on the east coast of Italy, which aren’t close to the tourist cities you want to visit.

    Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

      Rodel says:

      Hi Roger,
      Thanks for the prompt response. My apologies for not getting back sooner. I am going with your suggested itinerary, travelling mid-Sept to mid-Oct, fly in to Prague and fly out of Athens. Spending 2 or 3 days per city and a day of travel in between cities. I will try to see as much highlights as I can but I also don’t need to see everything.
      Do you happen to have web links to trains, buses and hostels for the cities that you have mentioned? So I could start planning my trip. If you do, please attach here or send them to my email. Thanks a lot for your help. Cheers! – Rodel

        Roger Wade says:


        Your plan sounds really good. Most of the information I have on each city is on the page on the site for that city. Here is the Prague prices page, for example. On that page you’ll find info and a link to recommended hotels. I can’t help much more than that with individual recommendations, but let me know if you have any more questions. -Roger

Jeff Stieritz says:

Hi Roger, my wife and I will be in Europe Sept 7 thru Sept 24 2016. We are flying into Berlin and out of Munich. We are wanting to go to Berlin, possibly Copenhagen, Prague, Salzburg, and Munich. Do you think this is doable and what city would you book the flight to Copenhagen? Should we go after Berlin and then fly from Copenhagen into Prague? Or would you omit Copenhagen and pick up another city that is closer? I have always wanted to go to scandinavia. Thanks, Jeff

    Roger Wade says:


    Copenhagen is really gorgeous and quite unlike the other cities on your list, so I think you should go. Your plan sounds really good, and my hunch is that flying from Berlin to Copenhagen and then from there to Munich would be the cheapest and most efficient option. Fortunately, Europe is awash with low-cost airlines, including ones that service Copenhagen, so as long as you book well in advance you’ll probably get surprisingly cheap flights. And because of all those cheap airlines, it’s even possible that you could get the best fare into or out of Prague as well.

    My normal recommendation is to plan on 3 nights in each large city you visit, and with 17 days and 5 cities you have the perfect amount of time. Berlin and Prague have the most things to see on your list, so you might do 4 nights in each. Salzburg is the smallest, but still 3 nights there is ideal.

    You could even take a train from Berlin to Copenhagen in 7 hours and 15 minutes. If you buy that ticket soon it will be fairly cheap, and taking the train is FAR more enjoyable than hustling out to the airport with all the security and such. If you were to fly it would take about 5 hours from city center to city center, so the train is a bit slower, but definitely more enjoyable. Depending on the cost of the flights, the train would probably be my choice. Unfortunately, the scenery on that ride is fairly flat and plain, but still nice enough. And when you are comparing prices of flights and trains, be sure to include the cost of city to airport transportation. Even if the flight seems a bit cheaper, it may not be when you add in the airport transportation.

    Have a great trip and let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Harsh says:

Hi Roger
Kudos to your informative blog.Respect from India.
Me and my wife are planning to visit Europe next year.We want to visit France,Belgium,Germany,Prague,Poland,Switzerland,Amsterdam and a bit of Spain.My queries are as below:-

1.How many days do we need to cover above places?Don’t want to spend more than 3 days in each.
2.What will be the best place to fly in and out from India?
3.How much budget do we need for a couple?
4.We do not want to spend all days in just one place like all 3 days in paris.Would like to cover surrounding cities also like monaco,nice etc.
5.What will be the best time to travel?
6.How to commute between all these countries?

I am sorry i think i have asked a lot of information.I need a budget plan and not a hi-fi expensive plan.

Thanks in advance

    Roger Wade says:


    Thank you, and I’ll be happy to try to help.

    1. In almost all cases, I recommend spending 3 nights in each city. Any day that you go from one city to another, you’ll be using most of that day in transit rather than sightseeing. So if you change cities every three days, it means 2 sightseeing days for every 1 transit day. If you move every other day, it’s 1 sightseeing day for every 1 transit day. In other words, you spend half your time on trains and in airports, and only half the time seeing the things you’ve come all that way to see.

    On your list you’ve got a couple cities and several countries. For France, just do Paris for 3 or 4 days (it’s a large city packed with sights). In Belgium I recommend an afternoon in Brussels and then 2 nights in Bruges as a minimum visit. Germany is large and the main cities are spread out, so it’s not obvious where to go. I’d do 3 nights in Berlin at a minimum, and if you want to see another city I’d do 3 nights in Munich. Three nights in Prague is good. In Poland, do 3 nights in Krakow and ignore the rest for now.

    For Switzerland you’ll want to do at least 2 nights in the Interlaken area and perhaps 1 night in Lucerne. Three days in Amsterdam is perfect.

    2. You usually get the best long-distance fares into the largest airports. In this case it would mean Paris or Amsterdam, although Amsterdam has taxes that often make it expensive. You might also consider flying into one city and then home out of another. I’ve found that one-way airfares from Asia to Europe are often half the price of a round-trip, so that would save you from having to go back to your starting city.

    3. You can calculate a basic daily budget on our 3-star Europe travel index. The average for the cities on your list is about US$100 per day, per person. That includes most daily expenses, but not transportation between cities. Switzerland is by far the most expensive, but it’s also incredibly nice and can be appreciated in only a few days.

    4. As I mentioned above, you really don’t want to move too quickly or you’ll end up spending most of your time on trains. Imagine someone who had 4 days to visit India. Would you recommend 1 day in Mumbai, 1 day in Delhi, 1 day doing Agra as a day trip, and then 1 day in Goa? Most of the cities on your list are about 5 hours apart by train, and even flying takes the same amount of time when you factor airport transportation into it.

    5. The best times to visit Europe are April, May, September, and October. The weather is nice, but not too hot, and the crowds are smaller and hotel rates lower than in the summer months.

    6. Train is the best option in most cases. If the train takes more than about 7 hours, flying is faster and probably cheaper as well.

    Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

      Harsh says:

      Hi Roger
      Thank you so much for your prompt reply.
      It helped me to get an idea to understand the possibility of travelling to Europe.
      Now,can you help me in planning the itinerary for the above-said plan??
      Like from which city to start,what to places to visit,then moving to next city and so on and then ending the tour.
      Can I add Vienna in between??
      Can we use Euro pass for travelling through the countries?
      Thanks 🙂

        Roger Wade says:


        I’m happy to have helped, and I’m happy to help more as you get this trip together. First off though, you really need to decide which cities you really want to visit, and how much time you will have for the Europe stay. Without knowing your tastes and personality, I wouldn’t want to just type out an itinerary based on my own tastes. Needless to say, it’s more efficient if you choose cities that are reasonably close to one another. There are high-speed trains in France, Germany, Netherlands, Spain, and between the main cities in Italy. So in those cases, you can cover a lot of ground quickly.

        As for a Eurail Pass, those are well suited to people on longer trips where they want to make plans as they go. The passes are fairly expensive on a per-day basis, but almost always cheaper than last-minute train fares between big cities. For someone who has a set itinerary for the whole trip before they arrive, it’s almost always cheapest to buy your train tickets online in advance. They can be surprisingly cheap if you buy them at least a month or two in advance. Let me know which cities are calling you, and I’ll help you sort out the order and such. -Roger

          Harsh says:

          Hi Roger
          Thanks again 🙂 for helping.
          Me and my wife both are not much into meuseums but would like to visit Louvre and important ones in other cities.We would be more than happy to travel places which are full of natural beauty,green country side etc.But that doeant mean we are not interested in cities architecture.We also love to know local culture of the place like visiting a local village where we can understand the local people.Like in my first post,I have mentioned that we dont want to visit only main cities of a country,but would like to visit surronding village or smaller cities as well.
          As far as cities are concerned,we would like to visit Paris,one more city/village for wineyards in France,Brussels,Bruges,Amsterdam and its surrounding cities,Berlin,Munich,Black forest,Cologne,Main attraction of Poland,Prague,Vienna and if possible Rome also.
          To give an idea,I have heard Burges is more interesting then Brussles.So like wise we want to visit surrounding cities also.
          We would be having around 25 days to cover these places.And if you are also in one of these cities or around these cities,would love to meet you 🙂

          Ooppss..I forgot Switzerland above.

          Thanks in Advance

          Roger Wade says:


          You are getting closer to narrowing down your list to fit the 25 days, but you aren’t quite there yet. From my count, you have about 14 destinations on your list, and I’d recommend no more than 9 or possibly 10 in 25 days. I’ll start with the ones that in my opinion you shouldn’t miss.

          Paris 3 nights
          Amsterdam 3 nights
          Berlin 3 nights
          Munich 3 nights
          Prague 3 nights
          Vienna 2 or 3 nights

          Cologne is sort of a 2nd tier destination in Germany. Brussels and Bruges are both interesting, but if you spend 3 nights in Amsterdam you’ll get the best feel for that part of Europe in a short time. The Black Forest doesn’t really have anything interesting to see except for some small shops selling cuckoo clocks.

          If you want to see the best of Poland then spend 3 nights in Krakow. It’s really interesting, and very cheap.

          If you want to visit Italy I normally recommend a minimum of 6 nights, including 1 nights Venice, 2 nights in Florence, and 3 nights in Rome. If you just wanted to visit Rome you could do that in 3 nights, but it would mean flying in or passing through Venice and/or Florence on the train anyway. For most people, 1 night in Venice and 2 nights in Florence would be far more memorable than, say, 3 nights in Munich. Italy is popular with first-time visitors for a reason.

          If you want to visit Switzerland then I recommend at least 2 nights in the Interlaken area, and also 1 or 2 nights in the Lucerne area. I discuss all of that in my article about where to go in Switzerland.

          At the moment I’m based in London, but I will be traveling around Europe in the coming months. I usually move pretty quickly on these research trips, but let me know when you’ll be doing this holiday and it’s not impossible that I’ll be in the same area.

          Once you sort out more of a final list, it will be pretty easy to see which order to visit the places in. And of course I’ll be happy to help if you need it. -Roger

Harsh says:

Hi Roger
After going through your posts and searching on web,here is my list:-
1.Paris 3 nights
2.Brussels and Brugges 3 nights
3.Amsterdam 3 nights
4.Berlin/Munich whatever you suggests 3 nights
5.Prague 3 nights
6.Vienna 3 nights
7.Poland 3 nights
8.Switzerland 3 nights

Now,it’s 7-8 places in 25 days.Hope this works well and is doable itinerary.

Kindly advice.
Thanks 🙂

Maria says:

Hi Roger, have been reading your advice for 4 wks in Europe. Would love your assistance with my route too. We want to go from Australia to Greece mainly in 2017. have 4 wks to travel. So, therse are our preferences. Rome, Athens, Rhodes, Kalymnos (for 10days), Cyrus and maybe Mykonos and Santorini. Is this a smooth route? what would you suggest? any advise would be great. cheers Maria

    Roger Wade says:


    From Rome to Athens you’ll want to fly, as taking ferries would take at least a day and cost way more. Once in Athens I think your plan looks quite good. I don’t have the ferry schedules memorized, and really you’ll just need to look those up yourself as you put together a route. For one thing, the ferries are very seasonal, and many of them don’t operate at all from November through early April. The smaller Greek islands tend to be quite dead during those months as well, which is why there are no ferries.

    The Greek ferry system is very efficient, but also complicated. Some ferries only go a few days a week, and many of them stop at several islands on the way from one major port to another. You’ll just have to go to one of the ferry-booking sites and see if your plan can be done on the days you’d want to do it.

    One last thing I’ll add is that the vast majority of visitors to Greek islands go there mainly just to relax during the day and maybe have a few drinks at night. Each of them obviously has its own bit of scenery, but the towns in most of them are quite similar. In other words, very few people go from one to another to another like you are planning. It sounds like you are very interested in these islands, and as such you’ll certainly enjoy yourself. But you might also consider mixing in one or two other types of destinations, such as some of the historic towns on mainland Greece, or even one or more of the Turkish resort towns that is close to the Greek islands. Marmaris is a short ferry ride from Rhodes, and Bodrum is close to Kalymnos. It’s just something to think about, and Turkey is a bit cheaper than Greece. Let me know if you have any other questions I might help with. -Roger

Abik says:

Hi Roger, your articles are really helpful. i wanted some help with planning a 10 day trip to south Europe in the month of Jan. I have read some articles and it says south Europe is doable in Jan as it won’t be freezing cold.

    Roger Wade says:


    It’s true that southern Europe isn’t freezing in January, but it’s still quite chilly. It’s just important to sort out your destinations in advance. You can go to any proper city, such as Athens, Rome, Madrid, or Lisbon, and the weather will be decent enough to do some sightseeing and enjoy yourself. And the cities are packed with locals all year round, of course. BUT, if you went to places that are more known as beach resorts, such as Santorini, the Amalfi Coast, or the Costa Del Sol in Spain, they will be pretty dead and not worth visiting. In other words, the beach resorts are very seasonable and mostly closed in January, but the large cities are open and usually enjoyable in winter. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Harsh says:

Hi Roger
After going through your posts and searching on web,here is my list:-
1.Paris 3 nights
2.Brussels and Brugges 3 nights
3.Amsterdam 3 nights
4.Berlin/Munich whatever you suggests 3 nights
5.Prague 3 nights
6.Vienna 3 nights
7.Poland 3 nights
8.Switzerland 3 nights
Now,it’s 7-8 places in 25 days.Hope this works well and is doable itinerary.
Kindly advice.

    Roger Wade says:


    Yes, this looks great and filled with highlights. In Poland you are going to want to focus on Krakow, which is by far the best tourist city and also the easiest to reach. In Switzerland you’ll want to focus on Interlaken, and perhaps Lucerne for one day. I’m sure this will be an excellent trip. -Roger

Alvin Aviles says:

Hi Roger,

My wife and I are planning our first Euro trip for this upcoming spring. We are planning to go from march 3-20.

We enjoy sight seeing and tourist attractions but don’t enjoy bigger cities too much. Therefore, seeing the countryside of places would be ideal for us. We have about $6,000 for the 18 day trip, not including flights. We believe flying into London and flying out of Dublin would be the cheapest flight plan to get to and from the US.

Any advice you can give us on traveling (by train, bus, or local flights) would be very helpful. Also, what is your take on renting vehicles to drive out to the countrysides. Do you recommend it or is it cheaper taking public transportation?

We are still working on how many days we’ll be staying in each country. Also, we are aware that the list consists of many countries and therefore, are willing to cut on some of them. Your advice on which countries and cities are a must see would be greatly appreciated!
This is our list:

Top 4 countries-
England: London
Ireland: Dublin
Spain: Barcelona, Madrid, Aviles (It’s my last name)
Italy: Rome, Venice

Other considerations-
Netherlands: Amsterdam
Belgium: Brussels, Bruges
Germany: Berlin, Wusterhausen (Wife’s maiden name)
France: Paris
Switzerland: Interlaken
Scotland: Glasgow
Denmark: Copenhagen

We look forward to hearing from you, and we appreciate your help.

    Roger Wade says:


    This will be a fantastic trip and I’m happy to help you sort out an itinerary. Let’s start out looking at your schedule. If you have 17 days you really only have time for 5 or maybe 6 cities. As I’ve said so many times before, it’s best to schedule 3 nights in most places, or even 4 nights in the largest cities such as London or Paris. So unless you can add more days, let’s figure on 6 total destinations. If you try to move faster than that you’ll end up spending half of your time on trains and in train stations, and you’ll only have time for a superficial visit to each place.

    London (where I’m based at the moment) is an ideal place to start, and you’ll need at least 3 nights. Dublin is actually kind of a dud compared to most famous European cities, but the countryside and smaller towns of Ireland are amazing, so that should be more of your focus, especially since you say you prefer countryside to cities.

    If you wanted to visit Spain you’d need 3 nights in Barcelona and 3 nights in Madrid, and it would be best to fly in and out and take the high-speed train between those cities. If you wanted to add Aviles it would require another flight or a 7+-hour train ride each way.

    The fastest tour of Italy that I recommend is one night in Venice, two nights in Florence, and 3 nights in Rome. The cities are connected by high-speed trains of about 90 minutes each, so it’s simple enough to see all three cities that quickly.

    While it’s not on your main list, I’ll highly recommend Paris for 3 nights. It’s only 2 hours from London by Eurostar train, and it is a stunning and fascinating place. Paris is perhaps the number one highlight of most Europe trips, so I’d consider it if I were you.

    Amsterdam is also a stunning place, and you could see it in as few as 2 nights if you were really hustling, plus it’s only about 3 hours from Paris by train. I really don’t think you’ll have time for any of the others on your list on this trip.

    Renting cars in Europe can be great for touring countrysides and wine regions and that sort of thing, but it’s unwise to rent cars to go between large cities. Your list is mostly cities rather than countrysides, so I’d focus on trains and maybe a few flights.

    With all of this in mind, your next step will be to figure out which destinations are the real priorities to fit into your 17 days. Once you have your list pared down to around 6 stops, it will be easy to see how to get between them, and I’ll be happy to help. -Roger

Andrew says:

Hi Roger,

Very helpful article. I’ve just been told I need to take a four-six week holiday from work (unlucky me) sooner than later and want to start (quickly) planning such a trip in Europe. It’d just be me and my partner and we’ve never been. To push me into the right direction, are there places you recommend to go to or avoid in October/November? Does it start getting too cold/quiet in some places? Are hire cars a viable option of travel?

Thank you in advance.

    Roger Wade says:


    Lucky you. For me, October and November are great times to visit Europe, because the weather is still decent yet the crowds are mostly gone. It can get cold in November up north, but in Italy, Spain, and southern France it’s still pretty nice.

    The only real places to avoid that time of year would be beach towns where most of the hotels are only open 4 to 6 months a year. So forget Ibiza or the Costa del Sol in Spain, and also you’ll want to avoid any of the Greek islands that time of year. Aside from that, all the cities are crowded with locals and buzzing with festivals and so forth.

    It would probably be best to start in the north and head south as November approaches. So you could do Amsterdam and Berlin and Prague and that area first, and then head south to France and Italy and Spain later on. I’ll be happy to give you some suggestions once you let me know the sorts of things that interest you and how long you want to stay in them. But overall, you are in great shape with the choices you have ahead of you.

    Oh, and the trains are almost always the best way to get around in Europe. Hiring a car can be good to tour wine regions or national parks and some small towns, but to go from city to city a car will be far more complicated because parking in the cities is challenging and expensive. I’m happy to help you sort out train info as well. -Roger

Raju says:

Hi Roger,
Great to see some fantastic info shared here. We have two boys of 12 years and 5 years and are planning to visit Europe in month of April (end). I want to cover Paris, Brussels (hope to see Bruges too), Amsterdam, Berlin and Swiss. What itinerary would you recommend for a 10 days trip. Should I pick a Eurail pass. Or should I drop Berlin or Swiss because of the cost factors. Trying my best to be economical.

    Roger Wade says:


    Your main challenge will be the amount of places you can visit in 10 days. I’d recommend no more than 4 cities, and even that will be rushed. My recommended minimum stays in those cities is Paris – 3 nights, Amsterdam 2 nights (but 3 is better), Berlin 3 nights, Bruges 2 nights, Brussels – see it as a day trip on your way to Bruges.

    So what I’d recommend is Paris for 3 nights, then take a train to Brussels and see the city center for a few hours, then a train to Bruges for 2 nights. Then take a train to Amsterdam and stay for 2 nights, and then a train to Berlin for 3 nights. Switzerland takes at least 3 days to do properly, and it’s insanely expensive so better to leave it for a future trip.

    Berlin is actually the cheapest city on your list, so no need to cut it out for budget reasons. But it is a longer train ride from the others, so you might consider saving it for a future trip as well. The main thing to understand is that when you go from one city to another, it will take most of that day including checking out of your hotel and getting to the train station and getting checked into your new hotel. So if you change cities every day, you end up spending more time on trains than you do seeing the places you’ve flown all that way to see.

    For a trip like this a Eurail Pass will not be good value. You are best off buying the tickets online about 2 or 3 months in advance. They will be fairly cheap if you buy that early. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

M.J. says:

Hi Roger,

Your comments have been really helpful as I start to plan my trip to Europe next year May. Time isn’t an issue for me, but budget is. I hope to spend max $3500 euros including airfare (from Chicago). I must visit either Frankfurt or London. The other countries and cities that have always stood out to me are Turkey, Greece, Italy, Croatia, Paris, Spain,and Ireland. I would be backpacking with a friend. It’s my first time in Europe and hoping to make the most of it. Any other must see rural areas or cities? Possible itineraries? Any tips would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

    Roger Wade says:


    I’m happy to hear that this information has helped. Most of the places on your list are fairly expensive, except for Turkey and Greece. As mentioned in the article above, I think the best value cities are Krakow and Budapest, and you can spend 2 or 3 days in each of them for the same price as one day in Italy or Spain, for example.

    To make your budget stretch the longest, plan on 3 nights in your must-see expensive cities, and then you can linger much longer in eastern and central Europe. But on your first Europe trip, there’s no point in going to cheap places that don’t have many interesting sights, such as Belgrade or Sofia. If you have more specific questions I’ll be happy to help you with them. As far as more affordable and pleasant rural areas, Croatia is good. Turkey is another good one, but focus more on the touristy places such as Cappadocia, rather than the small towns with no famous sights because almost no one will speak English in places with few tourists. -Roger

cheng says:

Hi Roger,

We’re thinking of visit Europe end of May 2017 for 12 days . We love nature and beautiful landscape. It’s our first visit to Europe . As we’re on budget and we plan not to spend more than 1500 Euro (mot including air ticket). We plan to visit Prague, Budapest, Krakow and Austria. Do you think this plan is doable ? Kindly advise.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

    Roger Wade says:


    Your plan could work, but each of those travel days would be fairly long. If you have only 12 days for a Europe visit, I recommend choosing exactly 4 cities. That way you have two full sightseeing days in each city, and one transit day in between. So assuming you mean Vienna when you say “Austria”, you will be in good shape. The trains in that part of Europe go kind of slow, so those journeys will all be 5 hours or more, with one or two of them closer to 9 hours. As long as you don’t mind longer train journeys like that, then your selection of cities is ideal for an affordable trip. But if you prefer shorter train journeys, you might drop Budapest or Krakow and substitute them with something else less remote to the others. Let me know if you have any questions. -Roger

Kyle Hensler says:

Hey Roger,
My friend and I, Both 17 want to make a trip to Europe this summer. We are both from Hunterdon County, New Jersey. We are both really big into nature and small town feels. We would be able to go for about 2 weeks, and its not out first trip together, just first trip outside the country. We are both very able, and have the money to do so(but would like to keep it as cheap as possible). We love hostels and would be willing to backpack it all, it is just hard for us to set up an itinerary not knowing what is out there. We both love the looks of Norway, Belgium, Ireland, and Switzerland, but feel like we need to see the “usuals” like London and Paris. What would you suggest for our first trip?

Best regards,
Kyle Hensler

    Roger Wade says:


    This is a tricky one. On one hand, I agree that cities like London, Paris, Berlin, and Amsterdam are the most interesting for a first trip to Europe, and in some ways they are the most fun as well because there are so many options and fellow travelers. My recommendation is generally to spend 3 days in nearly any place you visit, or even 4 days in the larger cities such as London or Paris. So if you are going for 2 weeks you could cover those 4 cities I mentioned and you’d have an amazing time.

    Norway does have good nature sights, but it’s remote and incredibly expensive. Switzerland has even better sights when you include the dramatic places in and near the Alps such as Interlaken, and it’s also incredibly expensive. Belgium is pleasant although it’s flat as a pancake so it’s not as scenic as the others. Ireland is really wonderful once you get outside of Dublin. I’d save that for a future trip when you are ready to rent a car and spend a week or more driving between small towns and natural sights.

    I discuss my thoughts on where to focus a first trip to Europe in that article. Have a look at that, and you might also be considering Italy, which is justifiably popular.

    Let me know what you think about what I’ve mentioned so far, and I’ll be happy to add more advice once you have a focus in mind. -Roger

Bill says:

Hi Roger,
My family (kids will be 9, 13, and 15) and I are beginning to plan a trip to Europe next summer for two weeks. We will definitely see some extended family in Northern Italy for a few days and we were going to visit some friends in Northern Germany, but they would rather meet us in a “better” location. Vienna and Dubrovnik are two cities that sound great to visit. I really don’t want to spend a ton of time traveling, but maybe visiting 3 or 4 cities for 3 or 4 days. It is the early part of our planning, so any advice you can give is appreciated.

    Roger Wade says:


    There aren’t many highlights in northern Germany for most visitors, so if your relatives would prefer to spend time with you somewhere else, I think that might be a good idea. I have relatives in Germany and they’ve done the same thing many times. I’m not sure exactly what you are asking, but I will say that Vienna and Dubrovnik are both very nice, and also very different. Vienna is a crowded and “grand” city that was a capital of an Empire, while Dubrovnik, is famous for its tiny walled city overlooking the Adriatic. And Dubrovnik is reachable by a 10-hour or so ferry from Italy, so that could work. Vienna would be reached by train or perhaps plane from Italy.

    My normal recommendation is to spend 3 days in each city you visit. If you go faster than that, you spend half your time on trains and checking in and out of hotels rather than seeing the sights you’ve gone all that way to see. I’m happy to help you plenty more with this, but I’ll need more comments and probably more of a specific question. Best of luck with this, and at least you’ve got plenty of time left to plan. -Roger

      Bill says:

      Hi Roger, We have made a few decisions. We are planning two weeks in the first part of July. We are going to spend the first week in Italy, starting out with extended family, who live north of Milan. Our friends in Germany will then meet us in Greece for the second week, since they have not been there yet. We are thinking that we will end our Italy adventure in Rome and fly to Athens, but is it better to take a boat? From where? So, we will have two families of 5 in Greece. Are there boating options to navigate Greece. How expensive? Any other advice?

Monisha says:

Hello I will be travelling around end of February to Paris and I wanted a 1week short trip from Paris Zurich and Amsterdam . I was wondering in what order to make this trip. I will be landing in Paris and thereafter would like to visit the other two cities. It is my first visit to Europe and albeit a solo one. Can u please tell me the places to visit , esp near Zurich . I have tried doing research quite a bit but am confused . Also how should we travel and what about hotels. Are bnbs a good idea in Europe especially these 3 cities. Do u suggest any other tour I’m open to exploring new places . But am dead confused as to where to start . I searched other forums and various websites. This place has come close to helping me plan something but still I’m in a fix. It would be really helpful if u could give me an outline from where I can work upon. It’s a huge thing for me to be traveling alone and I don’t want to regret or miss out on places. Thanking u in advance .
Regards, monisha

    Roger Wade says:


    I understand your confusion and I’ll be happy to help. First off, have a look at my article on where to go in Switzerland. It’s an amazing country, but Zurich itself is kind of a dud, and extremely expensive. As you’ll see in the article, I highly recommend 2 or 3 days in the Interlaken area and 1 or 2 days in the Lucerne area instead. If you are trying to do all of this in one week, then 2 nights in Interlaken is the best choice.

    My standard recommendation is to spend 3 nights in almost any place you visit because if you stay only 1 or 2 nights you end up spending half of your time on trains and in train stations rather than seeing the things you’ve flown all that way to see. So if you could push this to 9 days it would be ideal, or 8 days would be far better than 7.

    You’ll want at least 3 days in Paris. You could do Amsterdam in 2 days if you had to, and you could do Interlaken in 2 days if you had to. But again, that would only leave 4 real sightseeing days out of the 7, as your travel days will take most of your time, including checking in and out of hotels.

    You’ll definitely want to get around by train. If you buy your train tickets online about two months early they will be fairly cheap. Buy from the official rail websites of the countries involved, such as the France Rail site, the Swiss Rail site, and the Dutch Rail site.

    The accommodation known as a Bed and Breakfast is most popular in the UK, although you can find them in those cities as well. But generally they are listed among other hotels and guesthouses. Almost all hotels in these places will include breakfast, although it’s worth checking before you book. In Paris I highly recommend finding a hotel in the Rue Cler area, which is just east of the Eiffel Tower. In Amsterdam it’s probably best to find a hotel within walking distance of Centraal Station (the main train station) since you won’t be staying long. You can find my Switzerland hotel recommendations in that article.

    Amsterdam to Paris is 3 hours and 18 minutes by train. From Paris to Interlaken it’s a bit over 5 hours. But from Amsterdam to Interlaken it’s a bit over 10 hours, so flying between Amsterdam and Zurich would be better and much cheaper as well. You can do them in any order.

    I’m happy to help with more of the planning on your trip once you start making decisions. Feel free to ask more questions in future comments here and I’ll answer within a day. You are going to have a fantastic trip. -Roger

Jasmine says:

Hi Roger – truely excellent advice and this has really helped us try and plan our trip.
We are flying into Marrakesh on the 9th of Feb and out of Amsterdam on the 8th of March. We will be spending about 10-12 days in Morocco, but then need to make our way to Amsterdam. We definitely want to go to Barcelona, then a flight to Rome, but from here ate looking for recommendations for the rest of our travel. I like the idea of Prague but we’re generally pretty open. We have booked our last two nights accommodation in Amsterdam.
We are travelling with a toddler, who tends to travel well, so sleeper trains or flights would be preferable to long day trips. What would you suggest we see, and what can we safely give a miss?

    Roger Wade says:


    I’m glad you have found the information useful so far. It sounds like you’ve got about two weeks in between Morocco and Amsterdam. I recommend 3 nights in Barcelona and 3 or possibly 4 nights in Rome. That only leaves you 7 or 8 days after Rome and before Amsterdam. While you are in Italy it would be a shame to miss Florence for about 2 days and Venice for 1 day. They are all about two hours apart by train, and each is very different from the other. You’ll also have relatively good weather there compared to northern cities such as Prague.

    With about 4 days after Venice and before Amsterdam, I’d go to Paris if I were you. Assuming you haven’t been to Europe before, Paris really does live up to the hype and it’s one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It’s also far easier to reach than Prague, as there are frequent cheap flights from Venice or nearby Treviso, or Milan. Prague is definitely a bit cheaper than Paris, but Paris can be done on a reasonable budget, and it’s worth the little splurge. The weather there should also be a bit nicer than Prague or Berlin.

    Another nice thing about this itinerary is that Paris is only about 3 hours 15 minutes from Amsterdam by high speed train. So your toddler should be able to manage that, as opposed to many of the longer train trips you’d need if you went elsewhere.

    Let me know if this sounds good to you and I can provide more details if you need them. Or if you had something else in mind, I can try again if you let me know what you are after. -Roger

Donn says:

Hey Roger! What would be an ideal route for the cities you mentioned above? Berlin-Prague-Budapest-Krakow? Also how much time do you suggest we spend on each city? Thanks in advance!

    Roger Wade says:


    I’d start in Berlin and then go to Prague, Krakow, and Budapest. The trains on those last two legs are kind of slow, but they are at least fairly inexpensive. I’d recommend 3 nights per city. If you have more time I’d do 4 nights in Berlin and 4 nights in Prague. Krakow is small enough that 3 nights is enough, although many people spend half a day visiting Auschwitz (highly recommended) and half a day visiting the nearby salt mine, so 4 nights could be good if you have them. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Ruchika says:

Hi Roger,

My husband and I are planning on a holiday comprising of the following cities Madrid-Barcelona-Berlin-Prague-Vienna-Budapest-Dubrovnik. Also, Athens and Santorini are on my wishlist too. Please guide us on number of days each city you think would require and how to travel between them. I belive a 15-20 day tour should give us enough time to soak in enough of these places. Thanks in advance!


    Roger Wade says:


    I recommend 3 nights in each of the cities on your list. If you try to go quicker you’ll end up spending half your time on trains. Even so, your wish list is a bit challenging because many of your destinations are quite spread out. You might want to save Berlin and Dubrovnik for future trips because they are far from your others. Prague is a bit out of the way as well. In fact, you might take another look at the map and see if you can find a couple other stops that are in between your top choices.

    It will take you 3 hours by high-speed train from Madrid to Barcelona, but then it would take you all day on a train to get to any of your other cities so you’d want to fly. So long story short, you have great cities on your list, but they are quite spread out. If you substituted some other cities you could get between them by pleasant train rides of 3 to 5 hours. Athens and Santorini are also far from all the others so you’d want to fly. And I recommend 3 days in those as well. Dubrovnik is hard to reach because there are no trains that go there, and flights are kind of expensive. Hopefully this helps. If you have other questions as you work your itinerary out, feel free to ask. -Roger

sahil says:

wanted to travel with my wife , minimum of 18 days most likely paris-amsterdam-berlin-munich-venice -florence-rome-barcelon ….pls suggest if the pace would be ok to travel and how to do intercity transfers, will stay at air bnb and any operator for before hand tickets procurement of prominent sightseeing or activities…regards sahil

    Roger Wade says:


    Your plan sounds very appealing, but also overly ambitious. I highly recommend 3 nights in each city you visit, with a few smaller cities such as Venice in 1 or 2 days. The rest of them on your list are so filled with big attractions that you’d only be able to see a small fraction before you’d be back on a train. And the other reason to spend 3 nights in most cities is that if you spend only 2 nights in each city it means spending every other day of your holiday on trains and in train stations.

    I’d recommend saving some of your stops for a future trip. The best and most memorable ones that are also easiest to string together are Amsterdam, Paris, Venice, Florence, and Rome. If you added Nice after Paris and before Venice you’d have a wonderful look at the south of France and you’d be able to do it all by train. Since you can visit Venice in 1 or 2 days you could still add maybe one more city, as long as it’s along your route. Berlin and Barcelona are both great, but they are a bit out of the way for you.

    As mentioned, the train is the best way to get between these cities, and if you buy your tickets online about 2 or 3 months in advance they will be fairly cheap as well. It’s simple to buy tickets for tours and attractions once you get there. If you have any more specific questions, let me know. -Roger

Cristiano says:

Hi, Roger
Thanks for your posts they are very helpful. I’m Brazilian and I’m planning go to Europe for first time with my wife and two children (13 and 8 years old) for a 3 weeks trip or little more. Considering the East itinerary, how long to stay in each country/city (or should I choose less cities due to the kids or another city family friend)?. How much is the cost per day approximately? Thanks in advance for your attention.

I forgot to say: the travel will be in July 2017.

    Roger Wade says:


    I’ll be happy to try to help. First off, if this is your first trip to Europe I strongly suggest you consider these 5 great cities. The cheaper cities in the article above are all really worthwhile, but they are a step below cities such as London, Paris, Amsterdam, Venice, and Rome. Those other cities are more expensive, but also more memorable so it would be great if you could mix at least one or two of them into your trip.

    My general recommendation is to spend 3 nights in each city, or perhaps 4 nights in the larger and most famous ones. So in 3 weeks you could get to 6 or 7 cities. It’s important to have those two full sightseeing days in each city, partly since it’s hard to get much sightseeing in on the travel days in between.

    Your children will be old enough to move quickly on travel days, so I don’t think you really need to slow down much or at all.

    One really nice thing about these Eastern cities such as Prague, Budapest, and Krakow is that apartment rentals are very common and fairly cheap. You should be able to find small 1 or 2-bedroom apartments in all of these cities that will be around the same price as a normal hotel room, and much more comfortable.

    As far as daily costs are concerned, please have a look at our Europe 3-star Traveler Index. It will be updated for 2017 in the coming few days, but the rankings and prices won’t change much. That list gives you a typical daily price per person for a couple traveling together and staying in 3-star hotels. If you triple that daily price it will probably work as a decent budget for 2 adults and 2 children staying in the same room. It will obviously be cheaper to feed the children, and the admission prices for attractions are also about half the adult price.

    Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Aled Davies says:

HI Roger

I was wondering if you could help me with the best route to take and what transport is best to take?
I want to include all these 4 cities and cesky crumlov, along with Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Vienna (Maybe) Ill be strtng in Amsterdam more than lkely and was wondering what would be the best route to take?
Ill be going end of May for around 5-6 weeks, am i doing to many cities and should i cut some out?

Many thanks


    Roger Wade says:


    I can’t really type out a full itinerary for you, but I can give you some advice that I think will help you plan a great trip. You should really plan on spending 3 nights in almost every city you visit, although some smaller places can be visited in 2 nights. Three nights gives you two full sightseeing days, which is enough to see all of the highlights. If you stay only 2 nights you only have 1 full sightseeing day, and that isn’t enough in most cities. If you stay 4 or more nights you’ll start running out of “highlights” and you’ll end up visiting attractions that are way down your list.

    So if you have 6 weeks that’s 42 days and you’ll have time for about 13 destinations. On the other hand, 6 weeks is a long time to go at that pace, so I’d probably shoot for maybe 11 or 12 stops, and build in at least one longer relaxation stop in there. A town like Cesky Krumlov is a good one for that because it’s quite cheap, it’s mellow and relaxing, and you can just hang around for a few days without feeling pressure to see all the sights, because there are only a few good ones there.

    And you are going to want to take trains for most of this. Czech Republic and Poland are examples of places where bus service is just as fast, cheaper, and more plentiful than trains, but in the other places on your list the trains are faster and more comfortable than buses.

    Copenhagen is fairly remote so you might think about flying in and/or out. Or you could also stop in Hamburg, which is quite nice, and the train ride isn’t so long that way. You could go from Amsterdam to Hamburg to Copenhagen to Berlin to Prague to Cesky Krumlov to Vienna to Salzburg, for example. I think once you decide on the cities you want to visit, you can put them on a map and the route will be pretty obvious, at least as long as you choose places that are fairly close to one another. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have more questions and I’ll be happy to help you more. -Roger

Max says:

Hi Roger,

Many thanks in advance, your posts have helped me a lot.

We are two and would like to visit 3 countries Hungary-Czech Republic-Croatia. We have around 14days which include arriving and leaving Europe. We haven’t booked the flight tickets yet, it would be a great help if you could help us in setting up our itinerary. This would be our first trip outside our country 🙂

thanks in advance!



    I’ll be happy to try to help. If you have 14 days I’d recommend doing 4 or 5 total stops, but if you won’t arrive until late on your first day then 4 stops is probably best. You could do this in reverse, so I’ll give you my best recommendation and you can decide whether to start in the north or the south.

    It would be best to fly into Prague and spend 3 or 4 nights there. Then you could take a 3-hour train or bus ride (the bus is actually cheaper and easier) to Cesky Krumlov for 2 nights, if that appeals to you. It’s a small and gorgeous town that is wonderfully cheap considering how nice it is.

    From Cesky Krumlov you could take a train to Budapest in about 7 hours. If you skipped Cesky Krumlov, the train from Prague to Budapest also takes about 7 hours. Stay 3 nights in Budapest. The trains in that part of Europe are very slow compared to the western areas, so you are better off flying to Croatia.

    The capital city of Zagreb is closer and faster to reach from Budapest, but it’s not very interesting and the whole reason to visit Croatia is to enjoy the coast. So fly to Split and spend the rest of your time there, or nearby. Dubrovnik is similar, smaller, more famous, and much more crowded. So you could go to Dubrovnik instead, but I’d recommend Split. You could then take a ferry to one of the nearby islands just across from Split, or even take a bus down to Dubrovnik (there is no train line).

    This should at least give you an itinerary to work with. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Max says:

Hi Roger,

Thanks for the detailed information. I’m already feeling butterflies in my stomach.
– We are now taking the flight to Prague. We will spend 3 days in Prague.
-2 Days in Cesky Krumlov.
-Overnight train to Budapest. Will spend 3 days in Budapest.
-Flight to Split

The only problem now we have is our return flight is from Prague. In that case, what would you recommend?

Thanks in advance!




    That sounds like a really nice itinerary. It looks like SmartWings and Czech Airways each sell tickets on a nonstop flight from Split to Prague leaving at 14:40 each day. I think it’s only one plane though, and they seem to charge around US$100 for the one-way trip. Hopefully that works with your flight out because other flights are far more expensive and the train would take forever and be more expensive as well. The only other nearby airports are Dubrovnik and Zagreb, and neither has a decent option, so you should probably buy tickets on the SmartWings flight ASAP. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Ann says:

I and my 2 children(19 and 25) have 21 days from June 24-July 16 starting in Vienna (my daughter will be there already for a summer program. We have never been to Europe and would like some suggestions on where to visit. She wants to do northern Italy, Germany, Switzerland, I have family in Novi Sad Serbia, not sure how much we can fit in. Would like to spend time in Vienna of course. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Also, is it crazy of me to consider renting a car?



    First off, I really wouldn’t recommend renting a car if you mostly want to focus on larger cities. Novi Sad has decent parking, and that’s also true of Interlaken, Switzerland, which is the best hub there. But for the other places a car is really more of a hindrance and the parking will be expensive unless you stay on the edges of towns, and that takes a lot of the fun out of a Europe trip. On the other hand, the trains in Hungary and Serbia are fairly slow, so driving would at least be quicker there. In Germany, Italy, and Switzerland, the trains are much faster than driving.

    If you have 21 days I’d recommend choosing 7 places to spend 3 nights each. Novi Sad is a smaller town so you could be okay with 2 nights there, or longer if you want to spend more time with relatives. So let’s say you are spending 3 nights in Vienna and 3 nights in Novi Sad. I just checked now and the train from Vienna to Novi Sad takes a bit over 10 hours, so you might consider flying to Belgrade and going by train or rented car from there, or skipping it if you can put off the visit until a future trip when you’ll be closer.

    The other places I’d recommend to consider are Salzburg (2 nights might be enough), Munich, Interlaken, Lucerne (2 nights could be enough if you want to see another Swiss city), and in “northern Italy” you want to visit Venice (1 or 2 nights because it’s quite small) and Florence. It’s only another 2 hours by train from Florence to Rome, and Rome would be perhaps the most memorable stop on this trip, so it’s worth considering.

    As for Germany, you might have a look at my article on where to go in Germany for a few more suggestions. Berlin could be a bit out of the way on this trip, but the rest are pretty easy. My article on where to go in Switzerland could also come in handy for that portion.

    Just yesterday I finished and posted an article with my 9 best first-time Europe itineraries, which might also help you pick some cities that interest you. I hope this helps and I’m happy to offer more advice as you get your list of places you’d like to visit together. -Roger

Ashutosh Tripathi says:

Hi Roger,
I am planning a 2 week trip to Europe in June.. Mostly from 2nd to 16th. I am from Mumbai, India

Me and my wife will travel and we prefer beach destinations: holiday with atleast 50% beach destinations.. and rest 50% in best places of the respective country..

Did some browsing and found that Greece, Spain, Portugal or Croatia are best.. I dont want a very expensive holiday… something moderately priced or cheap is even better.. but dont want to compromise good places for just expense..

Please suggest which country to visit..I found that June is the best month to visit as most beach destinations tend to get crowded and expensive from July..

I dont want too much of travel in the trip as most experts have advised that too much travel just wastes time.. So I am okay if I cannot cover two countries in the two week visit. I was earlier thinking to club Spain-Portugal or Greece-Croatia..

Is Croatia covered in Schengen visa? If not, is it too complicated?
Awaiting your response.

Ashutosh Tripathi

Ann says:

Thank you, this helps. I am trying to do too much in the time we have and your information is helping me narrow the trip down. I am glad I found this site. Thank you again, Ann

Kim says:

Hi Roger,

I’m planning a 2 week Europe trip end of august and I really want to try and get to Croatia, possibly Poland, Barcelona and Ibiza and some of Italy if I can? I am happy to fly to save time. What would you recommend?

Thank you in advance.



    First off, if you are working with 14 days, you should really try to limit the number of places you visit to 4 or 5. The main issue is that each time you switch cities you lose most of that day in transit. In my opinion, 3 nights in most cities is ideal as it allows you 2 full sightseeing days and then 1 in transit to the next place. And of course, the longer it takes between places, the more of that transit day you’ll lose. Poland is a long way from all of your others, so that could be tricky. Maybe you can do 3 nights in Krakow, which is the best place to sample Poland, but it might be better on a future trip.

    You could spend a week in Croatia and then a week in Italy. There is even a ferry going between the two, although the ports in Italy aren’t close to the main tourist cities of Rome, Florence, and Venice.

    Another issue is the timing. All of August is completely packed at all southern European beach areas, and that includes the ones in Croatia. Hotels and guesthouses will be very expensive in August, but back to modest rates in September (many Europeans have all of August off). So you could potentially visit some cities such as the ones I mentioned in Italy in August, and if your trip goes into September you could visit the beaches. Ibiza is crowded and very expensive in August as well, so that would be another to consider for September.

    I’m happy to help more, but I think you need to figure out the places you are most interested in going and once you narrow that list down, the planning of how to get between them will be fairly obvious. Keep in touch and let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Varun says:

Hi Roger,

I am planning a 9 Day trip to Europe. I shall be travelling from India. Since this will be my first EU trip, I am looking for some pocket friendly destinations. Looking forward to your suggestion.




    Most of my best suggestions are in the article above. One tricky thing is that if you are going all that way to Europe for the first time, you want to make sure you are visiting very worthwhile cities. I can give you a list of cheap cities that also don’t have many interesting sights, which aren’t worth visiting. If you are doing a 9-day trip I’d suggest either 3 or 4 total destinations. Really I’d suggest 3 stops, but if that isn’t enough for you then doing 4 quick stops could be okay.

    For me, the best of the relatively cheap cities are Prague, Budapest, and Krakow. You can visit Prague from Berlin or Vienna, but those others are a bit remote. Honestly, if you could afford Paris for 3 days, I think it would be worth the extra little splurge. Paris is such an amazing city that I’d rather go there for even 2 days rather than spending 4 or 5 days in Belgrade, Serbia, for example.

    If you prefer to skip Paris (and London), I’d say the best 3 cities that are among the cheaper ones are Berlin, Prague, and Budapest. Each is a world-class destination with plenty to see. Prague and Budapest do have some similarities, so you might instead do Berlin, Prague, and Vienna or Salzburg or Munich. Those are all very different from one another. I hope this gives you some ideas. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Ann says:

I finally have our trip narrowed down and booked. We will spend 4 days in Vienna, 3 days in Budapest, 3 days in Prague, 4 days in Munich, 3 days in Venice, 3 days in Florence, and 4 days in Rome. June 21-July 16. Now I would like to plan a daily itinerary and thinking of adding possible day trips from those locations that would be must sees. Is there a web site that you would recommend or any suggestions that could help me pre plan?



    For Europe trips like this I’m a huge fan of the Rick Steves guidebooks and ebooks. He really does an excellent job of giving you the best options in an entertaining style rather than ALL the options in more of a catalog format. Most of the information is on his website as well.

    Free options include the Lonely Planet website,, and I quite like since it has most of the information all on one page. Have a wonderful trip. -Roger

Aditya says:

To begin with I would like to appreciate your inputs they seem to be great. I am a first time traveller to europe from Mumbai,India along with my group of guys of 5. We are planning a 10 day tour in the month of September 2017. Kindly provide us with the best of options, where we boys can enjoy, with terrific night life an fun. It will surely be a backpacking tour and our budget is 1000 euros excluding flights.Please help us out. Thanking you.

P.S. We are all vegetarians

If possible for you please provide an awesome itinerary.



    Since this is your first trip to Europe, I’d really recommend trying to spend less in a few of the best cities, rather than focusing only on a few cheaper cities. Getting by on €100 per day for one adult and a few kids won’t be easy, however. And each time you go from one city to the next, it adds the transportation expenses. So in 10 days I think I’d do 3 cities, for 3 or 4 nights each.

    Even if you went to Paris or London or Rome, you wouldn’t be able to do much when you got there on your budget. So I think probably going to the best of the cheaper cities is the best option. As mentioned in the article above, those are Prague, Budapest, Krakow, and Berlin. Krakow is the cheapest and Berlin is the most expensive of the four. In any of these cities you should be able to find a little apartment rental that would probably work better than a hotel and be cheaper as well.

    My advice is to choose 3 of those 4 cities. Prague is the most beautiful of them, and Budapest is actually a bit similar, so it may not be worth going to both. Finding vegetarian food will be easy in Berlin and Prague, and a bit more challenging in Krakow or Budapest, but still not too difficult. You should be able to find Indian restaurants in any of these cities, in case that appeals to you. All of those cities have good nightlife. Berlin is famous for it, and Budapest has these very interesting places called “ruin pubs” which are large (and very cheap) bars and entertainment complexes that are in the courtyards of older buildings. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Linnor says:

Hi Roger! Greetings from Cebu!

We have this itinerary for a Euro trip in May:

D1 Milan – Venice
D2 Venice – Rome
D3 Rome – Vatican City – Arezzo
D4 Florence – Pisa – Genoa
D5 Genoa – Monaco – Grasse – Nice – Cannes – Avignon
D6 Avignon – Paris
D7 Paris – Reims – Luxembourg
D8 Luxembourg – Trier – Koblenz – Frankfurt
D9 Frankfurt – Bonn – Cologne – Amsterdam
D10 Amsterdam – Zaanse Schans – Amsterdam
D11 Amsterdam – Brussels – Paris
D12 Paris – Versailles – Paris
D13 Paris

Is this too hectic? What cities do we skip and what do you recommend instead?

Thanks a lot’



    Yes, it’s far too hectic, unless your plan is to stay on the train the entire 13 days. If that is all the time you have, you should choose 4 or 5 total cities, hopefully ones that are fairly close together. Your current plan is similar to if someone was to visit the Philippines like this:

    D1: Cebu
    D2: Boracay and Palawan
    D3: Manila
    D4: Cebu

    Can you see how a plan like that would end up being too fast to enjoy what they are there to see? Once you cut your list down it will be easier. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Reema says:

Hi, I truly appreciate the time and energy you have given for providing very descriptive information regarding Europe. I’m travelling from India mostly in April with my husband and the itinerary I’ve decided upon is Vienna to Budapest to Berlin to Prague to Cesky Krumlov to Salzburg to Vienna. Can you recommend where to use buses or trains and other details required. This is my first trip to Europe. We both intend exploring ourselves.



    I’m happy to try to help. You will be better off on trains on most of your legs, and you could actually do the whole thing on trains if you wanted to. However, from Prague to Cesky Krumlov and then to Salzburg, the buses actually provide better service. The train station in Cesky Krumlov is on the edge of town, yet the long-distance buses stop a short walk from the main square. The buses and trains take about the same amount of time, and the buses run more frequently, so I’d do the bus. From Cesky Krumlov to Salzburg you will probably want to take a shuttle rather than a bus. The cost is a bit higher, but it goes directly there and will even pick you up. For the other legs the trains will be great. Buy your tickets online as far out as you can (hopefully at least a few weeks) for the best prices and most options. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Nabila says:

Dear Roger,

I’m planning 14-16 days trip to Europe. Will be flying from Malaysia to Istanbul. So Istanbul will be in and out place to other cities by plane. I’ve been to Greece, Bosnia & Croatia before so this trip I’m thinking of Vienna, Budapest, Prague, Salzburg and Istanbul.

1) How do you recommend the length of stay, transportation and the best route to travel?
2) Is it to compact if I add additional place to go?
3) I’m Muslim (to add: wearing scarf), is it difficult to find a vegan/halal restaurant in each cities?



    I’ll be happy to try to help, and Malaysia is one of my favorite places anywhere.

    1 – I’d plan on 3 nights in each city, which should work out very well with 14 to 16 days and 5 cities. Istanbul is a great city to fly in and out of, but the transport connections on the ground from there are very slow, so you’ll have to fly in and out of Istanbul to the other cities as well. Fortunately, cheap tickets are usually easy to find, and the airport connection to the city is fairly fast and affordable as well. I think I would visit Istanbul and then fly to Prague. From there take the trains to Salzburg then Vienna and then Budapest, and fly from Budapest back to Istanbul. If it turns out that one of those flights seems unusually expensive, you can change the order a bit and it would still work. For flights in and out of Istanbul it’s important to be careful of which airport you are using. There is a smaller airport called Sabiha Gokcen International Airport that has some cheap flights to Europe, but it’s almost two hours from the city center and about as long to the other airport as well.

    2 – I wouldn’t add another stop, and the 5 that you are planning are each amazing.

    3 – As you probably know, there are quite a few Muslim immigrants living in each of those cities, so there will definitely be options available for halal that shouldn’t be hard to find. As for vegan options, that might be a little tricky if you are strict. There are increasing numbers of Indian visitors to Europe and since nearly all of them are vegetarians, there is fairly high demand for vegetarian choices. But since very few Indians are vegan, you might have to seek out local places near universities and such, where the vegan lifestyle is growing in popularity. I think if you Google it for each city you’ll have plenty of good choices, but just walking around looking might be a challenge. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Nabila says:

Thank you for your suggestion. I have another questions
1) Is it easier and cheaper to take train for the entire trips compare to bus ride?
2) I’m thinking of Oct or Nov trips. If you could suggest, which one is the best time to travel?



    From Salzburg to Vienna the train will be much faster than a bus. For the other stops the bus and train are usually about the same speed. The trains on those routes are more comfortable, but the buses there are pretty comfortable as well, and usually cheaper. Aside from the Austria train trip, I would compare both options and if the bus is cheaper with good connection times, it might be a better choice.

    Europe starts getting fairly chilly in November and the daylight hours start getting short, so if you can go in October I would choose that. October will feel cool to people from Malaysia, and November would feel cold. Go as early as you can. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Deepak Duhan says:

Firstly, Thanks for such a genuine info throughout the site.

I am solo backpacker (25 Y) from India, and after reading your replies to various comments above, I have planned my First Euro Trip in mid April 2018 like this – (more interested in nightlife…)

Delhi, India-Amsterdam (3days)-Brussels,Bruges(2days)-Berlin(5days)-Prague(3days)-Cesky krumlov (2days)-Vienna(2days)-Krakow(2days)-Budapest(6days)- Back to Delhi, India.

I just want to know whether the flow is okay or need some modification?



    Your plan looks quite good and you will be visiting many of Europe’s best nightlife cities. From Amsterdam to Berlin the train takes about 6 hours and it’s almost 7 hours from Brussels to Berlin, so if you could start in Brussels and then to go Amsterdam and then Berlin it would be a bit more efficient, but only a bit more. The other minor thing is between Vienna and Budapest the train is about 2 hours and 20 minutes, but between Vienna or Budapest and Krakow the train takes a bit over 8 hours. If you went Vienna to Budapest and then Krakow you’d only have to do one of those long train trips, but if you do Vienna to Krakow to Budapest you’d have to do two of them. Or you could fly. Personally, I love riding the trains, but after about 7 hours it starts to get old and flying can be a better option. Aside from that it looks fantastic. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Nani says:

Hello Roger!
Going through your posts made me realise the time and effort you have taken to reply all the queries.I genuinely appreciate that and thanks in advance.
I’m planning my first Euro trip from India this May for 4 weeks and my budget is around 3500$ excluding the flights.Could you suggest me an itinerary?I want Belgium,Netherlands and Germany to be included in the itinerary for sure.



    I’m happy to try to help. If you have 4 weeks I would try to find about 9 cities to visit, or perhaps only 7 or 8 if you aren’t in such a hurry. Your budget might be a bit stretched in those countries in four weeks, and each time you move from one city to another it adds to the cost, so I think going slower might be better. I can’t suggest 9 cities for you, but I can start you out with some and also encourage you to have a look at my article on suggested Europe itineraries for first time visitors.

    In the Netherlands you obviously want to go to Amsterdam and I would spend 3 days there. In Belgium my favorite town is Bruges, but the historic center of Brussels is also worth a look. Brussels is more of a business and government city so I recommend people go there in the morning and spend half a day looking around the Grand Place (main town square) and then head to Bruges for the night and another day or two. You could also visit Antwerp and/or Ghent, but honestly those cities will look a lot alike and they have fewer tourist things to see and do.

    In Germany you definitely want to visit Berlin. Have at least a scan of my article on where to go in Germany and I think you’ll get other ideas. If you are going for four weeks you’ll still have time to spend and I would suggest going to Prague and perhaps also Budapest and/or Krakow. Not only are those wonderful cities to visit, but they are also unusually cheap so you can extend your budget a bit.

    I would also suggest going to Paris if you haven’t been there before. It could be a good place to start, and you can then get to Amsterdam by train in a bit over 3 hours. Paris is a stunning city with great sights and amazing food, not to mention a very diverse culture. London is another one not to miss, but it’s also very expensive. I hope this helps. I’m happy to answer other questions you have as you are putting your plans together. -Roger

Jennifer Onv says:

Hi Roger,

Your article truly giving me many insights of a place with details. You have taken time to reply each of the request with details and advices. May I ask, if I have only 3d or 4d to visit, which are the cities that you will suggest for me to focus on? My first time to Europe.

Those places really impressed me wanted to go and wish I have actually extended my stay in London. However, please give me advice for it.

Thank you very much.

Best regards,
Jennifer Ong



    I’m not sure if you are asking about 3 or 4 days in addition to London, or including London. If you only have 3 or 4 total days I would just stick to London and maybe spend one day in Bath or York. If you are wondering where else to go from London I would say Paris for sure. It really does live up to the hype, and it’s a 2-hour train ride on the Eurostar from London. If I misunderstood your question please try again and I’ll be happy to give it another go. -Roger

Laurel says:

Hi Roger,

My daughter has some soccer games this summer in Serbia and Hungary ( Budapest ). We are from Canada and hoping to spend some extra time around there. This trip is a bit of short notice, and we were looking to at extending our time in Europe, but we are also looking at what might be the most economical. Do you have any suggestions that be around those areas. ( We have been interested in Croatia, Greece and Amsterdam). We have already spent time around Hungary and Austria, and France ( Paris ) in the past. What do you suggest is the best way to travel around? Any help or suggestions would be appreciated.

Thanks so much,



    I actually lived in a town called Nis, Serbia for almost 5 months, but I wouldn’t recommend a visit there. Belgrade is a pretty nice, big city, but there aren’t many memorable sights there. For Serbia most people agree that Novi Sad is the most interesting city there. Most of my knowledge of Hungary is in Budapest itself, so you probably know more about it than I do. However, Croatia is the real star of the show in that area. Zagreb is kind of like Belgrade in that it’s mostly quite forgettable, so you really want to head to the coast. You might also look at a stop in the Plitvice Falls National Park, which is one of Europe’s best natural areas.

    In Croatia I would head to Split, which is easier to reach than Dubrovnik and much cheaper because it’s not a popular cruise port, and it’s way less over-touristed. The area around Split and the nearby islands are also interesting. You might even consider a stop in Sarajevo if you are in the area because it’s a very interesting town with a lovely setting between two mountains. As for getting around, it’s not as easy as most of Europe. The train service is slow and there aren’t many departures, but bus service is pretty good and fairly cheap. There are frequent bus departures between all of these cities, and most buses have wi-fi. You typically get cheaper tickets if you buy further in advance.

    However, you might instead choose to rent a car and drive. I really don’t recommend driving between most big European cities, but Croatia and that area are pretty easy by car and it can be the best option for a small group. If you rent a car and return it in the same country you can get a pretty good price, and the roads in that part of Europe are pretty good with no tolls. The main disadvantage of driving around Europe is that parking is almost always expensive and hard to find in larger cities and even in many smaller towns if they are near the coast or get a lot of tourists. It’s still something to be aware of, but parking in this part of Europe isn’t as expensive as in some other places. And if you go to Plitvice Falls a car is the best way and parking is free at any hotel in the area. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Mireya says:

Hi Roger,

Thank you for your information throughout this website.

This is our first trip to East Europe and we have to arrive in Vienna in Sept 18 for a convention. My husband and I want to plan to visit countries and cities close to Vienna before the convention.

We will arrive from Miami to Frankfurt in Sept. 5/ 2018 and we will return from Vienna in Sept. 29/2018

I was thinking in the following cities:

Frankfurt – 2 days
Prague – 3 days
Cesky Krumlow – 2 days
Budapest – 3 days
Salzburg – 3 days
Vienna – 6 days – We will spend 3 days before and 3 days after the convention.

What is the best way to visit these cities?

Knowing that we will arrive in Frankfurt, what other cities do you recommended?

How many days is the ideal to spend in each place?

Thank you very much in advance for your help.




    This trip sounds very nice. September is a great time of year for Europe and it looks like you’ll have plenty of time. My recommendation is to spend 3 nights in almost any city you visit, but Cesky Krumlov is quite small and two nights there should be enough.

    You might want to have a scan of my article on where to go in Germany. Frankfurt is famous for its airport and its banks, and it’s a pleasant city, but there are more interesting options nearby that you might consider instead.

    Getting from city to city on trains is pleasant and generally affordable, especially if you buy your tickets a month or two in advance. Between Prague and Cesky Krumlov you should probably take the bus instead because it takes the same amount of time as the train but the bus has more departures and it drops you close to the town center instead of the train station, which is a bit remote. I’m happy to help more if you have any other questions. -Roger

Mireya says:

Hello Roger,
Thank you so much for your advise.

Now, we will consider to spend more time in Berlin and/or Munich than Frankfurt.
As you suggested, we will plan to buy the Eurail for getting from city to city.
For our plan, which is the best Eurail pass to buy? I was thinking about the 4 countries version.
Does this pass cover the local trains and buses?

Checking the Eurail website, they offer 5 days within 2 months, I’m a little confused. If we have to use the train more than once in one day, does this count for one day only?

Do you think the order of the cities in my list are the best as far as transportation is concerned?
Franfurt-Berlin-Prague-Cesky Krumlow-Budapest-Salzburg and Vienna

Thanks again!



    The first thing I’d do is check the train prices if you buy very soon. The train fares in Europe are fairly cheap if you buy well in advance, and rail passes are the best value when you want to make your plans as you go. The per-day cost of those shorter passes is quite high, and in some cases you also have to pay €5 to €10 for a seat reservation. Also, train fares in Czechia are pretty cheap, and buses are cheaper with more frequent departures and similar travel times. I think you’ll save more by buying individual tickets online as soon as possible.

    Rail passes DO cover suburban and commuter trains, but not metro systems or local buses. The good news is that you can get an all-day metro pass for around €6 in any city you’ll visit.

    With those Flexi-passes you can ride all you want in a given day. So you could take a train from Munich to Berlin in the morning, and then take a train from Berlin to Dresden and back in the evening, and it would all count as one day. Your order of cities looks quite good except it would be better to go Budapest > Vienna > Salzburg, unless you are flying out of Vienna. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Jess says:

Hi Roger,

I have been reading most of your amazing advice but for some reason I still cannot figure out the best itinerary.

Its my 40th beginning July 2019. I am in the UK but South African. I would love to do a European Trip with family and friends as part of my birthday celebration. Initially it was supposed to be a Adult Girly/Friends trip with my friends and sisters. Its now turned out might be whoever wants to join. So I have 4 siblings and possibly 2 friends travelling from South Africa. I have 2 daughters that initially weren’t going to come with but I cannot see myself traveling without them. They will be 11 and 8 and have done several other long haul journeys with me so are easy travellers. I did a Solo trip last June to Rome 4 nights/5 days which was amazing but most family haven’t been and I therefore have no problem going back especially for my 11 year old as well.

I have done Amsterdam 3 times within a 12 month period. weather was awful all 3 times but I still had an amazing time. Spent New Years Eve 2017/2018 and 2 Hen weekends.

My best friend is French living in Nuremberg and I have visited her twice last year. She will have a 6 month old baby and depending on our plans she might join whole 2 weeks or part of it only baby dependent. She has travelled all over and only doing it for me.

My sister did Croatia (Dubrovnik), Albania & Greece last year as part of a Contiki tour but wouldn’t mind doing Croatia again if I want to go and will be joined by my 2 brothers who never travelled before and my other sister and her husband would love to do the Amalfi Coast. They have a 2 year old who might join. I personally want to do it as a week long trip at another time.

My other friend would love to do Amsterdam and Paris.

So with all of this and only around 14 days what would you suggest.

This is my itinerary

Rome 2 nights 3 days. possibly 3 nights
Florence 2 nights 2 days with a day trip to Pisa
Venice 1 nights 1 day
Then Croatia to do either both Split & Dubrovnik or just Dubrovnik
Then Prague 3 nights
Ending in Amsterdam (they can fly back from their or Paris)


Rome 2 nights 3 days. possibly 3 nights
Florence 2 nights 2 days with a day trip to Pisa
Venice 1 nights 1 day
Then Prague 3 nights
maybe adding another Eastern Europe city in here.
Ending in Amsterdam (they can fly back from their or Paris)

Any help is great appreciated. And of course accommodation recommendations. Best to do hostels or Air BnB
Many thanks



    So basically you are wondering if I’d recommend including Croatia instead of another eastern European city between Prague and Amsterdam. If you want to travel mostly by train (which is FAR more enjoyable than flying) then the best city to visit after Prague and before Amsterdam is Berlin. Berlin is really a wonderful city and I’m sure you’d enjoy it. As for Croatia, I actually prefer Split to Dubrovnik because it is easier to reach, it’s quite a bit cheaper, and it’s not overrun with cruise passengers. Split is actually a bit older than Dubrovnik and they both have very similar all-marble town centers that are amazing to see at first. Dubrovnik has the intact town walls, which are really cool, but it’s also super touristy because it’s so popular and has the cruise port. Split is very similar, except it’s more like a real historic city with plenty of locals as well as tourists. Split also has nice beach areas close by and some islands just across from it and you can get there by train, so it’s a great transit hub.

    One other factor to consider is that Croatia will be quite crowded in July because so many northern Europeans (including Germans) go there for a month at a time in July and August. It’s mostly the places with beach access that get really crowded in those months, so if you stay in the middle of town it will just be a normal summer crowd. Either way, I think you’d want to fly into Prague from either Venice or Split or Dubrovnik, and if you were going next to Amsterdam you’d want to fly again. So saving Croatia and including Berlin would mean one more train ride and one less flight, which would be good. It’s really hard to make the choice and I’m sure you’ll have a great time with whichever one you pick.

    As for accommodation, I definitely think Airbnb will probably be your best choice. As you know from the UK and your other trips within Europe, the rooms at centrally-located hotels there tend to be small, and that includes the 4-star and 5-star places. In most cities you can find hotel rooms with 3 or 4 beds, but they tend to be all single beds that can literally take up almost the entire room. With apartments you should be able to find 2-bedroom and 3-bedroom places with pull-out sofas that can easily handle up to 8 or even 10 people. They should also be quite a bit less expensive than 3 or 4 small rooms in a hotel, and it will also allow you to cook some meals yourself, which is helpful for the kids in particular. I hope this helps and feel free to ask other questions if you have them. -Roger

Renee says:

Loved reading thru all of these thoughtful European travel questions. So what itinerary/cities would you recommend for two or 3 just graduated college buddies in June, before embarking on the real world 9-5 careers? Mostly backpacking/hostels, for 3-4 weeks? Ideas/interests are Barcelona, (Nice?), Rome, Venice, Switzerland(Inerlakken), Salzberg, Prague, Budapest, Berlin, Amsterdam, Paris, London. And the order you think would be most efficient and any suggestions appreciated. Thanks so Much!



    That sounds like it’s going to be an amazing trip. As I mention so often, I strongly recommend that you plan on 3 nights in almost any city you visit, assuming you want to see a lot in a short time. So for 21 to 28 days it’s best to try to narrow a list down to 7 to 10 total cities. Small cities like Venice can be visited in 1 or 2 days, and for the largest and most attraction-packed cities like London and Paris, 4 nights is probably ideal.

    The article above is about the cheaper European cities that are still great, and if budget is a concern that will shape the cities you’ll want to choose. You might also check this list of what I consider the best-value destinations in Europe, which will actually be updated soon. Switzerland is very expensive (and worth it for a few days if you can afford it, while London, Paris, Amsterdam, and Rome are also among the more expensive cities on our annual Backpacker Index. If you can afford all of those places then I’d definitely include them. But if you are looking to stretch your money by visiting some cheaper (and still great) destinations I would focus on Berlin, Prague, Budapest, and Krakow as some wonderful options.

    Barcelona is more in the middle of the pack, price-wise, and it can be really packed in June, but it’s a great city to experience if you can make it. I’ll be happy to help you narrow your list down once you tell me more about your budget and any other preferences. It’s best and most enjoyable if you can get between all of your destinations by train or maybe a bus or two, and keep flights to a minimum. -Roger

Nabila says:

Hi Roger,

I had an amazing trips based on your advise last year! Thank you!
This year I can’t decide the travel route and need your help. Its a bit tricky for me.

I purchased a multi-city flight which is from Malaysia – London and Istanbul – Malaysia.

Can you suggest me any cheap routes that can connect above countries for 16-17 days? Been wanting to add Slovenia if possible.

I’ve been to Bosnia, Croatia, Greece, Hungary, Austria, Germany & Czech Republic, Turkey.



    I’m glad to hear that my advice has been helpful in the past. This is an interesting challenge and I think there are some really good options for you.

    I’d definitely spend 3 or 4 nights in London and then take the Eurostar train to Paris for 3 or 4 nights. Those two cities definitely live up to the hype. The best and most efficient way to finish out will be to fly from Rome to Istanbul. That flight will be short and fairly cheap if you buy well in advance. I’ve done the train all the way to Istanbul and even when it’s in service it’s very slow and there isn’t much to see in that part of Europe.

    So you could either fly from Paris to Venice and then take buses or trains to Slovenia, or fly from Paris to Ljubljana (probably the best option if you can get a cheap flight) and then explore Slovenia before taking a train to Trieste and then to Venice. Spend a day or two in Venice and then a train down to Florence for 3 nights, and then a train to Rome for your final three nights. Since you mention you’ve already been to Turkey I assume you’ve explored Istanbul and can just go to the airport this time. This should be an excellent and highlight-filled itinerary with quite a few short train rides and a couple cheap flights. Whatever you decide to do, buy those train tickets at least a month or two in advance, and buy the flights as soon as you are sure of your plans. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

Nabila says:

Hi Roger,

Thank you for your recommendation.

After discussed with my sister about your suggestion, as her birthday trip she requested
1) coastal/seaside area & nature type
2) minimize the city
3) as low/cheap budget as possible

I really hope you can help me as I’m stuck right now.

Thank you very much in advance for your help.



    If you are still going between London and Istanbul in about 16 days and you want to also follow these new guidelines your best options will be to go back to Croatia and explore new places there and possibly combine it with Montenegro, Albania, and Greece. That whole area has very nice scenery and smaller cities to go along with low prices. The beaches there are mostly rocky rather than sandy, but they are quite inexpensive compared to the rest of Europe. And of course you can also look into Turkey itself, which is cheap as well. -Roger

PeterP says:

Dear Roger, I have been reading your recommendations to others and have learned a lot. I am planning a four to five week vacation in Europe and I already saw that you stated that September is the best time to do Europe. I am female traveling alone.

Last year, I did Budapest, Zagreb, Dubrovnik, Athens and finished with a 7 day cruise of the Greek Islands. I planned it by myself (very stressful) and I think I spent more money than I needed to. I did flights from Zagreb to Dubrovnik, then to Bulgaria, then to Athens.

I found your site and after reading what others planned to do, I have some ideas for my itinerary. I am open to your suggestions. I will be traveling FROM Bangkok and BACK TO Bangkok at the end of the trip.
I would like to visit England (maybe) France, Germany, Austria, Holland (Amsterdam), Prague. If possible, and depending on availability and cost a cruise at the end the trip would be great.

a) What would you suggest as an itinerary based on the above?

b) I do have a painful knee so very long bus rides are not my preference. I prefer to fly if it will be over 3 hours. However, if there is a trip that you recommend because of the scenes, please advise.

c) Is there one airline that covers all these countries, and is it possible to arrange one itinerary with one airline, all at one, to reduce costs? I understand this is possible but have not been able to find anything on this so far.

d) Potential budget in USD, excluding airfare from and Bangkok? No hostels; 3-star hotels are ok if centrally located. <=$80 USD per night is ideal. It may be difficult in some cities but one can dream. 🙂

Thanks in advance for your assistance.




    September is a great month in Europe because the weather is still nice and the crowds are much smaller so I’m sure you’ll have a great time. As for an itinerary, it’s hard to make recommendations with countries rather than cities. My normal recommendation is to spend three nights in almost any place you visit, or a bit longer if you aren’t in a hurry. You mention four to five weeks so if we say it’s 30 days then I’d recommend choosing 10 total cities and it’s ideal if they are easy to reach from each other.

    Your list should include Paris, London (if you choose), Amsterdam, Prague for sure. If you want to do a cruise at the end probably the best port to depart from is Barcelona, so you could visit Barcelona for 2 or 3 nights and then board a cruise that can include ports in southern France and Italy as well as some islands in that area.

    If you want to visit Germany the top places are Berlin and Munich, but there are many more options of places to go in Germany.

    I’ve also had knee pain in the past and I agree that long bus rides are not good, but I strongly prefer trains to planes with that in mind. The areas you visited last time have old trains and slow service so the bus service is better. But on this trip you’ll be going through areas that have newer and more comfortable trains that travel 2 or 3 times faster than those other ones. Not only are second-class train seats larger and more comfortable than airline seats, but you can always get up and walk around a bit, unlike on flights. Personally, I love train rides in Europe and if two places are 7 or fewer hours apart by train I take the train. If you fly between any two European cities it takes about 5 or more hours from city center to city center when you factor in airport transportation on both ends and getting there early enough to check in. However, after 7 hours on a train it feels too long so I’ll usually fly instead.

    For flights within Europe you’ll usually get the best deals on the so-called low-cost airlines like Easyjet, Ryanair, and Vueling. I prefer Easyjet and Vueling of those three and I avoid Ryanair if possible, but there are other good cheap airlines as well. There really isn’t anything to gain by staying with the same airline for all of your flights in Europe. I almost always take Air Asia for flights in and out of Bangkok in that area, but in Europe I search for the cheapest flights with the best departure times on any airline.

    For budget estimates you might have a look at our Europe Backpacker Index, which includes a daily total for 56 different cities. You’d be spending probably about 20% or 30% more each day if you stay alone in 3-star hotels instead of the hostel dorm beds that are factored in. We also have a 3-star traveler index for Europe, but it’s based on two people traveling together.

    That said, in September you should be able to get 3-star hotels in most of the cities you’ll be visiting for around €80 if you are willing to stay outside of the main tourist zones. In some cases it’s really not worth it because it might add two hours of commuting to each day so you are better off finding a place in a central neighborhood for €100 or €120 per night. Amsterdam and London are examples where spending a bit more for a central location is worthwhile. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

    For France you’ll obviously go to Paris and you could also visit Nice in order to experience the French Riviera including Cannes and Monaco. However, it might even be better to visit that area while on a cruise.

    For Austria the main options are Vienna and Salzburg. Vienna is a “grand” city with impressive architecture and palaces and museums and high culture, but I find the nightlife a bit dull there so I prefer Salzburg, which is at the foot of the Alps and is really gorgeous with a lovely old town at its core.

PeterP says:

Dear Roger,

Thanks so much for your input. This is indeed very helpful and I will start to put together an itinerary based on your suggestions.
I will check the budget hotels but I really must avoid hostels. I stayed in what was most likely a hostel (or just a step above) in Dubrovnik and was absolutely miserable. The only good thing about it was that it was a single room with its own shower. So I will adjust my budget to ~$130 per night, and hope I can find cheaper rates here and there.
I understand the point about the trains and I will take that under careful consideration. I will also look into the cruise from Barcelona. Seven days, maybe?

Thanks again for your recommendations.




    I’m glad I was able to help. Most Mediterranean cruises seem to be one-way, where you get on in, say, Barcelona and finish in, say, Rome. I think 7 days is great, but there are longer and shorter ones so it’s up to you. -Roger

PeterP says:

Dear Roger,
Thanks again for your help. I have drafted an initial plan, for which I have not yet researched whether trains or planes would be better to go from city to city.



Aug-31 BKK to Paris

Sept 1 – Sept 4 Paris 4

Sep-05 * Check out Paris
* Train to Nice

Sept 5 – 7 Nice 3

Sep-08 * Check Out Nice
* Train to Bruges

Sept 8 – Check in Bruges ; relax
Sept 10 – 11 Bruges 4

Sep-12 *Check out Bruges
*train to Amsterdam

Sept 13 – 14 Amsterdam 3

Sep-15 *Check out Amsterdam
*Train to Prague

Sept 15 – Prague; REST RELAX
SEPT 17 – 19 – Prague; 5

Sep-20 * Check out Prague
* Train (??) to Vienna???

Sep-21 Vienna – REST; RELAX
SEPT 22 – 23 VIENNA 3

Sep-24 * Check out Vienna
* Train to Berlin?

Sep-25 Berlin; REST, RELAX

SEPT 26 – 27 BERLIN 3

Sep-28 * Check out Berlin
* Train to Salzburg

Sep-29 Salzburg 2

Sep-30 *check out Salzburg
* train to Munich

OCT 1 – 3 Munich 3

Oct-04 * check out Munich
a) Fly to BKK ….or
b) Barcelona for cruise


Based on the location of the countries, is my city order ok, in terms of time travel and logistics or should I change some things around? e.g., When I leave Amsterdam, should I go to Germany or Czechia? Thanks for your patience.



    Nice is nice and early September would be a good time to visit, but it’s in the exact opposite direction of your next stops so I might save it for another trip. In other words, if you DID take a train you’d end up taking a train from Nice back to Paris and then a train to Brussels and then a local train to Bruges.

    From Amsterdam you can take a train to Berlin in about 5.5 hours, and then an even shorter train to Prague, instead of a VERY long train ride from Amsterdam to Prague. After Prague those cities are all fairly close together until you fly to Barcelona, so it should work out well. So I’d save Nice for a future trip and probably add in Cesky Krumlov after Prague and before Vienna, or you could add a different city. I think you’d be happier going to cities that are closer together like this. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

PeterP says:

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Roger. What you do is most valuable. I will immediately make those recommended changes to the plan. Fortunately I have time to make changes with no impact whatsoever, except in worksheet preparation. (^_^)

PeterP says:

Roger, below is my updated potential itinerary. Would you be so kind as to take a look and see if it makes more sense? Then I have specific questions: a) For the the trains, do I just buy a rail pass, and from where? b) If I want to reserve a seat and perhaps pay a bit more for comfort, is that possible? Thank you again.

Sept 1 – Sept 3 Paris 3 Train
Sept 4 – 7 Reims 4 Train
Sept 8 – 10 Bruges 3 Train
Sept 11 – 13 Amsterdam 3 Train
SEPT 14 – 16 BERLIN 3 Train
SEPT 17 – 20 Prague 4 Train
SEPT 21 – 23 CESKY KRUMLOV 3 Train
SEPT 24 – 27 VIENNA 4 Train
SEPT 28 – 30 Salzburg 3 Train
OCT 1 – 4 Munich 4 Fly to Barcel



    This itinerary looks fantastic and very well organized and optimized. One thing to keep in mind is that Oktoberfest runs from September 21 to October 6 this year, so you’d be there in the final week. On one hand, it’s a really fun event, especially if you like to drink beer and eat pretzels the size of steering wheels. But on the other hand, Munich is really crowded during that time and hotel and hostel prices literally double or triple for those dates, especially near the Oktoberfest grounds (which are near the main train station). If you do go then I’d check for hotels very soon and book something because prices tend to go up as the dates approach.

    As for the trains, it should actually be best and cheapest to buy your tickets online at least a couple months in advance. Eurail Passes are great for long trips where you want to make plans as you go, but the per-day price of most passes is actually quite high. European train tickets typically go on sale 3 to 4 months in advance and at first the fares are low (often “supersaver” tickets) and then the fares go up as more seats are sold. So if you buy far enough in advance you’ll find that most of these tickets are surprisingly cheap. Better still, when you buy individual tickets in advance you’ll almost always get to reserve a seat for free at the time. Second class trains on most of these will be quite comfortable, but you can usually pay 50% more for First Class, which gets you more legroom and 3 seats across instead of 4. I’m a big and tall guy and I’m comfortable in most Second Class seats.

    Also, from Prague to Cesky Krumlov it’s better to take the bus. Both the bus and train take 3 hours, but the buses are cheaper, have wifi, leave more frequently, and drop you off much closer to the town center. From Cesky Krumlov to Vienna there are shuttle services that can pick you up at your hotel and drop you in Vienna in a large van for a reasonable price, and they are faster than the trains so I’d look into those. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

PeterP says:

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Roger! I will get on booking those hotels and such today. This is early July so hopefully I will be able to get good prices. I will be getting back to you, I am sure. I wish you could go with me! 🙂

PeterP says:

Roger, I do have a follow up question on the trains. Once I am in a city, and I want to go far afield and must use the train, do I simply take the train and pay the daily price, since I would have purchased only a train ticket in and one out? Should I consider this before I buy the individual tickets in advance? Thanks.



    You might have a look at my article on buying European train tickets in advance. Generally speaking, long intercity train trips within Europe all start at a cheap price and then the fares get higher as more seats are sold and the date draws near. So if you buy train tickets between, say, Amsterdam and Berlin on the day of the departure, it will cost a small fortune. But if you bought it a month in advance it will be surprisingly cheap.

    The exception to that are trips on suburban trains or commuter trains. For example, the train from Pisa to the Cinque Terre is a local train (that stops at every station) and it’s pretty cheap even if you buy on travel day. If you want to take a train from, say, Amsterdam to Rotterdam it will be pretty cheap because it’s used for commuters. You just have to check fares for any trips you have in mind, and buy as far in advance for the expensive ones. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. -Roger

PeterP says:

Thank you Roger. I will buy the ones I know for sure now, in July. The daily ones within cities, I will do as I go. Some days I may just walk and experience the places.

Thanks again.

PeterP says:

Dear Roger,
I am having an extremely difficult time using the website and I wonder if you or anyone you know have encountered this. I successfully bought 4 tickets already. My problem is that when I get to the end of the transaction, I get an “authentication failed” message. This happened yesterday and today. I contacted my bank and they said they have cleared it on their end, so I need to contact the TGV company and see what is the problem on their end. Trouble is, I can’t seem to get past holding and listening to a recording indefinitely; I have yet to talk to a human. I need to have it cleared before I can try buying this ticket again, and I have one more to go.

Can you think of a Plan B? I am thinking of waiting until I get to Berlin and go to the station and buy the ticket, knowing it would be at much higher price; but would that be foolhardy? Do they take debit cards in Europe? I have only one credit card to my name so there is no trying with another card. 🙁

Thank you.



    That sounds frustrating and I’ve been through things like that. One other thing you could try is to look for that same ticket on, which is the German rail company. They seem to have the most availability of tickets outside of their own country. If that doesn’t work you could just try again. Sometimes these credit card systems have outages and they resolve themselves.

    One other thing to try would be to Google for “train tickets in France”, which will show SNCF and also probably third-party ticket companies. Those companies charge more for the same ticket, but often they have much more user-friendly interfaces, especially for non-native speakers. If they charge a 10% premium it’s still probably cheaper than buying in person after the price has gone up.

    Yes, they take debit cards in Europe, although in some places they can only use a 4-digit code. I’ve heard that some banks in some countries don’t have compatible systems, but generally you can just go to any ATM and pull out cash. I hope this helps. -Roger

PeterP says:

Thanks very much, Roger. Booking these tickets was the most frustrating thing, and it actually took over a week to accomplish, what with the problems, trying to talk to them on the phone about the system errors, rejection messages and still having my account charged. I still have two such erroneous charges to sort out. I found the German company and they were so helpful. They called me back when I said I was running out of credit on my phone. I was able to easily book three tickets through them. So next time around, I will start with them and avoid SNCF if I can. The German company even has a number in the USA so I did not have to worry about being cut off due to prepaid phone credit running out.

Thanks again for all your help in planning this trip. At least the most stressful part is over and now I just have to show up and enjoy. You do great work and I, for one, sincerely appreciate you.

Blessings to you!


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